Part 1 out of 5
by A. A. Milne
TO MY MOTHER
THE LUCKY ONE
THE BOY COMES HOME
THE RED FEATHERS
These five plays were written, in the order in which they appear
now, during the years 1916 and 1917. They would hardly have been
written had it not been for the war, although only one of them is
concerned with that subject. To his other responsibilities the
Kaiser now adds this volume.
For these plays were not the work of a professional writer, but
the recreation of a (temporary) professional soldier. Play-writing
is a luxury to a journalist, as insidious as golf and much more
expensive in time and money. When an article is written, the
financial reward (and we may as well live as not) is a matter of
certainty. A novelist, too, even if he is not in "the front rank"--
but I never heard of one who wasn't--can at least be sure of
publication. But when a play is written, there is no certainty of
anything save disillusionment.
To write a play, then, while I was a journalist seemed to me a
depraved proceeding, almost as bad as going to Lord's in the
morning. I thought I could write one (we all think we can), but I
could not afford so unpromising a gamble. But once in the Army the
case was altered. No duty now urged me to write. My job was
soldiering, and my spare time was my own affair. Other subalterns
played bridge and golf; that was one way of amusing oneself.
Another way was--why not?--to write plays.
So we began with Wurzel-Flummery. I say "we," because another is
mixed up in this business even more seriously than the Kaiser. She
wrote; I dictated. And if a particularly fine evening drew us out
for a walk along the byways--where there was no saluting, and one
could smoke a pipe without shocking the Duke of Cambridge--then it
was to discuss the last scene and to wonder what would happen in
the next. We did not estimate the money or publicity which might
come from this new venture; there has never been any serious
thought of making money by my bridge-playing, nor desire for
publicity when I am trying to play golf. But secretly, of course,
we hoped. It was that which made it so much more exciting than any
Our hopes were realized to the following extent:
Wurzel-Flummery was produced by Mr. Dion Boucicault at the New
Theatre in April, 1917. It was originally written in three acts, in
which form it was shown to one or two managers. At the beginning of
1917 I was offered the chance of production in a triple bill if I
cut it down into a two-act play. To cut even a line is painful, but
to cut thirty pages of one's first comedy, slaughtering whole
characters on the way, has at least a certain morbid fascination.
It appeared, therefore, in two acts; and one kindly critic
embarrassed us by saying that a lesser artist would have written it
in three acts, and most of the other critics annoyed us by saying
that a greater artist would have written it in one act. However, I
amused myself some months later by slaying another character--the
office-boy, no less--thereby getting it down to one act, and was
surprised to find that the one-act version was, after all, the
best... At least I think it is. ... At any rate, that is the
version I am printing here; but, as can be imagined, I am rather
tired of the whole business by now, and I am beginning to wonder if
anyone ever did take the name of Wurzel-Flummery at all. Probably
the whole thing is an invention.
The Lucky One was doomed from the start with a name like that. And
the girl marries the wrong man. I see no hope of its being
produced. But if any critic wishes to endear himself to me (though
I don't see why he should) he will agree with me that it is the
best play of the five.
The Boy Comes Home was produced by Mr. Owen Nares at the Victoria
Palace in September, 1918, introduced afterwards into Hallo,
America! at the Palace, and played by Mr. Godfrey Tearle at the
Coliseum in the following April.
Belinda was produced by Mr. Dion Boucicault at the New Theatre in
April, 1918, with Miss Irene Vanbrugh in the name-part. Miss Ethel
Barrymore played it in New York. I hope it will read pleasantly,
but I am quite incapable of judging it, for every speech of
Belinda's comes to me now in Miss Vanbrugh's voice.
The Red Feathers has not yet been produced, one reason being
(perhaps) that it has never been offered to anybody. It is
difficult enough to find a manager, but when one has also to get
hold of a composer, the business of production becomes terrifying.
I suppose there is a way of negotiating these difficulties, but I
suspect that most of the fun to be got out of this operetta we have
already had in writing it.
In conclusion, I must distress my friend J. M. Barrie (who gave me
a first chance) by acknowledging my great debt to him. It would be
more polite to leave him out of it, but I cannot let him off. After
all, these are only "First Plays." I can always hope that "Last
Plays" will be more worthy of that early encouragement.
A. A. MILNE.
A COMEDY IN ONE ACT
ROBERT CRAWSHAW, M.P.
MARGARET CRAWSHAW (his wife).
VIOLA CRAWSHAW (his daughter).
RICHARD MERITON, M.P.
A Two-Act version of this play was produced by Mr. Dion Boucicault
at the New Theatre on April 7, 1917, with the following cast:
Robert Crawshaw--NIGEL PLAYFAIR.
Margaret Crawshaw--HELEN HAYE.
Viola Crawshaw--PEGGY KURTON.
Richard Meriton--MARTIN LEWIS.
Denis Clifton--DION BOUCICAULT.
Lancelot Dodd--BERTRAM SIEMS.
[SCENE.--ROBERT CRAWSHAW'S town house. Morning.]
[It is a June day before the war in the morning-room of ROBERT
CRAWSHAW'S town house. Entering it with our friend the house-agent,
our attention would first be called to the delightful club fender
round the fireplace. On one side of this a Chesterfield sofa comes
out at right angles. In a corner of the sofa MISS VIOLA CRAWSHAW is
sitting, deep in "The Times." The house-agent would hesitate to
catalogue her, but we notice for ourselves, before he points out
the comfortable armchair opposite, that she is young and pretty. In
the middle of the room and facing the fireplace is (observe) a
solid knee-hole writing-table, covered with papers and books of
reference, and supported by a chair at the middle and another at
the side. The rest of the furniture, and the books and pictures
round the walls, we must leave until another time, for at this
moment the door behind the sofa opens and RICHARD MERITON comes in.
He looks about thirty-five, has a clean-shaven intelligent face,
and is dressed in a dark tweed suit. We withdraw hastily, as he
comes behind VIOLA and puts his hands over her eyes.]
RICHARD. Three guesses who it is.
VIOLA (putting her hands over his). The Archbishop of Canterbury.
VIOLA. The Archbishop of York.
RICHARD. Fortunately that exhausts the archbishops. Now, then,
your last guess.
VIOLA. Richard Meriton, M.P.
RICHARD. Wonderful! (He kisses the top of her head lightly and
goes round to the club fender, where he sits with his back to the
fireplace.) How did you know? (He begins to fill a pipe.)
VIOLA (smiling). Well, it couldn't have been father.
RICHARD. N-no, I suppose not. Not just after breakfast anyway.
Anything in the paper?
VIOLA. There's a letter from father pointing out that--
RICHARD. I never knew such a man as Robert for pointing out.
VIOLA. Anyhow, it's in big print.
RICHARD. It would be.
VIOLA. You are very cynical this morning, Dick.
RICHARD. The sausages were cold, dear.
VIOLA. Poor Dick! Oh, Dick, I wish you were on the same side as
RICHARD. But he's on the wrong side. Surely I've told you that
before. ... Viola, do you really think it would make a difference?
VIOLA. Well, you know what he said about you at Basingstoke the
RICHARD. No, I don't, really.
VIOLA. He said that your intellectual arrogance was only equalled
by your spiritual instability. I don't quite know what it means,
but it doesn't sound the sort of thing you want in a son-in-law.
RICHARD. Still, it was friendly of him to go right away to
Basingstoke to say it. Anyhow, you don't believe it.
VIOLA. Of course not.
RICHARD. And Robert doesn't really.
VIOLA. Then why does he say it?
RICHARD. Ah, now you're opening up very grave questions. The whole
structure of the British Constitution rests upon Robert's right to
say things like that at Basingstoke. ... But really, darling, we're
very good friends. He's always asking my advice about things--he
doesn't take it, of course, but still he asks it; and it awfully
good of him to insist on my staying here while my flat was being
done up. (Seriously) I bless him for that. If it hadn't been for
the last week I should never have known you. You were just "Viola"--
the girl I'd seen at odd times since she was a child; now--oh, why
won't you let me tell your father? I hate it like this.
VIOLA, Because I love you, Dick, and because I know father. He
would, as they say in novels, show you the door. (Smiling) And I
want you this side of the door for a little bit longer.
RICHARD (firmly). I shall tell him before I go.
VIOLA (pleadingly). But not till then; that gives us two more days.
You see, darling, it's going to take me all I know to get round
him. You see, apart from politics you're so poor--and father hates
RICHARD (viciously). Damn money!
VIOLA (thoughtfully). I think that's what father means by spiritual
RICHARD. Viola! (He stands up and holds out his arms to her. She
goes to him and--) Oh, Lord, look out!
VIOLA (reaching across to the mantelpiece). Matches?
RICHARD. Thanks very much. (He lights his pipe as ROBERT CRAWSHAW
(CRAWSHAW is forty-five, but his closely-trimmed moustache and
whiskers, his inclination to stoutness, and the loud old-gentlemanly
style in trousers which he affects with his morning-coat, make him
look older, and, what is more important, the Pillar of the State
which he undoubtedly is.)
