An April Folly in Three Acts
A. A. Milne
Produced by Mr. Dion Boucioault at the New Theatre, London, on April 8,
1918, with the following cast:—
Belinda Tremayne .......... Irene Vanbrugh.
Delia (her Daughter) ...... Isabel Elsom.
Harold Baxter ............. Dion Boucicault.
Claude Devenish ........... Dennis Neilson-Terry.
John Tremayne ............. Ben Webster.
Betty ..................... Anne Walden.
The action takes place in Belinda's country-house in Devonshire at the
end of April, the first act in the garden and the second and last acts
in the hall
It is a lovely April afternoon–a foretaste of summer–in
Betty, a middle-aged servant, is fastening a hammock–its first
appearance this year–to a tree down L. In front there is a
garden-table, with a deck-chair on the right of it and a straight-backed
one to the left. There are books, papers, and magazines on the
table. Belinda, of whom we shall know more presently, is on the
other side of the open windows which look on to the garden, talking
to Betty, who crosses to R. of hammock, securing it to
Belinda (from inside the house). Are you sure you're tying it up
tightly enough, Betty?
Betty (coming to front of hammock). Yes, ma'am; I think it's
Belinda. Because I'm not the fairy I used to be.
Betty (testing hammock). Yes, ma'am; it's quite firm this end
Belinda (entering from portico with sunshade open). It's not the
ends I'm frightened of; it's the middle where the weight's coming.
(Comes down R. and admiring.) It looks very nice. (She crosses
at back of wicker table, hanging her hand-bag on hammock. Closes and
places her sunshade at back of tree C.)
Betty. Yes, ma'am.
Belinda (trying the middle of it with her hand). I asked them at
the Stores if they were quite sure it would bear me, and they
said it would take anything up to–I forget how many tons. I know I
thought it was rather rude of them. (Looking at it anxiously, and
trying to get in, first with her right leg and then her left.) How
does one get in! So trying to be a sailor!
Betty. I think you sit in it, ma'am, and then (explaining with her
hands) throw your legs over.
Belinda. I see. (She sits gingerly in the hammock, and then, with a
sudden flutter of white, does what Betty suggests.) Yes.
(Regretfully.) I'm afraid that was rather wasted on you, Betty.
We must have some spectators next time.
Betty. Yea, ma'am
(Betty moves to and takes a cushion from deck-chair. Belinda
assists her to place it at back of her head. Betty then goes
to back of hammock and arranges Belinda's dress.)
There! Now then, Betty, about callers.
Betty. Yes, ma'am.
Belinda. If Mr. Baxter calls–he is the rather prim gentleman—
Betty. Yea, ma'am; the one who's been here several times before.
(Moves to below and L. of hammock.)
Belinda (giving Betty a quick look). Yes. Well, if he
calls, you'll say, "Not at home."
Betty. Yes, ma'am.
Belinda. He will say (imitating Mr. Baxter), "Oh–er–oh–er–really." Then you'll smile very sweetly and say, "I beg your pardon, was
it Mr. Baxter?" And he'll say, "Yes!" and you'll say, "Oh, I beg
your pardon, sir; this way, please."
Betty. Yes, ma'am.
Belinda. That's right, Betty. Well now, if Mr. Devenish calls–he is the
rather poetical gentleman—
Betty. Yes, ma'am; the one who's always coming here.
Belinda (with a pleased smile). Yes. Well, if he calls you'll
say, "Not at home."
Betty. Yes, ma'am.
Belinda. He'll immediately (extending her arms descriptively)
throw down his bunch of flowers and dive despairingly into the moat.
You'll stop him, just as he is going in, and say, "I beg your pardon,
sir, was it Mr. Devenish?" And he will say, "Yes!" and you will
say, "Oh, I beg your pardon, sir; this way, please."
Betty. Yes, ma'am. And suppose they both call together?
Belinda (non-plussed for a moment). We won't suppose anything so
Betty. No, ma'am. And suppose any other gentleman calls?
Belinda (with a sigh). There aren't any other gentlemen.
Betty. It might be a clergyman, come to ask for a subscription like.
Belinda. If it's a clergyman, Betty, I shall–I shall want your
assistance out of the hammock first.
Betty. Yes, ma'am.
Belinda. That's all.
(Betty crosses below table and chairs to porch.)
To anybody else I'm not at home, (Trying to secure book on table and
nearly falling out of the hammock.) Oh, just give me that little
green book. (Pointing to books on the table.) The one at the
bottom there–that's the one. (Betty gives it to her.) Thank you.
(Reading the title.) "The Lute of Love," by Claude Devenish.
(To herself as she turns the pages.) It doesn't seem much for
half-a-crown when you think of the Daily Telegraph .... Lute ...
Lute .... I should have quite a pretty mouth if I kept on saying that.
(With a great deal of expression.) Lute! (She pats her mouth
Betty. Is that all, ma'am?
Belinda. That's all. (Betty prepares to go.) Oh, what am I
thinking of! (Waving to the table.) I want that review; I think
it's the blue one. (As Betty begins to look.) It has an
article by Mr. Baxter on the "Rise of Lunacy in the Eastern Counties"—
(Betty gives her "The Nineteenth Century" Magazine.)
–yes, that's the one. I'd better have that too; I'm just at the most
exciting place. You shall have it after me, Betty.
Betty. Is that all, ma'am?
Belinda. Yes, that really is all.
(Betty goes into the house.)
Belinda (reading to herself very pronouncedly). "It is a matter of
grave concern to all serious students of social problems–" (Putting
the review down in hammock and shaking her head gently.) But not in
April. (Lazily opening the book and reading.) "Tell me where is
love"–well, that's the question, isn't it? (She lies back in the
hammock lazily and the book of poems falls from her to the ground.
Delia comes into the garden, from Paris. She is decidedly a modern
girl, pretty and self-possessed. Her hair is half-way up; waiting for
her birthday, perhaps. She sees her mother suddenly, stops, and then
goes on tiptoe to the head of the hammock. She smiles and kisses her
mother on the forehead. Belinda, looking supremely unconscious,
goes on sleeping. Delia kisses her lightly again. Belinda
wakes up with an extraordinarily natural start, and is just about to
say, "Oh, Mr. Devenish–you mustn't!"–when she sees Delia.)
Delia! (They kiss each other frantically.)
Delia. Well, mummy, aren't you glad to see me?
Belinda. My darling child!
Delia. Say you're glad.
Belinda (sitting up). My darling, I'm absolutely–(Delia
crosses round to L. of hammock.) Hold the hammock while I
get out, dear; we don't want an accident. (Delia holds the L.
end of it and Belinda struggles out, leaving the magazine and
her handkerchief in the hammock.) They're all right when you're
there, and they'll bear two tons, but they're horrid getting in and out
of. (Kissing her again.) Darling, it really is you?
Delia. Oh, it is jolly seeing you again. I believe you were asleep.
Belinda (with dignity). Certainly not, child. I was reading
The Nineteenth Century–(with an air)–and after. (Earnestly) Darling,
wasn't it next Thursday you were coming back?
Delia. No, this Thursday, silly.
Belinda (penitently). Oh, my darling, and I was going over to
Paris to bring you home.
Delia. I half expected you.
Belinda. So confusing their both being called Thursday. And you were
leaving school for the very last time. If you don't forgive me, Delia, I
Delia (kissing her and stroking her hand fondly). Silly mother!
(Belinda sits down in the deck-chair and Delia sits on the
Belinda. Isn't it a lovely day for April, darling! I've wanted to say
that to somebody all day, and you're the first person who's given me the
chance. Oh, I said it to Betty, but she only said, "Yes, ma'am."
Delia. Poor mother!
Belinda (jumping up suddenly, crossing to L. of and
kissing Delia again). I simply must have another one. And to
think that you're never going back to school any more. (Looking at
her fondly, and backing to L.) Darling, you are looking
Delia. Am I?
Belinda. Lovely. (She kisses her once more, then she takes the
cushion from the hammock, moves at back of table and places it on the
head of the deck-chair.) And now you're going to stay with me for
just as long as you want a mother. (Anxiously moving to R. of
deckchair.) Darling, you didn't mind being sent away to school, did
you? It is the usual thing, you know.
Delia. Silly mother! of course it is.
Belinda (relieved, and sitting on deck-chair). I'm so glad you
think so too.
Delia. Have you been very lonely without me?
Belinda (with a sly look at Delia). Very.
Delia (turning to Belinda and holding up a finger). The
Belinda. I've missed you horribly, Delia. (Primly.) The absence
of female companionship of the requisite—
Delia. Are you really all alone?
Belinda (smiling mysteriously and coyly). Well, not always, of
Delia (excitedly, at she slips off the table, and backing to L.
a little). Mummy, I believe you're being bad again.
Belinda. Really, darling, you forget that I'm old enough to be–in fact,
Delia (nodding her head). You are being bad.
Belinda (rising with dignity and drawing herself up to her full
height, moving L.). My child, that is not the way to–Oh, I say,
what a lot taller I am than you! (Turning her back to Delia
and comparing sizes.)
Delia. And prettier.
Belinda (playfully rubbing noses with Delia). Oh, do you think
so? (Firmly, but pleased.) Don't be silly, child.
Delia (holding up a finger). Now tell me all that's been
happening here at once.
Belinda (with a sigh). And I was just going to ask you how you
were getting on with your French. (Sits in deck-chair.)
Delia. Bother French! You've been having a much more interesting time
than I have, so you've got to tell.
Belinda (with a happy sigh). O-oh! (She sinks back into her
Delia (taking off her coat). Is it like the Count at Scarborough?
Belinda (surprised and pained). My darling, what do you mean?
Delia. Don't you remember the Count who kept proposing to you at
Scarborough? I do. (Places coat on hammock.)
Belinda (reproachfully). Dear one, you were the merest child,
paddling about on the beach and digging castles.
Delia (smiling to herself). I was old enough to notice the Count.
Belinda (sadly). And I'd bought her a perfectly new spade! How
one deceives oneself!
Delia (at table and leaning across, with hands on table). And
then there was the M.P. who proposed at Windermere.
Belinda. Yes, dear, but it wasn't seconded–I mean he never got very far
Delia. And the artist in Wales.
Belinda. Darling child, what a memory you have. No wonder your teachers
are pleased with you.
Delia (settling herself comfortably in deck-chair L. of
Belinda and lying in her arms). Now tell me all about this one.
Belinda (meekly). Which one?
Delia (excitedly). Oh, are there lots?
Belinda (severely). Only two.
Delia. Two! You abandoned woman!
Belinda. It's something in the air, darling. I've never been in
Devonshire in April before.
Delia. Is it really serious this time?
Belinda (pained). I wish you wouldn't say this time, Delia. It
sounds so unromantic. If you'd only put it into French–cette
fois–it sounds so much better. Cette fois. (Parentally.)
When one's daughter has just returned from an expensive schooling in
Paris, one likes to feel—
Delia. What I meant, dear, was, am I to have a stepfather at last?
Belinda. Now you're being too French, darling.
Delia. Why, do you still think father may be alive?
Belinda. Why not? It's only eighteen years since he left us, and he was
quite a young man then.
Delia. Yes, but surely, surely you'd have heard from him in all those
years, if he'd been alive?
Belinda. Well, he hasn't heard from me, and I'm still alive.
Delia (looking earnestly at her mother, rises and moves L.C.). I
shall never understand it.
Belinda. Understand what?
Delia. Were you as heavenly when you were young as you are now?
Belinda (rapturously). Oh, I was sweet!
Delia. And yet he left you after only six months.
Belinda (rather crossly, sitting up). I wish you wouldn't keep on
saying he left me. I left him too.
Delia (running to and kneeling in front of Belinda and looking
anxiously into her face). Why?
Belinda (smiling to herself). Well, you see, he was quite certain
he knew how to manage women, and I was quite certain I knew how to
manage men. (Thoughtfully.) If only one of us had been certain,
it would have been all right.
Delia (seriously). What really happened, mummy? I'm grown up now,
so I think you ought to tell me.
Belinda (thoughtfully). That was about all, you know ... except
for his beard.
Delia. Had he a beard? (Laughing.) How funny!
Belinda (roaring with laughter, in which Delia joins).
Yes, dear, it was; but he never would see it. He took it quite
Delia. And did you say dramatically, "If you really loved me, you'd take
Belinda (apologetically). I'm afraid I did, darling.
Delia. And what did he say?
Belinda. He said–very rudely–that, if I loved him, I'd
do my hair in a different way.
Delia (sinks down on her haunches, facing the audience). How
Belinda (touching her hair). Of course, I didn't do it like this
then. I suppose we never ought to have married, really.
Delia. Why did you?
Belinda. Mother rather wanted it. (Solemnly.) Delia, never get
married because your mother— Oh, I forgot; I'm your mother.
Delia. And I don't want a better one ... (They embrace.) And so
you left each other?
Delia. But, darling, didn't you tell him there was going to be a Me?
Belinda. Oh no!
Delia. I wonder why not?
