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Dramatic Works of Harry & Edward Paulton.
NIOBE, All Smiles.
A Farcical Comedy in Three Acts,
Harry and Edward Paulton.
Price One Shilling and Sixpence.
Amateur Fee for each representation of this Play is Three Guineas, payable in advance to Samuel French, Limited, 26, Southampton-street, Strand, London.
London: Samuel French, Ltd., Publishers, Southampton St., Strand.
New York: Samuel French, Publisher, 24, West 22nd Street.
[All Rights Reserved.]
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NIOBE, ALL SMILES
A Farcical Comedy in Three Acts
HARRY AND EDWARD PAULTON
Copyright, 1904, by T. H. French.
New York: Samuel French, Publisher, 24, West 22nd Street.
London: Samuel French Ltd., Publishers, 26, Southampton St., Strand.
NIOBE, ALL SMILES.
CAST OF CHARACTERS.
_Prince of Wales Theatre, _Strand Theatre, Liverpool, 1st Sept., London, 16th April, 1890._ 1892._
PETER AMOS DUNN, MR. HARRY PAULTON, MR. HARRY PAULTON, in Life Assurance (President of the Universal Insurance Co.).
CORNELIUS GRIFFIN, MR. E. T. STEYNE, MR. FORBES DAWSON, in Love with Himself (Peter's Wife's Brother).
PHILIP INNINGS, MR. MERVYN HEREPATH, MR. HERBERT ROSS, in Corney's Hands (Corney's Friend).
HAMILTON TOMPKINS, MR. HENRY S. DACRE, MR. GEO. HAWTREY, in the Clouds (an Art Enthusiast, a Millionaire).
PARKER SILLOCKS, MR. CHARLES RANDOLPH, MR. A. C. MACKENZIE, in Retirement (a Merchant).
CAROLINE DUNN, MISS CONSTANCE NATHALIE, MISS INA GOLDSMITH, in-dispensable (Peter's Wife).
HELEN GRIFFIN, MISS HELEN PALGRAVE, MISS CARLOTTA ZERBINI, in Authority (Caroline's Eldest Sister).
HATTIE GRIFFIN, MISS VIOLET LOFTING, MISS GEORGIE ESMOND, in Open Rebellion (Caroline's Youngest Sister).
BEATRICE SILLOCKS, MISS MARIAN DENVIL, MISS ELEANOR MAY, in Love with Corney (Parker's Daughter).
MARY, MISS DENT, MISS VENIE BENNETT, in Service (Parlor Maid).
MADELEINE MIFTON, MISS ALICE DRUMMOND, MISS ISABEL ELLISSEN, in the Way (New Jersey Governess).
NIOBE, MISS JENNY BEAUVILLE, MISS BEATRICE LAMB, in the Flesh (Widow of the late Amphion, King of Thebes, a Statue).
ACT I.--Dunn's Drawing Room. Looking to the North. (7.15 p.m.) In the Absence of the Family.
ACT II.--Same. Looking to the South. In the Presence of the Family.
ACT III.--Same. Looking to West. Afternoon of the Same Day.
NIOBE, ALL SMILES
_SCENE.--DUNN'S drawing-room. At the L. of front corner, a large bay window on to the street; L. C. an arched opening with portiere to stairs and entrance hall; R. door to dining-room. On the R. of entrance a four-fold screen like a box case, surrounding Statue of Niobe, in which is a Vampire opening at back. An opening also in Flat behind screen. One fold of screen opens to L. of stage towards centre opening. Two folds open to R. Small castors on the bottom of opening folds. Piano R. below door; couch in front of it; table L. C.; chairs R. and L. of it; piano stool, foot stool, chairs, etc._
_At rise of curtain, HATTIE R. at piano; HELEN standing C., beating time to HATTIE'S playing "The Maiden's Prayer" for opening of act; CARRIE seated L. of table L. C.; BEATRICE seated R. of table, discovered examining album, sketches, etc.; after curtain is up, MARY enters from R. with three small cups and saucers on tray; HELEN up C., takes one, drinks, MARY offers other cups to CARRIE and BEATRICE; CARRIE offers one to BEATRICE._
BEA. (_with album_) Who in the name of goodness is that dreadful looking guy?
CAR. That is Mr. Dunn when he was a boy.
BEA. Your husband! oh!
_MARY after offering coffee to BEATRICE passes front of table to L., giving coffee to CARRIE._
CAR. Are you quite sure you won't take coffee?
BEA. Quite sure!
_After this MARY going up L. to exit C._
HEL. (_up C., sternly_) Mary, the fire!
_MARY goes to fireplace L., puts tray on chair; MARY poking the fire--HELEN eyes MARY severely._
HAT. (_at piano R., finishes playing_) Oh, Helen! That's _twice this evening_ I've played the "Maiden's Prayer."
HEL. (_up C.; turning to HATTIE fiercely_) You will play the "Maiden's Prayer" twice morning and evening until you are perfect.
_HELEN turns from HATTIE and drinks coffee._
HAT. (_impertinently_) Ugh! I'd like to catch you saying your maiden prayers twice morning and evening.
_HATTIE turns--resumes playing._
MARY. (_advancing C. to HELEN, tray in hand_) What time shall I order the carriage round?
HEL. Seven fifty.
_HELEN returns cup to MARY--MARY exits C. and R. at back._
We shall be at the Theatre _then_ before the Curtain goes up.
_HELEN advances R. C., severely watches HATTIE play--with glasses on._
HAT. Well, you oughtn't to do it. You'll lose caste if you get to your seats without disturbing the performance.
_HATTIE playing softly while she talks._
HEL. (_advancing to BEATRICE, L. C._) Beatrice, you are well posted on Theatrical matters; is the play we are going to see to-night strictly proper?
BEA. I know nothing to the contrary. (_closing album._)
_HATTIE plays ff._
HEL. (_very angrily_) Hattie! Take your foot off the loud pedal; we can't hear ourselves speaking.
_HATTIE shuts up piano petulantly; pouting as sits on couch, back to audience._
CAR. (_rising_) I was sorry Mr. Sillocks couldn't come to dinner.
_CARRIE goes to window down L., looks out._
BEA. Papa regretted it very much, but he is sure to be here to escort us. (_crosses R. to couch and sits._)
CAR. I'm glad of that, because Corney is never satisfactory as a Chaperon.
BEA. Oh, Carrie, I'm sure Corney is most attentive.
HEL. (L. C.) If you were his sister, you would not think so. He neglects us shamefully.
HAT. (R.) Quite right, too! It's a pity if a fellow can't stick to the girl he's spooning. (_sitting R. and laughingly hugging BEA._)
HEL. Hattie! You are a very slangy child. Such terms are most improper.
HAT. Corney uses them, and _I_ don't know any better way of saying it. (_crosses to C._)
HEL. Could you not say adhere to the lady he's engaged to?
_HATTIE crosses back to sofa._
BEA. We can hardly _consider_ ourselves engaged, while Corney is, so to speak, on trial. If Papa approves of him, of course we shall be married.
_Bus.; HATTIE and BEATRICE quietly congratulate each other._
HEL. I'm sorry I cannot live with you and manage the household, but Carrie could not get along without me. She has no talent for management and Peter is too engrossed with outside business.
HAT. (_laughingly_) If you'd watched him at dinner, you'd think he did not neglect his _inside_ business.
_CARRIE and BEATRICE laugh._
HEL. (_sternly_) I can see nothing humorous in that ribald remark.
CAR. (L.) A man of Peter's excitable temperament has enough worry abroad, he deserves to enjoy himself at home.
_CARRIE goes up L. to fireplace, puts cup on mantelpiece, as if looking for something._
HEL. But he brings his worries home with him. I'm sure we didn't want that troublesome _Statue_ in the house, though Mr. Tompkins does think it the greatest treasure on earth. He calls it _Niobe Lachrymans_,--whatever _that_ means.
BEA. Why did Mr. Dunn bring it home? (_knock and bell._)
_MARY crosses at back from R. to L._
HEL. For safety he says; it is insured in the Universal, of which Mr. Dunn is Manager, for quite a large sum, and as Mr. Dunn granted the policy on his own responsibility, he is anxious to guard the Statue from injury.
BEA. (_curiously_) I _should_ like to look at it.
_BEATRICE rises, going up towards screen._
HEL. (_interrupts her_) Not while _Hattie_ is in the room.
HAT. (_on couch R._) Oh! I've seen it, and why not! It's decent enough. She only shows a bit of her shoulder; it's nothing to the display at Society balls.
HEL. Hattie! The child is incorrigible. (_goes up R. C._)
CAR. (_at fireplace up L._) Where are the Opera glasses?
HAT. Better ask Corney. He was at the Alhambra last evening.
_BEATRICE at piano, looking at music._
HEL. (_turns_) Oh, you dreadful girl! (_door slams off L. U. E._)
MARY. (L. C.) They're in the drawing room, Sir!
_SILLOCKS enters L. C.; MARY crosses L. to R., always in front of stairs._
SILL. (C.) Good evening! Here we are! 7:30 to the tick! How's Dunn?
CAR. (_at fireplace L._) My husband is very well, thank you!
SILL. How are you? (_to HELEN, coming down C._) Hello, Bea. (_to BEATRICE_) Ah! Hattie! (_HATTIE crosses to SILLOCKS, C., who takes off overcoat._) and the babies, my little cherubs, Bertie and Maud.
HEL. (_crossing at back to fireplace_) They are in the nursery; we don't allow them in the drawing-room.
CAR. (_down L. of L. C. table_) They ought to be in bed; it is past their hour.
_BEATRICE crosses at back to fireplace._
SILL. Very early, isn't it? _even_ for infants?
HEL. Judging from results, no! Look what a healthy child Hattie is. Few girls have so fresh a complexion.
HAT. Unless they get it at the Chemist's. (_SILLOCKS laughs._)
_BEATRICE goes up L. to fireplace; HATTIE puts on SILLOCKS' hat, goes up stage C. at back; places coat and hat on rack in hallway; SILLOCKS sits R. of table._
DUNN. (_without R._) No! No! Everything is comparative; smoking is bad, but chewing is a precious sight worse; and have you reached the limit of comparative noxiousness then? No, sir; no! (_DUNN enters with CORNEY R. D. CORNEY crosses to BEATRICE L._) Hallo, Sillocks! Did you notice how Nitrates were at closing?
SILL. (_coming down front in centre to DUNN_) 92½, a point and a quarter rise. You're not interested in that Electric Light Consolidation scheme, are you?
DUNN. (R. C.) No! There's no money in it.--Well! That's my opinion.
SILL. Aren't you coming with us to the Theatre?
DUNN. I? Oh no!
SILL. Why not?
DUNN. Not asked. Never intrude where I'm not wanted.
SILL. But your wife----
DUNN. Well, my wife----_They_ did ask me to go once or twice; but owing to some business, I couldn't accept; _now_, I never get the chance of refusing.
_SILLOCKS goes and sits R. of table, opens album; DUNN up C., looking at his paper._
HEL. (_back of table_) Peter, if you wish to see the children while we are away, go up to them in the nursery. Carrie does not approve of their coming into the drawing-room.
CORN. (_advancing slightly down L._) Quite right! Children up to a certain age should be kept in a room as devoid of furniture as possible; the only way to keep them out of mischief, is to chain them up to a ring in the wall----
BEA. What horrible notions you have Corney!
