Part 2 out of 3
JILL. [With suppressed passion] Dodo, may I spit in his eye or
HILLCRIST. Sit down.
[JILL sits down. He stands between her and HORNBLOWER.]
[Yu've won this round, sir, by a foul blow. We shall see
whether you can take any advantage of it. I believe the law
can stop you ruining my property.]
HORNBLOWER. Make your mind easy; it can't. I've got ye in a noose,
and I'm goin' to hang ye.
MRS. H. [Suddenly] Mr. Hornblower, as you fight foul--so shall we.
MRS. H. [Paying no attention] And it will not be foul play towards
you and yours. You are outside the pale.
HORNBLOWER. That's just where I am, outside your pale all round ye.
Ye're not long for Deepwater, ma'am. Make your dispositions to go;
ye'll be out in six months, I prophesy. And good riddance to the
neighbourhood. [They are all down on the level now.]
CHLOE. [Suddenly coming closer to MRS. HILLCRIST] Here are your
salts, thank you. Father, can't you----?
HORNBLOWER. [Surprised] Can't I what?
CHLOE. Can't you come to an arrangement?
MRS. H. Just so, Mr. Hornblower. Can't you?
HORNBLOWER. [Looking from one to the other] As we're speakin' out,
ma'am, it's your behaviour to my daughter-in-law--who's as good as
you--and better, to my thinking--that's more than half the reason
why I've bought this property. Ye've fair got my dander up. Now
it's no use to bandy words. It's very forgivin' of ye, Chloe, but
MRS. H. Quite seriously, Mr. Hornblower, you had better come to an
HORNBLOWER. Mrs. Hillcrist, ladies should keep to their own
MRS. H. I will.
HILLCRIST. Amy, do leave it to us men. You young man [He speaks to
ROLF] do you support your father's trick this afternoon?
[JILL looks round at ROLF, who tries to speak, when HORNBLOWER
HORNBLOWER. My trick? And what dye call it, to try and put me own
son against me?
JILL. [To ROLF] Well?
ROLF. I don't, but----
HORNBLOWER. Trick? Ye young cub, be quiet. Mr. Hillcrist had an
agent bid for him--I had an agent bid for me. Only his agent bid at
the beginnin', an' mine bid at the end. What's the trick in that?
HILLCRIST. Hopeless; we're in different worlds.
HORNBLOWER. I wish to God we were! Come you, Chloe. And you,
Rolf, you follow. In six months I'll have those chimneys up, and me
lorries runnin' round ye.
MRS. H. Mr. Hornblower, if you build----
HORNBLOWER. [Looking at MRS. HILLCRIST] Ye know--it's laughable.
Ye make me pay nine thousand five hundred for a bit o' 1and not
worth four, and ye think I'm not to get back on ye. I'm goin' on
with as little consideration as if ye were a family of blackbeetles.
JILL. Oh, Dodo! He's obscene.
HILLCRIST. Mr. Hornblower, my compliments.
[HORNBLOWER with a stare at HILLCRIST'S half-smiling face,
takes CHLOE'S arm, and half drags her towards the door on the
Left. But there, in the opened doorway, are standing DAWKER
and a STRANGER. They move just out of the way of the exit,
looking at CHLOE, who sways and very nearly falls.]
HORNBLOWER. Why! Chloe! What's the matter?
CHLOE. I don't know; I'm not well to-day.
[She pulls herself together with a great, effort.]
MRS. H. [Who has exchanged a nod with DAWKER and the STRANGER] Mr.
Hornblower, you build at your peril. I warn you.
HORNBLOWER. [Turning round to speak] Ye think yourself very cool
and very smart. But I doubt this is the first time ye've been up
against realities. Now, I've been up against them all my life.
Don't talk to me, ma'am, about peril and that sort of nonsense; it
makes no impression. Your husband called me pachydermatous. I
don't know Greek, and Latin, and all that, but I've looked it out in
the dictionary, and I find it means thick-skinned. And I'm none
the worse for that when I have to deal with folk like you. Good
[He draws CHLOE forward, and they pass through the door,
followed quickly by ROLF.]
MRS. H. Thank you; Dawker.
[She moves up to DAWKER and the STRANGER, Left, and they
JILL. Dodo! It's awful!
HILLCRIST. Well, there's nothing for it now but to smile and pay
up. Poor old home! It shall be his wash-pot. Over the Centry will
he cast his shoe. By Gad, Jill, I could cry!
JILL. [Pointing] Look! Chloe's sitting down. She nearly fainted
just now. It's something to do with Dawker, Dodo, and that man with
him. Look at mother! Ask them!
[DAWKER comes to him, followed by MRS. HILLCRIST.]
What's the mystery about young Mrs. Hornblower?
DAWKER. No mystery.
HILLCRIST. Well, what is it?
MRS. H. You'd better not ask.
HILLCRIST. I wish to know.
MRS. H. Jill, go out and wait for us.
JILL. Nonsense, mother!
MRS. H. It's not for a girl to hear.
JILL. Bosh! I read the papers every day.
DAWKER. It's nothin' worse than you get there, anyway.
MRS. H. Do you wish your daughter----
JILL. It's ridiculous, Dodo; you'd think I was mother at my age.
MRS. H. I was not so proud of my knowledge.
JILL. No, but you had it, dear.
HILLCRIST. What is it----what is it? Come over here, Dawker.
[DAWKER goes to him, Right, and speaks in a low voice.]
What! [Again DAWKER speaks in, a low voice.]
MRS. H. Exactly!
JILL. Poor thing--whatever it is!
MRS. H. Poor thing?
JILL. What went before, mother?
MRS. H. It's what's coming after that matters; luckily.
HILLCRIST. How do you know this?
DAWKER. My friend here [He points to the STRANGER] was one of the
HILLCRIST. It's shocking. I'm sorry I heard it.
MRS. H. I told you not to.
HILLCRIST. Ask your friend to come here.
[DAWKER beckons, and the STRANGER joins the group.]
Are you sure of what you've said, sir?
STRANGER. Perfectly. I remember her quite well; her name then
HILLCRIST. I don't want to know, thank you. I'm truly sorry. I
wouldn't wish the knowledge of that about his womenfolk to my worst
enemy. This mustn't be spoken of. [JILL hugs his arm.]
MRS. H. It will not be if Mr. Hornblower is wise. If he is not
wise, it must be spoken of.
HILLCRIST. I say no, Amy. I won't have it. It's a dirty weapon.
Who touches pitch shall be defiled.
MRS. H. Well, what weapons does he use against us? Don't be
quixotic. For all we can tell, they know it quite well already, and
if they don't they ought to. Anyway, to know this is our salvation,
and we must use it.
JILL: [Sotto voce] Pitch! Dodo! Pitch!
DAWKER. The threat's enough! J.P.--Chapel--Future member for the
HILLCRIST. [A little more doubtfully] To use a piece of knowledge
about a woman--it's repugnant. I--I won't do it.
[Mrs. H. If you had a son tricked into marrying such a woman,
would you wish to remain ignorant of it?]
HILLCRIST. [Struck] I don't know--I don't know.
MRS. H. At least, you'd like to be in a position to help him, if
you thought it necessary?
HILLCRIST. Well--that perhaps.
MRS. H. Then you agree that Mr. Hornblower at least should be told.
What he does with the knowledge is not our affair.
HILLCRIST. [Half to the STRANGER and half to DAWKER] Do you realise
that an imputation of that kind may be ground for a criminal libel
STRANGER. Quite. But there's no shadow of doubt; not the faintest.
You saw her just now?
HILLCRIST. I did. [Revolting again] No; I don't like it.
