Act Two Scene One The scene is morning-room in Aubrey Tanqueray's house, Highercoombe, near Willomere, Surrey a bright and prettily furnished apartment of irregular shape, with double doors open- ing into a small hall at the back, another door on the left, and a large recessed window through which is obtained a view of extensive grounds. Everything about the room is charming and graceful. The fire is burning in the grate, and a small table is tastefully laid for breakfast. It is a morning in early spring the following year, and the sun is streaming in through the window. Aubrey and Paula are seated at breakfast, and Aubrey is silently reading his letters. Two servants, a man and a woman, hand dishes and then retire. After a little while Aubrey puts his letters aside and looks across to the window
AUBREY Sunshine ! Spring!
PAULA (glancing at the clock) Exactly six minutes.
AUBREY Six minutes?
PAULA Six minutes, Aubrey dear, since you made your last remark.
AUBREY I beg your pardon; I was reading my letters. Have you seen Ellean this morning?
PAULA (coldly) Your last observation but one was about Ellean.
AUBREY Dearest, what shall I talk about?
PAULA Ellean breakfasted two hours ago, Morgan tells me, and then went out walking with her dog.
AUBREY She wraps up warmly, I hope; this sunshine is deceptive.
vvvvv PAULA I ran about the lawn last night, after dinner, in satin shoes. Were you anxious about me?
PA ULA (melting) Really?
AUBREY You make me wretchedly anxious; you delight in doing incautious things. You are incurable.
PAI,LA Ah, what a beast I am! (Going to him and kissing him, then glancing at the letters by his side) A letter from Cayley?
AUBREY He is staying very near here, with Mrs very near here.
PAULA With the lady whose chimneys we have the honour of contemplating from our windows?
AUBREY With Mrs Cortelyon yes.
PAULA Mrs Cortelyon! The woman who might have set the example of calling on me when we first threw out roots in this deadly lively soil! Deuce take Mrs Cortelyon!
-AUBREY Hush! My dear girl!
PAULA (returning to her seat) Oh, I know she's an old acquaintance of yours and of the first Mrs Tanqueray. And she joins the rest of 'em in slapping the second Mrs Tanqueray in the face. However, I have my revenge she's six-and-forty, and I wish nothing worse to happen to any woman.
AUBREY Well, she's going to town, Cayley says here, and his visit's at an end. He's coming over this morning to call on you. Shall we ask him to transfer himself to us? Do say yes.
AUBREY (gladly) Ah, ha! Old Cayley!
PAULA (coldly) Hell amuse you.
A U B R E Y And you too .
PAULA Because you find a companion, shall I be boisterously hilari- ous?
AUBREY Come, come! He talks London, and you know you like that.
PAULA London! London or Heaven! Which is farther from me!
PAULA Oh! Oh, I am so bored, Aubrey!
AUBREY (gathering up his letters and going to her, leaning over her shoulder) Baby, what can I do for you?
PAULA I suppose, nothing. You have done all you can for me.
AUBREY What do you mean?
PAULA You have married me.
He walks away from her thoughtfully, to the writing-table. As he places his letters on the table, he sees an addressed letter, stamped for the post, lying on the blotting-book; he picks it up
AUBREY (in an altered tone) You've been writing this morning before breakfast?
PAULA (looking at him quickly, then away again) Er, that letter.
AUBREY (with the letter in his hand) To Lady Orreyed. Why?
PAULA Why not? Mabel's an old friend of mine.
AUBREY Are you corresponding?
PAULA I heard from her yesterday. They've just returned from the Riviera. She seems happy.
AUBREY (sarcastically) That's good news.
PAULA Why are you always so cutting about Mabel? She's a kind- hearted girl. Everything's altered; she even thinks of letting her hair go back to brown. She's Lady Orreyed. She's married to George. What's the matter with her?
AUBREY (turning away) Oh!
PAULA You drive me mad sometimes with the tone you take about things! Great goodness, if you come to that, George Orreyed's wife isn't a bit worse than yours! (He faces her suddenly) I suppose I needn't have made that observation.