_Leaving CORNEY, she goes up and crosses at back to R._
SILL. (_looking at album_) Hallo, legs! (_HELEN turns quickly, comes down to back of table_) You've got some choice specimens of the Ballet here, I see!
HAT. (_starting for table from R. corner_) Where? Let's have a look at them.
HEL. (_commandingly_) Stand back, Hattie! I must know before we proceed any further, how this indelicate picture happens to be placed by the side of _mine_, in the album?
_HATTIE goes to BEATRICE up R., laughing._
CORN. (_down L., aside_) Hang it! I shall be ruined with Beatrice if Sillocks suspects me.
CORN. (_alarmed_) Yes!
HEL. Do you know anything of this?
CORN. Why yes! Peter put 'em there!
DUNN. (_down C._) What! I put them there?
CORN. (_crosses to DUNN C._) Yes, of course, now--what's the good of denying it, old man? (_aside, digging DUNN'S ribs as he gets R. of him_) Say yes, or Sillocks won't approve of me.
CAR. (_advances slightly L._) Is that true Peter? Did _you_ put them there?
DUNN. (_perplexed_) Well--(_CORNEY looks at him_) Yes--I suppose I must have done.
CORN. (_over DUNN'S shoulder_) Thanks--one extra lie can't press much on your conscience.
_CORNEY turns to BEATRICE, who is R. C._
BEA. I'm so glad it wasn't _you_, Corney.
CORN. So am I. Don't make such a fuss about it, Helen, there's no great crime in having photos of pretty girls.
_BEATRICE and CORNEY go up towards dining-room R. H._
HEL. (_at back of table, with a withering glance at DUNN_) Then we may fairly assume that those yellow-backed French novels I found in the study, are yours also?
DUNN. (_turning C._) Mine!! Look here, Helen----
CORN. (_turns quickly, coming back to C._) Helen! You're too prying by half! Peter never imagined for a moment that you'd rake _them_ out.
_DUNN looks at CORNEY inquiringly._
HAT. (R.) Oh, Helen; they're not so very dreadful! At least, the one I read wasn't.
HEL. What! Oh, Carrie! What are we to do?
CORN. There's not so much harm in these French books after all. They're very much over-rated--I mean, exaggerated.
DUNN. I suppose Dobbin sent them up in a mistake for a bundle of circulars. (_aside to CORNEY, with paper, his back to audience_) What is it? What's the idea?
CORN. Old Sillocks! Must stand well with the father. It's all right, you can bear it. I cannot stand wrong----
CORN. Oh, excuse me, Bea.
_Joins BEATRICE and exits with her in earnest conversation R. U. E., after pushing HATTIE out of the way._
HEL. It is fortunate the servants are ignorant of French; it is a blessing they cannot realize the enormity of your offence.
_DUNN goes to couch, sitting._
DUNN. (C.) I'm as bad as the servants--Neither can I.
CAR. (_crossing to DUNN, sits L. of him_) It is fortunate we detected them before the new Governess arrived.
DUNN. Yes; it wouldn't do to throw temptation in _her_ way.
HAT. (_R. of couch_) When is she coming, Peter?
DUNN. I can't tell you that. She has started--I believe, but has found it agreeable to call on some friends at Leamington.
CAR. Then she may not be here for a day or two.
DUNN. It looks like it. She has sent her Leamington address, so she probably expects a message from us.
HEL. (_coming fiercely to DUNN_) _Why_ have you kept this knowledge from us?
DUNN. You could have had it any time for the asking.
HEL. Where is her note?
DUNN. There's no occasion to put on that tragedy queen expression. Here it is--(_selects and gives letter._)
HEL. (_crosses L. as she reads_) Madeline Mifton, care of Mrs. Miller, Barton street.
HAT. Did she seem a jolly sort of girl?
HEL. (_turning L. corner_) She's not engaged to be jolly!
_HATTIE with toss of her head, goes up R._
DUNN. She appeared to me an agreeable kind of person, and the people at Chester, where she was living, spoke very well of her.
CAR. (_arm in DUNN'S_) I hope she will be good to the children.
DUNN. Well! She looked the kind of person who _would_ be good to the children.
HEL. You have so little discrimination--I ought to have gone to Chester myself.
_Goes up L. near fireplace._
DUNN. Well, nobody stopped you; and you have her references anyway. (_CARRIE soothes him and up to fireplace to HELEN._)
SILL. I'm sorry you're not going with us, Dunn.
DUNN. (_crossing SILLOCKS and sitting L. of table_) It's just as well as it happens; I've had a letter from Tompkins, saying that he's going to be in town for a few hours; he is sure to run in to look at his treasures.
SILL. I saw in the Telegraph that he had bought the celebrated statue "Niobe" from the Bernoldi collection; is that so?
DUNN. Yes! I have it here in the house. We have insured it for £10,000.
SILL. A good sum--what was your idea of bringing it here?
_HELEN, HATTIE and CARRIE up at back near fireplace._
DUNN. Oh! Mr. Tompkin's new mansion, at Henley, isn't ready yet; and I did not care to risk it in storage.
SILL. You don't go in for curiosities yourself?
DUNN. No! No money in 'em! I've a genuine Rembrandt in the dining-room,--said to be worth £12,000.
DUNN. No! Tompkins's! Come and have a look at it--it may be your only chance. Just as well to be able to say you've seen these things.
_Exit SILLOCKS and DUNN R. D., both talking; HATTIE follows to door, mimicking them; then turns to HELEN._
HAT. We ought to get our wraps on now. It's a quarter to eight.
HEL. (_going C._) How impatient you are!
HAT. No more so than _you_; only you think it clever to look as wooden as a Chinese idol.
HEL. Hattie! We'll leave you behind if you're not good.
_HELEN exits C. and R. up stairs._
HAT. (_calling after her_) You'd send me to bed without my supper too, if you could, only I have had it.
CAR. (_with pretended severity_) Don't be so forward, Hattie!
_CARRIE exits C. and R. up stairs; CORNEY and BEATRICE enter from R. D., spooning._
CORN. Oh yes, Bea, if I asked you very sweetly, wouldn't you? (_HATTIE gets in front of them._)
BEA. Here is Hattie?
HAT. (_laughing with hands behind her_) _Disturbed again_, eh? Poor dears. Can't you get left to yourselves anywhere?
CORN. Yes, _here_--if you leave us. Get out.
_CORNEY goes for HATTIE C.; BEATRICE drops down R. to couch and sits._
HAT. Now behave Corney, or I'll tell Helen who put the photos in the album.
CORN. Be off, Miss Impudence--(_runs her off upstairs R. C._) That girl's a terror. (_returns to BEA, speaking as he comes down_) You can't think Beatrice--(_sits on couch_) You can't think.
HAT. (_returning_) You can think; we haven't much time, Bea; you'll be late.
CORN. Will you get out--(_CORNEY chases her round table and up stairs C. and R.; he returns_) She gets worse and worse! (_looking back after HATTIE._)
BEA. I didn't see anything so dreadful in the photos, Corney; if you own up to them, I don't mind.
CORN. _Oh, well!_ If you don't mind, I will!
BEA. I thought they couldn't be poor Mr. Dunn's; he looked so innocent.
CORN. (_seated on couch R., laughing_) Yes, Peter's appearance does rather discount him.
BEA. It was too bad to infer they were _his_.
CORN. Oh, he doesn't mind. We put everything on to Peter; and I'm so much afraid of your father's displeasure; you don't know the treasure you are Bea; and the fume a fellow gets in for fear of losing you. (_with arm round BEA._)
BEA. Why should you be so anxious? If your past was only blameless.
CORN. (_absent minded_) Yes! If it _only was_!
BEA. Do you _tell_ me it is not?
CORN. (_quickly_) No! Of course I don't, you don't think I'm such a jay--gay--gay deceiver? (_turns slightly away_) If we were only married. Then I shouldn't have to be so careful.
BEA. Have you to be careful?
CORN. Of myself, yes! But _then_, you can take care of me; and I can be careful of _you_; and I shan't have to invent stories about Art photographs, or French Novels.
BEA. Novels, Corney?
CORN. Though they're not really mine; Innings brought them here.
BEA. We've not seen Mr. Innings lately.
CORN. Not for two or three days; he's away on business.
BEA. I thought he had no business to be away upon.
CORN. No! he has no business to be away, when I want him here--that is--he isn't away on his business. It's business of mine.
BEA. (_curiously_) Business of yours?
CORN. Yes! well! _pleasure_ more than business--when I say pleasure I mean business--I wanted a change--but I couldn't spare the time--and Phil could--he took the change--it was really my change; for he paid the time before; you know how one fellow will take another fellow's change. He's a most obliging fellow.
_Knock; HATTIE runs down stairs._
HAT. Here's Mr. Innings, Corney!
_HATTIE rushes off L._
CORN. Thank goodness--I was getting a bit mixed. (_goes L. as INNINGS enters C. from L., HATTIE following._) How are you, Phil?
BEA. Good evening, Mr. Innings!
INN. Good evening, Miss Sillocks!
_INNINGS down R._
BEA. Come Hattie!
_BEATRICE going up C._
HAT. (_C., gushing at INNINGS_) Oh, there's heaps of time; it's so rude to leave Mr. Innings.
CORN. (_going up to HATTIE_) You haven't a minute; the carriage is at the door now; I'll do the polite to Innings.
_CORNEY sees girls off C. R. up stairs and returns to INNINGS._
What kept you so long? I expected you yesterday!
INN. (_taking off gloves as he sits on couch_) I had more to do than I thought. _You said----_
CORN. (_C. anxiously_) Never mind what _I_ said; what have _you to say_? Your news?
INN. Well! I went to Cambridge you know----
CORN. And you have come _back, I know_, but what _did you do_ there? What have you discovered?
INN. I found Ethel----
INN. Was no longer there----
CORN. Then you didn't find her?
INN. (_sitting on couch_) No; nor the slightest trace of where she had gone.
CORN. (_goes L. and up round table_) Then she'll turn up when least expected; what a confounded fool I was! If the affair reaches old Sillocks's ears, good bye to Beatrice; hang it! I'd have discovered something if I'd gone. (_sits R. of table._)
INN. (_rises and coming C._) It wasn't much, but _I_ discovered something--I learnt that Ethel had a sister, a governess. Did you know Ethel had a sister, a governess?
CORN. Yes, but I never saw her!
INN. Knew you'd think I hadn't tried, if I didn't find out something; so obtained the address of Sister, at a situation in Chester--went to Chester; sister had left--referred to a friend. Miss Topping; found Topping; worked round stealthily to subject, but the moment I mentioned _Ethel's name_, Miss T. shut up like an Oyster; no news there, except that Ethel's sister, Madeline Mifton----
INN. Had gone to a situation as governess, in London. Resigned a good situation, for "some ridiculous notion"--that's what Miss T. called it--of coming to London--to look up--or hunt down--a young man to whom her sister _was_ or _had_ been engaged.
CORN. (_delighted_) Ridiculous notion! Good for Topping! She might as well search for a needle in a haystack--I'm safe enough.
_Knock; MARY crosses from R. to L. at back._
INN. I wonder she didn't pursue you herself, instead of putting the sister on your track.
