Part 1 out of 2
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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 n glig 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_ BELINDA.)
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'a 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
urmchair 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 (_markng 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_.)