Part 2 out of 2
chair, and leans her elbows on the table.]
JOY. I hate him! Pig!
ROSE. [Who has come to clear the tea things.] Did you call, Miss?
JOY. Not you!
ROSE. [Motionless.] No, Miss!
JOY. [Leaning back and tearing the flower.] Oh! do hurry up, Rose!
ROSE. [Collects the tea things.] Mr. Dick's coming down the path!
Aren't I going to get you to do your frock, Miss Joy?
ROSE. What will the Missis say?
JOY. Oh, don't be so stuck, Rose!
[ROSE goes, but DICK has come.]
DICK. Come on the river, Joy, just for half an hour, as far as the
kingfishers--do! [Joy shakes her head.] Why not? It 'll be so
jolly and cool. I'm most awfully sorry if I worried you this
morning. I didn't mean to. I won't again, I promise. [Joy slides a
look at him, and from that look he gains a little courage.] Do come!
It'll be the last time. I feel it awfully, Joy.
JOY. There's nothing to hurt you!
DICK. [Gloomily.] Isn't there--when you're like this?
JOY. [In a hard voice.] If you don't like me, why do you follow me
DICK. What is the matter?
JOY. [Looking up, as if for want of air.] Oh! Don't!
DICK. Oh, Joy, what is the matter? Is it the heat?
JOY. [With a little laugh.] Yes.
DICK. Have some Eau de Cologne. I 'll make you a bandage. [He
takes the Eau de Cologne, and makes a bandage with his handkerchief.]
It's quite clean.
JOY. Oh, Dick, you are so funny!
DICK. [Bandaging her forehead.] I can't bear you to feel bad; it
puts me off completely. I mean I don't generally make a fuss about
people, but when it 's you----
JOY. [Suddenly.] I'm all right.
DICK. Is that comfy?
JOY. [With her chin up, and her eyes fast closed.] Quite.
DICK. I'm not going to stay and worry you. You ought to rest.
Only, Joy! Look here! If you want me to do anything for you, any
JOY. [Half opening her eyes.] Only to go away.
[DICK bites his lips and walks away.]
I didn't mean that; will you get me some water-irises for this
DICK. Won't I? [He goes to the hollow tree and from its darkness
takes a bucket and a boat-hook.] I know where there are some
[JOY stays unmoving with her eyes half closed.]
Are you sure you 're all right. Joy? You 'll just rest here in the
shade, won't you, till I come back?--it 'll do you no end of good. I
shan't be twenty minutes.
[He goes, but cannot help returning softly, to make sure.]
You're quite sure you 're all right?
[JOY nods. He goes away towards the river. But there is no
rest for JOY. The voices of MRS. GWYN and LEVER are heard
JOY. [With a gesture of anger.] Hateful! Hateful!
[She runs away.]
[MRS. GWYN and LEVER are seen approaching; they pass the tree,
MRS. GWYN. But I don't see why, Maurice.
LEVER. We mean to sell the mine; we must do some more work on it,
and for that we must have money.
MRS. GWYN. If you only want a little, I should have thought you
could have got it in a minute in the City.
LEVER. [Shaking his head.] No, no; we must get it privately.
MRS. GWYN. [Doubtfully.] Oh! [She slowly adds.] Then it isn't
such a good thing!
[And she does not look at him.]
LEVER. Well, we mean to sell it.
MRS. GWYN. What about the people who buy?
LEVER. [Dubiously regarding her.] My dear girl, they've just as
much chance as we had. It 's not my business to think of them.
There's YOUR thousand pounds----
MRS. GWYN. [Softly.] Don't bother about my money, Maurice. I don't
want you to do anything not quite----
LEVER. [Evasively.] Oh! There's my brother's and my sister's too.
I 'm not going to let any of you run any risk. When we all went in
for it the thing looked splendid; it 's only the last month that we
've had doubts. What bothers me now is your Uncle. I don't want him
to take these shares. It looks as if I'd come here on purpose.
MRS. GWYN. Oh! he mustn't take them!
LEVER. That 's all very well; but it 's not so simple.
MRS. GWYN. [Shyly.] But, Maurice, have you told him about the
LEVER. [Gloomily, under the hollow tree.] It 's a Board secret.
I'd no business to tell even you.
MRS. GWYN. But he thinks he's taking shares in a good--a permanent
LEVER. You can't go into a mining venture without some risk.
MRS. GWYN. Oh yes, I know--but--but Uncle Tom is such a dear!
LEVER. [Stubbornly.] I can't help his being the sort of man he is.
I did n't want him to take these shares; I told him so in so many
words. Put yourself in my place, Molly: how can I go to him and say,
"This thing may turn out rotten," when he knows I got you to put your
money into it?
[But JOY, the lost shadow, has come back. She moves forward
resolutely. They are divided from her by the hollow tree; she
is unseen. She stops.]
MRS. GWYN. I think he ought to be told about the selling; it 's not
LEVER. What on earth made him rush at the thing like that? I don't
understand that kind of man.
MRS. GWYN. [Impulsively.] I must tell him, Maurice; I can't let him
take the shares without----
[She puts her hand on his arm.]
[Joy turns, as if to go back whence she came, but stops once
LEVER. [Slowly and very quietly.] I did n't think you'd give me
MRS. GWYN. I don't think I quite understand.
LEVER. If you tell the Colonel about this sale the poor old chap
will think me a man that you ought to have nothing to do with. Do
you want that?
[MRS. GWYN, giving her lover a long look, touches his sleeve.
JOY, slipping behind the hollow tree, has gone.]