CRAWSHAW. Good-morning, Richard. Down at last?
RICHARD. Good morning. I did warn you, didn't I, that I was bad at
CRAWSHAW. Viola, where's your mother?
VIOLA (making for the door). I don't know, father; do you want her?
CRAWSHAW. I wish to speak to her.
VIOLA. All right, I'll tell her. [She goes out.]
(RICHARD Picks up "The Times" and sits down again.)
CRAWSHAW (sitting down in a business-like way at his desk).
Richard, why don't you get something to do?
RICHARD. My dear fellow, I've only just finished breakfast.
CRAWSHAW. I mean generally. And apart, of course, from your--ah--
work in the House.
RICHARD (a trifle cool). I have something to do.
CRAWSHAW. Oh, reviewing. I mean something serious. You should get a
directorship or something in the City.
RICHARD. I hate the City.
CRAWSHAW. Ah! there, my dear Richard, is that intellectual
arrogance to which I had to call attention the other day at
RICHARD (drily). Yes, so Viola was telling me.
CRAWSHAW. You understood, my dear fellow, that I meant nothing
personal. (Clearing his throat) It is justly one of the proudest
boasts of the Englishman that his political enmities are not
allowed to interfere with his private friendships.
RICHARD (carelessly). Oh, I shall go to Basingstoke myself one day.
[Enter MARGARET. MARGARET has been in love with ROBERT CRAWSHAW for
twenty-five years, the last twenty four years from habit. She is
small, comfortable, and rather foolish; you would certainly call
her a dear, but you might sometimes call her a poor dear.]
MARGARET. Good-morning, Mr. Meriton. I do hope your breakfast was
RICHARD. Excellent, thank you.
MARGARET. That's right. Did you want me, Robert?
CRAWSHAW. (obviously uncomfortable). Yes--er--h'rm--Richard--er--
what are your--er--plans?
RICHARD. Is he trying to get rid of me, Mrs. Crawshaw?
MARGARET. Of course not. (TO ROBERT) Are you, dear?
CRAWSHAW. Perhaps we had better come into my room, Margaret. We can
leave Richard here with the paper.
RICHARD. No, no; I'm going.
CRAWSHAW (going to the door with him). I have some particular
business to discuss. If you aren't going out, I should like to
consult you in the matter afterwards.
RICHARD. Right! [He goes out.]
CRAWSHAW. Sit down, Margaret. I have some extraordinary news for
MARGARET (sitting down). Yes, Robert?
CRAWSHAW. This letter has just come by hand. (He reads it) "199,
Lincoln's Inn Fields. Dear Sir, I have pleasure to inform you that
under the will of the late Mr. Antony Clifton you are a beneficiary
to the extent of L50,000."
CRAWSHAW. Wait! "A trifling condition is attached--namely, that you
should take the name of--Wurzel-Flummery."
CRAWSHAW. "I have the honour to be, your obedient servant, Denis
Clifton." (He folds the letter up and puts it away.)
MARGARET. Robert, whoever is he? I mean the one who's left you the
CRAWSHAW (calmly). I have not the slightest idea, Margaret.
Doubtless we shall find out before long. I have asked Mr. Denis
Clifton to come and see me.
MARGARET. Leaving you fifty thousand pounds! Just fancy!
MARGARET. We can have the second car now, dear, can't we? And what
about moving? You know you always said you ought to be in a more
central part. Mr. Robert Crawshaw, M.P., of Curzon Street sounds so
much more--more Cabinety.
CRAWSHAW. Mr. Robert Wurzel-Flummery, M.P., of Curzon Street--I
don't know what _that_ sounds like.
MARGARET. I expect that's only a legal way of putting it, dear.
They can't really expect us to change our name to--Wurzley-Fothergill.
MARGARET. Yes, dear, didn't I say that? I am sure you could talk
the solicitor round--this Mr. Denis Clifton. After all, it doesn't
matter to him what we call ourselves. Write him one of your
CRAWSHAW. You don't seem to apprehend the situation, Margaret.
MARGARET. Yes, I do, dear. This Mr.--Mr.--
CRAWSHAW. Antony Clifton.
MARGARET. Yes, he's left you fifty thousand pounds, together with
the name of Wurzley-Fothergill--
CRAWSHAW. Wurzel--oh, well, never mind.
MARGARET. Yes, well, you tell the solicitor that you will take the
fifty thousand pounds, but you don't want the name. It's too
absurd, when everybody knows of Robert Crawshaw, M.P., to expect
you to call yourself Wurzley-Fothergill.
CRAWSHAW (impatiently). Yes, yes. The point is that this Mr.
Clifton has left me the money on _condition_ that I change my name.
If I don't take the name, I don't take the money.
MARGARET. But is that legal?
CRAWSHAW. Perfectly. It is often done. People change their names on
succeeding to some property.
MARGARET. I thought it was only when your name was Moses and you
changed it to Talbot.
CRAWSHAW (to himself). Wurzel-Flummery!
MARGARET. I wonder why he left you the money at all. Of course it
was very nice of him, but if you didn't know him--Why do you think
he did, dear?
CRAWSHAW. I know no more than this letter. I suppose he had--ah--
followed my career, and was--ah--interested in it, and being a man
with no relations, felt that he could--ah--safely leave this money
to me. No doubt Wurzel-Flummery was his mother's maiden name, or
the name of some other friend even dearer to him; he wished the
name--ah--perpetuated, perhaps even recorded not unworthily in the
history of our country, and--ah--made this will accordingly. In a
way it is a kind of--ah--sacred trust.
MARGARET. Then, of course, you'll accept it, dear?
CRAWSHAW. It requires some consideration. I have my career to think
about, my duty to my country.
MARGARET. Of course, dear. Money is a great help in politics, isn't
CRAWSHAW. Money wisely spent is a help in any profession. The view
of riches which socialists and suchlike people profess to take is
entirely ill-considered. A rich man, who spends his money
thoughtfully, is serving his country as nobly as anybody.
MARGARET. Yes, dear. Then you think we _could_ have that second car
and the house in Curzon Street?
CRAWSHAW. We must not be led away. Fifty thousand pounds, properly
invested, is only two thousand a year. When you have deducted the
income-tax--and the tax on unearned income is extremely high just
MARGARET. Oh, but surely if we have to call ourselves Wurzel-Flummery
it would count as _earned_ income.
CRAWSHAW. I fear not. Strictly speaking, all money is earned. Even
if it is left to you by another, it is presumably left to you in
recognition of certain outstanding qualities which you possess. But
Parliament takes a different view. I do not for a moment say that
fifty thousand pounds would not be welcome. Fifty pounds is
certainly not to be sneezed at--
MARGARET. I should think not, indeed!
CRAWSHAW (unconsciously rising from his chair). And without this
preposterous condition attached I should be pleased to accept this
trust, and I would endeavour, Mr. Speaker--(He sits down again
suddenly.) I would, Margaret, to, carry it out to the best of my
poor ability. But--Wurtzel-Flummery!
MARGARET. You would soon get used to it, dear. I had to get used
to the name of Crawshaw after I had been Debenham for twenty-five
years. It is surprising how quickly it comes to you. I think I only
signed my name Margaret Debenham once after I was married.
CRAWSHAW (kindly). The cases are rather different, Margaret.
Naturally a woman, who from her cradle looks forward to the day
when she will change her name, cannot have this feeling for the--
ah--honour of his name, which every man--ah--feels. Such a feeling
is naturally more present in my own case since I have been
privileged to make the name of Crawshaw in some degree--ah--
well-known, I might almost say famous.
MARGARET (wistfully). I used to be called "the beautiful Miss
Debenham of Leamington." Everybody in Leamington knew of me. Of
course, I am very proud to be Mrs. Robert Crawshaw.
CRAWSHAW (getting up and walking over to the fireplace). In a way
it would mean beginning all over again. It is half the battle in
politics to get your name before the public. "Whoever is this man
Wurzel-Flummery?" people will say.
MARGARET. Anyhow, dear, let us look on the bright side. Fifty
thousand pounds is fifty thousand pounds.
CRAWSHAW. It is, Margaret. And no doubt it is my duty to accept it.
But--well, all I say is that a _gentleman_ would have left it
without any conditions. Or at least he would merely have expressed
his _wish_ that I should take the name, without going so far as to
enforce it. Then I could have looked at the matter all round in an
MARGARET (pursuing her thoughts). The linen is marked R. M. C. now.
Of course, we should have to have that altered. Do you think R. M. F.
would do, or would it have to be R. M. W. hyphen F.?
CRAWSHAW. What? Oh--yes, there will be a good deal of that to
attend to. (Going up to her) I think, Margaret, I had better talk
to Richard about this. Of course, it would be absurd to refuse the
money, but--well, I should like to have his opinion.
