The Plays of Wilkie Collins: A Digital Archive



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Wilkie Collins, Man and Wife, edited by Richard Pearson (c) 2011
Published with kind permission of

Ms Faith Clarke
and
The British Library

For the purposes of referencing, please use the following formula:
Wilkie Collins, Man and Wife (BLMan), ed. Richard Pearson, www.wilkiecollinsplays.net (date accessed)


Man and Wife:1

A Dramatic Story,

IN FOUR ACTS

(Altered from the Novel for Performance on the Stage.)

By WILKIE COLLINS



LONDON: PUBLISHED BY THE AUTHOR,

90, GLOUCESTER PLACE, PORTMAN SQUARE,

1870.



WHITING] ENTERED AT STATIONERS' HALL [LONDON.


PERSONS REPRESENTED.


SIR PATRICK LUNDIE.
ARNOLD BRINKWORTH.
GEOFFREY DELAMAYN.
BISHOPRIGGS.

MR. SPEEDWELL.
MR. MOY.
DUNCAN.


BLANCHE.
ANNE SILVESTER.
LADY LUNDIE.
MRS. INCHBARE.


Ladies and Gentlemen, Guests at Lady Lundie’s;

Servants, &c. &c. &c.



Period. The Present Time.
Scene. Scotland.


MAN AND WIFE.


ACT I.
 

SCENE.— A summer-house, looking out at the back on a lawn and garden.  Entrances right and left, as well as at the back. The characters (with the guests, ladies and gentlemen) are discovered at the rise of the curtain.* Materials for playing croquet are placed on a rustic table. A loud murmur of conversation is heard as the curtain goes up. BLANCHE advances a little from the throng of visitors. She is dressed in the extreme of the present fashion.

 

BLANCHE. Now then, good people, silence, if you please. We are going to choose sides at croquet. Business! business! business!

LADY L. (maliciously). My dear Blanche! words have their meaning—even on a young lady’s lips. Do you call croquet business?

SIR PAT. You don’t call it pleasure, surely?

BLANCHE (to SIR PATRICK). You have not been half an hour in the house, uncle, and you are beginning to say bitter things already. I head one side, ladies and gentlemen; and my stepmother, Lady Lundie, heads the other. We choose our players, turn and turn about. Mama has the advantage of me in years. So mamma chooses first.

LADY L. I cannot do better, Blanche, than begin with your governess. I choose Miss Silvester.


(ANNE
SILVESTER advances from among the company.)


ANNE. Thank you, Lady Lundie, I would rather not play.

LADY L. (with an assumption of extreme surprise). Oh, indeed! Considering that we are all here for the purpose

*Persons on the stage at the rise of the curtain:-Lady Lundie; Anne Silvester; Blanche; Sir Patrick; Geoffrey; Arnold.2

[6] 3

        of playing, that seems rather remarkable. Is anything the matter, Miss Silvester?

ANNE. Nothing is the matter, Lady Lundie. I will play if you wish it.


(She takes a mallet and ball from the table.)

BLANCHE (looking among the company). I choose Mr. Delamayn.

GEOFF. (advancing to BLANCHE). Thanks, very much. Could you additionally honour me by choosing somebody else? It’s not in my line.

BLANCHE. (petulantly). Can’t we interest you in anything but severe muscular exertion, Mr. Delamayn? Must you always be winning in a boat-race, or flying over a high jump? If you had a mind, you would want to relax it. You have got muscles instead. Relax them

GEOFF. Just as you please. Don’t be offended. I came here with ladies—and they wouldn’t let me smoke. I miss my smoke. I thought I’d slip away a bit and have
it. All right! I’ll play.

BLANCHE. Oh! smoke by all means. I shall choose somebody else. I won’t have you.

ARNOLD (aside to her). Choose me!

BLANCHE (coquettishly). You? You are going away in an hour’s time.

ARNOLD. I am coming back the day after to-morrow.

BLANCHE. You play very badly.

ARNOLD. I might improve—if you would teach me.

BLANCHE. Then I will teach you! I choose Mr. Brinkworth.


(SIR PATRICK starts as she mentions the name, and looks at A
RNOLD. ARNOLD takes his mallet and ball.)


LADY L. I choose Sir Patrick.

BLANCHE. Sir Patrick won’t play. Croquet wasn’t discovered in his time.

SIR PAT. In my time, my dear, people were expected to bring some agreeable quality with them to social meetings of this sort. In your time, you have dispensed with all that. Here (taking a mallet) is one of the qualifications for success in English society. And here (taking a ball) is another. Very good. Live and learn. I’ll play! I’ll play!

LADY L. I knew sir Patrick would play—to please me.

[7]

SIR PAT. (bowing satirically). Lady Lundie, you read me like a book. I may say with Dryden:


“Old as I am, for lady’s love unfit,
The power of beauty I remember yet.”


(LADY LUNDIE and
BLANCHE disperse among the guests, and choose the remaining players.)


GEOFF. (abruptly addressing SIR PATRICK). Dryden never said that—I’ll answer for it!

SIR PAT. Do you know Dryden, sir, better than I do?

GEOFF. Well, I should say I did. I have rowed three races with him—and we trained together.

SIR PAT. Then let me tell you, sir, you trained with a man who died nearly two hundred years ago.

GEOFF. (bewildered). What does this old gentleman mean? I’m speaking of Tom Dryden of Corpus. Everybody in the university knows him.

SIR PAT. I am speaking of John Dryden, the poet. Apparently, everybody in the university does not know him.

GEOFF. (very earnestly). Give you my word of honour I never heard of him before in my life! Don’t be angry, sir: I’m not offended with you. (He takes out his pipe.)
Got a light?

SIR PAT. I don’t smoke, sir.

GEOFF. You don’t smoke! I wonder how you get through your spare time?

SIR PAT. Sir, you may wonder.

BLANCHE (advancing). There! It’s done at last. My side, follow me.


(SIR PATRICK stops BLANCHE, and speaks to her.)


SIR PAT. Leave Mr. Brinkworth with me. I want to speak to him.

BLANCHE (to ARNOLD). You are to stay here with Sir Patrick till I want you.


(She goes out. The guests follow her. As they slowly leave the summer-house ANNE joins GEOFFREY. They both speak cautiously, so as not to be overheard by the rest.)


ANNE. In ten minutes the summer-house will be deserted. Meet me here.

GEOFF. Do you think it’s safe?

ANNE. I insist on it!

[8]

(They part, and leave the summer-house with the rest. SIR PATRICK and ARNOLD are left alone on the stage. ARNOLD goes to the back and looks out.)


SIR PAT. Mr. Brinkworth! (ARNOLD turns round.) Pardon me for detaining you for a moment from the game. I have had no opportunity of speaking to you before this. Your father was one of my dearest friends. Let me make a friend of your father’s son. (They shake hands.) Is it true that you leave Lady Lundie’s to-day?

ARNOLD. I am obliged to interrupt my visit for a few days. My aunt’s death, Sir Patrick, has left me heir to her house and lands in the next county—and I am expected to meet my tenants to-morrow.

SIR PAT. Ay, ay—to be sure! Lady Lundie wrote to me about it. What were you doing when your aunt’s will made an idle man of you for life?

ARNOLD. You remember my father’s losses on the turf, sir? (SIR PATRICK nods.) All my prospects ended with that. I was obliged to earn my own living at a very early age—and I earned it at sea, in the merchant service.

SIR PAT. I hope you won’t live to regret the merchant service! What sort of a house do you find this?

ARNOLD (laughing). An odd question, Sir Patrick, for you to put to me! You talk as if you were a stranger here.

SIR PAT. That’s exactly what I am. My story is not unlike yours, Mr. Brinkworth, though I am old enough to he your father. Two years ago I was an obscure old Scotch lawyer, retired from business, with two young lives between me and my elder brother’s title. And here I am, the present baronet—guardian to my late brother’s daughter by his first wife, and guest of our hostess here, the second Lady Lundie—as completely out of my natural element as a man can be! I see nothing but strange faces about me. Have you got any friends here?

ARNOLD. I have one friend. He arrived this morning, like you. Geoffrey Delamayn.

SIR PAT. Humph! Your choice of a friend rather surprises me, Mr. Brinkworth.

ARNOLD. There’s nothing surprising in it. We were school-fellows at Eton—at the time when my father was a rich man. And we have met since, when Geoffrey was

[9]

       yachting, and when I was with my ship. Geoffrey saved my life, Sir Patrick, in a boat accident. What do you think of that?

SIR PAT. It depends entirely on the value you set on your life.

ARNOLD. I set a very high value on it.

SIR PAT. In that case, your friend has laid you under an obligation to him.

ARNOLD. Which I can never repay!

SIR PAT. Which your friend will make you repay, one of these days—with interest.

ARNOLD. You say that rather bitterly, sir. What has Geoffrey done to offend you?

SIR PAT. He presumes to exist—that is what he has done. Don’t stare! I am speaking generally. Mr. Delamayn is the model young Briton of the present time—I don’t like the model young Briton. I don’t see the sense of crowing over him as a superb national production, because he is big and strong, and drinks beer with impunity, and takes a cold shower-bath all the year round. There is far too much glorification in England, just now, of the mere physical qualities which an Englishman shares with the savage and the brute. We are readier than we ever were to practise all that is rough in our national customs, and to excuse all that is violent and brutish in our national acts. Read the popular books, attend the popular amusements, and you will find at the bottom of them all a lessening regard for the graces of civilised life, and a growing admiration for the virtues of the aboriginal Britons!

ARNOLD (innocently). How hot you are over it, sir!

SIR PAT. Almost as hot as if I was cheering at a race, or wrangling over a betting.book—eh? Ah, we were so easily heated when I was a young man! Let’s change the subject. I know nothing to the prejudice of your friend, Mr. Delamayn. It’s the cant of the day to take these physically wholesome men for granted as being morally wholesome men into the bargain. Time will show whether the cant of the day is right. So you are really coming back again to Lady Lundie’s, after a mere flying visit to your own property? That is a most extraordinary

[10]

       proceeding, on the part of a landed gentleman like you! What’s the attraction here, my young friend ?


(BLANCHE’S voice is heard outside.)

BLANCHE (calling). Mr. Brinkworth!


(ARNOLD starts, and turns to go out.)


SIR PAT. (observing him). Oh? That’s the attraction, is it?


(ARNOLD stops confusedly.
BLANCHE appears at the back.)


BLANCHE. Mr. Brinkworth, you will be wanted directly. Uncle! it’s your turn to play.

SIR PAT. Bless my soul! I forgot the game. (He looks about him for his mallet and ball, which he has laid aside.) Who was the first mistaken person who discovered that human life was a serious thing? Here am I with one foot in the grave; and the most serious question before me at the present moment is—Shall I get through the hoops?


(He goes out at the back.)

BLANCHE. You look a little confused, Mr. Brinkworth. Sir Patrick sharpens his wit on everybody. Has he been sharpening it on you?

ARNOLD. Sir Patrick has discovered one of my secrets, by only looking in my face. I wonder whether you take after Sir Patrick?

BLANCHE. What! do you think the gift of discovery runs in the family?

ARNOLD. I wish it did.

BLANCHE. Why?

ARNOLD. If you could only see in my face what Sir Patrick saw—

BLANCHE. Well?

ARNOLD. You would see that I want a little encouragement.

BLANCHE. From me?

ARNOLD. Yes—if you please.

BLANCHE (looking round). Does anybody hear us?

ARNOLD. Not a soul! .

BLANCHE. Consider yourself encouraged—within limits.

ARNOLD (seizing her hand). Consider yourself loved— without any limits at all.

BLANCHE. Mr. Brinkworth!

[11]

ARNOLD. Do try to like me a little. I am so fond of you!

BLANCHE. Mercy on me! Did you learn this method of making love in the merchant service?

ARNOLD. I’ll go back to the merchant service, if I have made you angry with me.

BLANCHE. Anger, Mr. Brinkworth, is one of the bad passions. A young lady who is properly brought up has no bad passions. (Voices are heard outside calling “Mr.
Brinkworth!”) Go away directly. It’s your turn to play.

ARNOLD. Give me a kind word before I go. Say—yes.

BLANCHE. Quite impossible! If you want any more encouragement, you must speak to my uncle.

ARNOLD. I’ll speak to him before I leave the house.


(ARNOLD is again called from outside.)


BLANCHE. Away with you! and mind you get through the hoop!

ARNOLD (kissing her). I have got through it already!


(He runs out at the back.)

BLANCHE. Am I awake? or dreaming? Is it possible that Mr. Brinkworth has just ventured to kiss me? (ANNE SILVESTER appears at the side entrance on the left, and starts at seeing BLANCHE in the summer-house. BLANCHE hurries to her, and embraces her.) Wish me joy, darling! He has said the words—he’s mine for life!

ANNE (absently). Mr. Brinkworth?

BLANCHE. 0f course! Who else should it be?

ANNE (as before). And you are really happy, my love?

BLANCHE. Happy? Anne, this is strictly between ourselves! I am ready to jump out of my skin for joy. I love him! I love him! I love him! (She looks attentively in ANNE’s face.) What’s the matter?

ANNE. Nothing.

BLANCHE. There is something the matter. I tell you all my secrets. Why are you keeping a secret from me?

ANNE (confusedly changing the subject). There is somebody coming. (Points to the back.) Look!


(ARNOLD appears at the back.)


ARNOLD. Miss Blanche, it’s your turn to play.

BLANCHE (to ANNE) I will wait till to-night. You can tell me your secret, when you come into my room. Don’t

[12]

       look like that! You shall tell me. (Kisses ANNE and joins ARNOLD.) Well? Have you got through the hoop?

ARNOLD. Never mind the hoop! I have broken the ice with Sir Patrick.

BLANCHE. What! before all the company?

ARNOLD. Of course not! I have made an appointment to speak to him here. (They go out together at the back.)

ANNE (sinking into a chair). Even that innocent creature has noticed the change in me! Is the time coming when Blanche will see what I am, in my face?


(GEOFFREY DELAMAYN enters by the side entrance on the right.)