You can't act in a case like this as if you 'd only a principle to
consider. It 's the--the special circumstances.
MRS. GWYN. [With a faint smile.] But you'll be glad to get the
money won't you?
LEVER. By George! if you're going to take it like this, Molly
MRS. GWYN. Don't!
LEVER. We may not sell after all, dear, we may find it turn out
MRS. GWYN. [With a shiver.] I don't want to hear any more. I know
women don't understand. [Impulsively.] It's only that I can't bear
any one should think that you----
LEVER. [Distressed.] For goodness sake don't look like that, Molly!
Of course, I'll speak to your Uncle. I'll stop him somehow, even if
I have to make a fool of myself. I 'll do anything you want----
MRS. GWYN. I feel as if I were being smothered here.
LEVER. It 's only for one day.
MRS. GWYN. [With sudden tenderness.] It's not your fault, dear. I
ought to have known how it would be. Well, let's go in!
[She sets her lips, and walks towards the house with LEVER
following. But no sooner has she disappeared than JOY comes
running after; she stops, as though throwing down a challenge.
Her cheeks and ears are burning.]
[After a moment MRS. GWYN reappears in the opening of the wall.]
MRS. GWYN. Oh! here you are!
JOY. [Breathlessly.] Yes.
MRS. GWYN. [Uncertainly.] Where--have you been? You look
dreadfully hot; have you been running?
MRS. GWYN. [Looking at her fixedly.] What's the matter--you 're
trembling! [Softly.] Are n't you well, dear?
JOY. Yes--I don't know.
MRS. GWYN. What is it, darling?
JOY. [Suddenly clinging to her.] Oh! Mother!
MRS. GWYN. I don't understand.
JOY. [Breathlessly.] Oh, Mother, let me go back home with you now
MRS. GWYN. [Her face hardening.] Why? What on earth----
JOY. I can't stay here.
MRS. GWYN. But why?
JOY. I want to be with you--Oh! Mother, don't you love me?
MRS. GWYN. [With a faint smile.] Of course I love you, Joy.
JOY. Ah! but you love him more.
MRS. GWYN. Love him--whom?
JOY. Oh! Mother, I did n't--[She tries to take her Mother's hand,
but fails.] Oh! don't.
MRS. GWYN. You'd better explain what you mean, I think.
JOY. I want to get you to--he--he 's--he 'snot----!
MRS. GWYN. [Frigidly.] Really, Joy!
JOY. [Passionately.] I'll fight against him, and I know there's
something wrong about----
MRS. GWYN. About what?
JOY. Let's tell Uncle Tom, Mother, and go away.
MRS. GWYN. Tell Uncle--Tom--what?
JOY. [Looking down and almost whispering.] About--about--the mine.
MRS. GWYN. What about the mine? What do you mean? [Fiercely.]
Have you been spying on me?
JOY. [Shrinking.] No! oh, no!
MRS. GWYN. Where were you?
JOY. [Just above her breath.] I--I heard something.
MRS. GWYN. [Bitterly.] But you were not spying?
JOY. I was n't--I wasn't! I didn't want--to hear. I only heard a
little. I couldn't help listening, Mother.
MRS. GWYN. [With a little laugh.] Couldn't help listening?
JOY. [Through her teeth.] I hate him. I didn't mean to listen, but
I hate him.
MRS. GWYN. I see. Why do you hate him?
[There is a silence.]
JOY. He--he----[She stops.]
MRS. GWYN. Yes?
JOY. [With a sort of despair.] I don't know. Oh! I don't know!
But I feel----
MRS. GWYN. I can't reason with you. As to what you heard, it 's--
JOY. It 's not that. It 's--it 's you!
MRS. GWYN. [Stonily.] I don't know what you mean.
JOY. [Passionately.] I wish Dad were here!
MRS. GWYN. Do you love your Father as much as me?
JOY. Oh! Mother, no-you know I don't.
MRS. GWYN. [Resentfully.] Then why do you want him?
JOY. [Almost under her breath.] Because of that man.
MRS. GWYN. Indeed!
JOY. I will never--never make friends with him.
MRS. GWYN. [Cuttingly.] I have not asked you to.
JOY. [With a blind movement of her hand.] Oh, Mother!
[MRS. GWYN half turns away.]
Mother--won't you? Let's tell Uncle Tom and go away from him?
MRS. GWYN. If you were not, a child, Joy, you wouldn't say such
JOY. [Eagerly.] I'm not a child, I'm--I'm a woman. I am.
MRS. GWYN. No! You--are--not a woman, Joy.
[She sees joy throw up her arms as though warding off a blow,
and turning finds that LEVER is standing in the opening of the
LEVER. [Looking from face to face.] What's the matter? [There is
no answer.] What is it, Joy?
JOY. [Passionately.] I heard you, I don't care who knows. I'd
LEVER. [Impassively.] Ah! and what did I say that was so very
JOY. You're a--a--you 're a--coward!
MRS. GWYN. [With a sort of groan.] Joy!
LEVER. [Stepping up to JOY, and standing with his hands behind him--
in a low voice.] Now hit me in the face--hit me--hit me as hard as
you can. Go on, Joy, it'll do you good.
[Joy raises her clenched hand, but drops it, and hides her
Why don't you? I'm not pretending!
[Joy makes no sign.]
Come, joy; you'll make yourself ill, and that won't help, will it?
[But joy still makes no sign.]
[With determination.] What's the matter? now come--tell me!
JOY. [In a stifled, sullen voice.] Will you leave my mother alone?