AUBREY No, there was scarcely a necessity.
He throws the letter on to the table, and takes up the newspaper
PAULA I am very sorry.
A U B R E Y All right, dear .
PAULA (trifling with the letter) I I'd better tell you what I've written. I meant to do so, of course. I I've asked the Orreyeds to come and stay with us. (He looks at her and lets the paper fall to the ground in a helpless way) George was a great friend of Cayleys; Im sure he would be delighted to meet them here.
AUBREY (laughing mirthlessly) Ha, ha, ha! They say Orreyed has taken to tippling at dinner. Heavens above!
PAULA Oh! I've no patience with you! You'll kill me with this life! (She selects some flowers from a vase on the table, cuts and arranges them, and fastens them in her bodice) What is my existence, Sunday to Saturday? In the morning, a drive down to the village, with the groom, to give my orders to the tradespeople. At lunch, you and Ellean. In the afternoon, a novel, the newspapers; if fine, another drive fine! Tea you and Ellean. Then two hours of dusk; then dinner--you and Ellean. Then a game of bezique,° you and I, while Ellean reads a religious book in a dull corner. Then a yawn from me, another from you, a sigh from Ellean; three figures suddenly rise 'Good-night, good-night, good-night!' (Imitating a kiss) 'God bless you!' Ah!
AUBREY Yes, yes, Paula yes, dearest that's what it is now. But, by and by, if people begin to come round us
PAUA Hah! That's where we've made the mistake, my friend Aubrey! (Pointing to the wndow Do you believe these people will ever come round us? Your former crony, Mrs (Cotelyon or the grim old vicar, or that wife of his whose huge nose is positively indecent? Or the Ullathornes, or the Gollans, or Lady William Petres? I know better! And when the young ones gradually take the place of the old, there will still remain the sacred tradition that the dreadful person who lives at the top of the hill is never, under any circumstances, to be called upon! And so we shall go on here, year in and year out, until the sap is run out of our lives, and we're stale and dry and withered from sheer, solitary respectability. Upon my word, I wonder we didn't see that we should have been far happier if we'd gone in for the devil-may-care, cafe-living sort of life in town! After all, I have a set and you might have joined it. It's true I did want, dearly, dearly, to be a married woman, but where's the pride in being a married woman among married women who arc- married! If- (seeing that Aubrey s head has sunk into his hands) Aubrey! My dear boy! You're not--crying?
[She puts an arm round his neck.] He looks up, with a flushed face. Ellean enters, dressed very simply for walking. She is a low-voiced, grave girl of about nineteen, with a face somewhat resembling a Madonna. Towards Paula her manner is cold and distant
AUBREY (in an undertone) Ellean!
ELLEAN Good-morning, Papa. Good-morning, Paula.
Paula puts her arms round Ellean and kisses her. Ellean makes little response
PAULA Good-morning. (Brightly) We've been breakfasting this side of the house, to get the sun.
She sits at the piano and rattles at a gay melody. Seeing that Paula's back is turned to them, Ellean goes to Aubrey and kisses him; he returns the kiss almost furtively. As they separate, the servants re-enter, and proceed to carry out the breakfast table
AUBREY (to Ellean) I guess where you've been: there's some gorse clinging to your frock.
ELLEAN (removing a spot of gorse from her skirt) Rover and I walked nearly as far as Black Moor. The poor fellow has a thorn in his pad; I am going upstairs for my tweezers.
AUBREY Ellean! (She returns to him) Paula is a little depressed--out of sorts. She complains that she has no companion.
ELLEAN I am with Paula nearly all the day, Papa.
AUBREY Ah, but you're such a little mouse. Paula likes cheerful people about her.
ELLEAN I'm afraid I am naturally rather silent; and it's so difficult to -- seem to be what one is not.
AUBREY I don't wish that, Ellean.
ELLEAN I will offer to go down to the village with Paula this morning shall I?
AUBREY(touching her hand gently) Thank you do.
ELLEAN When I've looked after Rover, I'll come back to her. She goes out; Paula ceases playing, and turns on the music stool, looking at Aubrey.