[DAWKER has drawn the STRANGER a step or two away, and they
MRS. H. [In a low voice] And the ruin of our home? You're
betraying your fathers, Jack.
HILLCRIST. I can't bear bringing a woman into it.
MRS. H. We don't. If anyone brings her in; it will be Hornblower
HILLCRIST. We use her secret as a lever.
MRS. H. I tell you quite plainly: I will only consent to holding my
tongue about her, if you agree to Hornblower being told. It's a
scandal to have a woman like that in the neighbourhood.
JILL. Mother means that, father.
HILLCRIST. Jill, keep quiet. This is a very bitter position. I
can't tell what to do.
MRS. H. You must use this knowledge. You owe it to me--to us all.
You'll see that when you've thought it over.
JILL. [Softly] Pitch, Dodo, pitch!
MRS. H. [Furiously] Jill, be quiet!
HILLCRIST. I was brought up never to hurt a woman. I can't do it,
Amy--I can't do it. I should never feel like a gentleman again.
MRS. H. [Coldly] Oh! Very well.
HILLCRIST. What d'you mean by that?
MRS. H. I shall use the knowledge in my own way.
HILLCRIST. [Staring at her] You would--against my wishes?
MRS. H. I consider it my duty.
HILLCRIST. If I agree to Hornblower being told----
MRS. H. That's all I want.
HILLCRIST. It's the utmost I'll consent to, Amy; and don't let's
have any humbug about its being, morally necessary. We do it to
save our skins.
MRS. H. I don't know what you mean by humbug?
JILL. He means humbug; mother.
HILLCRIST. It must stop at old Hornblower. Do you quite
MRS. H. Quite.
JILL. Will it stop?
MRS. H. Jill, if you can't keep your impertinence to yourself----
HILLCRIST. Jill, come with me.
[He turns towards door, Back.]
JILL. I'm sorry, mother. Only it is a skin game, isn't it?
MRS. H. You pride yourself on plain speech, Jill. I pride myself
on plain thought. You will thank me afterwards that I can see
realities. I know we are better people than these Hornblowers.
Here we are going to stay, and they--are not.
JILL. [Looking at her with a sort of unwilling admiration] Mother,
JILL. Coming, Dodo.
[She turns and runs to the door. They go out.]
[MRS. HILLCRIST, with a long sigh, draws herself up, fine and
MRS. H. Dawker! [He comes to her.]
[I shall send him a note to-night, and word it so that
he will be bound to come and see us to-marrow morning. Will
you be in the study just before eleven o'clock, with this
DAWKER. [Nodding] We're going to wire for his partner. I'll bring
him too. Can't make too sure.
[She goes firmly up the steps and out.]
DAWKER. [To the STRANGER, with a wink] The Squire's squeamish--too
much of a gentleman. But he don't count. The grey mare's all
right. You wire to Henry. I'm off to our solicitors. We'll make
that old rhinoceros sell us back the Centry at a decent price.
These Hornblowers--[Laying his finger on his nose] We've got 'em
CHLOE's boudoir at half-past seven the same evening. A pretty
room. No pictures on the walls, but two mirrors. A screen and
a luxurious couch an the fireplace side, stage Left. A door
rather Right of Centre Back; opening inwards. A French window,
Right forward: A writing table, Right Back. Electric light
CHLOE, in a tea-gown, is standing by the forward end of the
sofa, very still, and very pale. Her lips are parted, and her
large eyes stare straight before them as if seeing ghosts: The
door is opened noiselessly and a WOMAN'S face is seen. It
peers at CHLOE, vanishes, and the door is closed. CHLOE raises
her hands, covers her eyes with them, drops them with a quick
gesture, and looks round her. A knock. With a swift movement
she slides on to the sofa, and lies prostrate, with eyes
CHLOE. [Feebly] Come in!
[Her Maid enters; a trim, contained figure of uncertain years,
in a black dress, with the face which was peering in.]
ANNA. Aren't you going in to dinner, ma'am?
CHLOE. [With closed eyes] No.
ANNA. Will you take anything here, ma'am?
CHLOE. I'd like a biscuit and a glass of champagne.
[The MAID, who is standing between sofa and door, smiles.
CHLOE, with a swift look, catches the smile.]
Why do you smile?
ANNA. Was I, ma'am?
CHLOE. You know you were. [Fiercely] Are you paid to smile at me?
ANNA. [Immovable] No, ma'am, Would you like some eau de Cologne on
CHLOE. Yes.--No.--What's the good? [Clasping her forehead] My
headache won't go.
ANNA. To keep lying down's the best thing for it.
CHLOE. I have been--hours.
ANNA. [With the smile] Yes, ma'am.
CHLOE. [Gathering herself up on the sofa] Anna! Why do you do it?
ANNA. Do what, ma'am?
CHLOE. Spy on me.
ANNA. I--never! I----!
CHLOE. To spy! You're a fool, too. What is there to spy on?
ANNA. Nothing, ma'am. Of course, if you're not satisfied with me,
I must give notice. Only--if I were spying, I should expect to have
notice given me. I've been accustomed to ladies who wouldn't stand
such a thing for a minute.
CHLOE: [Intently] Well, you'll take a month's wages and go
tomorrow. And that's all, now.
[ANNA inclines her head and goes out.]
[CHLOE, with a sort of moan, turns over and buries her face in
CHLOE. [Sitting up] If I could see that man--if only--or Dawker---
[She springs up and goes to the door, but hesitates, and comes
back to the head of the sofa, as ROLF comes in. During this
scene the door is again opened stealthily, an inch or too.]
ROLF. How's the head?
CHLOE. Beastly, thanks. I'm not going into dinner.
ROLF. Is there anything I can do for you?
CHLOE. No, dear boy. [Suddenly looking at him] You don't want
this quarrel with the Hillcrists to go on, do you, Rolf?
ROLF. No; I hate it.
CHLOE. Well, I think I might be able to stop it. Will you slip
round to Dawker's--it's not five minutes--and ask him to come and
ROLF. Father and Charlie wouldn't----
CHLOE. I know. But if he comes to the window here while you're at
dinner, I'll let him in, and out, and nobody'd know.
ROLF. [Astonished] Yes, but what I mean how----
CHLOE. Don't ask me. It's worth the shot that's all. [Looking at
her wrist-watch] To this window at eight o'clock exactly. First
long window on the terrace, tell him.
ROLF. It's nothing Charlie would mind?
CHLOE. No; only I can't tell him--he and father are so mad about it
ROLF. If there's a real chance----
CHLOE. [Going to the window and opening it] This way, Rolf. If
you don't come back I shall know he's coming. Put your watch by
mine. [Looking at his watch] It's a minute fast, see!
ROLF. Look here, Chloe
CHLOE. Don't wait; go on.
[She almost pushes him out through the window, closes it after
him, draws the curtains again, stands a minute, thinking hard;
goes to the bell and rings it; then, crossing to the writing
table, Right Back, she takes out a chemist's prescription.]
[ANNA comes in.]
CHLOE. I don't want that champagne. Take this to the chemist and
get him to make up some of these cachets quick, and bring them back
ANNA. Yes, ma'am; but you have some.
CHLOE. They're too old; I've taken two--the strength's out of them.
Quick, please; I can't stand this head.
ANNA. [Taking the prescription--with her smile] Yes, ma'am. It'll
take some time--you don't want me?
CHLOE. No; I want the cachets.
[ANNA goes out.]
[CHLOE looks at her wrist-watch, goes to the writing-table,
which is old-fashioned, with a secret drawer, looks round her,
dives at the secret drawer, takes out a roll of notes and a
tissue paper parcel. She counts the notes: "Three hundred."