MARGARET (getting up). Do you think he would be very sympathetic,
dear? He makes jokes about serious things--like bishops and hunting
just as if they weren't at all serious.
CRAWSHAW. I wish to talk to him just to obtain a new--ah--point of
view. I do not hold myself in the least bound to act on anything he
says. I regard him as a constituent, Margaret.
MARGARET. Then I will send him to you.
CRAWSHAW (putting his hands on her shoulders). Margaret, what do
you really feel about it?
MARGARET. Just whatever you feel, Robert.
CRAWSHAW (kissing her). Thank you, Margaret; you are a good wife
to me. [She goes out]
(CRAWSHAW goes to his desk and selects a "Who's Who" from a little
pile of reference-books on it. He walks round to his chair, sits
down in it and begins to turn the pages, murmuring names beginning
with "C" to himself as he gets near the place. When he finds it, he
murmurs "Clifton--that's funny," and closes the book. Evidently the
publishers have failed him.)
RICHARD. Well, what's the news? (He goes to his old seat on the
fender.) Been left a fortune?
CRAWSHAW (simply). Yes. ... By a Mr. Antony Clifton. I never met
him and I know nothing about him.
RICHARD (surprised). Not really? Well, I congratulate you. (He
sighs.) To them that hath--But what on earth do you want my advice
CRAWSHAW. There is a slight condition attached.
CRAWSHAW. The condition is that with this money--fifty thousand
pounds--I take the name of--ah--Wurzel-Flummery.
RICHARD (jumping up). What!
CRAWSHAW (sulkily). I said it quite distinctly--Wurzel-Flummery.
(RICHARD in an awed silence walks over to the desk and stands
looking down at the unhappy CRAWSHAW. He throws out his left hand
as if introducing him.)
RICHARD (reverently). Mr. Robert Wurzel-Flummery, M. P., one of the
most prominent of our younger Parliamentarians. Oh, you...oh! ...
oh, how too heavenly! (He goes back to his seat, looks up and
catches CRAWSHAW'S eye, and breaks down altogether.)
CRAWSHAW (rising with dignity). Shall we discuss it seriously, or
shall we leave it?
RICHARD. How can we discuss a name like Wurzel-Flummery seriously?
"Mr. Wurzel-Flummery in a few well-chosen words seconded the
motion." ... "'Sir,' went on Mr. Wurzel-Flummery"--Oh, poor Robert!
CRAWSHAW (sitting down sulkily). You seem quite certain that I
shall take the money.
RICHARD. I am quite certain.
CRAWSHAW. Would you take it?
RICHARD (hesitating). Well--I wonder.
CRAWSHAW. After all, as William Shakespeare says, "What's in a
RICHARD. I can tell you something else that Shakespeare--_William_
Shakespeare--said. (Dramatically rising) Who steals my purse with
fifty thousand in it--steals trash. (In his natural voice) Trash,
Robert: (Dramatically again) But he who filches from me my good
name of Crawshaw (lightly) and substitutes the rotten one of Wurzel--
CRAWSHAW (annoyed). As a matter of fact, Wurzel-Flummery is a very
good old name. I seem to remember some--ah--Hampshire Wurzel-Flummeries.
It is a very laudable spirit on the part of a dying man to wish to--
ah--perpetuate these old English names. It all seems to me quite
natural and straightforward. If I take this money I shall have
nothing to be ashamed of.
RICHARD. I see. ... Look here, may I ask you a few questions? I
should like to know just how you feel about the whole business?
CRAWSHAW (complacently folding his hands). Go ahead.
RICHARD. Suppose a stranger came up in the street to you and said,
"My poor man, here's five pounds for you," what would you do? Tell
him to go to the devil, I suppose, wouldn't you?
CRAWSHAW (humorously). In more parliamentary language, perhaps,
Richard. I should tell him I never took money from strangers.
RICHARD. Quite so; but that if it were ten thousand pounds, you
would take it?
CRAWSHAW. I most certainly shouldn't.
RICHARD. But if he died and left it to you, _then_ you would?
CRAWSHAW (blandly). Ah, I thought you were leading up to that.
That, of course, is entirely different.
CRAWSHAW. Well--ah--wouldn't _you_ take ten thousand pounds if it
were left to you by a stranger?
RICHARD. I daresay I should. But I should like to know why it would
CRAWSHAW (professionally). Ha-hum! Well--in the first place, when a
man is dead he wants his money no longer. You can therefore be
certain that you are not taking anything from him which he cannot
spare. And in the neat place, it is the man's dying wish that you
should have the money. To refuse would be to refuse the dead. To
accept becomes almost a sacred duty.
RICHARD. It really comes to this, doesn't it? You won't take it
from him when he's alive, because if you did, you couldn't decently
refuse him a little gratitude; but you know that it doesn't matter
a damn to him what happens to his money after he's dead, and
therefore you can take it without feeling any gratitude at all.
CRAWSHAW. No, I shouldn't put it like that.
RICHARD (smiling). I'm sure you wouldn't, Robert.
CRAWSHAW No doubt you can twist it about so that--
RICHARD. All right, we'll leave that and go on to the next point.
Suppose a perfect stranger offered you five pounds to part your
hair down the middle, shave off your moustache, and wear only one
whisker--if he met you suddenly in the street, seemed to dislike
your appearance, took out a fiver and begged you to hurry off and
alter yourself--of course you'd pocket the money and go straight to
CRAWSHAW. Now you are merely being offensive.
RICHARD. I beg your pardon. I should have said that if he had left
you five pounds in his will?--well, then twenty pounds? a hundred
pounds?--a thousand pounds?--fifty thousand pounds?--(Jumping up
excitedly) It's only a question of price--fifty thousand pounds,
Robert--a pink tie with purple spots, hair across the back,
trousers with a patch in the fall myself Wurzel-Flummery--any old
thing you like, you can't insult me--anything you like, gentlemen,
for fifty thousand pounds. (Lowering his voice) Only you must leave
it in your will, and then I can feel that it is a sacred duty--a
sacred duty, my lords and gentlemen. (He sinks back into the sofa
and relights his pipe.)
CRAWSHAW. (rising with dignity). It is evidently useless to prolong
RICHARD (waving him dorm again). No, no, Robert; I've finished. I
just took the other side--and I got carried away. I ought to have
been at the Bar.
CRAWSHAW. You take such extraordinary views of things. You must
look facts in the face, Richard. This is a modern world, and we are
modern people living in it. Take the matter-of-fact view. You may
like or dislike the name of--ah--Wurzel-Flummery, but you can't get
away from the fact that fifty thousand pounds is not to be sneezed
RICHARD (wistfully). I don't know why people shouldn't sneeze at
money sometimes. I should like to start a society for sneezing at
fifty thousand pounds. We'd have to begin in a small way, of course;
we'd begin by sneezing at five pounds--and work up. The trouble is
that we're all inoculated in our cradles against that kind of cold.
CRAWSHAW (pleasantly). You will have your little joke. But you know
as well as I do that it is only a joke. There can be no serious
reason why I should not take this money. And I--ah--gather that you
don't think it will affect my career?
RICHARD (carelessly). Not a bit. It'll help it. It'll get you into
all the comic papers.
[MARGARET comes in at this moment, to the relief of CRAWSHAW, who
is not quite certain if he is being flattered or insulted again.]
MARGARET. Well, have you told him?
RICHARD (making way for her on the sofa). I have heard the news,
Mrs. Crawshaw. And I have told Robert my opinion that he should
have no difficulty in making the name of Wurzel-Flummery as famous
as he has already made that of Crawshaw. At any rate I hope he
MARGARET. How nice of you!
CRAWSHAW. Well, it's settled, then. (Looking at his watch) This
solicitor fellow should be here soon. Perhaps, after all, we can
manage something about--Ah, Viola, did you want your mother?
VIOLA. Sorry, do I interrupt a family meeting? There's Richard, so
it can't be very serious.
RICHARD. What a reputation!
CRAWSHAW. Well, it's over now.
MARGARET. Viola had better know, hadn't she?
CRAWSHAW. She'll have to know some time, of course.
VIOLA (sitting done firmly on the sofa). Of course she will. So
you'd better tell her now. I knew there was something exciting
going on this morning.
CRAWSHAW (embarrassed). Hum--ha--(To MARGARET) Perhaps you'd better
tell her, dear.
MARGARET (simply and naturally). Father has come into some
property, Viola. It means changing our name unfortunately. But your
father doesn't think it will matter.
VIOLA. How thrilling! What is the name, mother?
MARGARET. Your father says it is--dear me, I shall never remember it.
CRAWSHAW (mumbling). Wurzel-Flummery.
VIOLA (after a pause). Dick, _you_ tell me, if nobody else will.
RICHARD. Robert said it just now.
VIOLA. That wasn't a name, was it? I thought it was just a--do say
it again, father.