MRS. GWYN. Oh! my dear Joy, don't be silly!
JOY. [Wincing; then with sudden passion.] I defy you--I defy you!
[She rushes from their sight.]
MRS. GWYN. [With a movement of distress.] Oh!
LEVER. [Turning to MRS. GWYN with a protecting gesture.] Never
mind, dear! It'll be--it'll be all right!
[But the expression of his face is not the expression of his
The curtain falls.
It is evening; a full yellow moon is shining through the
branches of the hollow tree. The Chinese lanterns are alight.
There is dancing in the house; the music sounds now loud, now
soft. MISS BEECH is sitting on the rustic seat in a black
bunchy evening dress, whose inconspicuous opening is inlaid with
white. She slowly fans herself.
DICK comes from the house in evening dress. He does not see
DICK. Curse! [A short silence.] Curse!
MISS BEECH. Poor young man!
DICK. [With a start.] Well, Peachey, I can't help it
[He fumbles off his gloves.]
MISS BEECH. Did you ever know any one that could?
DICK. [Earnestly.] It's such awfully hard lines on Joy. I can't get
her out of my head, lying there with that beastly headache while
everybody's jigging round.
MISS BEECH. Oh! you don't mind about yourself--noble young man!
DICK. I should be a brute if I did n't mind more for her.
MISS BEECH. So you think it's a headache, do you?
DICK. Did n't you hear what Mrs. Gwyn said at dinner about the sun?
[With inspiration.] I say, Peachey, could n't you--could n't you
just go up and give her a message from me, and find out if there 's
anything she wants, and say how brutal it is that she 's seedy; it
would be most awfully decent of you. And tell her the dancing's no
good without her. Do, Peachey, now do! Ah! and look here!
[He dives into the hollow of the tree, and brings from out of it
a pail of water in which are placed two bottles of champagne,
and some yellow irises--he takes the irises.]
You might give her these. I got them specially for her, and I have
n't had a chance.
MISS BEECH. [Lifting a bottle.] What 's this?
DICK. Fizz. The Colonel brought it from the George. It 's for
supper; he put it in here because of--[Smiling faintly]--Mrs. Hope,
I think. Peachey, do take her those irises.
MISS. BEECH. D' you think they'll do her any good?
DICK. [Crestfallen.] I thought she'd like--I don't want to worry
her--you might try.
[MISS BEECH shakes her head.]
MISS BEECH. The poor little creature won't let me in.
DICK. You've been up then!
MISS BEECH. [Sharply.] Of course I've been up. I've not got a
stone for my heart, young man!
DICK. All right! I suppose I shall just have to get along somehow.
MISS BEECH. [With devilry.] That's what we've all got to do.
DICK. [Gloomily.] But this is too brutal for anything!
MISS BEECH. Worse than ever happened to any one!
DICK. I swear I'm not thinking of myself.
MISS BEECH. Did y' ever know anybody that swore they were?
DICK. Oh! shut up!
MISS BEECH. You'd better go in and get yourself a partner.
DICK. [With pale desperation.] Look here, Peachey, I simply loathe
all those girls.
MISS BEECH. Ah-h! [Ironically.] Poor lot, are n't they?
DICK. All right; chaff away, it's good fun, isn't it? It makes me
sick to dance when Joy's lying there. Her last night, too!
MISS BEECH. [Sidling to him.] You're a good young man, and you 've
got a good heart.
[She takes his hand, and puts it to her cheek.]
DICK. Peachey--I say, Peachey d' you think there 's--I mean d' you
think there'll ever be any chance for me?
MISS BEECH. I thought that was coming! I don't approve of your
making love at your time of life; don't you think I 'm going to
DICK. But I shall be of age in a year; my money's my own, it's not
as if I had to ask any one's leave; and I mean, I do know my own
MISS BEECH. Of course you do. Nobody else would at your age, but
DICK. I would n't ask her to promise, it would n't be fair when
she 's so young, but I do want her to know that I shall never change.
MISS BEECH. And suppose--only suppose--she's fond of you, and says
she'll never change.
DICK. Oh! Peachey! D' you think there's a chance of that--do you?
MISS BEECH. A-h-h!
DICK. I wouldn't let her bind herself, I swear I wouldn't.
[Solemnly.] I'm not such a selfish brute as you seem to think.
MISS BEECH. [Sidling close to him and in a violent whisper.] Well--
have a go!
DICK. Really? You are a brick, Peachey!
[He kisses her.]
MISS BEACH. [Yielding pleasurably; then remembering her principles.]
Don't you ever say I said so! You're too young, both of you.
DICK. But it is exceptional--I mean in my case, is n't it?
[The COLONEL and MRS. GWYN are coming down the lawn.]
MISS BEECH. Oh! very!
[She sits beneath the tree and fans herself.]
COLONEL. The girls are all sitting out, Dick! I've been obliged to
dance myself. Phew!
[He mops his brow.]
[DICK swinging round goes rushing off towards the house.]
[Looking after him.] Hallo! What's the matter with him? Cooling
your heels, Peachey? By George! it's hot. Fancy the poor devils in
London on a night like this, what? [He sees the moon.] It's a full
moon. You're lucky to be down here, Molly.
MRS. GWYN. [In a low voice.] Very!
MISS BEECH. Oh! so you think she's lucky, do you?
COLONEL. [Expanding his nostrils.] Delicious scent to-night! Hay
[He seats himself between them.]
A shame that poor child has knocked up like this. Don't think it was
the sun myself--more likely neuralgic--she 's subject to neuralgia,
MRS. GWYN. [Motionless.] I know.
