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First Plays by A. A. Milne

Part 2 out of 5

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PAMELA. Ah, but I want such a lot of telling.

GERALD (laughing happily as he goes over to the table by the
fireplace and takes a cigarette). Who was the fellow who threw
something into the sea because he was frightened by his own
luck? What shall I throw? (Looking at a presentation clock on the
mantelpiece) That's rather asking for it. In a way it would be
killing two birds with one stone. Oh, Lord, I am lucky!

PAMELA (coming to him and taking his arm). As long as you don't
throw me.

GERALD. Pamela, you're talking rubbish. I talk a good deal myself,
but I do keep within the bounds. Let's go and chatter to Bob about
contangos. I don't know what they are, but they sound extraordinarily
sober.

PAMELA (gently). Poor old Bob!

GERALD (quickly). Why _poor_ old Bob?

PAMELA. He's worried about something. I tried to get him to tell me
as we came from the station, but he wouldn't.

GERALD. Poor old Bob! I suppose things are going up--or down, or
something. Brokerage one-eighth--that's what's worrying him, I
expect.

PAMELA. I think he wants to talk to you about it. Be nice to him,
darling, won't you?

GERALD (surprised). Nice to him?

PAMELA. You know what I mean--sympathetic. I know it's a difficult
relationship--brothers.

GERALD. All relationships are difficult. But after you, he's the
person I love best in the world. (With a laugh) But I don't propose
to fall on his neck and tell him so.

PAMELA (smiling). I know you will help him if you can.

GERALD. Of course I will, though I don't quite see how. (Hopefully)
Perhaps he's only slicing his drives again.

PAMELA. Oh, I love you, Gerald. (Wonderingly) _Do_ I love you, or
am I only just charmed by you?

GERALD. You said you loved me once. You can't go back on that.

PAMELA. Then I love you. And make a century for me on Monday.

GERALD. Well, I'll try. Of course the bowler may be in love too.
But even if I get out first ball, I can say, "Well, anyhow, Pamela
loves me."

PAMELA. Oh, I think I hope you get out first ball.

GERALD. Baby Pamela.

PAMELA. And on Thursday we shall be alone together here, and you've
promised to take me out in the boat for the day.

GERALD. You mean you've promised to let me.

PAMELA. What happy days there are in the world!

[Enter BOB from the garden.]

GERALD. Hullo, Bob. Tea? (He moves towards the door.)

BOB. Cigarettes. (He goes over to the fireplace and fills his
cigarette case.)

GERALD. Still, I expect tea's nearly ready.

PAMELA (going towards door R. at the back). I'll join you; I'm not
going out without a sunshade again. [Exit.]

(There is an awkward silence.)

BOB (to GERALD). I say!

GERALD (turning round). Hullo!

BOB. Just wait a moment.

(GERALD comes back slowly.)

GERALD. I warn you those are rotten cigarettes. (Holds out his own
case)

BOB (taking one). Thanks. (Awkwardly) You're so confoundedly
difficult to get hold of nowadays. Never less than half-a-dozen all
round you.

GERALD (laughing). Good old Bob!

BOB (after lighting a cigarette). I want to talk to you about
something.

GERALD. Well, of course.

BOB (after a pause). You've heard of Marcus, my partner?

GERALD (with the idea of putting himself and BOB more at their
ease). Good old Marcus and Farringdon! It's the most perfect name
for a firm. They sound so exactly as though they could sell you
anything from a share to a shaving-brush. Marcus and Farringdon's
pure badger, two shillings--gilt-edged badger half-a-crown.

BOB (fiercely). I suppose everything is just a pleasant joke to
you.

GERALD (utterly surprised). Bob! Bob, old boy, what's the matter?
(Putting his hand on BOB'S shoulder) I say, Bob, I haven't hurt
you, have I?

BOB (hopelessly). Oh, Jerry, I believe I'm in the devil of a hole.

GERALD. You haven't called me "Jerry" since we were at school.

BOB. You got me out of holes then--damn you! and you were my
younger brother. Oh, Jerry, get me out of this one.

GERALD. But, of course. (Firmly, as if a little nervous of a scene
from BOB) My dear Bob, you're as right as anything. You've got
nothing on earth to worry about. At the worst it's only a question
of money, and we can always put that right somehow.

BOB. I'm not sure that it is only a question of money.

GERALD (frightened). What do you mean? (Turning away with a laugh)
You're talking nonsense.

BOB. Gerald, Marcus is a wrong un. (Fiercely) An out-and-out wrong
un.

GERALD. The only time I saw him he looked like it.

BOB. God knows what he's let me in for.

GERALD. You mean money?

BOB. More than that, perhaps.

GERALD. You mean you're just going bankrupt?

BOB. No. (After a pause) Prosecution.

GERALD. Well, let them prosecute. That ends Marcus. You're well
rid of him.

BOB (miserably). Perhaps it isn't only Marcus.

GERALD (sharply, after this has sunk in). What can they prosecute
you for?

BOB (speaking rapidly). What the devil did they ever send me to the
City for? I didn't want to go. I was never any good at figures. I
loathe the whole thing. What the devil did they want to send me
there for--and shove me on to a wrong un like Marcus? That's his
life, messing about with money in the City. How can I stand out
against a man like that? I never wanted to go into it at all.

GERALD (holding out his cigarette-case). Have another cigarette?
(They each light one, and GERALD sits down in the chair opposite to
him.) Let's look at it calmly. You've done nothing dishonourable, I
know that. That's obvious.

BOB. You see, Jerry, I'm so hopeless at that sort of business.
Naturally I got in the way of leaving things to Marcus. But that's
all. (Resentfully) Of course, that's all.

GERALD. Good. Well, then, you're making much too much fuss about
it. My dear boy, innocent people don't get put into prison
nowadays. You've been reading detective stories. "The Stain on
the Bath Mat," or "The Crimson Sponge." Good Lord! I shall be
coming to _you_ next and saying that _I'm_ going to be put in
prison for selling secret documents to a foreign country. These
things don't happen; they don't really, old boy.

BOB (cheered, but not convinced). I don't know; it looks devilish
bad, what I can make of it.

GERALD. Well, let's see what I can make of it.

BOB (trying not to show his eagerness). I was wondering if you
would. Come up on Monday and we'll have a go at it together. Marcus
has gone, of course. Probably halfway to South America by now.
(Bitterly) Or wherever you go to.

GERALD. Right-o! At least, I can't come on Monday, of course, but
we'll have a go at it on Thursday.

BOB. Why can't you come on Monday?

GERALD. Well, the Surrey match.

BOB (bitterly). I suppose as long as you beat Surrey, it doesn't
matter if I go to prison.

GERALD (annoyed). Oh, shut up about going to prison! There's not
the slightest chance of your going to prison. You know perfectly
well, if there were, that I'd walk on my hands and knees to London
to-night to try and stop it. As it is, I have promised to play for
the county; it's a particularly important match, and I don't think
it's fair to let them down. Anyway, if I did, the whole family
would want to know why, and I don't suppose you want to tell them
that yet.

BOB (mumbling). You could say the Foreign Office had rung you up.

GERALD (earnestly). Really, Bob old boy, I'm sure you're making too
much of it. Dammit! you've done nothing wrong; what is there to
worry about? And if it's only a question of money, we'll manage it
on our heads, somehow. I'll come up directly the match is over. It
may be Tuesday night, with luck.

BOB (grumbling). If the weather's like this, it's bound to last
three days.

GERALD. Then at the worst, I'll come first train Thursday morning.
That I promise. Anyway, why don't you consult Wentworth? He's a
good chap and he knows all about the law. He could probably help
you much more than I could.

BOB. I suppose you think I _like_ talking about it to everybody.

GERALD (getting up and touching BOB gently on the shoulder as he
goes past him). Poor old Bob! But you're as right as anything. I'll
come up by the first train on Thursday and we'll--good Lord!

BOB. What's the matter now?

GERALD. I am a damned fool! Why, of course, we arranged--

BOB (sneeringly). And now you can't come on Thursday, I suppose.

GERALD. Why, you see, I arranged--

BOB. You _must_ keep your promise to the county, but you needn't
keep your promise to me.

GERALD. Yes, but the trouble is I promised Pamela--oh, well, that
will have to go; she'll understand. All right, Bob, that holds.
Directly the match is over I come. And for the Lord's sake, keep
smiling till then.

BOB. It's all very well for _you_. ... I wish you could have--well,
anyhow, I suppose Thursday's better than nothing. You'll see just
how it is then. (Getting up) You won't say anything about it to the
others?