Belinda. Well, you see, if I had, he might have wanted to stay.
Belinda (hurt). If he didn't want to stay for me, I didn't
want him to stay for you. (Penitently.) Forgive me, darling,
but I didn't know you very well then. We've been very happy together,
Delia (going to the hammock, sitting in it and dangling her
legs). I should think we have.
Belinda (leaning back in chair). I don't want to deny you
anything, and, of course, if you'd like a stepfather (looking down
modestly) or two—
Delia. Oh, you have been enjoying yourself.
Belinda. Only you see how awkward it would be if Jack turned up in the
middle of the wedding, like–like Eugene Aram.
Delia. Enoch Arden, darling.
Belinda. It's very confusing their having the same initials. Perhaps I'd
better call them both E. A. in future and then I shall be safe. Well,
anyhow it would be awkward, darling, wouldn't it? Not that I should know
him from Adam after all these years–except for a mole on his left arm.
Delia. Perhaps Adam had a mole.
Belinda. No, darling; you're thinking of Noah. He had two.
Delia (thoughtfully). I wonder what would happen if you met
somebody whom you really did fall in love with?
Belinda (reproachfully). Now you're being serious, and it's
Delia. Aren't these two–the present two–serious?
Belinda. Oh no! They think they are, but they aren't a bit, really.
Besides, I'm doing them such a lot of good. I'm sure they'd hate to
marry me, but they love to think they're in love with me, and–I
love it, and–and they love it, and–and we all love it.
Delia (rising and crossing to Belinda). You really are the
biggest, darlingest baby who ever lived. (Kisses her.) Do say I
shan't spoil your lovely times.
Belinda (surprised). Spoil them? Why, you'll make them more
lovely than ever.
Delia (turning away and sitting on table). Well, but do they know
you have a grown-up daughter?
Belinda (suddenly realizing and sitting up). Oh!
Delia. It doesn't really matter, because you don't look a day more than
Belinda (absently). No. (Hurriedly.) I mean, how sweet of
Belinda (playing with her rings). Well, one of them, Mr. Baxter–Harold–(she looks quickly up at Delia and down again in
pretty affectation, but she is really laughing at herself all the
time) he writes statistical articles for the Reviews–percentages
and all those things. He's just the sort of man, if he knew that I was
your mother, to work it out that I was more than thirty. The other one,
Mr. Devenish–Claude–(she looks up and down as before) he's
rather, rather poetical. He thinks I came straight from heaven–last
Delia (laughing and jumping up and crossing below deck-chair to
R. towards house). I think I'd better go straight back to
Belinda (jumping up and catching her firmly by the left arm). You
will do nothing of the sort. (Pulling Delia back to centre.)
You will take off that hat–(she lets go of the arm and begins to
take out the pin) which is a perfect duck, and I don't know why I
didn't say so before–(she puts the hat down on the table) and
let me take a good look at you (she does so), and kiss you (she
does so, then crosses Delia below her and takes her towards the
house), and then we'll go to your room and unpack and have a lovely
talk about clothes. And then we'll have tea.
(Betty comes in and stands up at back.)
And now here's Betty coming in to upset all our delightful plans, just
when we'vt made them. (Belinda and Delia are now on Betty's R.)
Delia (leaving Belinda and shaking hands with Betty). How
are you, Betty? I've left school.
Betty. Very nicely, thank you, miss. (Backing to L. and
admiring.) You've grown.
Belinda (moving to and patting the top of Delia's head).
I'm much taller than she is... (Crossing to Betty in front
of Delia.) Well, Betty, what is it?
Betty. The two gentlemen, Mr. Baxter and Mr. Devenish, have both called
Belinda (excited). Oh! How–how very simultaneous of them!
Delia (eagerly, going towards house). Oh, do let me see them!
Belinda (stopping her). Darling, you'll see plenty of them before
you've finished. (To Betty in an exaggerated whisper.) What have
you done with them?
Betty. They're waiting in the hall, ma'am, while I said I would see if
you were at home.
Belinda. All right, Betty. Give me two minutes and then show them out
Betty. Yes, ma'am.
(Betty crosses below Belinda and Delia and exits into
Belinda (taking Delia down R. a step). They can't
do much harm to each other in two minutes.
Delia (taking her hat from table). Well, I'll go and unpack.
(She goes back to Belinda.) You really won't mind my coming down
Belinda. Of course not. (A little awkwardly, taking Delia's
arm and moving down R.) Darling one, I wonder if you'd mind–just
at first–being introduced as my niece. (By now at foot of deck-chair.) You see, I expect they're in a bad temper already
(now C.), having come here together, and we don't want to spoil
their day entirely.
Delia (smiling, on Belinda's L.). I'll be your mother if you
Belinda. Oh no, that wouldn't do, because then Mr. Baxter would feel
that he ought to ask your permission before paying his attentions to me.
He's just that sort of man. A niece is so safe–however good you are at
statistics, you can't really prove anything.
Delia. All right, mummy.
Belinda (enjoying herself). You'd like to be called by a
different name, wouldn't you? There's something so thrilling about
taking a false name. Such a lot of adventures begin like that. How would
you like to be Miss Robinson, darling? It's a nice easy one to remember.
(Persuasively.) And you shall put your hair up so as to feel more
disguised. What fun we're going to have!
Delia. You baby! All right, then, I'm Miss Robinson, your favourite
niece. (She takes her jacket from the hammock and moves towards the
Belinda. How sweet of you! No, no, not that way–you'll meet them.
(Following quickly up between tree and table to Delia, who has
now reached the house.) Oh, I'm coming with you to do your hair.
(Moving up C., arm in arm with Delia.) You don't think you're
going to be allowed to do it yourself, when so much depends on it, and
husbands leave you because of it, and—
(Belinda, seeing Betty entering from house, hurries
Delia up R., and they bob down behind the yew hedge R.
Betty comes from the house into the garden, crossing to centre and up
stage looking for Belinda, followed by Mr. Baxter and Mr. Devenish.
Baxter gives an angry look round at Devenish as he enters. Mr.
Baxter is forty-five, prim and erect, with close-trimmed moustache and
side-whiskers. His clothes are dark and he wears a bowler-hat. Mr. Devenish is a long-haired, good-looking boy in a négligé costume;
perhaps twenty-two years old, and very scornful of the world. Baxter
crosses to L. below Betty, and turns to her with a sharp inquiring
glance. Devenish moves down R., languidly admiring the garden.)
Betty (looking about her surprised). The mistress was here a
moment ago. (The two heads pop up from behind the hedge and then down
again immediately. Belinda and Delia exeunt R.). I expect she'll
be back directly, if you'll just wait.
(She goes back into the house.)
(Baxter, crossing to R., meets Devenish who has moved
up R. Baxter is annoyed and with an impatient gesture comes down
between the tree and the table to chair L. and sits. Devenish
throws his felt hat on to the table and walks to the back of the
hammock. He sees the review in the hammock and picks it up.)
Devenish. Good heavens, Baxter, she's been reading your article!
Baxter. I dare say she's not the only one.
Devenish. That's only guesswork (going to back of table); you
don't know of anyone else.
Baxter (with contempt). How many people, may I ask, have bought
Devenish (loftily). I don't write for the mob.
Baxter. I think I may say that of my own work.
Devenish. Baxter, I don't want to disappoint you, but I have reluctantly
come to the conclusion that you are one of the mob. (Throws magazine
down on table, annoyed.) Dash it! what are you doing in the country
at all in a bowler-hat?
Baxter. If I wanted to be personal, I could say, "Why don't you get your
hair cut?" Only that form of schoolboy humour doesn't appeal to me.
Devenish. This is not a personal matter; I am protesting on behalf of
nature. (Leaning against tree.) What do the birds and the flowers
and the beautiful trees think of your hat?
Baxter. If one began to ask oneself what the birds thought of
Devenish. Well, and why shouldn't one ask oneself? It is better than
asking oneself what the Stock Exchange thinks of things.
Baxter. Well (looking up at Devenish's extravagant hair),
it's the nesting season. Your hair! (Suddenly.) Ha! ha! ha! ha!
Devenish (hastily smoothing it down). Really, Baxter, you're
vulgar. (He turns away and resumes his promenading, going down R. and
then round deck-chair to front of hammock. Suddenly he sees his book on
the grass beneath the hammock and makes a dash for it.) Ha, my book!
(Gloating over it.) Baxter, she reads my book.
Baxter. I suppose you gave her a copy.
Devenish (exultingly). Yes, I gave her a copy. My next book will be hers
and hers alone.
Baxter. Then let me say that, in my opinion, you took a very great
Devenish. Liberty! And this from a man who is continually forcing his
unwelcome statistics upon her.
Baxter. At any rate, I flatter myself that there is no suggestion of
impropriety in anything that I write.
Devenish. I'm not so sure about that, Baxter.
Baxter. What do you mean, sir?
Devenish. Did you read The Times this month on the new reviews!
Devenish. Oh, nothing. It just said, "Mr. Baxter's statistics are
(Baxter makes a gesture of annoyance.)
I haven't read them, so of course I don't know what you've been up to.
Baxter (rising, turning away in disgust and crossing up L). Pah!
Devenish. Poor old Baxter! (Puts book of poems down on table and
crosses below chair and gathers a daffodil from a large vase down R.
and saying "Poor old Baxter!" ad lib. Baxter moves round back
of hammock and to R., collides with Devenish and much annoyed
goes down between table and tree towards chair down L.) Baxter–(moving to and leaning against tree R.)
Baxter (turning to Devenish crossly). I wish you wouldn't
keep calling me "Baxter."
(Baxter displays annoyance, and continues his walk to L.)
Baxter. It is only by accident–an accident which we both deplore–that
we have met at all, and in any case I am a considerably older man than
yourself. (Sits L.)
Devenish. Mr. Baxter–father–(gesture of annoyance from Baxter)–I have a proposal to make. We will leave it to this beautiful flower to
decide which of us the lady loves.
Baxter (turning round). Eh?
Devenish (pulling off the petals). She loves me, she loves Mr.
Baxter, she loves me, she loves Mr. Baxter–(Belinda appears in the
porch)–Heaven help her!–she loves me—
Belinda (coming down R.). What are you doing, Mr. Devenish!
Devenish (throwing away the flower and bowing very low). My lady.
(Baxter rises quickly.)
Baxter (removing his bowler-hat stiffly). Good afternoon, Mrs. Tremayne.
(She gives her left hand to Devenish, who kisses it, and her
right to Baxter, who shakes it.)
Belinda. How nice of you both to come!
Baxter. Mr. Devenish and I are inseparable–apparently.
Belinda. You haven't told me what you were doing, Mr. Devenish. Was it
(plucking an imaginary flower) "This year, next year?" or "Silk,
Devenish. My lady, it was even more romantic than that. I have the
honour to announce to your ladyship that Mr. Baxter is to be a sailor.
(Dances round imitating the hornpipe.)
Belinda (to Baxter). Doesn't he talk nonsense?
Baxter. He'll grow out of it. I did.
Belinda (moving down R. and then to centre towards
hammock). Oh, I hope not. I love talking nonsense, and I'm ever so
old. (As they both start forward to protest.) Now which one of
you will say it first?
Devenish. You are as old as the stars and as young as the dawn.
Baxter. You are ten years younger than I am.
Belinda. What sweet things to say! I don't know which I like best.
Devenish. Where will my lady sit!
Belinda (with an exaggerated curtsy). I will recline in the
hammock, an it please thee, my lord—
(Baxter goes to the right of the hammock, saying "Allow me."
Devenish moves to the left of the hammock and holds it, takes up a
cushion which Baxter snatches from him and places in hammock
–only it's rather awkward getting in, Mr. Baxter. Perhaps you'd both
better look at the tulips for a moment.
Baxter. Oh–ah–yes. (Crosses down R., turns his back to the
hammock and examines the flowers.)
Devenish (leaning over her). If only—
Belinda. You'd better not say anything, Mr. Devenlsh. Keep it for your
next volume. (He turns away and examines flowers on L. She
sits on hammock.) One, two, three–(throws her legs over)–that was better than last time. (They turn round to see her safely in
the hammock. Devenish leans against the L. tree at her feet,
and Baxter draws the deck-chair from the right side of the table
and turns it round towards her. He presses his hat more firmly on
and sits down.) I wonder if either of you can guess what I've been
reading this afternoon!
Devenish (looking at her lovingly). I know.
Belinda (giving him a fleeting look). How did you know?
Devenish. Well, I—
Belinda (to Baxter). Yes, Mr. Baxter, it was your article I was
reading. If you'd come five minutes earlier you'd have found me
wrestling–I mean revelling in it.
Baxter. I am very greatly honoured, Mrs. Tremayne. Ah–it seemed to me a
very interesting curve showing the rise and fall of—
Belinda. I hadn't got up to the curves. They are interesting,
aren't they? They are really more in Mr. Devenish's line. (To
Devenish.) Mr. Devenish, it was a great disappointment to me that all
the poems in your book seemed to be written to somebody else.