CORN. Well, Ethel is something like myself--_she cannot stand worry_.
_Door slam; enter MARY C. from L.; INNINGS goes to R. of table._
MARY. Mr. Tompkins!
CORN. Show him in, and I'll send Mr. Dunn to him. (_MARY exits to L.; CORNEY goes over to door R._) Peter! Here's Mr. Tompkins--I'm going to the Theatre Phil, so I can't stop and entertain you. I'm immensely tickled with the idea of the Sister coming to London to hunt me down. I shall think of nothing else all the evening.
DUNN. (_speaking as he enters from room R._) How de do, Tompkins, (_INNINGS going towards DUNN_) why, it's Innings! (_DUNN down to couch_) I thought you said Mr. Tompkins was here.
CORN. He is here.
CORN. There! (_indicating hall off C._) How _you do_ worry, Peter!
_CORNEY and INNINGS exit into dining-room R., as TOMPKINS enters L. C.; DUNN rises and meets him C._
TOMP. Let me thank you, Mr. Dunn, for taking such particular care of my treasure. It was most considerate of you to bring it into your own house.
_TOMPKINS posing L. C._
DUNN. (R. C.) Not at all! I was anxious to have it unpacked, just to make sure it hadn't suffered in shipment.
TOMP. (_enthusiastically--taking off gloves_) Ah! you thought of the centuries that beautiful form had retained its completeness, without damage or disfigurement, and were impressed with a tender, almost loving, care.
DUNN. Not a bit! I thought of the loss to our Company if it got chipped. There was no sentiment or friendship in the business. Sentiment's all very well, but there's no money in it.
_DUNN crosses to window, L. C.; SILLOCKS enters from dining-room R.; lights begin to go slowly down._
SILL. (R. C.) How do you do, Mr. Tompkins. I congratulate you Sir, on the possession of such a gem.
TOMP. (L. C.) Beautiful, is it not?
SILL. (R. C.) Grand! A painting like that----
TOMP. Painting! I am speaking of my Statue, Niobe.
SILL. Oh, I haven't seen it.
TOMP. (C.) Ah, when you do! Where among your moderns is a work like it? Where among your Sculptors, the peer of Phidias, Praxiteles, Scophas or Polydorus of Rhodes?
DUNN. (_L. of table_) And which of the whole lot would compare with Edison?
TOMP. Ah, Dunn! You are not familiar with the _Elgin Marbles_.
DUNN. Haven't played a game since I was a boy! (_sits L. of table_)
TOMP. (_despondently_) Sculpture is dead now Sillocks.
SILL. Don't despond Tompkins, it may _revive_!
DUNN. Sculpture's right enough in its way--but it isn't in it with the Telephone, or the Telegraph, or the Tape, or the Typewriter.
TOMP. Ugh! All such inventions tend to warp the noblest traits of human nature.
DUNN. Statues are all right for decorating Parks, but there's no money in them.
SILL. I'm in favor of the modern myself.
TOMP. And I sigh for the Antique--(_sits R. of table L. C._) I should like to have lived in the days of Homer!
DUNN. Not for me. I can't fancy existence without cheap postage, fast steamers, and penny-in-the-slot machines. I countenance every improvement. Move with the times I say, and _get ahead of 'em if you can_. (_rise_) I'm getting the Electric light put in now; we make our connection from the street here, just as you do with your gas.
TOMP. _I hate gas._ I would go back to the pine torch or the days of _candles_!
DUNN. (L.) Yes! You're crazed on the subject of _Early Greece_.
TOMP. (L. C.) I am, and I glory in it.
SILL. (R.) Well for modern tastes, there isn't always too much clothing on our remnants of that early period.
DUNN. (_crosses to SILLOCKS_) You're right. That's one reason the women objected to the Niobe; and _it's_ decent enough for _anything_. The dress is apparently split up a bit on one side, and shows part of the knee.
TOMP. (_enthusiastically_) A classic knee, Sir, which nothing in nature--Modern nature--could equal.
DUNN. (C. ) I did manage to have my own way for once, and there it is, behind that four-fold screen, which boxes it in completely. It's nicely out of the way there too.
TOMP. (_rising_) You'd like to see it, Sillocks?
TOMP. A glorious figure, Sir!
_Goes L. and around table._
DUNN. (_up C._) I suppose as Statues go, it is very well turned out.
_Swings back fold of screen, showing Statue of Niobe; DUNN is now R., holding back two folds of screen; red glow from fire._
TOMP. (_L. C. behind table_) Lovely! What exquisite moulding--That knee especially!
SILL. (_curiously_) What's she supposed to be doing?
TOMP. (_back of table_) Weeping! You know the story of Niobe. The gods wearied of her incessant tears: turned her into stone.
DUNN. She'd make an elegant ornament for a family vault.
TOMP. Sillocks! I would not take ten thousand pounds for that Statue.
DUNN. Sillocks won't tempt you!
TOMP. (_with enthusiasm_) This beautiful image was dug up in the ruins of Thebes in 1785; it passed into the hands of a Florentine gentleman; but in 1825 Count Bernoldi purchased it and it remained in his collection, till I tempted his grandson, a spendthrift youth, with an offer he could not resist. Oh, how perfectly that nose is chiselled, and that shoulder----
DUNN. That cold shoulder----
TOMP. (_approaching Statue_) What are those wires around the feet?
MARY. (_who is seen busy in hall C.--quickly_) Excuse me, Sir, don't touch them; the Electric man said as you were to be _very careful_ with the wires.
DUNN. The connection with the street is made then? (_DUNN closes the screen and lights go up again_)
MARY. (_C. in doorway_) Yes, Sir! But he hadn't time to bury the wires under the floor to-day; so he wrapped 'em round the feet of the Statue, where they wouldn't be likely to hurt no one.
DUNN. Who the devil gave him permission to touch the figure? Don't you know you are expressly forbidden to touch the figures?
_Ladies come down stairs to hallway; CORNEY and INNINGS from R. in hallway join them._
MARY. Miss Griffin, Sir!
DUNN. Oh Miss---- That'll do!
_MARY exits at back R._
N. B.--_After DUNN closes screen NIOBE removes white wig, makes up, etc., for re-appearance in the flesh._
TOMP. Confound your modern appliances! They managed to get along without them in Attica! Bah! We might all have been killed!
_TOMPKINS crosses L. corner; lights going up._
DUNN. (C.) Not this time. The pressure isn't on.
SILL. How do you know that?
DUNN. (_following TOMPKINS, crosses to window L._) Because the lights in the street are not going yet.
_HELEN, BEATRICE, CORNEY, HATTIE and INNINGS, and CARRIE advance from hallway C._
CORN. (_putting on gloves_) Sorry Phil, that you can't come along with us. (_CORNEY down L. C._)
INN. I'm not dressed to go to the Theatre.
CAR. What a pity there isn't another seat?
_CARRIE comes down R.; SILLOCKS gets up back of ladies to centre._
HAT. Oh, you _must_ come, Mr. Innings.
HEL. (_coming C._) If you will give up _your_ seat to Mr. Innings.
INN. (_protestingly_) No, no!
DUNN. If you are all settled in your seats, let me introduce Mr. Tompkins, Mr. Hamilton Tompkins, my wife--(_ladies get into line with CORNEY top; DUNN waving his hand comprehensively_) My wife's family.
CORN. (_waving his hand_) How are you, Tompkins?
HEL. We are delighted to meet you.
_All ladies in row curtsey rather marked; CARRIE is R. corner, HELEN next, HATTIE next, BEA next to CORNEY._
SILL. (_C. at back_) Come along, Mrs. Dunn; we shall be late!
_CARRIE exits C. and L. with SILLOCKS._
CORN. Come on Phil, give your arm to Hattie, and pilot her to the carriage.
BEA. Some of us will have to walk; the brougham will only hold four.
_Exit CORNEY and BEATRICE, others following C. and L._
HAT. Mr. Innings can sit on my lap. (_exits taking INNING'S arm._)
HEL. Hattie! I can do nothing with her.
_Exit HELEN C. and L.; slam of door; lights slowly going down._
TOMP. (_front of table_) All your wife's family?
DUNN. (_C., coming down_) Nearly!
TOMP. Some of your own?
DUNN. Oh no! I married out of my own family circle into my wife's--I got rid of one Griffin by changing it to a Dunn, and three other Griffins sprang up in its place. Takes it out of the Phenix, don't it? (_rings bell on table_)
_MARY enters R. C.; DUNN signs to her; she exits R. D._
TOMP. (_crosses R._) Griffin! Griffin! Was that your wife's maiden name?
DUNN. Yes! The Griffins of Brentford.
TOMP. (_as if thinking, sitting on couch R._) Indeed! Unless I'm much mistaken, there was quite a scandal years ago about a Miss Griffin of Brentford, but that _could_ not be your wife?
DUNN. No, but it might be Helen! And oh, if it were! Tompkins, if you could only find out for certain, and place me in possession of the facts----
TOMP. (_on couch_) I certainly can and will with pleasure. I think (_bus._) she eloped with the coachman.
_Enter MARY with trays, drinks, 3 glasses, Decanter, glass jug, with a little water in it, and exit R. C._
DUNN. Helen eloped! Eureka! I see the dawn of emancipation--Tompkins, do I look like a slave? (C.)
TOMP. (_eyeing DUNN_) No, I don't see that you do!
DUNN. (C.) But I am--we all are--this is Uncle Tom's Cabin; I'm Uncle Tom, and Helen Griffin is my Legree. (_crosses L. of table_) But provided with such a weapon, I could rear the standard of revolt and free our beloved home.
_DUNN L. of table with decanter; TOMPKINS follows DUNN to R. of table._
TOMP. The intelligence shall be yours, (_sits R. of table_)
DUNN. The few of my own people that are left, I never see, never hear of. My own dear little sister Mabel has never been asked to visit us. The Griffin has never fixed her Basilisk eye on _her_, and apparently doesn't want to.
TOMP. The attendant ills of married life! Ah! The women will never victimize me.
DUNN. (_sitting L. of table_) Ah Tompkins! Don't be too sure of that. You never know what it is that gives you _indigestion_, but you get it _just the same_.
TOMP. I shall never marry, if you mean that; I _would not_ marry a modern, and I'm not likely to meet with an Antique.
DUNN. I've a Maiden Aunt; the one my Sister's with, who is antique enough for anything.
TOMP. (_interested_) How far back does she go?
DUNN. Well, past the middle ages; she's over sixty; but it's the rarity of her that would attract you, Tompkins!
TOMP. (_indignantly rising, going R._) Sir, I'm not forming a museum of curiosities, but a gallery of Art treasures.
DUNN. (_rising_) Yes! Of course! Are you going already?
_MARY enters from C. and L. with trunk; TOMPKINS putting gloves on C._
MARY. (C.) Here's a trunk, Sir, has been delivered for a Miss Mifton.
DUNN. Miss Mifton! Oh, the Governess's trunk. She said it would be sent on. Leave it there, Mary. We'll get it carried up bye and bye. I remember she said in her letter it would be sent on.
_MARY places trunk near R. of C. doorway and goes to turn up lamp on stand below fireplace._
DUNN. Never mind the lamp, Mary; I'll turn it up myself when I want it; (_MARY exits C. and R._) I like to sit in the gloaming! What's your hurry Tompkins? Sit down and take another drink.
