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I'll Leave It To You - A Light Comedy In Three Acts
by Noel Coward
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Samuel French

I'LL LEAVE IT TO YOU

A LIGHT COMEDY

NOEL COWARD



"I'LL LEAVE IT TO YOU"

A LIGHT COMEDY IN THREE ACTS

BY

NOEL COWARD

SAMUEL FRENCH

LONDON

NEW YORK TORONTO SYDNEY HOLLYWOOD

[The following text concerning the copyright and royalties was printed at the beginning of the book. It is included here for historical interest only. (note of transcriber)]

Copyright 1920 by Samuel French Ltd

This play is fully protected under the copyright laws of the British Commonwealth of Nations, the United States of America, and all countries of the Berne and Universal Copyright Conventions.

All rights are strictly reserved.

It is an infringement of the copyright to give any public performance or reading of this play either in its entirety or in the form of excerpts without the prior consent of the copyright owners. No part of this publication may be transmitted, stored in a retrieval system, or reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, manuscript, typescript, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Copyright owners.

SAMUEL FRENCH LTD. 26 SOUTHAMPTON STREET, STRAND, LONDON, WC2, or their authorized agents, issue licences to amateurs to give performances of this play on payment of a fee. The fee must be paid, and the licence obtained, before a performance is given.

Licences are issued subject to the understanding that it shall be made clear in all advertising matter that the audience will witness an amateur performance; and that the names of the authors of plays shall be included in all announcements and on all programmes.

The royalty fee indicated below is subject to contract and subject to variation at the sole discretion of Samuel French Ltd.

Fee for each and every performance by amateurs Code H in the British Isles

In territories overseas the fee quoted above may not apply. A quotation will be given upon application to the authorized agents, or direct to Samuel French Ltd.

ISBN 0 573 01199 0



To

MY MOTHER



"I'LL LEAVE IT TO YOU"

Produced on Wednesday, July 21, 1920, at the New Theatre, London, with the following Cast of Characters:—

MRS. DERMOTT Miss Kate Cutler. OLIVER } { Mr. Douglas Jefferies. EVANGELINE } { Miss Muriel Pope. SYLVIA }(Her Children){ Miss Stella Jesse. BOBBIE } { Mr. Noel Coward. JOYCE } { Miss Moya Nugent. DANIEL DAVIS (Her Brother) Mr. E. Holman Clark. MRS. CROMBIE Miss Lois Stuart. FAITH CROMBIE Miss Esme Wynne. GRIGGS (Butler) Mr. David Clarkson.

The action of the play takes place in MULBERRY MANOR, MRS. DERMOTT'S house, a few miles out of London.

Eighteen months elapse between acts one and two, and one night between acts two and three.



"I'LL LEAVE IT TO YOU"

A plan of the stage of the New Theatre, London, set for the play is given at the end of the book.

SCENE.—The Hall of Mulberry Manor. All the furniture looks very comfortable. Through the window can be seen a glimpse of a snowy garden; there it a log fire. The light is a little dim, being late afternoon. Seated on the table swinging her legs is JOYCE, she is attired in a fur coat and goloshes, very little else can be seen, except a pink healthy looking young face. SYLVIA is seated on the Chesterfield R. She is twenty-one and exceedingly pretty. It is about five days before Christmas.

JOYCE (brightly). My feet are simply soaking.

SYLVIA (sewing). Why on earth don't you go and change them? You'll catch cold.

(BOBBIE enters R. He is a slim, bright-looking youth of twenty.)

JOYCE. I don't mind if I do. (Laughs.) Colds are fun.

BOBBIE. She loves having a fuss made of her, beef tea—chicken—jelly with whipped cream—and fires in her bedroom, little Sybarite.

JOYCE. So do you.

BOBBIE (comes C.). No, I don't; whenever my various ailments confine me to my bed, I chafe—positively chafe at the terrible inactivity. I want to be up and about, shooting, riding, cricket, football, judo, the usual run of manly sports.

SYLVIA. Knowing you for what you are—lazy, luxurious——

BOBBIE (pained). Please, please, please, not in front of the child. (JOYCE kicks). It's demoralizing for her to hear her idolized brother held up to ridicule.

JOYCE. You're not my idolized brother at all—Oliver is. (Turning away, pouting.)

BOBBIE (seated R. on Chesterfield, sweetly). If that were really so, dear, I know you have much too kind a heart to let me know it.

SYLVIA. What is the matter with you this afternoon, Bobbie—you are very up in the air about something.

(JOYCE takes her coat off, puts on back of chair R. of table).

BOBBIE (rising and sitting on club fender). Merely another instance of the triumph of mind over matter; in this case a long and healthy walk was the matter. I went into the lobby to put on my snow boots and then—as is usually the case with me—my mind won. I thought of tea, crumpets and comfort. Oliver has gone without me, he simply bursts with health and extraordinary dullness. Personally I shall continue to be delicate and interesting.

SYLVIA (seriously). You may have to work, Bobbie.

BOBBIE. Really, Sylvia, you do say the most awful things, remember Joyce is only a school-girl, she'll be quite shocked.

JOYCE. We work jolly hard at school, anyhow.

BOBBIE. Oh, no, you don't. I've read the modern novelists, and I know; all you do is walk about with arms entwined, and write poems of tigerish adoration to your mistresses. It's a beautiful existence.

JOYCE. You are a silly ass. (Picks up magazine.)

SYLVIA. It's all very well to go on fooling Bobbie, but really we shall have to pull ourselves together a bit. Mother's very worried, as you know, money troubles are perfectly beastly, and she hasn't told us nearly all. I do so hate her to be upset, poor darling.

BOBBIE. What can we do? (Sits L. end of Chesterfield. JOYCE puts down magazine and listens.)

SYLVIA. Think of a way to make money.

BOBBIE. It's difficult now that the war is over.

SYLVIA. That's cheap wit, dear; also it's the wrong moment for it. (JOYCE giggles.)

BOBBIE. It's always the wrong moment for cheap wit, admitting for one moment that it was, which it wasn't.

JOYCE. Oh, do shut up, you make my head go round.

(Enter EVANGELINE downstairs; she is tall and almost beautiful; she carries a book in her hand.)

BOBBIE (turning). Oh, Vangy, do come and join us; we're on the verge of a congress.

EVANGELINE. I must read some more Maeterlinck. (Posing.)

BOBBIE. You mean you must let us see you reading Maeterlinck.

EVANGELINE (goes to him, back of Chesterfield, touches his hair.) Try not to be so irritating, Bobbie dear; just because you don't happen to appreciate good literature, it's very small and narrow to laugh at people who do.

SYLVIA. But seriously, Vangy, we are rather worried (EVANGELINE moves) about mother; she's been looking harassed for days.

EVANGELINE (sitting in armchair). What about?

SYLVIA. Money, money, money! Haven't you realized that! Uncle Daniel sent a pretty substantial cheque from South America (all nod) that helped things on a bit after Father's death, but that must be gone by now—and mother won't say how much father left.

JOYCE. Perhaps she doesn't know.

BOBBIE. She must know now, he's been dead nearly six months—inconsiderate old beast!

SYLVIA. Bobbie, you're not to talk about father like that. I won't have it; after all——

BOBBIE. After all what?—He was perfectly rotten to mother, and never came near her for four years before his death. Why should we be charming and reverent about him just because he's our father. When I saw him I hated him, and his treatment of mum hasn't made me like him any better, I can tell you.

EVANGELINE. But still, Bobbie, he was our father, and mother was fond of him—(BOBBIE. Ha!)—once, anyhow there's nothing to be gained by running him down.

SYLVIA. The point is, have we enough money to keep on as we are, or haven't we?

JOYCE (quickly). The only one who knows is mother, and she won't say.

SYLVIA. We haven't asked her yet; we'll make her say. Where is she?

BOBBIE. Up in her room, I think.

SYLVIA. Go and fetch her down. (Puts sewing on form.)

BOBBIE. What, now?

SYLVIA. Yes, now.

BOBBIE. Oh, no!

SYLVIA AND EVANGELINE. Yes, go along.

BOBBIE. Righto! we'll tackle her straight away.

(Exit BOBBIE upstairs.)

JOYCE (goes to EVANGELINE). Do—do you think we may have to leave this house?

SYLVIA. I don't know.

JOYCE. I should simply hate that. (Sits on right end of form.)

EVANGELINE. So should we all—it would be miserable.

SYLVIA. Think how awful it must be for mother.

JOYCE. I say, don't you think Oliver ought to be here—if anything's going to happen? He's the eldest.

SYLVIA. He wouldn't be any help. He cares for nothing but the inside of motors and the outside of Maisie Stuart; he's not observant enough to know her inside.

EVANGELINE. What a perfectly horrible thing to say!

SYLVIA. Well, it's absolutely true; he thinks she's everything that's good and noble, when all the time she's painfully ordinary and a bit of a cat; what fools men are.

JOYCE (blase). One can't help falling in love.

(Enter MRS. DERMOTT downstairs followed by BOBBIE; she is a pretty little woman with rather a plaintive manner.)

MRS. DERMOTT (as she descends). Bobbie says you all want to talk to me! What's the matter, darlings? (Comes C.)

SYLVIA. That's what we want to know, mum; come on now, out with it. You've been looking worried for ever so long.

(BOBBIE stays at foot of stairs.)

MRS. DERMOTT. I don't know what you mean, Sylvia dear I——

SYLVIA. Now listen to me, mother; you've got something on your mind, that's obvious to any one; you're not a bit good at hiding your feelings. Surely we're all old enough to share the worry, whatever it is.

MRS. DERMOTT. (kissing her). Silly old darlings—it's true I have been a little worried—you see, we're ruined.

SYLVIA. } EVANGELINE. } Mother! BOBBIE. } JOYCE. }

(The girls rise.)

MRS. DERMOTT (shaking her head sadly). Yes, we're ruined; we haven't a penny. (Moves to chair below table.)

SYLVIA. Why didn't you tell us before?

MRS. DERMOTT (sitting). I only knew it myself this morning, I had a letter from Tibbets; he's been through all the papers and things.

EVANGELINE. Father's papers?

