A GOOD WOMAN
By Arnold Bennett
James Brett [a Clerk in the War Office, 33].
Gerald O'Mara [a Civil Engineer, 24].
Rosamund Fife [a Spinster and a Lecturer on Cookery, 28].
Reprinted from "Polite Farces," published by George H. Doran Company, by
special arrangement with Mr. Arnold Bennett.
A GOOD WOMAN
By Arnold Bennett
[Scene: Rosamund's Flat; the drawing-room.
The apartment is plainly furnished.
There is a screen in the corner
of the room furthest from the door. It
is 9 A. M. Rosamund is seated alone at a
table. She wears a neat travelling-dress,
with a plain straw hat. Her gloves lie
on a chair. A small portable desk full
of papers is open before her. She gazes
straight in front of her, smiling vaguely.
With a start she recovers from her daydreams,
and rushing to the looking-glass,
inspects her features therein. Then she
looks at her watch.]
Rosamund. Three hours yet! I'm a
fool [with decision. She sits down again,
and idly picks up a paper out of the
desk. The door opens, unceremoniously
but quietly, and James enters. The two
stare at each other, James wearing a conciliatory
Rosamund. You appalling creature!
James. I couldn't help it, I simply
couldn't help it.
Rosamund. Do you know this is the
very height and summit of indelicacy?
James. I was obliged to come.
Rosamund. If I had any relations—
James. Which you haven't.
Rosamund. I say if I had any relations—
James. I say which you haven't.
Rosamund. Never mind, it is a safe
rule for unattached women always to behave
as if they had relations, especially
female relations whether they have any
or not. My remark is, that if I had any
relations they would be absolutely scandalized
by this atrocious conduct of
James. What have I done?
Rosamund. Can you ask? Here are
you, and here am I. We are to be married
to-day at twelve o'clock. The ceremony
has not taken place, and yet you
are found on my premises. You must
surely be aware that on the day of the
wedding the parties—yes, the "parties,"
that is the word—should on no account
see each other till they see each other in
James. But since we are to be married
at a registry office, does the rule
James. Then I must apologize. My
excuse is that I am not up in these
minute details of circumspection; you see
I have been married so seldom.
Rosamund. Evidently. [A pause, during
which James at last ventures to approach
the middle of the room.] Now
you must go back home, and we'll pretend
we haven't seen each other.
James. Never, Rosamund! That would
be acting a lie. And I couldn't dream
of getting married with a lie on my lips.
It would be so unusual. No; we have
sinned, or rather I have sinned, on this
occasion. I will continue to sin—openly,
brazenly. Come here, my dove. A bird
in the hand is worth two under a bushel.
[He assumes an attitude of entreaty, and,
leaving her chair, Rosamund goes towards
him. They exchange an ardent kiss.]
Rosamund [quietly submissive]. I'm
awfully busy, you know, Jim.
James. I will assist you in your little
duties, dearest, and then I will accompany
you to the sacred ed—to the registry
office. Now, what were you doing?
[She sits down, and he puts a chair for
himself close beside her.]
Rosamund. You are singularly unlike
yourself this morning, dearest.
James. Nervous tension, my angel. I
should have deemed it impossible that an
employé of the War Office could experience
the marvelous and exquisite sensations
now agitating my heart. But
tell me, what are you doing with these
Rosamund. Well, I was just going to
look through them and see if they contained
anything of a remarkable or valuable
nature. You see, I hadn't anything
to occupy myself with.
James. Was 'oo bored, waiting for
the timey-pimey to come?
Rosamund [hands caressing]. 'Iss,
little pet was bored, she was. Was Mr.
Pet lonely this morning? Couldn't he
keep away from his little cooky-lecturer?
He should see his little cooky-lecturer.
James. And that reminds me, hadn't
we better lunch in the train instead of
at Willis's? That will give us more time?
Rosamund. Horrid greedy piggywiggy!
Perhaps he will be satisfied if
Mrs. Pet agrees to lunch both at Willis's
and in the train?
