The scene is the drawing-room at Highercoombe. Facing the spectator are two large french windows, sheltered by a veranda, leading into the garden; on the right is a door opening into a small hall. The fireplace, with a large mirror above it, is on the left-hand side of the room, and higher up in the same wall are double doors, recessed. The room is richly furnished, and every- thing betokens taste and luxury. The windows are open, and there is moonlight in the garden. Lady Orreyed, a pretty, affected droll of a woman with a mincing voice and flaxen hair, is sitting on the ottoman, her head resting against the drum, and her eyes closed. Paula, looking pale, worn, and thoroughly unhappy, is sitting at a table. Both are in sumptuous dinner- gowns
LADY ORREYED (opening her eyes) Well, I never! I dropped off! (Feeling her hair) Just fancy! Where are the men?
PAULA (icily) Outside, smoking.
A servant enters with coffee, which he hands to Lady Orreyed. Sir George Orreyed comes in by the window. He is a man of about thirty-five, with a low forehead, a receding chin, a vacuous expression, and an ominous redness about the nose
LADY ORREYED (taking coffee) Heres Dodo.
SIR GEORGE I say, the flies under the veranda make you swear. The servant hands coffee to Paula, who declines it, then to Sir George, who takes a cup
Hi! Wait a bit! (He looks at the tray searchingly, then puts back his cup) Never mind. (Quietly to Lady Orreyed) I say, they're dooced sparin' with their liqueur, ain't they?
The servant goes out at window
PAULA (to Sir George) Won't you take coffee, George?
SIR GEORGE No, thanks. It's gettin' near time for a whisky and potass. (Approaching Paula, regarding Lady Orreyed admiringly) I say, Birdie looks rippin' tonight, don't she?
PAULA Your wife?
SIR GEORGE Yas.
PAULA Quite quite rippin'. He moves round to the settee. Paula watches him with distaste, then rises and walks away. Sir George falls asleep on the settee [by the fireplace]
LADY ORREYED Paula love, I fancied you and Aubrey were a little more friendly at dinner. You haven't made it up, have you?
PAULA We? Oh, no. We speak before others, that's all.
LADY ORREYED And how long do you intend to carry on this game, dear?
PAULA (turning away impatiently) I really can't tell you.
LADY ORREYED Sit down old girl; don't be so fidgety.
Paula sits on the upper seat of the ottoman, with her back to Lady Orreyed Of course, it's my duty, as an old friend, to give you a good talking-to. Paula glares at her suddenly and fiercely) But really I've found one gets so many smacks in the face through interfering in matrimonial squabbles that I've determined to drop it.
PAULA I think youre wise.
LADY ORREYED However, I must say that I do wish youd look at marriage in a more solemn light just as I do, in fact. It is such a beautiful thing marriage, and if people in our position don't respect it, and set a good example by living happily with their husbands, what can you expect from the middle classes? When did this sad state of affairs between you and Aubrey actually begin?
PAULA Actuallv, a fortnight and three days ago; I haven't calculated the minutes.
L A D Y O R R E Y E D A day or two before Dodo and I turned up arrived.
P.AULA Yes. One always remembers one thing by another; we left off speaking to each other the morning I wrote asking you to visit us.
LADY ORREYED Lucky for you I was able to pop down, wasn t it, dear?
PAULA (glaring at her again) Most fortunate.
LADY ORREYED A serious split with your husband without a pal on the premises I should say, without a friend in the housc would be most unpleasant.
PAULA (turning to her abruptly) This place must be horribly doleful for you and George just now. At least you ought to consider him before me. Why don't you leave me to my difficulties?
LADY ORREYED Oh, we're quite comfortable, dear, thank you both of us. George and I are so wrapped up in each other, it doesn't matter where we are. I don't want to crow over you, old girl, but Ive got a perfect husband.
Sir George is nodding, fast asleep, his head thrown back and his mouth open, looking hideous
PAULA (glancing at Sir George) So you've given me to understand.
LADY ORREYED Not that we don t have our little differences . Why we fell out only this very morning. You remember the diamond and ruby tiara Charley Prestwick gave poor dear Connie Tirlemont years ago, don't you?
PAULA No, I do not.
LADY ORREYED No? Well, it's in the market. Benjamin of Piccadilly has got it in his shop-window, and I've set my heart on it.
PAULA You consider it quite necessary?
LADY ORREYED Yes, because what I say to Dodo is this lady of my station must smother herself with hair ornaments. It's different with you, love people don't look for so much blaze from you, but I've got rank to keep up; haven't I?