MRS. DERMOTT. I suppose so, dear. There wouldn't be any others, would there?

BOBBIE (coming down). But mother, what did he say, how did he put it?

MRS. DERMOTT. I really forget—but I know it worried me dreadfully.

(JOYCE sits on form.)

EVANGELINE. And we literally haven't a penny?

MRS. DERMOTT. Well, only fifteen hundred a year; it's almost as bad.

(EVANGELINE sits in armchair.)

JOYCE. Shall we have to give up the house?

MRS. DERMOTT. I'm afraid so, darling; you see there are taxes and rates and things. Tibbets knows all about it—he's coming down to-night.

SYLVIA. Can't Uncle Daniel do anything?

(BOBBIE sits on table.)

MRS. DERMOTT. He's my only hope. I cabled to South America three weeks ago. I didn't know the worst then, but I felt I wanted some one to lean on—after all, his cheque was a great help.

JOYCE. Is he very, very rich?

MRS. DERMOTT. He must be, he's a bachelor, and he has a ranch and a mine and things.

BOBBIE. Has he answered your cable?

MRS. DERMOTT. No, but of course he may have been out prospecting or broncho-breaking or something when it arrived. They live such restless lives out there—oh, no, I don't think he'll fail me, he's my only brother.

EVANGELINE. I wonder how much he has got.

MRS. DERMOTT. Perhaps Tibbets will know—we'll ask him.

BOBBIE. Why, is he Uncle Daniel's lawyer as well?

MRS. DERMOTT. No, dear, but you know lawyers are always clever at knowing other people's business—I shall never forget——

BOBBIE. Yes—but mother, what will happen if he isn't rich, and doesn't help us after all?

MRS. DERMOTT. I really don't know, darling. It's terribly upsetting, isn't it?

JOYCE. It will be awful having to give up the house.

MRS. DERMOTT. Well, Tibbets says we needn't for another two years. It's paid for until then or something.

SYLVIA (sits on the Chesterfield). Thank heaven! What a relief!

MRS. DERMOTT. But we shall have to be awfully careful. Oh, darlings (she breaks down), thank God I've got you. (Weeps on BOBBIE'S knee.)

SYLVIA. Buck up mother, it isn't as bad as all that. After all, we can work.

BOBBIE (without enthusiasm). Yes, we can work. (Moving from table to R.)

EVANGELINE. I shall write things, really artistic little fragments——

BOBBIE. We want to make money, Vangy.

MRS. DERMOTT. But, darlings, you know you can't make money unless you're Socialists and belong to Unions and things.

EVANGELINE. Well, I know I should make money in time. There's a great demand for really good stuff now.

SYLVIA. Do you think yours is really good?

EVANGELINE. I'm sure it is.

(MRS. DERMOTT reads a magazine.)

BOBBIE. Well, God help the bad.

EVANGELINE (rising). Look here, Bobbie, I'm tired of your silly jeering at me. Just stop trying to be funny. (Moves to L.C.)

BOBBIE (hotly). I realize the futility of endeavour when I see how funny others can be without trying (following her.)

EVANGELINE. Ill-bred little pip squeak!

JOYCE (jumping up; firing). He's not a pip squeak. Fanny Harris says he's the most good-looking boy she's ever seen.

EVANGELINE. She can't have seen many then. (Moves to fireplace.)

BOBBIE. Oh! Don't betray your jealousy of my looks, Evangeline. It's so degrading.

EVANGELINE. I tell you——

MRS. DERMOTT. Children, stop quarelling at once. I think it's most inconsiderate of you under the circumstances.

(BOBBIE sits on table back to audience. There is silence for a moment. Enter GRIGGS from hall with a telegram.)

GRIGGS. For you, madam.

(All show an interest.)

MRS. DERMOTT (taking it). Thank you, Griggs. (She opens it and reads it.) There is no answer, Griggs.

(Exit GRIGGS, R.)

My dears!

JOYCE. What is it, mother, quick?

MRS. DERMOTT (reading). Arrive this afternoon—about tea time, Daniel.

SYLVIA. Uncle Daniel!

EVANGELINE. In England!

MRS. DERMOTT. I suppose so. It was handed in at Charing Cross.

BOBBIE. What luck! (Gets off table.)

MRS. DERMOTT. We're saved—oh, my darlings! (She breaks down again.)

JOYCE. He may not have any money after all.

MRS. DERMOTT. He'd never have got across so quickly if he hadn't. (She sniffs.) Oh, it's too, too wonderful—I have not seen him for six years.

BOBBIE. As a matter of fact it is jolly decent of him to be so prompt.

MRS. DERMOTT. Where's Oliver? He ought to be here to welcome him too.

BOBBIE (C.). Oliver has gone for a brisk walk, to keep fit he said, as if it made any difference whether he kept fit or not.

MRS. DERMOTT. It makes a lot of difference, dear. He is the athletic one of the family. (BOBBIE is annoyed.) I don't like the way you speak of him, Bobbie. We can't all compose songs and be brilliant. You must try and cultivate a little toleration for others, darling. (OLIVER passes window from L.) Oliver is a great comfort to me. Tibbets only said——

EVANGELINE (glancing out of the window). Here he is, anyhow. Who's going to tell him the news?

MRS. DERMOTT (rising, goes to stairs). Well, I've no time now, I must change my dress for Daniel. Turn on the lights, Bobbie; make everything look as cosy and festive as you can. (On stairs.) Run into the kitchen, Joyce dear, and tell cook to make an extra supply of hot cakes for tea. I'm sure Daniel will love them after being so long abroad and living on venison and bully beef and things. (Ascending, then turns.) You will all wash before tea, won't you, darlings? It's always so important to make a good first impression, and he hasn't seen any of you since you've been grown up. (Glances in mirror.) Oh! look at my face, I look quite happy now.

(Exit MRS. DERMOTT upstairs.)

SYLVIA. I think mother is rather mixing up North and South America; they don't have such awful hardships where Uncle Daniel comes from.

(Enter OLIVER from hall; he is a thick-set, determined-looking man of twenty-five.)

OLIVER. Hallo! (Crossing to table, L.C.)

JOYCE (going to him, excitedly). Something wonderful has happened, Oliver.

OLIVER. What is it?

JOYCE. We're ruined. I've just got to go and order extra teacakes. Isn't it all thrilling?

(Exit JOYCE into hall.)

OLIVER. What on earth's she talking about?

SYLVIA. It's perfectly true. We haven't any money, but Uncle Daniel's coming to-day, and we're sure he'll help us.

OLIVER (dazed). Haven't any money, but——

EVANGELINE (at fire). Mother's been rather vague as usual, but we gather that we're practically penniless, and that we shall have to give up the house after two years unless something happens.

SYLVIA. Luckily Uncle Daniel is happening—this afternoon. Mother's just had a wire from him—he's certain to be rich, mother says.

(BOBBIE leaning against stairs.)

OLIVER. Why?

SYLVIA. Because he's a bachelor, and has been living in South America for five years.

BOBBIE. Six years.

SYLVIA. Five years.

BOBBIE. Six years—mother said so.

SYLVIA. No, she didn't——

OLIVER. Well, it doesn't matter. How does mother know we're penniless?

BOBBIE (coming C.). She heard from Tibbets this morning, he's coming down to-night.

OLIVER (sinking into chair). By Jove, what a muddle!

(JOYCE re-enters, crosses to chair L.C., takes coat and exits up stairs.)

SYLVIA. It's all quite clear when you think it out.

BOBBIE (C.). We've all got to wash and make ourselves look clean and sweet for Uncle Daniel. Your collar's filthy; you'd better go and change it quickly. He may be here at any minute.

SYLVIA. Turn on the lights, Bobbie—and do let's hurry.

(BOBBIE turns up the lights and goes upstairs followed by OLIVER. EVANGELINE goes up slowly after them.)

OLIVER. What a muddle! What a muddle! (As he crosses to stairs.)

EVANGELINE (following him). What a muddle! What a muddle! (Turns on stairs.) Shall I put on my emerald green tea gown? (To SYLVIA.)

SYLVIA. No, dear; it's ever so much too old for you.

EVANGELINE (piqued). I don't think it's at all too old for me. I shall certainly put it on.

(She disappears upstairs. SYLVIA is left alone. Suddenly there comes a loud peal at the front door bell. SYLVIA sees some half-made crepe-de-chine underclothes on form, takes them, hides them under cushions on window seat L. Draws curtains to window L., then L.C. as enter GRIGGS, followed by UNCLE DANIEL in an opulent-looking fur coat—he is a tall, stoutish man of about forty-five. SYLVIA shrinks back by stairs.)

GRIGGS (assisting him off with his coat). If you will wait, sir, I'll tell Mrs. Dermott you are here.

DANIEL. Thank you. (Goes round to fireplace, warms hands, turns.)

(GRIGGS has meanwhile taken his coat into the lobby. SYLVIA creeps cautiously from behind and goes towards stairs. DANIEL looks round and sees her. He watches her in silence for a moment, as she goes up a few stairs.)

Excuse me—have you been stealing anything?

SYLVIA (jumping). Oh, Uncle Daniel—I didn't want you to see me.

DANIEL. Why not?

SYLVIA. I wanted to change my frock and do my hair.

DANIEL. It looks quite charming as it is—I suppose you are Evangeline?

SYLVIA. No I'm not, I'm Sylvia. (Coming to him.)

DANIEL (below Chesterfield). Sylvia! I didn't know there was a Sylvia.

SYLVIA (R.C., laughing). I was having concussion last time you were here, having cut my head open on a door scraper at school. Naturally you wouldn't remember me.

DANIEL. Oh, but I do now, you were the sole topic of conversation at lunch. How foolish of me to have let you slip my memory. Where are all the others?

SYLVIA. They're upstairs improving on the Almighty's conception of them as much as possible in your honour; I was just going to do the same when you caught me.

DANIEL. You looked extraordinarily furtive.

SYLVIA. And untidy. We've just been having a sort of family conference. It was very heating.

DANIEL. I think you might have waited for me—I'm a most important factor. What were you discussing?

SYLVIA. Oh—er—ways and means.

DANIEL. I see, it's as bad as that!