COLONEL. Got too excited about your coming. I told Nell not to keep
worrying her about her frock, and this is the result. But your Aunt
--you know--she can't let a thing alone!
MISS BEECH. Ah! 't isn't neuralgia.
[MRS. GWYN looks at her quickly and averts her eyes.]
COLONEL. Excitable little thing. You don't understand her, Peachey.
MISS BEECH. Don't I?
COLONEL. She's all affection. Eh, Molly? I remember what I was
like at her age, a poor affectionate little rat, and now look at me!
MISS BEECH. [Fanning herself.] I see you.
COLONEL. [A little sadly.] We forget what we were like when we were
young. She's been looking forward to to-night ever since you wrote;
and now to have to go to bed and miss the, dancing. Too bad!
MRS. GWYN. Don't, Uncle Tom!
COLONEL. [Patting her hand.] There, there, old girl, don't think
about it. She'll be all right tomorrow.
MISS BEECH. If I were her mother I'd soon have her up.
COLONEL. Have her up with that headache! What are you talking
MISS BEECH. I know a remedy.
COLONEL. Well, out with it.
MISS BEECH. Oh! Molly knows it too!
MRS. GWYN. [Staring at the ground.] It's easy to advise.
COLONEL. [Fidgetting.] Well, if you're thinking of morphia for her,
don't have anything to do with it. I've always set my face against
morphia; the only time I took it was in Burmah. I'd raging neuralgia
for two days. I went to our old doctor, and I made him give me some.
"Look here, doctor," I said, "I hate the idea of morphia, I 've never
taken it, and I never want to."
MISS BEECH. [Looking at MRS. GWYN.] When a tooth hurts, you should
have it out. It 's only puttin' off the evil day.
COLONEL. You say that because it was n't your own.
MISS BEECH. Well, it was hollow, and you broke your principles!
COLONEL. Hollow yourself, Peachey; you're as bad as any one!
MISS BEECH [With devilry.] Well, I know that! [She turns to MRS.
GWYN.] He should have had it out! Shouldn't he, Molly?
MRS. GWYN. I--don't--judge for other people.
[She gets up suddenly, as though deprived of air.]
COLONEL. [Alarmed.] Hallo, Molly! Are n't you feeling the thing,
MISS BEECH. Let her get some air, poor creature!
COLONEL. [Who follows anxiously.] Your Aunt's got some first-rate
MRS. GWYN. It's all right, Uncle Tom. I felt giddy, it's nothing,
COLONEL. That's the dancing. [He taps his forehead.] I know what
it is when you're not used to it.
MRS. GWYN. [With a sudden bitter outburst.] I suppose you think I
'm a very bad mother to be amusing myself while joy's suffering.
COLONEL. My dear girl, whatever put such a thought into your head?
We all know if there were anything you could do, you'd do it at once,
would n't she, Peachey?
[MISS BEECH turns a slow look on MRS. GWYN.]
MRS. GWYN. Ah! you see, Peachey knows me better.
COLONEL. [Following up his thoughts.] I always think women are
wonderful. There's your Aunt, she's very funny, but if there's
anything the matter with me, she'll sit up all night; but when she's
ill herself, and you try to do anything for her, out she raps at
MRS. GWYN. [In a low voice.] There's always one that a woman will
do anything for.
COLONEL. Exactly what I say. With your Aunt it's me, and by George!
Molly, sometimes I wish it was n't.
MISS BEECH, [With meaning.] But is it ever for another woman!
COLONEL. You old cynic! D' you mean to say Joy wouldn't do anything
on earth for her Mother, or Molly for Joy? You don't know human
nature. What a wonderful night! Have n't seen such a moon for
years, she's like a great, great lamp!
[MRS. GWYN hiding from Miss BEECH's eyes, rises and slips her
arm through his; they stand together looking at the moon.]
Don't like these Chinese lanterns, with that moon-tawdry! eh! By
Jove, Molly, I sometimes think we humans are a rubbishy lot--each of
us talking and thinking of nothing but our own petty little affairs;
and when you see a great thing like that up there--[Sighs.] But
there's your Aunt, if I were to say a thing like that to her she 'd--
she'd think me a lunatic; and yet, you know, she 's a very good
MRS. GWYN. [Half clinging to him.] Do you think me very selfish,
COLONEL. My dear--what a fancy! Think you selfish--of course I
don't; why should I?
MRS. GWYN. [Dully.] I don't know.
COLONEL. [Changing the subject nervously.] I like your friend,
Lever, Molly. He came to me before dinner quite distressed about
your Aunt, beggin' me not to take those shares. She 'll be the first
to worry me, but he made such a point of it, poor chap--in the end I
was obliged to say I wouldn't. I thought it showed very' nice
feeling. [Ruefully.] It's a pretty tight fit to make two ends meet
on my income--I've missed a good thing, all owing to your Aunt.
[Dropping his voice.] I don't mind telling you, Molly, I think
they've got a much finer mine there than they've any idea of.
[MRS. GWYN gives way to laughter that is very near to sobs.]
[With dignity.] I can't see what there is to laugh at.
MRS. GWYN. I don't know what's the matter with me this evening.
MISS BEECH. [In a low voice.] I do.
COLONEL. There, there! Give me a kiss, old girl! [He kisses her on
the brow.] Why, your forehead's as hot as fire. I know--I know-you
're fretting about Joy. Never mind--come! [He draws her hand
beneath his arm.] Let's go and have a look at the moon on the river.