Slips them into her breast and unwraps the little parcel. It
contains pears. She slips them, too, into her dress, looks
round startled, replaces the drawer, and regains her place on
the sofa, lying prostrate as the door opens, and HORNBLOWER
comes in. She does not open her ages, and he stands looking at
her a moment before speaking.]
HORNBLOWER. [Almost softly] How are ye feelin'. Chloe?
CHLOE. Awful head!
HORNBLOWER: Can ye attend a moment? I've had a note from that
[CHLOE sits up.]
HORNBLOWER. [Reading] "I have something of the utmost importance
to tell you in regard to your daughter-in-law. I shall be waiting
to see you at eleven o'clock to-morrow morning. The matter is so
utterly vital to the happiness of all your family, that I cannot
imagine you will fail to come." Now, what's the meaning of it? Is
it sheer impudence, or lunacy, or what?
CHLOE. I don't know.
HORNBLOWER. [Not unkindly] Chloe, if there's anything--ye'd better
tell me. Forewarned's forearmed.
CHLOE. There's nothing; unless it's--[With a quick took at him,]--
Unless it's that my father was a--a bankrupt.
HORNBLOWER. Hech! Many a man's been that. Ye've never told us
much about your family.
CHLOE. I wasn't very proud of him.
HORNBLOWER. Well, ye're not responsible for your father. If that's
all, it's a relief. The bitter snobs! I'll remember it in the
account I've got with them.
CHLOE. Father, don't say anything to Charlie; it'll only worry him
HORNBLOWER. No, no, I'll not. If I went bankrupt, it'd upset
Chearlie, I've not a doubt. [He laugh. Looking at her shrewdly]
There's nothing else, before I answer her?
[CHLOE shakes her head.]
CHLOE. [With an efort] She may invent things, of course.
HORNBLOWER. [Lost in his feud feeling] Ah! but there's such a
thing as the laws o' slander. If they play pranks, I'll have them
up for it.
CHLOE. [Timidly] Couldn't you stop this quarrel; father? You said
it was on my account. But I don't want to know them. And they do
love their old home. I like the girl. You don't really need to
build just there, do you? Couldn't you stop it? Do!
HORNBLOWER. Stop it? Now I've bought? Na, no! The snobs defied
me, and I'm going to show them. I hate the lot of them, and I hate
that little Dawker worst of all.
CHLOE. He's only their agent.
HORNBLOWER. He's a part of the whole dog-in-the-manger system that
stands in my way. Ye're a woman, and ye don't understand these
things. Ye wouldn't believe the struggle I've had to make my money
and get my position. These county folk talk soft sawder, but to get
anything from them's like gettin' butter out of a dog's mouth. If
they could drive me out of here by fair means or foul, would they
hesitate a moment? Not they! See what they've made me pay; and
look at this letter. Selfish, mean lot o' hypocrites!
CHLOE. But they didn't begin the quarrel.
HORNBLOWER. Not openly; but underneath they did--that's their way.
They began it by thwartin' me here and there and everywhere, just
because I've come into me own a bit later than they did. I gave 'em
their chance, and they wouldn't take it. Well, I'll show 'em what a
man like me can do when he sets his mind to it. I'll not leave much
skin on them.
[In the intensity of his feeling he has lost sight of her face,
alive with a sort of agony of doubt, whether to plead with him
further, or what to do. Then, with a swift glance at her
wristwatch, she falls back on the sofa and closes her eyes.]
It'll give me a power of enjoyment seein' me chimneys go up in front
of their windies. That was a bonnie thought--that last bid o' mine.
He'd got that roused up, I believe, he, never would a' stopped.
[Looking at her] I forgot your head. Well, well, ye'll be best
tryin' quiet. [The gong sounds.] Shall we send ye something in
CHLOE. No; I'll try to sleep. Please tell them I don't want to be
HORNBLOWER. All right. I'll just answer this note.
[He sits down at her writing-table.]
[CHLOE starts up from the sofa feverishly, looking at her
watch, at the window, at her watch; then softly crosses to the
window and opens it.]
HORNBLOWER. [Finishing] Listen! [He turns round towards the sofa]
Hallo! Where are ye?
CHLOE. [At the window] It's so hot.
HORNBLOWER. Here's what I've said:
"MADAM,--You can tell me nothing of my daughter-in-law which
can affect the happiness of my family. I regard your note as
an impertinence, and I shall not be with you at eleven o'clock
CHLOE. [With a suffering movement of her head] Oh!--Well!--[The
gong is touched a second time.]
HORNBLOWER. [Crossing to the door] Lie ye down, and get a sleep.
I'll tell them not to disturb ye; and I hope ye'll be all right to-
morrow. Good-night, Chloe.
CHLOE. Good-night. [He goes out.]
[After a feverish turn or two, CHLOE returns to the open window
and waits there, half screened by the curtains. The door is
opened inch by inch, and ANNA'S head peers round. Seeing where
CHLOE is, she slips in and passes behind the screen, Left.
Suddenly CHLOE backs in from the window.]
CHLOE. [In a low voice] Come in.
[She darts to the door and locks it.]
[DAWKER has come in through the window and stands regarding her
with a half smile.]
DAWKER. Well, young woman, what do you want of me?
[In the presence of this man of her own class, there comes a
distinct change in CHLOE'S voice and manner; a sort of frank
commonness, adapted to the man she is dealing with, but she
keeps her voice low.]
CHLOE. You're making a mistake, you know.
DAWKER. [With a broad grin] No. I've got a memory for faces.
CHLOE. I say you are.
DAWKER. [Turning to go] If that's all, you needn't have troubled
me to come.
CHLOE. No. Don't go! [With a faint smile] You are playing a game
with me. Aren't you ashamed? What harm have I done you? Do you
call this cricket?
DAWKER. No, my girl--business.
CHLOE. [Bitterly] What have I to do with this quarrel? I couldn't
help their falling out.
DAWKER. That's your misfortune.
CHLOE. [Clasping her hands] You're a cruel fellow if you can spoil
a woman's life who never did you an ounce of harm.
DAWKER. So they don't know about you. That's all right. Now, look
here, I serve my employer. But I'm flesh and blood, too, and I
always give as good as I get. I hate this family of yours. There's
no name too bad for 'em to call me this last month, and no looks too
black to give me. I tell you frankly, I hate.
CHLOE. There's good in them same as in you.
DAWKER. [With a grin] There's no good Hornblower but a dead
CHLOE. But--but Im not one.
DAWKER. You'll be the mother of some, I shouldn't wonder.
CHLOE. [Stretching out her hand-pathetically] Oh! leave me alone,
do! I'm happy here. Be a sport! Be a sport!
DAWKER. [Disconcerted for a second] You can't get at me, so don't
try it on.
CHLOE. I had such a bad time in old days.
[DAWKER shakes his head; his grin has disappeared and his face
is like wood.]
CHLOE. [Panting] Ah! do! You might! You've been fond of some
woman, I suppose. Think of her!
DAWKER. [Decisively] It won't do, Mrs. Chloe. You're a pawn in
the game, and I'm going to use you.
CHLOE. [Despairingly] What is it to you? [With a sudden touch of
the tigress] Look here! Don't you make an enemy, of me. I haven't
dragged through hell for nothing. Women like me can bite, I tell
DAWKER. That's better. I'd rather have a woman threaten than
whine, any day. Threaten away! You'll let 'em know that you met me
in the Promenade one night. Of course you'll let 'em know that,
won't you?--or that----
CHLOE. Be quiet! Oh! Be quiet! [Taking from her bosom the notes
and the pearls] Look! There's my savings--there's all I've got!
The pearls'll fetch nearly a thousand. [Holding it out to him]
Take it, and drop me out--won't you? Won't you?