James. Yes. Only piggywiggy doesn't
want to trespass on Mrs. Pet's good
nature. Let piggywiggy look at the papers.
[He takes up a paper from the
Rosamund [a little seriously]. No,
Jimmy. I don't think we'll go through
them. Perhaps it wouldn't be wise.
Just let's destroy them. [Takes papers
from his hand and drops them in desk.]
James [sternly]. When you have been
the wife of a War Office clerk for a week
you will know that papers ought never
to be destroyed. Now I come to think,
it is not only my right but my duty to
examine this secret dossier. Who knows—[Takes
up at random another document,
which proves to be a postcard.
Reads.] "Shall come to-morrow night.
Rosamund [after a startled shriek of
consternation]. There! There! You've
done it, first time! [She begins to think,
with knitted brows.]
James. Does this highly suspicious
postcard point to some—some episode
in your past of which you have deemed
it advisable to keep me in ignorance? If
so, I seek not to inquire. I forgive you—I
take you, Rosamund, as you are!
Rosamund [reflective, not heeding his
remark]. I had absolutely forgotten the
whole affair, absolutely. [Smiles a little.
Aside.] Suppose he should come! [To
James.] Jim, I think I had better tell
you all about Gerald. It will interest
you. Besides, there is no knowing what
James. As I have said, I seek not to
inquire. [Stiffly.] Nor do I imagine
that this matter, probably some childish
entanglement, would interest me.
Rosamund. Oh, wouldn't it! Jim,
don't be absurd. You know perfectly
well you are dying to hear.
James. Very well, save my life, then,
at the least expense of words. To begin
with, who is this Gerald—"thine," thine
Rosamund. Don't you remember Gerald
O'Mara? You met him at the
Stokes's, I feel sure. You know—the
James. Oh! That ass!
Rosamund. He isn't an ass. He's a
very clever boy.
James. For the sake of argument and
dispatch, agreed! Went out to Cyprus
or somewhere, didn't he, to build a bridge,
or make a dock, or dig a well, or something
of that kind?
Rosamund [nodding]. Now, listen,
I'll tell you all about it. [Settles herself
for a long narration.] Four years ago
poor, dear Gerald was madly in love with
me. He was twenty and I was twenty-four.
Keep calm—I felt like his aunt.
Don't forget I was awfully pretty in
those days. Well, he was so tremendously
in love that in order to keep him
from destroying himself—of course, I
knew he was going out to Cyprus—I
sort of pretended to be sympathetic. I
simply had to; Irishmen are so passionate.
And he was very nice. And I
barely knew you then. Well, the time
approached for him to leave for Cyprus,
and two days before the ship sailed he
sent me that very postcard that by pure
chance you picked up.
James. He should have written a letter.
Rosamund. Oh! I expect he couldn't
wait. He was so impulsive. Well, on
the night before he left England he came
here and proposed to me. I remember
I was awfully tired and queer. I had
been giving a lecture in the afternoon on
"How to Pickle Pork," and the practical
demonstration had been rather smelly.
However, the proposal braced me up. It
was the first I had had—that year.
Well, I was so sorry for him that I
couldn't say "No" outright. It would
have been too brutal. He might have
killed himself on the spot, and spoilt this
carpet, which, by the way, was new then.
So I said, "Look here, Gerald—"
James. You called him "Gerald"?
Rosamund. Rather! "Look here, Gerald,"
I said; "you are going to Cyprus
for four years. If your feeling towards
me is what you think it is, come back
to me at the end of those four years,
and I will then give you an answer." Of
course I felt absolutely sure that in the
intervening period he would fall in and
out of love half a dozen times at least.
James. Of course, half a dozen times
at least; probably seven. What did he
say in reply?
Rosamund. He agreed with all the
seriousness in the world. "On this day
four years hence," he said, standing just
there [pointing], "I will return for your
answer. And in the meantime I will live
only for you." That was what he said—his
James. And a most touching speech,
too! And then?
Rosamund. We shook hands, and he
tore himself away, stifling a sob. Don't
forget, he was a boy.