We all get upset at times; eh! [Lifting his hand as if he had been
stung.] Why, you 're not crying, Molly! I say! Don't do that, old
girl, it makes me wretched. Look here, Peachey. [Holding out the
hand on which the tear has dropped.] This is dreadful!
MRS. GWYN. [With a violent effort.] It's all right, Uncle Tom!
[MISS BEECH wipes her own eyes stealthily. From the house is
heard the voice of MRS. HOPE, calling "Tom."]
MISS BEECH. Some one calling you.
COLONEL. There, there, my dear, you just stay here, and cool
yourself--I 'll come back--shan't be a minute. [He turns to go.]
[MRS. HOPE'S voice sounds nearer.]
[Turning back.] And Molly, old girl, don't you mind anything I said.
I don't remember what it was--it must have been something, I suppose.
[He hastily retreats.]
MRS. GWYN. [In a fierce low voice.] Why do you torture me?
MISS BEECH. [Sadly.] I don't want to torture you.
MRS. GWYN, But you do. D' you think I haven't seen this coming--all
these weeks. I knew she must find out some time! But even a day
MISS BEECH. I don't understand why you brought him down here.
MRS. GWYN. [After staring at her, bitterly.] When day after day and
night after night you've thought of nothing but how to keep them
both, you might a little want to prove that it was possible, mightn't
you? But you don't understand--how should you? You've never been a
mother! [And fiercely.] You've never had a lov----
[MISS BEECH raises her face-it is all puckered.]
[Impulsively.] Oh, I did n't mean that, Peachey!
MISS BEECH. All right, my dear.
MRS. GWYN. I'm so dragged in two! [She sinks into a chair.] I knew
it must come.
MISS BEECH. Does she know everything, Molly?
MRS. GWYN. She guesses.
MISS BEECH. [Mournfully.] It's either him or her then, my dear; one
or the other you 'll have to give up.
MRS. GWYN. [Motionless.] Life's very hard on women!
MISS BEECH. Life's only just beginning for that child, Molly.
MRS. GWYN. You don't care if it ends for me!
MISS BEECH. Is it as bad as that?
MRS. GWYN. Yes.
MISS BEECH. [Rocking hey body.] Poor things! Poor things!
MRS. GWYN. Are you still fond of me?
MISS BEECH. Yes, yes, my dear, of course I am.
MRS. GWYN. In spite of my-wickedness?
MISS BEECH. Who am I to tell what's wicked and what is n't? God
knows you're both like daughters to me!
MRS. GWYN. [Abruptly.] I can't.
MISS BEECH. Molly.
MRS. GWYN. You don't know what you're asking.
MISS BEECH. If I could save you suffering, my dear, I would. I hate
suffering, if it 's only a fly, I hate it.
MRS. GWYN. [Turning away from her.] Life is n't fair. Peachey, go
in and leave me alone.
[She leans back motionless.]
[Miss BEECH gets off her seat, and stroking MRS. GWYN's arm in
passing goes silently away. In the opening of the wall she
meets LEVER who is looking for his partner. They make way for
LEVER. [Going up to MRS. GWYN--gravely.] The next is our dance,
MRS. GWYN. [Unmoving.] Let's sit it out here, then.
[LEVER sits down.]
LEVER. I've made it all right with your Uncle.
MRS. GWYN. [Dully.] Oh?
LEVER. I spoke to him about the shares before dinner.
MRS. GWYN. Yes, he told me, thank you.
LEVER. There 's nothing to worry over, dear.
MRS. GWYN. [Passionately.] What does it matter about the wretched
shares now? I 'm stifling.
[She throws her scarf off.]
LEVER. I don't understand what you mean by "now."
MRS. GWYN. Don't you?
LEVER. We were n't--Joy can't know--why should she? I don't believe
for a minute----
MRS. GWYN. Because you don't want to.
LEVER. Do you mean she does?
MRS. GWYN. Her heart knows.
[LEVER makes a movement of discomfiture; suddenly MRS. GWYN
looks at him as though to read his soul.]
I seem to bring you nothing but worry, Maurice. Are you tired of me?
LEVER. [Meeting her eyes.] No, I am not.
MRS. GWYN. Ah, but would you tell me if you were?
LEVER. [Softly.] Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
[MRS. GWYN struggles to look at him, then covers her face with
MRS. GWYN. If I were to give you up, you'd forget me in a month.
LEVER. Why do you say such things?
MRS. GWYN. If only I could believe I was necessary to you!
LEVER. [Forcing the fervour of his voice.] But you are!
MRS. GWYN. Am I? [With the ghost of a smile.] Midsummer day!
[She gives a laugh that breaks into a sob.]
[The music o f a waltz sounds from the house.]
LEVER. For God's sake, don't, Molly--I don't believe in going to
MRS. GWYN. It's staring me in the face.
LEVER. Let the future take care of itself!
[MRS. GWYN has turned away her face, covering it with her
Don't, Molly! [Trying to pull her hands away.] Don't!
MRS. GWYN. Oh! what shall I do?
[There is a silence; the music of the waltz sounds louder from
[Starting up.] Listen! One can't sit it out and dance it too.
Which is it to be, Maurice, dancing--or sitting out? It must be one
or the other, must n't it?
LEVER. Molly! Molly!
MRS. GWYN. Ah, my dear! [Standing away from him as though to show
herself.] How long shall I keep you? This is all that 's left of
me. It 's time I joined the wallflowers. [Smiling faintly.] It's
time I played the mother, is n't it? [In a whisper.] It'll be all
sitting out then.
