Part 2 out of 3
Ahem! (The waiter goes to the service table and beckons to the kitchen
entrance, whence issue a young waiter with soup plates, and a cook, in
white apron and cap, with the soup tureen. The young waiter remains and
serves: the cook goes out, and reappears from time to time bringing in
the courses. He carves, but does not serve. The waiter comes to the
end of the luncheon table next the steps.)
MRS. CLANDON (as they all assemble about the table). I think you
have all met one another already to-day. Oh, no, excuse me.
(Introducing) Mr. Valentine: Mr. McComas. (She goes to the end of the
table nearest the hotel.) Fergus: will you take the head of the table,
CRAMPTON. Ha! (Bitterly.) The head of the table!
WAITER (holding the chair for him with inoffensive encouragement).
This end, sir. (Crampton submits, and takes his seat.) Thank you, sir.
MRS. CLANDON. Mr. Valentine: will you take that side (indicating the
side nearest the parapet) with Gloria? (Valentine and Gloria take their
places, Gloria next Crampton and Valentine next Mrs. Clandon.) Finch: I
must put you on this side, between Dolly and Phil. You must protect
yourself as best you can. (The three take the remaining side of the
table, Dolly next her mother, Phil next his father, and McComas between
them. Soup is served.)
WAITER (to Crampton). Thick or clear, sir?
CRAMPTON (to Mrs. Clandon). Does nobody ask a blessing in this
PHILIP (interposing smartly). Let us first settle what we are about
to receive. William!
WAITER. Yes, sir. (He glides swiftly round the table to Phil's left
elbow. On his way he whispers to the young waiter) Thick.
PHILIP. Two small Lagers for the children as usual, William; and one
large for this gentleman (indicating Valentine). Large Apollinaris for
WAITER. Yes, sir.
DOLLY. Have a six of Irish in it, Finch?
McCOMAS (scandalized). No--no, thank you.
PHILIP. Number 413 for my mother and Miss Gloria as before; and--
(turning enquiringly to Crampton) Eh?
CRAMPTON (scowling and about to reply offensively). I---
WAITER (striking in mellifluously). All right, sir. We know what
Mr. Crampton likes here, sir. (He goes into the hotel.)
PHILIP (looking gravely at his father). You frequent bars. Bad
habit! (The cook, accompanied by a waiter with a supply of hot plates,
brings in the fish from the kitchen to the service table, and begins
CRAMPTON. You have learnt your lesson from your mother, I see.
MRS. CLANDON. Phil: will you please remember that your jokes are apt
to irritate people who are not accustomed to us, and that your father is
our guest to-day.
CRAMPTON (bitterly). Yes, a guest at the head of my own table. (The
soup plates are removed.)
DOLLY (sympathetically). Yes: it's embarrassing, isn't it? It's
just as bad for us, you know.
PHILIP. Sh! Dolly: we are both wanting in tact. (To Crampton.) We
mean well, Mr. Crampton; but we are not yet strong in the filial line.
(The waiter returns from the hotel with the drinks.) William: come and
restore good feeling.
WAITER (cheerfully). Yes, sir. Certainly, sir. Small Lager for
you, sir. (To Crampton.) Seltzer and Irish, sir. (To McComas.)
Apollinaris, sir. (To Dolly.) Small Lager, miss. (To Mrs. Clandon,
pouring out wine.) 413, madam. (To Valentine.) Large Lager for you,
sir. (To Gloria.) 413, miss.
DOLLY (drinking). To the family!
PHILIP. (drinking). Hearth and Home! (Fish is served.)
McCOMAS (with an obviously forced attempt at cheerful domesticity).
We are getting on very nicely after all.
DOLLY (critically). After all! After all what, Finch?
CRAMPTON (sarcastically). He means that you are getting on very
nicely in spite of the presence of your father. Do I take your point
rightly, Mr. McComas?
McCOMAS (disconcerted). No, no. I only said "after all" to round
off the sentence. I---er---er---er----
WAITER (tactfully). Turbot, sir?
McCOMAS (intensely grateful for the interruption). Thank you,
waiter: thank you.
WAITER (sotto voce). Don't mention it, sir. (He returns to the
CRAMPTON (to Phil). Have you thought of choosing a profession yet?
PHILIP. I am keeping my mind open on that subject. William!
WAITER. Yes, sir.
PHILIP. How long do you think it would take me to learn to be a
really smart waiter?
WAITER. Can't be learnt, sir. It's in the character, sir.
(Confidentially to Valentine, who is looking about for something.)
Bread for the lady, sir? yes, sir. (He serves bread to Gloria, and
resumes at his former pitch.) Very few are born to it, sir.
PHILIP. You don't happen to have such a thing as a son, yourself,
WAITER. Yes, sir: oh, yes, sir. (To Gloria, again dropping his
voice.) A little more fish, miss? you won't care for the joint in the
middle of the day.
GLORIA. No, thank you. (The fish plates are removed.)
DOLLY. Is your son a waiter, too, William?
WAITER (serving Gloria with fowl). Oh, no, miss, he's too impetuous.
He's at the Bar.
McCOMAS (patronizingly). A potman, eh?
WAITER (with a touch of melancholy, as if recalling a disappointment
softened by time). No, sir: the other bar---your profession, sir. A
McCOMAS (embarrassed). I'm sure I beg your pardon.
WAITER. Not at all, sir. Very natural mistake, I'm sure, sir. I've
often wished he was a potman, sir. Would have been off my hands ever so
much sooner, sir. (Aside to Valentine, who is again in difficulties.)
Salt at your elbow, sir. (Resuming.) Yes, sir: had to support him
until he was thirty-seven, sir. But doing well now, sir: very
satisfactory indeed, sir. Nothing less than fifty guineas, sir.
McCOMAS. Democracy, Crampton!---modern democracy!
WAITER (calmly). No, sir, not democracy: only education, sir.
Scholarships, sir. Cambridge Local, sir. Sidney Sussex College, sir.
(Dolly plucks his sleeve and whispers as he bends down.) Stone ginger,
miss? Right, miss. (To McComas.) Very good thing for him, sir: he
never had any turn for real work, sir. (He goes into the hotel, leaving
the company somewhat overwhelmed by his son's eminence.)
VALENTINE. Which of us dare give that man an order again!
DOLLY. I hope he won't mind my sending him for ginger-beer.
CRAMPTON (doggedly). While he's a waiter it's his business to wait.
If you had treated him as a waiter ought to be treated, he'd have held
DOLLY. What a loss that would have been! Perhaps he'll give us an
introduction to his son and get us into London society. (The waiter
reappears with the ginger-beer.)
CRAMPTON (growling contemptuously). London society! London
society!! You're not fit for any society, child.
DOLLY (losing her temper). Now look here, Mr. Crampton. If you
WAITER (softly, at her elbow). Stone ginger, miss.
DOLLY (taken aback, recovers her good humor after a long breath and
says sweetly). Thank you, dear William. You were just in time. (She
McCOMAS (making a fresh effort to lead the conversation into
dispassionate regions). If I may be allowed to change the subject, Miss
Clandon, what is the established religion in Madeira?
GLORIA. I suppose the Portuguese religion. I never inquired.
DOLLY. The servants come in Lent and kneel down before you and
confess all the things they've done: and you have to pretend to forgive
them. Do they do that in England, William?
WAITER. Not usually, miss. They may in some parts: but it has not
come under my notice, miss. (Catching Mrs. Clandon's eye as the young
waiter offers her the salad bowl.) You like it without dressing, ma'am:
yes, ma'am, I have some for you. (To his young colleague, motioning him
to serve Gloria.) This side, Jo. (He takes a special portion of salad
from the service table and puts it beside Mrs. Clandon's plate. In
doing so he observes that Dolly is making a wry face.) Only a bit of
watercress, miss, got in by mistake. (He takes her salad away.) Thank
you, miss. (To the young waiter, admonishing him to serve Dolly
afresh.) Jo. (Resuming.) Mostly members of the Church of England,
DOLLY. Members of the Church of England! What's the subscription?
CRAMPTON (rising violently amid general consternation). You see how
my children have been brought up, McComas. You see it; you hear it. I
call all of you to witness--- (He becomes inarticulate, and is about to
strike his fist recklessly on the table when the waiter considerately
takes away his plate.)
MRS. CLANDON (firmly). Sit down, Fergus. There is no occasion at
all for this outburst. You must remember that Dolly is just like a
foreigner here. Pray sit down.
CRAMPTON (subsiding unwillingly). I doubt whether I ought to sit
here and countenance all this. I doubt it.
WAITER. Cheese, sir; or would you like a cold sweet?
CRAMPTON (take aback). What? Oh!---cheese, cheese.
DOLLY. Bring a box of cigarets, William.
WAITER. All ready, miss. (He takes a box of cigarets from the
service table and places them before Dolly, who selects one and prepares
to smoke. He then returns to his table for a box of vestas.)
CRAMPTON (staring aghast at Dolly). Does she smoke?
DOLLY (out of patience). Really, Mr. Crampton, I'm afraid I'm
spoiling your lunch. I'll go and have my cigaret on the beach. (She
leaves the table with petulant suddenness and goes down the steps. The
waiter attempts to give her the matches; but she is gone before he can
CRAMPTON (furiously). Margaret: call that girl back. Call her back,
McCOMAS (trying to make peace). Come, Crampton: never mind. She's
her father's daughter: that's all.
MRS. CLANDON (with deep resentment). I hope not, Finch. (She rises:
they all rise a little.) Mr. Valentine: will you excuse me: I am afraid
Dolly is hurt and put out by what has passed. I must go to her.
CRAMPTON. To take her part against me, you mean.