James. Have the four years expired?
Rosamund. What is the date of that
postcard? Let me see it. [Snatches it,
and smiles at the handwriting pensively.]
July 4th—four years ago.
James. Then it's over. He's not coming.
To-day is July 5th.
Rosamund. But yesterday was Sunday.
He wouldn't come on Sunday. He
was always very particular and nice.
James. Do you mean to imply that
you think he will come to-day and demand
from you an affirmative? A moment
ago you gave me to understand that
in your opinion he would have—er—other
affairs to attend to.
Rosamund. Yes. I did think so at
the time. But now—now I have a kind
of idea that he may come, that after all
he may have remained faithful. You
know I was maddeningly pretty then,
and he had my photograph.
James. Tell me, have you corresponded?
Rosamund. No, I expressly forbade
Rosamund. But still, I have a premonition
he may come.
James [assuming a pugnacious pose].
If he does, I will attend to him.
Rosamund. Gerald was a terrible
fighter. [A resounding knock is heard
at the door. Both start violently, and
look at each other in silence. Rosamund
goes to the door and opens it.]
Rosamund [with an unsteady laugh of
relief]. Only the postman with a letter.
[She returns to her seat.] No, I don't
expect he will come, really. [Puts letter
idly on table. Another knock still louder.
Rosamund. Now that is he, I'm positive.
He always knocked like that. Just
fancy. After four years! Jim, just take
the chair behind that screen for a bit. I
must hide you.
James. No, thanks! The screen dodge
is a trifle too frayed at the edges.
Rosamund. Only for a minute. It
would be such fun.
James. No, thanks. [Another knock.]
Rosamund [with forced sweetness].
Oh, very well, then....
James. Oh, well, of course, if you
take it in that way—[He proceeds to a
chair behind screen, which does not, however,
hide him from the audience.]
Rosamund [smiles his reward]. I'll
explain it all right. [Loudly.] Come
in! [Enter Gerald O'Mara.]
Gerald. So you are in! [Hastens
across room to shake hands.]
Rosamund. Oh, yes, I am in. Gerald,
how are you? I must say you look tolerably
well. [They sit down.]
Gerald. Oh, I'm pretty fit, thanks.
Had the most amazing time in spite of
the climate. And you? Rosie, you
haven't changed a little bit. How's the
cookery trade getting along? Are you
still showing people how to concoct
French dinners out of old bones and a
Rosamund. Certainly. Only I can do
it without the bones now. You see, the
science has progressed while you've been
stagnating in Cyprus.
Gerald. Stagnating is the word. You
wouldn't believe that climate!
Rosamund. What! Not had nice
weather? What a shame! I thought it
was tremendously sunshiny in Cyprus.
Gerald. Yes, that's just what it is, 97°
in the shade when it doesn't happen to
be pouring with malarial rain. We
started a little golf club at Nicosia, and
laid out a nine-hole course. But the balls
used to melt. So we had to alter the
rules, keep the balls in an ice-box, and
take a fresh one at every hole. Think
Rosamund. My poor boy! But I suppose
there were compensations? You referred
to "an amazing time."
Gerald. Yes, there were compensations.
And that reminds me, I want you
to come out and lunch with me at the
Savoy. I've got something awfully important
to ask you. In fact, that's what
I've come for.
Rosamund. Sorry I can't, Gerald.
The fact is, I've got something awfully
important myself just about lunch
Gerald. Oh, yours can wait. Look
here, I've ordered the lunch. I made
sure you'd come. [Rosamund shakes her
head.] Why can't you? It's not cooking,
Rosamund. Only a goose.
Gerald. What goose?
Rosamund. Well—my own, and somebody
else's. Listen, Gerald. Had you
not better ask me this awfully important
question now? No time like the present.
Gerald. I can always talk easier, especially
on delicate topics, with a pint of
something handy. But if you positively
won't come, I'll get it off my chest now.
The fact is, Rosie, I'm in love.
Rosamund. With whom?
Gerald. Ah! That's just what I want
you to tell me.
