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The Skin Game (Play in the Fourth Series) by John Galsworthy

Part 3 out of 3

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deed. DAWKERS comes in; he has the appearance of a man whose
temper has been badly ruffled.]

MRS. H. Charles Hornblower--how did it happen?

DAWKER. He came to me. I said I knew nothing. He wouldn't take
it; went for me, abused me up hill and down dale; said he knew
everything, and then he began to threaten me. Well, I lost my
temper, and I told him.

MRS. H. That's very serious, Dawker, after our promise. My husband
is most upset.

DAWKER. [Sullenly] It's not my fault, ma'am; he shouldn't have
threatened and goaded me on. Besides, it's got out that there's a
scandal; common talk in the village--not the facts, but quite enough
to cook their goose here. They'll have to go. Better have done
with it, anyway, than have enemies at your door.

MRS. H. Perhaps; but--Oh! Dawker, take charge of this. [She hands
him the deed] These people are desperate--and--I'm sot sure of my
husband when his feelings are worked on.

[The sound of a car stopping.]

DAWKER. [At the window, looking to the Left] Hornblower's, I
think. Yes, he's getting out.

MRS. H. [Bracing herself] You'd better wait, then.

DAWKER. He mustn't give me any of his sauce; I've had enough.

[The door is opened and HORNBLOWER enters, pressing so on the
heels of FELLOWS that the announcement of his name is lost.]

HORNBLOWER. Give me that deed! Ye got it out of me by false
pretences and treachery. Ye swore that nothing should be heard of
this. Why! me own servants know.

MRS. H. That has nothing to do with us. Your son came and wrenched
the knowledge out of Mr. DAWKER by abuse and threats; that is all.
You will kindly behave yourself here, or I shall ask that you be
shown out.

HORNBLOWER. Give me that deed, I say! [He suddenly turns on
DAWKER] Ye little ruffian, I see it in your pocket.

[The end indeed is projecting from DAWKER'S breast pocket.]

DAWKER. [Seeing red] Now, look 'ere, 'Ornblower, I stood a deal
from your son, and I'll stand no more.

HORNBLOWER. [To MRS. HILLCRIST] I'll ruin your place yet! [To
DAWKER] Ye give me that deed, or I'll throttle ye.

[He closes on DAWKER, and makes a snatch at the deed. DAWKER,
springs at him, and the two stand swaying, trying for a grip at
each other's throats. MRS. HILLCRIST tries to cross and reach
the bell, but is shut off by their swaying struggle.]

[Suddenly ROLF appears in the window, looks wildly at the
struggle, and seizes DAWKER'S hands, which have reached
HORNBLOWER'S throat. JILL, who is following, rushes up to him
and clutches his arm.]

JILL. Rolf! All of you! Stop! Look!

[DAWKER'S hand relaxes, and he is swung round. HORNBLOWER
staggers and recovers himself, gasping for breath. All turn to
the window, outside which in the moonlight HILLCRIST and
CHARLES HORNBLOWER have CHLOE'S motionless body in their arms.]

In the gravel pit. She's just breathing; that's all.

MRS. H. Bring her in. The brandy, Jill!

HORNBLOWER. No. Take her to the car. Stand back, young woman! I
want no help from any of ye. Rolf--Chearlie--take her up.

[They lift and bear her away, Left. JILL follows.]

Hillcrist, ye've got me beaten and disgraced hereabouts, ye've
destroyed my son's married life, and ye've killed my grandchild.
I'm not staying in this cursed spot, but if ever I can do you or
yours a hurt, I will.

DAWKER. [Muttering] That's right. Squeal and threaten. You began

HILLCRIST. Dawker, have the goodness! Hornblower, in the presence
of what may be death, with all my heart I'm sorry.

HORNBLOWER. Ye hypocrite!

[He passes them with a certain dignity, and goes out at the
window, following to his car.]

[HILLCRIST who has stood for a moment stock-still, goes slowly
forward and sits in his swivel chair.]

MRS. H. Dawker, please tell Fellows to telephone to Dr. Robinson to
go round to the Hornblowers at once.

[DAWKER, fingering the deed, and with a noise that sounds like
"The cur!" goes out, Left.]

[At the fireplace]

Jack! Do you blame me?

HILLCRIST. [Motionless] No.

MRS. H. Or Dawker? He's done his best.


MRS. H. [Approaching] What is it?

HILLCRIST. Hypocrite!

[JILL comes running in at the window.]

JILL. Dodo, she's moved; she's spoken. It may not be so bad.

HILLCRIST. Thank God for that!

[FELLOWS enters, Left.]

FELLOWS. The Jackmans, ma'am.

HILLCRIST. Who? What's this?

[The JACKMANS have entered, standing close to the door.]

MRS. J. We're so glad we can go back, sir--ma'am, we just wanted to
thank you.

[There is a silence. They see that they are not welcome.]

Thank you kindly, sir. Good night, ma'am.

[They shuffle out. ]

HILLCRIST. I'd forgotten their existence. [He gets up] What is it
that gets loose when you begin a fight, and makes you what you think
you're not? What blinding evil! Begin as you may, it ends in this-
skin game! Skin game!

JILL. [Rushing to him] It's not you, Dodo; it's not you, beloved

HILLCRIST. It is me. For I am, or should be, master in this house!

MRS. H. I don't understand.

HILLCRIST. When we began this fight, we had clean hands--are they
clean' now? What's gentility worth if it can't stand fire?


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