GEOFF. (sullenly). I have come, as you made a point of it. But, mind you, it isn’t safe. (ANNE starts up and advances towards him. GEOFFREY proceeds.) Well? What have you got to say to me?

ANNE. Mr. Geoffrey Delamayn, you are one of the fortunate people of this world. You are a nobleman’s son: you are a handsome man; you are popular at your college; you are free of the best houses in England. Are you something besides all this? Are you a coward and a scoundrel as well?

GEOFF. I say! Keep your temper.

ANNE. Keep my temper! Do you, of all men, expect me to control myself? What a memory yours must be! Have you forgotten the time when I was fool enough to think you were fond of me? and mad enough to believe you could keep a promise?

GEOFF. “Mad”—is a strongish word to use, Miss Silvester!

ANNE. “Mad”—is the right word! I look back at my own infatuation—and I can’t account for it; I can’t understand myself. What was there in you to attract such a woman as I am?

GEOFF. (taking his pipe out of his pocket). I’m sure I don’t know.

ANNE (striking the pipe out of his hand). How dare you use me in this way? You have been a month at your brother’s place, not ten miles from this—and you have

[13]

       never once ridden over to see me. Your conduct is infamous. Defend it if you can!

GEOFF. I’ll pick up my pipe first. (He picks it up.) All right—she hasn’t broken it.

ANNE. Answer me sir! 4 Do you mean to keep your promise?

GEOFF. [W]hat can I do? I am not the eldest son. I’m dependent on my father for every farthing I have; and I’m on bad terms with him already. Can’t you see it yourself? You are a lady, and all that, I know. But you’re only a governess. It’s your interest as well as mine to wait till my father has provided for me. If I marry you now, I’m a ruined man.

ANNE. If you don’t I’m a ruined woman!

GEOFF. (savagely). What do you mean?

ANNE. You know what I mean. (changing her tone). Don’t be hard on me! I don’t mean to be hard on you. My temper gets the better of me. Geoffrey! I am sorry I forgot myself. My whole future is in your hands. (GEOFFREY is silent. There is a pause. ANNE approaches him.) Haven’t you a word to say to me? No answer? not even a look? I am sorry I have troubled you, Mr. Delamayn. I won’t detain you any longer.


(She turns to go out.)


GEOFF. (stopping her). Where are you going?

ANNE (sternly). Where many a miserable woman has gone before me. Out of the world!

GEOFF. (alarmed). Do you mean you will destroy yourself?

ANNE (quietly). Yes. I mean I will destroy myself.

GEOFF. (looking at her). By Jupiter, she does mean it! (A pause—they look at each other. GEOFFREY points to a chair.) Sit down! (ANNE obeys him.) Haven’t you got

[14]

         a word to say to me? (She remains silent.) What do you want?

ANNE. You know what I want.

GEOFF. Look here! I have got something to propose. What do you say to a private marriage?

ANNE. I consent to a private marriage.

GEOFF. I don’t see how it’s to be managed—

ANNE. I do.

GEOFF. What! you have thought of it yourself!

ANNE. Yes.

GEOFF. And planned for it?

ANNE. And planned for it.

GEOFF. Why didn’t you tell me so before?

ANNE (haughtily). Because you owed it to me, sir, to speak first!

GEOFF. Very well—I have spoken first. Will you wait a little?

ANNE. Not a day!

GEOFF. Where’s the hurry?

ANNE. Do you hear how Lady Lundie speaks to me? (Melting into tears.) And oh, Blanche! Blanche, who loves me! Blanche, who asked me to tell her my secret a minute since! (With a sudden return of despair.) Let me go. What is death compared to such a life as is waiting for me? Why! even you would have the courage to die if you were in my place!5

GEOFF. Hush! they will hear you!

ANNE. Let them hear me! When I am past hearing them, what does it matter?

GEOFF. (cowed by her resolution). Say what you want, and I’ll do it. I can’t marry you to-day.

ANNE. You can!

GEOFF. What nonsense you talk! The house and grounds are swarming with company. It can’t be.

ANNE. It can! I have got something to propose to you. Will you hear it or not?

GEOFF. Speak lower.

[15]

ANNE. Will you hear it or not?

GEOFF. (angrily.) What is it?

ANNE. We must both leave this place. Not together! I will go first.
I shall leave letters for Lady Lundie and Blanche. All you have got to do is to wait an hour, for the sake of appearances—and then follow me.

GEOFF. Where?

ANNE. To a little mountain inn four miles from this.

GEOFF. An inn!

ANNE. It’s the loneliest place in the neighbourhood. We have no prying eyes to dread there. When you arrive we have only to declare ourselves man and wife before witnesses— and it is done. (GEOFFREY attempts to speak.) Don’t madden me with objections! I won’t hear them. You have bargained for a private marriage; and I have consented. Are you, or are you not ready to marry me on your own terms? 6

GEOFF. Give me a minute to think.

ANNE. Not a moment. I hear them outside—they are coming to call me back to the game.

GEOFF. But, suppose—

ANNE. Suppose you drive me to my death? Your father shall know the truth in that case—I swear it! Your answer, sir! I am waiting. Is it Yes, or No?

GEOFF (angrily). Where’s the inn?

ANNE (rapidly in a whisper). Pass the road on the right that leads to the railway. Follow the path over the moor, and the sheep-track up the hill. The first house you come to after that is the inn.

GEOFF. The name of it?

ANNE. Craig Fernie.

GEOFF. Who am I to ask for?

[16]

ANNE. For your wife. Quick they’re coming!7

(She pushes him out on the right.)


(LADY LUNDIE and SIR PATRICK appear at the back unseen by ANNE.)

 

LADY L. (to SIR PATRICK). Observe, Sir Patrick, she has just got rid of somebody. (Advancing). Miss Silvester!

ANNE (turning round). Lady Lundie! Is it my turn to play?

LADY L. Everybody is waiting for you.

ANNE. I am sorry to have inconvenienced everybody. I was unwilling to join the game, as you know. I am not well enough to play. Be so good as to excuse me, if I retire to my room.


(She goes out on the left.)


LADY L. May I ask, Sir Patrick, whether you consider that proceeding at all extraordinary?

SIR PAT. I consider no proceeding extraordinary, Lady Lundie, which emanates from your enchanting sex.


(ARNOLD appears at the back.)

ARNOLD. The game is at a standstill. Lady Lundie’s side to play.

LADY L. (to SIR PATRICK). The next time I speak to you on the subject of Miss Silvester’s conduct, you may find yourself compelled, Sir Patrick, to give me a serious reply.

SIR PAT. My dear lady, it is useless to expect a serious reply from me. At my age, nothing is serious—except Indigestion. (LADY LUNDIE goes out angrily. SIR PATRICK notices ARNOLD at the back.) Mr. Brinkworth, what are you waiting there for?

ARNOLD. I asked leave to speak to you privately, Sir Patrick, before I left this house.

SIR PAT. Aye! aye! So you did. (He seats himself.) What do you want?

ARNOLD (aside). I want his niece!

SIR PAT. Get a chair.

ARNOLD (getting the chair). I’m a little afraid of that sharp tongue of his. I’ll feel my way cautiously at first. (To SIR PATRICK.) I am only a young man, Sir Patrick

[17]

       —I am beginning a new life. Would you—in short, would you advise me to marry?

SIR PAT. Oh? That’s the object of the present interview, is it? Would I advise you to marry—eh? When you were in the merchant service, did you ever have any experience in buying provisions on shore?

ARNOLD. Plenty of experience, sir.

SIR PAT. Don’t be astonished. I’m coming to the point. What did you think of your moist sugar, when you bought it at the grocer’s?

ARNOLD. Think? Why, I thought it was moist sugar, to be sure.

SIR PAT. Marry, by all means! You are one of the few men who can try that experiment with a fair chance of success.

ARNOLD. I am much obliged to you, Sir Patrick. Might I ask what the moist sugar has got to do with it?

SIR PAT. You don’t see that?

ARNOLD. Not a bit!

SIR PAT. Then I’ll show you. You go to the teashop, and get your moist sugar. You take it, on the understanding that it is moist sugar. But it isn’t anything of the sort. It’s a compound of adulterations, made up to look like sugar. You shut your eyes to that awkward fact, and swallow your adulterated mess in various articles of food —and you and your sugar get on together in that way as well as you can. Do you follow me so far?

ARNOLD. Yes.

SIR. PAT. Very good. You go to the marriage-shop, and get a wife. You take her on the understanding—let us say—that she has lovely yellow hair; that she has an exquisite complexion; that her figure is the perfection of plumpness, and that she is just tall enough to carry the plumpness off. You take her home —and you discover that it’s the old story of the sugar over again. Your wife is an adulterated article. Her lovely yellow hair is—dye. Her exquisite complexion is—pearl powder. Her plumpness is—padding. And three inches of her height are in the bootmaker’s heels. Shut your eyes, and swallow your adulterated wife, as you swallow your adulterated sugar— and, I tell you again, you’re one of the few men who can

[18]

        try the marriage experiment with a fair chance of success!

ARNOLD (aside). There’s no feeling one’s way with Sir Patrick! (To SIR PATRICK) That may be all very true, sir, of some young ladies! There is one I know of who doesn’t deserve what you have said of the rest of them.

SIR PAT. Who is this female phenomenon, Mr. Brinkworth?

ARNOLD. Your niece—Miss Blanche.

SIR PAT. (composedly). My niece—Miss Blanche?

ARNOLD (aside). Hang him! he’s feeling his way with me now!

SIR PAT. May I ask how you know that my niece is not an adulterated article, like the rest of them?

ARNOLD (impetuously). I love her!

SIR PAT. That’s the most convincing answer I ever heard in my life!

ARNOLD. I’m in earnest, Sir Patrick! Put me to the test!—put me to the test!

SIR PAT. Oh! very well! The test is easily put. My niece has a beautiful complexion, Mr. Brinkworth. Do you believe in her complexion?

ARNOLD. There’s a beautiful sky, sir, above our heads. I believe in the sky.

SIR PAT. Do you?—You were evidently never caught in a shower! My niece has an immense quantity of hair. Are you convinced that it all grows on her head?

ARNOLD. I defy any other woman’s head to produce the like of it!

SIR PAT. You greatly underrate the existing resources of the trade in hair. Look into the shop windows. When you next go to London, pray look into the shop windows. In the mean time what do you say to my niece’s figure?

ARNOLD. I say it’s the loveliest figure in the world!

SIR PAT. My good fellow, of course it is! The loveliest figure in the world is the commonest thing in the world. At a rough guess, there are forty ladies at this lawn-party. Every one of them possesses a beautiful figure. It varies in price; and, when it’s particularly seductive, you may safely conclude it comes from Paris. Why, how you stare! When I asked you what you thought of my niece’s

[19]

       figure, I meant—how much of it comes from Nature, and how much of it comes from the Shop? I don’t know, mind. Do you?

ARNOLD. I’ll take my oath to every inch of it!

SIR PAT. Shop?

ARNOLD (indignantly). Nature!

SIR PAT. (rising). If I ever have a son, he shall go to sea! (To ARNOLD.) Mr. Brinkworth, it’s time to be serious with you. I am satisfied of the sincerity of your attachment. Your birth and position are beyond dispute. If you have
Blanche’s consent, you have mine. (A GROOM in his riding livery appears at the back.
) And you might have had it at the outset of this interview—if you had spoken as frankly at the beginning as you have spoken at the end. (He notices the GROOM.) What do you want?

THE GROOM. I beg your pardon, sir. I bring a pressing message for Mr. Geoffrey, from his brother.

ARNOLD. I saw him in the shrubbery before I came here. (He calls off.) Geoffrey!


(GEOFFREY appears at the right.)

GEOFF. Who wants me? (He sees the GROOM and addresses him in great agitation.) Damn it, I know what’s happened! Ratcatcher has relapsed.

SIR PAT. (looking at ARNOLD). Ratcatcher?

GEOFF. (to SIR PATRICK with deep feeling). The best horse in my brother’s stables! I left written directions with the coachman; I measured out his physic for three days; I bled him myself last night—and these infernal fools have let him slip. (To the GROOM). Where’s your horse? I’ll ride back and break every bone in the coachman’s skin.

THE GROOM. It isn’t Ratcatcher, sir. Ratcatcher’s all right.

GEOFF. Ratcatcher’s all right? Then, what the devil is it?

THE GROOM. It’s about your father, sir.

GEOFF. (in a tone of relief). Oh? About my father? (To SIR PATRICK.) I thought it was Ratcatcher. (To the GROOM.) What’s up with my father?

THE GROOM. A telegram from London, sir. Bad news.


(He hands a visiting-card to
GEOFFREY, touches his hat, and goes out.)

[20]

GEOFF. (reading the card). “I have only a moment to scribble a line on my card. Our father is dangerously ill—his lawyer has been sent for. Follow me to London by the first train.”


 (He stands thunderstruck, with the card in his hand.)


ARNOLD. The first train is the train I go by! Stop! it’s the gig that’s ordered to take me. There is no room for three of us, if the servant drives.

SIR PAT. (looking at his watch). There is no time to change the carriage. (To GEOFFREY.) Can you drive?

GEOFF (sullenly). Of course I can!

SIR PAT. You can leave the gig in the charge of the station-master. I’ll tell the servant he will not be wanted to drive. (He hastens out.)

GEOFF (to ARNOLD). I say, old fellow—do you remember when the boat turned keel upwards in Lisbon harbour?

ARNOLD. Do you think I can ever forget that you swam ashore with me, and saved my life?

GEOFF. One good turn deserves another — don’t it? You’re going to see your house and lands, ain’t you? Can you put it off till to-morrow?

ARNOLD. If it’s anything serious—of course I can.

GEOFF. It’s worse than serious. You know the governess here?

ARNOLD. Miss Silvester?

 GEOFF. Yes. This is a secret mind. Don’t let it out or I’m done for. I’ve promised to marry Miss Silvester.

ARNOLD. Marry her!

GEOFF. Yes. Privately – to-day – I owe it to her – there’s no denying that. She has left the house an hour ago—she’s waiting for me at a place four miles from here. I have promised to meet her there, and marry her privately. Of course I can’t go now. I must find somebody I can trust to tell her what has happened. We are done for, if you won’t help us.8

ARNOLD. It’s a dreadful situation!