LEVER. Don't! Let's go and dance, it'll do you good.
[He puts his hands on her arms, and in a gust of passion kisses
her lips and throat.]
MRS. GWYN. I can't give you up--I can't. Love me, oh! love me!
[For a moment they stand so; then, with sudden remembrance of
where they are, they move apart.]
LEVER. Are you all right now, darling?
MRS. GWYN. [Trying to smile.] Yes, dear--quite.
LEVER. Then let 's go, and dance. [They go.]
[For a few seconds the hollow tree stands alone; then from the house
ROSE comes and enters it. She takes out a bottle of champagne, wipes
it, and carries it away; but seeing MRS. GWYN's scarf lying across
the chair, she fingers it, and stops, listening to the waltz.
Suddenly draping it round her shoulders, she seizes the bottle of
champagne, and waltzes with abandon to the music, as though avenging
a long starvation of her instincts. Thus dancing, she is surprised
by DICK, who has come to smoke a cigarette and think, at the spot
where he was told to "have a go." ROSE, startled, stops and hugs the
DICK. It's not claret, Rose, I should n't warm it.
[ROSE, taking off the scarf, replaces it on the chair; then with
the half-warmed bottle, she retreats. DICK, in the swing, sits
thinking of his fate. Suddenly from behind the hollow tree he
sees Joy darting forward in her day dress with her hair about
her neck, and her skirt all torn. As he springs towards her,
she turns at bay.]
JOY. I want Uncle Tom.
DICK. [In consternation.] But ought you to have got up--I thought
you were ill in bed; oughtn't you to be lying down?
JOY. If have n't been in bed. Where's Uncle Tom?
DICK. But where have you been?-your dress is all torn. Look! [He
touches the torn skirt.]
JOY. [Tearing it away.] In the fields. Where's Uncle Tom?
DICK. Are n't you really ill then?
[Joy shakes her head.]
DICK, [showing her the irises.] Look at these. They were the best I
JOY. Don't! I want Uncle Tom!
DICK. Won't you take them?
JOY. I 've got something else to do.
DICK. [With sudden resolution.] What do you want the Colonel for?
JOY. I want him.
DICK. Joy, what is the matter?
JOY. I 've got something to tell him.
DICK. What? [With sudden inspiration.] Is it about Lever?
JOY. [In a low voice.] The mine.
DICK. The mine?
JOY. It 's not--not a proper one.
DICK. How do you mean, Joy?
JOY. I overheard. I don't care, I listened. I would n't if it had
been anybody else, but I hate him.
DICK. [Gravely.] What did you hear?
JOY. He 's keeping back something Uncle Tom ought to know.
DICK. Are you sure?
[Joy makes a rush to pass him.]
[Barring the way.] No, wait a minute--you must! Was it something
that really matters?--I don't want to know what.
JOY. Yes, it was.
DICK. What a beastly thing--are you quite certain, Joy?
JOY. [Between her teeth.] Yes.
DICK. Then you must tell him, of course, even if you did overhear.
You can't stand by and see the Colonel swindled. Whom was he talking
JOY. I won't tell you.
DICK. [Taking her wrist.] Was it was it your Mother?
[Joy bends her head.]
But if it was your Mother, why does n't she----
JOY. Let me go!
DICK. [Still holding her.] I mean I can't see what----
JOY. [Passionately.] Let me go!
DICK. [Releasing her.] I'm thinking of your Mother, Joy. She would
JOY. [Covering her face.] That man!
DICK. But joy, just think! There must be some mistake. It 's so
queer--it 's quite impossible!
JOY. He won't let her.
DICK. Won't let her--won't let her? But [Stopping dead, and in a
very different voice.] Oh!
JOY. [Passionately.] Why d' you look at me like that? Why can't
[She waits for him to speak, but he does not.]
I'm going to show what he is, so that Mother shan't speak to him
again. I can--can't I--if I tell Uncle Tom?--can't I----?
DICK. But Joy--if your Mother knows a thing like--that----
JOY. She wanted to tell--she begged him--and he would n't.
DICK. But, joy, dear, it means----
JOY. I hate him, I want to make her hate him, and I will.
DICK. But, Joy, dear, don't you see--if your Mother knows a thing
like that, and does n't speak of it, it means that she--it means that
you can't make her hate him--it means----If it were anybody else--
but, well, you can't give your own Mother away!
JOY. How dare you! How dare you! [Turning to the hollow tree.] It
is n't true--Oh! it is n't true!
DICK. [In deep distress.] Joy, dear, I never meant, I didn't
[He tries to pull her hands down from her face.]
JOY. [Suddenly.] Oh! go away, go away!
[MRS. GWYN is seen coming back. JOY springs into the tree.
DICK quickly steals away. MRS. GWYN goes up to the chair and
takes the scarf that she has come for, and is going again when
JOY steals out to her.]
[MRS. GWYN stands looking at her with her teeth set on her lower
Oh! Mother, it is n't true?
MRS. GWYN. [Very still.] What is n't true?
JOY. That you and he are----
[Searching her Mother's face, which is deadly still. In a
Then it is true. Oh!
MRS. GWYN. That's enough, Joy! What I am is my affair--not yours--
do you understand?
JOY. [Low and fierce.] Yes, I do.
MRS. GWYN. You don't. You're only a child.
JOY. [Passionately.] I understand that you've hurt [She stops.]
MRS. GWYN. Do you mean your Father?
JOY. [Bowing her head.] Yes, and--and me. [She covers her face.]
MRS. GWYN. I brought you into the world, and you say that to me?