LADY ORREYED Well, that was the cause of the little set-to between I and Dodo this morning. He broke two chairs, he was in such a rage. I forgot, they're your chairs; do you mind?
LADY ORREYED You know, poor Dodo can t lose his temper without smashing something; if it isn't a chair, it's a mirror; if it isn't that, it's china a bit of Dresden for choice. Dear old pet! He loves a bit of Dresden when he's furious. He doesn't really throw things at me, dear; he simply lifts them up and drops them, like a gentleman. I expect our room upstairs will look rather wrecky before I get that tiara.
PAULA Excuse the suggestion, perhaps your husband can't afford it.
LADY ORREYED Oh, how dreadfully changed you are, Paula! Dodo can always mortgage something, or borrow of his ma. What is coming to you!
PA ULA Ah!
She sits at the piano and touches the keys
LADY ORREYED Oh, yes, do play! That s the one thing I envy vou for.
PAULA What shall I play?
LADY ORREYED What was that heavenly piece you gave us last night, dear?
PAULA A bit of Schubert. Would you like to hear it again?
LADY ORREYED You don t know any comic songs, do you?
PAULA I'm afraid not.
LADY ORREYED I leave it to you, then. Paula plays. Aubrey and Cayley Drummle appear outside the window; they look into the room
AUBREY (to Drummle) You can see her face in that mirror. Poor girl, how ill and wretched she looks.
DRUMMLE When are the Orreyeds going?
AUBREY (entering the room) Heaven knows!
DRUMMLE (following Aubrey) But you 're entertaining them; what's it to do with Heaven?
AUBREY Do you know, Cayley, that even the Orreyeds serve a useful purpose? My wife actually speaks to me before our guests think of that! I've come to rejoice at the presence of the Orreyeds!
DRUMMLE I dare say; we're taught that beetles are sent for a benign end.
AUBREY Cayley, talk to Paula again tonight.
DRUMMLE Certainly, if I get the chance.
AUBREY Let's contrive it. George is asleep; perhaps I can get that doll out of the way.
As they advance into the room, Paula abruptly ceases playing and finds interest in a volume of music. Sir George is nodding and snoring apoplectically
Lady Orreyed, whenever you feel inclined for a game of billiards, I'm at your service.
LADY ORREYED (jumping up) Charmed, I'm sure! I really thought you'd forgotten poor little me. Oh, look at Dodo!
AUBREY No, no, don't wake him; he's tired.
LADY ORREYED I must, he looks so plain. (Rousing Sir George) Dodo! Dodo!
SIR GEORGE (stupidly) Ullo!
LADY ORREYED Dodo, dear, you were snoring.
SlR GEORGE Oh, I say, you could 'a told me that by and by.
AUBREY You want a cigar, George; come into the billiard-room. (Giving his arm to Lady Orreyed) Cayley, bring Paula.
Aubrey and Lady Orreyed go out
SIR GEORGE (rising) Hey, what! Billiard-room! (Looking at his watch) How goes the? Phew! 'Ullo, 'Ullo! Whisky and potass!
He goes rapidly after Aubrey and Lady Orreyed. Paula resumes playing
PAULA (after a pause) Don't moon about after me, Cayley; follow the others.
DRUMMLE Thanks, by and by. (Sitting) That's pretty.
PAULA (after another pause, stillplaying) I wish you wouldn't stare so.
DRUMMLE Was I staring? I'm sorry.
She plays a little longer, then stops suddenly, rises, and goes to the window, where she stands looking out.
Drummle moves from the ottoman to the settee
A lovely night.
PAULA (startled) Oh! (Without turning to him) Why do you hop about like a monkey?
DRUMMLE Hot rooms play the deuce with the nerves. Now, it would have done you good to have walked in the garden with us after dinner and made merry. Why didn't you?
PAULA You know why.
DRUMMLE Ah, you're thinking of the difference between you and Aubrey?
PAULA Yes, I am thinking of it.
DRUMMLE Well, so am I. How long-
PAULA Getting on for three weeks.
DRUMMLE Bless me, it must be! And this would have been such a night to have healed it! Moonlight, the stars, the scent of flowers; and yet enough darkness to enable a kind woman to rest her hand for an instant on the arm of a good fellow who loves her. Ah, ha! It's a wonderful power, dear Mrs Aubrey, the power of an offended woman! Only realise it! Just that one touch the mere tips of her I45 fingers and, for herself and another, she changes the colour of the whole world!
PAULA (turning to him, calmly) Cayley, my dear man, you talk exactly like a very romantic old lady.
She leaves the window and sits playing with the knick-knacks on the table
DRUMMLE (to himself) H'm, that hasn't done it! [Rising and coming down] Well ha, ha! I accept the suggestion. An old woman, eh?