GEOFF. Enough to knock a man over, isn’t it? I’d give something for a drink of beer. (He takes out his pipe.) Got a match?

ARNOLD (not heeding him). Don’t think I am making light of your father’s illness. It seems to me that the poor girl has got the first claim on you.

[21]

GEOFF. The first claim on me! Do you think I am going to risk being cut out of my father’s will?

ARNOLD. You know best. What can I do?

GEOFF. Go, like a good fellow, and tell her what has happened. I’ll drop you at the right place in the gig— it’s only an hour’s walk—and there’s no servant with us to notice what we do.

ARNOLD. What am I to say?

GEOFF. Say I’m half distracted—and advise her to stop where she is till I write.

ARNOLD. You have trusted me with a very awkward secret. I am almost a stranger. I don’t know how Miss Silvester may receive me. Write to her now. Write here. (he takes a pencil out of  his pocket book.)

GEOFF. What am I to write on?9

ARNOLD. Your brother’s card.

GEOFF (looking at it). It’s all written over. (He feels in his breast-pocket, and produces a letter.) Anne’s last letter to me. There’s room on the fourth page. (To ARNOLD.) Look out, in case Sir Patrick comes back! (ARNOLD looks out. GEOFFREY takes the letter to the table, and writes a few lines, then stops and speaks.) Will that do? No! I must say something spoony to quiet her. (He writes a line or two more, then stops and speaks.) That will do the business. (To ARNOLD.) Here you are! Read it yourself.

ARNOLD. It’s rather short, Geoffrey. Make her understand you were in a hurry. The train starts in half an hour. Put the time. (He gives back the letter.)

GEOFF. Oh, all right—and the date, too, if you like.


(He writes and gives the letter back.)

ARNOLD. Who am I to ask for when I get to the place?

GEOFF. It’s a little awkward—the place is an inn. If I had been able to go, I should have asked at the door for “my wife”—

ARNOLD. And I must ask at the door for “my wife”— or I shall expose Miss Silvester to unpleasant consequences?

[22]

GEOFF. You don’t object?

ARNOLD. Not I! I don’t care what I say to the people of the inn. It’s the meeting with Miss Silvester that I’m afraid of. Hush! (He looks towards the back of the stage. SIR PATRICK appears there.) Sir Patrick!

SIR PAT. Don’t stop to say good-bye at the house. You haven’t a moment to lose.

ARNOLD (to SIR PATRICK). I must say good-bye to Blanche. Where is she?


(BLANCHE appears at the back.)

 

BLANCHE (to ARNOLD). Are you going already?

ARNOLD. I shall be back in two days. (Aside to her.) It’s all right! Sir Patrick consents.

SIR PAT. You will lose the train.

GEOFF. Come along! (He drags ARNOLD out.)

BLANCHE (to SIR PATRICK). Why is that brute going away with Mr. Brinkworth?

SIR PAT. Mr. Delamayn is called to London by his father’s illness. You don’t like him?

BLANCHE. I hate him!


(She turns away, and looks off at the back.)

SIR PAT. Curious! I hate him, too. (To BLANCHE.) Are you looking for anybody?

BLANCHE. I can’t think what has become of Anne! (LADY LUNDIE enters at the left. BLANCHE, not noticing her, continues to SIR PATRICK.) Have you seen anything of Miss Silvester?

LADY L. (indignantly). I forbid you to mention that woman’s name again. Miss Silvester has left the house!

(BLANCHE starts back with a cry of dismay. SIR PATRICK supports her, and looks in astonishment at LADY LUNDIE. The curtain falls.)


THE END OF THE FIRST ACT.



ACT II.


SCENE.—The inn at Craig Fernie. The stage represents a sitting-room. A door in the flat serves as general entrance to the room. Another door, on the R is supposed to lead to ANNE’S bedroom. A window also in flat L. C. which must be large with deep recess and seats, showing view of mountainous scenery[.] A railway time-table hangs near the fireplace.

At the rise of the curtain, ANNE, MRS INCHBARE, and BISHOPRIGGS are discovered[.] ANNE has her purse in her hand. BISOPRIGGS is officiously dusting the furniture in the room.10

MRS. I. Ye’ll just permit me to remind ye again, young leddy, that the hottle’s full—exceptin’ only this setten-room, and the bedchamber yonder belonging to it.

ANNE. Mention your charge for the rooms. I am willing to pay for them beforehand.

MRS. I. I’m no’ free to tak’ your money, if I’m no’ free to let you the rooms. The Craig Fernie hottle is a faimily hottle, and has it’s ain gude name to keep up. You’re ower-well-looking, my young leddy, to be travelling alone!11

ANNE (impatiently). I have already told you, my husband is coming here to join me.

MRS. I. Weel! weel! sae let it be. I’ll just let the rooms to your husband, instead of letting them to you. And so, gude morrow t’ ye! (She goes out.)

ANNE (to herself).

[24]

        Am I doomed to suspicion and insult, go where I may? (She notices the waiter.) What are you doing there?12

BISH. Eh! Am just doostin’ the things, and settin’ the room in decent order for ye.

ANNE. For me? Did you hear what the landlady said?

BISH. Never fash yoursel’ aboot the landleddy. (Pointing to the purse in ANNE’S hand.) Your purse speaks for you, my lassie! (Returning to the furniture.) Sae lang as the warld’s the warld, I’ll uphand it anywhere—while there’s siller in the purse, there’s gude in the woman!

ANNE. What do you mean by speaking to me in that familiar way?

BISH. What do I mean, quo’ she? Look at me, and ye’ll see I’m auld eneugh to be your fether. There’s nae man livin’ looks with mair indulgence at human frailty than my ainsel’. Order yer bit dinner. There’s flesh, and there’s fowl—or mebbe ye’ll be for the sheep’s-head singit, when they’ve done with it at the tabble dot.13

ANNE. Order what you like—and leave the room.

BISH. Aye! aye! just pet a’ your little interests in my hands—it’s the wisest thing ye can do. Ask for Maister Bishopriggs—that’s me—when ye want a decent ‘spon-sible man to gie ye a word of advice. Set ye doon! set ye doon! And don’t tak’ the arm-chair. (He winks at her.) Your husband will be comin’, ye know—and he’s sure to want it. (He goes out.)

ANNE (alone). All the humiliation falls on me. Hard! hard! (She looks towards the door and listens.) Voices in the passage outside? Strange voices? Coming this way?

(She hurries into the bedroom and is heard to lock the door. At the same moment, the door of the sitting-room opens; and ARNOLD appears with BISHOPRIGGS.)


ARNOLD. Nobody here! Where is she?

BISH. Eh! your good leddy’s in her room, nae doot.

[25]

ARNOLD (aside). That’s awkward for me! (To BISHOPRIGGS.) Where is the landlady?

BISH. The landleddy’s just tottin’ up the ledgers o’ the hottle in her ain room. I ha’ lookit after a’ the leddy’s little comforts, sir. Trust in me! trust in me!14

ARNOLD (aside, looking towards the bedroom door.) How am I to get her out?

BISH. (hearing him). Hoo are ye to get her oot? I’ll show ye hoo! (He knocks at the door of the bedroom.) Eh, my leddy! here he is, in flesh and bluid! Mercy presairve us! do ye lock the door of the nuptial chamber in yer husband’s face? (The lock is heard turning in the door. BISHOPRIGGS confidentially addresses ARNOLD.) I’m away before she falls into your arms! Rely on’t I’ll no come in again without twice knocking first.

(He hobbles out.)

ARNOLD (alone). I believe the fellow winked at me! What the devil does he mean? (He looks towards the bedroom door.) It’s opening slowly! Now for it!

ANNE (speaking behind the door). Is that you, Geoffrey?

ARNOLD (aside). What am I to say?

ANNE (louder). Is that you?

ARNOLD. There’s no help for it! (To ANNE.) Yes!

ANNE (suddenly flinging the door open and confronting him). Mr. Brinkworth!!! What do you want here?

ARNOLD. I have got a letter for you. (He offers it.)

ANNE. I expect no letter. Who told you I was here? Is there a watch set on my actions? And are you the spy?

ARNOLD (quietly). You haven’t known me very long, Miss Silvester, but you ought to know me better than to say that. I am the bearer of a letter from Geoffrey.

ANNE (suddenly controlling herself). Do you mean Mr. Delamayn?

ARNOLD. Yes.

ANNE (coldly). What occasion have I for a letter from Mr. Delamayn?

ARNOLD. Miss Silvester, it’s no use beating about the bush. If you won’t take the letter, you force me to

[26]

        speak out. I am here on a very unpleasant errand. I— I begin to wish I had never undertaken it.

(He stops abruptly.)

ANNE. Go on, sir.

ARNOLD. I’ll go on as well as I can. Try not to be angry with me. Geoffrey and I are old friends. Geoffrey knows he can trust me—

ANNE (half divining the truth). Trust you?—Stop! When I was in the other room, I asked if Geoffrey was there. And. you answered for him. (With a cry of horror.) Has he told you—

ARNOLD (forcing the letter on her). Read his letter!

ANNE. He has told you!

ARNOLD. Read his letter—in justice to him, if you won’t in justice to me.

ANNE (taking the letter with sudden humiliation of tone and manner). I beg your pardon, sir! I understand my position at last. I am a woman doubly betrayed! Please to excuse what I said to you just now, when I supposed myself to have a claim on your respect. Perhaps I have some claim on your pity? My own letter! In the hands of another man!15

ARNOLD. Look at the last page.

ANNE (after hastily running her eye over the page). Villain! villain! villain! (She crushes the letter in her hand, flings it indignantly away from her, and sinks into a chair.) He has deserted me!

ARNOLD. You’re wrong! Indeed, indeed, you’re wrong! It’s no excuse—it’s the truth. I was present when the message came about his father.

ANNE (not heeding ARNOLD). He has deserted me!

ARNOLD. Don’t take it in that way—pray don’t! It’s dreadful to see you—it is indeed. I am sure he has not deserted you. (A pause.) She sits there as if she was struck to stone. I daren’t call the landlady in. What am I to do? (He takes her hand timidly.) Come! come! cheer up a little!16

ANNE (looking at him in a dull surprise). Didn’t you say he had told you everything?

ARNOLD. Yes.

[27]

ANNE. Don’t you despise a woman like me?

ARNOLD. Does the man live, who can think of his mother, and despise women?

ANNE (faintly). Thank you, sir!


(She suddenly snatches her hand from him, and bursts into tears.)

ARNOLD (turning away in despair). I mean well, and yet I only distress her.

ANNE (struggling to compose herself’). Don’t mind my crying, it relieves me. I won’t distress you, Mr. Brinkworth. I ought to thank you—and I do!17

She hurriedly dries her eyes, and offers him her hand.

ARNOLD. There! that’s right. You will do as Geoffrey wishes—won’t you?

ANNE (hurriedly). Yes! yes!

ARNOLD. You will hear from Geoffrey to-morrow or next day. I know he means to write to you here.

ANNE (vehemently). [D]on’t speak of him any more!  Mind this, sir! I am his wife in the sight of Heaven! What am I saying? What interest can you have in. this miserable state of things? Did you see the landlady when you came in?18

ARNOLD. No; I only saw the waiter.

ANNE. The landlady made some absurd difficulty about letting me have these rooms, because I came here alone.

ARNOLD. She won’t make any difficulty now. I have settled that.

ANNE. You?

ARNOLD (smiling). Certainly. When I asked for the lady who had arrived here alone this afternoon—

ANNE. Yes?

ARNOLD. I was told, in your interests, to ask for her as my wife.

ANNE (in sudden alarm). You asked for me as your wife?

ARNOLD. Excuse me for reminding you—there was no alternative. Geoffrey told me you had presented yourself

[28]

        here as a lady, whose husband was coming to join her. He said your position depended on my asking for you at the door in the character of your husband.19

ANNE. He had no right to say that.

ARNOLD. No right! Wouldn’t it have been awkward— after what has just happened with the landlady—if I had come here, and asked for you as a friend? Don’t suppose I object to this little stratagem. I am serving Geoffrey. And I am helping the lady who is soon to be his wife.

ANNE (rising). Mr. Brinkworth! forgive me the rudeness of the question. When are you going away?

ARNOLD. When I am quite sure that I can do nothing more to assist you.

ANNE. Pray don’t think of me any longer!

ARNOLD. Who else am I to think of?

ANNE. Blanche.

ARNOLD (rising in surprise). Blanche!

ANNE. I know you love each other. I know you are engaged.

ARNOLD. You do! Don’t expect me to go after that. Let’s sit down and talk about Blanche.

ANNE. Mr. Brinkworth, whatever we have to say about Blanche must be said at some fitter time. Thank you—and good-bye.

ARNOLD. Why are you in such a hurry?

ANNE (impatiently). I don’t want you to call me your wife again—before the people of this inn. (A knock is heard at the door. ANNE starts.) Who is that?

ARNOLD. Hush! Whoever it is, we must keep up our characters as man and wife, or there will be a scandal in the hotel. Come in! (The knock is repeated. ARNOLD calls out impatiently.) I told you to come in!20


(Enter
BISHOPRIGGS to lay the cloth for dinner.)

BISH. (to ARNOLD). And I told you I wadna come in

[29]

       without twice knocking first. (He begins to lay the cloth. ANNE impatiently walks aside to the window.) Eh, man! d’ye think I’ve lived in this bottle in blinded eegnorance of hoo young married couples pass the time when they’re left to themselves? Twa knocks at the door—and an unco’ trouble in opening it after that—is just the least ye can do for them. Whar’ do ye think noo, I’ll set the places at the tebble for you and your leddy there?

ARNOLD. One at the top, and one at the bottom, I suppose.