TOMP. I am due at the Antiquarian Society. A discussion on what History owes to _numismatics_!
DUNN. Well, go and fix the amount and get History to settle up--Good evening! Mary! Oh! Good evening, Tompkins! (_lights down low_)
_MARY appears C. and R., ushers TOMPKINS out L. C., then crosses to R. at back._
DUNN. (_goes to Statue again, softly humming a tune_) A pretty thing for our Company if that idiot had damaged his Statue with those infernal wires. Just like my beautiful sister-in-law, to give permission to wrap them round the figure, just to show that _my_ wishes were of no account. I'll get a staple and padlock to-morrow; and fasten that screen up like a packing case. (_sits on sofa_) I suppose the Electricity can't affect the marble; ha! it's such a mysterious agent, one never knows _what_ it may do. P'raps I'd better light up. I wonder what's the matter with the Electric lamps in the street? (_crosses at front of table L. C. and looks out of window_) They're generally making the gas look sickly before this--must be something wrong this evening. Ah! There it goes! (_flash on electric light outside window, flooding stage, DUNN sits L. of table L. C._) Well! That's light enough to think by. (_low moan; weird music begins_) What's that? (_moan_) Some Psychological phenomenon! An omen of some kind! (_rising, towards window; NIOBE extending her arms, pushes open screen and is seen moving, as if awakening to life; DUNN slowly turns_) Great Heavens! The Statue's alive!
_Falls on knees at chair L. of table._
NIO. My feet! Oh, Amphion! Amphion!
DUNN. (_looking at Statue_) Is this nightmare? Am I dreaming?
NIO. My feet! This thrill! A liquid fire seems coursing through my veins. Ah!
_As if bursting the spell steps down from pedestal, remains, making picture._
DUNN. No! No! It can't be that--I don't _drink_ to that extent.
_NIOBE comes slowly down C., examining room in wonderment; goes round up R. and then deliberately to C.; DUNN, who has crouched behind or beside table, disarranges himself, tie, hair, etc.; then crawls round table up C., as NIOBE turns and confronts him, he shrinks back on to knees, hands on chair. Music ceases. NIOBE comes near DUNN regarding him with amazement; picture._
NIO. Hail to thee! What man art thou? How came you in this strange guise? Are you a slave?
DUNN. Yes--No--Certainly not! (_aside_) There's no use in letting every stranger know I'm a cipher in my own house.
NIO. A Lord?
DUNN. (_timidly rising_) Lord and Master! (_aside_) I can truthfully say it while Helen is not on the premises.
_NIOBE approaches DUNN before speaking; he backs away from her._
NIO. How strange! (_goes lower and regarding him, back to audience_) How strange!
DUNN. (_with wonderment_) Strange! She thinks me strange! If she could only change places and regard herself, and doubt the existence of her faculties, as I do--(_NIOBE now moves, going up R._) When I see her move and hear her speak. No! _I've got to believe it._ It's the Electricity. She's _there alive_, Niobe herself; not a Statue. And I'm not dreaming, or _drunk or demented_. (_staggers front of table_)
_NIOBE has looked round apartment._
NIO. (_advancing C._) Who has made these changes? Where's Amphion? Is he not yet back from Olympia?
DUNN. (_getting L. of table, half frightened_) I'm sure I don't know--he'll be some time yet; if he is staying for the Ballet.
NIO. Who has won the Kotinos of poetry? My _Amphion_ was the Alutarches.
DUNN. Very likely! But he isn't now! I'm afraid you don't quite realize what has happened to you. That you have just been--revived--I suppose--as it were: That you're not in your Palace _here_, but _mine_! That we are now in Anno Domini 1896, and that the trifling events you're thinking and speaking of, occurred about one thousand years B. C.; before you changed your mortal flesh into Parian marble.
_During this speech, NIOBE, her hand to her head, appears to be trying to recall the past._
NIO. (_as if recollecting--coming down stage_) Ah! No! The gods! Knowledge returns; alas! Phoebus and Artemis punished me--Changed! Ah fate! Oh, my unhappy fate. (_kneeling, sobs bitterly_)
DUNN. (L. C.) That's a settler--I never can; I never _could_ bear to see a woman cry--Never! There, don't grieve, dear; you were turned into stone, but you've turned out all right; don't cry! Please don't cry.
NIO. Ah me! That I so easily am _moved_.
DUNN. Well, it took eight men to carry you in here.
NIO. (_crosses L._) I'll dry these tears, the cause of my hard lot.
DUNN. The hardest lot ever put up; when you consider you've gone all these years without so much as having your nose chipped off! Why, you've been buried for centuries. (_NIOBE looks at him in wonder_) And if they hadn't started exploring the ruins of some of those old Temples, you'd be there still. I'm aware it's a delicate subject with a lady, but I should estimate you must be close on _three thousand years old_.
NIO. (_looking at him indignantly_) How?
DUNN. (_backing away from NIOBE_) Oh, you don't look it!
NIO. (L.) Three thousand years! Oh, Zeus, and now the ban, the curse of mighty Phoebus is removed.
DUNN. (C.) Yes! And Phoebus is gone, too.
_NIOBE goes up L. behind and round table to C._
NIO. And all is new! Is this the Hesitaterion? The Throni are strange, the Katoptron colossal.
DUNN. Yes, you've got to do things big now-a-days.
NIO. (_approaching DUNN C._) You truly say, the ages have rolled by; my husband, children, dead! In all the world, I have no one but you. (_taking his hand_)
DUNN. (_snatching hand away--crosses to L. of her_) No one but me! You've no claim on me;--that is--I have no claim on _you_!
NIO. (_quickly_) Ah yes! I am no ingrate; take _all_ my love; you gave new life to me, and I am yours.
_Falls upon his neck, embracing him._
DUNN. White Elephants, what am I going to do with her? (_NIOBE turns him round to R. of her_)
NIO. (_holding him at arm's length_) You are not much to look at; (_DUNN turns away_) but your heart----
DUNN. (R. C.) Now don't count upon _that_. And don't indulge in expectations that can never be realized.
NIO. Your mien is soft--(_hand on his head_) Have you a noble name?
DUNN. Peter Amos----
NIO. (_gushingly_) Petramos! Petramos! And I will love Petramos, as I have loved Amphion; and there will be no happier twain in Greece!
_She has taken his hands, and now swings them about childishly._
DUNN. Yes--you're mapping it all out, but it can't _be_; for a variety of reasons: In the first place, we're _not_ in Greece. (_crosses L._)
NIO. (_in wonderment, getting C._) Not in Greece?
DUNN. (_returning to her_) No! We're in London, the Capital of a little Island called Great Britain, hundreds of miles from Thebes.
NIO. You speak our tongue. And are you not a Greek?
DUNN. (L. C.) Not much! And we're not speaking Greek, but English--though how you picked it up is a mystery to me.
NIO. We understand each other, that's enough. What else there is to know, I'll learn from _you_, now that I'm _settled here_.
_Nestling up to and resting against him._
DUNN. (_alarmed_) But _you're not settled here_! And it's out of the question! (_he speaks very angrily and NIOBE starts to sob_) No, no! You're a very charming lady and personally I shouldn't object to your stopping for a week or so, but I have a wife!
NIO. But you are Lord and could put her _away_.
DUNN. Oh could I! And she has an elder sister. Perhaps you could tell me what I'm going to do with _her_?
NIO. It is not hard! Why, sell her for a slave! (_pose_)
DUNN. (_goes L._) I should like to, but I don't think anybody would buy Helen unless a great big life insurance policy went along with her; besides Slavery is abolished, and if you weren't so ignorant you'd know that; and know how wrong it is to fill one with delusive hopes like these.
_DUNN goes towards window._
NIO. Ah, be not angered with me, Petramos. If you reject me, life restored is wrecked, and I shall die.
_NIOBE kneels and sobs._
DUNN (_returns again L. C._) Well, after three thousand years, you can't complain if you _have_ to. You've had a pretty good innings. She's at it again. I can't stand hearing a woman cry like this, and she is pretty, considering what a back number she is. Don't cry, stop it, don't cry, please--there's a dear. (_patting her head_)
NIO. (_clinging to him--rises_) And you _do_ love me, Petramos?
DUNN. Oh, well in a way! (_NIOBE suddenly crying_) Don't! don't cry! Yes! Yes!
_NIOBE instantly cheerful, standing erect._
NIO. And we will sacrifice to Dusky Dis; and pray him to take your wife to Hades. (_pose_)
DUNN. But I don't want my wife to go to--who's Dusky Dis? Some Nigger Minstrel?
NIO. The stern proud God of Tartarus!
DUNN. (_disgusted_) Oh, he's played out long ago; there's no such party--you mustn't suppose the world has been standing still while you've been in a state of Petrifaction; we've been going ahead, and the gods have had to knock under.
_DUNN sits R. of table._
NIO. (C.) No Gods? No Zeus? No Aphrodite?
DUNN. Not one! Except in Heathen mythology--why you're a heathen.
NIO. I am!
DUNN. A Pagan idolater, and you'll have to be converted.
NIO. I _was_ converted.
NIO. Into stone!
DUNN. Not that! You'll have to go to school, and learn the Piano, and the Alphabet.
NIO. Alphabet--Ah! (_action with hands_) Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta.
DUNN. (_rises_) Very likely! But that doesn't get over the difficulty of what is going to be done with you; and look at it as we will you _cannot_ remain here.
NIO. (_R. C.; after slight pause_) I have no friends! No home! _Where_ can I go?
DUNN. Your case has not been altogether unprovided for; as there is a home for lost dogs, so also is there an asylum for ladies in distress.
NIO. Can I go out into a vicious world in direst ignorance of all its ways?
DUNN. Oh, I don't suppose it's any worse than it was in your time. (_NIOBE sobs_) You're quite right, you can't, and it would be brutal to send you out, at this time of night too.
_NIOBE sits on front of pedestal._
NIO. The gods, alas, are angered with me still. (_sobbing_)
DUNN. She's at it again! No wonder the gods got tired. Don't! please don't cry; and we'll hit upon some plan; if I only knew what to say to my family. (_stands dejectedly C._)
NIO. Say whence I came--and how--tell them the truth!
DUNN. Tell them _what_? _What_ d'ye take me for? Some outrageous, ridiculous lie _might_ pass muster, but the truth, _a truth like this_! you couldn't ask them to believe it. George Washington would have found this too strong for his veracity.
NIO. (R. C.) Who is Washington?
DUNN. Oh, he was an American fighting man; you wouldn't know him. You were before his time. (_looks at watch, at window_) Is that the time? (_goes round table to window; NIOBE meanwhile lies full length on stage, head to R. on stool_) They'll be home from the Theatre presently; what _am_ I to do? (_turning up from window, comes down centre_)
_Sees NIOBE and covers her feet with drapery from piano and goes again anxiously to window; MARY enters L. C., going to fire; DUNN rushes her off R. C._
DUNN. I'll ring if I require coals. I'll ring, Mary, ring--(_coming down C._) Madame! Niobe! You can't be seen like that, you must do something with _yourself_--(_NIOBE half rises_) You'd better go upstairs and put some of my wife's clothes on!