PAULA Well, have you and Ellean had your little confidence?
PAULA Do you think I couldn't feel it, like a pain between my shoulders?
AUBREY Ellean is coming back in a few minutes to be with you.
(Bending over her) Paula, Paula dear, is this how you keep your promise?
PAULA Oh! (Rising impatiently and crossing swiftly to the settee, there she sits, moving restlessly) I can't keep my promise; I am jealous; it won't be smothered. I see you looking at her, watching her; your voice drops when you speak to her. I know how fond you are of that girl, Aubrey.
AUBREY What would you have? I've no other home for her. She is my daughter.
PAULA She is your saint. Saint Ellean!
AUBREY You have often told me how good and sweet you think her.
PAULA Good yes! Do you imagine that makes me less jealous? (Going to him and clinging to his arm) Aubrey, there are two sorts of affection--the love for a woman you respect, and the love for a woman you--love. She gets the first from you: I never can.
AUBREY Hush, hush! You don't realise what you say.
PAULA If Ellean cared for me only a little, it would be different. I shouldn't be jealous then. Why doesn't she care for me?
AUBREY She--she she will, in time.
PAULA You can't say that without stuttering.
AUBREY Her disposition seems a little unresponsive; she resembles her mother in many ways; I can see it every day.
PAULA She's marble. It's a shame. There's not the slightest excuse; for all she knows, I'm as much a saint as she--only married. Dearest, help me to win her over!
AUBREY Help you?
PAULA You can. Teach her that it is her duty to love me; she hangs on to every word you speak. I'm sure, Aubrey, that the love of a nice woman who believed me to be like herself would do me a world of good. You'd get the benefit of it as well as I. It would soothe me; it would make me less horribly restless; it would take this this mischievous feeling from me. (Coaxingly) Aubrey!
AUBREY Have patience; everything will come right.
PAULA Yes, if you help me.
AUBREY In the mean time you will tear up your letter to Lady Orreyed, won't you?
PAULA (kissing his hand ) Of course I will--anything!
AUBREY Ah, thank you, dearest! (Laughing) Why, good gracious--ha, ha! just imagine 'Saint Ellean' and that woman side by side!
PAULA (going back with a cry) Ah!
PAULA (passionately) It's Ellean you're considering, not me? It's all Ellean with you! Ellean! Ellean!
ELLEAN Did you call me, Paula?
Clenching his hands, Aubrey turns away and goes out Is Papa angry?
PAULA [shrugging her shoulders] I drive him distracted sometimes. There, I confess it!
[She walks away to the settee and sits down, petulantly]
ELLEAN [advancing] Do you? Oh, why do you?
PAULA Because I because I'm jealous.
PAULA Yes--of you. (Ellean is silent) Well, what do you think of that?
ELLEAN I knew it; I've seen it. It hurts me dreadfully. What do you wish me to do? Go away?
PAULA Leave us! (Beckoning her with a motion of the head ) Look here! (Ellean goes to Paula slowly and unresponsively) You could cure me of my jealousy very easily. Why don't you--like me?
ELLEAN What do you mean by like you? I don't understand.
PAULA Love me.
ELLEAN Love is not a feeling that is under one's control. I shall alter as time goes on, perhaps. I didn't begin to love my father deeply till a few months ago, and then I obeyed my mother.
PAULA [dryly] Ah, yes, you dream things, don't you--see them in your sleep? You fancy your mother speaks to you?
ELLEAN When you have lost your mother it is a comfort to believe that she is dead only to this life, that she still watches over her child. I do believe that of my mother.
PAULA Well, and so you haven't been bidden to love me?
ELLEAN (after a pause, almost inaudibly) No.
PAULA Dreams are only a hash-up of one's day-thoughts, I suppose you know. Think intently of anything, and it's bound to come back to you at night. I don't cultivate dreams myself.
ELLEAN Ah, I knew you would only sneer!