BISH. One at tap? and one at bottom? Deil a bit of it! Baith your chairs as close together as chairs can be. Hech! hech! Haven’t I caught 'em—after gudeness knows hoo many preleeminary knocks at the door—dining on their husbands’ knees, and steemulating a man’s appetite, by feeding him at the fork’s end like a child! Eh! it’s a short life wi’ that nuptial business, and a merry one. A month for yer billin’ and cooin’, and a’ the rest o’ yer days for wondering you were ever such a fule, and wishin’ it was a’ to be done ower again. Ye’ll be for a bottle o’ sherry wine, nae doot? and a drap toddy afterwards to do your digestin’ on? (ARNOLD joins ANNE at the window.) Aye! aye! gae to your dearie! gae to your dearie! and leave a’ the solid business o’ life to me. A man maun leave fether and mother (I’m yer fether), and cleave to his wife. My certie! cleave’s a strong word. There’s nae sort of doot aboot it when it comes to cleaving. (He notices the crumpled-up letter, lying in a corner, and continues to himself, while ARNOLD and ANNE talk in dumb-show at the window.) What’s that I see yonder? Mair litter in the room, after I’ve doosted and tidied it wi’ my ain hands! (He picks up the letter, unnoticed by ARNOLD and ANNE.) Eh! what’s here? Writin’ on it in ink? and writin’ on it in pencil? A bit letter, clean forgotten and dune with! (reads letter) Hot words from the leddy to the gentleman. A trifle cawlder from the gentleman to the leddy[.] What wad a fule do if he fund this? He’d just petch it awa’ and think nae more aboot it. And what wad a wise man do in a seemilar position? (He pockets the letter.) I trow that’s what he’d do! There may be a reward offered for it one of these days. (To ARNOLD.) Am goin’ to breeng the dinner in, and, mind ye, there’s nae knocking at the door possbile when I’ve got the tray in baith my hands, and (mair’s the pity!) the gout in baith my feet. (He goes out.)

[30]

ARNOLD (gaily, pointing to the table). You see, we can’t help it. What will they think if I go away already, and leave my wife to dine alone? You don’t mind it, do you?

ANNE. I don’t mind it for myself. I am thinking of somebody else. Suppose Blanche finds out what you have done?

ARNOLD. Do you think she would be angry with me for making myself useful to you?21

ANNE. Yes—if she was jealous of me. I don’t like your coming here! I don’t like it at all!

ARNOLD. Will you forgive me if I say something?

ANNE. What is it?

ARNOLD. Blanche seems to be as much in your thoughts as she is in mine. If I had not known you as her governess, I should think you were her sister.

ANNE. If love makes sisterhood, I am her sister. The story of my life is no romance, Mr. Brinkworth. A drunken degraded father. A patient suffering mother, who sank and died. A hard, hard life at the needle, for me. And, one day, a lady and a little girl calling to give me some work. Something in me—God knows what! —that touched the innocent child. A second visit from the lady to say that her little daughter had taken a strange fancy to me. Inquiries made about me and my parents. A discovery that my drunken father had once been a gentleman, and that I had been educated as a lady. From that moment, a home for me, with Blanche, and with Blanche’s mother. Happy, happy years afterwards, that I shall never see again. One day, the mother’s illness. Some days later, the mother’s death—and the mother’s last words, spoken to me. “Anne! my husband never loved me—my husband will marry again. Promise me on my death-bed that you will be an elder sister to my child.” Do you understand, Mr. Brinkworth, why Blanche’s governess is more like Blanche’s sister, now?


(Bish enters with the dinner. Anne separates herself from Arnold.)


BISH. I warned ye baith, it was a clear impossibility to knock at the door this time–dont blame me. (puts tray down R)

ANNE. That horrible old man again.  I can’t endure him. Come away. (goes to window)

ARNOLD. (follows her) We are going to have a look at the view[.]

BISH. Aye. Ay. And I’ll have a look at the dinnerI maun just see that the cook’s dune her duty—the creatures are no’ cappable o’ decidin’ that knotty point for their ain selves. (He takes off a cover, and picks bits with a fork out of the dish.) Eh! eh! the collops are no that bad. (He takes off another cover.) Here’s the green meat. I doot green meat’s windy diet for a man at my age. (He puts the cover on again.) The fesh? (He takes off the cover.) What the deil does the woman fry the trout for? Boil it next time, ye betch, wi’ a pinch o’ saut, and a spunefu’ o’ vinegar. (He puts the cover on again.) The sherry-wine? I’m thinkng it’s ower strong for they young people. (He drinks a glassful, and fills the decanter up with water.) Eh! it’s just addin’ ten years to the age o’ the wine. The turtle-doves will be nane the waur. And I mysel’ am a glass o’ sherry the better. Praise Providence for a’ its maircies! 22

[32]

(They seat themselves at the table. BISHOPRIGGS takes the cover off the fish.) 23

BISH. Here’s the trout! Half an hour since, he was loupin’ in the water. There he lies noo, fried in the dish. An emblem a’ human life for ye! Stay a bit. Is there naebody gaun’ to say grace?

ARNOLD. Come! come! the fish is getting cold!

BISH. (putting the cover on). For what ye are gaun’ to receive, may ye baith be truly thankful! (He takes off the cover again.) My conscience is easy noo. Fall to! fall to!

ANNE (to ARNOLD). Send him away! His familiarity is unendurable!

ARNOLD (to BISHOPRIGGS). You needn’t wait.

BISH. Eh! but I’m here to wait. What’s the gude o’ my gaun’ away when ye’Il want me anon to change the plates for ye? I’ll look out o’ window. Tak’ her on ye knee, as soon as ye like! Feed him at the fork’s end, whenever ye please—I’ll look out at the praospect.


Arnold helps
ANNE to fish.


ANNE. Where do your friends at Lady Lundie’s suppose you to be now.

ARNOLD. I am supposed to be meeting my tenants and taking possession of my estates.

ANNE. How are you to get to your estate tonight?

ARNOLD. By railway I suppose.

                                                  (He goes to the window.)

 

BISH. (turning round from the window). My certie! it’s weel you cam’ when you did! It’s ill getting to this hottle in a storm. 24

ANNE (in alarm). Is there a storm coming?

BISH. Eh! ye’re weel housed here—ye needn’t mind it. (He points out of the window.) There’s the cloud doon the valley, comin’ up one way—when the wind’s blawing the other. The storm’s brewing, my leddy, when ye see that.

[33]

A knock at the door. MRS. INCHBARE enters.


MRS. I. I ha’ just lookit in, sir, to see ye’ve got what ye want.

ARNOLD. Oh! you are the landlady? Very nice, ma’am—very nice.

MRS. I. (approa (ANNE starts. ARNOLD lays his hand warningly on her arm, unseen by the landlady.ching the table). Ye’ll excuse me, sir—I was’na in the way when you cam’ here, or I suld ha’ made bauld to ask ye the question which I maun e’en ask noo. Am I to understand that ye hire these rooms for yersel’ and this leddy here—your wife?


(ANNE starts.
ARNOLD lays his hand warningly on her arm, unseen by the landlady. 25


ARNOLD. Certainly. I take the rooms for myself and this lady here—my wife.

ANNE (attempting to speak). This gentleman— (She stops in confusion.)

MRS. I. This gentleman? I’m only a puir woman, my leddy—d’ye mean yer husband here?

(ARNOLD again touches ANNE’S arm.)

ANNE (aside). There will be a scandal if I contradict him! (To MRS. INCHBARE faintly and constrainedly.) My husband—

MRS. I. Aye? aye? that’s mair like it. Ye’re no’ ill, are ye?

ARNOLD. She’s always like this, ma’am, in stormy weather. I know how to manage her. We’ll send to you if we want your assistance.

MRS. I. At yer ain pleasure, sir. No offence, young madam. Ye’ll remember that ye cam’ here alane, and that the hottle has it’s ain gude name to keep up.

(She goes out.)

ANNE to ARNOLD). 26 Give me a glass of water!

ARNOLD (looking on the table). There is none. Waiter, some cold water,

BISH. Aye! aye! as cauld as ye like.—ice-cauld water from the spreeng.


(He goes out.)

ANNE. Mr. Brinkworth, you are acting very rashly! That woman’s question was an impertinence. Why did you answer it? Why did you force me to answer it too?

[34]

ARNOLD (good-humouredly). Why didn’t I have the inn-door shut in your face?—with a storm coming on—and without a place near, in which you can take refuge? I am responsible to Geoffrey for your safety—and Geoffrey expects to find you here. The water is a long time coming. Suppose we try the wine? (He pours out the sherry for himself and ANNE.) Here’s Blanche’s good health! (He drinks.) In the weakest sherry I ever tasted in my life! (Enter BISHOPRIGGS with the water.) Well, have you got the water? or have you used it all for the sherry?

BISH. Is that the way ye talk of the auldest bottle o’ sherry wine in Scotland? The maircies o’ Providence, as shown to man in the choicest veentages o’ Spain, are clean thrown away on ye! I ha’ brought ye the water—and mair than the water. I’ve got news for ye from ootside.

ARNOLD. What news?

BISH. There’s a man in a groom’s livery has drawn bridle at the hottle; and he’s speerin’ after the leddy that cam’ here alane. The leddy’s your leddy, as sure as sax-pence! 

ANNE. (She hurries to the window). The groom from Lady Lundie’s! It will be all over the neighbourhood if the man sees you with me.

ARNOLD. Don’t let him see me. (to Bish.) Keep the man from coming into this room. I’ll make it worth your while.

BISH.  Aye. aye. I’ll see that it’s worth your while. (Exit R.)

ANNE. That old man is not to be trusted. You stay here and I will go and receive the man at the door. Exit

ARNOLD. When I came to Craig Fernie I never bargained for this. What can I do. I can’t let Lady Lundie’s groom see me without betraying Miss Silvester.

Enter ANNE.

ARNOLD. Well what is it. Bad news from Lady Lundie’s.

ANNE. I have been seen on the foot road to Craig Fernie by one of the female servants. Lady Lundie and Blanche have quarrelled about me. Sir Patrick has had the greatest difficulty in preventing Blanche from driving here to see me, if I don’t exert my influence with her to support his influence, he declines to answer for the consequences. Blanche coming here while you are secretly in the house. Blanche must be prevented from doing that at any sacrifice.

[36]

ARNOLD. I am not suspected - am I?28

ANNE. Thank Heaven, no! But there’s no knowing what may happen if you stay here. Ring the bell, and ask the waiter about the trains.

[37]

ARNOLD (looking out of the window). Here is the rain—in torrents! (The rain is heard falling to the end of the act. The stage slowly darkens.) Pleasant weather to travel in!

ANNE (impatiently). The railway! It’s getting late! See about the railway!

ARNOLD (going to the fireplace to ring). All right. Stop! here’s the time-table hanging against the wall. “Down.”—“Up.”—“A.M.”—” P.M.” What a cursed confusion! I believe they do it on purpose!

ANNE (joining him). I understand it. I’ll help you. (They examine the time-table together.) Which train do you want—the up-train? or the down?

ARNOLD. The up-train.

ANNE. The last up-train for the day has gone an hour since!

ARNOLD. What’s to be done now?

ANNE. Can’t you take a carriage—and drive?

ARNOLD. Drive? They told me it was three and twenty miles by railway from the station to my place. Let alone the distance from this inn to the station.

ANNE (irritably). What does the distance matter? You can’t possibly stay here I

(A flash of lightning passes across the window. The thunder is heard faintly in the distance.)


ARNOLD. Do you hear that? And the storm has come. What can I do but stay here? Don’t look so serious about it! I shan’t be in your way. (The lightning appears, and the thunder is heard again.)29

ARNOLD. What puts you out so? Is it the storm?

ANNE (impatiently). Yes! it’s the storm.

ARNOLD. We will have the candles, and shut the storm out. (He rings.)

[38]

ARNOLD (to ANNE, in the sitting-room). I promise to go away the first thing in the morning. Try and take it easy. You wouldn’t turn a dog out on such a night as this.

ANNE (not heeding him). This will end badly! I feel it.—I know it. This will end badly!30

[39]

I don’t care! I won’t let the deception go on.30 Come what may of it, I’ll tell the landlady the truth! (She goes to the door. A noise of carriage-wheels and a confusion of voices are heard outside. BISHOPRIGGS locks his cash-box, and hurries out of the pantry. ANNE turns to ARNOLD in alarm.) Travellers? Coming here at this time?

ARNOLD. And, in this weather! Who can they be!

ANNE. Can it be Geoffrey?


Enter
MRS INCHBARE.


MRS.I (to ANNE). Eh! mistress! wha’ do ye think has driven here to see ye? and been owertaken in the storm?

[40]

ARNOLD. Anybody from Lady Lundie’s?

ANNE. Who is it?

MRS. I. It’s e’en the young leddy fra’ Windygates—bonny Miss Blanche. (ANNE utters a cry of terror. ARNOLD repeats BLANCHE’S name in astonishment. MRS INCHBARE withdraws into the passage.) This way, Miss Blanche—this way!

ANNE (after one warning look at ARNOLD). Go!

(She blows out both the candles. ARNOLD draws back, behind the opened door. There is a moment of darkness and silence. Then, a vivid flash of lightning shows BLANCHE standing in the doorway, with the landlady and the waiter behind her, bewildered by the sudden obscurity in the room.)

BLANCHE (calling). Anne! Where are you?

(The roll of the thunder comes nearer as she speaks. The curtain falls.)


THE END OF THE SECOND ACT.



[41]

ACT III.


SCENE.—The Library at LADY LUNDIE’S. A large, handsomely-furnished room. Entrance by a French window at the back, opening on to a lawn. Entrances also at the side, right and left. GEOFFREY and LADY LUNDIE are discovered at the rise of the curtain. LADY LUNDIE has her garden hat in her hand.

LADY L.  Accept my sincere congratulations, Mr. Delamayn, on your father’s recovery. Now you have come back to us from London, you will prolong your visit, I hope, for a week at least.

(She turns to go out.)

GEOFF. Beg your pardon—I’m not quite sure about that.

LADY L. (returning). Not sure of staying here for one week only!

GEOFF. It depends on my father. He wouldn’t see me when I was in London. As soon as he had turned the corner, he sent me a message by my brother. The fact is, my father and I don’t pull very well together. He won’t have anything to do with me, until I’m settled respectably in life. If I marry a woman of fit birth and fortune, and
that sort of thing, my father will shake hands with me. If I don’t, he won’t. You know my brother Julius—don’t you?