GERALD. Of course not. What about Pamela? Does she know anything?

BOB. She knows that I'm worried about something, but of course she
doesn't know what I've told you.

GERALD. All right, then I won't tell her anything. At least, I'll
just say that bananas remain firm at 127, and that I've got to go
and see my broker about it. (Smiling) Something like that.

(BOB goes towards the garden, while GERALD stops to wait for
PAMELA. At the door he turns round.)

BOB (awkwardly). Er--thanks. [Exit.]

(GERALD throws him a nod, as much as to say, "That's all right." He
stands looking after him, gives a little sigh, laughs and says to
himself, "Poor old Bob!" He is half-sitting on, half-leaning
against the table, thinking it all over, when PAMELA comes in
again.)

PAMELA. I waited for him to go; I knew he wanted to talk to you
about something. Gerald, he is all right, isn't he?

GERALD (taking her hands). Who? Bob? Oh yes, he's all right. So is
Pamela.

PAMELA. Sure?

GERALD. Oh yes, he's all right.

PAMELA. I take rather a motherly interest in Bob, you know. What
was worrying him?

GERALD (smiling). His arithmetic again; compound interest. His
masters are very pleased with his progress in English. And he wants
more pocket-money. He says that fourpence a week doesn't give him
enough scope.

PAMELA (smiling). But he really is all right?

GERALD. Well, I've got to go up on Thursday to see his House
Master--I mean I've got to go up to town on Thursday.

PAMELA (drawing back). Thursday? That was _our_ day, Gerald.

GERALD. Yes, I know; it's a confounded nuisance.

PAMELA (slowly). Yes, it is rather a--nuisance.

GERALD. I'm awfully sorry, darling. I hate it just as much as you
do.

PAMELA. I wonder if you do.

GERALD (shaking his head at her). Oh, woman, woman! And you asked
me to be kind to Bob.

PAMELA. It is for Bob? He really does want you?

GERALD. He thinks I can help him if I go up on Thursday. (Smiling)
We aren't going to quarrel about that.

PAMELA (holding out her hand to him). Come along. Of course we
aren't going to quarrel--I don't think I could quarrel with you for
more than five minutes. Only--you make me wonder sometimes.

GERALD (getting up and taking her arm). What do you wonder about?

PAMELA. Oh--things.

[They go out into the garden together.]

ACT II

[It is a quiet old-fashioned hotel which SIR JAMES and LADY
FARRINGDON patronize in Dover Street on their occasional visits to
London. Their private sitting-room is furnished in heavy early
Victorian style. A couple of gloomy palms help to decorate the
room, on whose walls are engravings of Landseer's masterpieces.]

[MASON, a faithful kindly body, once nurse, now familiar servant,
is at the table arranging flowers, in a gallant attempt to make the
room more cheerful. As she fills each vase she takes it to its
place, steps back to consider the effect, and returns to fill the
next one. GERALD, in London clothes as attractive as ever, but
looking none rather serious, discovers her at work.]

GERALD. Hullo, Nanny, when did you come?

MASON. This morning, sir. Her ladyship telegraphed for me.

GERALD (smiling affectionately at her). Whenever there's any
trouble about, we send for Nanny. I wonder she ever came to London
without you.

MASON. I told her I'd better come, but she wouldn't listen to me.
Dear, dear! there _is_ trouble about now Master Gerald.

GERALD. Yes.

MASON. I thought a few flowers would cheer us up. I said to Mr.
Underhill before I started, "Give me some flowers to take with
me," I said, "so that I can make the place look more homey and
comfortable for her ladyship."

GERALD. And you have. No one like Nanny for that.

MASON (timidly). Is there any news of Master Bob this morning? Of
course, we've all been reading about it in the papers. They're not
going to send him to prison?

GERALD. I'm afraid they are.

MASON. Dear, dear! (She goes on arranging the flowers.) He's not in
prison now?

GERALD. No; he's on bail for the moment. Perhaps he'll be round
here for lunch. But I'm afraid that to-night--

MASON. Even as a baby he was never quite like you, Master Gerald.
Never was there such a little lamb as you. How long will they send
him to prison for?

GERALD. We don't know yet; I expect we shall know this evening.
But there's no doubt which way the case is going.

MASON. Two of the men were making their bets about it over the
supper-table last night. I didn't wait long before giving them a
piece of my mind, I can promise you.

GERALD (turning round sharply). Who were they? Out they go to-morrow.

MASON. That wouldn't be quite fair, would it, sir? They're young
and thoughtless like.

GERALD (to himself rather than to her). After all, it's only what
everybody else has been doing.

MASON. It wouldn't be anything very bad that Master Bob has done?

GERALD (emphatically). No, Nanny. No. Nothing bad; only--stupid.

MASON. I didn't know they put you in prison for being stupid. Some
of us have been lucky.

GERALD. They can put you in prison for everything Nanny--being
stupid or being wise, being bad or being good, being poor or--yes,
or being rich.

MASON (putting her last touches to the flowers). There! Now it
looks much more like what her ladyship's used to. If you aren't
sent to prison for being bad, it doesn't seem to matter so much.

GERALD. Well--it isn't nice, you know.

MASON. There's lots of things that aren't nice in the world. They
haven't come _your_ way yet, and I only hope they never will.

GERALD. I wish they hadn't come Bob's way.

MASON. Ah, Master Bob was born to meet them. Well, I'll go up to
her ladyship now.

GERALD. Oh, are they back?

MASON. Sir James and her ladyship came back from the police-station--

GERALD. The Old Bailey, Nanny.

MASON. They came back about ten minutes ago, Master Gerald. And
went up to their rooms.

GERALD. Tell mother I'm here, will you?

MASON. Yes, Sir.

(She goes out and comes back almost at once with PAMELA.)

MASON. Here's Miss Pamela. (To PAMELA) I was just saying that her
ladyship will be down directly.

GERALD (smiling). Not too directly now, Nanny.

MASON. No, Master Gerald. [Exit.]

GERALD. Pamela! Have you just come up?

PAMELA. Mother and I are staying with Aunt Judith. Oh, Gerald!
Poor, poor Bob!

GERALD. Have you seen him?

PAMELA. He came down to us last week, and he has been writing the
most heart-rending letters.

GERALD. You're a dear to be so good to him.

PAMELA. How can one help it? Oh, Gerald, he _has_ been stupid! How
he could have gone on as he did, hating it all, understanding
nothing, but feeling all the time that things were wrong, and yet
too proud or too obstinate to ask for help--hadn't you any idea,
_any_ of you?

GERALD (awkwardly). You never could get him to talk about the City
at all. If you asked him, he changed the subject.

PAMELA (reproachfully). Ah! but how did you ask him? Lightly?
Jokingly? "Hullo, Rothschild, how's the City getting on?" That sort
of way. You didn't really mind.

GERALD (smiling). Well, if it comes to that, he didn't much mind
how I was getting on at the Foreign Office. He never even said,
"Hullo, Grey, how are Balkans?"

PAMELA. You had plenty of people to say that; Bob was different. I
think I was the first person he really talked to about himself.
That was before I met you. I begged him then to get out of it--
little knowing. I wonder if it would have made any difference if
you had gone up with him on--Oh, well, it doesn't matter now.

GERALD (defensively). What were you going to say?

PAMELA. Nothing. (Looking at him thoughtfully) Poor Gerald! it's
been bad for you too.

GERALD. You're not making it better by suggesting that I've let Bob
down in some way--I don't quite know how.

PAMELA (in distress). Oh, Gerald, don't be angry with me--I don't
want to hurt you. But I can only think of Bob now. You're so--you
want so little; Bob wants so much. Why doesn't he come? I sent a
note round to his rooms to say that I'd be here. Doesn't he have
lunch here? Oh, Gerald, suppose the case is over, and they've taken
him to prison, and I've never said good-bye to him. He said it
wouldn't be over till this evening, but how would he know? Oh, I
can't bear it if they've taken him away, and his only friend never
said good-bye to him.

GERALD. Pamela, Pamela, don't be so silly. It's all right, dear; of
course I'm not angry with you. And of course Bob will be here. I
rang up Wentworth an hour ago, and he said the case can't end till
this evening.

PAMELA (recovering). Sorry, Gerald, I'm being rather a fool.

GERALD (taking her hands). You're being--(There is a knock at the
door, and he turns round impatiently) Oh, what is it?

[Enter MASON.]

MASON (handing note). There's a telephone message been waiting for
you, sir. And her ladyship will be down directly.