MRS. CLANDON (ignoring him). Gloria: will you take my place whilst I
am away, dear. (She crosses to the steps. Crampton's eyes follow her
with bitter hatred. The rest watch her in embarrassed silence, feeling
the incident to be a very painful one.)
WAITER (intercepting her at the top of the steps and offering her a
box of vestas). Young lady forgot the matches, ma'am. If you would be
so good, ma'am.
MRS. CLANDON (surprised into grateful politeness by the witchery of
his sweet and cheerful tones). Thank you very much. (She takes the
matches and goes down to the beach. The waiter shepherds his assistant
along with him into the hotel by the kitchen entrance, leaving the
luncheon party to themselves.)
CRAMPTON (throwing himself back in his chair). There's a mother for
you, McComas! There's a mother for you!
GLORIA (steadfastly). Yes: a good mother.
CRAMPTON. And a bad father? That's what you mean, eh?
VALENTINE (rising indignantly and addressing Gloria). Miss Clandon:
CRAMPTON (turning on him). That girl's name is Crampton, Mr.
Valentine, not Clandon. Do you wish to join them in insulting me?
VALENTINE (ignoring him). I'm overwhelmed, Miss Clandon. It's all
my fault: I brought him here: I'm responsible for him. And I'm ashamed
CRAMPTON. What d'y' mean?
GLORIA (rising coldly). No harm has been done, Mr. Valentine. We
have all been a little childish, I am afraid. Our party has been a
failure: let us break it up and have done with it. (She puts her chair
aside and turns to the steps, adding, with slighting composure, as she
passes Crampton.) Good-bye, father.
(She descends the steps with cold, disgusted indifference. They all
look after her, and so do not notice the return of the waiter from the
hotel, laden with Crampton's coat, Valentine's stick, a couple of shawls
and parasols, a white canvas umbrella, and some camp stools.)
CRAMPTON (to himself, staring after Gloria with a ghastly
expression). Father! Father!! (He strikes his fist violently on the
WAITER (offering the coat). This is yours, sir, I think, sir.
(Crampton glares at him; then snatches it rudely and comes down the
terrace towards the garden seat, struggling with the coat in his angry
efforts to put it on. McComas rises and goes to his assistance; then
takes his hat and umbrella from the little iron table, and turns towards
the steps. Meanwhile the waiter, after thanking Crampton with unruffled
sweetness for taking the coat, offers some of his burden to Phil.) The
ladies' sunshades, sir. Nasty glare off the sea to-day, sir: very
trying to the complexion, sir. I shall carry down the camp stools
PHILIP. You are old, Father William; but you are the most
considerate of men. No: keep the sunshades and give me the camp stools
WAITER (with flattering gratitude). Thank you, sir.
PHILIP. Finch: share with me (giving him a couple). Come along.
(They go down the steps together.)
VALENTINE (to the waiter). Leave me something to bring down--one of
these. (Offering to take a sunshade.)
WAITER (discreetly). That's the younger lady's, sir. (Valentine
lets it go.) Thank you, sir. If you'll allow me, sir, I think you had
better have this. (He puts down the sunshades on Crampton's chair, and
produces from the tail pocket of his dress coat, a book with a lady's
handkerchief between the leaves, marking the page.) The eldest young
lady is reading it at present. (Valentine takes it eagerly.) Thank
you, sir. Schopenhauer, sir, you see. (He takes up the sunshades
again.) Very interesting author, sir: especially on the subject of
ladies, sir. (He goes down the steps. Valentine, about to follow him,
recollects Crampton and changes his mind.)
VALENTINE (coming rather excitedly to Crampton). Now look here,
Crampton: are you at all ashamed of yourself?
CRAMPTON (pugnaciously). Ashamed of myself! What for?
VALENTINE. For behaving like a bear. What will your daughter think
of me for having brought you here?
CRAMPTON. I was not thinking of what my daughter was thinking of
VALENTINE. No, you were thinking of yourself. You're a perfect
CRAMPTON (heartrent). She told you what I am---a father---a father
robbed of his children. What are the hearts of this generation like?
Am I to come here after all these years---to see what my children are
for the first time! to hear their voices!---and carry it all off like a
fashionable visitor; drop in to lunch; be Mr. Crampton---M i s t e r
Crampton! What right have they to talk to me like that? I'm their
father: do they deny that? I'm a man, with the feelings of our common
humanity: have I no rights, no claims? In all these years who have I
had round me? Servants, clerks, business acquaintances. I've had
respect from them---aye, kindness. Would one of them have spoken to me
as that girl spoke?---would one of them have laughed at me as that boy
was laughing at me all the time? (Frantically.) My own children!
M i s t e r Crampton! My---
VALENTINE. Come, come: they're only children. The only one of them
that's worth anything called you father.
CRAMPTON (wildly). Yes: "good-bye, father." Oh, yes: she got at my
feelings---with a stab!
VALENTINE (taking this in very bad part). Now look here, Crampton:
you just let her alone: she's treated you very well. I had a much worse
time of it at lunch than you.
VALENTINE (with growing impetuosity). Yes: I. I sat next to her;
and I never said a single thing to her the whole time---couldn't think
of a blessed word. And not a word did she say to me.
VALENTINE. Well? Well??? (Tackling him very seriously and talking
faster and faster.) Crampton: do you know what's been the matter with
me to-day? You don't suppose, do you, that I'm in the habit of playing
such tricks on my patients as I played on you?
CRAMPTON. I hope not.
VALENTINE. The explanation is that I'm stark mad, or rather that
I've never been in my real senses before. I'm capable of anything: I've
grown up at last: I'm a Man; and it's your daughter that's made a man of
CRAMPTON (incredulously). Are you in love with my daughter?
VALENTINE (his words now coming in a perfect torrent). Love!
Nonsense: it's something far above and beyond that. It's life, it's
faith, it's strength, certainty, paradise---
CRAMPTON (interrupting him with acrid contempt). Rubbish, man! What
have you to keep a wife on? You can't marry her.
VALENTINE. Who wants to marry her? I'll kiss her hands; I'll kneel
at her feet; I'll live for her; I'll die for her; and that'll be enough
for me. Look at her book! See! (He kisses the handkerchief.) If you
offered me all your money for this excuse for going down to the beach
and speaking to her again, I'd only laugh at you. (He rushes buoyantly
off to the steps, where he bounces right into the arms of the waiter,
who is coming up form the beach. The two save themselves from falling
by clutching one another tightly round the waist and whirling one
WAITER (delicately). Steady, sir, steady.
VALENTINE (shocked at his own violence). I beg your pardon.
WAITER. Not at all, sir, not at all. Very natural, sir, I'm sure,
sir, at your age. The lady has sent me for her book, sir. Might I take
the liberty of asking you to let her have it at once, sir?
VALENTINE. With pleasure. And if you will allow me to present you
with a professional man's earnings for six weeks--- (offering him
Dolly's crown piece.)
WAITER (as if the sum were beyond his utmost expectations). Thank
you, sir: much obliged. (Valentine dashes down the steps.) Very high-
spirited young gentleman, sir: very manly and straight set up.
CRAMPTON (in grumbling disparagement). And making his fortune in a
hurry, no doubt. I know what his six weeks' earnings come to. (He
crosses the terrace to the iron table, and sits down.)
WAITER (philosophically). Well, sir, you never can tell. That's a
principle in life with me, sir, if you'll excuse my having such a thing,
sir. (Delicately sinking the philosopher in the waiter for a moment.)
Perhaps you haven't noticed that you hadn't touched that seltzer and
Irish, sir, when the party broke up. (He takes the tumbler from the
luncheon table, and sets if before Crampton.) Yes, sir, you never can
tell. There was my son, sir! who ever thought that he would rise to
wear a silk gown, sir? And yet to-day, sir, nothing less than fifty
guineas, sir. What a lesson, sir!
CRAMPTON. Well, I hope he is grateful to you, and recognizes what he
WAITER. We get on together very well, very well indeed, sir,
considering the difference in our stations. (With another of his
irresistible transitions.) A small lump of sugar, sir, will take the
flatness out of the seltzer without noticeably sweetening the drink,
sir. Allow me, sir. (He drops a lump of sugar into the tumbler.) But
as I say to him, where's the difference after all? If I must put on a
dress coat to show what I am, sir, he must put on a wig and gown to show
what he is. If my income is mostly tips, and there's a pretence that I
don't get them, why, his income is mostly fees, sir; and I understand
there's a pretence that he don't get them! If he likes society, and his
profession brings him into contact with all ranks, so does mine, too,
sir. If it's a little against a barrister to have a waiter for his
father, sir, it's a little against a waiter to have a barrister for a
son: many people consider it a great liberty, sir, I assure you, sir.
Can I get you anything else, sir?
CRAMPTON. No, thank you. (With bitter humility.) I suppose that's
no objection to my sitting here for a while: I can't disturb the party
on the beach here.
WAITER (with emotion). Very kind of you, sir, to put it as if it was
not a compliment and an honour to us, Mr. Crampton, very kind indeed.
The more you are at home here, sir, the better for us.
CRAMPTON (in poignant irony). Home!
WAITER (reflectively). Well, yes, sir: that's a way of looking at
it, too, sir. I have always said that the great advantage of a hotel is
that it's a refuge from home life, sir.
CRAMPTON. I missed that advantage to-day, I think.
WAITER. You did, sir, you did. Dear me! It's the unexpected that
always happens, isn't it? (Shaking his head.) You never can tell, sir:
you never can tell. (He goes into the hotel.)
CRAMPTON (his eyes shining hardly as he props his drawn, miserable
face on his hands). Home! Home!! (He drops his arms on the table and
bows his head on them, but presently hears someone approaching and
hastily sits bolt upright. It is Gloria, who has come up the steps
alone, with her sunshade and her book in her hands. He looks defiantly
at her, with the brutal obstinacy of his mouth and the wistfulness of
his eyes contradicting each other pathetically. She comes to the corner
of the garden seat and stands with her back to it, leaning against the
end of it, and looking down at him as if wondering at his weakness: too
curious about him to be cold, but supremely indifferent to their
GLORIA. I want to speak with you for a moment.