PAULA I'm not sneering; I'm speaking the truth. I say that if you cared for me in the daytime I should soon make friends with those nightmares of yours. Ellean, why don't you try to look on me as your second mother? Of course there are not many years between us, but I'm ever so much older than you in experience. I shall have no children of my own, I know that; it would be a real comfort to me if you would make me feel we belonged to each other. Won't you? Perhaps you think I'm odd not nice. Well, the fact is I've two sides to my nature, and I've let the one almost smother the other. A few years ago I went through some trouble, and since then I haven't shed a tear. I believe if you put your arms round me just once I should run upstairs and have a good cry. There, I've talked to you as I've never talked to a woman in my life. Ellean, you seem to fear me. Don't! Kiss me!
With a cry, almost of despair, Ellean turns from Paula and sinks on to the settee, covering her face with her hands
(Indignantly) Oh! Why is it! How dare you treat me like this? What do you mean by it? What do you mean?
A servant enters
SERVANT Mr Drummle, ma'am.
Cayley Drummle, in riding dress, enters briskly. The servant retires
PAULA (reco~ering herself ) Well, Cayley!
DRUMMLE (shaking hands with her cordially) How are you? (Shaking hands with Ellean, who rises) I saw you in the distance an hour ago, in the horse near Stapleton's.
ELLEAN I didn t see you, Mr Drummle.
DRUMMLE My dear Ellean, it is my experience that no charming young lady of nineteen ever does see a man of forty-five. (Laugh- ing) Ha, ha!
ELLEAN (going to the door) Paula, Papa wishes me to drive down to the village with you this morning. Do you care to take me?
PAIJLA (coldly) Oh, by all means. Pray tell Watts to balance the cart for three.°
Ellean goes out
DRUMMLE How s Aubrey?
PAITLA Very well when Ellean's about the house.
DRUMMLE And you? I needn't ask.
PAULA (walking away to the window) Oh, a dog's life, my dear Cayley, mine.
PAULA Doesn't that define a happy marriage? I'm sleek, well-kept, well-fed, never without a bone to gnaw and fresh straw to lie upon. (Gazing out of the window) Oh, dear me!
DRUMMLE H'm! Well, I heartily congratulate you on your kennel. The view from the terrace here is superb.
PAULA Yes, I can see London.
DRUMMLE London! Not quite so far, surely?
PAULA I can. Also the Mediterranean, on a fine day. I wonder what Algiers looks like this morning from the sea! (Impulsively) Oh, Cayley, do you remember those jolly times on board Peter Jarman's yacht when we lay off ? (Stopping suddenly, seeing Drummle staring at her) Good gracious! What are we talking about!
AUBREY (to Drummle) Dear old chap! Has Paula asked you?
PAULA Not yet.
AUBREY We want you to come to us, now that you're leaving Mrs Cortelyon at once, today. Stay a month, as long as you please- eh, Paula?
PAULA As long as you can possibly endure it, Cayley.
DRUMMLE (looking at Aubrey) Delighted. (To Paula) Charming of you to have me.
PAULA My dear man, you're a blessing. I must telegraph to London for more fish! A strange appetite to cater for! Something to do, to do, to do!
She goes out in a mood of almost childish delight
DRUMMLE (eyeing Aubrey) Well?
AUBREY (with a wearied, anxious look) Well, Cayley?
D R U M M L E How are you getting on?
AUBREY My position doesn't grow less difficult. I told you, when I met you last week, of this feverish, jealous attachment of Paula's for Ellean?
DRUMMLE Yes. I hardly know why, but I came to the conclusion that you don't consider it an altogether fortunate attachment.
AUBREY Ellean doesn't respond to it.
DRUMMLE These are early days. Ellean will warm towards your wife by and by.
AUBREY Ah, but there's the question, Cayley!
D R U M M L E What question ?
AUBREY The question which positively distracts me. Ellean is so different from most women; I don't believe a purer creature exists out of Heaven. And I I ask myself, am I doing right in exposing her to the influence of poor Paula's light, careless nature?
DRU.MMLE My dear Aubrey!