Rosamund [suddenly starting]. Gerald!
what is that dreadful thing sticking
out of your pocket, and pointing right at
Gerald. That? That's my revolver.
Always carry them in Cyprus, you know.
Plenty of sport there.
Rosamund [breathing again]. Kindly
take it out of your pocket and put it on
the table. Then if it does go off it
will go off into something less valuable
than a cookery-lecturer.
Gerald [laughingly obeying her].
There. If anything happens it will happen
to the screen. Now, Rosie, I'm in
love, and I desire that you should tell
me whom I'm in love with. There's a
magnificent girl in Cyprus, daughter of
the Superintendent of Police—
Gerald. Evelyn. Age nineteen. I
tell you I was absolutely gone on her.
Gerald. Well—er—whenever her
name was mentioned I blushed terrifically.
Of course, that was only one symptom....
Then I met a girl on the home
steamer—no father or mother. An orphan,
you know, awfully interesting.
Gerald. Madge. Nice name, isn't it?
[Rosamund nods.] I don't mind telling
you, I was considerably struck by her—still
am, in fact.
Gerald. Oh!... Let me see, I never
think of her without turning absolutely
pale. I suppose it's what they call "pale
with passion." Notice it?
Rosamund [somewhat coldly]. It
seems to me the situation amounts to
this. There are two girls. One is named
Evelyn, and the thought of her makes
you blush. The other is named Madge,
and the thought of her makes you turn
pale. You fancy yourself in love, and
you wish me to decide for you whether it
is Madge or Evelyn who agitates your
breast the more deeply.
Gerald. That's not exactly the way to
put it, Rosie. You take a fellow up too
soon. Of course I must tell you lots
more yet. You should hear Evelyn play
the "Moonlight Sonata." It's the most
marvelous thing.... And then Madge's
eyes! The way that girl can look at a
fellow.... I'm telling you all these
things, you know, Rosie, because I've always
looked up to you as an elder sister.
Rosamund [after a pause, during
which she gazes into his face]. I suppose
it was in my character of your elder sister,
that you put a certain question to
me four years ago last night?
Gerald [staggered; pulls himself together
for a great resolve; after a long
pause]. Rosie! I never thought afterwards
you'd take it seriously. I forgot
it all. I was only a boy then. [Speaking
quicker and quicker.] But I see
clearly now. I never could withstand
you. It's all rot about Evelyn and
Madge. It's you I'm in love with; and
I never guessed it! Rosie!... [Rushes
to her and impetuously flings his arms
around her neck.]
James [who, during the foregoing
scene, has been full of uneasy gestures;
leaping with incredible swiftness from
the shelter of the screen]. Sir!
Rosamund [pushing Gerald quickly
James. May I inquire, sir, what is the
precise significance of this attitudinising?
[Gerald has scarcely yet abandoned
his amorous pose, but now does so
quickly]. Are we in the middle of a
scene from "Romeo and Juliet," or is
this 9:30 A. M. in the nineteenth century?
If Miss Fife had played the "Moonlight
Sonata" to you, or looked at you as
Madge does, there might perhaps have
been some shadow of an excuse for your
extraordinary and infamous conduct.
But since she has performed neither of
these feats of skill, I fail to grasp—I
say I fail to grasp—er—
Gerald [slowly recovering from an
amazement which has rendered him
mute]. Rosie, a man concealed in your
apartment! But perhaps it is the piano-tuner.
I am willing to believe the best.
Rosamund. Let me introduce Mr.
James Brett, my future husband. Jim,
this is Gerald.
James. I have gathered as much.
[The men bow stiffly.]
Rosamund [dreamily]. Poor, poor
Gerald! [Her tone is full of feeling.
James is evidently deeply affected by it.
He walks calmly and steadily to the table
and picks up the revolver.]
Gerald. Sir, that tool is mine.