CRAMPTON (looking steadily at her). Indeed? That's surprising. You
meet your father after eighteen years; and you actually want to speak to
him for a moment! That's touching: isn't it? (He rests his head on his
hands, and looks down and away from her, in gloomy reflection.)
GLORIA. All that is what seems to me so nonsensical, so uncalled
for. What do you expect us to feel for you---to do for you? What is it
you want? Why are you less civil to us than other people are? You are
evidently not very fond of us---why should you be? But surely we can
meet without quarrelling.
CRAMPTON (a dreadful grey shade passing over his face). Do you
realize that I am your father?
CRAMPTON. Do you know what is due to me as your father?
GLORIA. For instance----?
CRAMPTON (rising as if to combat a monster). For instance! For
instance!! For instance, duty, affection, respect, obedience---
GLORIA (quitting her careless leaning attitude and confronting him
promptly and proudly). I obey nothing but my sense of what is right. I
respect nothing that is not noble. That is my duty. (She adds, less
firmly) As to affection, it is not within my control. I am not sure
that I quite know what affection means. (She turns away with an evident
distaste for that part of the subject, and goes to the luncheon table
for a comfortable chair, putting down her book and sunshade.)
CRAMPTON (following her with his eyes). Do you really mean what you
GLORIA (turning on him quickly and severely). Excuse me: that is an
uncivil question. I am speaking seriously to you; and I expect you to
take me seriously. (She takes one of the luncheon chairs; turns it away
from the table; and sits down a little wearily, saying) Can you not
discuss this matter coolly and rationally?
CRAMPTON. Coolly and rationally! No, I can't. Do you understand
that? I can't.
GLORIA (emphatically). No. That I c a n n o t understand. I have
no sympathy with---
CRAMPTON (shrinking nervously). Stop! Don't say anything more yet;
you don't know what you're doing. Do you want to drive me mad? (She
frowns, finding such petulance intolerable. He adds hastily) No: I'm
not angry: indeed I'm not. Wait, wait: give me a little time to think.
(He stands for a moment, screwing and clinching his brows and hands in
his perplexity; then takes the end chair from the luncheon table and
sits down beside her, saying, with a touching effort to be gentle and
patient) Now, I think I have it. At least I'll try.
GLORIA (firmly). You see! Everything comes right if we only think
it resolutely out.
CRAMPTON (in sudden dread). No: don't think. I want you to feel:
that's the only thing that can help us. Listen! Do you---but first---I
forgot. What's your name? I mean you pet name. They can't very well
call you Sophronia.
GLORIA (with astonished disgust). Sophronia! My name is Gloria. I
am always called by it.
CRAMPTON (his temper rising again). Your name is Sophronia, girl:
you were called after your aunt Sophronia, my sister: she gave you your
first Bible with your name written in it.
GLORIA. Then my mother gave me a new name.
CRAMPTON (angrily). She had no right to do it. I will not allow
GLORIA. You had no right to give me your sister's name. I don't
CRAMPTON. You're talking nonsense. There are bounds to what I will
put up with. I will not have it. Do you hear that?
GLORIA (rising warningly). Are you resolved to quarrel?
CRAMPTON (terrified, pleading). No, no: sit down. Sit down, won't
you? (She looks at him, keeping him in suspense. He forces himself to
utter the obnoxious name.) Gloria. (She marks her satisfaction with a
slight tightening of the lips, and sits down.) There! You see I only
want to shew you that I am your father, my---my dear child. (The
endearment is so plaintively inept that she smiles in spite of herself,
and resigns herself to indulge him a little.) Listen now. What I want
to ask you is this. Don't you remember me at all? You were only a tiny
child when you were taken away from me; but you took plenty of notice of
things. Can't you remember someone whom you loved, or (shyly) at least
liked in a childish way? Come! someone who let you stay in his study
and look at his toy boats, as you thought them? (He looks anxiously
into her face for some response, and continues less hopefully and more
urgently) Someone who let you do as you liked there and never said a
word to you except to tell you that you must sit still and not speak?
Someone who was something that no one else was to you---who was your
GLORIA (unmoved). If you describe things to me, no doubt I shall
presently imagine that I remember them. But I really remember nothing.
CRAMPTON (wistfully). Has your mother never told you anything about
GLORIA. She has never mentioned your name to me. (He groans
involuntarily. She looks at him rather contemptuously and continues)
Except once; and then she did remind me of something I had forgotten.
CRAMPTON (looking up hopefully). What was that?
GLORIA (mercilessly). The whip you bought to beat me with.
CRAMPTON (gnashing his teeth). Oh! To bring that up against me! To
turn from me! When you need never have known. (Under a grinding,
agonized breath.) Curse her!
GLORIA (springing up). You wretch! (With intense emphasis.) You
wretch!! You dare curse my mother!
CRAMPTON. Stop; or you'll be sorry afterwards. I'm your father.
GLORIA. How I hate the name! How I love the name of mother! You
had better go.
CRAMPTON. I---I'm choking. You want to kill me. Some---I--- (His
voice stifles: he is almost in a fit.)
GLORIA (going up to the balustrade with cool, quick resourcefulness,
and calling over to the beach). Mr. Valentine!
VALENTINE (answering from below). Yes.
GLORIA. Come here a moment, please. Mr. Crampton wants you. (She
returns to the table and pours out a glass of water.)
CRAMPTON (recovering his speech). No: let me alone. I don't want
him. I'm all right, I tell you. I need neither his help nor yours.
(He rises and pulls himself together.) As you say, I had better go.
(He puts on his hat.) Is that your last word?
GLORIA. I hope so. (He looks stubbornly at her for a moment; nods
grimly, as if he agreed to that; and goes into the hotel. She looks at
him with equal steadiness until he disappears, when she makes a gesture
of relief, and turns to speak to Valentine, who comes running up the
VALENTINE (panting). What's the matter? (Looking round.) Where's
GLORIA. Gone. (Valentine's face lights up with sudden joy, dread,
and mischief. He has just realized that he is alone with Gloria. She
continues indifferently) I thought he was ill; but he recovered
himself. He wouldn't wait for you. I am sorry. (She goes for her book
VALENTINE. So much the better. He gets on my nerves after a while.
(Pretending to forget himself.) How could that man have so beautiful a
GLORIA (taken aback for a moment; then answering him with polite but
intentional contempt). That seems to be an attempt at what is called a
pretty speech. Let me say at once, Mr. Valentine, that pretty speeches
make very sickly conversation. Pray let us be friends, if we are to be
friends, in a sensible and wholesome way. I have no intention of
getting married; and unless you are content to accept that state of
things, we had much better not cultivate each other's acquaintance.
VALENTINE (cautiously). I see. May I ask just this one question?
Is your objection an objection to marriage as an institution, or merely
an objection to marrying me personally?
GLORIA. I do not know you well enough, Mr. Valentine, to have any
opinion on the subject of your personal merits. (She turns away from
him with infinite indifference, and sits down with her book on the
garden seat.) I do not think the conditions of marriage at present are
such as any self-respecting woman can accept.
VALENTINE (instantly changing his tone for one of cordial sincerity,
as if he frankly accepted her terms and was delighted and reassured by
her principles). Oh, then that's a point of sympathy between us
already. I quite agree with you: the conditions are most unfair. (He
takes off his hat and throws it gaily on the iron table.) No: what I
want is to get rid of all that nonsense. (He sits down beside her, so
naturally that she does not think of objecting, and proceeds, with
enthusiasm) Don't you think it a horrible thing that a man and a woman
can hardly know one another without being supposed to have designs of
that kind? As if there were no other interests---no other subjects of
conversation---as if women were capable of nothing better!
GLORIA (interested). Ah, now you are beginning to talk humanly and
sensibly, Mr. Valentine.
VALENTINE (with a gleam in his eye at the success of his hunter's
guile). Of course!---two intelligent people like us. Isn't it
pleasant, in this stupid, convention-ridden world, to meet with someone
on the same plane---someone with an unprejudiced, enlightened mind?
GLORIA (earnestly). I hope to meet many such people in England.
VALENTINE (dubiously). Hm! There are a good many people here---
nearly forty millions. They're not all consumptive members of the
highly educated classes like the people in Madeira.
GLORIA (now full of her subject). Oh, everybody is stupid and
prejudiced in Madeira---weak, sentimental creatures! I hate weakness;
and I hate sentiment.
VALENTINE. That's what makes you so inspiring.
GLORIA (with a slight laugh). Am I inspiring?
VALENTINE Yes. Strength's infectious.
GLORIA. Weakness is, I know.
VALENTINE (with conviction). Y o u're strong. Do you know that you
changed the world for me this morning? I was in the dumps, thinking of
my unpaid rent, frightened about the future. When you came in, I was
dazzled. (Her brow clouds a little. He goes on quickly.) That was
silly, of course; but really and truly something happened to me.
Explain it how you will, my blood got--- (he hesitates, trying to think
of a sufficiently unimpassioned word) ---oxygenated: my muscles braced;
my mind cleared; my courage rose. That's odd, isn't it? considering
that I am not at all a sentimental man.
GLORIA (uneasily, rising). Let us go back to the beach.
VALENTINE (darkly---looking up at her). What! you feel it, too?
GLORIA. Feel what?
VALENTINE. As if something were going to happen. It came over me
suddenly just before you proposed that we should run away to the others.
GLORIA (amazed). That's strange---very strange! I had the same
VALENTINE. How extraordinary! (Rising.) Well: shall we run away?