DAWKER. [Passing his tongue over his lips with a hard little laugh]
You mistake your man, missis. I'm a plain dog, if you like, but I'm
faithful, and I hold fast. Don't try those games on me.
CHLOE. [Losing control] You're a beast!--a beast! a cruel,
cowardly beast! And how dare you bribe that woman here to spy on
me? Oh! yes, you do; you know you do. If you drove me mad, you
wouldn't care. You beast!
DAWKER. Now, don't carry on! That won't help you.
CHLOE. What d'you call it--to dog a woman down like this, just
because you happen to have a quarrel with a man?
DAWKER. Who made the quarrel? Not me, missis. You ought to know
that in a row it's the weak and helpless--we won't say the innocent-
that get it in the neck. That can't be helped.
CHLOE. [Regarding him intently] I hope your mother or your sister,
if you've got any, may go through what I'm going through ever since
you got on my track. I hope they'll know what fear means. I hope
they'll love and find out that it's hanging on a thread, and--and--
Oh! you coward, you persecuting coward! Call yourself a man!
DAWKER. [With his grin] Ah! You look quite pretty like that. By
George! you're a handsome woman when you're roused.
[CHLOE'S passion fades out as quickly as it blazed up. She
sinks down on the sofa, shudders, looks here and there, and
then for a moment up at him.]
CHLOE. Is there anything you'll take, not to spoil my life?
[Clasping her hands on her breast; under her breath] Me?
DAWKER. [Wiping his brow] By God! That's an offer. [He recoils
towards the window] You--you touched me there. Look here! I've
got to use you and I'm going to use you, but I'll do my best to let
you down as easy as I can. No, I don't want anything you can give
me--that is--[He wipes his brow again] I'd like it--but I won't
[CHLOE buries her face in her hands.]
There! Keep your pecker up; don't cry. Good-night! [He goes
through the window.]
CHLOE. [Springing up] Ugh! Rat in a trap! Rat----!
[She stands listening; flies to the door, unlocks it, and,
going back to the sofa, lies down and doses her eyes. CHARLES
comes in very quietly and stands over her, looking to see if
she is asleep. She opens her eyes.]
CHARLES. Well, Clo! Had a sleep, old girl?
CHARLES. [Sitting on the arm of the sofa and caressing her] Feel
CHLOE. Yes, better, Charlie.
CHARLES. That's right. Would you like some soup?
CHLOE. [With a shudder] No.
CHARLES. I say-what gives you these heads? You've been very on and
off all this last month.
CHLOE. I don't know. Except that--except that I am going to have a
CHARLES. After all! By Jove! Sure?
CHLOE. [Nodding] Are you glad?
CHARLES. Well--I suppose I am. The guv'nor will be mighty pleased,
CHLOE. Don't tell him--yet.
CHARLES. All right! [Bending over and drawing her to him] My poor
girl, I'm so sorry you're seedy. Give us a kiss.
[CHLOE puts up her face and kisses him passionately.]
I say, you're like fire. You're not feverish?
CHLOE. [With a laugh] It's a wonder if I'm not. Charlie, are you
happy with me?
CHARLES. What do you think?
CHLOE. [Leaning against him] You wouldn't easily believe things
against me, would you?
CHARLES. What! Thinking of those Hillcrists? What the hell that
woman means by her attitude towards you--When I saw her there to-
day, I had all my work cut out not to go up and give her a bit of my
CHLOE. [Watching him stealthily] It's not good for me, now I'm
like this. It's upsetting me, Charlie.
CHARLES. Yes; and we won't forget. We'll make 'em pay for it.
CHLOE. It's wretched in a little place like this. I say, must you
go on spoiling their home?
CHARLES. The woman cuts you and insults you. That's enough for me.
CHLOE. [Timidly] Let her. I don't care; I can't bear feeling
enemies about, Charlie, I--get nervous--I----
CHARLES. My dear girl! What is it?
[He looks at her intently.]
CHLOE. I suppose it's--being like this. [Suddenly] But, Charlie,
do stop it for my sake. Do, do!
CHARLES. [Patting her arm] Come, come; I say, Chloe! You're
making mountains. See things in proportion. Father's paid nine
thousand five hundred to get the better of those people, and you
want him to chuck it away to save a woman who's insulted you.
That's not sense, and it's not business. Have some pride.
CHLOE. [Breathless] I've got no pride, Charlie. I want to be
CHARLES. Well, if the row gets on your nerves, I can take you to
the sea. But you ought to enjoy a fight with people like that.
CHLOE. [With calculated bitterness] No, it's nothing, of course--
what I want.
CHARLES. Hello! Hello! You are on the jump!
CHLOE. If you want me to be a good wife to you, make father stop
CHARLES. [Standing up] Now, look here, Chloe, what's behind this?
CHLOE. [Faintly] Behind?
CHARLES. You're carrying on as if--as if you were really scared!
We've got these people: We'll have them out of Deepwater in six
months. It's absolute ruination to their beastly old house; we'll
put the chimneys on the very edge, not three hundred yards off, and
our smoke'll be drifting over them half the time. You won't have
this confounded stuck-up woman here much longer. And then we can
really go ahead and take our proper place. So long as she's here,
we shall never do that. We've only to drive on now as fast as we
CHLOE. [With a gesture] I see.
CHARLES. [Again looking at her] If you go on like this, you know,
I shall begin to think there's something you----
CHLOE [softly] Charlie! [He comes to her.] Love me!
CHARLES. [Embracing her] There, old girl! I know women are funny
at these times. You want a good night, that's all.
CHLOE. You haven't finished dinner, have you? Go back, and I'll go
to bed quite soon. Charlie, don't stop loving me.
CHARLES. Stop? Not much.
[While he is again embracing her, ANNA steals from behind the
screen to the door, opens it noiselessly, and passes through,
but it clicks as she shuts it.]
CHLOE. [Starting violently] Oh-h!
[He comes to her.]
CHARLES. What is it? What is it? You are nervy, my dear.
CHLOE. [Looking round with a little laugh] I don't know. Go on,
Charlie. I'll be all right when this head's gone.
CHARLES. [Stroking her forehead and, looking at her doubtfully]
You go to bed; I won't be late coming up.
[He turn, and goes, blowing a kiss from the doorway. When he
is gone, CHLOE gets up and stands in precisely the attitude in
which she stood at the beginning of the Act, thinking, and
thinking. And the door is opened, and the face of the MAID
peers round at her.]
HILLCRIST'S study next morning.
JILL coming from Left, looks in at the open French window.
JILL. [Speaking to ROLF, invisible] Come in here. There's no one.
[She goes in. ROLF joins her, coming from the garden.]
ROLF. Jill, I just wanted to say--Need we?
Seeing you yesterday--it did seem rotten.
JILL. We didn't begin it.
ROLF. No; but you don't understand. If you'd made yourself, as
JILL. I hope I should be sorry.
ROLF. [Reproachfully] That isn't like you. Really he can't help
thinking he's a public benefactor.
JILL. And we can't help thinking he's a pig. Sorry!
ROLF. If the survival of the fittest is right----
JILL. He may be fitter, but he's not going to survive.
ROLF. [Distracted] It looks like it, though.
JILL. Is that all you came to say?
ROLF. Suppose we joined, couldn't we stop it?
JILL. I don't feel like joining.
ROLF. We did shake hands.
JILL. One can't fight and not grow bitter.
ROLF. I don't feel bitter.
JILL. Wait; you'll feel it soon enough.
ROLF. Why? [Attentively] About Chloe? I do think your mother's
manner to her is----
ROLF. Snobbish. [JILL laughs.]