GERALD. Thank you, Nanny. [Exit MASON.]
(To PAMELA) May I? (He reads it) Oh, I say, this is rather--this is
from Wentworth. He's taken Bob round to lunch with him.

PAMELA (going towards the door). I must go, Gerald. Mr. Wentworth
won't mind.

GERALD (stopping her). Look here, dear, it's going to be quite all
right. Wentworth rang up from his rooms; they're probably halfway
through lunch by now, and they'll be round in ten minutes.

PAMELA. Supposing he doesn't come? Supposing he didn't get my note?
It may be waiting for him in his rooms now.

GERALD. All right, then, darling, I'll ring him up.

PAMELA (determined). No. I'll do it. Yes, Gerald, I know how to
manage him. It isn't only that I must see him myself, but if--
(bravely) if the case is to be over this evening, and if what we
fear is going to happen, he must--oh, he must say good-bye to his
mother too.

GERALD. Well, if that's all, I'll tell him.

PAMELA. He mightn't come for you. He will for me; No, Gerald; I
mean it. None of you understand him. I do.

GERALD. But supposing he's already started and you miss him?

PAMELA. I'll telephone to him at his rooms. Oh, _don't_ stand there
talking--

GERALD (opening the door for her). Oh, well! But I think you're--
[She has gone.]

(He walks up and down the room absently, picking up papers and
putting them down. MASON comes in and arranges the sofa R.)

MASON. Miss Pamela gone, Master Gerald?

GERALD. She's coming back.

[Enter LADY FARRINGDON.]

LADY FARRINGDON. Oh, Gerald, I hoped you'd be here.

GERALD (kissing her). I've only just got away. I couldn't get round
to the court. (Seeing her to the sofa) You're all right, dear?
[Exit MASON.]

LADY FARRINGDON. Now you're here, Gerald. I telegraphed for Mason.
She's such a comfort. How nicely she's done the flowers! (She sits
down on the sofa.)

GERALD. I'm so glad you sent for her.

LADY FARRINGDON. I don't think your father--

[Enter SIR JAMES.]

SIR JAMES. Ah, Gerald, I had to take your mother out. She was--ah--
overcome. They have adjourned, I suppose?

GERALD. Yes. The judge is summing up directly after lunch. Bob will
be round here when he's had something to eat.

SIR JAMES (looking at his watch). Well, I suppose we ought to try
and eat something.

LADY FARRINGDON. I couldn't touch anything.

GERALD (going over to her). Poor mother!

LADY FARRINGDON. Oh, Gerald, couldn't _you_ do anything? I'm sure
if you'd gone into the witness-box, or told the judge--Oh, why
didn't you go to the Bar, and then you could have defended him. You
would have been so much better than that stupid man.

SIR JAMES. I must say I didn't at all like his tone. He's
practically making out my son to be an idiot.

GERALD. Well, it's really the only line he could take.

SIR JAMES. What do you mean? Bob is far from being an idiot.

LADY FARRINGDON. We always knew he wasn't as clever as Gerald,
dear.

GERALD. You see, Bob either understood what was going on or he
didn't. If he did, then he's in it as much as Marcus. If he didn't--
well, of course we know that he didn't. But no doubt the jury will
think that he ought to have known.

SIR JAMES. The old story, a knave or a fool, eh?

GERALD. The folly was in sending him there.

SIR JAMES (angrily). That was Parkinson's fault. It was he who
recommended Marcus to me. I shall never speak to that man again.
(To his wife) Mary, if the Parkinsons call, you are out; remember
that.

GERALD. He never ought to have gone into business at all. Why
couldn't you have had him taught farming or estate agency or
something?

SIR JAMES. We've got to move with the times, my boy. Land is played
out as a living for gentlemen; they go into business nowadays. If
he can't get on there, it's his own fault. He went to Eton and
Oxford; what more does he want?

LADY FARRINGDON (to GERALD). You must remember he isn't clever like
you, Gerald.

GERALD. Oh, well, it's no good talking about it now. Poor old Bob!
Wentworth thinks--

SIR JAMES. Ah, now why couldn't Wentworth have defended him?
That other man--why, to begin with, I don't even call him a
gentleman.

GERALD. Wentworth recommended him. But I wish he had gone to
Wentworth before, as soon as he knew what was coming.

SIR JAMES. Why didn't he come to _me_? Why didn't he come to _any_
of us? Then we might have done something.

LADY FARRINGDON. Didn't he even tell _you_, Gerald?

GERALD (awkwardly). Only just at the last. It was--it was too late
to do anything then. It was the Saturday before he was--arrested.
(To himself) "The Saturday before Bob was arrested"--what a way to
remember anything by!

LADY FARRINGDON (to GERALD). Bob is coming round, dear?

GERALD. Yes. Wentworth's looking after him. Pamela will be here
too.

SIR JAMES. We haven't seen much of Pamela lately. What does _she_
think about it?

GERALD (sharply). What do you mean?

SIR JAMES. The disgrace of it. I hope it's not going to affect your
engagement.

GERALD. Disgrace? what disgrace?

SIR JAMES. Well, of course, he hasn't been found guilty yet.

GERALD. What's that got to do with it? What does it matter what a
lot of rotten jurymen think of him? _We_ know that he has done
nothing disgraceful.

LADY FARRINGDON. I'm sure Pamela wouldn't think anything like that
of your brother, dear.

GERALD. Of course she wouldn't. She's been a perfect angel to Bob
these last few weeks. What does it matter if he does go to prison?

SIR JAMES. I suppose you think I shall enjoy telling my neighbours,
when they ask me what my elder boy is doing, that he's--ah--in
prison.

GERALD. Of course you won't enjoy it, and I don't suppose Bob will
enjoy it either, but that's no reason why we should make it worse
for him by pretending that he's a disgrace to the family. (Half to
himself) If anything we've done has helped to send him to prison
then it's we who should be ashamed.

SIR JAMES. I don't profess to know anything about business, but I
flatter myself that I understand my fellow men. If I had been in
Bob's place, I should have pretty soon seen what that fellow Marcus
was up to. I don't want to be unfair to Bob; I don't think that any
son of mine would do a dishonourable action; but the Law is the
Law, and if the Law sends Bob to prison I can't help feeling the
disgrace of it.

GERALD. Yes, it's rough on you and mother.

LADY FARRINGDON. I don't mind about myself, dear. It's you I feel
so sorry for--and Bob, of course.

GERALD. I don't see how it's going to affect _me_.

SIR JAMES. In the Foreign Office one has to be like Caesar's wife--
above suspicion.

GERALD. Yes, but in this case it's Caesar's brother-in-law's
partner who's the wrong un. I don't suppose Caesar was so
particular about _him_.

LADY FARRINGDON. I don't see how Caesar comes into it at all.

SIR JAMES (kindly). I spoke in metaphors, dear.

[The door opens and WENTWORTH appears.]

GERALD. Come in, Wentworth. Where's Bob?

WENTWORTH. I dropped him at his rooms--a letter or something he
wanted to get. But he'll be here directly. (Nervously) How do you
do, Lady Farringdon? How do you do, Sir James?

SIR JAMES. Ah, Wentworth.

(There is an awkward silence and nobody seems to know what to say.)

WENTWORTH. Very hot this morning.

SIR JAMES. Very hot. Very.

(There is another awkward silence.)

WENTWORTH. This is quite a good hotel. My mother always stays here
when she's in London.

SIR JAMES. Ah, yes. We use it a good deal ourselves.

LADY FARRINGDON. How is Mrs. Wentworth?

WENTWORTH. She's been keeping very well this summer, thank you.

LADY FARRINGDON. I'm so glad.

(There is another awkward silence.)

GERALD (impatiently). Oh, what's the good of pretending this is a
formal call, Wentworth? Tell us about Bob; how's he taking it?

WENTWORTH. He doesn't say much. He had lunch in my rooms--you got
my message. He couldn't bear the thought of being recognized by
anyone, so I had something sent up.

GERALD (realizing what it must feel like). Poor old Bob!

WENTWORTH. Lady Farringdon, I can't possibly tell you what I feel
about this, but I should like to say that all of us who know Bob
know that he couldn't do anything dishonourable. Whatever the
result of the trial, we shall feel just the same towards him.

(LADY FARRINGDON is hardly able to acknowledge this, and SIR JAMES
goes across to comfort her.)

SIR JAMES (helplessly). There, there, Mary.

GERALD (seizing his opportunity, to WENTWORTH). What'll he get?