GLORIA. Run away! Oh, no: that would be childish. (She sits down
again. He resumes his seat beside her, and watches her with a gravely
sympathetic air. She is thoughtful and a little troubled as she adds)
I wonder what is the scientific explanation of those fancies that cross
VALENTINE. Ah, I wonder! It's a curiously helpless sensation: isn't
GLORIA (rebelling against the word). Helpless?
VALENTINE. Yes. As if Nature, after allowing us to belong to
ourselves and do what we judged right and reasonable for all these
years, were suddenly lifting her great hand to take us---her two little
children---by the scruff's of our little necks, and use us, in spite of
ourselves, for her own purposes, in her own way.
GLORIA. Isn't that rather fanciful?
VALENTINE (with a new and startling transition to a tone of utter
recklessness). I don't know. I don't care. (Bursting out
reproachfully.) Oh, Miss Clandon, Miss Clandon: how could you?
GLORIA. What have I done?
VALENTINE. Thrown this enchantment on me. I'm honestly trying to be
sensible---scientific---everything that you wish me to be. But---but---
oh, don't you see what you have set to work in my imagination?
GLORIA (with indignant, scornful sternness). I hope you are not
going to be so foolish---so vulgar---as to say love.
VALENTINE (with ironical haste to disclaim such a weakness). No, no,
no. Not love: we know better than that. Let's call it chemistry. You
can't deny that there is such a thing as chemical action, chemical
affinity, chemical combination---the most irresistible of all natural
forces. Well, you're attracting me irresistibly---chemically.
GLORIA (contemptuously). Nonsense!
VALENTINE. Of course it's nonsense, you stupid girl. (Gloria
recoils in outraged surprise.) Yes, stupid girl: t h a t's a
scientific fact, anyhow. You're a prig---a feminine prig: that's what
you are. (Rising.) Now I suppose you've done with me for ever. (He
goes to the iron table and takes up his hat.)
GLORIA (with elaborate calm, sitting up like a High-school-mistress
posing to be photographed). That shows how very little you understand
my real character. I am not in the least offended. (He pauses and puts
his hat down again.) I am always willing to be told of my own defects,
Mr. Valentine, by my friends, even when they are as absurdly mistaken
about me as you are. I have many faults---very serious faults---of
character and temper; but if there is one thing that I am not, it is
what you call a prig. (She closes her lips trimly and looks steadily
and challengingly at him as she sits more collectedly than ever.)
VALENTINE (returning to the end of the garden seat to confront her
more emphatically). Oh, yes, you are. My reason tells me so: my
knowledge tells me so: my experience tells me so.
GLORIA. Excuse my reminding you that your reason and your knowledge
and your experience are not infallible. At least I hope not.
VALENTINE. I must believe them. Unless you wish me to believe my
eyes, my heart, my instincts, my imagination, which are all telling me
the most monstrous lies about you.
GLORIA (the collectedness beginning to relax). Lies!
VALENTINE (obstinately). Yes, lies. (He sits down again beside
her.) Do you expect me to believe that you are the most beautiful woman
in the world?
GLORIA. That is ridiculous, and rather personal.
VALENTINE. Of course it's ridiculous. Well, that's what my eyes
tell me. (Gloria makes a movement of contemptuous protest.) No: I'm
not flattering. I tell you I don't believe it. (She is ashamed to find
that this does not quite please her either.) Do you think that if you
were to turn away in disgust from my weakness, I should sit down here
and cry like a child?
GLORIA (beginning to find that she must speak shortly and pointedly
to keep her voice steady). Why should you, pray?
VALENTINE (with a stir of feeling beginning to agitate his voice).
Of course not: I'm not such an idiot. And yet my heart tells me I
should---my fool of a heart. But I'll argue with my heart and bring it
to reason. If I loved you a thousand times, I'll force myself to look
the truth steadily in the face. After all, it's easy to be sensible:
the facts are the facts. What's this place? it's not heaven: it's the
Marine Hotel. What's the time? it's not eternity: it's about half past
one in the afternoon. What am I? a dentist---a five shilling dentist!
GLORIA. And I am a feminine prig.
VALENTINE. (passionately). No, no: I can't face that: I must have
one illusion left---the illusion about you. I love you. (He turns
towards her as if the impulse to touch her were ungovernable: she rises
and stands on her guard wrathfully. He springs up impatiently and
retreats a step.) Oh, what a fool I am!---an idiot! You don't
understand: I might as well talk to the stones on the beach. (He turns
GLORIA (reassured by his withdrawal, and a little remorseful). I am
sorry. I do not mean to be unsympathetic, Mr. Valentine; but what can I
VALENTINE (returning to her with all his recklessness of manner
replaced by an engaging and chivalrous respect). You can say nothing,
Miss Clandon. I beg your pardon: it was my own fault, or rather my own
bad luck. You see, it all depended on your naturally liking me. (She
is about to speak: he stops her deprecatingly.) Oh, I know you mustn't
tell me whether you like me or not; but---
GLORIA (her principles up in arms at once). Must not! Why not? I
am a free woman: why should I not tell you?
VALENTINE (pleading in terror, and retreating). Don't. I'm afraid
GLORIA (no longer scornful). You need not be afraid. I think you
are sentimental, and a little foolish; but I like you.
VALENTINE (dropping into the iron chair as if crushed). Then it's
all over. (He becomes the picture of despair.)
GLORIA (puzzled, approaching him). But why?
VALENTINE. Because liking is not enough. Now that I think down into
it seriously, I don't know whether I like you or not.
GLORIA (looking down at him with wondering concern). I'm sorry.
VALENTINE (in an agony of restrained passion). Oh, don't pity me.
Your voice is tearing my heart to pieces. Let me alone, Gloria. You go
down into the very depths of me, troubling and stirring me---I can't
struggle with it---I can't tell you---
GLORIA (breaking down suddenly). Oh, stop telling me what you feel:
I can't bear it.
VALENTINE (springing up triumphantly, the agonized voice now solid,
ringing, and jubilant). Ah, it's come at last---my moment of courage.
(He seizes her hands: she looks at him in terror.) Our moment of
courage! (He draws her to him; kisses her with impetuous strength; and
laughs boyishly.) Now you've done it, Gloria. It's all over: we're in
love with one another. (She can only gasp at him.) But what a dragon
you were! And how hideously afraid I was!
PHILIP'S VOICE (calling from the beach). Valentine!
DOLLY'S VOICE. Mr. Valentine!
VALENTINE. Good-bye. Forgive me. (He rapidly kisses her hands, and
runs away to the steps, where he meets Mrs. Clandon, ascending. Gloria,
quite lost, can only start after him.)
MRS. CLANDON. The children want you, Mr. Valentine. (She looks
anxiously around.) Is he gone?
VALENTINE (puzzled). He? (Recollecting.) Oh, Crampton. Gone this
long time, Mrs. Clandon. (He runs off buoyantly down the steps.)
GLORIA (sinking upon the seat). Mother!
MRS. CLANDON (hurrying to her in alarm). What is it, dear?
GLORIA (with heartfelt, appealing reproach). Why didn't you educate
MRS. CLANDON (amazed). My child: I did my best.
GLORIA. Oh, you taught me nothing---nothing.
MRS. CLANDON. What is the matter with you?
GLORIA (with the most intense expression). Only shame---shame---
shame. (Blushing unendurably, she covers her face with her hands and
turns away from her mother.)
END OF ACT II.
The Clandon's sitting room in the hotel. An expensive apartment on
the ground floor, with a French window leading to the gardens. In the
centre of the room is a substantial table, surrounded by chairs, and
draped with a maroon cloth on which opulently bound hotel and railway
guides are displayed. A visitor entering through the window and coming
down to this central table would have the fireplace on his left, and a
writing table against the wall on his right, next the door, which is
further down. He would, if his taste lay that way, admire the wall
decoration of Lincrusta Walton in plum color and bronze lacquer, with
dado and cornice; the ormolu consoles in the corners; the vases on
pillar pedestals of veined marble with bases of polished black wood, one
on each side of the window; the ornamental cabinet next the vase on the
side nearest the fireplace, its centre compartment closed by an inlaid
door, and its corners rounded off with curved panes of glass protecting
shelves of cheap blue and white pottery; the bamboo tea table, with
folding shelves, in the corresponding space on the other side of the
window; the pictures of ocean steamers and Landseer's dogs; the
saddlebag ottoman in line with the door but on the other side of the
room; the two comfortable seats of the same pattern on the hearthrug;
and finally, on turning round and looking up, the massive brass pole
above the window, sustaining a pair of maroon rep curtains with
decorated borders of staid green. Altogether, a room well arranged to
flatter the occupant's sense of importance, and reconcile him to a
charge of a pound a day for its use.
Mrs. Clandon sits at the writing table, correcting proofs. Gloria is
standing at the window, looking out in a tormented revery.
The clock on the mantelpiece strikes five with a sickly clink, the
bell being unable to bear up against the black marble cenotaph in which
it is immured.
MRS. CLANDON. Five! I don't think we need wait any longer for the
children. The are sure to get tea somewhere.
GLORIA (wearily). Shall I ring?
MRS. CLANDON. Do, my dear. (Gloria goes to the hearth and rings.)
I have finished these proofs at last, thank goodness!
GLORIA (strolling listlessly across the room and coming behind her
mother's chair). What proofs?
MRS. CLANDON The new edition of Twentieth Century Women.
GLORIA (with a bitter smile). There's a chapter missing.
MRS. CLANDON (beginning to hunt among her proofs). Is there? Surely
GLORIA. I mean an unwritten one. Perhaps I shall write it for you--
-when I know the end of it. (She goes back to the window.)
MRS. CLANDON. Gloria! More enigmas!