AUBREY That shocks you! So it does me. I assure you I long to urge my girl to break down the reserve which keeps her apart from Paula, but somehow I can't do it well, I don't do it. How can I make you understand? But when you come to us you'll understand quickly enough. Cayley, there's hardly a subject you can broach on which poor Paula hasn't some strange, out-of-the-way thought to give utterance to; some curious, warped notion. They are not mere worldly thoughts unless good God! they belong to the little hellish world which our blackguardism has created: no, her ideas have too little calculation in them to be called worldly. But it makes it the more dreadful that such thoughts should be ready, spontaneous; that expressing them has become a perfectly natural process; that her words, acts even, have almost lost their proper significance for her, and seem beyond her control. Ah, and the pain of listening to it all from the woman one loves, the woman one hoped to make happy and contented, who is really and truly a good woman, as it were, maimed! Well, this is my burden, and I shouldn't speak to you of it but for my anxiety about Ellean. Ellean! What is to be her future? It is in my hands; what am I to do? Cayley, when I remember how Ellean comes to me, from 30s another world I always think, when I realise the charge that's laid on me, I find myself wishing, in a sort of terror, that my child were safe under the ground!
DRUMMLE My dear Aubrey, aren't you making a mistake?
AUBREY Very likely. What is it?
DRUMMLE A mistake, not in regarding your Ellean as an angel, but in believing that, under any circumstances, it would be possible for her to go through life without getting her white robe shall we say, a little dusty at the hem? Don't take me for a cynic. I am sure there are many women upon earth who are almost divinely innocent; but 3 being on earth, they must send their robes to the laundry occasionally. Ah, and it's right that they should have to do so, for what can they learn from the checking of their little washing-bills but lessons of charity? Now I see but two courses open to you for the disposal of your angel.
DRUMMLE You must either restrict her to a paradise which is, like every earthly paradise, necessarily somewhat imperfect, or treat her ance is the least admirable. Take my advice, let her walk and talk and suffer and be healed with the great crowd. Do it, and hope that she'll some day meet a good, honest fellow who'll make her life complete, happy, secure. Now you see what I'm driving at.
AUBREY A sanguine programme, my dear Cayley! Oh, I'm not pooh-poohing it. Putting sentiment aside, of course I know that a fortunate marriage for Ellean would be the best perhaps the only solution of my difficulty. But you forget the danger of the course you suggest.
AUBREY If Ellean goes among men and women, how can she escape from learning, sooner or later, the history of poor Paula's--old life?
DRUMMLE H'm! You remember the episode of the Jeweller's Son in the Arabian Nights? Of course you don't. Well, if your daughter lives, she can't escape-- what you're afraid of. (Aubrey gives a half-stifled exclamation of pain) And when she does hear the story, surely it would be better that she should have some knowledge of the world to help her to understand it.
A U B R E Y To understand !
D R U M M L E To understand, to--to philosophise.
AUBREY To philosophise?
DRUMMLE Philosophy is toleration, and it is only one step from toleration to forgiveness.
AUBREY You're right, Cayley; I believe you always are. Yes, yes. But, even if I had the courage to attempt to solve the problem of Ellean's future in this way, I I'm helpless.
AUBREY What means have I now of placing my daughter in the world I've left?
DRUMMLE Oh, some friend--some woman friend.
AUBREY I have none; they're gone.
DRUMMLE You're wrong there; I know one--
AUBREY (listening) That's Paula's cart. Let's discuss this again.
DRUMMLE (going up to the window and looking out) It isn't the dogcart. (Turning to Aubrey) I hope you'll forgive me, old chap.
AUBREY What for?
DRUMMLE Whose wheels do you think have been cutting ruts in 365 your immaculate drive?
A servant enters
SERVANT (to Aubrey) Mrs Cortelyon, sir.
AUBREY Mrs Cortelyon! (After a short pause) Very well.
The servant withdraws
What on earth is the meaning of this?
DRUMMLE Ahem! While I've been our old friend's guest, Aubrey, we have very naturally talked a good deal about you and yours.
AUBREY Indeed, have you?