NIO. (_kneeling_) I tore my Peplos in excess of grief!
DUNN. Yes! Yes! I see you did; go upstairs, and dress while I think out some plan.
_DUNN R. as if in great worry, as NIOBE rises, moving up C._
NIO. (_turning back_) I fear I don't know _how_ to dress _myself_.
DUNN. Oh, well, _I can't_! You must try, try! up the stairs there--on the right--first door when you reach the top.
NIO. Petramos! All my will I'll yield to thine, Do thou but clear thy brow of fretfulness. Thy anger, linked with fury of the gods I could not bear! I could not bear!
_NIOBE exits weeping up stairs C. R., the footlights up through this scene, to assist the comedy, now low again._
DUNN. (_staggered--sits end of couch--a pause_) What an uncompleted idiot I am. My wife will recognize her clothes--(_running to stairs, sees trunk which he secures and brings down stage_) The Governess's trunk! If my keys will only fit it, no, no! They never do--Yes--that's lucky! (_raising lid of trunk and closing it again_) How clever you thought yourself, Peter Amos Dunn, when you suggested to yourself bringing that d----d Statue into the house. It isn't there! It isn't there! (_closes screen--looks round--straightens room--picks up drapery, etc.; crosses to mirror, re-arranges himself, tie, smooths hair, goes down L. of table and pours himself a drink, hand shakes. He cannot get it to his mouth; sops his handkerchief and putting it to his brow, crosses and sits on trunk. Loud knock at door; DUNN jumping up; shoulders trunk and rushes upstairs_)
_Knocking; MARY crosses R. to L.; INNINGS then enters, MARY following L. C._
INN. Not back yet, eh?
MARY. No Sir! (_going down L. to lamp_)
INN. (_looking at watch_) Oh, well, they won't be long, it's close upon eleven. (_sits on sofa R._)
MARY. I will turn up the lamp, Sir, I thought the Master was here.
_MARY turns up lamp; lights full on._
INN. They'd have stretched a point and taken me with them, but for that confounded Helen. Perhaps they're walking, it's a beautiful night.
_DUNN enters C. and R. down stairs._
DUNN. (_worried and anxious--down C._) Ah! that's right, Mary, let's have a light on the subject--(_starts at seeing INNINGS_) Back before them, eh Innings? But they can't be long--it's so hot, so late--what's that--is not that a carriage?
MARY. No, Sir!
DUNN. (L .C.) I said not--I said not--don't argue, Mary; don't argue--(_has got near table, takes up empty water jug and empty glass_) Why have you no water here? How can I be expected to wash--drink--if you have no water (_loud knock--MARY frightened of him rushes round front of table to R._)
_DUNN backs to centre; he keeps water jug and glass until end of act._
INN. (R.) There they are!
DUNN. I knew they'd return--(_knock_) They'll have to come in, won't they? (_knock--to MARY_) Go! Go! And open the door; don't stand there like an idiot.
_MARY exits C. and L._
INN. You're very fidgetty, Dunn, what's wrong?
DUNN. Wrong! Do I look as if I was, why--why should there be anything wrong?
_Savagely to INNINGS; INNINGS afraid, crosses to L. corner._
INN. I never saw you like this before.
DUNN. I never _was_ like this before.
_Falls into chair R. of table L. C._
HAT. (_entering C., comes down to back of DUNN_) Peter! (_DUNN starts up_) It was too delightful for anything. I'm so sorry you didn't come.
_DUNN drops again in chair as HATTIE goes R. taking off gloves, etc., etc.; CORNEY enters L. C._
DUNN. So am I--I'd have given a hundred pounds to have been with you.
CORN. (_C., taking off gloves_) Hundred pounds! Oh, come! What for?
DUNN. Wh--er----It's a favourite play of mine.
CORN. (_crossing to L._) Pygmalion and Galatea?
DUNN. Was that it?
CORN. Yes! Lovely girl, Galatea. Never saw anything like her as the _Statue_.
DUNN. (_starting up_) Statue! What's the matter with the Statue? (_rushing to screen, meets CARRIE, who enters L. C., coming front screen_) Eh! Ha! Ha! And did you enjoy it, Carrie?
CAR. (R. C.) Very much, Peter! (_HELEN enters L. C., remains up C._)
DUNN. (_wild and exhausted with worry_) Ah! How interesting those old legends are; how beautiful the revive--animating--of the Statue! And if you were told of such a wonder now-a-days, you--you wouldn't believe it perhaps.
_Music till end of act. Comic Agitato._
HEL. (_coming down C._) Now-a-days, nor any other time. No woman of ordinary intelligence could be deceived by such a story.
_DUNN back to audience R. C., looking anxiously from one to the other._
CORN. (_L. of table near INNINGS_) And what's your idea of Galatea?
HEL. (_going towards chair R. of table_) That she was some infamous creature whom Pygmalion had brought into his household; and that the Statue tale was made up to hoodwink his confiding wife. (_sits_)
CAR. Ah!! Quite possible.
_CARRIE back of sofa._
DUNN. (_falling on stool front of couch_) No use! I knew the truth was no use.
_NIOBE enters R. C. in an eccentric but stylish tea robe._
NIO. (_speaking as she advances C._) I have obeyed you, Petramos, and I am here--(_all turn to her_)
_DUNN rises frightened, getting R. of NIOBE._
HEL. Who is this?
DUNN. (_R. C.--introducing_) The new Governess, _Miss Mifton_!
CORN. Miss Mifton----
INN. There! I told you so!
_Looks at INNINGS and falls into chair L. of table, the others grouped, scrutinizing NIOBE._
NIO. (_with her accustomed action_) Hail to you!
THE NEXT MORNING.
_SCENE.--DUNN'S drawing-room, the opposite end to Act I. Conservatory with steps at back C. Bay window R. Plain window or blank piece above. Blank piece or Alcove L. Door above to Library. Table R. C. with chairs. Couch L. Footstool L. C. Screen is not on; is supposed to be at audience side of room. Piano against flat. Paper on table._
_HELEN up C. and CARRIE at window R. dressed for walking; discovered interviewing MARY, up L. C._
HEL. Can you not tell us Mary, at what hour she came?
MARY. I don't know, ma'am--I didn't hear her come and I didn't let her in.
HEL. You hear Carrie, _he let her in himself_.
CAR. (R. C.) I don't see why we should attach any importance to that!
MARY. No Ma'am, for she might have got in by herself; she is the strangest person I ever met, Ma'am.
HEL. In what way?
_HATTIE enters L., goes to couch, playing with mechanical toy._
MARY. Why, the name she gives things. She asked me at breakfast to hand her the Mazas, and when I didn't understand her, she called me _Helot_, and pointed to the muffins.
HAT. If you're talking about Miss Mifton, she _is_ a treat. She's got a new name for sausages.
CAR. If she will only be good to the children.
HAT. You needn't worry about that. If you'd seen the way she wept over them, and kissed and fondled them. And called them _Hippicus_ and _Alophagos_.
HEL. (_sternly_) Who are they?
HAT. Oh, I didn't like to ask--some connections of her own, perhaps.
HEL. No doubt! They are sufficiently outlandish; the idea of a Governess, wandering about the house in an extravagant tea gown; impertinence I call it.
MARY. I suppose we're to take our orders from _you_ as usual, Mum?
HEL. Yes! Certainly!
MARY. Thank ye! I don't want to have _that_ person lording it _over me_.
_MARY exits L. D. with an indignant toss of her head._
CAR. (R.) She's no doubt one of those highly emotional creatures, who grow hysterical at almost anything.
HEL. (_coming slightly forward_) Carrie, you're _so confiding_; such affectation wouldn't suit _me_.
CAR. But you always were superior to _ordinary_ woman's weakness.
HAT. Weakness! Oh, there's no flipperty flop about Helen.
HEL. (_advances towards HATTIE_) Hattie! When you are more like me, you will have more cause for self-respect.
HAT. Oh! I've nothing against myself as I am.
CAR. When we return you must examine her Helen, and find out if she is competent to teach the children.
HEL. I will, but take my word for it, the Woman is a fraud. She knows nothing _that is desirable_. In knowledge and learning she is little better than an idiot; I could see that in her face last night.
HAT. Helen's a judge of idiots.
HEL. Hattie! You're growing more impudent every day.
HAT. Well, if I keep on, I'll grow out of it.
CAR. I wonder when Peter saw her at Chester that he wasn't impressed with her appearance.
HEL. (_with malicious meaning_) Perhaps he was!
CAR. She might be the advanced guard of a gang of thieves, and Peter has some such thought, perhaps, as he has not gone to the office.
HEL. Your confiding nature does you credit, Carrie, but you are too ingenuous. He may be actuated by motives _far less praiseworthy_.
CAR. What do you mean, Helen?
HEL. I would not say Carrie, for I make it a rule never to stir up ill feeling between man and wife. (_going up C._)
INN. (_on steps_) Good morning, Ladies! Corney gone out yet?
CAR. He is still engaged with his breakfast. He is always late after a Theatre night.
_CARRIE exits C. and R._
HEL. (_severely and pointedly_) His indolence is a source of great inconvenience to us all.
_HELEN exits C. and R. INNINGS looking at HATTIE on sofa--crosses to window, putting hat on chair R. of table in recess of window, produces box of chocolates which he places ready for business later; then, half frightened, gets extreme R. at window._
INN. (R.) They're gone!
HAT. (_on sofa_) Yes! I see they are! You didn't intend that for information did you? It was only--only just a something to say--to--fill up a page kind of remark, wasn't it?
INN. (_at window_) That's all--simply to call your attention to the fact that we are alone.
HAT. Oh, you needn't have called; my attention was rivetted;--but I don't feel in the least embarrassed; do you?
HAT. Well--why aren't you embarrassed? (_rises, coming to C._)
INN. Don't see what there is about _you_ to frighten a fellow.
HAT. I don't believe you're so bold as you pretend; judging from the respectful distance you keep.
INN. Don't you _want_ me to be respectful?
HAT. Why of course, but you needn't be distant.
INN. (_crosses slowly to her_) If I thought by coming nearer, I should be getting dearer----
HAT. Wouldn't you be getting costly? You're pretty near now!
INN. (_R. C.--getting closer to HATTIE; HAT. bus._) So are you, Hattie. You're pretty near and pretty far, but the nearer I am the sweeter you are. Ha! Ha!
HAT. Oh! You don't flatter yourself much to think that your proximity makes _me_ sweeter.
_Sarcastically; turning from him._
INN. To me! I mean in my opinion! Oh, Hattie!
HAT. (_quickly_) What is it, Philip? (_whisking round_)
INN. (_turning away_) I wonder how long Corney _usually_ takes over his breakfast.
HAT. Oh, I can go and ask him, if _that's all_ you want to know.
_HATTIE going up L._
INN. (_pulling her back by her dress; she in mischief runs for chair, trying to sit upon his hat, which he saves_) Oh, Hattie! oh my! oh I--I don't want to know particularly.
_CORNEY enters quietly from Library up L., sees them and goes out again._
It's good enough to stay here and go on wondering--_with you_. Of course--I don't want to wonder by myself. Oh, Hattie!