GLORIA. Oh, no. The same enigma.
MRS. CLANDON (puzzled and rather troubled; after watching her for a
moment). My dear.
GLORIA (returning). Yes.
MRS. CLANDON. You know I never ask questions.
GLORIA (kneeling beside her chair). I know, I know. (She suddenly
throws her arms about her mother and embraces her almost passionately.)
MRS. CLANDON. (gently, smiling but embarrassed). My dear: you are
getting quite sentimental
GLORIA (recoiling). Ah, no, no. Oh, don't say that. Oh! (She
rises and turns away with a gesture as if tearing herself.)
MRS. CLANDON (mildly). My dear: what is the matter? What--- (The
waiter enters with the tea tray.)
WAITER (balmily). This was what you rang for, ma'am, I hope?
MRS. CLANDON. Thank you, yes. (She turns her chair away from the
writing table, and sits down again. Gloria crosses to the hearth and
sits crouching there with her face averted.)
WAITER (placing the tray temporarily on the centre table). I thought
so, ma'am. Curious how the nerves seem to give out in the afternoon
without a cup of tea. (He fetches the tea table and places it in front
of Mrs. Cladon, conversing meanwhile.) the young lady and gentleman
have just come back, ma'am: they have been out in a boat, ma'am. Very
pleasant on a fine afternoon like this---very pleasant and invigorating
indeed. (He takes the tray from the centre table and puts it on the tea
table.) Mr. McComas will not come to tea, ma'am: he has gone to call
upon Mr. Crampton. (He takes a couple of chairs and sets one at each
end of the tea table.)
GLORIA (looking round with an impulse of terror). And the other
WAITER (reassuringly, as he unconsciously drops for a moment into the
measure of "I've been roaming," which he sang as a boy.) Oh, he's
coming, miss, he's coming. He has been rowing the boat, miss, and has
just run down the road to the chemist's for something to put on the
blisters. But he will be here directly, miss---directly. (Gloria, in
ungovernable apprehension, rises and hurries towards the door.)
MRS. CLANDON. (half rising). Glo--- (Gloria goes out. Mrs. Clandon
looks perplexedly at the waiter, whose composure is unruffled.)
WAITER (cheerfully). Anything more, ma'am?
MRS. CLANDON. Nothing, thank you.
WAITER. Thank you, ma'am. (As he withdraws, Phil and Dolly, in the
highest spirits, come tearing in. He holds the door open for them; then
goes out and closes it.)
DOLLY (ravenously). Oh, give me some tea. (Mrs. Clandon pours out a
cup for her.) We've been out in a boat. Valentine will be here
PHILIP. He is unaccustomed to navigation. Where's Gloria?
MRS. CLANDON (anxiously, as she pours out his tea). Phil: there is
something the matter with Gloria. Has anything happened? (Phil and
Dolly look at one another and stifle a laugh.) What is it?
PHILIP (sitting down on her left). Romeo---
DOLLY (sitting down on her right). ---and Juliet.
PHILIP (taking his cup of tea from Mrs. Clandon). Yes, my dear
mother: the old, old story. Dolly: don't take all the milk.
(He deftly takes the jug from her.) Yes: in the spring---
DOLLY. ---a young man's fancy---
PHILIP. ---lightly turns to---thank you (to Mrs. Clandon, who has
passed the biscuits) ---thoughts of love. It also occurs in the autumn.
The young man in this case is---
PHILIP. And his fancy has turned to Gloria to the extent of---
DOLLY. ---kissing her---
PHILIP. ---on the terrace---
DOLLY (correcting him). --on the lips, before everybody.
MRS. CLANDON (incredulously). Phil! Dolly! Are you joking? (They
shake their heads.) Did she allow it?
PHILIP. We waited to see him struck to earth by the lightning of her
DOLLY. ---but he wasn't.
PHILIP. She appeared to like it.
DOLLY. As far as we could judge. (Stopping Phil, who is about to
pour out another cup.) No: you've sworn off two cups.
MRS. CLANDON (much troubled). Children: you must not be here when
Mr. Valentine comes. I must speak very seriously to him about this.
PHILIP. To ask him his intentions? What a violation of Twentieth
DOLLY. Quite right, mamma: bring him to book. Make the most of the
nineteenth century while it lasts.
PHILIP. Sh! Here he is. (Valentine comes in.)
VALENTINE Very sorry to be late for tea, Mrs. Clandon. (She takes
up the tea-pot.) No, thank you: I never take any. No doubt Miss Dolly
and Phil have explained what happened to me.
PHILIP (momentously rising). Yes, Valentine: we have explained.
DOLLY (significantly, also rising). We have explained very
PHILIP. It was our duty. (Very seriously.) Come, Dolly. (He
offers Dolly his arm, which she takes. They look sadly at him, and go
out gravely, arm in arm. Valentine stares after them, puzzled; then
looks at Mrs. Clandon for an explanation.)
MRS. CLANDON (rising and leaving the tea table). Will you sit down,
Mr. Valentine. I want to speak to you a little, if you will allow me.
(Valentine sits down slowly on the ottoman, his conscience presaging a
bad quarter of an hour. Mrs. Clandon takes Phil's chair, and seats
herself deliberately at a convenient distance from him.) I must begin
by throwing myself somewhat at your consideration. I am going to speak
of a subject of which I know very little---perhaps nothing. I mean
MRS. CLANDON. Yes, love. Oh, you need not look so alarmed as that,
Mr. Valentine: I am not in love with you.
VALENTINE (overwhelmed). Oh, really, Mrs.--- (Recovering himself.)
I should be only too proud if you were.
MRS. CLANDON. Thank you, Mr. Valentine. But I am too old to begin.
VALENTINE. Begin! Have you never---?
MRS. CLANDON. Never. My case is a very common one, Mr. Valentine.
I married before I was old enough to know what I was doing. As you have
seen for yourself, the result was a bitter disappointment for both my
husband and myself. So you see, though I am a married woman, I have
never been in love; I have never had a love affair; and to be quite
frank with you, Mr. Valentine, what I have seen of the love affairs of
other people has not led me to regret that deficiency in my experience.
(Valentine, looking very glum, glances sceptically at her, and says
nothing. Her color rises a little; and she adds, with restrained anger)
You do not believe me?
VALENTINE (confused at having his thought read). Oh, why not? Why
MRS. CLANDON. Let me tell you, Mr. Valentine, that a life devoted to
the Cause of Humanity has enthusiasms and passions to offer which far
transcend the selfish personal infatuations and sentimentalities of
romance. Those are not your enthusiasms and passions, I take it?
(Valentine, quite aware that she despises him for it, answers in the
negative with a melancholy shake of the head.) I thought not. Well,
I am equally at a disadvantage in discussing those so-called affairs
of the heart in which you appear to be an expert.
VALENTINE (restlessly). What are you driving at, Mrs. Clandon?
MRS. CLANDON. I think you know.
MRS. CLANDON. Yes. Gloria.
VALENTINE (surrendering). Well, yes: I'm in love with Gloria.
(Interposing as she is about to speak.) I know what you're going to
say: I've no money.
MRS. CLANDON. I care very little about money, Mr. Valentine.
VALENTINE. Then you're very different to all the other mothers who
have interviewed me.
MRS. CLANDON. Ah, now we are coming to it, Mr. Valentine. You are
an old hand at this. (He opens his mouth to protest: she cuts him short
with some indignation.) Oh, do you think, little as I understand these
matters, that I have not common sense enough to know that a man who
could make as much way in one interview with such a woman as my
daughter, can hardly be a novice!
VALENTINE. I assure you---
MRS. CLANDON (stopping him). I am not blaming you, Mr. Valentine. It
is Gloria's business to take care of herself; and you have a right to
amuse yourself as you please. But---
VALENTINE (protesting). Amuse myself! Oh, Mrs. Clandon!
MRS. CLANDON (relentlessly). On your honor, Mr. Valentine, are you
VALENTINE (desperately). On my honor I am in earnest. (She looks
searchingly at him. His sense of humor gets the better of him; and he
adds quaintly) Only, I always have been in earnest; and yet---here I
am, you see!
MRS. CLANDON. This is just what I suspected. (Severely.) Mr.
Valentine: you are one of those men who play with women's affections.
VALENTINE. Well, why not, if the Cause of Humanity is the only thing
worth being serious about? However, I understand. (Rising and taking
his hat with formal politeness.) You wish me to discontinue my visits.
MRS. CLANDON. No: I am sensible enough to be well aware that
Gloria's best chance of escape from you now is to become better
acquainted with you.
VALENTINE (unaffectedly alarmed). Oh, don't say that, Mrs. Clandon.
You don't think that, do you?
MRS. CLANDON. I have great faith, Mr. Valentine, in the sound
training Gloria's mind has had since she was a child.
VALENTINE (amazingly relieved). O-oh! Oh, that's all right. (He
sits down again and throws his hat flippantly aside with the air of a
man who has no longer anything to fear.)
MRS. CLANDON (indignant at his assurance). What do you mean?
VALENTINE (turning confidentially to her). Come: shall I teach you
something, Mrs. Clandon?
MRS. CLANDON (stiffly). I am always willing to learn.
VALENTINE. Have you ever studied the subject of gunnery---artillery-
--cannons and war-ships and so on?
MRS. CLANDON. Has gunnery anything to do with Gloria?
VALENTINE. A great deal---by way of illustration. During this whole
century, my dear Mrs. Clandon, the progress of artillery has been a duel
between the maker of cannons and the maker of armor plates to keep the
cannon balls out. You build a ship proof against the best gun known:
somebody makes a better gun and sinks your ship. You build a heavier
ship, proof against that gun: somebody makes a heavier gun and sinks you
again. And so on. Well, the duel of sex is just like that.