DRUMMLE Yes, and Alice Cortelyon has arrived at the conclusion that it would have been far kinder had she called on Mrs Tanqueray long ago. She's going abroad for Easter before settling down in London for the season,° and I believe she has come over this morning to ask for Ellean's companionship.
AUBREY Oh, I see! (Frowning) Quite a friendly little conspiracy, my dear Cayley!
DRUMMLE Conspiracy! Not at all, I assure you. (Laughing) Ha, ha! 3 Ellean enters from the hall with Mrs Cortelyon, a handsome, good-humoured, spirited woman of about forty-five.
MrS CORTELYON (to Aubrey, shaking hands with him heartily) Well, Aubrey, how are you? I've just been telling this great girl of yours that I knew her when she was a sad-faced, pale baby. How is Mrs Tanqueray? I have been a bad neighbour, and I'm here to beg forgiveness. Is she indoors?
AUBREY She's upstairs putting on a hat, I believe.
MRS CORTELYON (sitting comfortably) Ah! (She looks round: Drummle and Ellean are talking together in the hall) We used to be very frank with each other, Aubrey. I suppose the old footing is no longer so possible, eh?
AUBREY If so, I'm not entirely to blame, Mrs Cortelyon.
MRS CORTELYON Mrs Cortelyon? H'm! No, I admit it. But you must make some little allowance for me, Mr Tanqueray. Your first wife and I, as girls, were like two cherries on one stalk,° and then I was the confidential friend of your married life. That post, perhaps, wasn't altogether a sinecure. And now well, when a woman gets to my age I suppose she's a stupid, prejudiced, conventional crea- ture. However, I've got over it and (giving him her hand) I hope you'll be enormously happy and let me be a friend once more.
AUBREY Thank you, Alice.
MRS CORTELYON That's right. I feel more cheerful than I've done for weeks. But I suppose it would serve me right if the second Mrs Tanqueray showed me the door. Do you think she will?
AUBREY (listening) Here is my wife.
Mrs Cortelyon rises, and Paula enters, dressed for driving; she stops abruptly on seeing Mrs Cortelyon
Paula dear, Mrs Cortelyon has called to see you.
Paula starts, looks at Mrs Cortelyon irresolutely, then after a slight pause barely touches Mrs Cortelyon's extended hand
PAULA (whose manner now alternates between deliberate insolence and assumed sweetness) Mrs- What name, Aubrey?
AUBREY Mrs Cortelyon .
PAULA Cortelyon? Oh, yes. Cortelyon.
MRS CORTELYON (carefully guarding herself throughout against any expression of resentment) Aubrey ought to have told you that Alice Cortelyon and he are very old friends.
PAULA Oh, very likely he has mentioned the circumstance. I have quite a wretched memory.
MRS CORTELYON You know we are neighbours, Mrs Tanqueray.
PAULA Neighbours? Are we really? Won't you sit down? (They both sit) Neighbours! That's most interesting!
MRS CORTELYON Very near neighbours. You can see my roof from your windows.
PAULA I fancy I have observed a roof. But you have been away from home; you have only just returned.
MRS CORTELYON I? What makes you think that?
PAULA Why, because it is two months since we came to Higher- coombe, and I don't remember your having called.
MRS CORTELYON Your memory is now terribly accurate. No, I've not been away from home, and it is to explain my neglect that I am here, rather unceremoniously, this morning.
PAULA Oh, to explain quite so. (With mock solicitude) Ah, you've been very ill; I ought to have seen that before.
MRS CORTELYON Ill!
PAULA You look dreadfully pulled down. We poor women show illness so plainly in our faces, don't we?
AUBREY (anxiously) Paula dear, Mrs Cortelyon is the picture of health.
MRS CORTELYON (with softness aplenty) I have neverfelt better in my life.
PAULA (looking round innocently) Have I said anything awkward?
Aubrey, tell Mrs Cortelyon how stupid and thoughtless I always am!