SYLVIA. But you wait until mother comes. She'll explain everything. I'll go and hurry her up. (She goes up stairs.)

DANIEL. Don't leave me all alone. I'm a timid creature.

SYLVIA (turns). After all that Broncho busting! I don't think!

(Exit SYLVIA upstairs.)

DANIEL. Broncho busting! What on earth does she mean? (He walks slowly to fireplace and stands with his back to it.)

(Enter MRS. DERMOTT down stairs. They meet C.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Danny! Danny! darling——

DANIEL (C.). Anne! (He kisses her fondly.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, my dear, you have been away such a long time.

DANIEL (he turns her round to R.). Well, this is splendid—you do look fit! Do you know I've often longed to be home. I've imagined winter afternoons just like this—with a nice crackly fire and tea and muffins in the grate. (Pulling her on Chesterfield.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh well, they're not in the grate yet, dear, but they will be soon. I ordered a special lot because I knew you loved them.

(He sits beside her; she is nearest the fire.)

MRS. DERMOTT. I can never thank you enough for sending the cheque, Danny.

DANIEL. Oh, rubbish.

MRS. DERMOTT. It was the greatest help in the world.

DANIEL. I started for home the very moment I heard you were in trouble; has everything been very, very trying?

MRS. DERMOTT. Only during the last few days. You see, George hadn't been near me for four years before he died, so it wasn't such a terrible shock as it might have been. Of course, he was my husband, and it was upsetting, but still——

DANIEL. He behaved like a beast to you, and——

MRS. DERMOTT. Well, he's dead now—but don't let's discuss my affairs. Tell me about yourself; what have you been doing?

DANIEL. That can wait. Considering that the sole object of my coming to England was to help you, I think we ought to concentrate. Tell me now, has he left you very badly off?

MRS. DERMOTT. Well, Tibbets says we're ruined, but you know what Tibbets is. Such a pessimist!

DANIEL. Tibbets?

MRS. DERMOTT. Yes, our lawyer, you know.

DANIEL. Do I? How much have you got?

MRS. DERMOTT. I think Tibbets said about fifteen hundred; of course we can't keep the house and family going on that, can we?

DANIEL. Of course we can't. What do the children intend to do?

MRS. DERMOTT. Well, they don't quite know, poor darlings.

DANIEL. Poor darlings! Is Oliver at home?

MRS. DERMOTT. Yes. He's going to be a barrister or an engineer. He's very vague about it, but has been learning Pelmanism, so I know he's going to be something.

DANIEL. I see. Bobbie?

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, Bobbie, he's so young. Of course, it's not his fault.

DANIEL. Naturally.

MRS. DERMOTT. He composes, you know—beautiful little songs,—mostly about moonlight. Evangeline writes the words. She is very artistic, and——

DANIEL. What does Sylvia do?

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, she helps me.

DANIEL. In what way?

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh—er—she—well—she does the flowers, and comes calling with me, and she's invaluable at jumble sales, when we have them.

DANIEL. And the youngest?

MRS. DERMOTT. Joyce? Oh, she's still at school—she's going to Roedean next year to be finished.

DANIEL. Finished? Oh, I see! Well! They sound a pretty hopeless lot.

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, Danny, how can you be so horrid? Why, they're all darlings! You can't expect them to work. They've not been brought up to it.

DANIEL. I think it's about time they started.

(Enter EVANGELINE down stairs, followed by OLIVER, BOBBIE and JOYCE. SYLVIA comes last.)

MRS. DERMOTT (rising, back to audience). Here they are. Children this is Uncle Daniel.

(DANIEL rises, stands L. of Chesterfield.)

EVANGELINE (gracefully embracing him). I remember you quite well.

DANIEL. Splendid. Evangeline?

EVANGELINE. Yes, Evangeline. (Crosses to fire, down stage.)

OLIVER (shaking hands). So do I. (Moves to above EVANGELINE.)

BOBBIE (shaking hands). I don't remember you a bit, but I may later when we all start reminiscencing. (Goes L.)

JOYCE (kissing him). We've been simply longing for you to come home.

DANIEL. Little Joyce——SPACELEFT(Joyce moves to top of table)

SYLVIA (kissing him). D'you know you haven't changed a bit since I last saw you!

(DANIEL smiles at her.)

DANIEL. May I say that it gives me immeasurable joy to be here once more in the bosom of my family. (Sits on Chesterfield.)

BOBBIE. We're not really your family, but never mind.

DANIEL. I don't. But I have looked forward to this moment through the long sun-scorched nights with the great dome of the sky above me—shapes have drifted out of the surrounding blackness and beckoned to me, crying "Home, home" in depressing voices. I have heard the sand-bug calling to its mate. "Home," it said, and bit me——

(SYLVIA sits on arm of chair, R.C.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Silly old darling, Danny. (Sits R. of Chesterfield.)

JOYCE. What did you do out there, Uncle?

DANIEL. Lots of things—gold mining, ranching, auction——

BOBBIE. Auction? (Leaning on table.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Is it a very wonderful life, Danny?

DANIEL. Occasionally—on good days.

BOBBIE. How do you mean, good days?

DANIEL (rather embarrassed). Well—er—just good days.

MRS. DERMOTT. Do come and sit down, all of you; you look so terribly restless.

(They sit, OLIVER on arm of Chesterfield, JOYCE crosses to form R., EVANGELINE on club-fender, BOBBIE chair below table, SYLVIA arm-chair.)

DANIEL. I feel restless. It must be the home surroundings after all these years.

BOBBIE. I should love to go abroad.

DANIEL. It would make a man of you, my boy.

BOBBIE. I should simply loathe that.

DANIEL. So should I between ourselves, but still——. Oh, by the way, I—I have something rather important to say to you, you must prepare yourselves for a shock—I—I——SPACELEFT(He dabs his eyes with his handkerchief.)

MRS. DERMOTT. What on earth is it, Danny?

DANIEL. I—I——SPACELEFT(Another dab.)

SYLVIA. Oh, uncle, tell us.

DANIEL. I—er—it's this. I consulted my doctor just before I sailed.

MRS. DERMOTT. Yes?

DANIEL. He—he gave me just three years to live.

MRS. DERMOTT. Danny, what do you mean?

DANIEL (firmly). It's true—three years, he said.

MRS. DERMOTT. It's the most awful thing. Tell us why—what's the matter with you? (Quickly.)

DANIEL (rather staggered). The matter with me?

MRS. DERMOTT. Yes, of course, you must see a specialist at once.

DANIEL (pulling himself together dramatically). No specialist in the world could ever do me any good.

MRS. DERMOTT. Well, what is it? For God's sake tell us!

DANIEL (takes big breath). Sleeping sickness! (Smiles broadly at MRS. DERMOTT.)

MRS. DERMOTT. What!! (They all move.)

DANIEL. Yes, it's frightfully prevalent out there.

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, Danny, I hope its not infectious.

OLIVER. Sleeping sickness! By Jove!

DANIEL. Yes, I simply daren't go to sleep without an alarm clock.

MRS. DERMOTT. Danny darling, it's all too dreadful—I can't believe it.

BOBBIE (rising). But, uncle, I thought sleeping sickness polished you off in one night.

DANIEL (embarrassed). So it does, but that one night won't happen to me for three years. The doctor says so. He knows. You see I've got it internally or something.

MRS. DERMOTT (firmly). You must never go back there—you shall stay with us until—until—the end——

(She breaks down, sobs on DANIEL'S shoulder.)

SYLVIA (goes behind Chesterfield). Oh, mother darling, don't cry. (She looks at DANIEL rather angrily.)

DANIEL (rising). I'm sorry I have upset you, Anne. But I have told you this to-day with a purpose in my mind. (Moving to C.)

OLIVER. A purpose?

DANIEL (L. of arm-chair). Yes, I have a few words to say to you all—words which, though they may sound a little mercenary, are in reality prompted by very deep feeling.

MRS. DERMOTT. Poor Danny.

DANIEL. Ssh! (waves her to silence). It may seem to all of you "banal" in the extreme to talk of money on an occasion such as this, but believe me, it's best to get it over. I came over to England this time, as I have said, with a purpose—one might almost say a double purpose. Firstly, to comfort my sister, your dear mother, in her hour of—er—tribulation. (He pauses.) If you would just say "yes" or "quite so" whenever I pause, it would help me enormously.

SYLVIA. All right, we will.

DANIEL. Thank you, you are a good girl. Where was I?

BOBBIE. Tribulation.

EVANGELINE. Hour of tribulation (in his tone.)

DANIEL.SPACELEFT——hour of tribulation. (He pauses.)

SYLVIA. } Yes. BOBBIE. } Quite so.

DANIEL. I thank you. And secondly, to feast my eyes, perhaps for the last time on earth, upon you children—also to talk to you seriously, for after all, you're my only relatives in the world.

SYLVIA. } Yes, yes. BOBBIE. } Quite so.

DANIEL. I am as you may have guessed, a wealthy man——

EVERYONE (eagerly). Yes, yes! (Movement from all.)

DANIEL. And out there (he nods his head descriptively) we don't get much chance of spending our money——

BOBBIE. } Quite so. OLIVER. } No, no!

DANIEL. And now I come to the point. At the end of three years I shall be no more.

EVANGELINE. Quite so!

OTHERS. Sh!!

(MRS. DERMOTT sniffs.)

DANIEL. Bear up, Anne; we must all die sometime.

MRS. DERMOTT. Yes, but not of sleeping sickness. It's so horrible. Anything else—but not sleeping sickness.

DANIEL. I believe it is very comfortable, but that is neither here nor there. What I was going to say was this, I am a firm believer in the old-fashioned laws of entail. I have no patience with this modern way of dividing up legacies between large numbers of people——

SYLVIA (with interest). Yes, yes?

BOBBIE (with equal interest). Quite so!

DANIEL. When I pass into the great beyond (MRS. DERMOTT sniffs. He is obviously rather pleased with that remark, so he repeats it)—pass into the great beyond, I intend to leave the whole bulk of my fortune to the one of you who has made good——

OLIVER. How do you mean "Made good"?

DANIEL. I mean make good your position in the world, justify your existence, carve for yourself a niche in the Temple of Fame——SPACELEFT(Turning R.)