PAULA Oh, I didn't intend
DRUMMLE But why not? I've every qualification well, almost. And I confess it would have given this withered bosom a throb of grandmotherly satisfaction if I could have seen you and Aubrey at peace before I take my leave tomorrow.
PAULA Tomorrow, Cayley!
DRUMMLE I must.
PAULA Oh, this house is becoming unendurable.
DRUMMLE You're very kind. But you've got the Orreyeds.
PAULA (hercely) The Orreyeds! I I hate the Orreyeds! I lie awake at night, hating them!
DRUMMLE Pardon me, I've understood that their visit is, in some degree, owing to--hem! your suggestlon.
PAULA Heavens! That doesn't make me like them better. Somehow I6; or another, I--I've outgrown these people. This woman--I used to think her 'jolly'! sickens me. I can't breathe when she's near me: the whiff of her handkerchief turns me faint! And she patronises me by the hour, until I I feel my nails growing longer with every word she speaks!
DRUMMLE l~ly dear lady, why on earth don't you say all this to Aubrey?
PAULA Oh, I've been such an utter fool, Cayley!
DRUMMLE (soothingly) Well, well, mention it to Aubrey!
PAULA No, no, you don't understand. What do you think I've done?
DRUMMLE Done! What, since you invited the Orreyeds?
P.AULA Yes; I must tell you
DRUMMLE Perhaps you'd better not.
PAULA Look here. I've intercepted some letters from Mrs Cortelyon and Ellean to--him. (Producing three unopened letters from the bodice of her dress) There are the accursed things! From Paris--two from the Cortelyon woman, the other from Ellean!
DRUMM LE But why why?
PAULA I don't know. Yes, I do! I saw letters coming from Ellean to her father; not a line to me not a line. And one morning it 18 happened I was downstairs before he was, and I spied this one Iying with his heap on the breakfastÄtable, and I slipped it into my pocket--out of malice, Cayley, pure devilry! And a day or two afterwards I met Elwes the postman at the Lodge, and took the letters from him, and found these others amongst 'em. I felt simply fiendish when I saw them fiendish! (Returning the letters to her bodice) And now I carry them about with me, and they're scorching me like a mustard plaster!
DRUMMLE Oh, this accounts for Aubrey not hearing from Paris lately!
PAULA That's an ingenious conclusion to arrive at! Of course it does! I9; (With an hysterical laugh) Ha, ha!
DRUMMLE Well, well! (Laughing) Ha, ha, ha!
PAULA (turning upon him) I suppose it is amusing!
DRUMMLE I beg pardon.
PAULA Heaven knows I've little enough to brag about! I'm a bad lot, 200 but not in mean tricks of this sort. In all my life this is the most caddish thing I've done. How am I to get rid of these letters that's what I want to know? How am I to get rid of them?
DRUMMLE If I were you, I should take Aubrey aside and put them into his hands as soon as possible.
PAULA What! And tell him to his face that I ! No, thank you. I suppose you wouldn't like to-
DRUMMLE No, no; I won't touch em!
PAULA And you call yourself my friend?
DRUMMLE (good-humouredly) No, I don't!
PAULA Perhaps I'll tie them together and give them to his man in the morning.
DRUMMLE That won't avoid an explanation.
PAULA (recklessly) Oh, then he must miss them
D R U M M L E And trace them.
PAULA (throwing herself upon the ottoman) I don't care!
DRUMMLE I know you don't; but let me send him to you now, may I?
PAULA Now! What do you think a woman's made of? I couldn't stand it, Cayley. I haven't slept for nights; and last night there was thunder, too! I believe I've got the horrors.
DRUMMLE (taking the little hand-mirror from the table) You'll sleep well enough when you deliver those letters. Come, come, Mrs Aubrey a good night's rest! (Holding the mirror before her face) It's quite time. She looks at herself for a moment, then snatches the mirror from him
PAULA You brute, Cayley, to show me that!
DRUMMLE Then may I? Be guided by a poor old woman! May I?
PAULA You'll kill me, amongst you!
DRUMMLE What do you say?
PAULA (after a pause) Very well. He nods his head and goes out rapidly. She looks after him for a moment, and calls 'Cayley! Cayley!' Then she again produces the letters, deliberately, one by one, fingering them with aversion. Suddenly she starts, turning her head towards the door Ah! Aubrey enters quickly
A U B R E Y Paula!
P AU L A (handing him the letters, her face alerted ) There! (He examines the letters, puzz ed, and looks at her inquiringly They are many days old. I stole them, I suppose to make you anxious and unhappy. He looks at the letters again, then lays them aside on the table
Al BREY (gently) Paula, dear, it doesn't matter.