WENTWORTH (quietly). Three months--six months. One can't be certain.

GERALD (cheering up). Thank the Lord! I imagined awful things.

SIR JAMES (his ministrations over). After all, he hasn't been found
guilty yet; eh, Wentworth?

WENTWORTH. Certainly, Sir James. With a jury there's always hope.

SIR JAMES. What do you think yourself?

WENTWORTH. I think he has been very foolish; whether the Law will
call it criminally foolish I should hardly like to say. I only wish
I had known about it before. He must have suspected something--
didn't he say anything to anybody?

SIR JAMES. He told Gerald, apparently. For some reason he preferred
to keep his father in the dark.

GERALD (eagerly). That was the day you came down to us, Wentworth;
five days before he was arrested. I asked him to tell you, but he
wouldn't.

WENTWORTH. Oh, it was too late then. Marcus had absconded by that
time.

GERALD (earnestly). Nobody could have helped him then, could they?

WENTWORTH. Oh no.

GERALD (to himself). Thank God.

SIR JAMES (to LADY FARRINGDON as he looks at his watch). Well,
dear, I really think you ought to try to eat something.

LADY FARRINGDON. I couldn't, James. (Getting up) But you must have
_your_ lunch.

SIR JAMES. Well, one oughtn't to neglect one's health, of course.
But I insist on your having a glass of claret anyhow, Mary. What
about you, Gerald?

GERALD. I'm all right. I'll wait for Bob. I've had something.

LADY FARRINGDON. You won't let Bob go without seeing us?

GERALD. Of course not, dear.

(He goes with them to the door and sees them out.)

GERALD (coming back to WENTWORTH). Three months. By Jove! that's
nothing.

WENTWORTH. It's long enough for a man with a grievance. It gives
him plenty of time to brood about it.

GERALD (anxiously). Who has Bob got a grievance against particularly?

WENTWORTH. The world.

GERALD (relieved). Ah! Still, three months, Wentworth. I could do
it on my head.

WENTWORTH. You're not Bob. Bob will do it on his heart.

GERALD. We must buck him up, Wentworth. If he takes it the right
way, it's nothing. I had awful thoughts of five years.

WENTWORTH. I'm not the judge, you know. It may be six months.

GERALD. Of course. How does he decide? Tosses up for it? Three
months or six months or six years, it's all the same to him, and
there's the poor devil in the dock praying his soul out that he'll
hit on the shortest one. Good Lord! I'm glad I'm not a judge.

WENTWORTH (drily). Yes; that isn't quite the way the Law works.

GERALD. Oh, I'm not blaming the Law. (Smiling) Stick to it,
Wentworth, by all means. But I should make a bad judge. I should
believe everything the prisoner said, and just tell him not to do
it again.

[BOB comes in awkwardly and stops at the door.]

WENTWORTH (getting up). Come along, Bob. (Taking out his case) Have
a cigarette.

BOB (gruffly). No, thanks. (He takes out his pipe.)

GERALD (brightly but awkwardly). Hullo, Bob, old boy.

BOB. Where's Pamela? She said she'd be here. (He sits down in the
large armchair.)

GERALD. If she said she'd be here, she will be here.

BOB (with a grunt). 'M! (There is an awkward silence.)

BOB (angrily to GERALD). Why don't you say something? You came
here to say good-bye to me, I suppose--why don't you say it?

WENTWORTH. Steady, Bob.

GERALD (eagerly). Look here, Bob, old son, you mustn't take it too
hardly. Wentworth thinks it will only be three months--don't you,
Wentworth? You know, we none of us think any the worse of you for
it.

BOB. Thanks. That will console me a lot in prison.

GERALD. Oh, Bob, don't be an old fool. You know what I mean. You
have done nothing to be ashamed of, so what's the good of brooding
in prison, and grousing about your bad luck, and all that sort of
thing? If you had three months in bed with a broken leg, you'd try
and get some sort of satisfaction out of it--well, so you can now if
you try.

WENTWORTH (after waiting for BOB to say something). There's a good
deal in that, Bob, you know. Prison is largely what you make it.

BOB. What do either of you know about it?

GERALD. Everything. The man with imagination knows the best and
the worst of everything.

BOB (fiercely). Imagination? You think _I_ haven't imagined it?

GERALD. Wentworth's right. You can make what you like of it. You
can be miserable anywhere, if you let yourself be. You can be happy
anywhere, if you try to be.

WENTWORTH (to lead him on). I can't quite see myself being actually
happy in prison, Gerald.

GERALD. I could, Wentworth, I swear I could.

BOB. He'd get popular with the warders; he'd love that.

GERALD (smiling). Silly old ass! But there are lots of things one
can do in prison, only no one ever seems to think of them. (He gets
interested and begins to walk up and down the room.) Now take this
solitary confinement there's so much fuss about. If you look at it
the right way, there's nothing in it at all.

WENTWORTH. A bit boring, perhaps.

GERALD. Boring? Nonsense. You're allowed one book a week from the
prison library, aren't you?

WENTWORTH. You know, you mustn't think that, because I'm a
barrister, I know all about the inside of a prison.

GERALD. Well, suppose you are allowed one, and you choose a French
dictionary, and try to learn it off by heart before you come out.
Why, it's the chance of a lifetime to learn French.

WENTWORTH. Well, of course, if you _could_ get a French dictionary--

GERALD. Well, there'd be _some_ book there anyway. If it's a Bible,
read it. When you've read it, count the letters in it; have little
bets with yourself as to which man's name is mentioned most times
in it; put your money on Moses and see if you win. Anything like
that. If it's a hymn-book, count how many of the rhymes rhyme and
how many don't; try and make them _all_ rhyme. Learn 'em by heart;
I don't say that that would be particularly useful to you in the
business world afterwards, but it would be amusing to see how
quickly you could do it, how many you could keep in your head at
the same time.

WENTWORTH. This is too intellectual for me; my brain would go in no
time.

GERALD. You aren't doing it all day, of course; there are other
things. Physical training. Swedish exercises. Tell yourself that
you'll be able to push up fifty times from the ground before you
come out. Learn to walk on your hands. Practise cart-wheels, if you
like. Gad! you could come out a Hercules.

WENTWORTH. I can't help feeling that the strain of improving myself
so enormously would tell on me.

GERALD. Oh, you'd have your games and so on to keep you bright and
jolly.

WENTWORTH (sarcastically). Golf and cricket, I suppose?

GERALD. Golf, of course; I'm doubtful about cricket. You must have
another one for cricket, and I'm afraid the warder wouldn't play.
But golf, and squash rackets, and bowls, and billiards--and croquet--

WENTWORTH (in despair). Oh, _go_ on!

GERALD. Really, you're hopeless. What the Swiss Family Wentworth
would have done if they'd ever been shipwrecked, I can't think.
Don't you _ever_ invent _any_thing for yourself? (Excitedly) Man
alive! you've got a hymn-book and a piece of soap, what more do you
want? You can play anything with that. (Thoughtfully) Oh, I forgot
the Olympic games. Standing long jump. And they talk about the
boredom of it!

WENTWORTH (thoughtfully). You've got your ideas, Gerald. I wonder
if you'd act up to them.

GERALD. One never knows, but honestly I think so. (There is silence
for a little.)

BOB. Is that all?

GERALD. Oh, Bob, I know it's easy for me to talk--

BOB. I wonder you didn't say at once: "Try not to think about it."
You're always helpful.

GERALD. You're a little difficult to help, you know Bob.
(Awkwardly) I thought I might just give you an idea. If I only
could help you, you know how--

BOB (doggedly). I asked you to help me once.

GERALD (distressed). Oh, I didn't realize then--besides, Wentworth
says it would have been much too late--didn't you, Wentworth?

WENTWORTH (taking up his hat). I think I must be getting along now.
(Holding out his hand) Good-bye, Bob. I can only say, "The best of
luck," and--er--whatever happens, you know what I feel about it.

BOB (shaking his hand). Good-bye, Wentworth, and thanks very much
for all you've done for me.

WENTWORTH (hurriedly). That's all right. (TO GERALD, quietly, as he
passes him on the way to the door) You must bear with him, Gerald.
Naturally he's--(Nodding) Good-bye. [He goes out.]

GERALD (going back to BOB). Bob--

BOB. Why doesn't Pamela come? I want Pamela.