Have I been a bad mother to you?
JOY. [In a smothered voice.] Oh! Mother!
MRS. GWYN. Ashamed? Am I to live all my life like a dead woman
because you're ashamed? Am I to live like the dead because you 're a
child that knows nothing of life? Listen, Joy, you 'd better
understand this once for all. Your Father has no right over me and
he knows it. We 've been hateful to each other for years. Can you
understand that? Don't cover your face like a child--look at me.
[Joy drops her hands, and lifts her face. MRS. GWYN looks back
at her, her lips are quivering; she goes on speaking with
D' you think--because I suffered when you were born and because I 've
suffered since with every ache you ever had, that that gives you the
right to dictate to me now? [In a dead voice.] I've been unhappy
enough and I shall be unhappy enough in the time to come. [Meeting
the hard wonder in Joy's face.] Oh! you untouched things, you're as
hard and cold as iron!
JOY. I would do anything for you, Mother.
MRS. GWYN. Except--let me live, Joy. That's the only thing you won't
do for me, I quite understand.
JOY. Oh! Mother, you don't understand--I want you so; and I seem to
be nothing to you now.
MRS. GWYN. Nothing to me? [She smiles.]
JOY. Mother, darling, if you're so unhappy let's forget it all,
let's go away and I 'll be everything to you, I promise.
MRS. GWYN. [With the ghost of a laugh.] Ah, Joy!
JOY. I would try so hard.
MRS. GWYN. [With the same quivering smile.] My darling, I know you
would, until you fell in love yourself.
JOY. Oh, Mother, I wouldn't, I never would, I swear it.
MRS. GWYN. There has never been a woman, joy, that did not fall in
JOY. [In a despairing whisper.] But it 's wrong of you it's wicked!
MRS. GWYN. If it's wicked, I shall pay for it, not you!
JOY. But I want to save you, Mother!
MRS. GWYN. Save me? [Breaking into laughter.]
JOY. I can't bear it that you--if you 'll only--I'll never leave
you. You think I don't know what I 'm saying, but I do, because even
now I--I half love somebody. Oh, Mother! [Pressing her breast.]
I feel--I feel so awful--as if everybody knew.
MRS. GWYN. You think I'm a monster to hurt you. Ah! yes! You'll
understand better some day.
JOY. [In a sudden outburst of excited fear.] I won't believe it--
I--I--can't--you're deserting me, Mother.
MRS. GWYN. Oh, you untouched things! You----
[Joy' looks up suddenly, sees her face, and sinks down on her
JOY. Mother--it 's for me!
GWYN. Ask for my life, JOY--don't be afraid.
[Joy turns her face away. MRS. GWYN bends suddenly and touches
her daughter's hair; JOY shrinks from that touch.]
[Recoiling as though she had been stung.] I forgot--I 'm deserting
[And swiftly without looking back she goes away. Joy, left alone
under the hollow tree, crouches lower, and her shoulders shake.
Here DICK finds her, when he hears no longer any sound o f
voices. He falls on his knees beside her.]
DICK. Oh! Joy; dear, don't cry. It's so dreadful to see you! I 'd
do anything not to see you cry! Say something.
[Joy is still for a moment, then the shaking of the shoulders
Joy, darling! It's so awful, you 'll make yourself ill, and it is
n't worth it, really. I 'd do anything to save you pain--won't you
stop just for a minute?
[Joy is still again.]
Nothing in the world 's worth your crying, Joy. Give me just a
JOY. [Looking; in a smothered voice.] Don't!
DICK. You do look so sweet! Oh, Joy, I'll comfort you, I'll take it
all on myself. I know all about it.
[Joy gives a sobbing laugh]
I do. I 've had trouble too, I swear I have. It gets better, it
JOY. You don't know--it's--it's----
DICK. Don't think about it! No, no, no! I know exactly what it's
like. [He strokes her arm.]
JOY. [Shrinking, in a whisper.] You mustn't.
[The music of a waltz is heard again.]
DICK. Look here, joy! It's no good, we must talk it over calmly.
JOY. You don't see! It's the--it 's the disgrace----
DICK. Oh! as to disgrace--she's your Mother, whatever she does; I'd
like to see anybody say anything about her--[viciously]--I'd punch
JOY. [Gulping her tears.] That does n't help.
DICK. But if she doesn't love your Father----
JOY. But she's married to him!
DICK. [Hastily.] Yes, of course, I know, marriage is awfully
important; but a man understands these things.
[Joy looks at him. Seeing the impression he has made, he tries
I mean, he understands better than a woman. I've often argued about
moral questions with men up at Oxford.
JOY. [Catching at a straw.] But there's nothing to argue about.
DICK. [Hastily.] Of course, I believe in morals.
[They stare solemnly at each other.]
Some men don't. But I can't help seeing marriage is awfully
JOY. [Solemnly.] It's sacred.
DICK. Yes, I know, but there must be exceptions, Joy.
Joy. [Losing herself a little in the stress of this discussion.]
How can there be exceptions if a thing 's sacred?
DICK. [Earnestly.] All rules have exceptions; that's true, you
know; it's a proverb.
JOY. It can't be true about marriage--how can it when----?
DICK. [With intense earnestness.] But look here, Joy, I know a
really clever man--an author. He says that if marriage is a failure
people ought to be perfectly free; it isn't everybody who believes
that marriage is everything. Of course, I believe it 's sacred, but
if it's a failure, I do think it seems awful--don't you?
JOY. I don't know--yes--if--[Suddenly] But it's my own Mother!