PAULA (after a short pause) Why why do you take it like this?
AUBREY What did you expect?
PAULA Oh, but I suppose silent reproaches are really the severest. And then, naturally, you are itching to open your letters. She crosses the room as if to go
AUBREY Paula! (She passes) Surely, surely it's all over now?
PAULA All over! ( shockingly) Has my stepdaughter returned then? When did she arrive? I haven't heard of it!
AUBREY You can be very cruel.
P.AULA That word's always on a man's lips; he uses it if his soup's cold. (With another movement as if to go) Need we--
AUBREY I- I know I've wounded you, Paula. But isn't there any way out of this?
P.AULA When does Ellean return? Tomorrow? Next week?
AUBREY (Dearily) Oh! Now should we grudge Ellean the little pleasure she is likelv to find in Paris and in London?
PAULA I grudge her nothing, if that's a hit at me. But with that woman
AUBREY It must be that woman or another. You know that at present we are unable to give Ellean the opportunity of- of
PAULA Of mixing with respectable people.
AUBREY The opportunity of gaining friends, experience, ordinary knowledge of the world. If you are interested in Ellean, can't you see how useful Mrs Cortelvon's good offices are?
PAULA May I put one question? At the end of the London season, when Mrs Cortelyon has done with Ellean, is it quite understood that the girl comes back to us? ( Aubrey is silent) Is it? Is it?
AUBREY Let us wait till the end of the season
PAULA Oh! I knew it. You're only fooling me; you put me off with any trash. I believe you've sent Ellean away, not for the reasons you give, but because you don't consider me a decent companion for her, because you're afraid she might get a little of her innocence rubbed off in my company. Come, isn't that the truth? Be honest! Isn't that it?
There is a moment's silence on both sides
PAULA (with uplifted hands as tho strike him) Oh!
AUBREY (taking her by the wrists) Sit down. Sit down. (He puts her into a chair; she shakes herself free with a cry) Now listen to me. Fond as you are, Paula, of harking back to your past, there's one chapter of it you always let alone. I've never asked you to speak of it; you've never offered to speak of it. I mean the chapter that relates to the time when you were like Ellean. (She attempts to rise; he restrains her) No no!
PAULA I don't choose to talk about that time. I won't satisfy your curiosity.
-AUBREY My dear Paula, I have no curiosity--I know what you were at Ellean's age. I'll tell you. You hadn't a thought that wasn't a wholesome one, you hadn't an impulse that didn't tend towards good, you never harboured a notion you couldn't have gossiped about to a parcel of children. (She makes another effort to rise: he lays his hand lightly on her shoulder) And this was a very few years back--there are days now when you look like a schoolgirl but think of the difference between the two Paulas. You'll have to think hard, because after a cruel life one's perceptions grow a thick skin. But, for God's sake, do think till you get these two images clearly in your mind, and then ask yourself what sort of a friend such a woman as you are today would have been for the girl of seven or eight years ago.
PAULA (rising) How dare you? I could be almost as good a friend to Ellean as her own mother would have been, had she lived. I know what you mean. How dare you?
AUBREY You say that; very likely you believe it. But you're blind, Paula; you're blind. You! Every belief that a young, pure-minded girl holds sacred that you once held sacred you now make a target for a jest, a sneer, a paltry cynicism. I tell you, you're not mistress any longer of your thoughts or your tongue. Why, how often, sitting between you and Ellean, have I seen her cheeks turn scarlet as you've rattled off some tale that belongs by right to the - club or the smoking-room!ø Have you noticed the blush? If you have, has the cause of it ever struck you? And this is the girl you say you love, I admit that you do love, whose love you expect in return! Oh, Paula, I make the best, the only, excuse for you when I tell you you're blind!
PAULA Ellean Ellean blushes easily.
AUBREY You blushed as easily a few years ago.
PAULA (after a short pause) Well! Have you finished your sermon?
AUBREY (with a gesture of despair) Oh, Paula!
He goes up to the window and stands with his back to the room
PAULA (to herself) A few years ago!
She walks slowly towards the door, then suddenly drops upon the ottoman in a paroxysm of weeping
O God! A few years ago!
AUBREY( go ing to her) Paula!
PAULA (sobbing) Oh, don't touch me!
PAULA Oh, go away from me!
He goes back a few steps, and after a little while she becomes calmer and rises unsteadily; then in an altered tone Look here--!
He advances a step; she checks him with a quick gesture Look here! Get rid of these people and her husband as soon as possible! I I've done with them!