CRAWSHAW (sulkily but plainly). Wurzel-Flummery.
VIOLA (surprised). Do you spell it like that? I mean like a wurzel
and like flummery?
RICHARD. Exactly, I believe.
VIOLA (to herself). Miss Viola Wurzel-Flummery--I mean they'd have
to look at you, wouldn't they? (Bubbling over) Oh, Dick, what a
heavenly name! Who had it first?
RICHARD. They are an old Hampshire family--that is so, isn't it,
CRAWSHAW (annoyed). I said I thought that I remembered--Margaret,
can you find Burke there?
(She finds it, and he buries himself in the families of the great.)
MARGARET. Well, Viola, you haven't told us how you like being Miss
VIOLA. I haven't realized myself yet, mummy. I shall have to stand
in front of my glass and tell myself who I am.
RICHARD. It's all right for you. You know you'll change your name
one day, and then it won't matter what you've been called before.
VIOLA (secretly). H'sh! (She smiles lovingly at him, and then says
aloud) Oh, won't it? It's got to appear in the papers, "A marriage
has been arranged between Miss Viola Wurzel-Flummery..." and
everybody will say, "And about time too, poor girl."
MARGARET (to CRAWSHAW). Have you found it, dear?
CRAWSHAW (resentfully). This is the 1912 edition.
MARGARET. Still, dear, if it's a very old family, it ought to be in
VIOLA. I don't mind how old it is; I think it's lovely. Oh, Dick,
what fun it will be being announced! Just think of the footman
throwing open the door and saying--
MAID (announcing). Mr. Denis Clifton.
(There is a little natural confusion as CLIFTON enters jauntily in
his summer suiting with a bundle of papers under his arm. CRAWSHAW
goes towards him and shakes hands.)
CRAWSHAW. How do you do, Mr. Clifton? Very good of you to come.
(Looking doubtfully at his clothes) Er--it is Mr. Denis Clifton,
CLIFTON (cheerfully). It is. I must apologize for not looking the
part more, but my clothes did not arrive from Clarkson's in time.
Very careless of them when they had promised. And my clerk
dissuaded me from the side-whiskers which I keep by me for these
CRAWSHAW (bewildered). Ah yes, quite so. But you have--ah--full
legal authority to act in this matter?
CLIFTON.. Oh, decidedly. Oh, there's no question of that.
CRAWSHAW (introducing). My wife--and daughter. (CLIFTON bows
gracefully.) My friend, Mr. Richard Meriton.
CLIFTON (happily).Dear me! Mr. Meriton too! This is quite a
situation, as we say in the profession.
RICHARD (amused by him). In the legal profession?
CLIFTON. In the theatrical profession.(Turning to MARGARET) I am a
writer of plays, Mrs. Crawshaw. I am not giving away a professional
secret when I tell you that most of the managers in London have
thanked me for submitting my work to them.
CRAWSHAW (firmly).I understood, Mr. Clifton, that you were the
solicitor employed to wind up the affairs of the late Mr. Antony
CLIFTON. Oh, certainly. Oh, there's no doubt about my being a
solicitor. My clerk, a man of the utmost integrity, not to say
probity, would give me a reference. I am in the books; I belong to
the Law Society. But my heart turns elsewhere. Officially I have
embraced the profession of a solicitor--(Frankly, to MRS. CRAWSHAW)
But you know what these official embraces are.
MARGARET. I'm afraid--(She turns to her husband for assistance.)
CLIFTON (to RICHARD). Unofficially, Mr. Meriton, I am wedded to the
VIOLA. Dick, isn't he lovely?
CRAWSHAW. Quite so. But just for the moment, Mr. Clifton, I take it
that we are concerned with legal business. Should I ever wish to
produce a play, the case would be different.
CLIFTON. Admirably put. Pray regard me entirely as the solicitor
for as long as you wish. (He puts his hat down on a chair with the
papers in it, and taking off his gloves, goes on dreamily) Mr.
Denis Clifton was superb as a solicitor. In spite of an indifferent
make-up, his manner of taking off his gloves and dropping them into
his hat--(He does so.)
MARGARET (to CRAWSHAW). I think, perhaps, Viola and I--
RICHARD (making a move too). We'll leave you to your business, Robert.
CLIFTON (holding up his hand). Just one moment if I may. I have a
letter for you, Mr. Meriton.
RICHARD (surprised). For me?
CLIFTON. Yes. My clerk, a man of the utmost integrity--oh, but I
said that before--he took it round to your rooms this morning, but
found only painters and decorators there. (He is feeling in his
pockets and now brings the letter out.) I brought it along, hoping
that Mr. Crawshaw--but of course I never expected anything so
delightful as this. (He hands over the letter with a bow.)
RICHARD. Thanks. (He puts it in his pocket.)
CLIFTON. Oh, but do read it now, won't you? (To MR. CRAWSHAW) One
so rarely has an opportunity of being present when one's own
letters are read. I think the habit they have on the stage of
reading letters aloud to other is such a very delightful one.
(RICHARD, with a smile and a shrug, has opened his letter while
CLIFTON is talking.)
RICHARD. Good Lord!
VIOLA. Dick, what is it?
RICHARD (reading). "199, Lincoln's Inn Fields. Dear Sir, I have
the pleasure to inform you that under the will of the late Mr.
Antony Clifton you are a beneficiary to the extent of L50,000."
RICHARD. "A trifling condition is attached--namely, that you should
take the name of--Wurzel-Flummery." (CLIFTON, with his hand on his
heart, bows gracefully from one to the other of them.)
CRAWSHAW (annoyed). Impossible! Why should he leave any money to
VIOLA. Dick! How wonderful!
MARGARET (mildly). I don't remember ever having had a morning quite
RICHARD (angrily). Is this a joke, Mr. Clifton?
CLIFTON. Oh, the money is there all right. My clerk, a man of the
RICHARD. Then I refuse it. I'll have nothing to do with it. I won't
even argue about it. (Tearing the letter into bits) That's what I
think of your money. [He stalks indignantly from the room.]
VIOLA. Dick! Oh, but, mother, he mustn't. Oh, I must tell him--
[She hurries after him.]
MARGARET (with dignity). Really, Mr. Clifton, I'm surprised at you.
[She goes out too.]
CLIFTON (looking round the room). And now, Mr. Crawshaw, we are
CRAWSHAW. Yes. Well, I think, Mr. Clifton, you have a good deal to
CLIFTON. My dear sir, I'm longing to begin. I have been looking
forward to this day for weeks. I spent over an hour this morning
dressing for it. (He takes papers from his hat and moves to the
sofa.) Perhaps I had better begin from the beginning.
CRAWSHAW (interested, indicating the papers). The documents in the
CLIFTON. Oh dear, no just something to carry in the hand. It makes
one look more like a solicitor. (Reading the title) "Watherston v.
Towser--in re Great Missenden Canal Company." My clerk invents the
titles; it keeps him busy. He is very fond of Towser; Towser is
always coming in. (Frankly) You see, Mr. Crawshaw, this is my first
real case, and I only got it because Antony Clifton is my uncle. My
efforts to introduce a little picturesqueness into the dull
formalities of the law do not meet with that response that one
would have expected.
CRAWSHAW (looking at his watch). Yes. Well, I'm a busy man, and if
you could tell me as shortly as possible why your uncle left this
money to me, and apparently to Mr. Meriton too, under these
extraordinary conditions, I shall be obliged to you.
CLIFTON. Say no more, Mr. Crawshaw; I look forward to being
entirely frank with you. It will be a pleasure.
CRAWSHAW. You understand, of course, my position. I think I may
say that I am not without reputation in the country; and proud as
I am to accept this sacred trust, this money which the late Mr.
Antony Clifton has seen fit--(modestly) one cannot say why--to
bequeath to me, yet the use of the name Wurzel-Flummery would be
CLIFTON (cheerfully). Excessively.
CRAWSHAW. My object in seeing you was to inquire if it was
absolutely essential that the name should go with the money.
CLIFTON. Well (thoughtfully), you may have the name _without_ the
money if you like. But you must have the name.
CRAWSHAW (disappointed). Ah! (Bravely) Of course, I have nothing
against the name, a good old Hampshire name--
CLIFTON (shocked). My dear Mr. Crawshaw, you didn't think--you
didn't really think that anybody had been called Wurzel-Flummery
before? Oh no, no. You and Mr. Meriton were to be the first, the
founders of the clan, the designers of the Wurzel-Flummery sporran--
CRAWSHAW. What do you mean, sir? Are you telling me that it is not
a real name at all?
CLIFTON. Oh, it's a name all right. I know it is because--er--_I_
made it up.
CRAWSHAW (outraged). And you have the impudence to propose, sir,
that I should take a made-up name?
CLIFTON (soothingly). Well, all names are made up some time or
other. Somebody had to think of--Adam.
CRAWSHAW. I warn you, Mr. Clifton, that I do not allow this
trifling with serious subjects.