She may not be your class; and that's just why it's
JILL. I think you'd better shut up.
ROLF. What my father said was true; your mother's rudeness to her
that day she came here, has made both him and Charlie ever so much
[JILL whistles the Habanera from "Carmen."]
[Staring at her, rather angrily]
Is it a whistling matter?
ROLF. I suppose you want me to go?
ROLF. All right. Aren't we ever going to be friends again?
JILL. [Looking steadily at him] I don't expect so.
ROLF. That's very-horrible.
JILL. Lots of horrible things in the world.
ROLF. It's our business to make them fewer, Jill.
JILL. [Fiercely] Don't be moral.
ROLF. [Hurt] That's the last thing I want to be.--I only want to
JILL. Better be real first.
ROLF. From the big point of view----
JILL. There isn't any. We're all out, for our own. And why not?
ROLF. By jove, you have got----
JILL. Cynical? Your father's motto--"Every man for himself."
That's the winner--hands down. Goodbye!
ROLF. Jill! Jill!
JILL. [Putting her hands behind her back, hums]--
"If auld acquaintance be forgot
And days of auld lang syne"----
[With a pained gesture he goes out towards Left, through the
[JILL, who has broken off the song, stands with her hands
clenched and her lips quivering.]
[FELLOWS enters Left.]
FELLOWS. Mr. Dawker, Miss, and two gentlemen.
JILL. Let the three gentlemen in, and me out.
[She passes him and goes out Left. And immediately. DAWKER
and the two STRANGERS come in.]
FELLOWS. I'll inform Mrs. Hillcrist, sir. The Squire is on his
rounds. [He goes out Left.]
[The THREE MEN gather in a discreet knot at the big bureau,
having glanced at the two doors and the open French window.]
DAWKER. Now this may come into Court, you know. If there's a screw
loose anywhere, better mention it. [To SECOND STRANGE] You knew
SECOND S. What do you think? I don't, take girls on trust for that
sort of job. She came to us highly recommended, too; and did her
work very well. It was a double stunt--to make sure--wasn't it,
FIRST S. Yes; we paid her for the two visits.
SECOND S. I should know her in a minute; striking looking girl; had
something in her face. Daresay she'd seen hard times.
FIRST S. We don't want publicity.
DAWKER. Not Likely. The threat'll do it; but the stakes are heavy
--and the man's a slugger; we must be able to push it home. If you
can both swear to her, it'll do the trick.
SECOND S. And about--I mean, we're losing time, you know, coming
DAWKER. [With a nod at FIRST STRANGER] George here knows me.
That'll be all right. I'll guarantee it well worth your while.
SECOND S. I don't want to do the girl harm, if she's married.
DAWKER. No, no; nobody wants to hurt her. We just want a cinch on
this fellow till he squeals.
[They separate a little as MRS. HILLCRIST enters from Right.]
DAWKER. Good morning, ma'am. My friend's partner. Hornblower
MRS. H. At eleven. I had to send up a second note, Dawker.
DAWKER. Squire not in?
MRS. H. I haven't told him.
DAWKER. [Nodding] Our friends might go in here [Pointing Right]
and we can use 'em as the want 'em.
MRS. H. [To the STRANGERS] Will you make yourselves comfortable?
[She holds the door open, and they pass her into the room,
DAWKER. [Showing document] I've had this drawn and engrossed.
Pretty sharp work. Conveys the Centry, and Longmeadow; to the
Squire at four thousand five hundred: Now, ma'am, suppose Hornblower
puts his hand to that, hell have been done in the eye, and six
thousand all told out o' pocket.--You'll have a very nasty neighbour
MRS. H. But we shall still have the power to disclose that secret
at any time.
DAWKER. Yeh! But things might happen here you could never bring
home to him. You can't trust a man like that. He isn't goin' to
forgive me, I know.
MRS. H. [Regarding him keenly] But if he signs, we couldn't
DAWKER. No, ma'am, you couldn't; and I'm sure I don't want to do
that girl a hurt. I just mention it because, of course, you can't
guarantee that it doesn't get out.
MRS. H. Not absolutely, I suppose.
[A look passes between them, which neither of them has quite
[There's his car. It always seems to make more noise than any
DAWKER. He'll kick and flounder--but you leave him to ask what you
want, ma'am; don't mention this [He puts the deed back into his
pocket]. The Centry's no mortal good to him if he's not going to
put up works; I should say he'd be glad to save what he can.
[MRS. HILLCRIST inclines her head. FELLOWS enters Left.]
FELLOWS. [Apologetically] Mr. Hornblower, ma'am; by appointment,
MRS. H. Quite right, Fellows.
[HORNBLOWER comes in, and FELLOWS goes out.]
HORNBLOWER. [Without salutation] I've come to ask ye point bleak
what ye mean by writing me these letters. [He takes out two
letters.] And we'll discus it in the presence of nobody, if ye,
MRS. H. Mr. Dawker knows all that I know, and more.
HORNBLOWER. Does he? Very well! Your second note says that my
daughter-in-law has lied to me. Well, I've brought her, and what
ye've got to say--if it's not just a trick to see me again--ye'll
say to her face. [He takes a step towards the window.]
MRS. H. Mr. Hornblower, you had better, decide that after hearing
what it is--we shall be quite ready to repeat it in her presence;
but we want to do as little harm as possible.
HORNBLOWER. [Stopping] Oh! ye do! Well, what lies have ye been
hearin'? Or what have ye made up? You and Mr. Dawker? Of course
ye know there's a law of libel and slander. I'm, not the man to
stop at that.
MRS. H. [Calmly] Are you familiar with the law of divorce, Mr.
HORNBLOWER. [Taken aback] No, I'm not. That is-----.
MRS. H. Well, you know that misconduct is required. And I suppose
you've heard that cases are arranged.
HORNBLOWER. I know it's all very shocking--what about it?
MRS. H. When cases are arranged, Mr. Hornblower, the man who is to
be divorced often visits an hotel with a strange woman. I am
extremely sorry to say that your daughter-in-law, before her
marriage, was in the habit of being employed as such a woman.
HORNBLOWER. Ye dreadful creature!
DAWKER. [Quickly] All proved, up to the hilt!
HORNBLOWER. I don't believe a word of it. Ye're lyin' to save your
skins. How dare ye tell me such monstrosities? Dawker, I'll have
ye in a criminal court.
DAWKER. Rats! You saw a gent with me yesterday? Well, he's
HORNBLOWER. A put-up job! Conspiracy!
MRS. H. Go and get your daughter-in-law.
HORNBLOWER. [With the first sensation of being in a net] It's a
foul shame--a lying slander!
MRS. H. If so, it's easily disproved. Go and fetch her.
HORNBLOWER. [Seeing them unmoved] I will. I don't believe a word
MRS. H. I hope you are right.
[HORNBLOWER goes out by the French window, DAWKER slips to the
door Right, opens it, arid speaks to those within. MRS.
HILLCRIST stands moistening her lips, and passim her
handkerchief over them. HORNBLOWER returns, preceding CHLOE,
strung up to hardness and defiance.]
HORNBLOWER. Now then, let's have this impudent story torn to rags.
CHLOE. What story?
HORNBLOWER. That you, my dear, were a woman--it's too shockin--I
don't know how to tell ye----
CHLOE. Go on!
HORNBLOWER. Were a woman that went with men, to get them their
CHLOE. Who says that?
HORNBLOWER. That lady [Sneering] there, and her bull-terrier here.
CHLOE. [Facing MRS. HILLCRIST] That's a charitable thing to say,
MRS. H. Is it true?
HORNBLOWER. [Furiously] There! I'll have ye both on your knees to
DAWKER. [Opening the door, Right] Come in.