AUBREY (in a whisper) Paula!
PAI,LA And then then when the time comes for Ellean to leave Mlrs Cortelyon, give mc give me another chance! ~ He advances again, but she shrinks away No, no!
She goes out by the door on the right. He sinks on to the settee, covering his eyes with his hands. There is a brief silence, then a servant enters
SERVANT Mrs Cortelyon, sir, with Miss Ellean.
Aubrey rises to meet Mrs Cortelyon, who enters, followed by Ellean, both being in travelling-dresses. The servant withdraws
MRS CORTELYON (shaking hands with Aubrey) Oh, my dear Aubrey!
AUBREY Mrs Cortelyon! (Kissing Ellean) Ellean dear!
ELLEAN Papa, is all well at home?
M R S C O R T E L Y O N We re shockingly anxious.
AUBREY Yes, yes, all's well. This is quite unexpected (To Mrs Cortelyon) You've found Paris insufferably hot?
MRS CORTELYON Insufferably hot! Paris is pleasant enough. We've had no letter from you!
AUBREY I wrote to Ellean a week ago.
.MRS CORTELYON Without alluding to the subject I had written to you upon.
AUBREY (thinking) Ah, of course-
MRS CORTELYON And since then we've both written and you've been absolutely silent. Oh, it's too bad!
AUBREY (picking up the letters from the table) It isn't altogether my fault. Here are the letters
MRS CORTELYON They're unopened.
AUBREY An accident delayed their reaching me till this evening. I'm afraid this has upset you very much.
MRS CORTELYON Upset me!
ELLEAN (in an undertone to Mrs Cortelyon) Never mind. Not now, dear not tonight.
MRS CORTELYON (to Ellean aloud ) Child, run away and take your things off. She doesn't look as if she'd journeyed from Paris today.
AUBREY (taking Ellean's hands) I've never seen her with such a colour.
ELLEAN (to Aubrey, in a faint voice) Papa, Mrs Cortelyon has been so very, very kind to me, but I I have come home.
She goes out
AUBREY Come home! (To Mrs Cortelyon) Ellean returns to us, then?
MRS CORTELYON That's the very point I put to you in my letters, and you oblige me to travel from Paris to Willowmere on a warm day to settle it. I think perhaps it's right that Ellean should be with you just now, although I My dear friend, circumstances are a little altered.
AUBREY Alice, you're in some trouble.
MRS CORTELYON Well yes, I am in trouble. You remember pretty little Mrs Brereton who was once Caroline Ardale?
AUBREY Quite well.
MRS CORTELYON She's a widow now, poor thing. She has the entresol of the house where we've been lodging in the Avenue de Friedland. Caroline's a dear chum of mine; she formed a great liking for Ellean.
AUBREY I m very glad.
- MRS CORTELYON Yes, it's nice for her to meet her mother's friends. Er that young Hugh Ardale the papers were full of some time ago--he's Caroline Brereton's brother, you know.
AUBREY No, I didn't know. What did he do? I forget.
MRS CORTELYON Checked one of those horrid mutinies at some faraway station in India, marched down with a handful of his men and a few faithful natives, and held the place until he was relieved. They gave him his company and a VC for it.
AUBREY And he's Mrs Brereton's brother?
MRS CORTELYON Yes. He's with his sister was, rather--in Paris. He's home--invalided. Good gracious, Aubrey, why don't you help me out? Can't you guess what has occurred?
M R S C O R T E L Y O N Young Ardale Ellean!
A U B R E Y An attachment ?
MRS CORTELYON Yes, Aubrey. (after a little pause) Well, I suppose I've got myself into sad disgrace. But really I didn't foresee anything of this kind. A serious, reserved child like Ellean, and a boyish, high-spirited soldier it never struck me as being likely. Aubrey paces to and fro thoughtfully
I did all I could directly Captain Ardale spokc- wrote to you at once. Why on earth don't you receive your letters promptly, and when you do get them, why can't you open them? I endured the anxiety till last night, and then made up my mind home! Of course, it has worried me terribly. My head's bursting. Are there any salts about?
Aubrey fetches a bottle from the cabinet and hands it to her We've had one of those hateful smooth crossings that won't let you be properly indisposed.
AlUBREY dear Alice, I assure you I've no thought of blaming you.
MRS CORTELYON That statement always precedes a quarrel.
AUBREY I don't know whether this is the worst or the best luck. How will my wife regard it? Is Captain Ardale a good fellow?