BOBBIE (very quickly and brightly). Yes, yes?

DANIEL (turns, sharply). That was entirely unnecessary, I didn't pause.

BOBBIE. Sorry.

(They are all self-conscious as he addresses them.)

DANIEL. What is the use of idling through life, frittering away your youth, I repeat, frittering away your youth, when you might be working to achieve some great and noble end? (OLIVER embarrassed) You, Oliver, you might in time be a great inventor, and know all about the insides of the most complicated machines. You, Evangeline (EVANGELINE rises, poses by fireplace, one hand on mantel. JOYCE laughs—she pulls her hair), might develop into a great poetess; your mother tells me that you already write verses about the moonlight. They all start like that, only unfortunately some of them stay like it. (She sits again.) You, Bobbie, you are artistic, too, you might without undue strain become a world famed composer, artist, actor. (BOBBIE rises, moves down L., posing as actor.) Sylvia, for you I foresee a marvellous career as a decorative designer. You already arrange flowers and jumble sales—and last, but not by any means least, little Joyce (JOYCE hangs her head, polishes her nails), now on the very threshold of life. What are you going to do with yourself? Sit at home and wait for a nice husband with mediocre prospects and perhaps an over-developed Adam's apple? Never, never! You too must rise and go forth—the world is calling to you. Do what you will. I can't think of a career for you at the moment, but no matter. I only want to impress upon you all the necessity of making good at something—make good, make good, make good! And the one I consider has done best for himself and the family name, to him—or her—I will bequeath every penny I possess. (Goes up four stairs.)

OLIVER } (rising and all talking at once). But look here—— EVANGELINE.} Uncle dear, of course—— BOBBIE. } How in Heaven's name are we to—— SYLVIA. } Really I don't quite see—— JOYCE. } It's going to be very difficult——

(All looking towards DANIEL, the positions are now as follows: —DANIEL, up four stairs. MRS. DERMOTT extreme R. SYLVIA up R.C. OLIVER down R.C. EVANGELINE down C. JOYCE up L.C.. BOBBIE down L.)

DANIEL (holding up his hand.) Please—couldn't you possibly speak one at a time? Sylvia? (Motions to her.)

SYLVIA (stepping forward). What we want to know, uncle, is how on earth are we to start?

(They all nod.)

DANIEL (smiling benignly, arms outstretched). I'll leave it to you!

All turn to audience open-mouthed as the CURTAIN descends.



ACT II.

The SCENE is the same as Act I. Eighteen months have elapsed. All the windows are wide open. It is a glorious summer day. Alterations in the furniture are noted at the end of the play. At the table L. EVANGELINE is seated when the CURTAIN rises, typewriting slowly but firmly. There are a lot of papers strewn about. On the piano there is a sort of a pastry board to which is affixed a working model of a motor engine in miniature. JOYCE is seated at table L.C. laboriously copying out a sheet of music on to some manuscript paper.

JOYCE (showing music). Is it a crotchet or a quaver that has a waggle on the end of it?

EVANGELINE. I haven't the remotest idea.

JOYCE. I do think Bobbie might write them a little more distinctly, it's awfully difficult to copy.

(JOYCE hums.)

EVANGELINE. I don't wish to appear surly or disagreeable to my younger sister, but if you don't stop squawking I shall hurl something at you.

JOYCE. Oh, all right. (She hums louder.)

EVANGELINE (after a short pause). Joyce, you really are maddening; you know perfectly well that I have to revise and retype an entire short story which in itself is a nerve-racking job, and all you do is to burble and sing, and gabble. Can't you be quiet?

JOYCE. Why don't you go and work in your own room?

EVANGELINE. Because it would be neither comfortable or proper with three inquisitive painters there, running up and down the kitchen steps.

JOYCE. Oh, I'd forgotten.

(JOYCE hums again.)

EVANGELINE. But if you desire to continue your noises, may I suggest that you do your music in the summer house. There's a nice firm table there.

JOYCE. No thanks, I'm quite comfy here.

EVANGELINE. Well, I'm sorry to hear it.

(Enter MRS. DERMOTT from hall. Goes to table and tidies papers.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Vangy dear, I do think you might have made the hall look a little tidier. We shall have Mrs. Crombie and Faith here soon. It really is tiresome of Bobbie to have made me ask them, specially as Uncle Daniel's coming too. They'll be terribly in the way and we shall have to make conversation instead of listening to Uncle Daniel's thrilling stories. (Goes to Chesterfield and tidies papers.)

EVANGELINE. I can't think why you didn't wire and put them off yesterday.

MRS. DERMOTT. Because Bobbie would have been miserable and sulky.

EVANGELINE. He's very inconsiderate. I don't think you ought to give in to him so much, mother; it only makes him worse. What he can see in that tiresome little cat beats me.

JOYCE. She's awfully pretty.

(MRS. DERMOTT merely takes papers from one place to another, frequently dropping some, as she is "tidying up.")

EVANGELINE. And entirely brainless.

JOYCE. Well, we can be thankful that Mrs. Crombie isn't staying over the week-end. One day of her is bad enough.

MRS. DERMOTT (tidying papers on form). You mustn't talk like that, dear. After all they are our guests and Bobbie's friends, and we must be kind even if we don't like them very much. (Picking up waste paper basket from the front of table.) I'm only worrying because darling Daniel may be hurt at our having strangers in the house when he arrives.

JOYCE. Oh, Uncle Dan won't mind. He's probably used to face polar bears and things in his shack.

EVANGELINE. But it seems hard luck to leave raging bears on one side of the Atlantic and meet Mrs. Crombie on the other.

(JOYCE goes into screams of laughter and then chokes.)

MRS. DERMOTT (anxiously). Darling—do be careful. (Drops papers and puts waste paper basket through window L.C. Enter BOBBIE downstairs. MRS. DERMOTT continues to tidy up room.)

BOBBIE. What's the matter?

EVANGELINE. Nothing much, only your crochets and quavers have sent our little ray of sunshine into a rapid decline.

BOBBIE. Have you done it?

JOYCE (weakly). The top treble thing's a little wobbly, but I'll ink it over afterwards.

(MRS. DERMOTT is tidying window seat.)

BOBBIE (kissing her hurriedly and loudly). Thanks, you're a lamb. I'll try it now.

EVANGELINE. Oh! Bobbie, don't try it now!

BOBBIE. I shall. (He goes to piano, then turns furiously.) Well, really it is the limit. Why can't Oliver keep his rotten engine in the shed. It will scratch all the polish. (He takes the model off piano and bangs it on to the floor.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, Bobbie, don't break that thing. Oliver's so proud of it. I can't think why.

BOBBIE. Well, I wish he'd go and be proud of it somewhere else. Look here, three distinct scratches.

MRS. DERMOTT. Never mind dear. Griggs will get them out with sandpaper or something.

(BOBBIE commences to play over the manuscript JOYCE has just copied. Occasionally he stops and alters something with a pencil. No one takes any notice. The dialogue goes on just the same.)

(Coming down to EVANGELINE.) If you've nearly finished, Vangy dear, do put the typewriter away. It looks so untidy.

EVANGELINE (rather crossly, rising). Of course I quite see that until my room's done, I shall never be able to do any work at all. (Puts cover on typewriter, then pushes table up to back L.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Don't be cross, darling. You know how worried I am over everything this morning. It's one long rush.

EVANGELINE (kissing her). Sorry dear. I quite understand, only I must have this story sent to the Clarion by Tuesday. If not, it won't be out until the August number.

MRS. DERMOTT. You're a dear darling, and you work terribly hard. I only hope you won't overdo it.

EVANGELINE. Oh no, these stories are only pot boilers. They just fill in the time until my next novel is ready.

BOBBIE (suddenly.). Listen, don't you think this is a ripping change? (He plays a few chords. He then sits back complacently.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Perfectly lovely, darling.

EVANGELINE. It sounds very much like everything else to me.

BOBBIE. Only because you haven't got any ear. As a matter of fact they're quite good chords. I shall put them into the new tomb-stone cycle.

EVANGELINE. Don't alter many of my words, will you?

BOBBIE. Not many, but the bit about "worms gnawing the grave of my beloved" is a little too gloomy. Couldn't you make it butterflies?

(JOYCE giggles.)

EVANGELINE. Don't be silly, Bobbie! butterflies don't live in graves. Well, you can use the first two verses as they are.

BOBBIE. I will.

(He starts to play again, MRS. DERMOTT is just going towards the stairs when there comes a ring and knock at the front door.)

JOYCE (rising). My goodness, the Crombies—I must go and wash. I'm covered in ink. (Going to stairs.)

EVANGELINE (down L. of table). I shouldn't worry, dear, they'll be so overdressed themselves they will amply make up for any deficiencies in our appearances.

JOYCE. I think I'd better go all the same. I must do my hair.

BOBBIE. Don't dazzle them too much, dear.

(Exit JOYCE upstairs. GRIGGS crosses in corridor to open front door.)

EVANGELINE (going to corridor). I'll be in presently, mother. I've left my note-book in the summer house, and I'm afraid of forgetting it.

BOBBIE (still at piano). You'll meet them on the doorstep.

EVANGELINE. No, I shan't. I'm going through the drawing room window.

(Exit EVANGELINE, R.)

MRS. DERMOTT (C.). Really it's most inconsiderate of her to leave me alone like this. Bobbie darling——SPACELEFT(BOBBIE crosses to her, kisses her.)

(Re-enter GRIGGS.)

GRIGGS. Mrs. Crombie, Miss Faith Crombie.

(Enter MRS. CROMBIE, and FAITH. MRS. CROMBIE is a well-preserved, rather flashy woman. FAITH is a very pretty girl, perhaps a shade too self-assured. She is all right when by herself, but when compared with the Dermott girls, there is obviously a little something lacking.)

MRS. DERMOTT (going to her, drops quantity of papers). I'm so glad you were able to come, dear Mrs. Crombie. How are you, Faith dear? (FAITH giggles, goes down to Chesterfield.) I do hope you weren't too shaken up in the Ford, but Sylvia has taken the car up to Town to meet my brother.