CLIFTON. It's all so simple, really. ... You see, my Uncle Antony
was a rather unusual man. He despised money. He was not afraid to
put it in its proper place. The place he put it in was--er--a
little below golf and a little above classical concerts. If a man
said to him, "Would you like to make fifty thousand this afternoon?"
he would say--well, it would depend what he was doing. If he were
going to have a round at Walton Heath--
CRAWSHAW. It's perfectly scandalous to talk of money in this way.
CLIFTON. Well, that's how he talked about it. But he didn't find
many to agree with him. In fact, he used to say that there was
nothing, however contemptible, that a man would not do for money.
One day I suggested that if he left a legacy with a sufficiently
foolish name attached to it, somebody might be found to refuse it.
He laughed at the idea. That put me on my mettle. "Two people," I
said; "leave the same silly name to two people, two well-known
people, rival politicians, say, men whose own names are already
public property. Surely they wouldn't both take it." That touched
him. "Denis, my boy, you've got it," he said. "Upon what vile
bodies shall we experiment?" We decided on you and Mr. Meriton.
The next thing was to choose the name. I started on the wrong
lines. I began by suggesting names like Porker, Tosh, Bugge,
Spiffkins--the obvious sort. My uncle--
CRAWSHAW (boiling with indignation). How _dare_ you discuss me with
your uncle, Sir! How dare you decide in this cold-blooded way
whether I am to be called--ah--Tosh--or--ah--Porker!
CLIFTON. My uncle wouldn't bear of Tosh or Porker. He wanted a
humorous name--a name he could roll lovingly round his tongue--a
name expressing a sort of humorous contempt--Wurzel-Flummery! I
can see now the happy ruminating smile which carne so often on my
Uncle Antony's face in those latter months. He was thinking of his
two Wurzel-Flummerys. I remember him saying once--it was at the
Zoo--what a pity it was he hadn't enough to divide among the whole
Cabinet. A whole bunch of Wurzel-Flummerys; it would have been
CRAWSHAW. You force me to say, sir, that if _that_ was the way you
and your uncle used to talk together at his death can only be
described as a merciful intervention of Providence.
CLIFTON. Oh, but I think he must be enjoying all this somewhere,
you know. I hope he is. He would have loved this morning. It was
his one regret that from the necessities of the case he could not
live to enjoy his own joke; but he had hopes that echoes of it
would reach him wherever he might be. It was with some such idea, I
fancy, that toward the end he became interested in spiritualism.
CRAWSHAW (rising solemnly). Mr. Clifton, I have no interest in the
present whereabouts of your uncle, nor in what means he has of
overhearing a private conversation between you and myself. But if,
as you irreverently suggest, he is listening to us, I should like
him to hear this. That, in my opinion, you are not a qualified
solicitor at all, that you never had an uncle, and that the whole
story of the will and the ridiculous condition attached to it is
just the tomfool joke of a man who, by his own admission, wastes
most of his time writing unsuccessful farces. And I propose--
CLIFTON. Pardon my interrupting. But you said farces. Not farces,
comedies--of a whimsical nature.
CRAWSHAW. Whatever they were, sir, I propose to report the whole
matter to the Law Society. And you know your way out, sir.
CLIFTON. Then I am to understand that you refuse the legacy, Mr.
CRAWSHAW (startled). What's that?
CLIFTON. I am to understand that you refuse the fifty thousand
CRAWSHAW. If the money is really there, I most certainly do not
CLIFTON. Oh, the money is most certainly there--and the name. Both
waiting for you.
CRAWSHAW (thumping the table). Then, Sir, I accept them. I feel it
my duty to accept them, as a public expression of confidence in the
late Mr. Clifton's motives. I repudiate entirely the motives that
you have suggested to him, and I consider it a sacred duty to show
what I think of your story by accepting the trust which he has
bequeathed to me. You will arrange further matters with my
solicitor. Good morning, Sir.
CLIFTON (to himself as he rises). Mr. Crawshaw here drank a glass
of water. (To CRAWSHAW) Mr. Wurzel-Flummery, farewell. May I
express the parting wish that your future career will add fresh
lustre to--my name. (To himself as he goes out) Exit Mr. Denis
Clifton with dignity. (But he has left his papers behind him.)
(CRAWSHAW, walking indignantly back to the sofa, sees the papers
and picks them up.)
CRAWSHAW (contemptuously). "Watherston v. Towser--in re Great
Missenden Canal Company" Bah! (He tears them up and throws them
into the fare. He goes back to his writing-table and is seated
there as VIOLA, followed by MERITON, comes in.)
VIOLA. Father, Dick doesn't want to take the money, but I have told
him that of course he must. He must, mustn't he?
RICHARD. We needn't drag Robert into it, Viola.
CRAWSHAW. If Richard has the very natural feeling that it would be
awkward for me if there were two Wurzel-Flummerys in the House of
Commons, I should be the last to interfere with his decision. In
any case, I don't see what concern it is of yours, Viola.
VIOLA (surprised). But how can we get married if he doesn't take
CRAWSHAW (hardly understanding). Married? What does this mean,
RICHARD. I'm sorry it has come out like this. We ought to have told
you before, but anyhow we were going to have told you in a day or
two. Viola and I want to get married.
CRAWSHAW. And what did you want to get married on?
RICHARD (with a smile). Not very much, I'm afraid.
VIOLA. We're all right now, father, because we shall have fifty
RICHARD (sadly). Oh, Viola, Viola!
CRAWSHAW. But naturally this puts a very different complexion on
VIOLA. So of course he must take it, mustn't he, father?
CRAWSHAW. I can hardly suppose, Richard, that you expect me to
entrust my daughter to a man who is so little provident for himself
that he throws away fifty thousand pounds because of some fanciful
objection to the name which goes with it.
RICHARD (in despair). You don't understand, Robert.
CRAWSHAW. I understand this, Richard. That if the name is good
enough for me, it should be good enough for you. You don't mind
asking Viola to take _your_ name, but you consider it an insult if
you are asked to take _my_ name.
RICHARD (miserably to VIOLA). Do you want to be Mrs. Wurzel-Flummery?
VIOLA. Well, I'm going to be Miss Wurzel-Flummery anyhow, darling.
RICHARD (beaten). Heaven help me! you'll make me take it. But
you'll never understand.
CRAWSHAW (stopping to administer comfort to him on his way out).
Come, come, Richard. (Patting him on the shoulder) I understand
perfectly. All that you were saying about money a little while ago--
it's all perfectly true, it's all just what I feel myself. But in
practice we have to make allowances sometimes. We have to sacrifice
our ideals for--ah--others. I shall be very proud to have you for a
son-in-law, and to feel that there will be the two of us in
Parliament together upholding the honour of the--ah--name. And
perhaps now that we are to be so closely related, you may come to
feel some day that your views could be--ah--more adequately put
forward from _my_ side of the House.
RICHARD. Go on, Robert; I deserve it.
CRAWSHAW. Well, well! Margaret will be interested in our news. And
you must send that solicitor a line--or perhaps a telephone message
would be better. (He goes to the door and turns round just as he is
going out.) Yes, I think the telephone, Richard; it would be safer.
RICHARD (holding out his hands to VIOLA). Come here, Mrs. Wurzel-Flummery.
VIOLA. Not Mrs. Wurzel-Flummery; Mrs. Dick. And soon, please,
darling. (She comes to him.)
RICHARD (shaking his head sadly at her). I don't know what I've
done, Viola. (Suddenly) But you're worth it. (He kisses her, and
then says in a low voice) And God help me if I ever stop thinking so!
[Enter MR. DENIS CLIFTON. He sees them, and walks about very
tactfully with his back towards them, humming to himself.]
CLIFTON (to himself). Now where did I put those papers? (He hums to
himself again.) Now where--oh, I beg your pardon! I left some
VIOLA. Dick, you'll tell him. (As she goes out, she says to
CLIFTON) Good-bye, Mr. Clifton, and thank you for writing such nice
CLIFTON. Good-bye, Miss Crawshaw.
VIOLA. Just say it to see how it sounds.
CLIFTON. Good-bye, Miss Wurzel-Flummery.
VIOLA. (smiling happily). No, not Miss, Mrs.
[She goes out.]
CLIFTON. (looking in surprise from her to him). You don't mean--
RICHARD. Yes; and I'm taking the money after all, Mr. Clifton.
CLIFTON. Dear me, what a situation! (Thoughtfully to himself) I
wonder how a rough scenario would strike the managers.
RICHARD. Poor Mr. Clifton!
CLIFTON. Why poor?
RICHARD. You missed all the best part. You didn't hear what I said
to Crawshaw about money before you came.