GERALD (speaking quickly). Look here, think what you like of me for
the moment. But you must listen to what I've got to say. You can
imagine it's somebody else speaking Pamela, if you like--Pamela
would say just the same. You _must not_ go to prison and spend your
time there brooding over the wrongs people have done to you, and the
way the world has treated you, and all that sort of thing. You
simply must make an effort--and--and--well, come out as good a man
as you went in. I know it's easy for me to talk, but that doesn't
make it any the less true. Oh, Bob, be a--be a Sportsman about it!
You can take it out of me afterwards, if you like, but don't take it
out of me now by--by not bucking up just because I suggest it.

BOB. I want Pamela. Why doesn't she come?

(PAMELA has come in while he is saying this.)

PAMELA. Here I am, Bob.

BOB (getting up). At last! I began to be afraid you were never
coming.

PAMELA. You couldn't think that. I told you I was coming.

GERALD. Look here, Pamela, we've got to cheer old Bob up.

BOB (almost shouting). Good Lord! can't you see that I don't want
_you_? I want Pamela alone.

PAMELA (putting her hand on GERALD'S shoulder). Gerald, dear, you
mustn't be angry with Bob now. Let me be alone with him.

GERALD (with a shrug). All right. Poor old Bob! (He goes over to his
brother and holds out his hand.) Good-bye, old boy, and--good luck.

BOB (coldly). Good-bye.

GERALD. Shake hands, Bob.

BOB. No. I've been nothing to you all your life. You could have
saved me from this, and you wouldn't help me.

GERALD (angrily). Don't talk such rot!

PAMELA (coming between them). Gerald, dear, you'd better go. Bob
won't always feel like this towards you, but just now--

GERALD (indignantly). Pamela, you don't believe this about me?

PAMELA. I can't think of you, dear, now; I can only think of
Bob. [GERALD gives a shrug and goes out.]

BOB. Pamela.

PAMELA (coming to him). Yes, dear?

BOB. Come and sit near me. You're the only friend I've got in the
world.

PAMELA. You know that isn't true.

(She sits down in the armchair and he sits on the floor at her
feet.)

BOB. If it hadn't been for you, I should have shot myself long ago.

PAMELA. That would have been rather cowardly, wouldn't it?

BOB. I am a coward. There's something about the Law that makes
people cowards. It's so--what's the word? It goes on. You can't stop
it, you can't explain to it, you can't even speak to it.

PAMELA. But you can stand up to it. You needn't run away from it.

BOB. I think I would have broken my bail and run, if it hadn't been
for you. But you would have thought less of me if I had. Besides, I
shouldn't have seen you again.

PAMELA. Bob, you mustn't just do, or not do, things for _me_; you
must do them because of yourself. You must be brave because it's
you, and honourable because it's you, and cheerful because it's you.
You mustn't just say, "I won't let Pamela down." You must say, "I
won't let myself down." You must be proud of yourself.

BOB (bitterly). I've been taught to be proud of myself, haven't I?
Proud of myself! What's the family creed? "I believe in Gerald. I
believe in Gerald the Brother. I believe in Gerald the Son. I
believe in Gerald the Nephew. I believe in Gerald the Friend, the
Lover, Gerald the Holy Marvel." There may be brothers who don't mind
that sort of thing, but not when you're born jealous as I was. Do
you think father or mother cares a damn what happens to me? They're
upset, of course, and they feel the disgrace for themselves, but the
beloved Gerald is all right, and that's all that really matters.

PAMELA. Bob, dear, forget about Gerald now. Don't think about him;
think about yourself.

BOB. I shan't think about myself or about Gerald when I'm in prison.
I shall only think of you.

PAMELA. Will it help you to think of me?

BOB. You're the only person in the world I've got to think of. I
found you first--and then Gerald took you from me. Just as he's
always taken everything from me.

PAMELA. No, no. Not about Gerald again. Let's get away from Gerald.

BOB. You can't. He's a devil to get away from. (There is silence for
a little.) When I was a small boy, I used to pray very hard on the
last day of the holidays for a telegram to come saying that the
school had been burnt down. ... It never had.

PAMELA. Oh, Bob!

BOB. I suppose I've got about ten minutes more. But nothing will
happen.

PAMELA (in a hopeless effort to be hopeful). Perhaps after all you might--

BOB. Why can't the world end suddenly now? It wouldn't matter to
anybody. They wouldn't know; they wouldn't have time to understand.
(He looks up and sees her face of distress and says) All right,
Pamela, you needn't worry. I'm going through with it all right.

PAMELA. You must keep thinking of the afterwards. Only of the
afterwards. The day when you come back to us.

BOB. Will that be such a very great day? (PAMELA is silent.)
Triumphant procession through the village. All the neighbours
hurrying out to welcome the young squire home. Great rush in the
City to offer him partnerships.

PAMELA (quietly). Do you want to go back to the City?

BOB. Good God, no!

PAMELA. Then why are you being sarcastic about it? Be honest with
yourself, Bob. You made a mess of the City. Oh, I know you weren't
suited to it, but men have had to do work they didn't like before
now, and they haven't _all_ made a mess of it. You're getting your
punishment now--much more than you deserve, and we're all sorry for
you--but men have been punished unfairly before now and they have
stood it. You'll have your chance when you come back; I'll stand by
you for one, and you've plenty of other friends; but we can't help a
man who won't help himself, you know.

Bon (sulkily). Thank you, Pamela.

PAMELA (shaking him). Bob, Bob, don't be such a baby. Oh, I want to
laugh at you, and yet my heart just aches for you. You're just a
little boy, Bob (with a sigh), on the last day of his holidays.

BOB (after a pause). Are you allowed to have letters in prison?

PAMELA. I expect so. Every now and then.

BOB. You will write to me?

PAMELA. Of course, dear; whenever I may.

BOB. I suppose some beast will read it. But you won't mind that,
will you?

PAMELA. No, dear.

BOB. I'll write to you whenever they let me. That will be something
to look forward to. Will you meet me when I come out?

PAMELA (happily). Yes, Bob. So very gladly.

BOB. I'll let you know when it is. I expect I'll be owed to.

PAMELA. You must just think of that day all the time. Whenever you
are unhappy or depressed or angry, you must look forward to that
day.

BOB. You'll let it be a fine day, won't you? What shall we do?

PAMELA (rather startled). What?

BOB. What shall we do directly after I come out?

PAMELA. Well, I suppose we--I mean you--well, we'll come up to
London together, I suppose, and you'll go to your old rooms. At
least, if you still have them.

BOB (instantly depressed again). My old rooms. That'll be lively.

PAMELA. Well, unless you'd rather--

BOB. I'm not going home, if that's what you mean. The prodigal son,
and Gerald falling on my neck.

PAMELA (stroking his head). Never mind Gerald, Baby. (He turns round
suddenly and seizes her hands.)

BOB (in a rush). Whatever happens, you mustn't desert me when I come
out. I want you. I've got to know you're there, waiting for me. I'm
not making love to you, you're engaged to somebody else, but you
were my friend before you were his, and you've got to go on being my
friend. I want you--I want you more than he does. I'm not making
love to you; you can marry him if you like, but you've got to stand
by me. I want you.

PAMELA. Haven't I stood by you?

BOB (in a low voice). You've been an angel. (He kisses her hands and
then gets up and walks away from her; with his back to her, looking
out of the window, he says) When are you marrying him?

PAMELA (taken by surprise). I--I don't know, Bob. We _had_ thought
about--but, of course, things are different now. We haven't talked
about it lately.

BOB (casually). I wonder if you'd mind promising me something.

PAMELA. What is it?

BOB. Not to get married till after I come out. (After waiting for
PAMELA to speak) You will have about forty years together
afterwards. It isn't much to ask.

PAMELA. Why should it make a difference to you?

BOB. It would.

PAMELA. It isn't a thing I like making promises about. But I don't
suppose for a moment--Would it help you very much, Bob?

BOB (from the bottom of his heart). I don't want Gerald's wife to be
waiting for me when I come out; I want my friend.

PAMELA (standing up and facing him as he turns round towards her).
All right, Bob, she shall be there.

(They stand looking at each other intently for a moment. Voices are
heard outside, and SIR JAMES, LADY FARRINGDON, and GERALD come into
the room.)

ACT III

[SCENE.--In the hall at SIR JAMES FARRINGDON'S again. It is autumn
nom and there is a fire burning.]

[LETTY and TOMMY are on the sofa side by side, holding hands, and
looking the picture of peaceful happiness. Indeed, TOMMY has his
mouth open slightly.]

LETTY. It's your turn to say something, Tommy.

TOMMY. Oh, I say.