Devenish. It was before I met you, lady. They were addressed to the
goddess of my imagination. It is only in these last few weeks that I
have discovered her.
Belinda. And discovered she was dark and not fair.
Devenish. She will be dark in my next volume.
Belinda. Oh, how nice of her!
Baxter (kindly). You should write a real poem to Mrs. Tremayne.
Belinda (excitedly). Oh do! "To Belinda." I don't know what
rhymes, except cinder. You could say your heart was like a cinder–all
Devenish (pained). Oh, my lady, I'm afraid that is a cockney
Belinda. How thrilling! I've never been to Hampstead Heath.
Devenish. "Belinda." It is far too beautiful to rhyme with anything but
Belinda. Fancy! But what about Tremayne? (Singing.) Oh, I am Mrs.
Tremayne, and I don't want to marry again.
Devenish (protesting). My lady!
Baxter (protesting). Belinda!
Belinda (pointing excitedly to Baxter). There, that's the first
time he's called me Belinda! This naughty boy–(indicating
Devenish)–is always doing it–by accident.
Devenish. Are you serious?
Belinda. Not as a rule.
Devenish. You're not going to marry again?
Belinda. Well, who could I marry?
Devenish and Baxter (together). Me!
Belinda (dropping her eyes modestly). But this is England.
Baxter (rising and taking off his hat, which he places on table, and
going up to Belinda). Mrs. Tremayne, I claim the right of age–of my
greater years–to speak first.
Devenish. Mrs. Tremayne, I—
Belinda (kindly to Devenish). You can speak afterwards, Mr.
Devenish. It's so awkward when you both speak together. (To
Baxter, giving encouragement.) Yes?
Baxter (moving down a little and then returning to Belinda). Mrs.
Tremayne, I am a man of substantial position–(Devenish sniggers–to Baxter's great annoyance.) and perhaps I may say of some
repute in serious circles.
(Devenish sniggers again.)
All that I have, whether of material or mental endowment, I lay at your
feet, together with an admiration which I cannot readily put into words.
As my wife I think you would be happy, and I feel that with you by my
side I could achieve even greater things.
Belinda. How sweet of you! But I ought to tell you that I'm no good at
Devenish (protesting). My lady—
Belinda. I don't mean what you mean, Mr. Devenish. You wait till it's
your turn. (To Baxter.) Yes?
Baxter (very formally). I ask you to marry me, Belinda.
Belinda (settling herself happily and closing her eyes). O-oh!...
Now it's your turn, Mr. Devenish.
Devenish (excitedly). Money–thank Heaven, I have no money.
Reputation–thank Heaven, I have no reputation.
(Baxter, very annoyed, moves down and sits on deck-chair.)
What can I offer you? Dreams–nothing but dreams. Come with me and I
will show you the world through my dreams. What can I give you? Youth,
Belinda (still with her eyes shut). You mustn't interrupt, Mr.
Devenish (leaning across hammock). Belinda, marry me and I will
open your eyes to the beauty of the world. Come to me!
Belinda (happily). O-oh! You've got such different ways of
putting things. How can I choose between you?
Devenish. Then you will marry one of us?
Belinda. You know I really oughtn't to.
Baxter. I don't see why not.
Belinda. Well, there's just a little difficulty in the way.
Devenish. What is it? I will remove it. For you I could remove anything
–yes, even Baxter. (He looks at Baxter, who is sitting more
solidly than ever in his chair.)
Belinda. And anyhow I should have to choose between you.
Devenish (in a whisper), choose me.
Baxter (stiffly). Mrs. Tremayne does not require any prompting. A
fair field and let the best man win.
Devenish (going across to and slapping the astonished Baxter
on the back). Aye, let the best man win! Well spoken, Baxter.
(Baxter is very annoyed. To Belinda and going back to her
L.) Send us out into the world upon some knightly quest, lady, and let
the victor be rewarded.
Baxter. I–er–ought to say that I should be unable to go very far. I
have an engagement to speak at Newcastle on the 2lst.
Devenish. Baxter, I will take no unfair advantage of you. Let the beard
of the Lord Mayor of Newcastle be the talisman that my lady demands; I
Baxter. This sort of thing is entirely contrary to my usual mode of
life, but I will not be outfaced by a mere boy. (Rising.) I am
prepared. (Going to her.)
Devenish. Speak, lady.
Belinda (speaking in a deep, mysterious voice). Gentlemen, ye put
wild thoughts into my head. In sooth, I am minded to send ye
forth upon a quest that is passing strange. Know ye that there is a maid
journeyed hither, hight Robinson–whose–(in her natural voice)
what's the old for aunt?
Baxter (hopefully). Mother's sister.
Belinda. You know, I think I shall have to explain this in ordinary
language. You won't mind very much, will you, Mr. Devenish?
Devenish. It is the spirit of this which matters, not the language
which clothes it.
Belinda. Oh, I'm so glad you think so. Well, now about Miss Robinson.
She's my niece and she's just come to stay with me, and–poor girl–she's lost her father. Absolutely lost him. He disappeared ever such a
long time ago, and poor Miss Robinson–Delia–naturally wants to find
him. Poor girl! she can't think where he is.
Devenish (nobly). I will find him.
Belinda. Oh, thank you, Mr. Devenish; Miss Robinson would be so much
Baxter. Yes–er–but what have we to go upon? Beyond the fact that his
name is Robinson—
Belinda. I shouldn't go on that too much. You see, he may easily
have changed it by now. He was never very much of a Robinson. Nothing to
do with Peter or any of those.
Devenish. I will find him.
Baxter (with a look of annoyance at Devenish). Well, can you tell
us what he's like?
Belinda. Well, it's such a long time since I saw him. (Looking down
modestly.) Of course, I was quite a girl then. The only thing I know
for certain is that he has a mole on his left arm about here. (She
indicates a spot just below the elbow. Baxter examines it
Devenish (folding his arms and looking nobly upwards). I will
Baxter. I am bound to inform you, Mrs. Tremayne, that even a trained
detective could not give you very much hope in such a case. However, I
will keep a look-out for him, and, of course, if—
Devenish. Fear not, lady, I will find him.
Baxter (annoyed). Yes, you keep on saying that, but what have you
got to go on?
Devenish (grandly). Faith! The faith which moves mountains.
Belinda. Yes, and this is only just one small mole-hill, Mr. Baxter.
Baxter. Yes, but still—
Belinda. S'sh! here is Miss Robinson.
(Baxter takes up his hat and moves below the deck-chair to R.
to meet Delia.)
If Mr. Devenish will hold the hammock while I alight–we don't want an
(Delia comes out of the house.)
–I can introduce you. (He helps her to get out, holding the
hammock.) Thank you. Delia darling (Delia moves down R.) this
is Mr. Baxter,–and Mr. Devenish. My niece, Miss Robinson—
(Delia shakes hands with Baxter and moves to C. below
Belinda and shakes hands with Devenish.)
Delia. How do you do?
Belinda. Miss Robinson has just come over from France. Man Dieu, quel
Baxter. I hope you had a good crossing, Miss Robinson.
Delia. Oh, I never mind about the crossing. (Very slowly and
shyly.) Aunt Belinda–(She stops and smiles.)
Belinda. Yes, dear?
Delia. I believe tea is almost ready. I want mine, and I'm sure Mr.
Baxter's hungry. (He sniggers approvingly.) Mr. Devenish scorns
food, I expect.
Devenish (hurt). Why do you say that?
Delia. Aren't you a poet?
Belinda. Yes, darling, but that doesn't prevent him eating. He'll be
absolutely lyrical over Betty's sandwiches.
Devenish. You won't deny me that inspiration, I hope, Miss Robinson.
Belinda (taking Delia's arm and moving with her to below deck-chair). Well, let's go and see what they're like.
(Delia moves up R.C. to below the porch, accompanied by
Baxter on her R. and Devenish, who follows her on
her L. They all move towards the porch.)
Mr. Baxter, just a moment.
Baxter (apologizing to Delia and moving in front of the others
to back of deck-chair.) Yes?
(Delia gathers a daffodil from a vase R. and places it in
Belinda (secretly). Not a word to her about Mr. Robinson. It must
be a surprise for her.
Baxter. Quite so, I understand.
Belinda. That's right. (Baxter rejoins Delia. Raising her
voice.) Oh, Mr. Devenish.
(Devenish, who is evidently much attracted by Delia,
apologizes to her and goes back between tree and hammock to L. of
Devenish. Yes, Mrs. Tremayne?
Belinda (secretly). Not a word to her about Mr. Robinson. It must
be a surprise for her.
Devenish. Of course! I shouldn't dream–(Indignantly.)
Robinson! What an unsuitable name!
(Baxter and Delia are just going into the house.)
Belinda (dismissing Devenish). All right, I'll catch you up.
(Devenish goes after the other two.)
(Left alone, Belinda laughs happily to herself, and then
begins to look rather aimlessly about her. She picks up her sunshade
and opens it. She comes to the hammock, picks out her handkerchief,
says, "Ah, there you are!" and puts it away. She goes slowly towards
the house. Tremayne enters from L. and with his back to
the audience tries latch of imaginary gate below scenic painted
gateway L. Belinda turns her head, hearing imaginary click of the
garden gate L. She comes slowly back R.C.)
Belinda (seeing Tremayne). Have you lost yourself, or something?
No; the latch is this side. ... Yes, that's right.
(Tremayne comes in. He has been knocking about the world for
eighteen years, and is very much a man, though he has kept his manners.
His hair is greying a little at the sides, and he looks the forty-odd
that he is. Without his moustache and beard he is very different from
the boy Belinda married.)
Tremayne ( with his hat in his hand ). I'm afraid I'm
Belinda (winningly, moving down R. a little ). But it's
such a pretty garden (turns away, dosing her parasol), isn't it?
(Tremayne, half recognizing her, moves to back of hammock and leans
across to obtain a better view of her.)
Tremayne (rather confused). I-I beg your pardon, I-er— (He
is wondering if it can possibly be she. Belinda thinks his
confusion is due to the fact that he is trespassing, and hastens to put
him at his ease.)
Belinda. I should have done the same myself, you know.
Tremayne (pulling himself together). Oh, but you mustn't think I
just came in because I liked the garden—
Belinda (clapping her hands). No; but say you do like it, quick.
Tremayne. It's lovely and— (He hesitates.)
Belinda (hopefully). Yes?
Tremayne (with conviction). Yes, it's lovely. Belinda (with
that happy sigh of hers). O-oh! ... Now tell me what really did
Tremayne. I was on my way to Marytown—
Belinda. To where?
Belinda. Oh, you mean Mariton.
Tremayne. Do I?
Belinda. Yes; we always call it Mariton down here. (Earnestly.)
You don't mind, do you?
Tremayne (smiling). Not a bit.
Belinda. Just say it–to see if you've got it right.
Belinda (shaking her head). Oh no, that's quite wrong. Try it
again (With a rustic accent.) Mariton.
Belinda. Yes, that's much better .... (As if it were he who had
interrupted.) Well, do go on.
Tremayne. I'm afraid it isn't much of an apology really. I saw what
looked like a private road (points L.), but what I rather hoped
wasn't, and–well, I thought I'd risk it. I do hope you'll forgive me.
Belinda. Oh, but I love people seeing my garden. Are you staying in
Tremayne. I think so. Oh yes, decidedly.
Belinda. Well, perhaps the next time the road won't feel so private.
Tremayne. How charming of you! (He feels he must know. A piano is
heard off playing "Belinda." The tune is continued until the fall of the
curtain.) Are you Mrs. Tremayne by any chance?
Tremayne (nodding to himself). Yes.
Belinda. How did you know?
Tremayne (hastily inventing, moving down L. below the
hammock). They use you as a sign-post in the village. Past Mrs.
Tremayne's house and then bear to the left—
Belinda. And you couldn't go past it?
Tremayne. I'm afraid I couldn't. Thank you so much for not minding.
(Going up to the L. of her.) Well, I must be getting on, I
have trespassed quite enough.
Belinda (regretfully). And you haven't really seen the garden
Tremayne. If you won't mind my going on this way, I shall see some more
on my way out.
Belinda. Please do. It likes being looked at. (With the faintest
suggestion of demureness.) All pretty things do.
Tremayne. Thank you very much. (Turns to go up c.) Er–(He
Belinda (helpfully). Yes?
Tremayne. I wonder if you'd mind very much if I called one day to thank
you formally for the lesson you gave me in pronunciation?
Belinda (gravely). Yes. I almost think you ought to. I think it's
the correct thing to do.
Tremayne (contentedly). Thank you very much, Mrs. Tremayne.
Belinda. You'll come in quite formally (pointing to R. with
her sunshade) by the front-door next time, won't you, because–because that seems the only chance of my getting to know your name.
Tremayne. Oh, I beg your pardon. My name is–er–er–Robinson.
(She is highly amused and looks round towards the house, recalling to
her mind Delia.)
Belinda (laughing). How very odd!
Tremayne (startled). Odd?