MRS. CLANDON. The duel of sex!
VALENTINE. Yes: you've heard of the duel of sex, haven't you? Oh, I
forgot: you've been in Madeira: the expression has come up since your
time. Need I explain it?
MRS. CLANDON (contemptuously). No.
VALENTINE. Of course not. Now what happens in the duel of sex? The
old fashioned mother received an old fashioned education to protect her
against the wiles of man. Well, you know the result: the old fashioned
man got round her. The old fashioned woman resolved to protect her
daughter more effectually---to find some armor too strong for the old
fashioned man. So she gave her daughter a scientific education---your
plan. That was a corker for the old fashioned man: he said it wasn't
fair---unwomanly and all the rest of it. But that didn't do him any
good. So he had to give up his old fashioned plan of attack---you know-
--going down on his knees and swearing to love, honor and obey, and so
MRS. CLANDON. Excuse me: that was what the woman swore.
VALENTINE. Was it? Ah, perhaps you're right---yes: of course it
was. Well, what did the man do? Just what the artillery man does---
went one better than the woman---educated himself scientifically and
beat her at that game just as he had beaten her at the old game. I
learnt how to circumvent the Women's Rights woman before I was twenty-
three: it's all been found out long ago. You see, my methods are
MRS. CLANDON (with quiet disgust). No doubt.
VALENTINE. But for that very reason there's one sort of girl against
whom they are of no use.
MRS. CLANDON. Pray which sort?
VALENTINE. The thoroughly old fashioned girl. If you had brought up
Gloria in the old way, it would have taken me eighteen months to get to
the point I got to this afternoon in eighteen minutes. Yes, Mrs.
Clandon: the Higher Education of Women delivered Gloria into my hands;
and it was you who taught her to believe in the Higher Education of
MRS. CLANDON (rising). Mr. Valentine: you are very clever.
VALENTINE (rising also). Oh, Mrs. Clandon!
MRS. CLANDON And you have taught me n o t h i n g. Good-bye.
VALENTINE (horrified). Good-bye! Oh, mayn't I see her before I go?
MRS. CLANDON. I am afraid she will not return until you have gone
Mr. Valentine. She left the room expressly to avoid you.
VALENTINE (thoughtfully). That's a good sign. Good-bye. (He bows
and makes for the door, apparently well satisfied.)
MRS. CLANDON (alarmed). Why do you think it a good sign?
VALENTINE (turning near the door). Because I am mortally afraid of
her; and it looks as if she were mortally afraid of me. (He turns to go
and finds himself face to face with Gloria, who has just entered. She
looks steadfastly at him. He stares helplessly at her; then round at
Mrs. Clandon; then at Gloria again, completely at a loss.)
GLORIA (white, and controlling herself with difficulty). Mother: is
what Dolly told me true?
MRS. CLANDON. What did she tell you, dear?
GLORIA. That you have been speaking about me to this gentleman.
VALENTINE (murmuring). This gentleman! Oh!
MRS. CLANDON (sharply). Mr. Valentine: can you hold your tongue for
a moment? (He looks piteously at them; then, with a despairing shrug,
goes back to the ottoman and throws his hat on it.)
GLORIA (confronting her mother, with deep reproach). Mother: what
right had you to do it?
MRS. CLANDON. I don't think I have said anything I have no right to
VALENTINE (confirming her officiously). Nothing. Nothing whatever.
(Gloria looks at him with unspeakable indignation.) I beg your pardon.
(He sits down ignominiously on the ottoman.)
GLORIA. I cannot believe that any one has any right even to think
about things that concern me only. (She turns away from them to conceal
a painful struggle with her emotion.)
MRS. CLANDON. My dear, if I have wounded your pride---
GLORIA (turning on them for a moment). My p r i d e! My pride!!
Oh, it's gone: I have learnt now that I have no strength to be proud of.
(Turning away again.) But if a woman cannot protect herself, no one can
protect her. No one has any right to try---not even her mother. I know
I have lost your confidence, just as I have lost this man's respect;---
(She stops to master a sob.)
VALENTINE (under his breath). This man! (Murmuring again.) Oh!
MRS. CLANDON (in an undertone). Pray be silent, sir.
GLORIA (continuing). ---but I have at least the right to be left
alone in my disgrace. I am one of those weak creatures born to be
mastered by the first man whose eye is caught by them; and I must
fulfill my destiny, I suppose. At least spare me the humiliation of
trying to save me. (She sits down, with her handkerchief to her eyes,
at the farther end of the table.)
VALENTINE (jumping up). Look here---
MRS. CLANDON. Mr. Va---
VALENTINE (recklessly). No: I will speak: I've been silent for
nearly thirty seconds. (He goes up to Gloria.) Miss Clandon---
GLORIA (bitterly). Oh, not Miss Clandon: you have found that it is
quite safe to call me Gloria.
VALENTINE. No, I won't: you'll throw it in my teeth afterwards and
accuse me of disrespect. I say it's a heartbreaking falsehood that I
don't respect you. It's true that I didn't respect your old pride: why
should I? It was nothing but cowardice. I didn't respect your
intellect: I've a better one myself: it's a masculine specialty. But
when the depths stirred!---when my moment came!---when you made me
brave!---ah, then, then, t h e n!
GLORIA. Then you respected me, I suppose.
VALENTINE. No, I didn't: I adored you. (She rises quickly and turns
her back on him.) And you can never take that moment away from me. So
now I don't care what happens. (He comes down the room addressing a
cheerful explanation to nobody in particular.) I'm perfectly aware that
I'm talking nonsense. I can't help it. (To Mrs. Clandon.) I love
Gloria; and there's an end of it.
MRS. CLANDON (emphatically). Mr. Valentine: you are a most dangerous
man. Gloria: come here. (Gloria, wondering a little at the command,
obeys, and stands, with drooping head, on her mother's right hand,
Valentine being on the opposite side. Mrs. Clandon then begins, with
intense scorn.) Ask this man whom you have inspired and made brave, how
many women have inspired him before (Gloria looks up suddenly with a
flash of jealous anger and amazement); how many times he has laid the
trap in which he has caught you; how often he has baited it with the
same speeches; how much practice it has taken to make him perfect in his
chosen part in life as the Duellist of Sex.
VALENTINE. This isn't fair. You're abusing my confidence, Mrs.
MRS. CLANDON. Ask him, Gloria.
GLORIA (in a flush of rage, going over to him with her fists
clenched). Is that true?
VALENTINE. Don't be angry---
GLORIA (interrupting him implacably). Is it true? Did you ever say
that before? Did you ever feel that before---for another woman?
VALENTINE (bluntly). Yes. (Gloria raises her clenched hands.)
MRS. CLANDON (horrified, springing to her side and catching her
uplifted arm). Gloria!! My dear! You're forgetting yourself.
(Gloria, with a deep expiration, slowly relaxes her threatening
VALENTINE. Remember: a man's power of love and admiration is like
any other of his powers: he has to throw it away many times before he
learns what is really worthy of it.
MRS. CLANDON. Another of the old speeches, Gloria. Take care.
VALENTINE (remonstrating). Oh!
GLORIA (to Mrs. Clandon, with contemptuous self-possession). Do you
think I need to be warned now? (To Valentine.) You have tried to make
me love you.
VALENTINE. I have.
GLORIA. Well, you have succeeded in making me hate you---
VALENTINE (philosophically). It's surprising how little difference
there is between the two. (Gloria turns indignantly away from him. He
continues, to Mrs. Clandon) I know men whose wives love them; and they
go on exactly like that.
MRS. CLANDON. Excuse me, Mr. Valentine; but had you not better go?
GLORIA. You need not send him away on my account, mother. He is
nothing to me now; and he will amuse Dolly and Phil. (She sits down
with slighting indifference, at the end of the table nearest the
VALENTINE (gaily). Of course: that's the sensible way of looking at
it. Come, Mrs. Clandon: you can't quarrel with a mere butterfly like
MRS. CLANDON. I very greatly mistrust you, Mr. Valentine. But I do
not like to think that your unfortunate levity of disposition is mere
shamelessness and worthlessness;---
GLORIA (to herself, but aloud). It is shameless; and it is
MRS. CLANDON. ---so perhaps we had better send for Phil and Dolly
and allow you to end your visit in the ordinary way.
VALENTINE (as if she had paid him the highest compliment). You
overwhelm me, Mrs. Clandon. Thank you. (The waiter enters.)
WAITER. Mr. McComas, ma'am.
MRS. CLANDON. Oh, certainly. Bring him in.
WAITER. He wishes to see you in the reception-room, ma'am.
MRS. CLANDON. Why not here?
WAITER. Well, if you will excuse my mentioning it, ma'am, I think
Mr. McComas feels that he would get fairer play if he could speak to you
away from the younger members of your family, ma'am.
MRS. CLANDON. Tell him they are not here.
WAITER. They are within sight of the door, ma'am; and very watchful,
for some reason or other.
MRS. CLANDON (going). Oh, very well: I'll go to him.
WAITER (holding the door open for her). Thank you, ma'am. (She goes
out. He comes back into the room, and meets the eye of Valentine, who
wants him to go.) All right, sir. Only the tea-things, sir. (Taking
the tray.) Excuse me, sir. Thank you sir. (He goes out.)
VALENTINE (to Gloria). Look here. You will forgive me, sooner or
later. Forgive me now.
GLORIA (rising to level the declaration more intensely at him).
Never! While grass grows or water runs, never, never, never!!!
VALENTINE (unabashed). Well, I don't care. I can't be unhappy about
anything. I shall never be unhappy again, never, never, never, while
grass grows or water runs. The thought of you will always make me wild
with joy. (Some quick taunt is on her lips: he interposes swiftly.)
No: I never said that before: that's new.