LADY L. Yes.

GEOFF. Julius is going to get his wife to look out for the sort of woman that will suit. If they find the woman—

LADY L. I must let you go back to your brother’s. That excuse, Mr. Delamayn, is one that I am bound to accept.

GEOFF. Thank you. Keep it a secret, please. I haven’t told anybody—not even Arnold Brinkworth.

LADY L. Not a word shall pass my lips! I predict a speedy reconciliation, Mr. Delamayn, between you and

[42]

        your father. With your advantages of birth and position, the right lady will soon be found.

                                            (She goes out into the garden.)

GEOFF. (alone). The right lady will soon be found All very well. But there’s the wrong lady to reckon with first.


A servant enters by one of the side entrances, with a letter in his hand.

THE SERVANT. The man waits for an answer, sir.

GEOFF. (looking at the address). From my brother. (To the servant.) Let him wait. (The servant goes out. GEOFFREY opens the letter.) Hang ‘em! They’ve found the woman to suit. (He runs over the letter.) “Mrs. Glenarm—widow of the rich ironmaster—formerly Miss Newenden—one of the oldest families in England—ten thousand a year, and no children—just what our father would approve—coming to visit us immediately—apologise to Lady Lundie, and join us to-morrow without fail—affectionately, Julius.” (Folding up the letter.) Join us to-morrow without fail? And Anne Silvester is waiting for me to-day. Here’s a mess!


ARNOLD enters from the side entrance, left.


ARNOLD. It’s twelve o’clock, Geoffrey.

GEOFF. Well—and what if it is?

ARNOLD. Must I remind you of your appointment? Miss Silvester expects you to meet her at the cross-roads in an hour’s time. Have you made all your arrangements? Do you see your way to marrying her?

GEOFF. (sharply). Why do you ask that?

ARNOLD. In your place, I should not have known what to do. You can’t marry her at the inn—after I have been there. How are you to manage it? If you have any doubts, consult Sir Patrick.

GEOFF. Consult Sir Patrick?

ARNOLD. Certainly! You are going to marry in Scotland—and he has passed his life in the practice of the Scotch law. If you want advice, he is your man. Is Blanche in the garden, I wonder?


(He goes
up and looks out.)

[43]

GEOFF. (speaking to himself). I have heard of marriages in Scotland, that were no marriages at all. Suppose I name no names, and put my difficulty with Anne as the case of a friend? A hint from Sir Patrick might help me to slip through her fingers.

ARNOLD (returning). There’s one thing more, Geoffrey, while I think of it. You are never to breathe a word to any living soul of my having been near the Craig Fernie inn! What would Blanche say if she knew that I was the man who escaped from the room when the candles were blown out?

GEOFF. Haven’t I promised once already to hold my tongue?

ARNOLD. I am anxious about it, Geoffrey. My mind misgives me—I don’t know why.

GEOFF. Mind? Bosh! It’s flesh—that’s what’s the matter with you. You’re a stone and a half over your right weight. Mind be hanged! A man in healthy training don’t know that he’s got a mind. Take a turn with the dumb-bells, and a run up hill with a great coat on. (BLANCHE appears at the window.) Sweat it off, old boy—sweat it off.

BLANCHE (aside, looking at GEOFFREY). Horrid wretch! I hate Arnold to be with him. (She comes forward.) Mr. Brinkworth!

ARNOLD (turning round). I was just going to look for you in the garden.

BLANCHE. The garden is insufferable this morning!

GEOFF. A trifle too hot—eh? (He turns away, without waiting for a reply, seats himself at a writing-table, and reads part of his letter.) “Join us to-morrow without fail; and send me a line by the servant to say you will come.”—The servant’s waiting. What the devil am I to do?

BLANCHE (to ARNOLD). Oh, how weary I am of the young men of the present day! There are three of them out in the garden, Arnold, who have been talking of nothing for the last hour but the pedigrees of horses and the muscles of men! What shall we do till luncheon-time? It’s cool and quiet in here among the books. I want a mild excitement. What shall it be? I’ll do some crochet—and you shall read me some poetry.

[44]

(She takes her work from a side-table and seats herself.)


ARNOLD (pointing to GEOFFREY). While he is here?

BLANCHE. There’s only an animal in the room!

ARNOLD. Whose poetry am I to read?

BLANCHE. Anybody’s. This is one of my impulses. I am dying for some poetry. I don’t know whose poetry, and I don’t know why.

(ARNOLD goes to the book-shelves.)

GEOFF. (to himself, at the writing-table). It’s my last chance with my father—and the woman has got ten thousand a year. I must, and will, go to Julius to-morrow!


(He begins a letter.)

BLANCHE (to ARNOLD). Well? What have you found?

ARNOLD (reading the title-page). Paradise Lost. A Poem. By John Milton.

BLANCHE. I have never read Milton. Have you?

ARNOLD. No.

BLANCHE. An instance of sympathy between us. No educated person ought to be ignorant of Milton. Let us be educated persons. Please begin.

ARNOLD. At the beginning?

BLANCHE. Of course! Stop you must not sit all that way off—sit where I can look at you, my attention wanders if I don’t look at people when they read.

ARNOLD (placing himself on a stool at her feet, and reading mechanically, with a full stop at the end of every line).


“Of man’s first disobedience and the fruit.
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste.
Brought death into the world and all our woe”—


BLANCHE. Beautiful! What a shame it seems to have had Milton all this time in the library and never to have read him yet. We will have mornings with Milton Arnold. He seems long but we are both young and we may live to get through him. Do you know, dear, now I look at you again, you don’t seem to have come back to me in good spirits. 32

ARNOLD. Don’t I? I can’t account for it.

BLANCHE. I can! It’s sympathy with Me. I am out of spirits too!

ARNOLD. You!

BLANCHE. I grow more and more uneasy about Anne. You will understand that, I am sure, after what I told you this morning? (ARNOLD shows signs of uneasiness.) Where did I leave off when Lady Lundie interrupted us? Oh, just at the moment when I was going into Anne’s sitting-room at the inn. What do you think happened? Both the candles went out!

ARNOLD. You don’t say so!

[45]

BLANCHE. Startling enough in the midst of the storm—wasn’t it? There was a light behind me, somewhere down the passage. And I am certain a man slipped by me in the dark. Who do you think he was?

ARNOLD. How in the world should I know?

BLANCHE. Anne’s mysterious husband! I was wet through; and I was taken into the bedroom to change. Anne’s shawl and the landlady’s petticoats. I looked perfectly hideous! I heard them whispering in the next room. When I went in, Anne’s husband was invisible— and Anne herself was looking the picture of wretchedness.

ARNOLD. I beg your pardon. We seem to be forgetting Milton.

BLANCHE. Milton is not interesting.

ARNOLD. Give him another chance!

(He attempts to read—BLANCHE declines to listen. A contest between them ín dumb show. GEOFFREY speaks, at the writing-table.)

GEOFF. (reading the note which he has written). “Dear Julius,—Much obliged. The ironmaster’s widow seems likely to suit. I’ll be with you to look her over to-morrow.” What am I to do with Anne? (He looks at his watch.) Curse her! she will be after me, if I don’t meet her at the cross-roads! (He takes up the note again.) I can’t send this. I must write an excuse.


(He tears up the letter and begins another.)

ARNOLD. I think we had better go on with Milton.

BLANCHE. How you do worry! Is there any love in Milton? 33

[46]

ARNOLD. I dare say there is, if we could only find it,34 (He turns over the leaves.) Here’s something about Adam.

BLANCHE. What’s the use of Adam without Eve? There can’t be any love till Eve comes in.


(They turn over the leaves together. GEOFFREY looks up from his letter, and speaks.)


GEOFF. It’s no use writing an excuse. Julius won’t believe it. Where is Sir Patrick, I wonder?

BLANCHE (shutting up the book). No love! So much for Milton! (She resumes her work.) Well I consulted Sir Patrick about Anne’s position. Sir Patrick asked me if Anne had been married in Scotland.

GEOFF. (overhearing her). Sir Patrick? and marrying in Scotland? What’s the girl talking about? (He listens.)

BLANCHE (continuing to ARNOLD). I said, of course they had been married in Scotland. Sir Patrick said Scotch marriages were dangerous things. Anne might have had reason to doubt whether she was really married at all.

ARNOLD (aside). Here is a warning to Geoffrey! Is he listening, I wonder?

GEOFF. (aside). Am I going to get Sir Patrick’s advice at second hand?

BLANCHE (as before). I needn’t tell you how shocked and distressed I felt. My uncle said, there was one chance for Anne. Supposing the man had tried to overreach her, it was quite possible he might have ended in overreaching himself. 35

GEOFF. (aside). Hullo! This is worth listening to!

BLANCHE. I entreated him to explain himself. He said, it was extremely difficult—as marriages are made in Scotland—to pretend to marry and not really to do it. And then he consoled me by putting it the other way. He said, it was extremely easy—in Scotland—for a man to drift into marriage, without the slightest suspicion of having done it himself.

[47]

GEOFF. (aside). It’s not quite so easy to slip through a woman’s fingers in this country, as I thought!

BLANCHE (to ARNOLD). You don’t seem to be attending?

ARNOLD. Oh, yes—I’m attending.

BLANCHE. Well, my uncle asked me if I understood him. Of course I did! “Now for the application!“ says Sir Patrick. “If the invisible man at Craig Fernie has been pretending to make Miss Silvester his wife, the chances are ten to one (though he may not believe it, and though she may not believe it), that he has really married her after all.”

GEOFF. (aside, with a start). Wait a bit! Arnold Brinkworth pretended to be married to Anne Silvester at the inn. By the lord Harry, that’s a way out of it that never struck me before!

(He looks round cunningly towards ARNOLD.)

BLANCHE. Of course I have written to Craig Fernie to tell Anne of Sir Patrick’s opinion. I am now waiting for the result.

ARNOLD. For a letter?

BLANCHE. No. (Lowering her voice.) This is a secret. The animal there mustn’t hear it. Before I consented to leave the inn, I insisted on Anne’s coming to see me here privately, while the rest were at lunch. If she doesn’t come to-day—

ARNOLD. Well?

BLANCHE. Then you must go to her to-morrow with a message from Me.


ARNOLD starts up, in consternation.
LADY LUNDIE enters from the garden. BLANCHE rises to meet her.


ARNOLD (aside). If Geoffrey doesn’t get me out of this, I must leave Windygates to-morrow!

LADY L. (to BLANCHE). What are you doing here?

BLANCHE (pointing to the volume in ARNOLD’s hand). Improving my mind. Mr. Brinkworth and I have been reading Milton all the morning.


(ARNOLD puts back the volume on the shelf.)


GEOFF (rising, with suppressed impatience). Where the devil is Sir Patrick! - I am more anxious to consult him than ever.

[48]

LADY L. (to BLANCHE). Can you condescend so far— after reading Milton all the morning—as to help me with the invitations for my dinner party next week?

BLANCHE. If you can condescend, Lady Lundie—after feeding the poultry all the morning—I must be humility itself, after only reading Milton!

(They go out by one of the side exits. ARNOLD, after putting away the volume of Milton, joins GEOFFREY in the front.)

ARNOLD. Have you heard what Blanche has been saying to me?

GEOFF. Some of it.

ARNOLD. Nothing will set matters right until you are married to Miss Sivester. Why have you not gone to meet her? 36

GEOFF. I’m waiting to do what you told me.

ARNOLD. What I told you?

GEOFF. Didn’t you advise me to consult Sir Patrick before I married her?

ARNOLD. To be sure. So I did.

GEOFF. Well, I’m waiting for a chance with Sir Patrick.

[49]

ARNOLD. I see him in the garden—wait here in case he is coming this way. (GEOFFREY starts) Whats the matter?

GEOFF. (feeling his arm) A kind of dull pain here. I’ve had it once or twice before— It doesn’t matter—go and see after Sir Patrick—(ARNOLD goes up) I’ll mention no names. I’ll only ask Sir Patrick his opinion on what took place at the Inn just as Arnold mentioned it to me when we met at the station this morning. If he has drifted into marrying her, there’s an end to his engagement to Miss Blanche—and all my doing. Hard on him, some people might say. But, by Jupiter! how lucky for Me! 37


Enter
SIR PATRICK and MR. SPEEDWELL from the garden.
SIR PATRICK has a newspaper in his hand.


ARNOLD (meeting him at the window). Any news, Sir Patrick?

SIR PAT. (satirically). Glorious news! All England is interested in it—all England will be there with its colours on its head, and its betting-book in its hand. (Descendinq the stage, and reading the substance of the newspaper-notice.) “Athletic Sports.—At last the long-expected event is to come off. The challenge of the gentlemen of the North has been taken up by the gentlemen of the South. The four-mile foot-race between the two swiftest amateur runners in England is fixed for next month. Champion of the North, Mr. Fleetwood. Champion of the South, Mr. Geoffrey Delamayn.” (He bows satirically to GEOFFREY.) I congratulate you, sir, on the attainment of im-

[50]

        mortal fame at an age when writers, statesmen, and other people of that sort only begin to emerge into the public view.

GEOFF. (composedly). Thank you. I don’t know exactly about immortal fame. If you mean that the public are putting their money on me at five to four, I quite agree with you. That’s immortal fame, and no mistake! (He observes MR SPEEDWELL lookinq at him attentively, and appeals to ARNOLD.) Who’s this fellow staring at me?

ARNOLD (aside to him). Hush! that’s Mr. Speedwell, the famous surgeon. (SIR PATRICK walks aside with the newspaper.) Mr. Speedwell, allow me to introduce my friend, Geoffrey Delamayn.

GEOFF. You are doing me the honour to inspect me pretty closely, sir. I hope you’re not looking at me with a professional eye? (He seats himself in an arm-chair.)

MR. S. (still steadily looking at him). You have run in many foot-races in your time, have you not?

GEOFF. Yes.

MR. S. And rowed in many matches?

GEOFF. Yes.

MR. S. And you have trained hard for your running and your rowing, for some years past?

GEOFF. Of course I have. And what of it, if you please?

MR. S. I have asked some idle questions, Mr. Delamayn; and you have been so good as to answer them. That is all. (He turns to SIR PATRICK.) May I look at the paper?