DICK. [Gravely.] I know, of course. I can't expect you to see it
in your own case like this. [With desperation.] But look here, Joy,
this'll show you! If a person loves a person, they have to decide,
have n't they? Well, then, you see, that 's what your Mother's done.
JOY. But that does n't show me anything!
DICK. But it does. The thing is to look at it as if it was n't
yourself. If it had been you and me in love, Joy, and it was wrong,
like them, of course [ruefully] I know you'd have decided right.
[Fiercely.] But I swear I should have decided wrong.
[Triumphantly.] That 's why I feel I understand your Mother.
JOY. [Brushing her sleeve across her eyes.] Oh, Dick, you are so
DICK. [Sliding his arm about her.] I love you, Joy, that 's why,
and I 'll love you till you don't feel it any more. I will. I'll
love you all day and every day; you shan't miss anything, I swear it.
It 's such a beautiful night--it 's on purpose. Look' [JOY looks; he
looks at her.] But it 's not so beautiful as you.
JOY. [Bending her head.] You mustn't. I don't know--what's coming?
DICK. [Sidling closer.] Are n't your knees tired, darling? I--I
can't get near you properly.
JOY. [With a sob.] Oh! Dick, you are a funny--comfort!
DICK. We'll stick together, Joy, always; nothing'll matter then.
[They struggle to their feet-the waltz sounds louder.]
You're missing it all! I can't bear you to miss the dancing. It
seems so queer! Couldn't we? Just a little turn?
JOY. No, no?
DICK. Oh! try!
[He takes her gently by the waist, she shrinks back.]
JOY. [Brokenly.] No-no! Oh! Dick-to-morrow 'll be so awful.
DICK. To-morrow shan't hurt you, Joy; nothing shall ever hurt you
[She looks at him, and her face changes; suddenly she buries it
against his shoulder.]
[They stand so just a moment in the moon light; then turning to the
river move slowly out of sight. Again the hollow tree is left alone.
The music of the waltz has stopped. The voices of MISS BEECH and the
COLONEL are heard approaching from the house. They appear in the
opening of the wall. The COLONEL carries a pair of field glasses
with which to look at the Moon.]
COLONEL. Charming to see Molly dance with Lever, their steps go so
well together! I can always tell when a woman's enjoying herself,
MISS BEECH. [Sharply.] Can you? You're very clever.
COLONEL. Wonderful, that moon! I'm going to have a look at her!
Splendid glasses these, Peachy [he screws them out], not a better
pair in England. I remember in Burmah with these glasses I used to
be able to tell a man from a woman at two miles and a quarter. And
that's no joke, I can tell you. [But on his way to the moon, he has
taken a survey of the earth to the right along the river. In a low
but excited voice] I say, I say--is it one of the maids--the
baggage! Why! It's Dick! By George, she's got her hair down,
Peachey! It's Joy!
[MISS BEECH goes to look. He makes as though to hand the
glasses to her, but puts them to his own eyes instead--
It is! What about her headache? By George, they're kissing. I say,
Peachey! I shall have to tell Nell!
MISS BEECH. Are you sure they're kissing? Well, that's some
COLONEL. They're at the stile now. Oughtn't I to stop them, eh?
[He stands on tiptoe.] We must n't spy on them, dash it all. [He
drops the glasses.] They're out of sight now.
MISS BEECH. [To herself.] He said he wouldn't let her.
COLONEL. What! have you been encouraging them!
MISS BEECH. Don't be in such a hurry!
[She moves towards the hollow tree.]
COLONEL. [Abstractedly.] By George, Peachey, to think that Nell and
I were once--Poor Nell! I remember just such a night as this
[He stops, and stares before him, sighing.]
MISS BEECH, [Impressively.] It's a comfort she's got that good young
man. She's found out that her mother and this Mr. Lever are--you
COLONEL. [Losing all traces of his fussiness, and drawing himself up
as though he were on parade.] You tell me that my niece?
MISS BEECH. Out of her own mouth!
COLONEL. [Bowing his head.] I never would have believed she'd have
MISS BEECH. [Very solemnly.] Ah, my dear! We're all the same;
we're all as hollow as that tree! When it's ourselves it's always a
[The COLONEL makes a movement of distress, and Miss BEECH goes
Don't you take it so to heart, my dear!
COLONEL. [Shaking his head.] I couldn't have believed Molly would
forget that child.
MISS BEECH. [Sadly.] They must go their own ways, poor things! She
can't put herself in the child's place, and the child can't put
herself in Molly's. A woman and a girl--there's the tree of life
COLONEL. [Staring into the tree to see indeed if that were the tree
alluded to.] It's a grief to me, Peachey, it's a grief! [He sinks
into a chair, stroking his long moustaches. Then to avenge his
hurt.] Shan't tell Nell--dashed if I do anything to make the trouble
MISS BEECH. [Nodding.] There's suffering enough, without adding to
it with our trumpery judgments! If only things would last between
COLONEL. [Fiercely.] Last! By George, they'd better----
[He stops, and looking up with a queer sorry look.]
I say, Peachey Life's very funny!
MISS BEECH. Men and women are! [Touching his forehead tenderly.]
There, there--take care of your poor, dear head! Tsst! The blessed
[She pulls the COLONEL'S sleeve. They slip away towards the
house, as JOY and DICK come back. They are still linked
together, and stop by the hollow tree.]
JOY. [In a whisper.] Dick, is love always like this?
DICK. [Putting his arms around her, with conviction.] It's never
been like this before. It's you and me!
[He kisses her on the lips.]
The curtain falls.