(BOBBIE kicks papers up stage, then moves to bottom of table.)

MRS. CROMBIE (up R.C.). Not at all, we didn't expect to be met at all. It's such a little way. Well, Bobbie, have you been writing any more successes?

BOBBIE (laughing). I think I've done one or two bad enough to be good.

FAITH. Oh, mother, isn't he cynical?

MRS. DERMOTT (C.). He always talks like that. Fancy, he says his Rose song is bad. Fancy that wonderful Rose song. I'm always humming it. (Hums few notes of "The Rosary," BOBBIE attempting to stop her.) Well, I forget it now, but I love it.

FAITH (down R.). I love it too.

BOBBIE (down L.). Do you really?

FAITH. Of course. (Moves to piano.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Now then, shall we all go out into the garden? Oliver and Vangy are somewhere about. We always sit under the big cedar in the afternoons. It's so beautifully shady.

MRS. CROMBIE (walking towards door with MRS. DERMOTT). I envy you your garden so much, Mrs. Dermott. I have about two rose bushes and a tennis net. Faith insists on that.

MRS. DERMOTT. You're lucky even to have a small garden in London.

MRS. CROMBIE (as they go off). Yes, I suppose we are, you see...

(Exeunt to garden.)

FAITH. Come on, Bobbie. (Coming C.)

BOBBIE. No, stay here and talk to me. (Goes to her and takes her hand.)

FAITH. Mother will only come back and fetch me.

BOBBIE. No, she won't. They're both jawing quite happily. I have been so looking forward to to-day.

FAITH. So have I.

BOBBIE. I was terrified that you'd wire or something to say you couldn't come.

FAITH. Silly Bobbie.

BOBBIE. Do you realize it's a whole week since I've seen you. (Dropping her hand.) I've got something for you.

FAITH (eagerly). What is it?

BOBBIE. A song.

FAITH (without enthusiasm). Oh.

BOBBIE. Shall I play it?

FAITH (moves to R. of table.) Yes, do.

(Enter JOYCE downstairs.)

BOBBIE. Damn.

JOYCE. Hullo, Faith, how are you? (They kiss.) Come and play a single with me.

BOBBIE (at piano). Oh, do go away, Joyce. I'm just going to play her a song—her song.

FAITH. My song? (Sits R. of table.)

BOBBIE. I wrote it specially for her.

JOYCE. Aren't you lucky? Well, come out presently when you feel you're rhapsodized enough. (Crosses to corridor.)

BOBBIE. Oh, do shut up, Joy, and go away.

(BOBBIE starts to play.)

JOYCE. All right, keep calm. (Exits and re-enter.) Have you seen my racquet?

BOBBIE. No.

JOYCE. Oh, thanks, dear, for your kind help. Sorry I came in at the wrong moment.

(Exit JOYCE brightly.)

BOBBIE. Young sisters are a nuisance sometimes.

FAITH (giggling). They must be.

BOBBIE. Listen...

(FAITH reads magazine and takes no notice of song. He plays and sings a short love song.)

BOBBIE. There! Do you like it.

FAITH (putting magazine down—ecstatically). Oh, Bobbie, that's simply too sweet for words. It has a something about it—did you really write it for me?

BOBBIE (ardently). Every note.

(BOBBIE plays a well-known and hackneyed song.)

FAITH. Bobbie! that's wonderful! Wonderful!! It's the best you've ever done. Now I know you are clever.

BOBBIE (coming C.). Yes! but I didn't write that one.

FAITH (goes to him). Oh! didn't you. Well, I know you would if you had thought of it—but never mind——

FAITH. Can you play the Indian Love Lyrics—I never get tired of them!

BOBBIE. I don't want to play any more, I want to talk to you.

FAITH. What shall we talk about?

BOBBIE. I could tell you such wonderful things—but I don't know whether you would understand.

FAITH (pouting girlishly). That's not very polite. (Coming down between armchair and Chesterfield.)

BOBBIE. I mean that you wouldn't understand unless you felt like I do. Oh, I don't know how to put it—but do you?

FAITH (coyly). Do I what? (Sits L. of Chesterfield.)

BOBBIE (by armchair—desperately). Feel as if you could ever care—even a little bit—for me?

FAITH. I haven't tried yet.

BOBBIE. Well, will you try?

FAITH. I must ask mother.

BOBBIE (in anguish—moving slightly C.). Ask mother! But that's no use. Why, my mother could never make me care for someone I didn't want to, or not care for some one I did. Don't you see what I mean. If you are ever going to care for me you will have to do it on your own. Love isn't a thing to be ordered about at will. Love is wonderful—glorious, but above all, it's individual—you can't guide it. Why, you might fall in love with a taxi driver or a dope fiend——

FAITH. Mother would never allow me to know a dope fiend.

BOBBIE (L. of Chesterfield—firmly). But if you did, your mother's opinion wouldn't have any effect at all—not if you had it in your heart—really and truly.

FAITH. Mother's disapproval might stop me falling in love.

BOBBIE. No, it mightn't—nothing could stop it. On the contrary it would probably strengthen it; opposition always does.

FAITH (doubtfully). Do you think so?

BOBBIE. I'm sure of it, but anyhow, I'm going to tell you something.

(MRS. DERMOTT appears at window L.C. with telegram.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Bobbie, darling——

BOBBIE (irritably). What is it, mother? (Goes up to window.)

(FAITH powders her nose, etc.)

MRS. DERMOTT. I've just received the oddest telegram. We met the boy in the drive. Do listen, I can't understand it. (She reads.) "Come to lunch Monday and discuss Royalties—Claverton." What does it all mean?

BOBBIE. It's not for you, it's for Vangy. Claverton's her publisher.

MRS. DERMOTT. What on earth do they want to discuss Royalties for. It sounds so snobbish.

BOBBIE (laughing). Mother, at times you're inimitable. Royalties means money, so much per cent., you know. We've explained it heaps of times.

MRS. DERMOTT. Of course, dear, how stupid of me; but still it is very muddling, when they call things by fancy names like that. Put it on the mantelpiece and give it to Vangy when she comes in.

(She disappears.)

BOBBIE. Mother never will grasp the smallest technicality.

(Coming down to fireplace, he puts the telegram on the mantelpiece.)

FAITH. You were going to tell me something.

BOBBIE. Yes, I know something that will banish your mother's disapproval altogether....

FAITH. She hasn't disapproved yet. I only said she might.

BOBBIE. Well, she's pretty certain to want you to make a good match. I know what mothers are, they all do. I'm not a good match I know, but what she doesn't know is that I have wonderful prospects.

FAITH (with interest). Have you?

BOBBIE. I should never have proposed to you, otherwise.

FAITH. Well, you haven't proposed properly.

BOBBIE. I mean to when I've told you everything. Will you listen? (Moves to R. of Chesterfield.)

FAITH. Of course.

BOBBIE. Well, have you ever met my Uncle Daniel? (Sits by her on Chesterfield.)

FAITH. No.

BOBBIE. You will to-day, he's a wonderful chap. Eighteen months ago his doctor told him that he only had three years to live. (FAITH giggles.) And the day he came over from South America he gave us all a jolly good talking to—quite right too.

FAITH. Why?

BOBBIE. You see father had left mother badly off, and we were all drooping round doing nothing.

FAITH. Of course!

BOBBIE. Then Uncle Dan turned up and said he'd leave his whole fortune to the one of us who made good in some way or other. Of course that bucked us up no end, and look at us now—Vangy's raking in the dibs with her novel, Sylvia's on a fair way to be a big film star, Oliver has just been made assistant manager at the motor works, which is a good leg-up considering that he started as an ordinary mechanic. I'm doing jolly well out of my songs—specially "The Rose of Passion Sweet." Why they buy the beastly thing I don't know. It's the worst of the lot.

FAITH. Oh! Bobbie!

BOBBIE. Even Joyce has walked off with all the prizes at school and intends to be a great artist. You see we've all risen to the bait. Eighteen months ago it seemed providential that Uncle should only have such a short time to live, now I rather hate it, in spite of the money. He's a dear, though of course we didn't see much of him. He went back to South America soon after he'd seen us, but still he left an impression. Here we are, all working like slaves, and helping mother to keep on the house. It would have broken her heart to have given it up. There are my prospects—a huge fortune, quite soon.

FAITH. Yes, but, Bobbie, one of the others might get it.

BOBBIE (after looking round). Ah, but there is just one more thing to tell you. Two days before he sailed Uncle Dan took me aside and told me—in the very strictest confidence of course—that I was the one out of us all that he had his eye on; he said he'd practically made out his will in my favour already....

FAITH (ecstatically). Bobbie!

BOBBIE. Yes, but promise you won't breathe a word to the others; of course you understand he couldn't show favouritism openly.

FAITH. No—I see.

BOBBIE. Now that I have told you everything, Faith darling, will you—will you marry me?

FAITH. Yes, Bobbie—

BOBBIE. Oh! (He kisses her.)

FAITH.SPACELEFT—if mother says I may.

BOBBIE. Oh! (mastering slight irritation). But don't you think she will, now?

FAITH. Yes, I think so.

BOBBIE (sadly). I don't believe you love me a bit.

FAITH (filled with reproach). Oh, Bobbie, how can you.

BOBBIE. Well, do you?

(MRS. CROMBIE sees them through window L.C.)

FAITH. Of course, silly! (She kisses him.)

BOBBIE (joyfully—taking her hands). Oh, Faith we'll have the most wonderful times in the world—just you and me together; say you're happy, say you're excited about it.

FAITH. I'm absolutely thrilled—I'm——SPACELEFT(BOBBIE sees MRS. CROMBIE. Picks up papers on floor to hide his confusion.)

(Enter MRS. CROMBIE. They get up.)

MRS. CROMBIE (going L.C.). You ought to be ashamed of yourselves, sitting indoors on a lovely day like this. (FAITH giggles.) Heaven knows we get little enough good air in town, without wasting it when we get into the country.

FAITH. Mother, something important has happened. (By front of couch.)

BOBBIE (sincere). Look here, Faith, you must let me tell her—it's my job, I won't shirk it.