HAT. Oh, Mr. Innings. (_gushingly_)
_INNINGS, kneeling beside HATTIE, embraces her; CORNEY sings outside; HATTIE and INNINGS hurriedly get away from each other; HATTIE goes and sits on couch L.; INNINGS goes extreme R. to window recess._
CORN. (_entering L. and down C.; sings_)
"When the heart in palpitating is impressed with fear, You're pleased to find a being where there's no one near And whisper foolish nothings no one else may hear, That is love! That is love!"
Do you know, Phil, I've been haunted by that song ever since you started me at it; Hattie's crazed on it too.
HAT. Oh, Corney! Why I'm only learning it.
CORN. Yes, but you've nearly mastered it I can see. (_looks at INNINGS_) I interrupted your practice, didn't I?
HAT. (_impertinently up in his face_) I don't understand.
CORN. (_pushing her up C._) Oh, yes you do! See if you can find my cigar case in the Conservatory; I rather fancy I left it there last night.
_CORNEY turns down stage L.; INNINGS gives HATTIE box of chocolates quickly; as CORNEY turns on exclamation they separate._
HAT. Oh chocks! (_to INNINGS_) We can resume our conversation some other time, Mr. Innings.
INN. I was going to ask you if we couldn't, and will you please make a note of where we left off?
HAT. (_sings_) "And whisper foolish nothings no one else may hear. That is love! That is----" Ugh! (_at CORNEY_)
_INNINGS stands up C. looking after HATTIE, throwing kisses to her--echoes "That is love--That is----"_
CORN. (_after watching INNINGS, swings down stage near couch_) Come here Phil! Never mind Hattie, she'll keep. Anything fresh? Have you learnt anything new?
INN. There's nothing new to learn that I can see. Madeline Mifton's here, and you've got to prepare for the worst. (_lies on couch putting his legs up_)
CORN. (C.) It is the most striking coincidence I ever heard of; that the sister of the girl I jilted should take the place of Governess, and come here, by the merest accident.
INN. Do you _suppose it was accident_?
CORN. Oh, come Phil--you don't think it was design?
INN. I do! Didn't I tell you last evening that she was coming to London to hunt you down!
CORN. Yes! But who could realize such persistency outside a Gaboriau Novel.
INN. Have you seen her yet?
CORN. Not this morning--she's in the nursery with the children. _She's very like her sister._ There's something weird about her, but the exact type of features. (_crosses R. C._)
INN. What do you intend to do? Have you made up your mind?
CORN. Yes! (_crossing back to him_) I've decided to get _you_ to talk to her, Phil----
INN. (_sits up_) Me?
CORN. You can give it her straight--show her clearly that I was cajoled into proposing to her sister, that it was really Ethel's fault, and that she's entirely to blame for the whole business, and there you are!
INN. I couldn't do it; it doesn't seem nice to throw all the blame on to the girl.
CORN. It belongs to her, Phil--besides, my boy, you know that the least thing upsets me. I cannot stand worry; now you can; (_INNINGS rises_) you have one of those oxydised-zinc constitutions.
INN. No, I haven't! I'm just as susceptible to worry as you.
CORN. You mean to say you won't do it?
INN. No! I can't!
CORN. You can't?
INN. (_emphatically_) No! Damn! there! I don't see why I should. (_crosses R. and round table_)
CORN. Oh, well, then, Peter will have to do it. I'll get Peter to talk to her. (_goes L._)
INN. (_up R._) That's the best way. He won't mind.
_Enter DUNN from Library L. D. with scent bottle, pale and careworn, crosses and sits on chair L. of table._
CORN. I'd rather you did it; because I shall have to disclose the whole escapade to Peter. And he hasn't a particularly good opinion of me as it is.
INN. I doubt if he could have a worse, so it can't make much difference.
CORN. (_seeing DUNN_) Good morning, Peter--(_DUNN scowls at him_) Seen you before though, haven't I? (_to INNINGS_) Peter looks jolly, doesn't he? Innings, you'll find Hattie in the Conservatory looking for my cigar case, which I have in my pocket.
INN. All right! I'll see if we can't resume that conversation where you broke in on it; (_sings_) "And whisper foolish nothings, no one else may hear, That is love! That is----" (_voice cracks_)
_INNINGS exits C. and R._
CORN. (_after slight pause--looks at DUNN_) Peter, old man! You don't look well.
DUNN. I don't feel well; I've been walking my room the whole of the night. I haven't slept a wink.
CORN. Neither have I; but sleeplessness doesn't break me up nearly so quickly as worry. _I cannot stand worry_; and that is why I want to speak with you about this new Governess.
DUNN. (_startled_) What! Why should there be any worry about the new Governess? (_aside_) Can he suspect----
CORN. It's no use trying to disguise it, Peter, she is not what she seems.
DUNN. (_amazed and frightened_) Not what she----
CORN. She hasn't come here to teach the children at all.
DUNN. (_rising_) Great goodness, how did he learn this! (_aside_)
CORN. It was hard to believe, but a good look at her face settled it; she's the very _image_----
DUNN. Image! (_aside_) He knows all. (_crosses L._)
CORN. I'm pretty shrewd Peter, and I suspect I've summed up the whole business.
DUNN. (_aside_) Oh! He's not sure, then I won't betray myself. I'll brazen it out. (_sits on couch_)
CORN. (_aside, down R. C._) If I could only induce him to get rid of her, without disclosing anything.
DUNN. (_on sofa_) I've told you before Corney, how wrong it is to jump to these conclusions; you may misjudge this woman and her purpose and object entirely, and, right or wrong, Corney, _I'm_ blameless.
CORN. (_aside_) Ah! Peter knows she's unpopular with the women and that the blame of engaging her will fall upon him. (_fetching chair from table_) That's all very well with me, Peter! (_puts chair near couch and sits astride it, facing audience._)
DUNN. (_aside_) With _him_! That means, at the worst I can buy him off!
CORN. But Helen and Carrie are prejudiced, and naturally perhaps. You can't deny there is something _uncanny_ about the woman.
DUNN. There _is_ perhaps--a _stony_ look about the eyes; but that will wear off.
CORN. It's hard to believe that she is of the same _clay_ as ourselves.
DUNN. Clay! She was never clay.
CORN. She might have been _cast in a different mould_.
DUNN. She's not a casting at all--so----
CORN. Of course there's no denying she's beautiful. But I've a prejudice against _these classic expressionless women; these cold blocks of marble_.
DUNN. (_as if paralyzed_) Marble--you do know then----
CORN. (_looks at DUNN quickly_) I know what _you_ ought to have known the moment you saw her, that she was not the sort of thing, that--that--it wouldn't do to have her about the house.
DUNN. I did know it, Corney, and I have tried. I _have_ tried to get her away, but I can't.
CORN. Obdurate and unforgiving, eh? As I suspected; she has a _heart of stone_.
DUNN. Well, she _had_; of course that was changed with the other alterations.
CORN. (_rises and puts chair back by table_) What? She relents? She wavers in her purpose? Then let her go. The matter's simple enough: pack her off!
DUNN. (_rises_) But I can't! It's all so brutal.
CORN. (_with foot on stool_) Oh, she's told you the whole story, eh? but remember my version will put an entirely different light on it. And yet out of cold-blooded vindictiveness she comes here to ruin me with Bea and Sillocks.
DUNN. (_putting foot on stool; looks puzzled at CORNEY--pause_) Have you met her before? Have you got that former existence theory?
CORN. If you call a year ago a former existence! (_CORNEY turns going R._)
DUNN. A year ago! (_stumbles over stool_)
CORN. Yes! When I _broke off_ with her.
DUNN. Broke off! (_aside_) I didn't notice she had anything missing.
CORN. Broke off my engagement with her sister.
DUNN. (_perplexed_) Whose sister?
CORN. Mifton's sister, whom I met at Cambridge. (_goes R._)
DUNN. (_aside_) He's on the wrong tack; Heavens! What a pitfall I nearly fell into! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
_DUNN goes up C., laughing heartily._
CORN. (_meeting DUNN up C._) Don't laugh! Don't laugh! I tell you----
DUNN. It's too bad Corney, to let you indulge in all this unnecessary worry, but your fears are quite groundless. The new Governess, Madeline Mifton, never heard of you till last evening.
CORN. I know better, Peter! She came here in her sister's interest, to hunt me down.
DUNN. Nothing of the kind.
CORN. I tell you I learnt, on the best of authority, that Madeline Mifton would certainly come here for the purpose of going for me. (_crosses L._)
DUNN. (_dropping into chair R. E._) Great goodness! I'm forgetting she _will_ be here. The new Governess, and what will happen then? What will happen then?
MARY. (_enters from Library L. U. E._) The Locksmith is in the Library Sir, to know what is to be done.
DUNN. (_looking at audience as if for screen_) Oh, the lock and staple for the screen; I'll explain it to him, myself. Tell the Governess I wish to speak to her.
_MARY exits C. and R. up steps._
CORN. (_going up C._) No! Never mind, Peter--I'll tackle her myself.
DUNN. (_stopping him C._) What for? when I tell you there's no occasion.
CORN. Well, I'm not so sure of that; and I'll satisfy myself. There's some mystery connected with her. And I'll find out _why_ and _how_ she came; and all about her. (_crosses R._)
DUNN. No! No! Don't you meddle or you'll ruin everything! (_aside_) He must not see Niobe till I have warned her. I'll run and see that locksmith and hurry back. You remain quiet and I'll find out if you have any cause for fear. Don't interfere, or you'll spoil everything. Leave her to me. She's a peculiar woman, but I think I understand her. _She's a woman of the world undoubtedly, but a little after date._ Leave her to me. Leave her to me!
_Exit DUNN to Library L. D._
CORN. He seems so particularly anxious I should leave it to him, I don't think it good enough; I would always rather that somebody else should manage any little unpleasantness for me, but I like to feel sure that they're not working some little purpose of their own.
_Enter NIOBE C. and L. as if looking for some one; comes R._
Ah! Here she is--good morning, Miss Mifton!
NIO. (_on steps, waving her hands_) Hail to you! (_comes down_) Where is he whom they call master? The lord of this house?
CORN. (_aside_) Umph! A poetic blank verse kind of character--(_aloud_) Oh, Peter!
NIO. (_fondly_) Ah! Petramos!
_Goes down L. in front of couch._
CORN. Yes, if you put it that way; he'll be here in a moment, Miss Mifton. Make yourself at home; take a chair, be seated.
_He goes to L. of table; his back to her as if to offer chair._
NIO. Nay, I am easier thus.
_Flops on floor with head supported on footstool; CORNEY turns and sees her on floor; staggered! he puts up eye glass._
CORN. (_aside_) She's a decidedly eccentric creature--I hardly know how to begin with her; (_aloud--stooping down_) I hope you find no trouble with the children.
NIO. To _love_ is not a trouble, and they are _so like_ Petramos.
CORN. (_slight pause, he turns away slightly_) She seems partial enough to Peter--(_aloud--stooping down to her_) Ahem! How--how did you come to hear of this place? Was it by accident--quite by chance you came here?
NIO. (_looks round_) By chance? Ah, yes!
CORN. Ah yes! You had no--(_bends down--hurts back--gets chair from table, sits R., and stoops_) You had no purpose beyond the _ostensible_--one--of _occupying_--the _situation_--you had--_accepted_. (_speech disjointed and jerky_)
NIO. Your speech is meaningless; to me but the empty rattle of a falling can.