LETTY. Now I suppose it's my turn.

TOMMY. I say, you know, I feel too idiotically happy to say
anything. I feel I want to talk poetry, or rot like that, only--
only I don't quite know how to put it.

LETTY (sympathetically). Never mind, darling.

TOMMY. I say, you do understand how frightfully--I say, what about
another kiss? (They have one.)

LETTY. Tommy, I just adore you. Only I think you might have been a
little more romantic about your proposal.

TOMMY (anxious). I say, do you--

LETTY. Yes. Strictly speaking, I don't think anybody ought to
propose with a niblick in his hand.

TOMMY. It just sort of came then. Of course I ought to have put it
down.

LETTY. You dear! ... "Letting his niblick go for a moment, Mr. T.
Todd went on as follows: 'Letitia, my beloved, many moons have waxed
and waned since first I cast eyes of love upon thee. An absence of
ducats, coupled with the necessity of getting my handicap down to
ten, has prevented my speaking ere this. Now at last I am free. My
aged uncle--'"

TOMMY (lovingly). I say, you do pull my leg. Go on doing it always,
won't you?

LETTY. Always, Tommy. We're going to have fun, always.

TOMMY. I'm awfully glad we got engaged down here.

LETTY. We've had lovely times here, haven't we?

TOMMY. I wonder what Gerald will say. A bit of a surprise for him. I
say, it would be rather fun if we had a double wedding. You and I,
and Gerald and Pamela.

LETTY (getting up in pretended indignation). Certainly not!

TOMMY (following her). I say, what's the matter?

LETTY (waving him back). Go away. Unhand me villain.

TOMMY. I say, what's up?

LETTY. I want a wedding of my own. I've never been married before,
and perhaps I shall never be married again, and I'm going to have a
wedding all to myself. I don't mind your being there, but I'm not
going to have crowds of other brides and bridegrooms taking up the
whole aisle--said she, seizing her engagement-ring and--Oh, bother!
I haven't got one yet.

(TOMMY rushes up and takes her in his arms. At this moment GERALD
comes in by the garden door. He stops on seeing them, and then goes
quickly on to the door in front of the staircase.)

GERALD (as he passes them). Came in and went tactfully out again.

TOMMY (as LETTY frees herself). I say, Gerald, old man.

GERALD (stopping at the door, turning round and coming back in the
same business-like way). Returned hopefully.

TOMMY (in confusion). I say, we're engaged.

GERALD (looking at them happily). Oh, hoo-ray!

LETTY. Do say you're surprised.

GERALD. Awfully, awfully pleased, Letty. Of course, when I saw you--
er--thinking together in a corner--By Jove, I _am_ bucked. I did
hope so much.

LETTY. You dear!

GERALD. I feel very fatherly. Bless you, my children.

TOMMY. We shall have about tuppence a year, but Letty doesn't mind
that.

GERALD (to LETTY). You'll have to make him work. (Thoughtfully) He's
too old for a caddy.

LETTY. Couldn't you find him something in the Foreign Office? He
knows the French for pen and ink.

TOMMY. What's ink?

LETTY. At least, he knows the French for pen.

GERALD. Oh, we'll find something. Only I warn you, Tommy, if you
dare to get married before Pamela and me, there'll be trouble.

TOMMY. Why don't we ever see Pamela now?

GERALD (gaily). She is coming, my children--_mes enfants_, as Tommy
will say when he gets his job as ribbon starcher to the French
ambassador. To-morrow, no less. I've just had a letter. Lord, I
haven't seen her for months.

LETTY. She's come back?

GERALD. Yes. Egypt knows her no more. The Sphinx is inconsolable.
To-morrow at 3.30 she comes; I shall go and meet her.

TOMMY. I say, won't she be surprised about Letty and me!

GERALD. She'll be as bucked as I am. (Looking from one to the other)
Has anything else frightfully exciting happened to you since lunch?
Because, if not, I've got some more news.

LETTY. What is it? I love news.

GERALD. All ready? Then one, two, three: Bob is coming this
afternoon.

LETTY and TOMMY together. No! Rot!

GERALD (Singing to the tune of "Here we go gathering nuts and may").
Oh, Bob is coming this afternoon, this afternoon, this afternoon!
Oh, Bob is coming this afternoon, all on an autumn morning! Now
then, all together.

(They join hands and march up the hall and back again, singing
together.)

ALL TOGETHER (waving imaginary hats). Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!

TOMMY. It doesn't make sense, you know, coming back in the afternoon
on an autumn morning.

GERALD. Who cares for sense?

LETTY (squeezing his arm). Oh, Gerald, I _am_ glad. But I thought he
had another week or so.

GERALD. They always let you out early, you know, if you're good. We
knew he was coming soon, but we didn't quite know when. I've just
had a telegram.

LETTY. Poor Bob! he must have had a time.

GERALD. What does it matter? It's over now.

TOMMY (struck by an idea). I say, this puts a bit of a stopper on
our news.

GERALD (pulled up suddenly by this). Oh!

LETTY (going over and taking TOMMY'S arm). We'll go to a house where
they _do_ make a fuss of us, Tommy. (Very politely) Good-bye, Mr.
Farringdon, and thank you for a very pleasant Friday.

GERALD. Poor darlings! it's rather bad luck for you. Did I announce
my news too soon? I'm awfully sorry.

LETTY. It wasn't your fault; you were a dear.

GERALD. As a matter of fact, it will be rather lucky, you know. It
will give us something to talk about when Bob comes. (Smiling)
Thanks very much for arranging it.

LETTY. Poor old Bob! I wonder what it feels like coming out of
prison.

GERALD. Rotten. Now, for the Lord's sake, Tommy, be tactful.

LETTY (to GERALD). I think he'd be safer if he wasn't. Tommy's
rather dangerous when he's tactful.

GERALD (thoughtfully). Yes, there _is_ that.

TOMMY. It's all the same to me. Only just let me know which you
want.

GERALD. Well, as long as you don't overdo it. Don't rub it in that
he's just left prison, and--don't rub it out.

TOMMY. I suppose it would be quite safe to ask him to pass the
mustard?

GERALD (laughing). Good old Tommy!

LETTY. You'd better talk to me all the time, and then you'll be all
right.

GERALD. We'll make it go between us. And, of course, Pamela will
help to-morrow. Hooray for Pamela! It makes me quite envious seeing
you young people together. By the way, I interrupted you just now.

LETTY. You did rather.

GERALD. Well, I absolutely refuse to go away now. But, of course, if
you're longing to show each other the stables or anything--(with a
wave of the hand) pray show. Or try anywhere else. Save for Aunt
Tabitha's room upstairs and the hall down here, the whole house is
at your disposal.

LETTY (sitting down firmly). Then I shall stay here. Isn't Aunt Mary
back yet?

GERALD. They are probably still eating. It's the very latest
millionaire from London, so they're having the lunch of their
lives, I expect. Afterwards father will put him at his ease by
talking about crops. (Picking up a book and settling himself
comfortably in front of the fire) Tommy, if you can't find a book,
sing or something.

LETTY. Oh, come on, Tommy.

[She jumps up and goes out of the door in front of the staircase.
TOMMY following her.]

(Left alone, GERALD closes his book with a slam. He stands up and
takes the telegram out of his pocket and reads it again. He suddenly
catches sight of MISS FARRINGDON in the gallery shove, calls out
"Hullo!" and goes up the stairs to meet her.)

GERALD (as he goes). You're just the person I wanted, Aunt Tabitha.
I'm full of news. (He kisses her at the top of the stairs.) How are
you, dear? (He offers her his arm.)

MISS FARRINGDON. If I had wanted help, down the stairs, Gerald, my
maid could have given it me.

GERALD. Yes, but your maid wouldn't have enjoyed giving it you; I
do.

MISS FARRINGDON. Charming Gerald. (She comes down the stairs on his
arm.)

GERALD. No, happy Gerald.

MISS FARRINGDON. Is that part of the news?

GERALD. It's all because of the news.

(He arranges her in her chair by the fire and sits on the
coffin-stool near her.)

MISS FARRINGDON. I heard Mr. Todd and Letty just now, so I suppose I
shan't be the first to hear it. What a pity!

GERALD. Ah, but they don't count.

MISS FARRINGDON. Why not?

GERALD. Well, that's part of the news. They've just got engaged.

MISS FARRINGDON. In my young days they'd have been engaged a long
time ago. When are we going to see Pamela again?

GERALD. That's more of the news. She's coming down to-morrow.

MISS FARRINGDON. That will save you a lot in stamps.