SIR PAT. (Giving him the paper). By all means! You will find a leading article dedicated to the coming foot-race. Foreign nations are summoned to admire and imitate us. Public opinion is encouraged to put bodily training in the first place of importance, and mental training in the second. Schoolmasters are warned of the solemn importance of a boy’s muscles; and the highest university honours are defined as being the honours which the students win with their arms and their legs.

ARNOLD. It’s a healthy national feeling, Sir Patrick, at any rate. Everybody admits that.

SIR PAT. I don’t admit it, for one. If it is a healthy national feeling, show me the public result of it. How has this modern outburst of manly enthusiasm improved

[51]

       the character of the nation at large? Are we becoming a purer people in our code of commercial morals? Are we showing a courage in reforming the admitted abuses of our time, which we never showed before? Is there a higher tone in those public amusements which reflect in all countries the public taste? You may call this new mania for muscular exhibitions a healthy national feeling. I call it an outbreak of our insular boastfulness and our insular barbarity in a new form!

GEOFF. (reclining indolently in the chair). That’s uncommonly well said, sir! When the nation takes to talking-matches, instead of running-matches, I’ll lay the long odds you come in the winner.

(SIR PATRICK shrugs his shoulders contemptuously, and goes to the book-shelves.)

MR. S. (to GEOFFREY). Don’t talk too confidently, Mr. Delamayn, of what you are going to do in the future.

GEOFF. Why not?

MR. S. There is a physical objection to the present rage for athletic exercises, which Sir Patrick has not stated yet. A man’s muscular strength is in no respect a safe guarantee of his vital strength. While be is cultivating his muscles, he may be fatally injuring his heart, his brain, or his lungs.

GEOFF. We have had all that in the newspapers.

MR. S. I have had it in my own professional practice—and in the case of a man whose muscles match yours.

ARNOLD. (coming forward). Who is he?

MR. S. I am not in the habit of mentioning my patients’ names. But if you wish me to produce an example of a man broken by athletic exercises, I can do it.

ARNOLD. Do I know him?

MR. S. Perfectly well.

ARNOLD. Is he in the doctor’s hands?

MR. S. Not yet.

ARNOLD. Where is he?

MR. S. (pointing to GEOFFREY). There!

GEOFF. (starting up). You mean me?

MR. S. I mean you.

GEOFF. I am a broken-down man, am I?

MR. S. You are a must in a critical state of health. Your athletic exercises have laid a strain on your heart

[52]

       which you don’t suspect. Beware of pressing that strain further. Alter your mode of life for the future.

(He turns away.)

GEOFF. (stopping him). Wait a bit! Let’s have this out. Do you tell me I shan’t be able to run in the foot-race?

MR. S. You may, possibly, run in the foot-race. If you do, you will never run in another.

GEOFF. And never row in another match?

MR. S. Never.

GEOFF. (taking out his betting-book). I’ll lay you an even hundred I row in the University Race next spring.

MR. S. I don’t bet, Mr. Delamayn.

(He takes up his hat, and goes out into the garden.)

GEOFF. (to ARNOLD, losing his temper). Where are the other fellows visiting here? Damme, somebody shall take the bet! (SIR PATRICK looks up from his book.)

ARNOLD. Hush! you are producing the worst possible impression on Sir Patrick, just at the time when you want to consult him. There he is alone. Control your temper—and seize the opportunity.

(He goes into the garden. GEOFFREY approaches SIR PATRICK.)

SIR PAT. What do you want?

GEOFF. I want a word with you in private.

SIR PAT. (surprised). With me?

GEOFF. Yes. About a friend of mine. He’s in a scrape. I want to ask your advice. (SIR PATRICK draws back.) You’re a Scotch lawyer, ain’t you? 38

SIR PAT. Certainly.

GEOFF. And you understand about Scotch marriages—eh?

SIR PAT. Is that the subject you wish to consult me on?

GEOFF. Yes. It’s a scrape with a woman, here in Scotland. My friend don’t know whether he’s married to her or not.

SIR PAT. (aside). A Scotch marriage! I am at your service, Mr. Delamayn.

(SIR PAT. and GEOFF go up C and talk in dumb show—Blanche and Arnold enter and come down—)

BLANCHE. Hush—have you seen anything of Anne?

ARNOLD. No have you?

BLANCHE. Whisper they may hear us.

ARNOLD. They are too much occupied to hear us. Have you done with the dinner invitations?

BLANCHE. The dinner invitations have done with me. I am dismissed in disgrace—I am so anxious about Anne I have made nothing but mistakes. The office in command at the fort is to be invited. I addressed him as the Reverend Captain. The clergyman’s invitation came next and I directed it to him at the Barracks—What can those two have to talk about in that confidential way.

ARNOLD. How can I tell.

BLANCHE. Its highly suspicious, I’m sure there’s something wrong—no Anne in the garden—no Anne here—oh Arnold I am so unhappy. Come and comfort me.

ARNOLD. With the greatest pleasure—I am afraid you will be a sad tyrant when we are married.

BLANCHE. No. I shall only expect to have my own way in everything. There’s nothing unreasonable in that is there?

(Exeunt R&L)

[53]

GEOFF. Well, what does your experience say? Are they married or not? 39

SIR PAT. My experience says that any single man in Scotland may marry any single woman, at any time and under any circumstances. After thirty years’ practice as a lawyer, I don’t know what is not a marriage in Scotland.

GEOFF. In plain English, you mean she’s his wife?

SIR PAT. I can’t say for certain.

GEOFF. Then she’s not his wife?

SIR PAT. I can’t say for certain.

GEOFF. Hang it! the law must say one thing or the other.

SIR PAT. That’s just what it doesn’t do. We make excellent laws in Scotland for the sale of houses and lands, and horses and dogs. But we leave the marriages of men and women to be decided by guess work.

[54]

GEOFF. Stop a bit! I want to bring you to book about this, sir, if I can.

SIR PAT. By all means—if you can.

GEOFF. Suppose my friend had another lady in his eye?

SIR PAT. Yes.

GEOFF. As things are now, would you advise him to marry her?

SIR PAT. As things are now—certainly not!

GEOFF. Then it’s possible that he has married her?

SIR PAT. Quite possible.

GEOFF. (rising.) That will do, for him and for me. (Aside.) Now I can write to Julius!

(He goes back to the writing-table.)

SIR PAT. (aside, looking at him). Do I see a connexion between the present position of Miss Silvester? and the present position of Mr. Delamayn’s friend? Stranger things than that have happened in my experience.

GEOFF. (to himself reading what he has written). “Dear Julius, expect me to-morrow.—Yours, Geoffrey.” (Putting up the letter, and directing it.) As long as the law can’t say she’s not married, she’s off my hands. Let Arnold get rid of her as well as he can! (He rises to ring the bell at the fireplace; and sees SIR PATRICK still seated, and still looking at him.) I beg your pardon. I’m a little in a hurry about this business of my friend’s. I forgot to thank you for giving me your advice.

SIR PAT. (drily). Don’t distress yourself about that! (GEOFFREY goes on to the fireplace and rings. SIR PATRICK continues to himself.) If Mr. Delamayn’s interest in his friend’s marriage is an honest and a harmless interest, I know no more of human nature than the babe unborn!


(A servant appears from the right side-entrance.)

GEOFF. (giving him the note). Give that to the man who is waiting.

SIR PAT. (rising and addressing the servant). When will luncheon be ready?

THE SERVANT. The bell will ring directly, Sir Patrick.

(He goes out on the right.)

SIR PAT. (to GEOFFREY). We shall meet again at luncheon time. (Turning away, and continuing aside.) I have not heard the last yet of Mr. Delamayn and his friend!

(He goes out by the left side-entrance.)

[55]

GEOFF. (alone—looking at his watch). She’ll be tired of waiting for me at the cross-roads. She will have gone back to the inn. What had I better do? Go to her? or write to her? Shall I say it? or write it? (A pause. He considers.) Where’s Arnold, I wonder? What will he say when he finds out the truth? Oh, bother! I saved his life in Lisbon harbour. I’ve a a right to do what I like with him after that. (He approaches the writing-table.) Suppose I write to her? (He looks round towards the garden.)  (The luncheon bell rings.) Lunch! I’ve only to wait. In five minutes more, I shall have the library to myself.

                                      (BLANCHE appear at the window.) 40

BLANCHE (alone). At last I have got the library all to myself. 41 (She looks at her watch.) Anne ought to be here, by this time—if she remembers what I told her at the inn. Two o’clock, in the library; and come round by the garden—nothing could be plainer. (She looks round. ANNE

[56]

       appears at the window. BLANCHE hurries to meet her.) My darling! I was just thinking of you. Oh, how glad I am to see you again! Come in; there’s nobody in the room. (ANNE advances, pale and agitated. BLANCHE starts.) What is the matter with you?
You look so faint and strange. Let me get you something!

ANNE. Stay here—I want nothing.

BLANCHE (placing her in an easy-chair). Have you walked here? You shan’t go back on foot. I’ll take care of that!

ANNE. I don’t go back. I have left the inn. A curse seems to follow me, Blanche, wherever I go. I missed a letter there. I must have thrown it aside, I suppose, and forgotten it. When I told the landlady, she fastened a quarrel on me almost before the words were out of my month. I hope and pray I shall never see the inn again.

BLANCHE. Has anybody stolen the letter?

ANNE. I don’t know. Lost or stolen—it’s gone.

(The stable clock strikes two.)

            What time was that?

BLANCHE. Two.

ANNE. (Looking round.) Is there somebody in the garden? 42

BLANCHE. I’ll go and see. Don’t be afraid—nobody’ shall come in. (She goes to the window.)

ANNE (to herself). I have been waiting an hour for Geoffrey—and waiting in vain. I don’t even know that he has returned to Scotland.

[57]

      I want to know who are the gentlemen staying in the house. (BLANCHE looks at her in surprise.) Never mind the strangeness of the question! Lady Lundie has visitors staying here, hasn’t she?

BLANCHE. Yes. Arnold Brinkworth, and that hateful friend of his—Mr. Delamayn. (ANNE sinks back in the chair.) You’re faint! I’ll go and get you some wine. I won’t be a minute—I won’t let anybody know you are here. (She hurries out on the left.) 43

ANNE (alone). He is back in Scotland! He is back in this house! Oh, the relief of hearing it! If he had meant to desert me, he would never have come back.

Enter GEOFFREY by the window. ANNE is so placed—with the high back of her chair towards the window—that he does not see her at first.

(He advances. ANNE hears him, and starts to her feet.)

      Geoffrey! (A pause. He stands facing her in silence. ANNE speaks again.) Are you angry with me for coming here? I waited an hour for you—and then I could bear it no longer. I didn’t even know you were in Scotland. (Another pause.) Why don’t you speak to me? I have done nothing to compromise you. Nobody but Blanche knows I am in this house. Oh, Geoffrey, I have been so lonely! I have been longing so to see you again!44

GEOFF. (coldly). What do you want?

ANNE. What do I want?

GEOFF. Yes.

ANNE (with rising spirit). I am broken by what I have

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           gone through. Don’t insult me, by making me remind you of your promise.

GEOFF. You claim my promise after what you have done at the inn?

ANNE (vacantly). The inn? What did I do at the inn?

GEOFF. I have had a lawyer’s advice, mind. I know what I am talking about.

ANNE (as before). What did I do at the inn? (She suddenly lays her hand on his arm.) Do you refuse to marry me?

GEOFF. I refuse to marry you.

ANNE (wildly). Why?

GEOFF. You are married already to Arnold Brinkworth.

(She throws up both hands wildly, with a cry of despair, and drops insensible at his feet.)


THE END OF THE THIRD ACT.45


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ACT IV.


 FIRST —The picture gallery at SIR PATRICK’S country house near Edinburgh. Closed in by doors and windows on the R&L. Six weeks have elapsed between the third act and the fourth. At the rise of the curtain, DUNCAN, in the dress of a servant out of livery, is discovered alone, with written instructions in his hand.

DUN. (reading from the instructions). “In the matter of Mr. Brinkworth’s alleged marriage to Miss Silvester. The circumstances to be investigated at Sir Patrick Lundie’s residence at two o’clock to-day. The persons interested to be received in the picture gallery. (He consults his instructions.) Three chairs here. One for Sir Patrick, two for Mr. Brinkworth and Miss Silvester, who are to sit on either side of him. Two more chairs on the right, for Mr. Geoffrey Delamayn, and his legal adviser, Mr. Moy. Two more, on this side, for Lady Lundie and Mrs. Arnold Brinkworth. (Speaking to himself.) It is a serious matter for Mrs. Arnold Brinkworth, Miss Blanche that was. To-day’s proceedings will decide whether she is legally married to Mr. Brinkworth or not. (He looks again at the manuscript.) Is there anything else? Yes! the witnesses

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        from the Craig Fernie inn. James! When Mrs. Inchbare and Mr. Bishopriggs come, they are to go into the housekeeper’s room, and to wait there until they are wanted. That will do. (The servants go out on the left. DUNCAN arranges the writing materials and the water-bottle on the table.) There! when Sir Patrick comes home, he will find the preparations complete in every particular. (BISHOPRIGGS appears on the right.) Who are you?46

BISH. I’m yer humble servant to command—Sawmuel Bishopriggs.

DUN. One of the witnesses. You are here an hour before your time. Has Mrs. Inchbare come with you?

BISH. Deil a bit of it! I ha’ stolen a march on Mistress Inchbare, having business of my ain for Sir Paitrick’s private ear.

DUN. Sir Patrick is out. I don’t expect him back for half an hour.

BISH. I come of a patient people, young man. I can wait.

DUN. You mustn’t wait here. Your place is in the housekeeper’s room.

BISH. The hoosekeeper’s room! Wad ye shut me up alone wi’ a strange woman? D’ye think I’m Mark Antony, that lost the world for luve (the mair fule he!)? or Don Jovanny, that counted his concubines by the hundred, and got grippit by the deevil as his fit reward for the same? I’m a decent, ‘sponsible man, wi’ a character to lose, and I wunna jeopardise my virtue in the hoosekeeper’s room.