James. Sir, the fact remains that it is
an engine of destruction, and that I intend
to use it. Rosamund, the tone in
which you uttered those three words,
"Poor, poor Gerald!" convinces me, a
keen observer of symptoms, that I no
longer possess your love. Without your
love, life to me is meaningless. I object
to anything meaningless—even a word.
I shall therefore venture to deprive myself
of life. Good-by! [To Gerald.]
Sir, I may see you later. [Raises the
revolver to his temples.]
Rosamund [appealing to Gerald to interfere].
Gerald. Mr. Brett, I repeat that that
revolver is mine. It would be a serious
breach of good manners if you used it
without my consent, a social solecism of
which I believe you, as a friend of Miss
Fife's, to be absolutely incapable. Still,
as the instrument happens to be in your
hand, you may use it—but not on yourself.
Have the goodness, sir, to aim at
me. I could not permit myself to stand
in the way of another's happiness, as I
should do if I continued to exist. At the
same time I have conscientious objections
to suicide. You will therefore do
me a service by aiming straight. Above
all things, don't hit Miss Fife. I merely
mention it because I perceive that you
are unaccustomed to the use of firearms.
[Folds his arms.]
James. Rosamund, do you love me?
Rosamund. My Jim!
James [deeply moved]. The possessive
pronoun convinces me that you do.
[Smiling blandly.] Sir, I will grant your
most reasonable demand. [Aims at Gerald.]
Rosamund [half shrieking]. I don't
love you if you shoot Gerald.
James. But, my dear, this is irrational.
He has asked me to shoot him,
and I have as good as promised to do
Rosamund [entreating]. James, in two
hours we are to be married.... Think
of the complications.
Gerald. Married! To-day! Then I
withdraw my request.
James. Yes; perhaps it will be as well.
Gerald. I have never yet knowingly
asked a friend, even an acquaintance, to
shoot me on his wedding-day, and I will
not begin now. Moreover, now I come
to think of it, the revolver wasn't loaded.
Mr. Brett, I inadvertently put you in a
ridiculous position. I apologize.
James. I accept the apology. [The
general tension slackens. Both the men
begin to whistle gently, in the effort after
Rosamund. Jim, will you oblige me
by putting that revolver down somewhere.
I know it isn't loaded; but so
many people have been killed by guns
that weren't loaded that I should feel
safer.... [He puts it down on the
table.] Thank you!
James [picking up letter]. By the
way, here's that letter that came just
now. Aren't you going to open it? The
writing seems to me to be something like
Rosamund [taking the letter]. It isn't
Lottie's; it's her sister's. [Stares at envelope.]
I know what it is. I know
what it is. Lottie is ill, or dead, or
something, and can't come and be a witness
at the wedding. I'm sure it's that.
Now, if she's dead we can't be married
to-day; it wouldn't be decent. And it's
frightfully unlucky to have a wedding
postponed. Oh, but there isn't a black
border on the envelope, so she can't be
dead. And yet perhaps it was so sudden
they hadn't time to buy mourning stationery!
This is the result of your coming
here this morning. I felt sure something
would happen. Didn't I tell you
James. No, you didn't, my dear. But
why don't you open the letter?
Rosamund. I am opening it as fast as
I can. [Reads it hurriedly.] There!
I said so! Lottie fell off her bicycle last
night, and broke her ankle—won't be
able to stir for a fortnight—in great
pain—hopes it won't inconvenience us!
James. Inconvenience! I must say I
regard it as very thoughtless of Lottie
to go bicycling the very night before our
wedding. Where did she fall off?
Rosamund. Sloane Street.
James. That makes it positively criminal.
She always falls off in Sloane
Street. She makes a regular practice of
it. I have noticed it before.
Rosamund. Perhaps she did it on
James. Not a doubt of it!
Rosamund. She doesn't want us to
James. I have sometimes suspected
that she had a certain tenderness for me.
[Endeavoring to look meek.]
Rosamund. The cat!
James. By no means. Cats are never
sympathetic. She is. Let us be just before
we are jealous.
Rosamund. Jealous! My dear James!
Have you noticed how her skirts hang?
James. Hang her skirts!