GERALD (laughing). Aunt Tabitha, you're a witch. How did you know?

MISS FARRINGDON. Know what?

GERALD. That Pamela and I haven't been writing to each other.

MISS FARRINGDON (very innocently). Haven't you?

GERALD. No. You see--oh, I hate discussing Pamela with anyone, but
you're different.

MISS FARRINGDON. I always like that sort of compliment best, Gerald.
The unintended sort.

GERALD. I think, you know, Pamela felt that Bob's doing to prison
might make a difference. I don't mean that she didn't like the
disgrace for herself, but that she was afraid that I mightn't like
it for her; and so she went away, and beyond a letter or two at the
start there hasn't been a Pamela.

MISS FARRINGDON. But Gerald went on being successful?

GERALD. Oh, Aunt Tabitha, Aunt Tabitha, if ever I were going to be
conceited--and I don't think I am really--you'd soon stop it,
wouldn't you? I wonder if you _do_ know me as well as you think. You
think I'm all outside, don't you, and inside there's nothing?

MISS FARRINGDON. Oh, you've got brains, I'll grant you that. You're
the first Farringdon that's had any. Of the men, of course.

GERALD. Oh, brains--I don't mean brains. But you think that
everything only touches me on the surface, and that nothing ever
goes deep inside. You don't believe I ever loved Pamela; you don't
believe I love her now. You don't believe I've got a heart at all.

MISS FARRINGDON. Well, you've never shown it. You've shown a lot of
delightful things which silly people mistake for it--but that's all.

GERALD (curtly). No, I've never shown my heart to anybody. Some
people can't. (Gently) Perhaps I'll show it to Pamela on my wedding-day.

MISS FARRINGDON. Dear me, have I been wrong all these years? I
shouldn't like to think that. (After a pause) Any more news?

GERALD (taking his thoughts off PAMELA). Yes. Now _this_ time, Aunt
Tabitha, you'll really be as pleased as I am.

MISS FARRINGDON. I wonder.

GERALD. Oh yes, you will, because it's about your favourite--Bob.

MISS FARRINGDON. So Bob's my favourite? I'm learning a good many
things to-day.

GERALD. He's coming back this afternoon.

MISS FARRINGDON. Poor Bob! I'm glad he's finished with that part of
it.

GERALD. You think he's got the worst part coming? (Smiling at her)
Aunt Tabitha, have you got any influence with your nephew?

MISS FARRINGDON. You or Bob? (GERALD smiles and shakes his head.)
Oh, you mean James?

GERALD. It seems hard to realize that one's father is anybody else's
nephew, but you _are_ his aunt, and--Oh, don't let him do anything
stupid about Bob.

MISS FARRINGDON. Bob's his own master; he's old enough to look after
himself.

GERALD. Yes, but he's got in the way of being looked after by other
people. I wish _you_ would look after him and tell him what to do.
It's going to be difficult for him. I expect he'll want to get away
from all of us for a bit. Where's he going, and what's he going to
do?

MISS FARRINGDON (after a pause). When did you say Pamela was coming
here?

GERALD. To-morrow. _She'll_ help, of course.

MISS FARRINGDON. Gerald, you've been very nice to me always; I don't
know why I've been rather unkind to you sometimes.

GERALD. What an idea! You know I've loved our little skirmishes.

MISS FARRINGDON. That's because you've been happy, and haven't
minded one way or another. But if ever you were in trouble, Gerald,
I don't think I should be unsympathetic.

GERALD. You dear, of course you wouldn't. But why do you say that
now, just when I _am_ so happy?

MISS FARRINGDON (getting up slowly). I'm feeling rather an old woman
to-day. I think I'll go and lie down.

GERALD (jumping up). I'll ring for your maid.

MISS FARRINGDON. No, no; I'm not going upstairs, and I don't want a
maid when I've got a great big nephew. Come and tuck me up on
the sofa in the drawing-room; I shall be quite happy there.

(She puts her hand on his arm, and they go together towards the
door in front of the staircase.)

MISS FARRINGDON. Poor Gerald!

GERALD (laughing). Why poor? [They go out together.]

[The door on the right at the back opens quietly and BOB comes in.
He stands there for a moment looking at the hall, and then speaks
over his shoulder to somebody behind him.]

BOB. It's all right, there's nobody here.

PAMELA. I wonder where Gerald is.

BOB. You're sure he's down here?

PAMELA. Yes, I had a letter from him; he told me he was going to be.

BOB (going up to her). Pamela, you can't see him alone.

PAMELA. I must. You can see him afterwards, but I must see him alone
first. Poor Gerald!

BOB. He never really loved you.

PAMELA. I don't think he did really, but it will hurt him.

BOB (eagerly). Say you're not sorry for what you're doing.

PAMELA. Aren't I doing it?

BOB. Say you love _me_ and not Gerald. Say you really love me, and
it's not just because you are sorry for me.

PAMELA. Oh, I have so much in my heart for you, Bob. I'm glad I'm
marrying you. But you must always love me, and want me as you
want me now.

BOB (seizing her is his arms). By God! you'll get that.
(He kisses her fiercely.)

PAMELA (satisfied). Oh, Bob! Oh, Bob! I'm glad I found you at last.
(She goes away from him and stands looking into the fire, one hand
on the mantelpiece.)

BOB. Shall I go and look for Gerald?

PAMELA (looking into the fire). Yes. No. He'll come.

BOB. You won't let him talk you round?

PAMELA (looking up at him in surprise). Oh no; I'm quite safe now.

BOB. I can never thank you for all you've done, for all you've been
to me. When we are out of this cursed country, and I have you to
myself, I will try to show you. (She says nothing, and he walks
restlessly about the room. He picks up a hat and says) Hullo,
Tommy's here.

PAMELA (quickly). I don't want to see him, I don't want to see
anybody. We must just tell Gerald and then go.

BOB. Anybody might come at any moment. You should have let me write
as I wanted to. Or waited till he came back to London.

PAMELA. We've given up being cowards. Perhaps you'd better try and
find him. We'll only tell Gerald. If we see the others, we'll just
have to make the best of it.

BOB (moving off towards the door in front of the staircase). All
right. If I find him I'll send him in here. [He goes out.]

(PAMELA drops into a chair and remains looking at the fire. GERALD,
coming down from the gallery above, suddenly catches sight of her.)

GERALD (rushing down the stairs). Pamela! Why, Pamela! (Excitedly)
Why are you--You said tomorrow. Pamela, you said--Never mind, you're
here. Oh, bless you! (PAMELA has got up to meet him, and he is now
standing holding her hands, and looking at her happily.) Pamela's
here; all's right with the world. (He leans forward to kiss her, but
she stops him.)

PAMELA (nervously). No, no; I've something to tell you, Gerald.

GERALD. I've got a thousand things to tell _you_.

PAMELA. Bob's here.

GERALD (excited). Bob? Did you come down with him?

PAMELA. Yes.

GERALD. I had a telegram, but it didn't say--Did you meet him? Why
didn't he tell us? Where is he?

PAMELA. He just went to look for you.

GERALD. I'll soon find him.

(He turns away to go after BOB, but PAMELA stops him.)

PAMELA. Gerald!

GERALD (turning round). Yes.

PAMELA. Never mind Bob for the moment. I wanted to see you alone.

GERALD (coming back quickly). Of course. Hang Bob! Come on the sofa
and tell me everything. Jove! it's wonderful to see you again;
you've been away for years.

(He takes her hand and tries to lead her towards the sofa, but she
stops.)

PAMELA. Gerald, you're making it very hard for me; I've got
something to tell you.

GERALD (afraid suddenly and speaking sharply). What do you mean?

PAMELA. Oh, don't look at me like that--I know it will hurt you, but
it won't be more than that. I want you to release me from my
promise.

GERALD. What promise?

PAMELA (in a low voice). My promise to marry you.

GERALD. I don't understand. Why?

PAMELA (bravely). I want to marry Bob.

(Keeping his eyes on her all the time, GERALD moves slowly away from
her.)

GERALD (to himself). Bob! Bob! But you knew Bob first.

PAMELA. Yes.

GERALD. And then you promised to marry me. You couldn't have been in
love with him. I don't understand.

PAMELA (sadly). I don't understand either, but that's how it's
happened.

GERALD. And to think how I've been throwing you in Bob's way, and
wanting you and him to be fond of each other. (Fiercely) _That_
didn't make you think that I didn't love you?