DUN. Oh, very well! If Sir Patrick finds you here and objects to it, mind I have warned you.

(He goes out on the left.)


BISH. (alone). Aye, aye, between the hoosekeeper and Sir Paitrick I find the latter the least formidable animal o’ the twa. (He takes from his pocket the letter which he picked up in the second act.) I’m no’ easy in my mind aboot this. Here’s the thing they ca’ an inquiry to be held today in the presence o’ Sir Paitrick, wi’ Miss Silvester and Jaffray Delamayn eemplicated in the same. Will I do well or ill for my ain puir interests to own that I ha’ got the letters that ha’ passed between ‘em? If I can but get speech of Sir Paitrick, I’ll joost feel my way cannily

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        before the inquiry begins. (ANNE’s voice is heard outside, on the right, saying, “I will wait for Sir Patrick in the picture gallery.”) Eh! there’s a ring in that voice I ought to know. (ANNE appears on the right.) Here she is in her ain proper person. Hoo’s a’ wi’ ye the day?

ANNE (recognising him). The waiter at Craig Fernie!

BISH. The same that was fether to ye, my dearie, at the hottle. Hech! hech! where will ye ha’ been a’ this lang time past?

ANNE. It doesn’t matter where I have been. Now we have met I have something to say to you. (She seats herself on one side of the table, and points to the bottle of water.) I have been ill. I am far from strong yet. Give me a glass of water.

BISH. Water? D’ye relly mean to offend yer stomach wi’ water, when there’s whusky to be had in the hoose for the asking?

ANNE. Do as I tell you.

BISH. Gae yer ain gate, I’ll no’ hold myself responsible for the consequences. (He gives ANNE a glass of water, then holds up the bottle, and apostrophises it contemptuously.) Water! it’s little I know that’s gude aboot ye in yer unconvairted state. Ye’re a type o’ human life, they say. I deny it in toto. Ye’re a type o’ naething at all, till ye’re heated wi’ fire, and sweetened wi’ sugar, and strengthened wi’ whusky, and then ye’re a type o’ toddy, and human life’s got something to say to ye in that capaicity. (He relieves ANNE of the glass, and takes a chair near her, so as to place the table between them.) Ye’re here, I trow, in the matter of the inquiry? There’ll be an awfu’ scandal when it a’ comes oot.

ANNE. Oh, Mr. Bishopriggs, if you are called as a witness to what took place at the inn—

BISH. Nae tampering wi’ me, young madam! I’m weel paid for the use o’ my time and my conscience, and I’ve got my ain pecuniary reasons for speaking the truth.

ANNE. I have something to ask you.

BISH. I’m deaf in baith ears to it, if it relates to the Inquiry.

ANNE. It has nothing to do with the Inquiry. It is of

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        no importance to anybody but myself. I missed a letter while I was at Craig Fernie.

BISH. (aside). Ow! ow! she’s het the right nail on the head at starting.

ANNE. Can you help me to recover it? You happened to be away from the inn at the time when I missed it, I know. But you may have found the letter since, in dusting the room. Am I right?

BISH. Richt? Ye’re as far awa’ fra’ richt as John o’ Groat’s house is from Jericho. (aside.) I’ll no’ own to the letter till I see the purse in her hand first.

ANNE. Will you inquire about it when you return? It is easily recognised. There are two letters on the same sheet of paper. One is signed “Anne Silvester;” and the other, “Geoffrey Delamayn.”

BISH. Wad ye gi’ a pecuniary gratification to get it back?

ANNE. Willingly. There are secrets in that letter which it is horrible to me to have exposed to strangers’ eyes. I would give a large sum for me—five pounds.

BISH. D’ye happen to hae the sum ye’ve mentioned aboot ye?

ANNE (producing a five-pound note from her purse). Whenever it is wanted. Here is a five-pound note.

BISH. (producing the letter). It’s wanted instanter. Here is the letter. (They both rise.)

ANNE. What do you mean? A moment ago you told me you had not got it.

BISH. Hoo, in Heeven’s name, was I to know this was the letter ye were after, till ye gave me the description of it? (ANNE holds out her hand for the letter. BISHOPRIGGS hesitates.) Ye’ll no’ mind writing joost a line o’ receipt to clear me o’ ony suspicion that might arise in the future?

ANNE. You need no receipt. (She throws the bank-note on the table, and snatches the letter out of his hand.) There shall be no letter to bear witness against you.

(She attempts to tear up the letter. BISHOPRIGGS seizes her by both wrists.)

BISH. Bide awee! Ye’ll no’ get yer letter till I hae yer ain acknowledgement for it in black and white.

ANNE (contemptuously yielding the letter.) Write the

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        receipt, and I will sign it. (BISHOPRIGGS writes. ANNE crosses the stage, and looks at the clock on the mantelpiece.) A quarter to two. In a quarter of an hour the inquiry will begin. Oh me! How will it end?


(She returns and signs the receipt.
BISHOPRIGGS pockets the five-pound note, and gives her the letter. SIR PATRICK appears, unseen by either of them, on the right.)


BISH. (handing the letter to ANNE). Tear it if you will. It’s naething to me noo.

SIR PAT. (advancing). Tear nothing, Miss Silvester, without consulting me first. (ANNE retires to the back SIR PATRICK addresses BISHOPRIGGS.) What business have you here?

BISH. (obsequiously). Hoo’s a’ wi’ ye the day, Sir Paitrick? A sight o’ you is gude for sair een. Lord’s sake, sir, hoo well ye wear! (SIR PATRICK points off significantly on the left.) What may ye be pointing at, Sir Paitrick?

SIR PAT. I am pointing to the door which leads to the back staircase. When you get to the bottom, Mr. Bishopriggs, you will find yourself in the servants’ offices.

BISH. Wi’ a’ the pleasure in life. I’m blithe to see ye wearing sae wee, Sir Paitrick. Wut, reel wut, sir, in that bit o’ yours aboot the back staircase. (Aside, slapping his pocket as he goes out.) Hech! I gae oot fi’ punds heavier than I cam’ in. Praise Providence for a’ its maircies! (He goes out on the left.)

SIR PAT. Miss Silvester, pardon me for asking you a very plain question. What were you and Bishopriggs about when I came in?

ANNE (constrainedly). I found Bishopriggs here, Sir Patrick. The sight of him reminded me of a letter which I lost at Craig Fernie. He happens to have found it, and he has given it back to me.

SIR PAT. (aside). She answers unwillingly — there’s something under the surface! (To ANNE.) Is this letter which you have recovered addressed to you by any one whom I know?

ANNE (as before). It is a letter of my own, returned to me—with a few lines of reply on the blank page.

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SIR PAT. (aside.) She changes colour—I’ll press her a little further (To ANNE.) Is there anything in your letter, or in the reply, which touches on your past relations with Geoffrey Delamayn?

ANNE. Yes. Why do you ask?

SIR PAT. I have a serious reason for asking. Now that the truth has come out, Delamayn has but one chance of securing Mrs. Glenarm and her ten thousand a year. He must have his infamous assertion that you are married to Arnold Brinkworth. I am here—in Blanche’s interests—to meet that assertion with a flat denial. The merest trifle, a word dropped by chance in your correspondence, may furnish me with the weapon that I want. Will you show me the letter? 47

ANNE. I am ashamed to show you what I once wrote to Geoffrey Delamayn. Don’t ask me, Sir Patrick! don’t ask me!

SIR PAT. (placing a chair for ANNE). I will ask you to look back for a moment at past events. When you recovered your senses—after what that scoundrel said to you in the library at Windygates—what did you do?

ANNE. What could I do, when I found myself set up as an obstacle to Blanche’s marriage? I left the house in secret. My one idea was to leave Blanche free.

SIR PAT. I make every allowance for you. Still, you left me and my niece in the dark. You left Arnold Brinkworth ignorant of the position in which he stood, and pledged to you as a man of honour to keep his visit to Craig Fernie a secret from everybody.48

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ANNE. I saw it as you see it, Sir Patrick, the moment my mind was clear again. I took up my pen to write to Mr. Brinkworth—determined to reveal to him and to you the whole truth. Was it my fault that I was struck down by illness while I sat at my desk? Was it my fault that family circumstances induced you to hasten the marriage of Arnold and Blanche, while I lay between life and death, helpless to warn you? Did I waste time in the first days of my recovery? The instant I was strong enough to hold the pen again, I wrote to Mr Brinkworth..

SIR PAT. When that letter was received, Blanche was Arnold’s wife. After one little week of wedded life, the bare suspicion of your prior marriage to Arnold has broken up her home. Innocently, most innocently, you are responsible for it.

ANNE (rising passionately). Am I responsible for Geoffrey Delamayn’s treachery? Am I responsible for the snares laid for innocent people by the infamous marriage law of Scotland? Look at me! Have I not suffered? Does my resolution to do my duty want rousing by any words of yours? Sir Patrick! Blanche’s mother was the benefactress who rescued me from misery and want. I promised her on her deathbed to be a sister to Blanche. And what am I now? An obstacle to the happiness of Blanche’s life. Sacrifice me to that happiness!49

 SIR PAT. I take you at your word. (He points to the letter in her hand.) In Blanche’s interests, give me that letter.

ANNE. In Blanche’s interests—there it is!

(She gives him the letter, and seats herself apart from him, hiding her face in her hands.)

SIR. PAT. (looking after her). A noble creature! At the worst of this bitter business I say it—a noble creature (He opens the letter, and reads it aloud to himself.) “Windygates House, August twelfth, 1868.—Geoffrey Delamayn! I have waited in the hope that you would ride over from your brother’s place and see me, and I have waited in vain. Your conduct to me is cruelty itself; I

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        will bear it no longer. You have promised me marriage by all that is sacred.” (He stops and speaks.) And this is the letter which she was on the point of destroying when I came into the room! (He goes on; his excitement rising as he reads.) “I claim your promise. I insist on being, what you vowed I should be—what I am in the sight of Heaven—your wedded wife. Lady Lundie gives a lawn party here on the fourteenth. I warn you to come, or I won’t answer for what may happen. Oh, Geoffrey, be faithful, be just, to your loving wife, ANNE SILVESTER.” (He turns over to the last page, and starts.) What do I see? An answer, signed by Delamayn himself! (He reads eagerly.) “Dear Anne,—I am just called to London to my father. They have telegraphed him in a bad way. Stop where you are, and I’ll write you. Trust the bearer. Upon my soul I’ll keep my promise. Your loving husband, GEOFFREY DELAMAYN.” (He speaks.) Dated, August the fourteenth! and the time added—four in the afternoon! (He rises in violent agitation.) A written promise of marriage exchanged between them! (He crosses eagerly to ANNE, and points to the letter.) How long had you been in Scotland when you wrote this? More than three weeks?

ANNE (rising amazed at the vehemence with which he puts the question). Yes.

SIR PAT. Can you refer to persons who have seen you?

ANNE. Easily.

SIR PAT. (pointing to the fourth page). How long had Delamayn been in Scotland when he wrote this? More than three weeks, too?

ANNE. Yes.

SIR PAT. Do you know of any one who saw him more than three weeks since?

ANNE. I know of a person who took a note to him from me.

SIR PAT. A person easily found?

ANNE. Quite easily.

SIR PAT. (taking her by both hands). Listen to me! The whole attempt to assert your marriage to Arnold Brinkworth falls to the ground before this correspondence.
When you and Arnold met at the inn—(He
pauses and

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        looks at her.) What is the matter? Your hands are icy cold—you are trembling from head to foot.

ANNE (faintly). Go on.

SIR PAT. When you and Arnold Brinkworth met at the inn, the law of Scotland had made you a married woman. On the day and at the hour when he wrote those lines at the back of your letter to him, you were Geoffrey Delamayn’s wedded wife. (ANNE draws back with a low cry of horror.) Don’t you understand me? Here is the proof that Arnold Brinkworth was a single man when he married my niece. Blanche’s happiness is secured. Blanche’s future—

ANNE (very slowy and calmy). What of my future, Sir Patrick?

SIR PAT. (starting back). I never thought of that. 50 Bound for life to Geoffrey Delamayn! Oh, Miss Silvester, can you forgive me for thinking first of Blanche? I see the dreadful sacrifice as you see it—

ANNE (gently). There can be no sacrifice in anything that I do for Blanche.

SIR PAT. (continuing). I ask myself, Have I any right? has Blanche any right—?

ANNE (quietly and firmly). Yes, Sir Patrick, if Blanche’s happiness depends on it.

(She gives him her hand He lifts it silently to his lips, and walks a little apart from her.)

SIR PAT. (to himself). Married—to the villain who has ruined her, slandered her, and cast her helpless on the world. Married—to the traitor who has not shrunk from
betraying Arnold’s trust in him, and desolating Arnold’s home. There is the prospect before her, if she claims to be Delamayn’s wife! Have I
any right to sanction that terrible sacrifice? (He returns to ANNE, and offers her the letter.) You were on the point of destroying this letter, when I came in. Destroy it now.

ANNE. Sir Patrick!

SIR PAT. (forcing her to take the letter). I know what that man has done—I foresee what he may do, if you assert your claim to him—I can’t, and won’t, force you on him as his wife!

ANNE. Blanche! think of Blanche!

SIR PAT. Not even in Blanche’s interests—not even for

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        Blanche’s sake. (The clock on the mantelpiece strikes two.) The hour fixed for the Inquiry! (He sees the letter still in ANNE’S hand.) Anne Silvester! destroy that letter. I’ll fight the case without it! (He leaves her.)

ANNE. (aside—hiding the letter in the bosom of her dress). I’ll wait, Sir Patrick, till you have won the victory.

(DUNCAN appears on the right.)

DUN. Mr. Arnold Brinkworth.

SIR PAT. Show him in.

(ARNOLD enters on the right. DUNCAN withdraws.)

ARNOLD. I have come here first, Sir Patrick—I am so anxious about Blanche. Good morning, Miss Silvester. (ANNE salutes him, and walks aside on the left. He continues to SIR PATRICK) Have you seen Blanche? Is there any hope of her returning to me?