FAITH. Don't be silly, Bobbie, go into the garden, there's a darling—I'll come out in a minute or two.

BOBBIE. But—but——

FAITH. Do be sensible.

BOBBIE. Oh, all right.... (Goes up between Chesterfield and fireplace, and exits into garden.)

MRS. CROMBIE. You are a little fool, Faith. Fancy flirting with that—the elder one has much more in him.

FAITH. But I don't like Oliver so much, his chin's so scrubby.

MRS. CROMBIE. Oliver is a steady man with an assured career in front of him—this one——

FAITH. Mother, we're engaged!

MRS. CROMBIE. Of course you are. That has been perfectly obvious from the moment I passed the window. Now of course we have all the trouble of getting you disengaged again. Really you are very tiresome. (Below table.)

FAITH. Mother, how can you be so horrid, you will not understand! Bobbie has ever so much better prospects than Oliver.

MRS. CROMBIE. Who said so? Bobbie?

FAITH. Yes, but it's true; his Uncle is going to leave him a huge fortune in a year's time.

MRS. CROMBIE. Which Uncle? (Takes out cigarette from case.)

FAITH. He's only got one—Daniel Davis. He landed in England yesterday, and is coming down here to-day. Eighteen months ago the doctor said he only had three years to live——

MRS. CROMBIE. I've been caught like that before. (Crosses to mantelpiece for matches.)

FAITH. Why, how do you mean?

MRS. CROMBIE. Experience has taught me one thing, and that is that in this world people never die when they're expected to. (Sits on Chesterfield.) The old man will probably live to a ripe old age, then where would you be?

FAITH. Well, anyhow Bobbie makes quite a lot out of his songs. (Sits in armchair.)

MRS. CROMBIE. Don't be childish, Faith. You know perfectly well I should never allow you to marry a man without a settled income—prospects never kept anyone. Besides, if any of them get the uncle's money it will be Oliver—he's the eldest. (Lights cigarette.)

FAITH (in chair L.C.). That's where you are wrong, mother. Just before he sailed back to America, he took Bobbie aside and told him in confidence that he was the one he meant to leave everything to. Of course the others mustn't know because it would be favouritism—don't you see?

MRS. CROMBIE. How much is he going to leave?

FAITH. I don't know, but it's sure to be a lot.

MRS. CROMBIE. Why?

FAITH. Well, he's a bachelor and—and he's been mining in South America.

MRS. CROMBIE. There are hundreds of bachelors in South America who are absolutely penniless—whether they mine or not.

FAITH. You are horrid, mother. (Sniffs.) I did feel so happy, and I wanted you to be happy too.

MRS. CROMBIE (with slight sarcasm). It was sweet of you, dear. I really can't work myself up to a high pitch of enthusiasm over an uncle who though apparently in the last throes of a virulent disease is well able to gallop backwards and forwards across the Atlantic gaily arranging to leave an extremely problematic fortune to an extremely scatter-brained young man.

FAITH. Bobbie isn't scatter-brained.

MRS. CROMBIE. The whole family is scatter-brained, and I expect the uncle's the worst of the lot—he wouldn't have been sent to South America otherwise.

FAITH. He wasn't sent, he went.

MRS. CROMBIE. How do you know? He probably did something disgraceful in his youth and had to leave the country. Just like my brother, your Uncle Percy. I'm certain there's a skeleton of some kind in this family—anyhow he's sure not to die when we want him to.

FAITH. The doctor said three years.

MRS. CROMBIE. Only to frighten him, that's what doctors are for. I believe they cured hundreds of cases in the army like that.

FAITH. Did they, mother.

MRS. CROMBIE. What's the matter with the man?

FAITH. I don't know.

MRS. CROMBIE. It strikes me, dear, that you had better find out a bit more before you get engaged another time.

FAITH (tearfully). But I don't want to be engaged another time. I want to be engaged this time. Oh, mother darling, won't you wait a little while? Just see the uncle. If you got him alone for a while you could find out anything—you're always so clever at that sort of thing. Oh, mother, do.

MRS. CROMBIE. I'll interview the man on one condition. That is that whatever decision I may make you promise to abide by it afterwards.

FAITH (rises). Yes, mother, I promise. (Kisses her, remains below fireplace.)

MRS. CROMBIE. Now I suppose we had better join the rest, they're being feverishly bright on the tennis lawn.

(Enter MRS. DERMOTT followed by EVANGELINE. MRS. DERMOTT motions to EVANGELINE to pick up papers, who does so, placing them on table.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Ah, there you are, Mrs. Crombie; you were bored with watching tennis too. Of course Oliver and Joyce's efforts cannot really be called tennis, but still it's an amusement for them. (Sits in armchair.) Have you seen my knitting anywhere, Vangy darling? I'm certain I left it here.

(FAITH sits on form R.)

EVANGELINE. You had it in the drawing-room before lunch. I'll go and look.

(Exit EVANGELINE R.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Thank you so much, dear. You know, Mrs. Crombie, I imagined that all authors became terribly superior after a little time, but Vangy hasn't a bit—it is such a relief to me.

MRS. CROMBIE. I haven't read her book yet; I must really order it from Boots.

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, you belong to Boots too, I did for years—there's something so fascinating in having those little ivory marker things with one's name on them, but, of course, I had to give it up when the crash came.

(Re-enter EVANGELINE with knitting.)

EVANGELINE. Here you are, mother. (Crosses to below table.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Thank you so much, darling. Do you know, Mrs. Crombie, I started this at the beginning of the War and I haven't finished it yet? I do hope you are not being terribly dull here, Mrs. Crombie. (Drops ball of wool.) I'm afraid we're awfully bad at entertaining.

MRS. CROMBIE. Not at all. You are one of those excellent hostesses who allow their guests to do as they like, it's so much more comfortable.

FAITH (rising). I think I'll go and talk to Bobbie in the garden.

(Goes between Chesterfield and armchair.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Do dear, I'm sure he'd love it. (Kisses her. FAITH giggles.)

(Exit FAITH.)

(During following scene MRS. DERMOTT gets into complications with knitting. EVANGELINE settles herself L. with illustrated paper.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Your daughter is a dear girl, Mrs. Crombie—we are all so fond of her.

MRS. CROMBIE. It's charming of you—she simply loves being down here. Of course it is so good for her to get away from London for a little while.

MRS. DERMOTT. I only wish we could have put you up as well, but really with all the children at home, there's no room at all. I was only saying to Tibbets—my solicitor, you know—that the one thing——

MRS. CROMBIE. I understand perfectly. Anyhow, I can never leave my husband for long—men are so selfish, aren't they?

MRS. DERMOTT. Sometimes I'm afraid, but still they're rather darlings when you know how to manage them. Vangy, dear, did I tell you how many stitches I set on this sleeve?

EVANGELINE. We have many confidences, mother, but that is not one of them.

MRS. DERMOTT. Dear me, how tiresome. I'm certain I told someone.

(She gets up and rings bell above fireplace, and sits down again.)

MRS. CROMBIE. I was saying, Miss Dermott, that I must make an effort to get your book from the library.

EVANGELINE. Oh, there are one or two copies in the house—I'll lend you one.

MRS. CROMBIE. It's very kind of you.

MRS. DERMOTT. I'm sure you'll like it, I did, though Vangy tells me I didn't understand half of it. Naturally being my daughter's work it thrilled me, though where she got all her ideas from I can't think—I've always been most careful with the children's upbringing——

(Enter GRIGGS, R. and moves to above Chesterfield. He coughs.)

What is it, Griggs?

GRIGGS. You rang, madam.

MRS. DERMOTT. Did I? Now what on earth could it have been? Was it a flustered ring, Griggs, or just an ordinary calm one?

GRIGGS. Quite calm, madam.

MRS. DERMOTT (in anguish). Oh, Vangy dear, what did I ring for?

EVANGELINE. You said something about your knitting just before.

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, of course, yes. Griggs, do you know how many stitches I cast on for this sleeve?

GRIGGS. Forty-seven, madam.

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, thank you so much—you're quite sure?

GRIGGS. Quite, madam, but if I might suggest it, next time an even number would be easier to remember.

MRS. DERMOTT. Yes, Griggs—remind me, won't you? You're a great help.

GRIGGS. Yes, madam.

MRS. DERMOTT. Thank you, Griggs.

(Exit GRIGGS, R.)

Really, I don't know what I should do without that man. I believe he's Scotch, but he's quite invaluable.

MRS. CROMBIE. So it seems.

EVANGELINE. Will Sylvia and Uncle Daniel be here in time for dinner, mother?

MRS. DERMOTT. Yes, his train arrived at Euston at eleven-thirty. They ought to be here quite soon now, unless, of course, anything has happened to the car—but still, Sylvia drives very carefully. They taught her to do lots of things like that on the films, you know—they're awfully daring—I shall never forget when they made her jump off Westminster Bridge on a horse—my sister Amy was scandalized, and I said——

MRS. CROMBIE. I can quite imagine it. It was very plucky of your daughter to do it, though I'm glad Faith isn't on the films—I should be worried to death.

MRS. DERMOTT. Of course I felt like that at first—but one gets hardened to anything—even my poor brother's approaching death seems less terrible now—at the time when he told us it was a fearful shock, but somehow——

MRS. CROMBIE. It must be terribly sad for you. Faith told me about it this morning. What is he suffering from?

MRS. DERMOTT. Well, to tell you the truth, we don't quite know, he will joke about it so—at first he said it was "Sleeping Sickness" and then "Creeping quickness" or pneu-somnia or something or other—one comfort, he doesn't seem to mind a bit.

MRS. CROMBIE. Perhaps the doctor diagnosed the case all wrong.

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh yes, they are careless—aren't they? Did you say "diagnosed," there now, that's the word you were trying to think of the other day for your short story, Vangy. I knew it was dia——SPACELEFTsomething.

(Enter OLIVER and JOYCE from garden—followed by FAITH and BOBBIE.)

JOYCE. I won a sett. (Goes to chair L. of table past.)

OLIVER. Only because I had the sun in my eyes.

(OLIVER puts racquet on piano.)

JOYCE. Well, I offered to change over, but you wouldn't.

MRS. DERMOTT. What time will Sylvia and your uncle arrive?