Belinda. Yes; we have some one called Robinson (nodding towards the
house) staying in the house. I wonder if she is any relation?
Tremayne (hastily). Oh no, no. No, she couldn't be. I have no
relations called Robinson–not to speak of.
Belinda. You must tell me all about your relations when you come and
call, Mr. Robinson.
Tremayne. I think we can find something better worth talking about than
Belinda. Do you think so? (He says "Yes" with his eyes, bows, and
moves up C. The piano is now forte. Belinda accompanies him up a
little, then stops. He turns in entrance up C., and they exchange
glances. Tremayne exits to R., behind yew hedge. Belinda
stays looking after him, then moves down to back of table and picking up
the book of poems, gives that happy sigh of hers, only even more
(Enter Betty from porch.)
Betty. If you please, ma'am, Miss Delia says, are you coming in to tea?
Belinda (looking straight in front of her, and taking no notice
of Betty, in a happy, dreamy voice). Betty, ... about
callers .... If Mr. Robinson calls–he's the handsome gentleman who
hasn't been here before (puts book down)–you will say, "Not at
home." And he will say, "Oh!" And you will say, "I beg your pardon,
sir, was it Mr. Robinson?" And he will say, "Yes!" And you will say,
"Oh, I beg your pardon, sir–" (Almost as if she were Betty, she
begins to move towards the house.) "This way–" (she would be
smiling an invitation over her shoulder to Mr. Robinson, if he
were there, and she were Betty)–"please!" (And the abandoned
woman goes in to tea.)
It is morning in Belinda's hall, a low-roofed, oak-beamed
place, comfortably furnished as a sitting-room. There is an inner and an
outer front-door, both of which are open. Up C. is a door leading
to a small room where hats and coats are kept. A door on the L.
leads towards the living-rooms.
Devenish enters from up L. at back, passes the windows of the
inner room and crosses to the porch. He rings the electric bell outside,
then enters through the swing doors R.C. Betty enters R.
and moves up at back of settee R. to Devenish by the swing
doors. He is carrying a large bunch of violets and adopts a very aesthetic
Betty. Good morning, sir.
Devenish. Good morning. I am afraid this is an unceremonious hour for a
call, but my sense of beauty urged me hither in defiance of convention.
Betty. Yes, sir.
Devenish (holding up his bouquet to Betty). See, the dew is yet
lingering upon them; how could I let them wait until this afternoon?
Betty. Yes, sir; but I think the mistress is out.
Devenish. They are not for your mistress; they are for Miss Delia.
Betty. Oh, I beg your pardon, sir. If you will come in, I'll see if I
can find her. (She crosses to the door R. and goes away to
find Delia, dosing the door after her.)
(Devenish tries a number of poses about the room for himself and hit
bouquet. He crosses below the table C. and sits L. of it
and is about to place his elbow on the table when he finds the toy dog
which has been placed there is in his way. He removes it to the centre
of the table and then leans with his elbow on table and finds this pose
unsuitable so he crosses to above the fireplace and leans against the
upper portico, resting on his elbow which slips and nearly prostrates
him. He then crosses up to L. of the cupboard door at back centre
and leans on his elbow against the wall.)
(Enter Delia from the door R.)
Delia (shutting the door and going to Devenish). Oh, good
morning, Mr. Devenish.
(Devenish kisses her hand.)
I'm afraid my–er–aunt is out.
Devenish. I know, Miss Delia, I know.
Delia. She'll be so sorry to have missed you. It is her day for you,
Devenish. Her day for me?
Delia. Yes; Mr. Baxter generally comes to-morrow, doesn't he?
Devenish (jealously). Miss Delia, if our friendship is to
progress at all, it can only be on the distinct understanding that I
take no interest whatever (coming to back of table C.) in Mr.
Delia (moving down R. a little). Oh, I'm so sorry; I
thought you knew. What lovely flowers! Are they for my aunt?
Devenish. To whom does one bring violets? To modest, shrinking, tender
Delia. I don't think we have anybody here like that.
Devenish (with a bow and holding out the violets to her). Miss
Delia, they are for you.
Delia (smelling and taking violets). Oh, how nice of you! But I'm
afraid I oughtn't to take them from you under false pretences; I don't
Devenish. A fanciful way of putting it, perhaps. They are none the less
Delia. Well, it's awfully kind of you. (Puts flowers down. Then she
moves up to the cupboard. He follows on her L. and opens the
door.) I'm afraid I'm not a very romantic person. (Turning to him
in cupboard doorway.) Aunt Belinda does all the romancing in our
Devenish. Your aunt is a very remarkable woman.
Delia. She is. Don't you dare to say a word against her. (Takes up a
vase from a chair in cupboard and shakes it as if draining it.)
Devenish. My dear Miss Delia, nothing could be further from my thoughts.
Why, am I not indebted to her for that great happiness which has come to
me in these last few days?
Delia (surprised). Good gracious! and I didn't know anything
about it. (Coming down to R. of table with vase.) But what
about poor Mr. Baxter?
Devenish (stiffly, crossing over to fireplace, very annoyed). I
must beg that Mr. Baxter's name be kept out of our conversation.
Delia (going up to table behind Chesterfield up L.). But I
thought Mr. Baxter and you were such friends.
(Delia takes water carafe from the table and smiles at Devenish–which he does not see.)
Do tell me what's happened. (Moving down to R. of table C.,
she sits and arranges the flowers.) I seem to have lost myself.
Devenish (coming to the back of C. table and reclining on
it.) What has happened, Miss Delia, is that I have learnt at last
the secret that my heart has been striving to tell me for weeks past. As
soon as I saw that gracious lady, your aunt, I knew that I was in love.
Foolishly I took it for granted that it was she for whom my heart was
thrilling. How mistaken I was! Directly you came, you opened my eyes,
Delia. Mr. Devenish, you don't say you're proposing to me?
Devenish. I am. I feel sure I am. (Leaning towards her.) Delia, I
Delia. How exciting of you!
Devenish (with a modest shrug). It's nothing; I am a poet.
Delia. You really want to marry me?
Devenish. Such is my earnest wish.
Delia. But what about my aunt?
Devenish (simply). She will be my aunt-in-law.
Delia. She'll be rather surprised.
Devenish. Delia, I will be frank with you. (Sits.) I admit that I
made Mrs. Tremayne an offer of marriage.
Delia (excitedly). You really did? Was it that first afternoon I
Delia. Oh, I wish I'd been there!
Devenish (with dignity, rising and moving to L. of table).
It is not my custom to propose in the presence of a third party. It is
true that on the occasion you mention a man called Baxter was on the
lawn, but I regarded him no more than the old apple-tree or the flower-beds, or any other of the fixtures.
Delia. What did she say?
Devenish. She accepted me conditionally.
Delia. Oh, do tell me!
Devenish. It is rather an unhappy story. This man called Baxter in his
vulgar way also made a proposal of marriage. Mrs. Tremayne was gracious
enough to imply that she would marry whichever one of us fulfilled a
Delia. How sweet of her!
Devenish. It is my earnest hope, Miss Delia, that the man called Baxter
will be the victor. As far as is consistent with honour, I shall
endeavour to let Mr. Baxter (banging the table with his hand)
Delia. What was the condition?
Devenish. That I am not at liberty to tell.
Devenish. It is, I understand, to be a surprise for you.
Delia. How exciting! (Rising and taking vase of violets which she
places up R.) Mr. Devenish, you have been very frank (coming to
front of settee R. and sitting). May I be equally so?
(Devenish crosses to her and bows in acquiescence.) Why do you
wear your hair so long?
Devenish (pleased). You have noticed it?
Delia. Well, yes, I have.
Devenish. I wear it so to express my contempt for the conventions of
so-called society. Delia. I always thought that people wore it very
very short if they despised the conventions of society.
Devenish. I think that the mere fact that my hair annoys Mr. Baxter is
sufficient justification for its length.
Delia. But if it annoys me too?
Devenish (heroically). It shall go. (Sits on settee above
(Belinda enters from up L. with a garden basket supposed to
contain cutlets. She crosses the windows at back.)
Delia (apologetically). I told you I wasn't a very romantic
person, didn't I? (Kindly.) You can always grow it again if you
fall in love with somebody else.
Devenish. That is cruel of you, Delia. I shall never fall in love again.
(Enter Belinda through swing doors B.C.)
Belinda. Why, it's Mr. Devenish!
(Devenish rises and kisses her hand somewhat sheepishly.)
How nice of you to come so early in the morning! How is Mr. Baxter!
Devenish (annoyed and crossing behind Belinda to her L.).
I do not know, Mrs. Tremayne.
Belinda (coming down to Delia and sitting in the place vacated
by Devenish). I got most of the things, Delia. (To Devenish.)
"The things," Mr. Devenish, is my rather stuffy way of referring to all
the delightful poems that you are going to eat to-night.
Devenish. I am looking forward to it immensely, Mrs. Tremayne.
Belinda. I do hope I've got all your and Mr. Baxter's favourite dishes.
Devenish (annoyed and, moving to L. foot of table C.). I'm
afraid Mr. Baxter and I are not likely to appreciate the same things.
Belinda (coyly). Oh, Mr. Devenish! And you were so unanimous a
few days ago.
Delia. I think Mr. Devenish was referring entirely to things to eat.
Belinda. I felt quite sad when I was buying the lamb cutlets. To think
that, only a few days before, they had been frisking about with their
mammas, and having poems written about them by Mr. Devenish. There! I'm
giving away the whole dinner. Delia, take him away before I tell him
(Delia rises, goes to table and picks up water carafe which she
replaces on refectory table up L.)
We must keep some surprises for him.
Delia (to Devenish as she crosses back to table R. and
picks up the flowers). Come along, Mr. Devenish.
Belinda (wickedly). Are those my flowers, Mr. Devenish?
Devenish (advancing to Belinda and laughing awkwardly, after a
little hesitation, with a bow which might refer to either of them).
They are for the most beautiful lady in the land.
Belinda. Oh, how nice of you!
(Devenish crosses to door R. and opens it for Delia,
who follows him and exits. Devenish, standing above door,
catches Belinda's eye and with an awkward laugh follows Delia.)
Belinda. I suppose he means Delia–bless them! (She kisses her hand
towards the door R. She then rises and crosses below the
table C., placing her basket on the L. end of it, to the
fireplace. She rings the bell. Then she moves up on the R. side
of the Chesterfield to the refectory table and takes off her hat. She
takes up a mirror from the table and gives a few pats to her hair, and
as she is doing so Betty enters from door R. and crosses the room
Belinda (pointing to basket on the C. table). Oh, Betty—
(Betty moves to back of C. table and takes up the basket.
Crosses above settee and exits through door R. Belinda is moving
towards the swing doors when she catches sight of Baxter entering
from the garden up R. She moves quickly to the L. of C. table,
takes up a book and going to Chesterfield L., lies down with her
head to R. Baxter looks in through the window up R., then crosses
round and enters through the portico and the swing doors. Belinda
pretends to be very busy reading.)
Baxter (rather nervously, in front of wring doors). Er–may I
come in, Mrs. Tremayne?
Belinda (dropping her book and turning round with a violent
start). Oh, Mr. Baxter, how you surprised me! (She puts her hand
to her heart and sits up and faces him.)
Baxter. I must apologize for intruding upon you at this hour, Mrs.
Belinda (holding up her hand). Stop!
Baxter (startled). What?
Belinda. I cannot let you come in like that.
Baxter (looking down at himself). Like what?
Belinda (dropping her eyes). You called me Belinda once.
Baxter (coming down to her). May I explain my position, Mrs.
Belinda. Before you begin–have you been seeing my niece lately?
Baxter (surprised). No.
Belinda. Oh! (Sweetly.) Please go on.
Baxter. Why, is she lost too?
Belinda. Oh no; I just— Do sit down.
(Baxter moves to the chair L. of C. table and sits.
Belinda rises when he has sat down.)
Let me put your hat down somewhere for you.
Baxter (keeping it firmly in his hand). It will be all right
here, thank you.
Belinda (returning to the Chesterfield and sitting). I'm dying to
hear what you are going to say.
Baxter. First as regards the use of your Christian name. I felt that, as
a man of honour, I could not permit myself to use it until I had
established my right over that of Mr. Devenish.
Belinda. All my friends call me Belinda.
Baxter. As between myself and Mr. Devenish the case is somewhat
different. Until one of us is successful over the other in the quest
upon which you have sent us, I feel that as far as possible we should
hold aloof from you.
Belinda (pleadingly). Just say "Belinda" once more, in case
you're a long time.
Baxter (very formally). Belinda.
Belinda. How nicely you say it–Harold.
Baxter (getting out of his seat). Mrs. Tremayne, I must not
listen to this.
Belinda (meekly). I won't offend again, Mr. Baxter. Please go on.
(She motions him to sit–he does so.) Tell me about the quest;
are you winning?
Baxter. I am progressing, Mrs. Tremayne. Indeed, I came here this
morning to acquaint you with the results of my investigations.