[The FIRST STRANGER comes in. CHLOE, with a visible effort,
turns to face him.]
FIRST S. How do you do, Mrs. Vane?
CHLOE. I don't know you.
FIRST S. Your memory is bad, ma'am: You knew me yesterday well
enough. One day is not a long time, nor are three years.
CHLOE. Who are you?
FIRST S. Come, ma'am, come! The Caster case.
CHLOE. I don't know you, I say. [To MRS. HILLCRIST] How can you
be so vile?
FIRST S. Let me refresh your memory, ma'am. [Producing a notebook]
Just on three years ago; "Oct.3. To fee and expenses Mrs. Vane with
Mr. C----, Hotel Beaulieu, Twenty pounds. Oct. 10, Do., Twenty
pounds." [To HORNBLOWER] Would you like to glance at this book,
sir? You'll see they're genuine entries.
[HORNBLOWER makes a motion to do so, but checks himself and
looks at CHLOE.]
CHLOE. [Hysterically] It's all lies--lies!
FIRST S. Come, ma'am, we wish you no harm.
CHLOE. Take me away. I won't be treated like this.
MRS. H. [In a low voice] Confess.
HORNBLOWER. Were ye ever called Vane?
CHLOE. No, never.
[She makes a movement towards the window, but DAWKER is in the
way, and she halts. FIRST S. [Opening the door, Right]
[The SECOND STRANGER comes in quickly. At sight of him CHLOE
throws up her hands, gasps, breaks down, stage Left, and stands
covering her face with her hands. It is so complete a
confession that HORNBLOWER stands staggered; and, taking out a
coloured handkerchief, wipes his brow.]
DAWKER. Are you convinced?
HORNBLOWER. Take those men away.
DAWKER. If you're not satisfied, we can get other evidence; plenty.
HORNBLOWER. [Looking at CHLOE] That's enough. Take them out.
Leave me alone with her.
[DAWKER takes them out Right. MRS. HILLCRIST passes HORNBLOWER
and goes out at the window. HORNBLOWER moves down a step or
two towards CHLOE.]
HORNBLOWER. My God!
CHLOE. [With an outburst] Don't tell Charlie! Don't tell Charlie!
HORNBLOWER. Chearlie! So, that was your manner of life.
[CHLOE utters a moaning sound.]
So that's what ye got out of by marryin' into my family! Shame on
ye, ye Godless thing!
CHLOE. Don't tell Charlie!
HORNBLOWER. And that's all ye can say for the wreck ye've wrought.
My family, my works, my future! How dared ye!
CHLOE. If you'd been me!----
HORNBLOWER. An' these Hillcrists. The skin game of it!
CHLOE. [Breathless] Father!
HORNBLOWER. Don't call me that, woman!
CHLOE. [Desperate] I'm going to have a child.
HORNBLOWER. God! Ye are!
CHLOE. Your grandchild. For the sake of it, do what these people
want; and don't tell anyone--DON'T TELL CHARLIE!
HORNBLOWER. [Again wiping his forehead] A secret between us. I
don't know that I can keep it. It's horrible. Poor Chearlie!
CHLOE. [Suddenly fierce] You must keep it, you shall! I won't
have him told. Don't make me desperate! I can be--I didn't live
that life for nothing.
HORNBLOWER. [Staring at her resealed in a new light] Ay; ye look a
strange, wild woman, as I see ye. And we thought the world of ye!
CHLOE. I love Charlie; I'm faithful to him. I can't live without
him. You'll never forgive me, I know; but Charlie----! [Stretching
out her hands.]
[HORNBLOWER makes a bewildered gesture with his large hands.]
HORNBLOWER. I'm all at sea here. Go out to the car and wait for
[CHLOE passes him and goes out, Left.]
[Muttering to himself] So I'm down! Me enemies put their heels upon
me head! Ah! but we'll see yet!
[He goes up to the window and beckons towards the Right.]
[MRS. HILLCRIST comes in.]
What d'ye want for this secret?
MRS. H. Nothing.
HORNBLOWER. Indeed! Wonderful!--the trouble ye've taken for--
MRS. H. If you harm us we shall harm you. Any use whatever of the
HORNBLOWER. For which ye made me pay nine thousand five hundred
MRS. H. We will buy it from you.
HORNBLOWER. At what price?
MRS. H. The Centry at the price Miss Muffins would have taken at
first, and Longmeadow at the price you--gave us--four thousand five
HORNBLOWER. A fine price, and me six thousand out of pocket. Na,
no! I'll keep it and hold it over ye. Ye daren't tell this secret
so long as I've got it.
MRS. H. No, Mr. Hornblower. On second thoughts, you must sell.
You broke your word over the Jackmans. We can't trust you. We
would rather have our place here ruined at once, than leave you the
power to ruin it as and when you like. You will sell us the Centry
and Longmeadow now, or you know what will happen.
HORNBLOWER. [Writhing] I'll not. It's blackmail.
MRS. H. Very well then! Go your own way and we'll go ours. There
is no witness to this conversation.
HORNBLOWER. [Venomously] By heaven, ye're a clever woman. Will ye
swear by Almighty God that you and your family, and that agent of
yours, won't breathe a word of this shockin' thing to mortal soul.
MRS. H. Yes, if you sell.
HORNBLOWER. Where's Dawker?
MRS. H. [Going to the door, Right] Mr. Dawker
[DAWKER comes in.]
HORNBLOWER. I suppose ye've got your iniquity ready.
[DAWKER grins and produces the document.]
It's mighty near conspiracy, this. Have ye got a Testament?
MRS. H. My word will be enough, Mr. Hornblower.
HORNBLOWER. Ye'll pardon me--I can't make it solemn enough for you.
MRS. H. Very well; here is a Bible.
[She takes a small Bible from the bookshelf.]
DAWKER. [Spreading document on bureau] This is a short conveyance
of the Centry and Longmeadow--recites sale to you by Miss Mulling,
of the first, John Hillcrist of the second, and whereas you have
agreed for the sale to said John Hillcrist, for the sum of four
thousand five hundred pounds, in consideration of the said sum,
receipt whereof, you hereby acknowledge you do convey all that, etc.
Sign here. I'll witness.
HORNBLOWER [To MRS. HILLCRIST] Take that Book in your hand, and
swear first. I swear by Almighty God never to breathe a word of
what I know. concerning Chloe Hornblower to any living soul.
MRS. H. No, Mr. Hornblower; you will please sign first. We are not
in the habit of breaking our word.
[HORNBLOWER after a furious look at them, seizes a pen, runs
his eye again over the deed, and signs, DAWKER witnessing.]
To that oath, Mr. Hornblower, we shall add the words, "So long as
the Hornblower family do us no harm."
HORNBLOWER. [With a snarl] Take it in your hands, both of ye, and
MRS. H. [Taking the Book] I swear that I will breathe no word of
what I know concerning Chloe Hornblower to any living soul, so long
as the Hornblower family do us no harm.
DAWKER. I swear that too.
MRS. H. I engage for my husband.
HORNBLOWER. Where are those two fellows?
DAWKER. Gone. It's no business of theirs.
HORNBLOWER. It's no business of any of ye what has happened to a
woman in the past. Ye know that. Good-day!
[He gives them a deadly look, and goes out, left, followed by
MRS. H. [With her hand on the Deed] Safe!
[HILLCRIST enters at the French window, followed by JILL.]
[Holding up the Deed] Look! He's just gone! I told you it was
only necessary to use the threat. He caved in and signed this; we
are sworn to say nothing. We've beaten him.
[HILLCRIST studies the Deed.]