MRS CORTELYON (to Drummle, who is now standing close to her) Really, Cayley--! (He soothes her with a nod and smile and a motion 44o of his finger to his lip) Mrs Tanqueray, I am afraid my explanation will not be quite so satisfactory as either of those you have just helped me to. You may have heard but, if you have heard, you have doubtless forgotten that twenty years ago, when your husband first lived here, I was a constant visitor at Highercoombe.
PAULA Twenty years ago--fancy! I was a naughty little child then.
MRS CORTELYON Possibly. Well, at that time, and till the end of her life, my affections were centred upon the lady of this house.
PAULA Were they? That was very sweet of you.
Ellean approaches Mrs Cortelyon, listening intently to her
MRS CORTELYON I will sav no more on that score, but I must add this: when, two months ago, you came here, I realised, perhaps for the first time, that I was a middle-aged woman, and that it had become impossible for me to accept without some effort a break- ing-in upon many tender associations. There, Mrs Tanqueray, that is my confession. Will you try to understand it and pardon me?
PAULA (watching Ellean, sneeringly) Ellean dear, you appear to be very interested in Mrs Cortelyon's reminiscences; I don't think I can do better than make you my mouthpiece there is such sympathy between us. What do you say we bring ourselves to forgive Mrs Cortelyon for neglecting us for two weary months?
MRS CORTELYON (to Ellean, pleasantly) Well, Ellean?
With a little cry of tenderness Ellean impulsively sits beside Mrs Cortelyon and takes her hand
My dear child!
PAULA (in an undertone to Aubrey) Ellean isn't so very slow in taking to Mrs Cortelyon!
DRUMMLE(to Paula and Aubrey) Come, this encourages me to broach my scheme. Mrs Tanqueray, it strikes me that you two good people are just now excellent company for each other, while Ellean would perhaps be glad of a little peep into the world you are anxcious to avoid. Now, I'm going to Paris tomorrow for a week or two before settling down in Chester Square,° so--don't gasp, both of you! if this girl is willing, and you have made no other arrangements for her, will you let her come with me to Paris, and afterwards remain with me in town during the season? (Ellean utters an exclamation of surprise. Paula is silent) What do you say?
AUBREY Paula Paula dear. (Hesitatingly) My dear Mrs Cortelyon, DRUMMLE (watching Paula apprehensively) Kind! Now I must say I don't think so! I begged Alice to take me to Paris, and she declined. I am thrown over for Ellean! Ha! Ha!
MRS CORTELYON (laughing) What nonsense you talk, Cayley! The laughter dies out. Paula remains quite still
AUBREY Paula dear.
PAULA (slowly collecting hersellf) One moment. I I don't quite- To Mrs Cortelyon) You propose that Ellean leaves Highercoombe almost at once and remains with you some months?
MRS CORTELYON It would be a mercy to me. You can afford to be generous to a desolate old widow. Come, Mrs Tanqueray, won't you spare her?
PAULA Won't I spare her? (Suspiciously) Have you mentioned your plan to Aubrey before I came in?
MRS CORTELYON No, I had no opportunity.
PAULA Nor to Ellean?
MRS CORTELYON Oh, no.
PAULA (looking about her, in suppressed excitement) This hasn't been discussed at all, behind my back?
MRS CORTELYON My dear Mrs Tanqueray!
PAULA Ellean, let us hear your voice in the matter!
ELLEAN I should like to go with Mrs Cortelyon
PA ULA Ah!
ELLEAN That is, if--if--
PAULA Ifif what?
ELLEAN (looking towards Aubrev) if onlv Papa agrees
PAULA (in a hard voice) Oh, of course I forgot. (To Aubrey) My dear Aubrey, it rests with you, naturally, whether I am to lose- Ellean.
AUBREY Lose Ellean! (Advancing to Paula) There is no question of us losing Ellean. You would see Ellean in town constantly when she returned from Paris; isn't that so, Mrs Cortelyon?
MRS CORTELYON Certainly.
PAULA (laughing softly) Oh, I didn't know I should be allowed that privilege.
MRS CORTELYON Privilege, my dear Mrs Tanqueray!
PAULA Ha, ha! That makes all the difference, doesn't it?