_Posing face in hands, elbows on stool._
CORN. (_after regarding her suspiciously, turns to R._) She's frank to a degree--(_aloud--stooping_) Ahem! You did not expect--you had no thought of finding _me_ here?
_Spoken in a conciliatory tone, trying to be agreeable._
NIO. (_after regarding CORNEY disdainfully--perplexed_) I'd rather Petramos should tell me what to say.
CORN. (_rises and goes step to R.; aside_) Can she have confided the affair to Peter, and is this just simplicity, or only cunning?
NIO. If you like best conversing with yourself, I shall not miss your chatter.
CORN. (_quickly recovering himself_) I beg your pardon! She isn't such a fool; (_sits again, crosses legs_) Excuse me. You find a great change, I suppose?
NIO. Ah yes! All things are changed, even men are not as they were. Why do you hide your legs in those loose sleeves?
CORN. (_looks at his trousers, tries to hide his legs--aside_) She must have lived among the savages, she's a Highlander perhaps! I thought you belonged to Cambridge.
NIO. I was born in Athens, but I left it when I married.
CORN. (R. C.) You are married then?
NIO. (_beginning to cry_) I was! Oh--Amphion! (_cries on footstool_)
CORN. Oh! I beg your pardon--your husband is dead? (_stooping to speak to her_)
NIO. More years than I can count. (_sobbing_)
CORN. Ah! You don't look your age. She's trying the idiotic dodge again. (_stooping_) Ahem! When did you--(_gets twinge again with bending, puts away chair and fetches low occasional chair from back of stage, sits close to her and stoops_) When did you see your sister last?
NIO. (_sits up_) At the Feast of Demeter, on the Temple steps.
CORN. Temple steps! Taking the Battersea boat perhaps! How did you leave her?
NIO. In sorrow. She had been early plighted to a young _hoplite_ of Ithaca, named Aulakes.
CORN. _Hoplite!_ A dancing master I suppose. It's the first I've heard of this; she may betray more of Ethel's secrets! (_aloud_) And what--(_trying to get lower, and sees stool, NIOBE sitting up, has left room for him, he steps over stool and sits_) What became of the young fellow?
NIO. He fought throughout the war and fell in the last battle.
CORN. (_aside--surprised_) Ethel can't be the Spring chicken I believed her. (_aloud_) You were younger than your sister?
NIO. Ah yes!
CORN. Ah yes--I can see a resemblance, but a difference; she might be called handsome--you're pretty.
NIO. Why not? Mother was as fair as _Helen_.
CORN. _Our_ Helen! Oh! I don't think much of her as a beauty.
_Enter DUNN hurriedly--he sees them, when he reaches C., falls into low chair._
NIO. (_rises on one knee as she sees PETER_) Ah! Here is Petramos! And I no longer wish to talk with you.
_NIOBE rises and goes L.; PETER affects indifference._
CORN. (_rises_) That's straight, anyway, but what she can see in Peter beats me.
DUNN. (_to CORNEY_) You didn't say anything to her?
CORN. No, no! I've left it to you! (_goes up, putting back chair_)
NIO. (_coming towards DUNN C._) He has perplexed and frightened me with questions.
DUNN. (_C., turning to CORNEY R._) Now I thought----
CORN. (_replacing other chair_) No, no! Merely ordinary courtesies.
NIO. (_very affectionately_) I have no fear of him now you are here.
_Putting her arms round DUNN'S neck as he turns; CORNEY, coming forward, sees them and affects to be greatly shocked, hiding face with newspaper._
DUNN. (_perplexed and affecting light indifference, trying to get away from her_) Of course not, there is nothing to be afraid of. (_to CORNEY_) She's so timid, you see Corney, she--she--seems to think everyone is against her.
_NIOBE looks up, their faces close together._
CORN. (_down C._) She doesn't seem to mind _you_, Peter!
DUNN. No, she's quite taken to me, and if there _is_ anything, Corney, I'll find out for you. She'll tell me!
_As DUNN turns from NIOBE going towards CORNEY, she keeps him back with her arms still round his neck. He breaks away and she goes L.--DUNN R._
CORN. Well, I'll leave her to you--(_goes up L. C._) I confess I don't know what to make of her; she doesn't seem the kind of person to undertake such a mission; a resuscitated mummy couldn't appear more ignorant of the world's ways. (_aloud_) Peter! Peter! Hail to you!
_CORNEY exits centre to R._
NIO. (_following him up, looks off L., then turns to DUNN_) Have you resolved truth shall be told, and all disclosed, Petramos?
DUNN. Truth! no! I took a feeler at that; it isn't to be thought of.
NIO. (_going R. C. towards DUNN_) As my lord says--it would be well, then, to hire some slave to murder him that's gone! (_mysteriously pointing off L._)
DUNN. Murder Corney! What for?
NIO. He will betray.
DUNN. He can't--he doesn't know!
NIO. But he suspects!
DUNN. Suspects the truth! Ridiculous! There may be, well there are--suspicions--but they'll never take that form; and the only difficulty is to keep up something that's possible of belief till we can provide for you, or hear from your friends. (_R. of table_)
NIO. (_on steps C._) Alas! have I in all the world a friend?
DUNN. (L. H.) I suppose not! We might go round electrifying all the Art museums; on the off chance; there may be friends of yours in Greece, if you could only go back to Greece, and burrow for them. (_sits R._)
NIO. (_coming back of table_) Zeus! How desolate I am--(_to DUNN_) Your only thought is to be rid of me. (_weeps on table_)
DUNN. (_R. of table_) She's at it again! No, I don't wish to be rid of you; if I could only see some way to manage it--I should be _glad_ for you to remain.
NIO. (_raising her head_) Could I not stay then, as your wife?
DUNN. Umph! If I wasn't already suited. I've told you I have a wife?
NIO. But one! The law of Thebes allows _two_ wives.
DUNN. But the law of England doesn't; and I should consider it a dangerous experiment if _it did_; besides there are other interests in the concern. My wife would be sure to object; and her sister would howl with indignation. (_crosses L., up stage in fear of interruption._)
NIO. The sour face! (R. C.) We could invoke the gods to strike _her dumb_.
DUNN. The gods don't amount to a row of pins, or I should have put 'em on to Helen long ago! (_DUNN sits on footstool C._) You're the Governess, that's what they've been told and that's what we have to keep up; till we can make other arrangements.
NIO. Say clearly then, what is a Governess?
DUNN. Oh! a Governess; a Governess, is one who governs, according to the orders of those who govern her; you must try to keep up an appearance of meekness and servility.
NIO. For what?
DUNN. Because you won't be allowed to govern unless you do.
NIO. (_with dignity_) I am a Queen.
DUNN. Yes, but you got lost in the shuffle!
NIO. And my duties?
DUNN. To trot out the children, and pretend to teach, but above all cringe to Helen--say "yes Ma'am"--always--"Yes Ma'am."
NIO. (_proudly_) "Yes Ma'am," only that, "yes Ma'am?"
DUNN. (_rising_) Yes--but not in that way, mind the tone, humbly; "Yes Ma'am." (_in a nasal tone and with a bob curtsey_)
NIO. (_after wonderingly regarding DUNN, imitates DUNN'S manner_) "Yes Ma'am!"
DUNN. That's better, and don't call _me_ Petramos, but, _Master_, "the Master," and above all, don't forget to be obsequious to Helen. Agree with the old cat in all things, that's very important. (_DUNN goes up L., watching_)
NIO. I shall remember--(_goes to window R., looks out and appears delighted_) Ah see! See! The crowd! The populace are out! Why do they hurry so? There is no dignity in all this haste.
DUNN. (_sitting on couch L._) They're not out for dignity, there's no money in it; we haven't time for dignity now-a-days.
NIO. (_goes back to window_) Look! See! What are those strange chariots?
DUNN. Chariots? (_crossing to look out_) Oh! cabs! Growlers! Growlers! They are called _Growlers_!
NIO. (_following DUNN to C._) Growlers! Growlers!! Oh, could they not be changed?
DUNN. I'll see what can be done in the matter--(_NIOBE goes back to window_) Go up to the nursery now, the children will be getting anxious about you.
NIO. (_at window R._) Look! Look Ixion; the man upon the wheel.
DUNN. Where! Oh, a boy on a bicycle! Do go!
_Postman's knock is heard thrice._
NIO. (_coming out again_) Why does he do that, is the man a Herald?
DUNN. No, a letter carrier--the postman! Postman!
NIO. Postman! (_pleased_) Ah! The Postman! (_amused at the sound, repeats "Postman" as she goes to window_)
DUNN. If she's so struck on the postman, what will it be when she sees a policeman!
NIO. Oh, how they sway! Could not someone teach them how to walk? The Maidens waddle, like web-footed cranes.
_Imitating a modern walk to L. corner._
DUNN. Yes! You've got it, that's it (_NIOBE hurrying back to window, DUNN stops her_) Look at 'em another time--go to the nursery now, and if the ladies, my wife or her sister, send for you, do be careful. (_putting her up L. C._)
NIO. (_returns_) I will bring the children and show how much they love me.
DUNN. (R. C.) No, no! They're not allowed in here.
NIO. (L. C.) Why, are they not yours?
DUNN. Yes, but I never attempt to prejudice them in my favour, I'll explain to you another time, when I'm not so busy; I have to telegraph the real governess, to stop away, or we are ruined.
NIO. I don't know Telegraph--what is it, Petramos?
DUNN. Why--oh--it's a machine--er--on which you tick, tick, tick, tick at one end, and the same tick ticks are heard at the other end, and the tick ticks tell whatever you are thinking, to the party you're tick, tick, ticking to.
NIO. Oh Petramos! you treat me like a child. Am I so foolish that you mock my ignorance?
_Weeps and falls on DUNN'S shoulder, embracing him; CARRIE and HELEN enter at back C._
DUNN. She's at it again. Don't cry--there's no money in it. I wasn't fooling you. Cheer up! there's a darling. (_stroking her hair_) Poor little woman! (_CARRIE down R.; DUNN sees her, pretends not to see her_) My dear young lady, you shall be treated with every kindness, my wife is gentleness itself. I'm sure if my wife were here--oh, you _are_ there, Caroline.
CAR. (_R., indignantly_) Yes, I am here!
DUNN. Come to this poor girl, she's homesick.
HEL. (_coming down L._) And needs consolation, I observe.
_At the sound of HELEN'S voice NIOBE recoils, back centre._
Miss Mifton, will you leave us?
NIO. Not at _your_ bidding! If he, the _Master_, bids me go, I go--not else. I wait his orders.
HEL. (_crossing R. C. to CARRIE_) You'll find _mine_ are the orders that are observed in this household, and you must obey them if you wish to stay with us.
NIO. You can't suppose I wish to stay with _you._ (_DUNN has gone up and is now L.--to DUNN_) You Pet--the Master--is the ruler here.
CAR. (_in great tribulation; to HELEN_) She called him pet.
DUNN. (_crossing back of NIOBE R. C._) Yes! yes! but I never interfere in domestic matters. Mrs. Dunn's sister manages everything. (_aside as he goes back L._) Don't forget what I told you; be obsequious.