JILL. [Awed] We saw Chloe in the car. How did she take it,
MRS. H. Denied, then broke down when she saw our witnesses. I'm
glad you were not here, Jack.
JILL. [Suddenly] I shall go and see her.
MRS. H. Jill, you will not; you don't know what she's done.
JILL. I shall. She must be in an awful state.
HILLCRIST. My dear, you can do her no good.
JILL. I think I can, Dodo.
MRS. H. You don't understand human nature. We're enemies for life
with those people. You're a little donkey if you think anything
JILL. I'm going, all the same.
MRS. H. Jack, forbid her.
HILLCRIST. [Lifting an eyebrow] Jill, be reasonable.
JILL. Suppose I'd taken a knock like that, Dodo, I'd be glad of
friendliness from someone.
MRS. H. You never could take a knock like that.
JILL. You don't know what you can do till you try, mother.
HILLCRIST. Let her go, Amy. Im sorry for that young woman.
MRS. H. You'd be sorry for a man who picked your pocket, I believe.
HILLCRIST. I certainly should! Deuced little he'd get out of it,
when I've paid for the Centry.
MRS. H. [Bitterly] Much gratitude I get for saving you both our
JILL. [Disarmed] Oh! Mother, we are grateful. Dodo, show your
HILLCRIST. Well, my dear, it's an intense relief. I'm not good at
showing my feelings, as you know. What d'you want me to do? Stand
on one leg and crow?
JILL. Yes, Dodo, yes! Mother, hold him while I [Suddenly she
stops, and all the fun goes out of her] No! I can't--I can't help
thinking of her.
CURTAIN falls for a minute.
When it rises again, the room is empty and dark, same for
moonlight coming in through the French window, which is open.
The figure of CHLOE, in a black cloak, appears outside in the
moonlight; she peers in, moves past, comes bank, hesitatingly
enters. The cloak, fallen back, reveals a white evening dress;
and that magpie figure stands poised watchfully in the dim
light, then flaps unhappily Left and Right, as if she could not
keep still. Suddenly she stands listening.
ROLF'S VOICE. [Outside] Chloe! Chloe!
CHLOE. [Going to the window] What are you doing here?
ROLF. What are you? I only followed you.
CHLOE. Go away.
ROLF. What's the matter? Tell me!
CHLOE. Go away, and don't say anything. Oh! The roses! [She has
put her nose into some roses in a bowl on a big stand close to the
window] Don't they smell lovely?
ROLF. What did Jill want this afternoon?
CHLOE. I'll tell you nothing. Go away!
ROLF. I don't like leaving you here in this state.
CHLOE. What state? I'm all right. Wait for me down in the drive,
if you want to.
[ROLF starts to go, stops, looks at her, and does go. CHLOE,
with a little moaning sound, flutters again, magpie-like, up
and down, then stands by the window listening. Voices are
heard, Left. She darts out of the window and away to the
Right, as HILLCRIST and JILL come in. They have turned up the
electric light, and come down in frond of the fireplace, where
HILLCRIST sits in an armchair, and JILL on the arm of it. They
are in undress evening attire.]
HILLCRIST. Now, tell me.
JILL. There isn't much, Dodo. I was in an awful funk for fear I
should meet any of the others, and of course I did meet Rolf, but I
told him some lie, and he took me to her room-boudoir, they call it
--isn't boudoir a "dug-out" word?
HILLCRIST. [Meditatively] The sulking room. Well?
JILL. She was sitting like this. [She buries her chin in her
hands, wide her elbows on her knees] And she said in a sort of
fierce way: "What do you want?" And I said: "I'm awfully sorry, but
I thought you might like it."
JILL. She looked at me hard, and said: "I suppose you know all
about it." And I Said: "Only vaguely," because of course I don't.
And she said: "Well, it was decent of you to come." Dodo, she looks
like a lost soul. What has she done?
HILLCRIST. She committed her real crime when she married young
Hornblower without telling him. She came out of a certain world to
JILL. Oh! [Staring in front of her] Is it very awful in that
HILLCRIST. [Uneasy] I don't know, Jill. Some can stand it, I
suppose; some can't. I don't know which sort she is.
JILL. One thing I'm sure of: she's awfully fond of Chearlie.
HILLCRIST. That's bad; that's very bad.
JILL. And she's frightened, horribly. I think she's desperate.
HILLCRIST. Women like that are pretty tough, Jill; don't judge her
too much by your own feelings.
JILL. No; only----Oh! it was beastly; and of course I dried up.
HILLCRIST. [Feelingly] H'm! One always does. But perhaps it was
as well; you'd have been blundering in a dark passage.
JILL. I just said: "Father and I feel awfully sorry; if there's
anything we can do----"
HILLCRIST. That was risky, Jill.
JILL. (Disconsolately) I had to say something. I'm glad I went,
anyway. I feel more human.
HILLCRIST. We had to fight for our home. I should have felt like a
traitor if I hadn't.
JILL. I'm not enjoying home tonight, Dodo.
HILLCRIST. I never could hate proper; it's a confounded nuisance.
JILL. Mother's fearfully' bucked, and Dawker's simply oozing
triumph. I don't trust him. Dodo; he's too--not pugilistic--the
other one with a pug-naceous.
HILLCRIST. He is rather.
JILL. I'm sure he wouldn't care tuppence if Chloe committed
HILLCRIST. [Rising uneasily] Nonsense! Nonsense!
JILL. I wonder if mother would.
HILLCRIST. [Turning his face towards the window] What's that? I
thought I heard--[Louder]--Is these anybody out there?
[No answer. JILL, springs up and runs to the window.]
[She dives through to the Right, and returns, holding CHLOE'S
hand and drawing her forward]
Come in! It's only us! [To HILLCRIST] Dodo!
HILLCRIST. [Flustered, but making a show of courtesy] Good
evening! Won't you sit down?
JILL. Sit down; you're all shaky.
[She makes CHLOE sit down in the armchair, out of which they
have risen, then locks the door, and closing the windows, draws
the curtains hastily over them.]
HILLCRIST. [Awkward and expectant] Can I do anything for you?
CHLOE. I couldn't bear it he's coming to ask you----
CHLOE. My husband. [She draws in her breath with a long shudder,
then seem to seize her courage in her hands] I've got to be quick.
He keeps on asking--he knows there's something.
HILLCRIST. Make your mind easy. We shan't tell him.
CHLOE. [Appealing] Oh! that's not enough. Can't you tell him
something to put him back to thinking it's all right? I've done him
such a wrong. I didn't realise till after--I thought meeting him
was just a piece of wonderful good luck, after what I'd been
through. I'm not such a bad lot--not really.
[She stops from the over-quivering of her lips. JILL, standing
beside the chair, strokes her shoulder. HILLCRIST stands very
still, painfully biting at a finger.]
You see, my father went bankrupt, and I was in a shop----
HILLCRIST. [Soothingly, and to prevent disclosures] Yes, yes; Yes,
CHLOE. I never gave a man away or did anything I was ashamed of--at
least--I mean, I had to make my living in all sorts of ways, and
then I met Charlie.
[Again she stopped from the quivering of her lips.]
JILL. It's all right.
CHLOE. He thought I was respectable, and that was such a relief,
you can't think, so--so I let him.
JILL. Dodo! It's awful
HILLCRIST. It is!
CHLOE. And after I married him, you see, I fell in love. If I had
before, perhaps I wouldn't have dared only, I don't know--you never
know, do you? When there's a straw going, you catch at it.
JILL. Of course you do.
CHLOE. And now, you see, I'm going to have a child.
JILL. [Aghast] Oh! Are you?
HILLCRIST. Good God!