CLIFTON (thoughtfully). Oh I was it very--(Brightening up) But I
expect Uncle Antony heard. (After a pause) Well, I must be getting
on. I wonder if you've noticed any important papers lying about, in
connection with the Great Missenden Canal Company--a most intricate
case, in which my clerk and I--(He has murmured himself across to
the fireplace, and the fragments of his important case suddenly
catch his eye. He picks up one of the fragments.) Ah, yes. Well, I
shall tell my clerk that we lost the case. He will be sorry. He had
got quite fond of that canal. (He turns to go, but first says to
MERITON) So you're taking the money, Mr. Meriton?
CLIFTON. And Mr. Crawshaw too?
CLIFTON (to himself as he goes out). They are both taking it. (He
stops and looks up to UNCLE ANTONY with a smile.) Good old Uncle
Antony--he knew--he knew! (MERITON stands watching him as he goes.)
THE LUCKY ONE
A PLAY IN THREE ACTS
BOB FARRINGDON (his elder brother).
SIR JAMES FARRINGDON (his father).
LADY FARRINGDON (his mother).
MISS FARRINGDON (his great-aunt).
PAMELA CAREY (his betrothed).
HENRY WENTWORTH (his friend).
THOMAS TODD (his friend).
LETTY HERBERT (his friend).
MASON (his old nurse).
At SIR JAMES FARRINGDON'S in the country.
A private hotel in Dover Street. Two months later.
At SIR JAMES FARRINGDON'S again. Three months later.
THE LUCKY ONE
[SCENE.--The hall of SIR JAMES FARRINGDON'S house in the country.]
[It is a large and pleasantly unofficial sort of room, used as
a meeting-place rather than a resting place. To be in it pledges
you to nothing; whereas in the billiard-room you are presumably
pledged to billiards. The French windows at the back open on to
lawns; the door on the right at the back will take you into the
outer hall; the door on the left leads to the servants' quarters;
the door on the right in front will disclose other inhabited rooms
to you. An oak gallery runs round two sides of the hall and
descends in broad and gentle stairs down the right side of it. Four
stairs from the bottom it turns round at right angles and deposits
you fairly in the hall. Entering in this way, you will see
immediately opposite to you the large open fireplace occupied by a
pile of unlit logs--for it is summer. There is a chair on each side
of the fireplace, but turned now away from it. In the left centre
of the hall there is a gate-legged table to which trays with drinks
on them, have a habit of finding their way; it is supported on each
side by a coffin-stool. A sofa, which will take two strangers
comfortably and three friends less comfortably, comes out at right
angles to the staircase, but leaves plenty of space between itself
and the stool on its side of the table. Beneath the window on the
left of the French windows is a small table on which letters and
papers are put; beneath the window on the other side is a
writing-table. The walls are decorated impartially with heads of
wild animals and of Farringdons.]
[At the present moment the inhabitants of the hall are three. HENRY
WENTWORTH, a barrister between forty, and fifty, dressed in rather
a serious tweed suit, for a summer day, is on the sofa. THOMAS
TODD, an immaculate young gentleman of twenty-five, is half-sitting
on the gate-legged table with one foot on the ground and the other
swinging. He is dressed in a brown flannel coat and white trousers,
shoes and socks, and he has a putter in his hand indicative of his
usual line of thought. The third occupant is the Butler, who, in
answer to TOMMY'S ring, has appeared with the drinks.]
[The time is about four o'clock on a June afternoon.]
TOMMY (to the Butler). Thanks, James; just leave it here. [Exit Butler.]
Whisky or lemonade, Wentworth?
WENTWORTH. Neither, thanks, Tommy.
TOMMY. Well, I will. (He pours himself out some lemonade and takes
a long drink.) I should have thought you would have been thirsty,
driving down from London a day like this. (He finishes his drink.)
Let's see, where was I up to? The sixth, wasn't it?
WENTWORTH. The sixth, Tommy. (With resignation) Only twelve more.
TOMMY. Yes, that's right. Well, at the seventh I got an absolutely
topping drive, but my approach was sliced a bit. However, I chipped
on within about six feet, and was down in four. Gerald took it in
three, but I had a stroke, so I halved. Then the eighth I told you
WENTWORTH. Was that where you fell into the pond?
TOMMY. No, no; you're thinking of the fifth, where I topped my
drive into the pond.
WENTWORTH. I knew the pond came into it somewhere. I hoped--I mean
I thought you fell in.
TOMMY. Look here, you _must_ remember the eighth, old chap; that
was the one I did in one. Awful bit of luck.
WENTWORTH. Bit of luck for me too, Tommy.
WENTWORTH. Because now you can hurry on to the ninth.
TOMMY. I say, Wentworth, I thought you were keen on golf.
WENTWORTH. Only on my own.
TOMMY. You're a fraud. Here I've been absolutely wasting my
precious time on you and--I suppose it wouldn't even interest you
to hear that Gerald went round in seventy-two--five under bogey?
WENTWORTH. It would interest me much more to hear something about
this girl he's engaged to.
TOMMY. Pamela Carey? Oh, she's an absolute ripper.
WENTWORTH. Yes, but you've said that of every girl you've met.
TOMMY. Well, dash it! you don't expect me to describe what she
looks like, do you?
WENTWORTH. Well, no. I shall see that for myself directly. One gets
introduced, you know, Tommy. It isn't as though I were meeting her
at Charing Cross Station for the first time. But who is she?
TOMMY. Well, she was poor old Bob's friend originally. He brought
her down here, but, of course, as soon as she saw Gerald--
WENTWORTH (quickly). Why, _poor_ old Bob?
TOMMY. I don't know; everybody seems to call him that. After all,
he isn't quite like Gerald, is he?
WENTWORTH. Paderewski isn't quite like Tommy Todd, but I don't
say "poor old Paderewski"--nor "poor old Tommy," if it comes to
TOMMY. Well, hang it, old man, there's a bit of a difference.
Paderewski and I--well, I mean we don't compete.
WENTWORTH. Oh, I don't know. I daresay he's as rotten at golf as
you, if the truth were really known.
TOMMY. No, but seriously, it's a bit different when you get two
brothers like Gerald and Bob; and whatever the elder one does, the
younger one does a jolly sight better. Now Paderewski and I--
WENTWORTH. Good heavens! I wish I hadn't started you on that. Get
back to Bob. I thought Bob was on the Stock Exchange and Gerald in
the Foreign Office. There can't be very much competition between
TOMMY. Well, but there you are! Why isn't Bob in the Foreign Office
and Gerald on the Stock Exchange? Why, because Gerald's the clever
one, Gerald's the popular one, the good-looking one, the lucky one,
the county cricketer, the plus three at golf--
WENTWORTH. Oh Lord! I thought you'd get golf into it. I suppose you
were working up to your climax. Poor old Bob is about eighteen at
TOMMY. As a matter of fact, he's a very decent five. And there you
are again. In any other family, Bob would be thought rather a nut.
As it is--
WENTWORTH. As it is, Tommy, there are about thirty-five million
people in England who've never played golf and who would recognize
Bob, if they met him, for the decent English gentleman that he is.
TOMMY. I think you exaggerate, old chap. Golf's been getting
awfully popular lately.
WENTWORTH. Personally I am very fond of Bob.
TOMMY. Oh, so am I. He's an absolute ripper. Still, _Gerald_, you
know--I mean it's jolly bad luck on poor old Bob. Now Paderewski
[Enter GERALD from the garden, a charming figure in a golfing coat
and white flannels. Perhaps he is a little conscious of his charm;
if so, it is hardly his fault, for hero-worship has been his lot
from boyhood. He is now about twenty-six; everything that he has
ever tried to do he has done well; and, if he is rather more
unembarrassed than most of us when praised, his unself-consciousness
is to a stranger as charming as the rest of him. With it all he is
intensely reserved, with the result that those who refuse to
succumb to his charm sometimes make the mistake of thinking that
there is nothing behind it.]
GERALD. Hallo, Wentworth, how are you? All right?
WENTWORTH (getting up and shaking hands). Yes, thanks. How are you?
GERALD. Simply bursting. Have you seen your room and all that sort
WENTWORTH. Yes, thanks.
GERALD. Good. And Tommy's been entertaining you. (To TOMMY) Tommy,
I interrupted your story about Paderewski. I don't think I know it.
(To WENTWORTH) You must listen to this; it may be fairly new.
TOMMY. Don't be an ass. As a matter of fact, we were discussing
something quite serious.
GERALD (to WENTWORTH). How long have you been here?
WENTWORTH. About ten minutes.
GERALD. And Tommy hasn't told you that he did the eighth in one
WENTWORTH. He hasn't really told me yet. He's only mentioned it
once or twice in passing.
TOMMY (modestly). Well, I mean it's bound to appear in the papers,
so naturally one--
GERALD. Oh, it's a great business. Champagne will flow like water
to-night. There will also be speeches.
WENTWORTH. Which reminds me, Gerald, I have to congratulate you.
GERALD. Thank you very much. When you've seen her you'll want to do
TOMMY (looking through the window). Hallo, there's Letty.