OLIVER (sitting on top of table). They ought to be here any moment now, unless Sylvia's bashed up the bus.

BOBBIE (above Chesterfield to MRS. CROMBIE, admiringly). Isn't he technical, the way he uses all the right expressions—it gives one such a professional air to call cars "buses."

MRS. DERMOTT. It's very muddling.

(A motor horn is heard.)

JOYCE (rushing to window). Here they are.

BOBBIE. I wonder how Uncle Daniel is.

MRS. CROMBIE (rising). You must all be wondering that. (Goes to table powdering.) Faith, I shall go soon. I'm sure this man is going to be simply odious.

(All except MRS. CROMBIE and FAITH go out to meet DANIEL. All enter together talking about their various professions. BOBBIE to fireplace; OLIVER behind table; SYLVIA up stage; JOYCE to form; EVANGELINE above fireplace; MRS. CROMBIE below table; MRS. DERMOTT C.; DANIEL L.C.; FAITH R. of table.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, Danny, darling—let me introduce you to Mrs. Crombie—my brother. And this is Faith—such a dear girl.

MRS. CROMBIE. How do you do. I've heard so much about you. Are you feeling better?

DANIEL (L.C., jovially). Better! Why, I never had a day's illness in my life—(look from all)—at least—that is until I had the illness. Yes, it's very tiresome. (He gulps.) A short life and a gay one, you know. (He laughs forcedly.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Danny, darling, I do hope——

DANIEL. Nonsense, dear—there is no hope—but that's a comfort to me. I always imagine hope weary after a game of blind man's buff sitting on an orange—so uncomfortable.

(MRS. CROMBIE and FAITH sit below and R. of table respectively.)

MRS. DERMOTT (sits Chesterfield, dabbing her eyes). Really, Danny, you are too absurd.... I'm so glad Sylvia brought you safely, I never really feel happy in my mind when she's out with the car. It's not really woman's work.

DANIEL (sitting armchair). As far as I can gather from what she has been telling me—filming seems to require a certain amount of unwomanly abandon!

SYLVIA (at back of Chesterfield, laughing). I was only telling him about that day in the middle of the village street, when I had to do three "close ups" on top of one another.

MRS. DERMOTT. It all sounds vaguely immoral to me, but I hope it's all right.

DANIEL. Define the expression "close up." What does it mean?

SYLVIA. When they bring the camera right up to your face and you have to register various emotions—fear—suspicion—joy—yearning—sorrow—(she does them) that's a close up.

MRS. DERMOTT. Isn't she wonderful?

MRS. CROMBIE. It really is most entertaining.

DANIEL. I think they ought to film Evangeline's novel—it's chock full of incident.

EVANGELINE (rising, poses by mantel). Yes, uncle, but only psychological incident—they want luridly exciting episodes for a real thriller. I mean to write a scenario one day though, it's a money-making game. (Sits again.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Do, dear—but please don't make the heroine jump out of attic windows or anything—it is so trying for Sylvia—I shall never forget Westminster Bridge and that horse.

DANIEL. It appears to be a most dashing profession.

MRS. DERMOTT (with pride). Oh, it is. Sylvia does the most thrilling things, I assure you. She had to rescue the Rajah from a burning house in Piccadilly only last Wednesday. It caused a great sensation.

DANIEL. So I should imagine, but why was the Rajah burning in Piccadilly?

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, it wasn't a real Rajah of course—but he was supposed to be in the clutch of Bolshevists—or was that another film, Sylvia?—I get so muddled——

SYLVIA. It was another film, mother, but it doesn't matter. How's your illness, Uncle Dan? You look pretty bright.

DANIEL. Oh, I expect to be quite cheery right up to the last.

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, Danny dear, don't talk about it.

DANIEL (with meaning). I always think we attach too much importance to life and death.

MRS. CROMBIE (acidly). It depends on circumstances, of course.

DANIEL (dramatically). Out there where I come from——

JOYCE. Go on, uncle, do tell us.

DANIEL. I was just going to, only you interrupted me—out there on the limitless prairie, a man's life is not considered worth that much. (He tries to snap his fingers without any success.) There now, I can never do that properly—that much. (He tries again.) Damn!

BOBBIE. I can do it, uncle. (He does it.)

JOYCE. So can I. (She tries.) Oh, no I can't—Sylvia, you can. You had to when you were playing in "Spanish Passion."

SYLVIA. Never mind now, let uncle get on with his story.

DANIEL. Out there Death waits round every corner——

BOBBIE. I didn't know there were any corners on the limitless prairie.

DANIEL (testily). I was millions of miles away from any prairie—and, anyhow, I was only speaking metaphorically.

SYLVIA. You are irritating, Bobbie, why can't you keep quiet.

MRS. CROMBIE. There seems to be some doubt, Mr. Davis, as to what part of America you were in.

DANIEL. South America—firmly South America—in the little tiny wee, bijou village of Santa Lyta—far away from the beaten track, this lonely place lies basking in the sun. Heavens, how it basked! its natives care-free and irresponsible, dreaming idly through the long summer heat——

OLIVER. What did you do there, uncle?

DANIEL. Eh?

OLIVER. What did you do there, uncle?

DANIEL (coming to earth). Oh, er—lots of things—fishing—yachting.

BOBBIE. But I thought it was inland.

DANIEL. Eh?

BOBBIE. I thought it was inland.

DANIEL. So it is, but there's a lake, there's a lake! We used to sit round the camp fire in the evenings and cook the fish—yes, salmon and cucumber, and sing songs—sweet little homely ditties—your Rose song in particular, Bobbie, was a great success, I must say that——

BOBBIE. Don't perjure yourself, uncle, I know perfectly well that it's the worst thing that has ever been written.

SYLVIA. It's your most successful.

BOBBIE. Of course—I've made literally hundreds out of it—the public wallow in it—roses and passion, and wine, and eyes of blue—it makes me absolutely sick every time I hear it, but still one must write down in this world if one wants to get up.

MRS. DERMOTT. Speaking of roses, let's go out into the garden and talk—it's so stuffy in here—you can tell me some more of your adventures, Danny.

SYLVIA (looking at him). I'm sure he'd love to.

(Every one gets up and drifts out on to the lawn talking. BOBBIE hangs behind for a moment with FAITH.)

BOBBIE (anxiously). What did she say? (Catching her hand as she is going out.)

FAITH. She said she'll see—wait until to-night....

BOBBIE. Oh, Faith darling....

FAITH. Come out now, quick, or they'll miss us.

BOBBIE (grumbling). It doesn't matter if they do.

FAITH. Oh, yes, it does—I don't want to be talked about.

(They go out and bang into DANIEL, who is coming in.)

BOBBIE. Hallo, aren't you going to tell us things?

DANIEL (comes C.). No, not now—I must unpack—I'm feeling rather tired—I have to change—I must send a wire.... The truth of the matter is, I just want a little peace.

BOBBIE. All right, we'll leave you to it.

(Exit BOBBIE and FAITH. DANIEL comes slowly down stage—lights a cigar and settles himself in Chesterfield.)

(Re-enter SYLVIA, quickly touches DANIEL on face—he jumps.)

SYLVIA. Uncle dear, why did you slip away?

DANIEL. I explained to your brother—because I felt a little tired and wanted a rest.

SYLVIA. You're not too tired to talk to me though, are you? (Quite quietly.)

DANIEL (without conviction). No. (Lies full length.)

SYLVIA. Well, I'll sit down then. (To side of Chesterfield.)

DANIEL. Do. (Sees she wants to sit down. He takes his legs off Chesterfield.)

SYLVIA. So you really are better? (Sitting L. of Chesterfield.)

DANIEL. Of course I'm better—I feel splendid.

SYLVIA. And you still believe what the doctor said?

DANIEL. I always believe what every one says, I'm a most trusting person.

SYLVIA. Oh, is that how you made your money—by being trusting?

DANIEL. Certainly. I trusted other people to lose it and they did.

SYLVIA. How d'you mean—lose it?

DANIEL. Well, you see—look here, Sylvia, are you cross-examining me?

SYLVIA. Nothing could be further from my thoughts, uncle dear, I only wondered, that's all.

DANIEL. Well, don't wonder any more—it's most embarrassing—what have you been doing with yourself lately?...

SYLVIA. You know perfectly well, uncle, because you sat next to me in the car and I told you everything.

DANIEL. Well, tell me some more. Have you had any love affairs—girls always like to confide their love affairs.

SYLVIA. Only when they haven't got any—but I don't, anyhow. The only one of the family who has got it in the least badly is Bobbie; he's mad on Faith Crombie.

DANIEL. So I gathered—why, do you suppose?

SYLVIA. We can't think—she's the most irritating girl I've met for years—and her mother's hateful, too.

DANIEL. Why are they here?

SYLVIA. Oh, Bobbie wanted them asked, and mother's much too sweet to deny us anything in reason.

DANIEL. I shouldn't call Mrs. Crombie in reason—she's trying to pump me.

SYLVIA. You are rather a mysterious person you know, uncle, I should like to know lots more about you.

DANIEL. Everything about me is absolutely honourable and above board.

SYLVIA. I don't know that it is.

DANIEL. My dear Sylvia—you wound me, you grieve me—I feel deeply pained. I——

SYLVIA (laughing). It's no use trying to bluster out of it, uncle, you know as well as I do that it wasn't honourable of you to single me out for your money without letting the others know anything about it.

DANIEL (quickly). You haven't told them, have you? (Puts his feet down.)

SYLVIA. No—I don't break my word.

DANIEL. And I don't break mine, so you needn't be so sniffy.

SYLVIA. It is breaking it in a way to show favouritism.

DANIEL. I only told you in the very strictest confidence because I had faith in you—trusted you....

SYLVIA. It was very sweet of you, uncle, but I don't think you should have.

DANIEL. Well, after all, I... it's my money and surely I——

SYLVIA. You see, it's so terribly unfair to the others—of course they don't know, and I shall never breathe a word, but, uncle, I do wish you'd leave everything to one of them and not me—I shouldn't feel happy for a moment with the money—not for a single moment if I'd known all the time that I was going to get it. Rule me out of the list, there's a dear—I'm earning an awful lot now, you know, on the films and I really don't need any more—promise you'll do what I ask you?