Rosamund. You wish to defend
James. On the contrary; it was I who
first accused her. [Gerald, to avoid the
approaching storm, seeks the shelter of
the screen, sits down, and taking some
paper from his pocket begins thoughtfully
Rosamund. My dear James, let me
advise you to keep quite, quite calm.
You are a little bit upset.
James. I am a perfect cucumber.
But I can hear you breathing.
Rosamund. If you are a cucumber,
you are a very indelicate cucumber.
I'm not breathing more than is necessary
to sustain life.
James. Yes, you are; and what's more
you'll cry in a minute if you don't take
care. You're getting worked up.
Rosamund. No, I shan't. [Sits down
James. What did I tell you? Now
perhaps you will inform me what we are
quarreling about, because I haven't the
Rosamund [through her sobs]. I do
think it's of Lottie. We can't
be married with one witness. And I
didn't want to be married at a registry
office at all.
James. My pet, we can easily get another
witness. As for the registry office,
it was yourself who proposed it, as
a way out of a difficulty. I'm High and
Rosamund. I'm not Low; I'm Broad,
or else Evangelical.
James [beginning calmly again]. I'm
High and you're Broad, and there was a
serious question about candles and a
genuflexion, and so we decided on the
registry office, which, after all, is much
Rosamund [drying her tears, and putting
on a saintly expression]. Well, anyhow,
James, we will consider our engagement
at an end.
James. This extraordinary tiff has
lasted long enough, Rosie. Come and be
Rosamund [with increased saintliness].
You mistake me, James. I am not quarreling.
I am not angry.
James. Then you have ceased to love
Rosamund. I adore you passionately.
But we can never marry. Do you not
perceive the warnings against such a
course? First of all you come here—drawn
by some mysterious, sinister impulse—in
breach of all etiquette. That
was a Sign.
James. A sign of what?
Rosamund. Evil. Then you find that
postcard, to remind me of a forgotten
James. Damn the postcard! I wish
I'd never picked it up.
Rosamund. Hush! Then comes this
letter about Lottie.
James. Damn that, too!
Rosamund [sighs]. Then Gerald arrives.
James. Damn him, too! By the way,
where is he?
Gerald [coming out from behind the
screen]. Sir, if you want to influence
my future state by means of a blasphemous
expletive, let me beg you to do
it when ladies are not present. There
are certain prayers which should only
be uttered in the smoking-room. [The
two men stab each other with their eyes.]
James. I respectfully maintain, Mr.
O'Mara, that you had no business to
call on my future wife within three
hours of her wedding, and throw her
into such a condition of alarm and unrest
that she doesn't know whether she is going
to get married or not.
Gerald. Sir! How in the name of
Heaven was I to guess—
Rosamund [rising, with an imperative
gesture]. Stop! Sit down, both. James
[who hesitates], this is the last request
I shall ever make of you. [He sits].
Let me speak. Long ago, from a mistaken
motive of kindness, I gave this
poor boy [pointing to Gerald] to understand
that I loved him; that any rate
I should love him in time. Supported
by that assurance, he existed for four
years through the climatic terrors of a
distant isle. I, pampered with all the
superfluities of civilization, forgot this
noble youth in his exile. I fell selfishly
in love. I promised to marry ... while
he, with nothing to assuage the rigors—
James. Pardon me, there was Evelyn's
"Moonlight Sonata," not to mention
Rosamund. You jest, James, but the
jest is untimely. Has he not himself
said that these doubtless excellent young
women were in fact nothing to him, that
it was my image which he kept steadfastly
in his heart?
Gerald. Ye—es, of course, Rosie.
Rosamund [chiefly to James]. The
sight of this poor youth fills me with
sorrow and compunction and shame.
For it reminds me that four years ago
I lied to him.
Gerald. It was awfully good of you,
Rosamund. That is beside the point.
At an earlier period of this unhappy
morning, James, you asseverated that
you could not dream of getting married
with a lie on your lips. Neither can I.