GLORIA. It will not be new when you say it to the next woman.
VALENTINE. Oh, don't, Gloria, don't. (He kneels at her feet.)
GLORIA. Get up. Get up! How dare you? (Phil and Dolly, racing, as
usual, for first place, burst into the room. They check themselves on
seeing what is passing. Valentine springs up.)
PHILIP (discreetly). I beg your pardon. Come, Dolly. (He turns to
GLORIA (annoyed). Mother will be back in a moment, Phil.
(Severely.) Please wait here for her. (She turns away to the window,
where she stands looking out with her back to them.)
PHILIP (significantly). Oh, indeed. Hmhm!
PHILIP. You seem in excellent spirits, Valentine.
VALENTINE. I am. (Comes between them.) Now look here. You both
know what's going on, don't you? (Gloria turns quickly, as if
anticipating some fresh outrage.)
VALENTINE. Well, it's all over. I've been refused---scorned. I'm
only here on sufferance. You understand: it's all over. Your sister is
in no sense entertaining my addresses, or condescending to interest
herself in me in any way. (Gloria, satisfied, turns back contemptuously
to the window.) Is that clear?
DOLLY. Serve you right. You were in too great a hurry.
PHILIP (patting him on the shoulder). Never mind: you'd never have
been able to call your soul your own if she'd married you. You can now
begin a new chapter in your life.
DOLLY. Chapter seventeen or thereabouts, I should imagine.
VALENTINE (much put out by this pleasantry). No: don't say things
like that. That's just the sort of thoughtless remark that makes a lot
DOLLY. Oh, indeed. Hmhm!
PHILIP. Ahah! (He goes to the hearth and plants himself there in
his best head-of-the-family attitude.)
McComas, looking very serious, comes in quickly with Mrs. Clandon,
whose first anxiety is about Gloria. She looks round to see where she
is, and is going to join her at the window when Gloria comes down to
meet her with a marked air of trust and affection. Finally, Mrs.
Clandon takes her former seat, and Gloria posts herself behind it.
McComas, on his way to the ottoman, is hailed by Dolly.
DOLLY. What cheer, Finch?
McCOMAS (sternly). Very serious news from your father, Miss Clandon.
Very serious news indeed. (He crosses to the ottoman, and sits down.
Dolly, looking deeply impressed, follows him and sits beside him on his
VALENTINE. Perhaps I had better go.
McCOMAS. By no means, Mr. Valentine. You are deeply concerned in
this. (Valentine takes a chair from the table and sits astride of it,
leaning over the back, near the ottoman.) Mrs. Clandon: your husband
demands the custody of his two younger children, who are not of age.
(Mrs. Clandon, in quick alarm, looks instinctively to see if Dolly is
DOLLY (touched). Oh, how nice of him! He likes us, mamma.
McCOMAS. I am sorry to have to disabuse you of any such idea, Miss
DOLLY (cooing ecstatically). Dorothee-ee-ee-a! (Nestling against
his shoulder, quite overcome.) Oh, Finch!
McCOMAS (nervously, moving away). No, no, no, no!
MRS. CLANDON (remonstrating). D e a r e s t Dolly! (To McComas.)
The deed of separation gives me the custody of the children.
McCOMAS. It also contains a covenant that you are not to approach or
molest him in any way.
MRS. CLANDON. Well, have I done so?
McCOMAS. Whether the behavior of your younger children amounts to
legal molestation is a question on which it may be necessary to take
counsel's opinion. At all events, Mr. Crampton not only claims to have
been molested; but he believes that he was brought here by a plot in
which Mr. Valentine acted as your agent.
VALENTINE. What's that? Eh?
McCOMAS. He alleges that you drugged him, Mr. Valentine.
VALENTINE. So I did. (They are astonished.)
McCOMAS. But what did you do that for?
DOLLY. Five shillings extra.
McCOMAS (to Dolly, short-temperedly). I must really ask you, Miss
Clandon, not to interrupt this very serious conversation with irrelevant
interjections. (Vehemently.) I insist on having earnest matters
earnestly and reverently discussed. (This outburst produces an
apologetic silence, and puts McComas himself out of countenance. He
coughs, and starts afresh, addressing himself to Gloria.) Miss Clandon:
it is my duty to tell you that your father has also persuaded himself
that Mr. Valentine wishes to marry you---
VALENTINE (interposing adroitly). I do.
McCOMAS (offended). In that case, sir, you must not be surprised to
find yourself regarded by the young lady's father as a fortune hunter.
VALENTINE. So I am. Do you expect my wife to live on what I earn?
ten-pence a week!
McCOMAS (revolted). I have nothing more to say, sir. I shall return
and tell Mr. Crampton that this family is no place for a father. (He
makes for the door.)
MRS. CLANDON (with quiet authority). Finch! (He halts.) If Mr.
Valentine cannot be serious, you can. Sit down. (McComas, after a
brief struggle between his dignity and his friendship, succumbs, seating
himself this time midway between Dolly and Mrs. Clandon.) You know that
all this is a made up case---that Fergus does not believe in it any more
than you do. Now give me your real advice---your sincere, friendly
advice: you know I have always trusted your judgment. I promise you the
children will be quiet.
McCOMAS (resigning himself). Well, well! What I want to say is
this. In the old arrangement with your husband, Mrs. Clandon, you had
him at a terrible disadvantage.
MRS. CLANDON. How so, pray?
McCOMAS. Well, you were an advanced woman, accustomed to defy public
opinion, and with no regard for what the world might say of you.
MRS. CLANDON (proud of it). Yes: that is true. (Gloria, behind the
chair, stoops and kisses her mother's hair, a demonstration which
disconcerts her extremely.)
McCOMAS. On the other hand, Mrs. Clandon, your husband had a great
horror of anything getting into the papers. There was his business to
be considered, as well as the prejudices of an old-fashioned family.
MRS. CLANDON. Not to mention his own prejudices.
McCOMAS. Now no doubt he behaved badly, Mrs. Clandon---
MRS. CLANDON (scornfully). No doubt.
McCOMAS. But was it altogether his fault?
MRS. CLANDON. Was it mine?
McCOMAS (hastily). No. Of course not.
GLORIA (observing him attentively). You do not mean that, Mr.
McCOMAS. My dear young lady, you pick me up very sharply. But let
me just put this to you. When a man makes an unsuitable marriage
(nobody's fault, you know, but purely accidental incompatibility of
tastes); when he is deprived by that misfortune of the domestic sympathy
which, I take it, is what a man marries for; when in short, his wife is
rather worse than no wife at all (through no fault of his own, of
course), is it to be wondered at if he makes matters worse at first by
blaming her, and even, in his desperation, by occasionally drinking
himself into a violent condition or seeking sympathy elsewhere?
MRS. CLANDON. I did not blame him: I simply rescued myself and the
children from him.
McCOMAS. Yes: but you made hard terms, Mrs. Clandon. You had him at
your mercy: you brought him to his knees when you threatened to make the
matter public by applying to the Courts for a judicial separation.
Suppose he had had that power over you, and used it to take your
children away from you and bring them up in ignorance of your very name,
how would you feel? what would you do? Well, won't you make some
allowance for his feelings?---in common humanity.
MRS. CLANDON. I never discovered his feelings. I discovered his
temper, and his--- (she shivers) the rest of his common humanity.
McCOMAS (wistfully). Women can be very hard, Mrs. Clandon.
VALENTINE. That's true.
GLORIA (angrily). Be silent. (He subsides.)
McCOMAS (rallying all his forces). Let me make one last appeal.
Mrs. Clandon: believe me, there are men who have a good deal of feeling,
and kind feeling, too, which they are not able to express. What you
miss in Crampton is that mere veneer of civilization, the art of shewing
worthless attentions and paying insincere compliments in a kindly,
charming way. If you lived in London, where the whole system is one of
false good-fellowship, and you may know a man for twenty years without
finding out that he hates you like poison, you would soon have your eyes
opened. There we do unkind things in a kind way: we say bitter things
in a sweet voice: we always give our friends chloroform when we tear
them to pieces. But think of the other side of it! Think of the people
who do kind things in an unkind way---people whose touch hurts, whose
voices jar, whose tempers play them false, who wound and worry the
people they love in the very act of trying to conciliate them, and yet
who need affection as much as the rest of us. Crampton has an
abominable temper, I admit. He has no manners, no tact, no grace.
He'll never be able to gain anyone's affection unless they will take his
desire for it on trust. Is he to have none---not even pity---from his
own flesh and blood?
DOLLY (quite melted). Oh, how beautiful, Finch! How nice of you!
PHILIP (with conviction). Finch: this is eloquence---positive
DOLLY. Oh, mamma, let us give him another chance. Let us have him
MRS. CLANDON (unmoved). No, Dolly: I hardly got any lunch. My dear
Finch: there is not the least use in talking to me about Fergus. You
have never been married to him: I have.
McCOMAS (to Gloria). Miss Clandon: I have hitherto refrained from
appealing to you, because, if what Mr. Crampton told me to be true, you
have been more merciless even than your mother.
GLORIA (defiantly). You appeal from her strength to my weakness!
McCOMAS. Not your weakness, Miss Clandon. I appeal from her
intellect to your heart.
GLORIA. I have learnt to mistrust my heart. (With an angry glance
at Valentine.) I would tear my heart and throw it away if I could. My
answer to you is my mother's answer. (She goes to Mrs. Clandon, and
stands with her arm about her; but Mrs. Clandon, unable to endure this
sort of demonstrativeness, disengages herself as soon as she can without
hurting Gloria's feelings.)
McCOMAS (defeated). Well, I am very sorry---very sorry. I have done
my best. (He rises and prepares to go, deeply dissatisfied.)