SIR PAT. My poor boy! Lady Lundie has persuaded her to place the worst possible construction on what took place at Craig Fernie between Miss Silvester and yourself. Wait, and hope. (He notices that ANNE is standing, and points to the chair reserved for her next to himself.) Pray be seated, Miss Silvester. (He turns, and sees ARNOLD taking a chair at the side, on the right.) Not there. That place is reserved for Mr. Delamayn.

ARNOLD (surprised). Delamayn present at the inquiry? Delamayn travelling from London to Edinburgh?

SIR PAT. He arrived this morning. He is to be present at the proceedings. 51

ARNOLD. After running in the foot-race only last week— and fainting at the final round! After being told by Mr. Speedwell that his one chance of recovery lay in perfect repose, for months to come? Is the scoundrel made of iron? or of flesh and blood?

SIR PAT. Ask Mr. Speedwell. He has been called to Edinburgh professionally. I expect to see him here today, when the inquiry is over.

(Enter DUNCAN on the right.)

DUN. Lady Lundie.

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(LADY LUNDIE enters, with BLANCHE on her arm.)

SIR PAT. (advancing to meet them). Good morning, Lady Lundie. I am glad to see you, Blanche.

(He leads them to the two chairs on the left. BLANCHE notices ANNE, who has risen, and is looking at her with the deepest interest. She impulsively advances a step towards ANNE. LADY LUNDIE stops her. At the same moment, ARNOLD approaches BLANCHE with his hand held out.)

LADY L. (interposing). No! Mr. Brinkworth—not yet!

SIR PAT. Control yourself, Arnold, for your wife’s sake.

(BLANCHE turns her head aside and puts her handkerchief to her eyes. ARNOLD goes up to the table. DUNCAN appears on the right.)

DUN. Mr. Geoffrey Delamayn and Mr. Moy.

SIR PAT. Show them in. (Aside.) Now to fight the case—without the help of Anne Silvester’s letter! (He takes the centre chair, behind the table, placing ARNOLD on his left side. GEOFFREY and MR. MOY enter on the right. SIR PATRICK points to the chairs on the right reserved for them. MR. MOY bows to SIR PATRICK and to the company. GEOFFREY, stolidly indifferent, takes his chair without saluting anybody. The only noticeable change in him is that he is paler than usual. SIR PATRICK proceeds.) Ladies and gentlemen, we are all assembled: the inquiry may begin. I have undertaken to act on behalf of my friend Mr. Arnold Brinkworth. I beg to present him to you, Mr. Moy, as the husband of my niece—to whom he was lawfully married on the seventh of the present month, in the church of St. Margaret, Edinburgh. I have a copy of the marriage certificate if you wish to look at it.

MR. MOY (politely). Quite needless, Sir Patrick. On behalf of my client, Mr. Geoffrey Delamayn, I deny the validity of that marriage. I say that Mr. Brinkworth was married on the fourteenth of last month—at Craig Fernie, in Scotland— to a lady named Anne Silvester, now living, and present among us (as I am informed) at this moment.

ARNOLD (appealing to SIR PATRICK). Am I to sit silent, Sir Patrick, under such an assertion as that?

SIR PAT. No! Rise—and publicly contradict it. (ARNOLD rises.) Arnold Brinkworth! In all that you said,

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        and in all that you did, at Craig Fernie, were you not acting under instructions given to you by Mr. Geoffrey Delamayn?

ARNOLD. I was.

SIR PAT. From the moment when you entered the inn to the moment when you left it, were you innocent of the slightest intention to marry Miss Silvester?

ARNOLD. No such thing as the thought of marrying Miss Silvester ever entered my head.

SIR PAT. And this you say, on your honour as a gentleman?

ARNOLD. On my honour as a gentleman.

(He resumes his seat.)

BLANCHE (to LADY LUNDIE eagerly). Oh, Lady Lundie! Do you hear that?

LADY L. (to BLANCHE). Are you simple enough to believe him?

SIR PAT. (turning to ANNE, after first carefully observing BLANCHE). Miss Silvester! which of the two gentlemen did you expect to join you at the inn? Mr. Arnold Brinkworth? or Mr. Geoffrey Delamayn?

ANNE. Mr. Geoffrey Delamayn.

SIR PAT. From first to last, were you innocent of the slightest intention to marry Mr. Brinkworth?

ANNE. Absolutely innocent.

SIR PAT. And this you say on your oath as a Christian woman?

ANNE. On my oath as a Christian woman. (She turns pointedly to BLANCHE.) In the presence of my sister and my friend.

BLANCHE (rising impulsively). Is that the language of a false woman, Lady Lundie?

LADY L. (pressing her back into her chair). Keep your seat! Sir Patrick, I shall remove my step-daughter from this house, if any more attempts are made to harrow her feelings and mislead her judgment. I protest against this cruel and unfair way of conducting the inquiry.

MR. MOY. I support her ladyship’s protest. The marriage which Mr. Brinkworth and Miss Silvester have just denied, I am waiting to prove—not by mere assertion, but by appeal to competent witnesses.

SIR PAT. Your turn will come directly, Mr. Moy. In the

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        mean time I take a note of your protest. (He takes the note, and then suddenly addresses GEOFFREY.) Mr. Geoffrey Delamayn!

(The persons present all turn towards GEOFFREY. He looks up for a moment. MR. MOY interferes.)

MR. MOY. Mr. Delamayn! Sir Patrick (for some reason of his own) is conducting this inquiry in a highly irregular manner. If he questions you, you are not bound to answer.

SIR PAT. (to GEOFFREY). Mr. Delamayn, I am going to give you a last opportunity of telling the truth. (He points to ANNE.) Look at this lady.

GEOFF. (declining to look). I have seen enough of her already.

SIR PAT. You may well be ashamed to look at her. But you might have acknowledged it in fitter words. Do you deny that you promised to marry Miss Silvester privately at the Craig Fernie inn?

MR. MOY. I object to that question.

SIR PAT. (taking a note). I register the objection. (To GEOFFREY.) Do you deny that you promised to marry Miss Silvester?

GEOFF. (doggedly). I do deny it.

SIR PAT. In my presence, and in the presence of the other persons assembled, you deny that you owe this lady the reparation of marriage?

GEOFF. (slowly fixing his eyes on ANNE, and lifting his clenched fist as he speaks). I know what I owe her! I’ll pay her one of these days.

(With a faint cry of terror, ANNE, turning aside from SIR PATRICK, takes the letter privately from her bosom; makes a motion as if to tear it; and checks herself.)

BLANCHE (pointing in alarm to GEOFFREY). Oh, how he looks at her! how he looks at her!

GEOFF. (heedless of all interruptions—still with his eyes fixed on ANNE). But for you, I should be received in my father’s house. But for you, I should have a place in my father’s will. But for you, I should be married to Mrs. Glenarm. I know what I owe you. I’ll pay you one of these days.

(He slowly lifts his clenched fist once more. ANNE under a renewed impulse of terror, is a second time on


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the point of destroying the letter—and a second time resists the temptation.)

ARNOLD. Shame! shame!

BLANCHE (rising). I can’t bear it! take me away!

MR. MOY (to GEOFFREY, indignantly). Control yourself, or I will throw up your case.

(GEOFFREY, after a momentary resistance, yields to MR. MOY, and moves his chair, so as to turn his back on ANNE.)

SIR PAT. I have something to say to you, Blanche, before you leave my house. (BLANCHE resumes her seat.) The husband who loves you, and the sisterly friend who loves you, have each made a solemn declaration. Do you believe they have spoken falsely?

BLANCHE. I believe they have spoken the truth.

SIR PAT. You are satisfied that there never has been, and never can be, any question of marriage between them?

BLANCHE. Quite satisfied.

SIR PAT. (pointing to GEOFFREY). You have heard how that man has answered me. Do you see, as I see, that he has deliberately betrayed the woman who trusted him, and the friend who served him?

BLANCHE. I see it plainly.

SIR PAT. It rests with you to stop this inquiry at the point which it has now reached. Are you willing to return to your husband’s protection, and to leave the rest to me—satisfied with my assurance that not even the Scotch law can prove the monstrous assertion of the marriage at Craig Fernie to be true?

LADY L. (silencing BLANCHE by a gesture). So, Sir Patrick! My stepdaughter is to consider herself Mr. Brinkworth’s lawful wife, because you choose to tell her so, while the witnesses to his marriage at Craig Fernie are actually in waiting down-stairs? I warn Blanche of the consequences, if she is mad enough to take your advice. She may live to see the day when her reputation will be destroyed and her children declared illegitimate! I appeal to Mr. Moy. Is that the truth?

MR. MOY. Most assuredly. (He addresses BLANCHE.) You place your whole future happiness at stake if you consent to return to Mr. Brinkworth, except on one con-

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        dition. Let him prove that he was a single man when he married you on the seventh of this month. So long as he fails to do that, good law and good morals alike forbid you to consider yourself his wife.

BLANCHE (wringing her hands in despair). Oh, uncle, what am I to say?

ANNE (rising). Say no.

SIR PAT. Miss Silvester! (He sees the letter in ANNE’s hand). You have not destroyed it?

ANNE. Sir Patrick, I want words to thank you. You have struggled—manfully and generously struggled—to make a bad case a good one, for my sake. I refuse to
let you sacrifice your niece’s welfare to any interests of mine. (She opens the letter, and addresses
BLANCHE.) Blanche your future happiness is in my hands. I can satisfy you that you are married; I can restore you to your husband; and I will do it! (She turns towards MR. MOY.)

SIR PAT. For God’s sake, put the letter back, and say no more.

ANNE. Mr. Moy! you have challenged Arnold Brinkworth to prove that he was a single man when he married my friend. The proof is here in my hand. By the law of Scotland, I was a married woman when Arnold Brinkworth came to me in August last, at the Craig Fernie inn. On the faith of this written promise of marriage exchanged between us, I claim to be Geoffrey Delamayn’s wedded wife.—Oh, Blanche! one kiss for the sake of old times!

(Giving the letter to MR. MOY, who springs forward to take it, she advances to BLANCHE with open arms. BLANCHE flings herself on ANNE’S bosom in a
passion of tears. The other persons present rise, with varying exclamations of astonishment and horror, and come to the front.
)

LADY L. Blanche! this is no fit place for you or for me. I am going to leave the house. Do you refuse to accompany me?

BLANCHE. I do. I accompany my husband—and I offer our home to my dearest friend—

[74]

(LADY LUNDIE goes out on the right.)

GEOFF. Moy! (MR. MOY pauses in his consultation with SIR PATRICK, and looks up.) I’ve had enough of this. Call up your witnesses to the marriage at the inn. 52

MR. MOY. The witnesses are useless. There was no marriage at the inn. (He turns to ANNE.) As Mr. Delamayn’s legal adviser, madam, it is my formal duty to admit that your claim on him is beyond dispute.

(He gives the letter to SIR PATRICK. )

GEOFF (advancing a step). What!!!

BLANCHE (drawing ANNE away in terror). Come away from him! come away!

GEOFF. (suddenly composing himself). Moy! are you in earnest?

MR. MOY. Thoroughly in earnest.

GEOFF. (with his eyes on ANNE). Has the law of Scotland made that woman my wife?

MR. MOY. The law of Scotland has made that lady your wife.

(A pause. GEOFFREY reflects, still looking steadily across the stage at ANNE.)

GEOFF. Does the law tell her to go where her husband goes?

MR. MOY. Yes.

GEOFF. (beckoning to ANNE). Come here!

BLANCHE (clinging to ANNE). No! no!

ARNOLD. Sir Patrick! do something!

SIR PAT. (lifting his hands in despair). The law! the law!

ANNE (to BLANCHE). Happier days are coming, love. Don’t think of me. (She kisses BLANCHE, and places her half fainting, in her husband’s arms—then advances steadily to the place at which GEOFFREY is waiting for her.) I am
here. What do you wish me to do?

GEOFF. (offering her his arm with ironical politeness). Mrs. Geoffrey Delamayn! come home.

BLANCHE (struggling with ARNOLD). Remember what he said to her! remember how he looked at her! Sir Patrick—Arnold—will you let him take her away? 53

[74 verso]

\SIR P. Stop!

GEOF. Stop? The law tells her to go with her husband. Stand out of the way.

Enter SPEEDWELL RH

SPEED. Gently Mr Delamayn.

GEOF. What do you mean by interfering?

SPEED. (to GEOF.) If you fly into a passion, you do it at the peril of your life. That is what I mean.

GEOF. Go to the devil. (turns to SIR P) Leave hold of her—give her up.

ANNE. Let me go Sir Patrick.

BLAN. No—no—

GEOF. (to SIR P) You call yourself a lawyer—you talked about the law just now—Do you want me to teach you? The law forbids you to part man and wife. (a momentary pause) You won’t give her up? Here are my hands. (he holds out his hands threateningly—ARNOLD places himself between GEOFFREY and SIR PATRICK) They shall take her by main force. (turning fiercely) In spite of you!

SPEED. (warning him) Take care.

GEOF. (to SPEED) In spite of you—in spite of every man in this house! (to SIR P.) Give me my wife. I shall do you a mischief, old as you are—give me my wife.

ANNE. I am here.

SIR P. sinks on a chair

GEOF. Come home. Interfere if you dare, between man and wife—Come home.

He takes her by the arm and draws her after him towards the doorhe suddenly stops, drops ANNE’S arm and is on the point of falling—SPEEDWELL catches him and places him in a chair[.] BLANCHE joins ANNE who has drawn back in alarm. The others gather round GEOF.

SIR P. (to SPEED) I heard you warn him. Has he paid the penalty?

GEOFFREY stirs a little in the chair and attempts to lift his arm but fails

GEOF. (faintly) I can’t lift my arm.

SPEED. (To Sir P) He will never lift it again.

SIR P. The arm he threatened her with—Is there no hope! (to SPEED)

SPEED. None.

GEOF. (More faintly) Help me up one of you. I can’t stop here.

SPEED. Lean on me

ANNE. No—not on you—

SIR P. Who is to take him home?

ANNE. His wife. (x to him)

SIR P. She forgives him—

ANNE. I forgive him as I hope to be forgiven—Geoffrey—Come home—

Tableau

End/54

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