MRS CORTELYON My dear Aubrey, you'd better read up the ac- counts of his wonderful heroism. Face to face with death for a whole week; always with a smile and a cheering word for the poor helpless souls depending on him! Of course, it's that that has stirred the depths of your child's nature. I've watched her while we've been dragging the story out of him, and if angels look different from Ellean at that moment, I don't desire to meet any, that's all!
AUBREY If you were in my position--? But you can't judge.
MRS CORTELYON Why, if I had a marriageable daughter of my own and Captain Ardale proposed for her, naturally I should cry my eyes out all night--but I should thank Heaven in the morning.
AUBREY You believe so thoroughly in him?
MRS CORTELYON You should have only a headache at this minute if I didn't! Look here, you've got to see me down the lane; that's the least you can do, my friend. Come into my house for a moment and shake hands with Hugh.
A UBR E Y What, is he here?
MRS CORTELYON He came through with us, to present himself formally tomorrow. Where are my gloves? (Aubrey fetches them from the ottoman) Make my apologies to Mrs Tanqueray, please. She's well, I hope? (Going towards the door) I can't feel sorry she hasn't seen me in this condition.
ELLEAN (to Mrs Cortelyon) I ve been waiting to wish you good-night. I was afraid I'd missed you.
MRS CORTELYON Good-night, Ellean.
ELLEAN (in a low voice, embracing Mrs Cortelyon) I can't thank you. Dear Mrs Cortelyon!
MRS CORTELYON (her arms round Ellean, in a whisper to Aubrey) Speak a word to her.
Mrs Cortelyon goes out
AUBREY (to Ellean) Ellean, I'm going to see Mrs Cortelyon home. (Going to the door) Tell Paula where I am; explain, dear.
ELLEAN (her head drooping) Yes. ([He looks at her steadily for a moment then walks towards the door.] Quickly) Father! [He turns towards her] You are angry with mc disappointed?
AUBR E Y Angry? No.
AUBREY (smiling and going to her and taking her hand ) If so, it's only because you've shaken my belief in my discernment. I thought you took after your poor mother a little, Ellean; but there's a look on your face tonight, dear, that I never saw on hers never, never.
ELLEAN (leaning her head on his shoulder) Perhaps I ought not to have gone away?
AUBREY Hush! You're quite happy?
AUBREY That's right. Then, as you are quite happy, there is something I particularly want you to do for me Ellean.
ELLEAN What is that?
AUBREY Be very gentle with Paula. Will you?
ELLEAN You think I have been unkind.
AUBREY (kissing her upon the forehead ) Be very gentle with Paula. He goes out and she stands looking after him, then, as she turns thoughtfully from the door, a rose is thrown through the window and falls at her feet. She picks up the flower wonderingly and goes to the window
ELLEAN (starting back) Hugh!
Hugh Ardale, a handsome young man of about seven-and- twenty, with a boyish face and manner, appears outside the window
HUGH Nelly! Nelly dear!
ELLEAN What s the matter?
HUGH Hush! Nothing. It's only fun. (Laughing) Ha, ha, ha! I've found out that Mrs Cortelyon's meadow runs up to your father's plantation; I've come through a gap in the hedge.
ELLEAN Why, Hugh?
HUGH I'm miserable at The Warren; it's so different from the Avenue de Friedland. Don't look like that! Upon my word I meant just to peep at your home and go back, but I saw figures moving about here, and came nearer, hoping to get a glimpse of you. (Entering the room) Was that your father?
HUGH Isn't this fun! A rabbit ran across my foot while I was hiding behind that old yew.
ELLEAN You must go away; it s not right for you to be here like this.
HUGH But it's only fun, I tell you. You take everything so seriously. Do wish me good-night.
ELLEAN We have said good-night.
HUGH In the hall at The Warren before Mrs Cortelyon and a manservant. Oh, it's so different from the Avenue de Friedland!
ELLEAN (giving him her hand hastily) Good-night, Hugh.
HUGH Is that all? We might be the merest acquaintances. He momentarily embraces her, but she releases herself
ELLEAN It's when you're like this that you make me feel utterly miserable. (Throwing the rose from her angrily) Oh!
HUGH I've offended you now, I suppose?
HUGH Forgive me, Nelly. Come into the garden for five minutes; we'll stroll down to the plantation.
ELLEAN No, no.
HUGH For two minutes--to tell me you forgive me.
ELLEAN I forgive you.
HUGH Evidently. I shan't sleep a wink tonight after this. What a fool I am! Come down to the plantation. Make it up with me.
ELLEAN There is somebody coming into this room. Do you wish to be seen here?
HUGH I shall wait for you behind that yew tree. You must speak to me. Nelly!
He disa ppears. Paula enters
ELLEAN You you are very surprised to see me, Paula, of course.