GERALD. If you want to tell her about it, run along, Tommy.
TOMMY (moving off). I thought I'd just take her on at putting. [He
GERALD (sitting down). You'll stay till--well, how long can you?
WENTWORTH. I think I can manage till Tuesday. Thanks very much.
Miss Carey is here, of course?
GERALD. Yes, she'll be in directly. She's gone to the station to
WENTWORTH (smiling). And Gerald didn't go with her?
GERALD (smiling). At least six people suggested that Gerald should
go with her. They suggested it very loudly and archly--
WENTWORTH. So Gerald didn't?
GERALD. So Gerald didn't. (After a pause) I can't stand that sort
WENTWORTH. What sort of thing?
GERALD (after a pause). Poor old boy! you've never been in love--
barring the nine or ten times you're just going to tell me about. I
mean never really in love.
WENTWORTH. Don't drag _me_ into it. What is it you can't stand?
GERALD. People being tactful about Pamela and me. ... Aunt Tabitha
asked me yesterday if she might have Pamela for half an hour to do
something or other--as if she were an umbrella, with my initials on
it. ... And somebody else said, "I've quite fallen in love with
your Pamela; I hope you don't mind." _Mind_? I tell you, Wentworth,
my boy, if you aren't in love with Pamela by Tuesday, there'll be
the very deuce of a row. Your electro-plated butter-dish, or
whatever it's going to be, will be simply flung back at you.
WENTWORTH. Well, as long as Miss Pamela understands--
GERALD. Of course she understands. We understand each other.
WENTWORTH (preening himself ). Then I'll do my best. Mind, if she
does happen to reciprocate my feelings, I wash my hands of all
responsibility. (Going towards the staircase) Good-afternoon, Miss
[MISS FARRINGDON is coming slowly down the stairs.]
MISS FARRINGDON. Good-afternoon, Mr. Wentworth. Welcome.
(She must be well over eighty. She was pretty once, and
sharp-tongued; so much you could swear to now. For the rest she is
very, very wise, and intensely interested in life.)
GERALD (going over and kissing her). Good-morning, Aunt Tabitha.
Your chair is waiting for you. (He conducts her to it.)
MISS FARRINGDON. I'm a nasty cross old thing before lunch, Mr.
Wentworth, so I don't come down till afterwards nowadays. Is Gerald
being as charming as usual?
WENTWORTH (smiling). Oh, pretty well.
GERALD (looking at her lovingly and then turning to WENTWORTH).
It's having a very bad effect on her, this morning seclusion. She's
supposed to be resting, but she spends her time trying to think of
nasty things to say about me. The trouble with a mind like Aunt
Tabitha's is that it can't think of anything _really_ nasty.
MISS FARRINGDON. The trouble with Gerald, Mr. Wentworth, is that he
goes about expecting everybody to love him. The result is that they
nearly all do. However, he can't get round _me_.
GERALD. It isn't true, Wentworth; she adores me.
MISS FARRINGDON. He wouldn't be happy if he didn't think so.
WENTWORTH (gracefully). I can sympathize with him there.
GERALD. The slight coolness which you perceive to have arisen
between my Aunt Tabitha and myself is due to the fact that I
discovered her guilty secret a few days ago. For years she has
pretended that her real name was Harriet. I have recently found out
that she was christened Tabitha--or, anyhow, would have been, if
the clergyman had known his job.
MISS FARRINGDON. My great-nephew, Gerald, Mr. Wentworth--
GERALD. _Nephew_, Wentworth. I agreed to waive the "great" a long
WENTWORTH. You'll excuse my asking, but do you never talk to each
other except through the medium of a third person?
MISS FARRINGDON (to GERALD). That's how they prefer to do it in the
Foreign Office. Isn't it, dear?
GERALD. Always, Aunt Tabitha. But really, you know, we both ought
to be talking to Wentworth and flaking after his mother and his
liver--and things like that.
MISS FARRINGDON. Yes, I'm afraid we're rather rude, Mr. Wentworth.
The Farringdons' great fault.
WENTWORTH (protesting). Oh no!
MISS FARRINGDON. How _is_ Mrs. Wentworth?
WENTWORTH. Wonderfully well, thank you, considering her age.
MISS FARRINGDON. Dear me, we met first in 1850.
GERALD. All frills and lavender.
MISS FARRINGDON. And now here's Gerald engaged. Have you seen
WENTWORTH. Not yet. I have been hearing about her from Tommy. He
classes her with the absolute rippers.
GERALD. Good old Tommy!
MISS FARRINGDON. Yes, she's much too good for Gerald.
GERALD. Of course she is, Aunt Tabitha. But if women only married
men who were good enough for them, where should we be? As lots of
young men said to you, in vain--on those afternoons when they read
Tennyson aloud to you.
MISS FARRINGDON. She ought to have married Bob.
WENTWORTH (surprised and amused). Bob? Is Bob good enough for her?
MISS FARRINGDON. She would have made a good wife for Bob.
[Enter suddenly LETTY HERBERT and TOMMY from the garden. LETTY is
an entirely delightful irresponsible girl of the type which might
have shocked Queen Victoria. However, she seems to suit TOMMY. They
are not engaged yet, but she has already that air of proprietorship.]
LETTY. I say, Tommy did the eighth in one. Why, there's Aunt
Harriet. (Going over and kissing her) How are you, darling? Tommy's
done the eighth in one. I know it doesn't mean much to you, but do
say hooray, because he's so bucked about it.
GERALD (to WENTWORTH). Do you know Miss Herbert? Letty, come and
be introduced. Mr. Wentworth--Miss Herbert.
LETTY (shaking hands eagerly). How do you do? I say, Tommy did the
eighth in one. Do you know Tommy--_or_ the eighth?
WENTWORTH. Both, Miss Herbert.
GERALD. To a man who knows both, the performance seems truly
MISS FARRINGDON. I don't know anything about golf, Mr. Todd. But
doing anything in one sounds rather clever. So I say hooray, too.
TOMMY. I wish you'd let me teach you, Miss Farringdon. Lots of
people begin when they're frightfully old.
LETTY (to WENTWORTH). This is one of Tommy's polite days.
GERALD. Mr. Todd's famous old-world courtesy is the talk of many a
MISS FARRINGDON (to TOMMY). Don't you mind them. I _am_ frightfully
old. I am very proud of it. I hope you'll all live to be as old as
GERALD. I only hope we shall be half as nice.
MISS FARRINGDON. Gerald being charming as usual.
GERALD (firmly). I will also add that I hope we shall be kinder to
our great-nephews than some.
LETTY (putting her arm in his). Diddums!
GERALD. Yes, I did. I am very much hurt.
TOMMY. I say, you know, Miss Farringdon, I never meant--
LETTY. I love Tommy when he apologizes.
[Enter SIR JAMES and LADY FARRINGDON from the door to front of the
staircase. SIR JAMES, in a country check-suit, is a man of no
particular brain and no ideas, but he has an unconquerable belief
in himself, and a very genuine pride in, and admiration of, GERALD.
His grey hair is bald on the top, and he is clean-shaven except for
a hint of whisker. He might pass for a retired Captain R. N., and
he has something of the quarter-deck manner, so that even a remark
on the weather is listened to with attention. Neither of his sons
loves him, but GERALD is no longer afraid of him. LADY FARRINGDON
is outwardly rather intimidating, but she never feels so. She
worships GERALD; and would love a good many other people if they
were not a little overawed by her.]
LADY FARRINGDON. Ah, you're here, Mr. Wentworth. How do you do?
WENTWORTH (coming forward). How do you do, Lady Farringdon? How do
you do, Sir James?
SIR JAMES. How are you, Wentworth? Come to see Gerald play for the
GERALD. He's come to see Pamela. Haven't you, Wentworth?
WENTWORTH. I rather hope to see both.
SIR JAMES. Ah, Aunt Harriet, I didn't see you. How are you to-day?
MISS FARRINGDON. Very well, thank you, James. (He goes over to her.)
LADY FARRINGDON. I hope they've shown you your room, Mr. Wentworth,
and made you comfortable? Gerald, darling, you saw that Mr.
Wentworth was all right?
WENTWORTH. Oh yes, that's quite all right, thank you, Lady
LADY FARRINGDON. Let me see, you're in the Blue Room, I think.
LETTY. It's much the nicest room to be in, Mr. Wentworth. There's a
straight way down the water-pipe in case of fire.
GERALD. And a straight way up in case of burglars.
LADY FARRINGDON (fondly). Gerald, dear, don't be so foolish.
SIR JAMES. Gerald, is it true you went round in seventy-two?
GERALD. Yes. Tommy did the eighth in one.
TOMMY (modestly). Awful fluke.
SIR JAMES (casually). Ah--well done. (To GERALD) Seventy-two--
that's pretty good. That's five under bogey, Mr. Wentworth.
LADY FARRINGDON (to WENTWORTH). Gerald has always been so good at
everything. Even as a baby.