James, I love you to madness. [Takes
his inert hand, shakes it, and drops it
again.] Good-by, James! Henceforth
we shall be strangers. My duty is towards
Gerald. But if you love him?
Rosamund. With a good woman, conscience
comes first, love second. In time
I shall learn to love you. I was always
quick at lessons. Gerald, take me. It
is the only way by which I can purge
my lips of the lie uttered four years ago.
[Puts her hands on Gerald's shoulders.]
James. In about three-quarters of an
hour you will regret this, Rosamund Fife.
Rosamund. One never regrets a good
Gerald. Oh! well! I say.... [inarticulate
Rosamund [after a pause]. James, we
James. What for?
Rosamund. For you to go.
James. Don't mind me. You forget
that I am in the War Office, and accustomed
to surprising situations.
Gerald. Look here, Rosie. It's awfully
good of you, and you're doing me a
frightfully kind turn; but I can't accept
it, you know. It wouldn't do. Kindness
spoils my character.
James. Yes, and think of the shock
to the noble youth.
Gerald. I couldn't permit such a
Rosamund. To a good woman life
should be one long sacrifice.
Gerald. Yes, that's all very well, and
I tell you, Rosie, I'm awfully obliged to
you. Of course I'm desperately in love
with you. That goes without saying.
But I also must sacrifice myself. The
fact is ... there's Madge....
Gerald. Well, you know what a place
a steamer is, especially in calm, warm
weather. I'm afraid I've rather led her
to expect.... The fact is, while you and
Mr. Brett were having your little discussion
just now, I employed the time in
scribbling out a bit of a letter to her,
and I rather fancy that I've struck one
or two deuced good ideas in the proposal
line. How's this for a novelty:
"My dear Miss Madge, you cannot fail
to have noticed from my behavior in
your presence that I admire you tremendously?"
Rather a neat beginning,
Rosamund. But you said you loved
Gerald. Oh, well, so I do. You see
I only state that I "admire" her. All
the same I feel I'm sort of bound to her, ...
you see how I'm fixed. I should
much prefer, of course....
James. To a good man life should be
one long sacrifice.
Gerald. Exactly, sir.
Rosamund [steadying herself and approaching
James]. Jim, my sacrifice is
over. It was a terrible ordeal, and nothing
but a strict sense of duty could have
supported me through such a trying
crisis. I am yours. Lead me to the altar.
I trust Gerald may be happy with
this person named Madge.
James. The flame of your love has
Rosamund. Ah, no!
James. Well, if my own particular
flame hadn't been fairly robust, the recent
draughts might have knocked it
about a bit. You have no more sacrifices
in immediate view?... [She looks at
him in a certain marvelous way, and he
suddenly swoops down and kisses her.]
To the altar! March! Dash; we shall
want another witness.
Gerald. Couldn't I serve?
Rosamund. You're sure it wouldn't
be too much for your feelings?
Gerald. I should enjoy it.... I
mean I shan't mind very much. Let us
therefore start. If we're too soon you
can watch the process at work on others,
and learn how to comport yourselves.
By the way, honeymoon?
James. Paris. Charing Cross 1:30.
Dine at Dover.
Gerald. Then you shall eat that
lunch I have ordered at the Savoy.
Rosamund. Er—talking of lunch, as
I'm hostess here, perhaps I should ask
you men if you'd like a drink.
James and Gerald [looking hopefully
at each other]. Well, yes.
Rosamund. I have some beautiful
James AND Gerald [still looking at
each other, but with a different expression].
Oh, that will be delightful!
[Lemonade and glasses produced.]
Gerald. I drink to the happy pair.
Rosamund [a little sinister]. And I—to
James. And I—to a good woman—Mrs.
Pet [looking at her fixedly]. All
men like a good woman, but she
shouldn't be too good—it's a strain on
the system. [General consumption of
lemonade, the men bravely swallowing it
down, Rosamund rests her head on
Rosamund. It occurs to me, Gerald,
you only ordered lunch for two at the
Gerald. Well, that's right. By that
time you and James, if I may call him
so, will be one, and me makes two.