PAULA Why are you here? Why aren't you with your friend?
ELLEAN I've come homc- if you'll have me. We left Paris this morning; Mrs Cortelyon brought me back. She was here a minute or two ago; Papa has just gone with her to The Warren. He asked me to tell you.
PAULA There are some people staying with us that I'd rather you didn't meet. It was hardly worth your while to return for a few hours.
E LL E AN A few hours?
PAULA Well, when do you go to London?
ELLEAN I don't think I go to London, after all.
PAULA (eagerly) You you've quarrelled with her?
ELLEAN No, no, no, not that; but Paula! (In an altered tone) Paula!
PAULA (startled) Eh? (Ellean goes deliberately to Paula and kisses her) Ellean!
ELLEAN Kiss me.
PAULA What what s come to you?
ELLEAN I want to behave differently to you in the future. Is it too late?
PAULA Too late! (Impulsively kissing Ellean and crying) Noo no! No--no!
ELLEAN Paula, don t cry.
PAULA (wiping her eyes) I'm a little shaky; I haven't been sleeping. It's all right talk to me.
ELLEAN There is something I want to tell you--
PA ULA Is there--is there?
They sit together on the ottoman, Paula taking Ellean's hand
ELLEAN Paula, in our house in the Avenue de Friedland, on the floor below us, there was a Mrs Brereton. She used to be a friend of my mother's. Mrs Cortelyon and I spent a great deal of our time with her.
PAULA (suspiciously) Oh! (Letting Ellean's handfall) Is this lady going to take you up in place of Mrs Cortelyon?
ELLEAN No, no. Her brother is staying with her was staying with ;
her. Her brother (Breaking off in confusion)
PAULA [looking into her face] Well?
ELLEAN (almost inaudibly) Paula--
She rises and walks away, Paula following her
PAULA Ellean! (Taking hold of her) You're not in love!
Ellean looks at Paula appealingly
PAULA Oh! You in love! You! Oh, this is why you've come home! Of course, you can make friends with me now! You'll leave us for good soon, I suppose; so it doesn't much matter being civil to me for a little while!
ELLEAN Oh, Paula!
PAULA Why, how you have deceived us all of us! We've taken you for a cold-blooded little saint. The fools you've made of us! Saint Ellean! Saint Ellean!
ELLEAN Ah, I might have known you'd only mock me!
PAULA (her tone changing) Eh?
ELLEAN I I can t talk to you. (Sitting on the settee) You do nothing else but mock and sneer, nothing else.
PAULA Ellean dear! Ellean! I didn't mean it. I'm so horribly jealous, it's a sort of curse on me. (Kneeling beside Ellean and embracing her) My tongue runs away with me. I'm going to alter, I swear I am. I'~e made some good resolutions, and, as God's above me, I'll keep them! If you are in love, if you do ever marry, that's no reason why we shouldn't be fond of each other. Come, you've kissed me of your own accord you can't take it back. Now we're friends again, aren't we? Ellean dear! I want to know everything, every- thing. Ellean dear, Ellean!
ELLEAN Paula, Hugh has done something that makes me very angry. He came with us from Paris today, to see Papa. He is staying with Mrs Cortelyon and I ought to tell you
PAULA Yes, yes. What?
ELLEAN He has found his way by The Warren meadow through the plantation up to this house. He is waiting to bid me good-night. (Glancing towards the garden) He is out there.
ELLEAN What shall I do?
PAULA Bring him in to see me! Will you?
ELLEAN No, no.
PAULA But I'm dying to know him. Oh, yes, you must. I shall meet him before Aubrey does. (Excitedly running her hands over her hair) I'm so glad.
Ellean goes out by the window
The mirror mirror. What a fright I must look!
Not finding the hand-glass on the table, she jumps on to the settee, and surveys herself in the mirror over the mantelpiece, then sits quietly down and waits Ellean! He must fancy Ellean!
After a pause Ellean enters by the window with Hugh
ELLEAN_ Paula, this is- Captain Ardale Mrs Tanqueray.
Paula rises and turns, and she and Hugh stand staring blankly at each other for a moment or two; then Paula advances and gives him her hand
PAULA(in a strange voice, but calmly) How do you do?
HUGH How do you do?
PAULA Ellean, dear, I want to have a little talk about you to Mr Ardalc Captain Ardalc alone. (Putting her arms round Ellean, and leading her to the door) Come back in a little while. Ellean nods to Paula with a smile and goes out, while Paula stands watching her at the open door In a little while--in a little Closing the door and then taking a seat facing Hugh)
Be quick! Mr Tanqueray has only gone down to The Warren with Mrs Cortelyon. What is to be done?