(Clears his throat.) Yesterday I located a man called Robinson
working upon a farm close by. I ventured to ask him if he had any marks
upon him by which he could be recognized. He adopted a threatening
attitude, and replied that if I wanted any he could give me some. With
the aid of half-a-crown I managed to placate him. Putting my inquiry in
another form, I asked if he had any moles. A regrettable
misunderstanding, which led to a fruitless journey to another part of
the village, was eventually cleared up, and on my return I satisfied
myself that this man was in no way related to your niece.
Belinda (admiringly). How splendid of you!
Belinda. Well, now, we know he's not. (She holds up one
Baxter. Yes. In the afternoon I located another Mr. Robinson following
the profession of a carrier. My first inquiries led to a similar result,
with the exception that in this case Mr. Robinson carried his
threatening attitude so far as to take off his coat and roll up his
sleeves. Perceiving at once that he was not the man, I withdrew.
Belinda. How brave you are!
Belinda. That makes two.
Belinda (holding up another finger). It still leaves a good many.
(Pleadingly.) Just call me Belinda again.
Baxter (rising and backing to R. a little, nervously). You
mustn't tempt me, Mrs. Tremayne.
Belinda (penitently). I won't!
Baxter (going slowly to fireplace and placing his hat down on
armchair below fireplace). To resume, then, my narrative. This
morning I have heard of a third Mr. Robinson. Whether there is actually
any particular fortune attached to the number three I cannot say for
certain. It is doubtful whether statistics would be found to support the
popular belief. But one likes to flatter oneself that in one's own case
it may be true; and so—
Belinda. And so the third Mr. Robinson–?
Baxter. Something for which I cannot altogether account inspires me with
hope. He is, I have discovered, staying at Mariton. This afternoon I go
to look for him.
Belinda (to herself). Mariton! How funny! I wonder if it's the
Baxter. What one?
Belinda. Oh, just one of the ones. (Gratefully.) Mr. Baxter, you
are doing all this for me.
Baxter. Pray do not mention it. I don't know if it's Devonshire
(going to and sitting L. of Belinda), or the time of the
year, or the sort of atmosphere you create, Mrs. Tremayne, but I feel an
entirely different man. There is something in the air which–yes, I
shall certainly go over to Mariton this afternoon.
Belinda (gravely). I have had the same feeling sometimes, Mr.
Baxter. I am not always the staid respectable matron which I appear to
you to be. Sometimes I–(She looks absently at the watch on her
wrist.) Good gracious!
Baxter (alarmed). What is it!
Belinda (looking anxiously from the door to him). Mr. Baxter, I'm
going to throw myself on your mercy.
Baxter. My dear Mrs. Tremayne—
Belinda (looking at her watch again, rising and moving up L.C.,
looking at door). A strange man will be here directly. He must not
find you with me.
Baxter (rising, jealously). A man?
Belinda (excitedly). Yes, yes, a man! He is pursuing me with his
attentions. If he found you here, there would be a terrible scene.
Baxter. I will defend you from him.
Belinda (crossing down to R. of Chesterfield). No, no. He
is a big man. He will–he will overpower you. (Moving L. a
little and looking out of windows.)
Baxter. But you–!
Belinda. I can defend myself. I will send him away. But he must not find
you here. You must hide before he overpowers you.
Baxter (with dignity, crossing below table to R.). I will
withdraw if you wish it. Belinda (following to R. at back of
table C.). No, not withdraw, hide. He might see you withdrawing.
(Leading the way to the cupboard door.) Quick, in here.
Baxter (embarrassed at the thought that this sort of thing really
only happens in a bedroom farce and moving towards her). I don't
think I quite—
Belinda (reassuring him). It's perfectly respectable; it's where
we keep the umbrellas. (She takes him by the hand.)
Baxter (resisting and looking nervously into the cupboard). I'm
not at all sure that I—
Belinda (earnestly). Oh, but don't you see what trust I'm
putting in you? (To herself.) Some people are so nervous about
Baxter. Well, of course, if you–but I don't see why I shouldn't just
slip out of the door before he comes.
Belinda (reproachfully). Of course, if you grudge me every little
pleasure–(Crossing in front of Baxter towards swing doors
and seeing Tremayne coming.) Quick! Here he is.
(She bundles him through the cupboard door and closes it and with a
sign of happiness crosses down to C. table. She sees Baxter's
bowler hat on the arm-chair below the fireplace. She fetches and
carries it over to the cupboard door, knocks and hands it to him,
saying, "Your hat!")
Baxter (expostulating and nearly knocking her over as he comes
out). Well, really I—
Belinda (bundling him into the cupboard and closing the door).
(Belinda straightens her hair, takes up her book from L.
of C. table and sits, stroking the head of the toy dog and
pretending to read. Tremayne enters from garden up R. and
through the swing doors up R.C.. Belinda gives an assumed cry of
Tremayne (at the swing doors). It's no good your pretending to be
surprised, because you said I could come. (Coming down to the back of
the table C. and putting down his hat.)
Belinda (rising, shaking hands and welcoming him). But I can
still be surprised that you wanted to come.
Tremayne Oh no, you aren't.
Belinda (marking it off on her fingers). Just a little bit–that
Tremayne. It would be much more surprising if I hadn't come.
Belinda (crossing to the Chesterfield, picking up her book and
handing it to Tremayne, who puts it on the table). It is a
pretty garden, isn't it? (She sits on R. end of Chesterfield.)
Tremayne (coming to her). You forget that I saw the garden
Belinda. Oh, but the things have grown so much since then. Let me see,
this is the third day you've been and we only met three days ago. (He
moves behind the Chesterfield to the left end of it.) And then
you're coming to dinner again to-night.
Tremayne (eagerly and leaning over the Chesterfield). Am I?
Belinda. Yes. Haven't you been asked?
Tremayne (going round the left end of the Chesterfield). No, not
Belinda. Yes, that's quite right; I remember now, I only thought of it
this morning, so I couldn't ask you before, could I?
Tremayne (earnestly). What made you think of it then?
Belinda (romantically). It was at the butcher's.
Belinda. There was one little lamb cutlet left over and sitting out all
by itself, and there was nobody to love it. And I said to myself,
suddenly, "I know, that will do for Mr. Robinson." (Protaically.)
I do hope you like lamb?
Tremayne (sitting on her left side). I adore it.
Belinda. Oh, I'm so glad I When I saw it sitting there I thought you'd
love it. I'm afraid I can't tell you any more about the rest of the
dinner, because I wouldn't tell Mr. Devenish, and I want to be fair.
Tremayne (jealously). Who's Mr. Devenish?
Belinda. Oh, haven't you met him? He's always coming here.
Tremayne Is he in love with you too?
Belinda. Too? Oh, you mean Mr. Baxter?
Tremayne (rising and moving to fireplace). Confound it, that's
Belinda (innocently). Three? (She looks up at him and down
Tremayne. Who is Mr. Baxter?
Belinda. Oh, haven't you met him? He's always coming here.
Tremayne (turning away and looking into fireplace). Who is Mr.
(Baxter appears at cupboard doorway. Belinda hears him and
gives a startled look round. She signs to him to go back. Baxter
retreats immediately and closes door.)
Belinda. Oh, he's a sort of statistician. Isn't that a horrid word to
say? So stishany.
Tremayne. What does he make statistics about?
Belinda. Oh (giving a sly look round at cupboard door), umbrellas
and things. Don't let's talk about him.
Tremayne. All right, then; (going up to her jealously) who is Mr.
Belinda. Oh, he's a poet. (She throws up her eyes and sighs
deeply.) Ah me!
Tremayne. What does he write poetry about?
(Belinda looks at him, and down again, and then at him again, and
then down, then raises and drops her arms, and gives a little sigh–all
of which means, "Can't you guess?")
What does he write poetry about?
Belinda (obediently). He wrote "The Lute of Love and other Poems,
by Claude Devenish."
(Tremayne is annoyed and turns away to the fireplace.)
The Lute of Love–(To herself.) I haven't been saying that
lately. (With great expression.) The Lute of Love–the Lute.
(She pats her mouth back.)
Tremayne. And who is Mr. Devenish–!
Belinda (putting her hand on his sleeve). You'll let me know when
it's my turn, won't you?
Tremayne. Your turn?
Belinda. Yes, to ask questions. I love this game–it's just like clumps.
(She crosses her hands on her lap and waits for the next
Tremayne. I beg your pardon. I–er–of course have no right to cross-examine you like this.
Belinda. Oh, do go on, I love it. (With childish excitement.)
I've got my question ready.
Tremayne (smiling and going and sitting beside her again). I
think perhaps it is your turn.
Belinda (eagerly). Is it really? (He nods.) Well then–(in a loud voice)–who is Mr. Robinson?
Tremayne (alarmed). What?
Belinda. I think it's a fair question. I met you three days ago and you
told me you were staying at Mariton. Mariton. You can say it all right
now, can't you?
Tremayne. I think so.
Belinda (coaxingly). Just say it.
Belinda (clapping her hands). Lovely! I don't think any of the
villagers do it as well as that.
Belinda (looking very hard at Tremayne–he wonders whether she has
discovered his identity). Well, that was three days ago. You came
the next day to see the garden, and you came the day after to see the
garden, and you've come this morning–to see the garden; and you're
coming to dinner to-night, and it's so lovely, we shall simply have to
go into the garden afterwards. And all I know about you is that you
haven't any relations called Robinson.
Tremayne. What do I know about Mrs. Tremayne but that she has a relation
Belinda. And two dear friends called Devenish and Baxter.
Tremayne (rising–annoyed). I was forgetting them. (Crosses to
below L. end of C. table.)
Belinda (to herself, with a sly look round at the cupboard), I
mustn't forget Mr. Baxter.
Tremayne. But what does it matter? What would it matter if I knew
nothing about you? (Moving up to R. end of Chesterfield and
leaning over it.) I know everything about you–everything that
Belinda (leaning back and closing her eyes contentedly). Tell me
some of them. Tremayne (bending over her earnestly). Belinda—
Belinda (still with her eyes shut). He's going to propose to me.
I can feel it coming.
Tremayne (starting back). Confound it! how many men have
proposed to you?
Belinda (surprised). Since when?
Tremayne. Since your first husband proposed to you.
Belinda. Oh, I thought you meant this year. (Sitting up.) Well
now, let me see. (Slowly and thoughtfully.) One. (She pushes
up her first finger.) Two. (She pushes up the second.) Three.
(She pushes up the third finger, holds it there for a moment and then
pushes it gently down again.) No, I don't think that one ought to
count really. (She pushes up two more fingers and the thumb.) Three,
four, five–do you want the names or just the total?
Tremayne (moving up L. and then over R.). This is horrible.
Belinda (innocently). But anybody can propose. Now if you'd asked
how many I'd accepted—
(He turns sharply to her–annoyed.)
Let me see, where was I up to?
(He moves down R.)
I shan't count yours, because I haven't really had it yet.
(Betty enters down R. and stands behind settee.)
Six, seven–Yes, Betty, what is it?
Betty. If you please, ma'am, cook would like to speak to you for a
(Tremayne goes up R.C.)
Belinda (getting up). Yes, I'll come.
(Betty goes out, leaving the door open. Belinda crosses Before
(To Tremayne.) You'll forgive me, won't you? You'll find some
cigarettes there. (Points to table up R. Tremayne moves by the
back of the settee and holds the door for Belinda. She turns to him in
the doorway.) It's probably about the lamb cutlets; I expect your
little one refuses to be cooked.
(She goes out after Betty.)
(Left alone Tremayne stalks moodily about the room, crossing
it and kicking things which come in his way. Violently, he kicks a
hassock which is above the table R. to under the table C.,
then he takes up his hat and moves towards the swing doors and half
opens them. He pauses and considers–then he comes down to the centre
table, throws down his hat, moves round the left end of the table, finds
the dog in the way and then sits on the table with his hands in his
pockets, facing the audience. As he has been moving about the room, he
has muttered the names of Baxter and Devenish.)
Devenish (entering from the door R., which he closes and goes
to foot of the settee R.–surprised). Hullo!
Tremayne (jealously, and rising). Are you Mr. Devenish?
Tremayne. Devenish the poet?
Devenish (coming up and shaking him warmly by the hand). My dear
fellow, you know my work?
Tremayne (grimly). My dear Mr. Devenish, your name is most
familiar to me.
Devenish. I congratulate you. I thought your great-grand-children would
be the first to hear of me.
Tremayne (moving to L.). My name's Robinson, by the way.
Devenish (connecting him with Delia). Then let me return the
compliment, Robinson. Your name is familiar to me.
Tremayne (hastily, and going towards Devenish). I don't think I'm
related to any Robinsons you know.
Devenish (dubiously). Well, no, I suppose not. When I was very
much younger I began a collection of Robinsons. Actually it was only
three days ago, but it seems much longer. (Thinking of Delia.)
Many things have happened since then.
Tremayne (uninterested, moving L.) Really!
Devenish. There is a man called Baxter–(Tremayne displays his
jealousy of Baxter.) who is still collecting, I believe. For myself,
I am only interested in one of the great family–Delia.