MRS. CLANDON. But what did you expect, Finch? What do you want us
McCOMAS. The first step for both you and Crampton is to obtain
counsel's opinion as to whether he is bound by the deed of separation or
not. Now why not obtain this opinion at once, and have a friendly
meeting (her face hardens)---or shall we say a neutral meeting? ---to
settle the difficulty---here---in this hotel---to-night? What do you
MRS. CLANDON. But where is the counsel's opinion to come from?
McCOMAS. It has dropped down on us out of the clouds. On my way
back here from Crampton's I met a most eminent Q.C., a man whom I
briefed in the case that made his name for him. He has come down here
from Saturday to Monday for the sea air, and to visit a relative of his
who lives here. He has been good enough to say that if I can arrange a
meeting of the parties he will come and help us with his opinion. Now
do let us seize this chance of a quiet friendly family adjustment. Let
me bring my friend here and try to persuade Crampton to come, too.
MRS. CLANDON (rather ominously, after a moment's consideration).
Finch: I don't want counsel's opinion, because I intend to be guided by
my own opinion. I don't want to meet Fergus again, because I don't like
him, and don't believe the meeting will do any good. However (rising),
you have persuaded the children that he is not quite hopeless. Do as
McCOMAS (taking her hand and shaking it). Thank you, Mrs. Clandon.
Will nine o'clock suit you?
MRS. CLANDON. Perfectly. Phil: will you ring, please. (Phil rings
the bell.) But if I am to be accused of conspiring with Mr. Valentine,
I think he had better be present.
VALENTINE (rising). I quite agree with you. I think it's most
McCOMAS. There can be no objection to that, I think. I have the
greatest hopes of a happy settlement. Good-bye for the present. (He
goes out, meeting the waiter; who holds the door for him to pass
MRS. CLANDON. We expect some visitors at nine, William. Can we have
dinner at seven instead of half-past?
WAITER (at the door). Seven, ma'am? Certainly, ma'am. It will be a
convenience to us this busy evening, ma'am. There will be the band and
the arranging of the fairy lights and one thing or another, ma'am.
DOLLY. The fairy lights!
PHILIP. The band! William: what mean you?
WAITER. The fancy ball, miss---
DOLLY and PHILIP (simultaneously rushing to him). Fancy ball!
WAITER. Oh, yes, sir. Given by the regatta committee for the
benefit of the Life-boat, sir. (To Mrs. Clandon.) We often have them,
ma'am: Chinese lanterns in the garden, ma'am: very bright and pleasant,
very gay and innocent indeed. (To Phil.) Tickets downstairs at the
office, sir, five shillings: ladies half price if accompanied by a
PHILIP (seizing his arm to drag him off). To the office, William!
DOLLY (breathlessly, seizing his other arm). Quick, before they're
all sold. (They rush him out of the room between them.)
MRS. CLANDON. What on earth are they going to do? (Going out.) I
really must go and stop this--- (She follows them, speaking as she
disappears. Gloria stares coolly at Valentine, and then deliberately
looks at her watch.)
VALENTINE. I understand. I've stayed too long. I'm going.
GLORIA (with disdainful punctiliousness). I owe you some apology,
Mr. Valentine. I am conscious of having spoken somewhat sharply---
perhaps rudely---to you.
VALENTINE. Not at all.
GLORIA. My only excuse is that it is very difficult to give
consideration and respect when there is no dignity of character on the
other side to command it.
VALENTINE (prosaically). How is a man to look dignified when he's
GLORIA (effectually unstilted). Don't say those things to me. I
forbid you. They are insults.
VALENTINE. No: they're only follies. I can't help them.
GLORIA. If you were really in love, it would not make you foolish:
it would give you dignity---earnestness---even beauty.
VALENTINE. Do you really think it would make me beautiful? (She
turns her back on him with the coldest contempt.) Ah, you see you're
not in earnest. Love can't give any man new gifts. It can only
heighten the gifts he was born with.
GLORIA (sweeping round at him again). What gifts were you born with,
VALENTINE. Lightness of heart.
GLORIA. And lightness of head, and lightness of faith, and lightness
of everything that makes a man.
VALENTINE. Yes, the whole world is like a feather dancing in the
light now; and Gloria is the sun. (She rears her head angrily.) I beg
your pardon: I'm off. Back at nine. Good-bye. (He runs off gaily,
leaving her standing in the middle of the room staring after him.)
END OF ACT III
The same room. Nine o'clock. Nobody present. The lamps are
lighted; but the curtains are not drawn. The window stands wide open;
and strings of Chinese lanterns are glowing among the trees outside,
with the starry sky beyond. The band is playing dance-music in the
garden, drowning the sound of the sea.
The waiter enters, shewing in Crampton and McComas. Crampton looks
cowed and anxious. He sits down wearily and timidly on the ottoman.
WAITER. The ladies have gone for a turn through the grounds to see
the fancy dresses, sir. If you will be so good as to take seats,
gentlemen, I shall tell them. (He is about to go into the garden
through the window when McComas stops him.)
McCOMAS. One moment. If another gentleman comes, shew him in
without any delay: we are expecting him.
WAITER. Right, sir. What name, sir?
McCOMAS. Boon. Mr. Boon. He is a stranger to Mrs. Clandon; so he
may give you a card. If so, the name is spelt B.O.H.U.N. You will not
WAITER (smiling). You may depend on me for that, sir. My own name
is Boon, sir, though I am best known down here as Balmy Walters, sir.
By rights I should spell it with the aitch you, sir; but I think it best
not to take that liberty, sir. There is Norman blood in it, sir; and
Norman blood is not a recommendation to a waiter.
McCOMAS. Well, well: "True hearts are more than coronets, and simple
faith than Norman blood."
WAITER. That depends a good deal on one's station in life, sir. If
you were a waiter, sir, you'd find that simple faith would leave you
just as short as Norman blood. I find it best to spell myself B.
double-O.N., and to keep my wits pretty sharp about me. But I'm taking
up your time, sir. You'll excuse me, sir: your own fault for being so
affable, sir. I'll tell the ladies you're here, sir. (He goes out into
the garden through the window.)
McCOMAS. Crampton: I can depend on you, can't I?
CRAMPTON. Yes, yes. I'll be quiet. I'll be patient. I'll do my
McCOMAS. Remember: I've not given you away. I've told them it was
all their fault.
CRAMPTON. You told me that it was all my fault.
McCOMAS. I told you the truth.
CRAMPTON (plaintively). If they will only be fair to me!
McCOMAS. My dear Crampton, they won't be fair to you: it's not to be
expected from them at their age. If you're going to make impossible
conditions of this kind, we may as well go back home at once.
CRAMPTON. But surely I have a right---
McCOMAS (intolerantly). You won't get your rights. Now, once for
all, Crampton, did your promises of good behavior only mean that you
won't complain if there's nothing to complain of? Because, if so---
(He moves as if to go.)
CRAMPTON (miserably). No, no: let me alone, can't you? I've been
bullied enough: I've been tormented enough. I tell you I'll do my
best. But if that girl begins to talk to me like that and to look at
me like--- (He breaks off and buries his head in his hands.)
McCOMAS (relenting). There, there: it'll be all right, if you will
only bear and forbear. Come, pull yourself together: there's someone
coming. (Crampton, too dejected to care much, hardly changes his
attitude. Gloria enters from the garden; McComas goes to meet her at
the window; so that he can speak to her without being heard by
Crampton.) There he is, Miss Clandon. Be kind to him. I'll leave you
with him for a moment. (He goes into the garden. Gloria comes in and
strolls coolly down the middle of the room.)
CRAMPTON (looking round in alarm). Where's McComas?
GLORIA (listlessly, but not unsympathetically). Gone out---to leave
us together. Delicacy on his part, I suppose. (She stops beside him
and looks quaintly down at him.) Well, father?
CRAMPTON (a quaint jocosity breaking through his forlornness). Well,
daughter? (They look at one another for a moment, with a melancholy
sense of humor.)
GLORIA. Shake hands. (They shake hands.)
CRAMPTON (holding her hand). My dear: I'm afraid I spoke very
improperly of your mother this afternoon.
GLORIA. Oh, don't apologize. I was very high and mighty myself; but
I've come down since: oh, yes: I've been brought down. (She sits on the
floor beside his chair.)
CRAMPTON. What has happened to you, my child?
GLORIA. Oh, never mind. I was playing the part of my mother's
daughter then; but I'm not: I'm my father's daughter. (Looking at him
funnily.) That's a come down, isn't it?
CRAMPTON (angry). What! (Her odd expression does not alter. He
surrenders.) Well, yes, my dear: I suppose it is, I suppose it is.
(She nods sympathetically.) I'm afraid I'm sometimes a little
irritable; but I know what's right and reasonable all the time, even
when I don't act on it. Can you believe that?
GLORIA. Believe it! Why, that's myself---myself all over. I know
what's right and dignified and strong and noble, just as well as she
does; but oh, the things I do! the things I do! the things I let other
CRAMPTON (a little grudgingly in spite of himself). As well as she
does? You mean your mother?
GLORIA (quickly). Yes, mother. (She turns to him on her knees and
seizes his hands.) Now listen. No treason to her: no word, no thought
against her. She is our superior---yours and mine---high heavens above
us. Is that agreed?
CRAMPTON. Yes, yes. Just as you please, my dear.
GLORIA (not satisfied, letting go his hands and drawing back from
him). You don't like her?
CRAMPTON. My child: you haven't been married to her. I have. (She
raises herself slowly to her feet, looking at him with growing
coldness.) She did me a great wrong in marrying me without really
caring for me. But after that, the wrong was all on my side,
I dare say. (He offers her his hand again.)
GLORIA (taking it firmly and warningly). Take care. That's a
dangerous subject. My feelings---my miserable, cowardly, womanly