(to Ellean) Mr Ardale and I have met in London, Ellean. -Captain Ardale, now?
ELLEAN In London?
PAULA They say the world's very small, don't they?
HUGH (blankly) Done...
PAULA Done--done. Something must be done.
HUGH I understood that Mr Tanqueray had marned a Mrs--Mrs
PAULA I'd been a hurry to leave after we separated.
PAULA (sneeringly) No.
HUGH I went out to India.
PAULA What's to be done?
HUGH Damn this chance!
PAULA Oh, my God!
HUGH Your husband doesn't know, does he!
PAULA That you and I~
PAULA No. He knows about others.
HUGH Not about me. How long were we-
PAULA I don't remember, exactly.
HUGH Do you--do you think it matters?
PAU L A His--his daughter.
With a muttered exclamation, he turns and sits with his head in his hands
What's to be done?
HUGH I wish I could think.
PAULA Oh! Oh! Wat happened to that flat of ours in Ethelbert Street?
HUH I let it.
PAULA All that prettv furniture?
HUGH Sold it.
PAULA I came across the key of the escritoire the other day in an old purse! (Suddenly realising the horror and hopelessness of her position, and starting to her feet with an hysterical cry of rage) What am I maundering about?
HUGH For God's sake, be quiet! Do let me think.
PAULA This will send me mad! (Suddenly turning and standing over him) You you beast, to crop up in my life again like this! HUGH I always treated you fairlv.
PAULA Oh! I beg your pardon I know you did
She sinks on to the settee, crying hysterically
PAULA She kissed me tonight! I'd won her over! I've had such a fight to make her love me! And now just as she's beginning to love me, to bring this on her!
HUGH Hush, hush! Don't break down!
PAULA (sobbing) You don't know! I I haven't been getting on well in my marriage. It's been my fault. The life I used to lead spoilt me completely. But I'd made up my mind to turn over a new life from tonight. From tonight!
PAULA Don't you call me that!
HUGH Mrs Tanquerav, there is no cause for you to despair in this way. It's allright, I tell you--it shall be all right.
PAULA (shivering) What are we to do?
HU GH Hold our tongues.
PAULA (staring innocently) Eh?
HUGH The chances are a hundred to one against anyone ever turning 63; up who knew us when we were together. Besides, no one would be such a brute as to split on us. If anvbody did do such a thing, we should have to lie! What are we upsetting ourselves like this for, when we'--e simply got to hold our tongues?
PAULA You're as mad as I am!
HUGH Can you think of a better plan?
PAULA There's only one plan possible let's come to our senses! Mr Tanqueray must be told.
HUGH Your husband! What, and I lose Ellean! I lose Ellean!
PAULA You've got to lose her.
HUGH I won't lose her! I can't lose her!
PAULA Didn t I read of your doing any number of brave things in India? Why, you seem to be an awful coward!
HUGH That's another sort of pluck altogether; I haven't this sort of pluck.
PAULA Oh, I don't ask you to tell Mr Tanqueray. That's my job.
HUGH (standing over her) You you you'd better!
PAULA (rising) Don't bully me! I intend to.
HUGH (taking hold of her; she wrenches herself free) Look here, Paula! I never treated you badly--you've owned it. Why should you want to pay me out like this? You don't know how I love Ellean!
PAULA Yes, that's just what I do know.
HUGH I say you don't! She's as good as my own mother. I've been downright honest with her too. I told her, in Paris, that I'd been a bit wild at one time, and, after a damned wretched day, she 660 promised to forgive me because of what I'd done since in India. She's behaved like an angel to me! Surely I oughtn't to lose her, - after all, just because I've been like other fellows! No; I haven't been half as rackety as a hundred men we could think of. Paula, don't pay me out for nothing; be fair to me, there's a good girl be fair to me!
PAULA Oh, I'm not considering you at all! I advise you not to stay here any longer; Mr Tanqueray is sure to be back soon.
HUGH (taking up his hat) What's the understanding between us then? What have we arranged to do?
PAULA I don't know what you're going to do; I've got to tell Mr Tanqueray.
HUGH (approaching her fiercely) By God, you shall do nothing of the sort!
PA ULA You shocking coward!
HUGH If you dare! Going up to the window) Mind! If you dare!
PAULA (following him) Why, what would you do?
HUGH (after a short pause, sullenly) Nothing. I'd shoot myself that's nothing. Good-night.
PA ULA Good-night.
He disappears. She walks unsteadily to the ottoman, and sits; and as she does so her hand falls upon the little silver mirror, which she takes up, staring at her own reflection