DANIEL. I don't think you're quite in your right mind, but, still—(smiling) I'll see.

SYLVIA. There, I knew you'd see what I meant and be a lamb. Now tell me some of your adventures and things, and how you made the money.

DANIEL (uncomfortably). Really, I don't think that....

SYLVIA. It must be so glorious out there—mining and prospecting and—by the way how does one prospect?

DANIEL. How does one prospect? When one prospects one scoops up water from rivers and finds nuggets in one's hands—if one's lucky, of course.

SYLVIA. You don't seem to know very much about it, uncle.

DANIEL (nettled). On the contrary I know all about it—but you wouldn't understand if I went into technical details.

SYLVIA. I don't believe you would, either.

DANIEL (rises and goes L.). I think, Sylvia, that this lack of trust in your fellow-creatures is a very sinister trait in your character—you must remember that I am a much older man than you are and——

SYLVIA. I'm not a man at all.

DANIEL (turns). Sometimes I wish you were, then I could tell you what I really think of you.

SYLVIA (rises and goes to him—laughing). There, uncle, I won't tease you any more, but still it must have been a wonderful moment when you discovered you had made a fortune out of your mine.

DANIEL. I didn't.

SYLVIA (relentlessly). But I thought——

DANIEL. That is—not exactly—you see it was like this....

(Enter OLIVER from garden.)

DANIEL (under his breath). Thank God! (Sits chair below table.)

OLIVER (above arm-chair). Hallo Sylvia. Mother's been looking for you—she wants you to help her pick strawberries for tea. Joyce is with her now, but she isn't much use because she eats them as fast as she picks them.

SYLVIA. I'll go now. Stay and keep Uncle Dan company, Oliver. Get him to tell you some of his South American experiences. They're awfully interesting. Bye-bye for the present, uncle.

DANIEL. Cheerio!

(Exit SYLVIA, R.)

I suppose you haven't such a thing as a whisky and soda about you, have you, Oliver?

OLIVER. Of course, I'll get you one.

DANIEL. I'm feeling rather exhausted.

(OLIVER goes to side table, mixes a drink and gives it to him.)

(Weakly) Thank you very much.

OLIVER (C., fingering arm-chair). I say, uncle—can you—er—spare me a few minutes?

DANIEL (apprehensively). Yes—what is it?

OLIVER (awkwardly). Well, it's like this—I know it's rather bad form to talk about your will——

DANIEL. Yes, it is.

OLIVER. But I feel I must. I——

DANIEL (hurriedly). Wait until another time, don't you worry yourself about it now. You wait until I'm dead.

OLIVER (firmly). No, I must get it over—I want to ask you to leave your money to one of the others and not to me at all. It was awfully decent of you to single me out and it bucked me up a lot to feel that you thought well of me, but now—well, I'm earning steadily and I really don't need a lot, in fact, it might do me harm to feel that I needn't work—also it would seem frightfully caddish to the others for me to have known all along that I was going to get it. Don't you see what I'm driving at?

DANIEL. In a way, I do, yes....

OLIVER. Well, you'll do what I ask, won't you? It's a ripping feeling being independent (EVANGELINE passes the window) and earning money, and I want to go on at it—(He glances out of the window). Here comes Vangy. Now leave it to her. Novel writing is a frightfully precarious show and she's a woman and—anyhow, will you?

DANIEL. I'll see.

(Enter EVANGELINE.)

EVANGELINE. Ah, there you are, Uncle Daniel—I've been looking for you—I want to have a little talk with you. (Above Chesterfield.)

DANIEL. My God!

EVANGELINE. What did you say?

DANIEL (feverishly). I said, My God!

EVANGELINE. Wasn't that a little unnecessary—but still, I expect you get used to swearing over trifles out in the backwoods.

DANIEL. I wasn't anywhere near the backwoods.

EVANGELINE. Well, wherever you were then. Do go away, Oliver, I want to talk to Uncle Daniel privately.

OLIVER. Righto—you'll remember what I said, won't you, Uncle? Cheerio.

(Exit OLIVER, R.)

UNCLE. Cheerio. What? Oh, yes, yes. (after OLIVER has gone.)

EVANGELINE (goes to him). Now, look here—about that will of yours—I don't feel that it's quite fair to the others to——

(Enter MRS. CROMBIE from garden.)

MRS. CROMBIE. Oh, there you are, Mr. Davis—I've been wanting to have a little talk to you about South America. I had a brother out there, you know. (Behind chair R.C.)

DANIEL (rising, jovially). Splendid—let's talk about him for hours.

EVANGELINE (a little annoyed). I'll come back later, uncle. (Moves to stairs.)

MRS. CROMBIE. I hope I'm not interrupting a heart-to-heart talk between uncle and niece.

DANIEL. Not at all, not at all—it's a pleasure, I assure you.

EVANGELINE (on stairs). It doesn't matter a bit. Uncle Daniel is going to stay with us a long time, I hope.

(Exit upstairs.)

MRS. CROMBIE (settling herself in arm-chair). Splendid—have you such a thing as a cigarette?

DANIEL. A cigarette, yes, certainly.

MRS. CROMBIE. And a match.

DANIEL. And a match.

(He hands her a case, she takes one, goes to mantel for matches—then he strikes a match and lights it.)

MRS. CROMBIE (girlishly). Now we can be quite comfortable, can't we?

DANIEL. Quite. (Sits on Chesterfield.)

MRS. CROMBIE. As I was saying just now, I had a brother out in South America.

DANIEL. What part?

MRS. CROMBIE. I'm not quite sure—we don't hear from him much—he was sent out there for—for——

DANIEL. I quite understand.

MRS. CROMBIE. For his health.

DANIEL. I know, they all are. It's a wonderful climate.

MRS. CROMBIE. He hasn't written for ages and ages—we were wondering if he was making money or not—it seems so far away, anything may be happening to him.

DANIEL. In all probability everything is——SPACELEFT(laughs to himself).

MRS. CROMBIE. Did you have any thrilling adventures when you were making your pile?

DANIEL. Oh yes, heaps and heaps.

MRS. CROMBIE. I gather that you have a mine of some sort?

DANIEL. Yes—just near the Grand Stand.

MRS. CROMBIE. The what?

DANIEL. The Grand Slam.

MRS. CROMBIE. Slam!

DANIEL. It's the name of a mountain, you know.

MRS. CROMBIE. What a strange name! Why do they call it that?

DANIEL. I can't imagine. It's often been a source of great perplexity to me.

MRS. CROMBIE. I take it that yours is a gold mine.

DANIEL. Not so that you'd notice it.

MRS. CROMBIE. I beg your pardon?

DANIEL. Well, I mean—it's not especially a gold mine—it's a mixed mine—a little bit of everything—there's tin and silver and salt and copper and brass, and God knows what—it's most exciting wondering what we are going to find next.

MRS. CROMBIE. Yes, so I should imagine....

DANIEL. Often on weary, dark nights—filled with the cries of the jackal and the boa-constrictor.

MRS. CROMBIE. I didn't know boa-constrictors cried.

DANIEL. Only when they are upset about something. Then they can't help it. There are few animals as highly emotional as a boa-constrictor. Anyhow, as I was saying, we lay awake in the throbbing darkness—the darkness out there always throbs—it's a most peculiar phenomenon—and wondered—Heavens, how we wondered what we should find on the following day.

MRS. CROMBIE. If you'll forgive my saying so, Mr. Davis, I fear that you are a bit of a fraud.

DANIEL. I beg your pardon?

MRS. CROMBIE. I said I thought you were a fraud.

DANIEL. Of course I am—all great men are. Look at George Washington.

MRS. CROMBIE. He wasn't a fraud.

DANIEL. We only have his word for it. Besides he knew his father had seen him cut down the cherry tree. That's why he confessed. Anyhow, why should you think I am?

MRS. CROMBIE. Because you obviously know nothing about mining, and I happen to know that there is no such thing as a mountain in South America called the Grand Slam. I was determined to find out as much as I could about you on account of my daughter.

DANIEL (rises). My dear madam, I assure you that there is nothing whatever between your daughter and me—my intentions are absolutely honourable. (Moves to fireplace.)

MRS. CROMBIE (coldly). I was not alluding to you, but to your nephew—your youngest nephew.

DANIEL. Oh, I see.

MRS. CROMBIE. He has been making love to her. This afternoon he proposed to her....

DANIEL. Did he, by Jove!

MRS. CROMBIE. He also spoke about a large sum of money that you intended to leave him—I'm sure you will understand my position—I naturally want my daughter to marry well—and——

DANIEL. And you mean to make quite sure of the money beforehand. I see.

MRS. CROMBIE. You put it rather crudely.

DANIEL. I think matters of this kind are better discussed crudely. One thing I will promise you, Mrs. Crombie. You shall know full particulars of my finances and everything else by the end of the day. Until then I fear that you must continue to regard me as a fraud.

MRS. CROMBIE. I hope you are not offended at my inquisitiveness, but I really——

DANIEL. My dear Mrs. Crombie, when you have knocked about the world as much as I have—one learns never to be either surprised or shocked.

MRS. CROMBIE. It is very, very hard for mothers, nowadays.

DANIEL. Yes, isn't it?

MRS. CROMBIE. The children are all so modern they become quite ungovernable....

DANIEL (coming forward slightly). I can only say then that my nephews and nieces are exceptions to the rule.

MRS. CROMBIE. I am so glad you are so satisfied with them.

DANIEL. I am! I never realised until to-day how absolutely splendid it was to be an uncle. How wonderfully proud I should be of the fact that they are related to me. I came home eighteen months ago expecting to find a family of irritating self-centred young people idling about—true they were idling, but I liked them in spite of it—I have returned this time to find them not only hard-workers, but successful hard-workers. There is not one of them who hasn't achieved something—even Joyce, the flapper, has set to and made good at school. I tell you I'm proud of them, so proud that I could shout it from the house tops, and may I say this, Mrs. Crombie, that if your daughter has succeeded in making Bobbie fall in love with her, she is a very fortunate young woman.

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