TOMMY. He did the ninth in three, Letty. How's that for hot?
SIR JAMES (to WENTWORTH). You must stay till Thursday, if you can,
and see the whole of the Surrey match. It isn't often Gerald gets a
chance of playing for the county now. It's difficult for him to get
away from the Foreign Office. Lord Edward was telling me at the
club the other day--
LETTY (t0 LADY FARRINGDON). Gerald dived off the Monk's Rock this
morning. I'm glad I didn't see him. I should have been horribly
TOMMY (proudly). I saw him.
LETTY. Tommy, of course, slithered down over the limpets in the
LADY FARRINGDON (fondly). Oh, Gerald, how could you?
SIR JAMES (still talking to WENTWORTH). He tells me that Gerald is
a marked man in the Service now.
TOMMY (to LETTY). Do you remember when Gerald--
MISS FARRINGDON (incisively). Let's _all_ talk about Gerald.
(GERALD, who has been listening to all this with more amusement
than embarrassment, gives a sudden shout of laughter.)
GERALD. Oh, Aunt Tabitha, you're too lovely! (He blows her a kiss
and she shakes her stick at him.)
[Enter PAMELA from the door In front of the staircase, tall,
beautiful and serene, a born mother. GERALD carried her off her
feet a month ago, but it is a question if he really touched her
heart--a heart moved more readily by pity than by love.]
PAMELA. Gerald, dear, I'd know your laugh anywhere. Am I too late
for the joke?
GERALD. Hullo, Pamela. Brought Bob with you?
PAMELA. He's just washing London off himself.
LADY FARRINGDON. Pamela, dear, do you know Mr. Wentworth?
PAMELA (shaking hands). How do you do?
LADY FARRINGDON (to WENTWORTH). Miss Carey--Gerald's Pamela.
PAMELA. I've heard so much about you, Mr. Wentworth.
WENTWORTH. And I've heard so much about you, Miss Carey.
PAMELA. That's nice. Then we can start straight off as friends.
LETTY. I suppose you know Tommy did the eighth in one?
PAMELA. Rather. It's splendid!
LETTY. _Do_ say you haven't told Bob.
GERALD. Why shouldn't Bob know?
PAMELA. No, I haven't told him, Letty.
LETTY. Good, then Tommy can tell him.
TOMMY. They do pull my leg, don't they, Miss Farringdon?
[Enter BOB from the outer hall in a blue flannel suit. He has
spoilt any chance he had of being considered handsome by a sullen
expression now habitual. Two years older than Gerald, he is not so
tall, but bigger, and altogether less graceful. He has got in the
way of talking in rather a surly voice, as if he suspected that any
interest taken in him was merely a polite one.]
GERALD. Hullo, Bob; good man.
BOB. Hullo. (He goes up to LADY FARRINGDON and kisses her.) How are
LADY FARRINGDON. It's so nice that you could get away, dear.
BOB. How are you, father? All right?
SIR JAMES. Ah, Bob! Come down to see your brother play for the
PAMELA (quickly). He's come down to see _me_, haven't you, Bob?
BOB. Hullo, Wentworth. Hullo, Letty. I say, I can't shake hands
with you all. (He smacks TOMMY on the back and goes over to Miss
FARRINGDON.) How are you, dear?
MISS FARRINGDON. Very glad to see my elder great-nephew. I was
getting tired of Gerald.
LADY FARRINGDON (protesting). Aunt Harriet, dear.
GERALD (smiling). It's all right, mother. We quite understand each
MISS FARRINGDON. I quite understand Gerald.
BOB. I say, aren't we going to have any tea?
LADY FARRINGDON. It's early yet, dear. Gerald, you'd like to have
it outside, wouldn't you?
GERALD. Oh, rather. What do you say, Wentworth?
WENTWORTH. I never want to be indoors in the country if I can help
SIR JAMES. Quite right, Wentworth--quite right. Gerald, you'll just
have time to take Wentworth round the stables before tea.
GERALD. You'll have to see them officially after church to-morrow.
I don't know if you'd care about a private view now.
SIR JAMES. He must see your new mare. I should like to have his
opinion of her.
WENTWORTH (getting up). I never know what to say to a mare, but I
should like to come.
LETTY. She answers to "Hi!" or to any loud cry.
PAMELA. I'm sure you'll be all right, Mr. Wentworth.
GERALD. There's a way of putting one's head on one side and saying,
"Ah!" Anybody who's seen Tommy at the Royal Academy will know
exactly what I mean.
(GERALD, PAMELA and WENTWORTH move towards the door.)
WENTWORTH (to PAMELA). Ought I to have a straw in my mouth?
GERALD. It's all right, we'll go and see the spaniels first.
WENTWORTH (cheerfully). Oh, I'm all right with dogs.
LETTY (to TOMMY). Come on, Tommy. [They go out behind the others.]
LADY FARRINGDON. Would you like to have tea outside, Aunt Harriet?
MISS FARRINGDON. I'm not too old for that, Mary. Bob will bring me
out. I want to have a word with him while I can. Everybody talks at
once in this house.
SIR JAMES (picking up his hat). How's the City--hey?
BOB. Just as usual.
SIR JAMES. Coming round to the stables?
ROB. Later on, perhaps.
LADY FARRINGDON. Bob is bringing Aunt Harriet along, dear.
SIR JAMES. Ah, yes. [They go out together.]
MISS FARRINGDON. Smoke, Bob, and tell me how horrible the City is.
BOB (lighting a pipe and sitting down). It's damnable, Aunt
MISS FARRINGDON. More damnable than usual?
MISS FARRINGDON. Any particular reason why?
BOB (after a long pause). No.
(MISS FARRINGDON nods to herself and then speaks very casually.)
MISS FARRINGDON. My bankers sent in my pass-book the other day. I
seem to have a deal of money lying idle, as they call it. If
anybody wanted it, I should really be in no hurry to get it back
BOB (awkwardly). Thanks very much. It isn't that. (After a pause)
MISS FARRINGDON. It was a great pity you ever went into the City,
BOB (fiercely). I could have told anybody that.
MISS FARRINGDON (after waiting for him to say something more).
Well, suppose we go into the garden with the others. (She begins to
get up and he goes to help her,) There's nothing you want to tell
BOB (looking away). What would there be?
MISS FARRINGDON. I'm a wise old woman, they say, and I don't talk.
BOB. I don't think you can help me. Er--thanks very much.
MISS FARRINGDON (quite naturally, as she turns towards the door).
If you don't mind giving me your arm.
(As they get to the door they are met by GERALD and PAMELA coming
GERALD. Hullo, Bob, we were just coming back for you.
MISS FARRINGDON. Thoughtful Gerald.
GERALD. Pamela's idea. She thought that the elder members of the
family could discuss life more freely unhampered by the younger
PAMELA. What I really said was, "Where's Bob?"
GERALD. Well, it's the same thing.
MISS FARRINGDON. Bob is looking after me, thank you very much.
[They go out together.]
GERALD (after watching them go, to PAMELA). Stay here a bit. There
are too many people and dogs and things outside. Come and sit on
the sofa and I'll tell you all the news. (He takes her hand and
they go to the sofa together.) What ages you've been away!
PAMELA. An hour and a half. And it need not have been that if you'd
come with me.
GERALD (taking her hand). If I had come with you, I would have held
your hand all the way.
PAMELA. I shouldn't have minded.
GERALD. But just think what would have happened: You would have had
to have driven with one hand down all the hills; we should have had
a smash-up before we got halfway; a well-known society beauty and a
promising young gentleman in the Foreign Office would have been
maimed for life; and Bob would have to have walked here carrying
his portmanteau. Besides, I love you going away from me when you
come back. You've only got to come into the room, and the sun seems
PAMELA. The sun always shines on Gerald.
GERALD. Does it? That's a different sort of sunshine. Not the
gentle caressing September afternoon sunshine which you wear all
round you. (She is looking at him lovingly and happily as he says
this, but she withdraws into herself quickly as he pulls himself up
and says with a sudden change of tone) Dear me, I'm getting quite
poetical, and two minutes ago I was talking to Wentworth about
PAMELA (getting up). Oh, Gerald, Gerald!
GERALD (getting up and smiling at her). Oh, Pamela, Pamela!
PAMELA. I wonder how much you really want me.
GERALD. I'll show you when we're married. I don't think I could
even begin to tell you now.
PAMELA (wistfully). Couldn't you try?
(GERALD catches hold of her suddenly, and holding her tightly to
him, kisses her again and again.)
PAMELA (releasing herself). Oh, Gerald, my darling, you frighten me
GERALD. Did I frighten you then?
PAMELA (happily). Oh, no, no, no, no! (Earnestly) Always want me
very much, Gerald. Always be in need of me. Don't be too successful
without me. However much the sun shines on you, let me make it
gentler and more caressing for you.
GERALD. It is so, darling. Didn't I say so?