Tremayne (eagerly, and going quickly to him and placing his hand on
Devenish's left shoulder). You are interested in her?
Devenish. Devotedly. In fact, I am at this moment waiting for her to put
on her hat.
Tremayne (warmly, banging him on the shoulder with both hands).
My dear Devenish, I am delighted to make your acquaintance. (He
seizes his hand and grips it heartily.) How are you?
(Devenish backs to the settee in pain.)
Devenish (sitting on settee, feeling his fingers). Fairly well,
Tremayne (sitting above him and banging him on the back). That's
Devenish (still nursing his hand). You are a very lucky fellow,
Tremayne. In what way?
Devenish. People you meet must be so very reluctant to say good-bye to
you. Have you ever tried strangling lions or anything like that?
Tremayne (with a laugh). Well, as a matter of fact, I have.
Devenish. I suppose you won all right?
Tremayne. In the end, with the help of my beater.
Devenish. Personally I should have backed you alone against any two
Tremayne. One was quite enough. As it was, he gave me something to
remember him by. (Putting up his left sleeve, he displays a deep
Devenish (looking at it casually). By Jove, that's a nasty one!
(He suddenly catches sight of the mole and stares at it fascinated,
then stares up at Tremayne.) Good heavens!
Tremayne. What's the matter?
Devenish (clasping his head). Wait. (Rising and moving up to
L. of Tremayne.) Let me think. (After a pause.) Have you
ever met a man called Baxter?
Devenish. Would you like to?
Tremayne (grimly). Very much indeed.
Devenish. He's the man I told you about who's interested in Robinsons.
He'll be delighted to meet you. (With a nervous laugh.) Funny
thing, he's rather an authority on lions. You must show him that scar
of yours; it will intrigue him immensely. (Earnestly.)
Don't shake hands with him too heartily just at first; it might
put him off the whole thing.
Tremayne. This Mr. Baxter seems to be a curious man.
Devenish (absently). Yes, he is rather odd. (Looking at his
watch.) I wonder if I–(To Tremayne.) I suppose you won't
be— (He stops suddenly. A slight tapping noise comes from the room
where they keep umbrellas.)
Tremayne. What's that!
(The tapping noise is repeated, a little more loudly this time.
Devenish moves to end of table.)
Devenish. Come in.
(The door opens and Baxter comes in nervously, holding his
bowler hat in his hand. He moves towards the swing doors.)
Baxter (apologetically). Oh, I just–(Tremayne stands up)
–I just–(He goes back again.)
Devenish (springing across the room). Baxter!
(The door opens nervously again and Baxter's head appears round it.)
Come in, Baxter, old man; you're just the very person I wanted.
(Baxter comes in carefully. Devenish closes the door.)
Good man. (To Tremayne, taking Baxter down R.,
and placing his arm round his shoulders.) This is Mr. Baxter that
I was telling you about.
(Baxter removes Devenish's arm from his shoulders.)
Tremayne (moving up to Baxter and much relieved at the
appearance of his rival). Oh, is this Mr. Baxter? (Holding out
his hand with great friendliness.) How are you, Mr. Baxter?
Devenish (warningly). Steady!
(Tremayne shakes Baxter quite gently by the hand.)
Baxter, this is Mr. Robinson. (Casually.) R-o-b-i-n-s-o-n. (He
looks sideways at Baxter to see how he takes it. Baxter is
Baxter. Really? I am very glad to meet you, sir.
Tremayne. Very good of you to say so.
Devenish (to Baxter, taking his arm. Baxter is annoyed
and gets free). Robinson is a great big-game hunter.
Baxter (moving down to Tremayne). Indeed? I have never done
anything in that way myself, but I'm sure it must be an absorbing
Tremayne. Oh, well, it's something to do.
Devenish (to Baxter). You must get him to tell you about a
wrestle he had with a lion once. Extraordinary story! (Looking at his
watch suddenly.) Jove! I must be off. See you again, Baxter. (He
bangs Baxter on the shoulder and moves down to Tremayne.)
Good-bye, Robinson. No, don't shake hands. I'm in a hurry. (He looks
at his watch again and goes out hurriedly by the door on the R.)
(Tremayne sits on settee R. and Baxter on chair R.
of C. table. He puts his hat on the table.)
Tremayne. Unusual man, your friend Devenish. I suppose it comes of being
Baxter. I have no great liking for Mr. Devenish—
Tremayne. Oh, he's all right.
Baxter. But I am sure that if he is impressed by anything outside
himself or his own works, it must be something rather remarkable. Pray
tell me of your adventure with the lion.
Tremayne (laughing). Really, you mustn't think that I go about
telling everybody my adventures. It just happened to come up. I'm afraid
I shook his hand rather more warmly than I meant, and he asked me if I'd
ever tried strangling lions. That was all.
Baxter. And had you?
Tremayne. Well, it just happened that I had.
Baxter. Indeed! You came off scatheless, I trust?
Tremayne (carelessly indicating his arm). Well, he got me one
Baxter (rising and coming to above Tremayne, obviously
excited). Really, really. (Points to his arm.) One across
there. Not bad, I hope?
Tremayne (laughing). Well, it doesn't show unless I do that.
(He pulls up his sleeve carelessly and Baxter bends eagerly
over his arm and sees the mole and very slowly looks up at Tremayne,
then down at the arm again, then up at Tremayne.)
Baxter. Good heavens! I've found it! (He runs over to the table and
picks up his hat.)
Tremayne. Found what? (He pulls down his sleeve.)
Baxter (going up L.). I must see Mrs. Tremayne. Where's Mrs.
Tremayne. She went out just now. What's the matter?
Baxter. Out! I must find her. This is a matter of life and death. (He
hurries through the swing doors.) Mrs. Tremayne! Mrs. Tremayne!
(He exits R. through the garden.)
(Tremayne rises and moves to the swing doors, stares after him in
amazement. Then he pulls up his sleeve, looks at his scar again and
shakes his head. While he is still puzzling over it, Belinda
comes back R.)
Belinda (crossing below settee). Such a to-do in the kitchen! The
cook's given notice–at least she will directly–(up to
Tremayne)–and your lamb cutlet slipped back to the shop when nobody was
(Tremayne looks off at swing doors)
and I've got to go into the village again, (going to the refectory
table and getting her hat) and ok dear, oh dear, I have such a lot
of things to do! (Looking across at Mr. Baxter's door.) Oh yes,
that's another one. (Coming back to table C. and putting down
her hat on R. side.)
Tremayne. Belinda— (Moving up to her.)
Belinda. No, not even Belinda. Wait till this evening.
Tremayne. I have a thousand things to say to you; I shall say them this
Belinda (giving him her hand). Begin about eight o'clock. Good-bye
(He takes her hand, looks at her for a moment, then suddenly bends
and kisses it, takes up his hat and hurries through the swing doors and
off through the garden to L.)
(Belinda stands looking from her hand to him, gives a little
wondering exclamation and then presses the back of her hand against her
cheek, and goes to the swing doors. She turns back, and remembers Mr.
Baxter again. With a smile she goes to the door and taps gently.)
Belinda. Mr. Baxter, Mr. Baxter, you may come in now; he has withdrawn.
(Moves down a little and then back to L. of the door again.)
Mr. Baxter, I have unhanded him. (She opens the door and going in,
finds the room empty.) Oh!
(Baxter comes quickly through the swing doors.)
Baxter (meeting Belinda coming out of the cupboard). Ah,
(they both start) there you are! (Crossing down to R. end of
C. table, he puts down his hat.)
Belinda (turning with a start). Oh, how you frightened me, Mr.
Baxter! I couldn't think what had happened to you. (She closes the
door.) I thought perhaps you'd been eaten up by one of the
Baxter. Mrs. Tremayne, I have some wonderful news for you. I have found
Miss Robinson's father.
Belinda (on his L., hardly understanding). Miss Robinson's
Baxter. Yes. Mr. Robinson.
Belinda. Oh, you mean–(Points to direction when Tremayne has
gone.) Oh yes, he told me his name was Robinson–Oh, but he's no
Baxter. Wait! I saw his arm. By a subterfuge I managed to see his arm.
Belinda (her eyes opening more and more widely as she begins to
realize). You saw—
Baxter. I saw the mole.
Belinda (coming down to him faintly as she holds out her own
arm). Show me.
Baxter (very decorously indicating). There!
(Belinda holds the place with her other hand, and still looking
at Mr. Baxter, slowly begins to laugh–half-laughter, half-tears,
wonderingly, happily, contentedly.)
Belinda (moving to R. of table and sitting). And I didn't
Baxter (moving to back of table). Mrs. Tremayne, I am delighted
to have done this service for your niece—
Belinda (to herself). Of course, he knew all the time.
Baxter (to the world). Still more am I delighted to have gained
the victory over Mr. Devenish in this enterprise.
Belinda. Eighteen years–but I ought to have known.
Baxter (at large). I shall not be accused of exaggerating when I
say that the odds against such an enterprise were enormous.
Belinda. Eighteen years— And now I've eight whole hours to
Baxter (triumphantly). It will be announced to-night. "Mr.
Devenish," I shall say, "young fellow–" (He arranges his speech in
Belinda (nodding to herself mischievously). So I was right, after
all! (Slowly and triumphantly.) He does look better without
Baxter (with his hand on the back of the chair on the L. side
of the table). "Mr. Devenish, young fellow, when you matched yourself
against a man of my repute, when you matched yourself against a man–matched yourself against a man of my repute (crossing towards
(Belinda rises stealthily, takes up her hat and exits through the
swing doors and through the garden up R.)
when you matched yourself against a man who has read papers (moving
towards centre table) at Soirees of the Royal Statistical Society–"
(Looking round the room, he discovers that he is alone. He picks up
his hat from the table and jams it down on his head.) Unusual!
(He moves up towards the swing doors.)
It is after dinner in Belinda's hall. The log fire, chandelier and
wall brackets are all alight. Belinda is lying on the Chesterfield
with a coffee-cup in her hand. Delia, in the chair down L. below
the fireplace, has picked up "The Lute of Love" from a table and is
reading it impatiently. She also has a coffee-cup in her hand.
Delia (throwing the book away). What rubbish he writes!
Belinda (coming back from her thoughts). Who, dear?
(Belinda gives her a quick look of surprise.)
–Mr. Devenish. (She rises and stands by the fireplace with her cup
in her hand.) Of course, he's very young.
Belinda. So was Keats, darling.
Delia. I don't think Claude has had Keats' advantages. Keats started
life as an apothecary.
Belinda. So much nicer than a chemist.
Delia. Now, Claude started with nothing to do.
Belinda (mildly). Do you always call him Claude, darling? I hope
you aren't going to grow into a flirt like that horrid Mrs. Tremayne.
Delia. Silly mother! (She moves to Belinda, takes her cup,
then crosses to the table and places both the cups on the table–seriously.) I don't think he'll ever be any good till he really gets
work. Did you notice his hair this evening?
Belinda (dreamily). Whose, dear?
Delia (going to the back of the Chesterfield and to the L. of
Belinda). Mummy, look me in the eye and tell me you are not being bad.
Belinda (having playfully turned her head away and hidden her face
with her handkerchief, says innocently). Bad, darling?
Delia (moving down to the front of the fireplace). You've made
Mr. Robinson fall in love with you.
Belinda (happily). Have I?
Delia. Yes; it's serious this time. He's not like the other two.
Belinda. However did you know that?
Delia. Oh, I know.
Belinda. Darling, I believe you've grown up. It's quite time I settled
Delia. With Mr. Robinson?
(Belinda sits up and looks thoughtfully at Delia for a little
Belinda (mysteriously). Delia, are you prepared for a great
secret to be revealed to you?
Delia (childishly and jumping on to the L. arm of the
Chesterfield facing Belinda). Oh, I love secrets.
Belinda (reproachfully). Darling, you mustn't take it like that.
This is a great, deep, dark secret; you'll probably need your sal
Delia (excitedly). Go on!
Belinda. Well— (Looking round the room.) Shall we have the
lights down a little?
Delia. Go on, mummy.
Belinda. Well, Mr. Robinson is–(impressively)–is not quite the
Robinson he appears to be.
Belinda. In fact, child, he is— Darling, hadn't you better come and
hold your mother's hand?
Delia (struggling with some emotion and placing her hand on
Belinda's arm, who playfully smacks it). Go on.
Belinda. Well, Mr. Robinson is a–sort of relation of yours; in fact–(playing with her rings and looking down coyly)–he is your–father. (She looks up at Delia to see how the news is being
received.) (Delia gives a happy laugh.)
Dear one, this is not a matter for mirth.
Delia. Darling, it is lovely, isn't it? (Sliding down to the seat of
the Chesterfield next to Belinda, who moves along to make room
for her.) I am laughing because I am so happy.
Belinda. Aren't you surprised?
Delia. No. You see, Claude told me this morning. (Belinda displays
annoyance.) He found out just before Mr. Baxter.