AUBREY (with assumed gaiety) All the difference? I should think so! (To Ellean, laying his hand upon her head, tenderly) And you are quite certain you wish to see what the world is like on the other side of Black Moor?
ELLEAN If you are willing, Papa, I am quite certain.
AUBREY (looking at Paula irresolutely, then speaking with an effort) Then I I am willing.
PAULA (rising and striking the table lightly with her clenched hand) That decides it!
There is a general movement
(Excitedly to Mrs Cortelyon, who advances towards her) When do you want her?
MRS CORTELYON We go to town this afternoon at five o'clock, and sleep tonight at Bayliss's.° There is barely time for her to make her preparations.
PAULA I will undertake that she is ready.
MRS CORTELYON I've a great deal to scramble through at home too, as you may guess. Goodbye!
PAULA (turning away) Mrs Cortelyon is going.
Paula stands looking out of the window, with her back to those in the room
MRS CORTELYON (to Drummle) Cayley
D R U MM L E (to her) Eh?
MRS CORTELYON I've gone through it, for the sake of Aubrey and his child, but I I feel a hundred. Is that a madwoman?
DRUM.MLE Of course; all jealous women are mad.
He goes out with Aubrey
MRS CORTELYON (hesitatingly, to Paula) Goodbye, Mrs Tanqueray. Paula inclines her head with the sllghtest possible movement, then resumes her former position. Ellean comes from the hall and takes Mrs Cortelyon out of the room. After a brief silence, Paula turns with a fierce cry, and hurriedly takes off her coat and hat, and tosses them upon the settee
PAULA Oh! Oh! Oh! (She drops into the chair as Aubrey returns; he stands looking at her) Who's that?
AUBREY You have altered your mind about going out?
PAULA Yes. Please to ring the bell.
AUBREY (touching the bell) You are angry about Mrs Cortelyon and Ellean. Let me try to explain my reasons
PAULA Be careful what you say to me just now! I have never felt like this except once--in my life. Be careful what you say to me!
A sevant enters
PAULA (rising) Is Watts at the door with the cart?
SERVANT Yes, ma'am.
PAULA Tell him to drive down to the post office directly, with this.
picks up the letter which has been lying upon the table
AUBREY With that?
PAULA Yes. My letter to Lady Orreyed.
She gives the letter to the servant, who goes out
AUBREY Surely you don't wish me to countermand any order of yours to a servant? Call the man back take the letter from him!
PAULA I have not the slightest intention of doing so.
AUBREY I must, then.
He goes to the door. She snatches up her hat and coat and follow him
What are you going to do?
PAULA If you stop that letter, walk out of the house.
He hesitates, then leaves the door
AUBREY I am right in believing that to be the letter inviting George Orreyed and his wife to stay here, am I not?
PAULA Oh yes quite right.
AUBREY Let it go: I'll write to him bv and bv.
PAULA (facing him) You dare!
A U B R E Y Hush, Paula!
PAULA Insult me again and, upon my word, I'll go straight out of the house!
A U B R E Y Insult you ?
PAULA Insult me! What else is it? My God! What else is it? What do you mean by taking Ellean from me?
PAULA Listen to me! And how do you take her? You pack her o~ in the care of a woman who has deliberately held aloof from me, who's thrown mud at me! Yet this Cortelyon creature has only to put foot here once to be entrusted with the charge of the girl you know I dearly want to keep near me!
AUBREY Paula dear! Hear me
PAULA Ah! Of course, of course! I can't be so useful to your daughter as such people as this; and so I'm to be given the go-by for any town friend of yours who turns up and chooses to patronise us! Hah! Very well, at any rate, as you take Ellean from me you justify my looking for companions where I can most readily find 'em.
AUBREY You wish me to fully appreciate your reason for sending that letter to Lady Orreyed?
PAULA Precisely I do.
AUBREY And could you, after all, go back to associates of that order? It's not possible!
PAI LA (mockingly) What, not afte the refining influence of these intensely respectable surroundings? (Going to the door) We'll see!
PAULA (violently) we'll see!
She goes out. He stands still looking after her