CHLOE. [Dully] I've been on hot bricks all this month, ever since
that day here. I knew it was in the wind. What gets in the wind
never gets out. [She rises and throws out her arms] Never! It
just blows here and there [Desolately] and then--blows home. [Her
voice changes to resentment] But I've paid for being a fool--
'tisn't fun, that sort of life, I can tell you. I'm not ashamed and
repentant, and all that. If it wasn't for him! I'm afraid he'll
never forgive me; it's such a disgrace for him--and then, to have
his child! Being fond of him, I feel it much worse than anything I
ever felt, and that's saying a good bit. It is.
JILL. [Energetically] Look here! He simply mustn't find out.
CHLOE. That's it; but it's started, and he's bound to keep on
because he knows there's something. A man isn't going to be
satisfied when there's something he suspects about his wife, Charlie
wouldn't never. He's clever, and he's jealous; and he's coming
[She stops, and looks round wildly, listening.]
JILL. Dodo, what can we say to put him clean off the scent?
HILLCRIST. Anything--in reason.
CHLOE. [Catching at this straw] You will! You see, I don't know
what I'll do. I've got soft, being looked after--he does love me.
And if he throws me off, I'll go under--that's all.
HILLCRIST. Have you any suggestion?
CHLOE. [Eagerly] The only thing is to tell him something positive,
something he'll believe, that's not too bad--like my having been a
lady clerk with those people who came here, and having been
dismissed on suspicion of taking money. I could get him to believe
that wasn't true.
JILL. Yes; and it isn't--that's splendid! You'd be able to put
such conviction into it. Don't you think so, Dodo?
HILLCRIST. Anything I can. I'm deeply sorry.
CHLOE. Thank you. And don't say I've been here, will you? He's
very suspicious. You see, he knows that his father has re-sold that
land to you; that's what he can't make out--that, and my coming here
this morning; he knows something's being kept from him; and he
noticed that man with Dawker yesterday. And my maid's been spying
on me. It's in the air. He puts two and two together. But I've
told him there's nothing he need worry about; nothing that's true.
HILLCRIST. What a coil!
CHLOE. I'm very honest and careful about money. So he won't
believe that about me, and the old man wants to keep it from
Charlie, I know.
HILLCRIST. That does seem the best way out.
CHLOE. [With a touch of defiance] I'm a true wife to him.
CHLOE. Of course we know that.
HILLCRIST. It's all unspeakably sad. Deception's horribly against
CHLOE. [Eagerly] When I deceived him, I'd have deceived God
Himself--I was so desperate. You've never been right down in the
mud. You can't understand what I've been through.
HILLCRIST. Yes, Yes. I daresay I'd have done the same. I should
be the last to judge
[CHLOE covers her eyes with her hands.]
There, there! Cheer up! [He puts his hand on her arm.]
CHLOE. [To herself] Darling Dodo!
CHLOE. [Starting] There's somebody at the door. I must go; I must
[She runs to the window and slips through the curtains.]
[The handle of the door is again turned.]
JILL. [Dismayed] Oh! It's locked--I forgot.
[She spring to the door, unlocks and opens it, while HILLCRIST
goes to the bureau and sits down.]
It's all right, Fellows; I was only saying something rather
FELLOWS. [Coming in a step or two and closing the door behind him]
Certainly, Miss. Mr. Charles 'Ornblower is in the hall. Wants to
see you, sir, or Mrs. Hillcrist.
JILL. What a bore! Can you see him, Dodo?
HILLCRIST. Er--yes. I suppose so. Show him in here, Fellows.
[As FELLOWS goes out, JILL runs to the window, but has no time
to do more than adjust the curtains and spring over to stand by
her father, before CHARLES comes in. Though in evening
clothes, he is white arid disheveled for so spruce a young
CHARLES. Is my wife here?
HILLCRIST. No, sir.
CHARLES. Has she been?
HILLCRIST. This morning, I believe, Jill?
JILL. Yes, she came this morning.
CHARLES. [staring at her] I know that--now, I mean?
[HILLCRIST shakes has head.]
CHARLES. Tell me what was said this morning.
HILLCRIST. I was not here this morning.
CHARLES. Don't try to put me off. I know too much. [To JILL]
JILL. Shall I, Dodo?
HILLCRIST. No; I will. Won't you sit down?
CHARLES. No. Go on.
HILLCRIST. [Moistening his lips] It appears, Mr. Hornblower, that
my agent, Mr. Dawker--
[CHARLES, who is breathing hard, utters a sound of anger.]
--that my agent happens to know a firm, who in old days employed
your wife. I should greatly prefer not to say any more, especially
as we don't believe the story.
JILL. No; we don't.
CHARLES. Go on!
HILLCRIST. [Getting up] Come! If I were you, I should refuse to
listen to anything against my wife.
CHARLES. Go on, I tell you.
HILLCRIST. You insist? Well, they say there was some question
about the accounts, and your wife left them under a cloud. As I
told you, we don't believe it.
CHARLES. [Passionately] Liars!
[He makes a rush for the door.]
HILLCRIST. [Starting] What did you say?
JILL. [Catching his arm] Dodo! [Sotto voce] We are, you know.
CHARLES. [Turning back to them] Why do you tell me that lie? When
I've just had the truth out of that little scoundrel! My wife's
been here; she put you up to it.
[The face of CHLOE is seen transfixed between the curtains,
parted by her hands.]
She--she put you up to it. Liar that she is--a living lie. For
three years a living lie!
[HILLCRIST whose face alone is turned towards the curtains,
sees that listening face. His hand goes up from uncontrollable
And hasn't now the pluck to tell me. I've done with her. I won't
own a child by such a woman.
[With a little sighing sound CHLOE drops the curtain and
HILLCRIST. For God's sake, man, think of what you're saying. She's
in great distress.
CHARLES. And what am I?
JILL. She loves you, you know.
CHARLES. Pretty love! That scoundrel Dawker told me--told me--
HILLCRIST. I deeply regret that our quarrel should have brought
CHARLES. [With intense bitterness] Yes, you've smashed my life.
[Unseen by them, MRS. HILLCRIST has entered and stands by the
MRS. H. Would you have wished to live on in ignorance? [They all
turn to look at her.]
CHARLES. [With a writhing movement] I don't know. But--you--you
MRS. H. You shouldn't have attacked us.
CHARLES. What did we do to you--compared with this?
MRS. H. All you could.
HILLCRIST. Enough, enough! What can we do to help you?
CHARLES. Tell me where my wife is.
[JILL draws the curtains apart--the window is open--JILL looks
out. They wait in silence.]
JILL. We don't know.
CHARLES. Then she was here?
HILLCRIST. Yes, sir; and she heard you.
CHARLES. All the better if she did. She knows how I feel.
HILLCRIST. Brace up; be gentle with her.
CHARLES. Gentle? A woman who--who----
HILLCRIST. A most unhappy creature. Come!
CHARLES. Damn your sympathy!
[He goes out into the moonlight, passing away.]
JILL. Dodo, we ought to look for her; I'm awfully afraid.
HILLCRIST. I saw her there--listening. With child! Who knows
where things end when they and begin? To the gravel pit, Jill; I'll
go to the pond. No, we'll go together. [They go out.]
[MRS. HILLCRIST comes down to the fireplace, rings the bell
and stands there, thinking. FELLOWS enters.]
MRS. H. I want someone to go down to Mr. Dawker's.
FELLOWS. Mr. Dawker is here, ma'am, waitin' to see you.
MRS. H. Ask him to come in. Oh! and Fellows, you can tell the
Jackmans that they can go back to their cottage.
FELLOWS. Very good, ma'am. [He goes out.]
[MRS. HILLCRIST searches at the bureau, finds and takes out the