Belinda. Well! Every one seems to have known except me.
Delia. Didn't you see how friendly father and I got at dinner? I thought
I'd better start breaking the ice–because I suppose he'll be kissing me
Belinda. Say you like him.
Delia. I think he's going to be awfully nice. (She kisses Belinda
and rises.) Does he know you know?
Belinda. Not yet.
Delia. Oh! (She moves to the fireplace and warms her hands.)
Belinda. Just at present I've rather got Mr. Baxter on my mind. I
suppose, darling, you wouldn't like him as well as Mr. Devenish!
(Pathetically.) You see, they're so used to going about together.
Delia. Claude is quite enough.
Belinda. I think I must see Mr. Baxter and get it over. Do you mind if I
have Mr. Devenish too? I feel more at home with both of them. I'll give
you him back. Oh dear, I feel so happy to-night! (She jumps up and
goes to Delia.) And is my little girl going to be happy too? That's
what mothers always say on the stage. I think it's so sweet.
(They move together to below table.)
Delia (smiling at her). Yes, I think so, mummy. Of course, I'm
not romantic like you. I expect I'm more like father, really.
Belinda (dreamily). Jack can be romantic now. He was telling me
this morning all about the people he has proposed to. I mean, I was
telling him. Anyhow, he wasn't a bit like a father. Of course, he
doesn't know he is a father yet. Darling, I think you might take him
into the garden; only don't let him know who he is. You see, he ought to
propose to me first, oughtn't he?
(The men come in from R. Tremayne goes to the foot of the
settee R., Devenish to the back of the table up R., while
Baxter stands at the back of the settee. Belinda moves to the
front of the settee and Delia sits on the table.)
Here you all are! I do hope you haven't been throwing away your cigars,
because smoking is allowed all over the house.
Tremayne (as he comes to the foot of the settee). Oh, we've
finished, thank you.
Belinda (going up to the swing doors and opening them). Isn't it
a wonderful night?–and so warm for April. Delia, you must show Mr.
Robinson the garden by moonlight–it's the only light he hasn't seen it
Devenish (quickly coming to R. back of table C.). I don't
think I've ever seen it by moonlight, Miss Delia.
Belinda (coming down a little). I thought poets were always
seeing things by moonlight.
Baxter (moving toward Belinda). I was hoping, Mrs. Tremayne,
Delia (moving quickly to above Tremayne and taking his L.
hand, and pulling him up stage to swing doors). Come along, Mr.
(Tremayne looks at Belinda, who gives him a nod. Belinda
then moves down R.)
Tremayne (L. of Delia). It's very kind of you, Miss Robinson. I
suppose there is no chance of a nightingale?
Belinda. There ought to be. I ordered one specially for Mr. Devenish.
(Delia and Tremayne go out together. Belinda, with a
sigh, moves over to the Chesterfield and settles herself comfortably
into it. Devenish, annoyed by Tremayne's attentions to Delia,
crosses up angrily and looks off through the window up L. above
fireplace, then comes down L. of the Chesterfield to the front
of the fireplace. Baxter moves up to the swing doors angrily watching
Delia and Tremayne, then moves to the window R. and looks off.
Betty then enters with a salver from R. She moves by the back of
the settee to the back of the table C., picks up the coffee-cups and
goes out R. Baxter then moves over to the window facing the audience,
up L. He looks off, then comes down to the R. of Belinda.)
Now we're together again. Well, Mr. Devenish?
Belinda. No; I think I'll let Mr. Baxter speak first. I know he's
Baxter (leaning on the back of the chair L. of table–he
clears his throat). H'r'm! Mrs. Tremayne, I beg formally to claim
Belinda (sweetly). On what grounds, Mr. Baxter?
Devenish (spiritedly). Yes, sir, on what grounds?
Baxter (coming to R. of Chesterfield, close to Belinda).
On the grounds that, as I told you this morning, I had succeeded in the
Devenish (appearing to be greatly surprised). Succeeded?
Baxter. Yes, Mr. Devenish, young fellow, you have lost. (He moves a
few paces R. to below the chair L. of the table.) I have
discovered the missing Mr. Robinson.
Devenish (wiping hit brow and coming to Baxter). Who–where—
Baxter (dramatically). Miss Robinson has at this moment gone out
with her father.
Devenish (placing his hands heavily on Baxter's shoulders, who
staggers). Good heavens! It was he!
(Baxter pats Devenish sympathetically and moves to the back of
the Chesterfield and is about to speak to Belinda. She, however,
silences him and he drops down to the front of the fireplace.)
Belinda (sympathetically). Poor Mr. Devenish!
Devenish (pointing tragically to the table). And to think that I
actually sat on that table–no, that seat (he points to the
settee R., then he moves up stage between it and the table)–that I sat there with him this morning, and never guessed! Why, ten
minutes ago I was asking him for the nuts!
Baxter. Aha, Devenish, you're not so clever as you thought you were.
Devenish (coming quickly to the back of the chair L. of the
table). Why, I must have given you the clue myself! He told me he
had a scar on his arm, and I never thought any more of it. And then I
went away innocently and left you two talking about it.
Belinda (alarmed). A scar on his arm?
Devenish. Where a lion mauled him.
(Belinda gives a little cry and shudder.)
Baxter. It's quite healed up now, Mrs. Tremayne.
Belinda (looking at him admiringly). A lion! What you two have
adventured for my sake!
Baxter. I suppose you will admit, Devenish, that I may fairly claim to
(Looking the picture of despair, Devenish drops down L.
of the chair, droops his head, raises his arms and lets them fall
hopelessly to his sides.)
Belinda. Mr. Devenish, I have never admired you so much as I do at this
moment. (She extends her R. hand to Devenish, who gropes
for it with his L. hand and eventually manages to seize it.)
Baxter (noticing he is holding her hand, moving to them and looking
at them quizzically–indignantly to Devenish). I say, you know,
that's not fair. It's all very well to take your defeat like a man, but
you mustn't overdo it. (They release their hands.) Mrs. Tremayne,
I claim the reward which I have earned.
Belinda (after a pause and rising). Mr. Baxter–Mr. Devenish, I
have something to tell you.
(Devenish moves to her R.)
(Belinda kneels upon the Chesterfield facing them. Penitently.) I
have not been quite frank with you. I think you both ought to know that–I–I made a mistake. Delia is not my niece; she is my daughter. (She
buries her face in her hands.)
Devenish. Your daughter! I say, how ripping!
(Belinda gives him an understanding look.)
Baxter. Your daughter!
Baxter. But–but you aren't old enough to have a daughter of that age.
Belinda (apologetically). Well, there she is.
Baxter. But–but she's grown up.
Baxter. Then in that case you must be–(He hesitates, evidently
working it out.)
Belinda (hastily). I'm afraid so, Mr. Baxter.
Baxter. But this makes a great difference. I had no idea. Why, when I'm
fifty you would be—
Belinda (sighing). Yes, I suppose I should.
Baxter. And when I'm sixty—
Belinda (pleadingly to Devenish). Can't you stop him?
Devenish (with a threatening gesture). Look here, Baxter, another
word from you and you'll never get to sixty.
Baxter. And then there's Miss–er–Delia. In the event of our marrying,
Mrs. Tremayne, she, I take it, would be my step-daughter.
Belinda. I don't think she would trouble us much, Mr. Baxter. (With a
sly look at Devenish.) I have an idea that she will be getting
married before long. (She again glances at Devenish, who
returns her look gratefully.)
Baxter (moving up L. into the inner room). None the less,
the fact would be disturbing.
(Devenish with a wink at Belinda crosses in front of her and
warms his hands at the fire. Belinda watches Baxter over
the back of the Chesterfield.)
I have never yet considered myself seriously as a step-father.
(Moving round the refectory table.) I don't think I am going too
far if I say that to some extent I have been deceived in this matter.
(He comes down to behind the C. table.)
Belinda (reproachfully). And so have I. I thought you loved me.
Devenish (sympathetically). Yes, yes.
Belinda (turning to him suddenly). And Mr. Devenish too.
Baxter (moving to Belinda). Er—
(They stand before her guiltily and have nothing to say.)
Belinda (with a shrug). Well, I shall have to marry somebody
else, that's all.
Baxter (moving to below table). Who? Who?
Belinda. I suppose Mr. Robinson. After all, if I am Delia's mother, and
Mr. Baxter says that Mr. Robinson's her father, it's about time we
Devenish (eagerly). Mrs. Tremayne, what fools we are! He
is your husband all the time!
Baxter (moving up to the R. of Belinda). You've had a
husband all the time?
Belinda (apologetically). I lost him; it wasn't my fault.
Baxter. Really, this is very confusing. I don't know where I am. I
gather–I am to gather, it seems, that you are no longer eligible as a
Belinda. I am afraid not, Mr. Baxter.
Baxter. But this is very confusing–(moving towards the swing
doors)–this is very disturbing to a man of my age. For weeks past I
have been regarding myself as a–a possible benedict. I have–ah–taken
steps. (Back to the L. end of the C. table.) Only this morning,
in writing to my housekeeper, I warned her that she might hear at
any moment a most startling announcement.
Devenish (cheerfully). Oh, that's all right. That might only mean
that you were getting a new bowler-hat.
Baxter (dropping down L.C. a few steps–suddenly). Ah, and
what about you, sir? How is it that you take this so lightly?
(Triumphantly.) I have it. It all becomes clear to me. You have
transferred your affections to her daughter!
Devenish. Oh, I say, Baxter, this is very crude.
Belinda. And why should he not, Mr. Baxter? (Softly.) He has made
me very happy.
Baxter (staggered). He has made you happy, Mrs. Tremayne!
Belinda. Very happy.
Baxter (thoughtfully). Oh! Oh ho! Oh ho! (He takes a turn up
the room into the inner room, muttering to himself. Belinda
kneels and watches him over the back of the Chesterfield. Then he
comes down again to her R. side.) Mrs. Tremayne, I have taken
a great resolve. (Solemnly.) I also will make you happy.
(Thumping his heart.) I also will woo Miss Delia.
Devenish. Look here, Baxter—
Baxter (suddenly crossing and seizing Devenish's arm and
pulling him towards the siding doors up R. between the Chesterfield
and the table). Come, we will seek Miss Delia together.
(Belinda seizes Devenish's hand as he is passing and he, clinging
to it, nearly pulls her off the Chesterfield. She is very amused.)
It may be that she will send us upon another quest in which I shall
again be victorious.
(Belinda releases her hand and slips down into the Chesterfield.
Come, I say—
(He marches the resisting Devenish to the swing doors.)
Let us put it to the touch, to win or lose it all.
Devenish (turning and appealing to Belinda). Please!
Belinda (gently). Mr. Baxter... Harold.
(Baxter stops and turns round.)
You are too impetuous. I think that as Delia's mother—
Baxter (coming down R. to the foot of the C.
table). Your pardon, Mrs. Tremayne. In the intoxication of the
moment I am forgetting. (Formally.) I have the honour to ask your
permission to pay my addresses–(Moves to chair L. of table.)
Belinda. No, no, I didn't mean that. But, as Delia's mother, I ought to
warn you that she is hardly fitted to take the place of your
housekeeper. She is not very domesticated.
Baxter (indignantly). Not domesticated? (Sits L. of
table.) Why, did I not hear her tell her father at dinner that she
had arranged all the flowers?
Belinda. There are other things than flowers.
Devenish (on Baxter's R., behind the table). Bed-socks,
for instance, Baxter.
(Baxter is annoyed.)
It's a very tricky thing airing bed-socks. I am sure your house-keeper—
Baxter (silencing Devenish). Mrs. Tremayne, she will learn. The
daughter of such a mother... I need say no more.
Belinda. Oh, thank you. But there is something else, Mr. Baxter. You are
not being quite fair to yourself. In starting out upon this simultaneous
wooing, you forget that Mr. Devenish has already had his turn–(Devenish
tries to stop her. Baxter turns round and nearly catches
him.)–this morning alone. You should have yours ... alone ... too.
Devenish. Oh, I say!
Baxter. Yes, yes, you are right. I must introduce myself first as a
suitor. I see that. (Rising, to Devenish.) You stay here;
I will go alone into the garden, and–(Moving below table and
up to the swing doors.)
Belinda. It is perhaps a little cold out of doors for people of ... of
our age, Mr. Baxter. Now, in the library—
Baxter (at the swing doors, turning to her, astonished). Library?
Baxter (moving down R. a little). You have a library?
Belinda (to Devenish). He doesn't believe I have a library.
Devenish. You ought to see the library, Baxter.
Baxter (moving more down to below R. of table). But you
are continually springing surprises on me this evening, Mrs. Tremayne.
First a daughter, then a husband, and then–a library! I have been here
three weeks, and I never knew you had a library. Dear me, I wonder how
it is that I never saw it?
Belinda (modestly, rising). I thought you came to see me.
Baxter. Yes, yes, to see you, certainly. But if I had known you had a
Belinda. Oh, I am so glad I mentioned it. Wasn't it lucky, Mr. Devenish?