PAMELA (faltering). I--I don't--you didn't--

GERALD. I was so confident of you. That was your fault. You made me.

PAMELA. I think you could have made me love you if you hadn't been
so confident.

GERALD. I trusted you. You had told me. _I_ knew I should never
change, and I thought I knew _you_ wouldn't.

PAMELA. I was wrong. I never did love you.

GERALD. Then why did you say--

PAMELA (looking at him rather wistfully). You're rather charming,
Gerald, you know, and you--

GERALD (turning away from her furiously). _Damn_ charming! That's
what you all say. I'm sick of it! You think that if a man's
charming, that's the end of him, and that all he's good for is to
amuse a few old ladies at a tea party. I'm sick of it! The rude
rough man with the heart of gold--that's the only sort that can have
a heart at all, according to some of you.

PAMELA (utterly surprised by this). Gerald!

GERALD. I'm sorry, Pamela. Of course you wouldn't understand. But we
were just talking. (With a sudden disarming smile) I don't know
whether an apology is overdoing the charm?

PAMELA (in distress). Oh, Gerald, you couldn't really have loved me;
you don't really now. Of course, it will hurt you, but you'll soon
get over it. Oh, what's the good of my talking like this? I've never
really known you; I don't know you now.

GERALD (quietly). It's no good now, anyway. (He walks away from her
and looks out through the windows at the back.) Just tell me one or
two things. Were you in love with him when he went to prison?

PAMELA. I don't know--really I don't know. I was so dreadfully sorry
for him all that time before, and I felt so very friendly towards
him, so very--oh, Gerald, so motherly. And I wanted to be wanted so
badly, and you didn't seem to want me in that way. That was why,
when he had gone, I went right away from you, and asked you not to
write to me; I wanted to think it all out--alone.

GERALD. But you wrote to Bob?

PAMELA. Oh, Gerald, he wanted it so badly.

GERALD. I'm sorry.

PAMELA. I wrote to him and he wrote to me. I met him when he came
out--he told me when to come. I suppose I had decided by then; we
came down here to tell you. I had to come at once.

GERALD. You do love him, Pamela? It isn't just pity?

PAMELA. I do, Gerald; I think I found that out this afternoon.
(Timidly) Say you don't hate me very much.

GERALD. I wish to God I could. ... What are you and Bob going to do?

PAMELA. Canada, as soon as we can. I've got friends there. We've a
little money between us. Bob ought to have done it a long time ago.
(Coming up to him) Just do one more nice thing for me before we go.

GERALD (moving away from her on pretence of getting a cigarette).
What is it?

PAMELA. Bob will want to see you before he goes.

GERALD. I don't want to see him.

PAMELA. Ah, but you must.

GERALD. What have we got to say to each other?

PAMELA. I don't know, but I feel you must see him. Otherwise he'll
think that he ran away from you.

GERALD (with a shrug). All right. You'll go back to London at once,
I suppose?

PAMELA. Yes. We hired a car. We left it outside at the gates. We
didn't want to see anybody but you, if possible.

GERALD. Father and mother are out. Aunt Harriet knows--oh, and
Tommy and Letty--that Bob was coming to-day; nobody else. But I
can make up something. We'll keep Tommy and Letty out of it for
the moment. Of course, they'll all have to know in the end.

PAMELA. We'll write, of course.

GERALD. Yes. Tommy and Letty are engaged, by the way.

PAMELA. Oh! (Understanding how he must feel about it) Oh, Gerald!
(She makes a movement towards him, but he takes no notice.) I'll
send Bob to you; he's waiting outside, I expect. (Timidly) Good-bye,
Gerald.

GERALD (still with his back to her). Good-bye, Pamela.

PAMELA. Won't you--

GERALD (from the bottom of his heart). Go away, go away! I can't
bear the sound of your voice; I can't bear to look at you. Go away!

PAMELA. Oh, Gerald! [She goes out.]

(GERALD looks up as she goes out, and then looks quickly down again.
When BOB comes in he is still resting with his arm on the
mantelpiece looking into the fire.)

GERALD (looking up). Hullo.

BOB. Hullo. (After a pause) Is that all you've got to say?

GERALD. I've just seen Pamela.

BOB (trying not to show his eagerness). Well?

GERALD. Well--isn't that enough?

BOB. What do you mean?

GERALD (bitterly). Do you want me to fall on, your neck, and say
take her and be happy?

BOB. You never loved her.

GERALD. That's a lie, and anyhow we won't discuss it. She's going to
marry you, and that's an end of it.

BOB (very eagerly). She _is_ going to?

GERALD (sharply). Don't you know it?

BOB (mumbling). Yes, but she might--Ah, you couldn't charm her away
from me this time.

GERALD (with an effort). I don't know what you mean by "_this_
time." I think we'd better leave Pamela out of it altogether. She's
waiting for you outside. Last time I offered to shake hands with
you, you had some fancied grievance against me, and you wouldn't;
now if there's any grievance between us, it's on _my_ side. (Holding
out his hand) Good-bye, Bob, and--quite honestly--good luck.

BOB (ignoring the hand). Magnanimous Gerald!

(GERALD looks at him in surprise for a moment. Then he shrugs his
shoulders, turns round, and goes back to the mantelpiece, and takes
a cigarette from the box there.)

GERALD. I'm tired of you, Bob. If you don't want me, I don't want
you. (He sits down in a chair and lights his cigarette.)

BOB. And now I suppose you're thoroughly pleased with yourself,
and quite happy.

GERALD (looking at him in absolute wonder). Happy? You fool!
(Something in BOB'S face surprises him, and he gets up and says)
Why do you suddenly hate me like this?

BOB (with a bitter laugh). Suddenly!

GERALD (almost frightened). Bob!

BOB (letting the jealousy that has been pent up for years come out
at last). You're surprised! Surprised! You would be. You've never
stopped to think what other people are thinking; you take it for
granted that they all love you, and that's all you care about. Do
you think I liked playing second fiddle to you all my life? Do you
think I've never had any ambitions of my own? I suppose you thought
I was quite happy being one of the crowd of admirers round you, all
saying, "Oh, look at Gerald, isn't he wonderful?"

GERALD (astounded). Bob, I had no idea--I never dreamt--

BOB. They thought something of me when I was young. When I first
went to school they thought something of me. I daresay even _you_
thought something of me then; I could come back in the holidays and
tell you what school was like, and what a lot they thought of me.
They didn't think much of me when _you_ came; you soon put a stop to
that. I was just young Farringdon's brother then, and when we came
home together, all the talk was of the wonderful things _Gerald_
had done. It was like that at Eton; it was like that at Oxford. It's
always been like that. I managed to get away from you a bit after
Oxford, but it went on just the same. "How do you do, Mr.
Farringdon? Are you any relation to Gerald Farringdon?" (With the
utmost contempt) And you actually thought I liked that; you thought
I enjoyed it. You thought I smiled modestly and said, "Oh yes, he's
my brother, my young brother; isn't he wonderful?"

GERALD (hardly able to realise it). And you've felt like this for
years? (To himself) For years!

BOB (not noticing him). And that wasn't enough for you. They got
you into the Foreign Office--they could have got me there. They
could have put me into the Army (Almost shouting) Aren't I the
eldest son? But no, it didn't matter about the eldest son--never
mind about him; put him in the City, anywhere as long as he's out of
the way. If we have any influence, we must use it for Gerald--the
wonderful Gerald.

GERALD. If this is an indictment, it's drawn against the wrong
person.

BOB (more quietly). Then at last I found a friend; somebody who took
me for my own sake. (Bitterly) And like a damned fool I brought her
down here, and she saw _you_. I might have known what would happen.

GERALD. Pamela!

BOB. Yes, and you took her. After taking everything you could all
your life, you took _her_. She was Bob's friend--that was quite
enough. She must be one more in the crowd of admirers round you.
So you took her. (Triumphantly) Ah, but I got her back in the end.
I've got her now--and I think I'm square, Gerald.

GERALD. Yes, I think you're square now.

BOB (rather jauntily, as he leans back against the end of the sofa
and feels for his cigarette-case). I seem to have surprised you
rather.

GERALD. You've thought like that about me for years and you've
never said anything? You've felt like that about Pamela and you've
never said anything?

BOB. I've been thinking it over, particularly these last few months--
in prison, Gerald. You have a lot of time for thinking in prison.
Oh, I know; you advised me to stand on my head and waggle my legs in
the air--something like that. You were full of brilliant ideas. I
had a better idea--I _thought_.

GERALD (realising his state of mind). My God, what a time you must

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