Baxter. My work has been greatly handicapped of late.
(Delia and Tremayne enter the garden from up L. and
pass the window at the back.)
Belinda (sweetly). By me?
Baxter. I was about to say by lack of certain books to which I wanted to
refer. It would be a great help. (He moves up R, reflectively
Belinda (moving below and to R. of C. table). My
dear Mr. Baxter, my whole library is at your disposal. (She turns
to Devenish, who is on her L., and at the back of the table.
She speaks in a confidential whisper.) I'm just going to show him
the Encyclopedia Britannica. (She moves below the settee to the door
R.) You won't mind waiting–Delia will be in directly.
(Baxter, still muttering "Library," crosses to the door and opens it
for her. She goes out and he follows her. Devenish moves to the
R. of the swing doors and welcomes Delia and Tremayne. Tremayne
enters from the portico and holds open the swing doors for Delia.)
Delia (speaking from the portico). Hullo, we're just coming in.
(They enter and Delia moves down R. of the
Tremayne. Where's Mrs. Tremayne?
Devenish (moving to down R.). She's gone to the library with
Tremayne (coming down on Delia's R. side–carelessly). Oh,
the library. Where's that?
Devenish (promptly going towards the door, opening it and standing
above it). The end door on the right.
(Delia sits on the R. end of the table facing R.)
Right at the end. You can't mistake it. On the right.
Tremayne. Ah, yes. (He looks round at Delia, who points
significantly at the door twice.) Yes. (He looks at
Devenish.) Yes. (He goes out.)
(Devenish hastily shuts the door and comes back to Delia.)
Devenish. I say, your mother is a ripper.
Delia (enthusiastically). Isn't she! (Remembering.) At
least, you mean my aunt?
Devenish (smiling at her). No, I mean your mother. To think that
I once had the cheek to propose to her.
Delia. Oh! Is it cheek to propose to people!
Devenish. To her.
Delia. But not to me?
Devenish. Oh I say, Delia!
Delia (with great dignity). Thank you, my name is Miss Robinson–I mean, Tremayne.
Devenish. Well, if you're not quite sure which it is, it's much safer to
call you Delia.
Delia (smiling). Well, perhaps it is.
Devenish. And if I did propose to you, you haven't answered
Delia (sitting in the chair R. of the table). If you want
an answer now, it's no; but if you like to wait till next April—
Devenish (moving up to behind table–reproachfully). Oh, I say,
and I cut my hair for you the same afternoon. (Turning quickly.)
You haven't really told me how you like it yet.
Delia. Oh, how bad of me! You look lovely.
Devenish (sitting at back of the table). And I promised to give
up poetry for your sake.
Delia. Perhaps I oughtn't to have asked you that.
Devenish. As far as I'm concerned, Delia, I'll do it gladly, but, of
course, one has to think about posterity.
Delia. But you needn't be a poet. You could give posterity plenty to
think about if you were a statesman.
Devenish. I don't quite see your objection to poetry.
Delia. You would be about the house so much. I want you to go away every
day and do great things, and then come home in the evening and tell me
all about it.
Devenish. Then you are thinking of marrying me!
Delia. Well, I was just thinking in case I had to.
Devenish (he rises and taking her hands, raises her from the chair.
She backs a step to R.). Do. It would be rather fun if you did. And
look here–(he pulls her gently back. They both sit on the table. He
places his arm round her waist)–I will be a statesman, if
you like, and go up to Downing Street every day, and come back in the
evening and tell you all about it.
Delia. How nice of you!
Devenish (magnificently, holding up his L. hand to
Heaven). Farewell, Parnassus!
Delia (pulling down his hand). What does that mean?
Devenish. Well, it means that I've chucked poetry. A statesman's life
is the life for me; behold Mr. Devenish, the new M.P.–(she holds up
her L. hand admonishingly and he laughs apologetically )–no,
look here, that was quite accidental.
Delia (smiling at him). I believe I shall really like you when I
get to know you.
Devenish. I don't know if it's you, or Devonshire, or the fact that I've
had my hair cut, but I feel quite a different being from what I was
three days ago.
Delia. You are different. (They both rise from the table. She
pulls him to R. one step.) Perhaps it's your sense of humour
Devenish. Perhaps that's it. It's a curious feeling.
Delia (pulling him towards the swing doors). Let's go outside;
there's a heavenly moon.
Devenish. Moon? Moon? Now where have I heard that word before?
Delia. What do you mean?
Devenish. I was trying not to be a poet.
(Delia opens the doors.)
Well, I'll come with you, but I shall refuse to look at it. (Putting
his L. hand behind his back, he walks slowly out with her, saying
to himself) The Prime Minister then left the House.
(They cross the windows at the back and go off L.)
(Belinda and Tremayne come from the library, the latter
holding the door for her to pass.)
Belinda (moving below the settee across the room). Thank you. I
don't think it's unkind to leave him, do you? He seemed quite happy.
Tremayne (following her). I shouldn't have been happy if we'd
Belinda (reaching the Chesterfield she puts her feet up. Her head it
towards L.). Yes, but I was really thinking of Mr. Baxter.
Tremayne (above table C.). Not of me?
Belinda. Well, I thought it was Mr. Baxter's turn. Poor man, he's had a
Tremayne (coming to R. of the Chesterfield–eagerly). A
Belinda. Yes, he thought I was–younger than I was.
Tremayne (smiling to himself). How old are you, Belinda?
Belinda (dropping her eyes). Twenty-two. (After a pause.)
He thought I was eighteen. Such a disappointment!
Tremayne (smiling openly at her). Belinda, how old are you?
Belinda. Just about the right age, Mr. Robinson.
Tremayne. The right age for what?
Belinda. For this sort of conversation.
Tremayne. Shall I tell you how old you are?
Belinda. Do you mean in figures or–poetically?
Tremayne. I meant—
Belinda. Mr. Devenish said I was as old as the–now, I must get this the
right way round–as old as the—
Tremayne. I don't want to talk about Mr. Devenish.
Belinda (with a sigh). Nobody ever does–except Mr. Devenish. As
old as the stars, and as young as the dawn. (Settling herself
cosily.) I think that's rather a nice age to be, don't you?
Tremayne. A very nice age to be.
Belinda. It's a pity he's thrown me over for Delia; I shall miss that
sort of thing rather. You don't say those sort of things about your
aunt-in-law–not so often.
Tremayne (eagerly). He really is in love with Miss Robinson!
Belinda. Oh yes. I expect he is out in the moonlight with her now,
comparing her to Diana.
Tremayne. Well, that accounts for him. Now what about Baxter?
Belinda. I thought I told you. Deeply disappointed to find that I was
four years older than he expected, Mr. Baxter hurried from the drawing-room and buried himself in a column of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Tremayne. Well, that settles Baxter. Are there any more men in the
Belinda (shaking her head). Isn't it awful? I've only had those
two for the last three weeks.
(Tremayne sits on the back of the Chesterfield and looks down at
Belinda. Yes, Henry!
Tremayne. My name is John.
Belinda. Well, you never told me. I had to guess. Everybody thinks they
can call me Belinda without giving me the least idea what their own
names are. You were saying, John?
Tremayne. My friends call me Jack.
Belinda. Jack Robinson. That's the man who always goes away so quickly.
I hope you're making more of a stay?
Tremayne (seizing her by both arms). Oh, you maddening, maddening
Belinda. Well, I have to keep the conversation going. You do nothing but
Tremayne (taking her hand). Have you ever loved anybody
Belinda. I don't ever do anything very seriously. The late Mr. Tremayne,
my first husband–Jack— Isn't it funny, his name was Jack–he
used to complain about it too sometimes.
Tremayne (with conviction). Silly ass!
Belinda. Ah, I think you are a little hard on the late Mr. Tremayne.
Tremayne. Belinda, I want you to marry me and forget about him.
Belinda (happily to herself and lying back). This is the proposal
that those lamb cutlets interrupted this morning.
Tremayne. Belinda, I love you–do you understand?
Belinda. Suppose my first husband turns up suddenly like–like E. A.?
Tremayne. Like who?
Belinda. Well, like anybody.
Tremayne. He won't–I know he won't. Don't you love me enough to risk
Belinda. I haven't really said I love you at all yet.
Tremayne. Well, say it now.
(Belinda looks at him, and then down again.)
You do! Well, I'm going to have a kiss, anyway, (He kisses her
quickly–moves to L. of Chesterfield.) There!
Belinda (rising). O-oh I The late Mr. Tremayne never did that.
(She powders her nose.)
Tremayne. I have already told you that he was a silly ass. (He makes
a move as if to kiss her again.)
Belinda (holding up her hand and sitting on the R. side of the
Chesterfield). I shall scream for Mr. Baxter.
Tremayne (sitting down on the Chesterfield, on her L, side.)
Belinda. Yes, Henry–I mean, Jack?
Tremayne. Do you know who I am! (He is thoroughly enjoying the
surprise he is about to give her.)
Belinda (nodding). Yes, Jack.
Belinda. Jack Tremayne.
Tremayne (jumping up). Good heavens, you know!
Belinda (gently). Yes, Jack.
Tremayne (angrily). You've known all the time that I was your
husband, and you've been playing with me and leading me on.
Belinda (mildly). Well, darling, you knew all the time that I was
your wife, and you've been making love to me and leading me on.
Tremayne. That's different.
Belinda (to herself). That's just what the late Mr. Tremayne
said, and then he slammed the door and went straight off to the Rocky
Mountains and shot bears; and I didn't see him again for eighteen years.
Tremayne (remorsefully). Darling, I was a fool then, and I'm a
Belinda. I was a fool then, but I'm not such a fool now–I'm not going
to let you go. It's quite time I married and settled down.
Tremayne. You darling I (He kisses her.) How did you find out who
Belinda (awkwardly). Well, it was rather curious, darling.
(After a pause.) It was April, and I felt all sort of Aprily,
and–and–there was the garden all full of daffodils–and–and there was
Mr. Baxter–the one we left in the library–knowing all about moles.
He's probably got the M. volume down now. Well, we were talking about
them one day, and I happened to say that the late Mr. Tremayne–that was
you, darling–had rather a peculiar one on his arm. And then he happened
to see it this morning and told me about it.
Tremayne. What an extraordinary story!
Belinda. Yes, darling; it's really much more extraordinary than that. I
think perhaps I'd better tell you the rest of it another time.
(Coaxingly.) Now show me where the nasty lion scratched you.
(Tremayne pulls up his sleeve.) Oh! (She kisses his arm.)
You shouldn't have left Chelsea, darling.
Tremayne. I should never have found you if I hadn't.
Belinda (squeezing his arm). No, Jack, you wouldn't. (After a
pause.) I–I've got another little surprise for you if–if you're
ready for it. (Standing up and moving to the chair L. of the
table.) Properly speaking, I ought to be wearing white. I shall
certainly stand up while I'm telling you. (Modestly.) Darling, we
have a daughter–our little Delia. (He is standing in front of the
Tremayne. Delia? You said her name was Robinson.
Belinda. Yes, darling, but you said yours was. One always takes one's
father's name. Unless, of course, you were Lord Robinson.
Tremayne. But you said her name was Robinson before you—
(She makes a playful move.)
–Oh, never mind about that. A daughter? Belinda, how could you let me
go and not tell me?
Belinda. You forget how you'd slammed the door. It isn't the sort of
thing you shout through the window to a man on his way to America.
Tremayne (taking her in his arms). Oh, Belinda, don't let me ever
go away again.
(Devenish and Delia enter from up L. and pass the
windows on the way to the swing doors.)
Belinda. I'm not going to, Jack. I'm going to settle down into a staid
old married woman.
Tremayne. Oh no, you're not. You're going on just as you did before. And
I'm going to propose to you every April, and win you, over all the other
men in love with you.
Belinda. You darling! (They embrace.)
(Delia and Devenish come in from the garden.)
Tremayne (quietly to Belinda). Our daughter.
Delia (going up to Tremayne). You're my father.
Tremayne. If you don't mind very much, Delia.
Delia. You've been away a long time.
Tremayne. I'll do my best to make up for it.
Belinda. Delia, darling, I think you might kiss your poor old father.
(As the does to, Devenish suddenly and hastily kisses
Belinda on the cheek.)
Devenish. Just in case you're going to be my mother-in-law.
Tremayne. We seem to be rather a family party.
Belinda (suddenly). There! (Moving to the door L.) We've
forgotten Mr. Baxter again.
Baxter (who has come in quietly with a book in his hand). Oh, don't mind
about me, Mrs. Tremayne. I've enjoyed myself immensely. (He crosses to
the arm-chair below the fireplace and places it in front of the fire.)
(Belinda and Tremayne move up into the inner room by the
refectory table and embrace, their backs to Baxter. Delia and
Devenish are by the swing doors. They also embrace, their backs to
(Referring to his book.) I have been collecting some most valuable
information on (looking round at them and sitting in the arm-chair and
continuing to read) lunacy in the–er–county of Devonshire.
(The Curtain falls.)