NIO. Ah, that's well remembered. (_to HELEN_) I had forgotten; I am to be obsequious to you; Yes Ma'am--and cringe to you--"Yes Ma'am!" It was the master's wish--agree with the old cat in all things, yes Ma'am!
_NIOBE backing up stage with speech, turns and exits C. and R._
CAR. (_goes up C., looks after NIOBE--then down C.--to DUNN, who in desperation is strumming on the piano_) So Peter! you are prompting her to deceit.
DUNN. (L.) Deceit, my dear! _What!_ Where's the deceit? (_CARRIE indignant, crosses R._)
HEL. (_coming C._) It's true there was little show of confusion, in spite of the indelicacy of the situation.
DUNN. _What_ indelicacy? The poor girl required soothing, and no wonder; you'd make a china dog homesick.
HEL. It did not take you long to _acquire an interest_ in this person.
DUNN. What d'ye mean by _acquiring_ an interest? She's not a joint stock company!
CAR. (R.) Oh, Peter, and we thought it was illness kept you at home.
DUNN. (_crossing to CARRIE_) Carrie! My dear!
HEL. But it's obvious now why you stayed away from the office.
CAR. And she is no prettier than I.
HEL. Some men are captivated by impudence.
DUNN. (_between them_) It's a _wonder you've_ remained single, so long.
HEL. I have too constant a reminder before me of the mistake of married life, ever to venture.
DUNN. Oh! The _venture_ would be--on the _other_ side: you run no risk!
CAR. You must admit, Peter, that this woman, the new governess----
_DUNN impatient, with an exclamation, crosses R. to window._
HEL. Carrie, don't make foolish remarks you may be sorry for; to say too much is to put him on his guard. Come--(_puts CARRIE over_) to your room--not a word--you're excited. _I'll keep an eye on this Miss Mifton._
_Exits, following CARRIE L. D._
DUNN. (_taking stage R. to L.; kicking stool away_) Where will it end? What am I to do? (_sitting on couch_) Send off that infernal Telegram to the real governess. She must be detained where she is for the present, and bought off; I shall have to go to Leamington, see her, and bribe her to take some other engagement, and I don't know how I am to do it!
_Enter INNINGS C. R._
INN. (_coming down_) If I can find Corney----
DUNN. (_aside_) Ah! Innings! Here's the very man! (_DUNN shakes INNING'S hand bringing him down on his R._) Innings, how are you--glad to see you! I don't know that I ever met a man that I took to more readily than I did to you.
INN. (R. C.) Ha! Ha! Well! What favour do you want me to do for you?
DUNN. Favour! Oh! I wanted you to travel.
DUNN. Yes! It isn't far! You have lots of time on your hands.
INN. (R. C.) I don't travel on my hands! I couldn't go to-day. To-morrow early, if you like?
DUNN. (L. C.) It would be better to-day, but to-morrow will do.
INN. Have I nothing to do but travel? Isn't there an object?
DUNN. Oh yes! I can trust you I know. I want you to go to Leamington for me, to see a Miss Mifton, who is coming here as governess.
INN. Coming! I thought she _was_ here!
DUNN. Eh! Oh no! This is another one, she's not the same--that is a different one to the other. There are _lots of them_ at this time of year; the woods are full of 'em.
INN. Of what?
DUNN. Miftons! (_going across R._) I'm getting so muddled, I have to send a telegram--I'll explain as we go. Give me your arm. (_going up C. arm in arm_) I'm bilious--I mean I'm weak this morning. I--oh this deception--there's no money in it.
_Enter BEATRICE C. from R., as DUNN and INNINGS are going up._
INN. Good morning, Miss Sillocks!
DUNN. Good morning, Bea. Have you stepped in to see Hattie? (_calls_) Hattie! Hattie! (_turning round with INNINGS on his arm_) You'll find her in the Telegraph office--back in a jiffey! Where are you Innings? (_turning_) Oh, there you are. Come along!
_DUNN exits with INNINGS C. and R._
BEA. (_down R._) Something has excited him.
_HATTIE enters L. D._
HAT. Good morning, Bea!
BEA. (_kissing her_) Good morning, dear. How are the babies?
HAT. Flourishing! You look quite serious this morning! What's the matter, Bea?
BEA. (R. C.) I have had a shock.
HAT. (C.) Galvanic?
BEA. No, no! Well, an unpleasantness--a letter.
HAT. It wasn't from Corney then?
BEA. No! From a Miss Mifton!
HAT. Madeline Mifton? Why it's our new governess!
BEA. (_goes C._) But she writes from Chester. See! there's the postmark.
HAT. (_looking_) Why, it's three weeks old; been all over the country, misdirected! What's in it?
BEA. She has seen something of my intended marriage with Corney in some of the Society papers, and asks for his address.
HAT. That is suspicious, isn't it? But I dare say Corney can explain. (_aside_) He's good at explaining--(_aloud_) I wouldn't let it worry me.
BEA. I will not, if Corney assures me I've no reason to mistrust.
HAT. Oh, _he'll do that_! Did you find out if it's true that Peter had a sister?
BEA. Oh yes! Papa says Mr. Dunn's sister is a most charming person.
HAT. Fancy that! and I never even heard of her; that's Helen's doings--(_HELEN speaks off_) Mum! She's here.
_HATTIE and BEATRICE go L. to couch, as HELEN and CARRIE enter L. D._
HEL. (C.) Good morning, Miss Sillocks! How is your Papa?
HAT. Do tell, Bea. Helen has great interest in your papa, he's a widower;--and Helen is "_nuts_" on widowers.
HEL. Hattie! Tell the new Governess we wish to see her.
HAT. (L.) Don't get excited Bea. She _is_ pretty, but I don't believe she's Corney's kind.
_HATTIE exits up steps C. and R._
CAR. (_crossing R._) We have engaged a Miss Mifton to superintend the children's education; but Helen has doubts as to her competency.
HEL. It will not take five minutes to _satisfy ourselves_; I'll put a few questions to her, and if she cannot answer them satisfactorily a fortnight's wages, in lieu of notice, will have to satisfy _her_. (_sitting R. C., front of table; CARRIE sits R. of HELEN_)
_Enter HATTIE C. from R., NIOBE following; HATTIE goes down L. to BEA.; NIOBE C., top of steps._
BEA. What a lovely woman! Oh, Hattie! I believe Corney _has_ been in love with her.
HAT. Oh, nonsense!
NIO. (_on steps_) Hail to you!
_HATTIE and BEA. on couch; all surprised; NIOBE advances._
CAR. Sit down, Miss Mifton!
NIO. Thank you! I am not tired, and stand to take mine ease.
HEL. I wish to ask you a few questions, Miss Mifton, to see if you are capable of the training and instruction of the young. You _write_ and _cypher_, of course? I need not ask?
NIO. (_standing C._) I would not then. Why speak of what is needless!
HEL. (_after business of looking at NIOBE_) What is your definition of Geography?
NIO. It matters not since I am authorized--to bow my will to yours; _what_ you would have it--say--and that it is.
_HELEN turns and looks at CARRIE._
HAT. (_laughing_) Just the thing for _you_ Helen; you can have it all your own way, (an educational Phonograph). You breathe in what is to be learned, and she'll breathe it out again.
HEL. (_R. C.--to CARRIE_) This sounds like prevarication. (_to NIOBE_) You would not have _me_ describe the divisions of the land and sea; tell _you_ the names of the Continents.
NIO. Oh, yes, I would; that is, _if_ you know them.
HEL. Know them----
_HELEN rising--CARRIE calms and soothes HELEN, who again sits._
HAT. Ha! Ha! She doesn't! She doesn't!
CAR. Hattie! Do not interrupt the examination.
HEL. (_re-seated_) It's not a question of what _I_ know, Miss Mifton, I'll undertake to say, _you_ don't know what a Continent _is_? (_pause_) You don't!
NIO. (C.) I don't! I was to agree with you in all things.
HEL. If I asked you to name the Capital of Norway or the location of the Red Sea, what would you say?
NIO. (_at a loss--pauses--then in imitation of DUNN'S voice, curtseying_) Yes Ma'am!
HEL. Do you call _that_ an answer? (_rises angrily--CARRIE soothes her_)
NIO. Yes Ma'am! (_HELEN sits again_)
BEA. She looks intelligent; this must be all pretence.
CAR. She has better knowledge, perhaps, of home affairs.
Hel. (_seated_) What was the cause of the last War?
NIO. (_C., confidently_) A quarrel which broke out, upon the rights of which I would not speak, for it was ended nearly when I was born.
HEL. (_turns slightly from NIOBE_) We don't want to know your age.
HAT. How many years did it last?
HAT. Oh, she is a treat!
HEL. Be quiet, Hattie! Can you play the Piano?
NIO. I cannot tell you _that_, for I have never tried.
HEL. _That's meant_ for impudence, I suppose.
NIO. (_confused--curtseying_) Yes Ma'am!
HEL. (_rising_) You must be an idiot, or it is possible, you believe _me_ one?
NIO. (_curtseying_) Yes Ma'am!
_HATTIE laughing; HELEN frowns, falls into seat; CARRIE rises; enter DUNN C., endeavours to get off L., meets CORNEY from L. D.; DUNN comes down L. of NIOBE; CORNEY down L. to BEA. and HATTIE; BEATRICE afterwards shows CORNEY letter, CORNEY protesting in pantomime._
CAR. Peter! Peter! this girl appears to be ignorant on every subject!
DUNN. (L. C.) Why, of course, if you've been asking her things she doesn't know!
HEL. (_seated_) She won't do, Peter. Her mind is a complete blank.
DUNN. (_crossing to HELEN_) Yes! On trivial _modern_ accomplishments, perhaps, but--have you asked her anything about Ancient history?
DUNN. Have you spoken Greek to her?
DUNN. I thought not! Even you don't know everything. (_as DUNN turns to NIOBE, she tries to embrace him; he avoids her, and crosses quickly to CORNEY_) Corney, ask her something about Ancient history; the more Ancient the better.
CORN. (L.) I've forgotten all I ever knew.
DUNN. That doesn't matter, she'll answer you all right!
CORN. Where was Homer born?
NIO. In Scios!
DUNN. There you see! First go!
CORN. (L. H.) What were the--er--names of the nine Muses?
NIO. (C.) Clio, Calliope, Euterpe, Erato, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, Urania.
DUNN. (_crossing to HELEN_) Cyclopædias! What _more_ do you want?
HEL. (_facing audience_) What good will it do the children to know the names of the Muses?
DUNN. (R. C.) Oh, I beg your pardon! We don't pay enough attention to Ancient history now-a-days. (_DUNN crosses again to CORNEY, L._) Corney, speak Greek to her.
_HATTIE and BEATRICE have gone up C._
CORN. Can't! "Hoi polloi" is the only expression I remember.
DUNN. Well, go on, give her that!
CORN. Hoi polloi!
DUNN. Hoi polly! Give her time--now--give her time----
HEL. She is no use whatever! She can't even play the Piano.
HAT. (L. C.) How do you know! She has never tried.
_HATTIE exits laughing, with BEATRICE C. and R._
DUNN. (_comes down L. C._) Well, if she can't, the Piano is not so very desirable for young children; and she may be great on the Triangle or the Jew's harp.
CORN. And no doubt Miss Mifton will soon learn if you insist on it. (_aside_) I must keep the right side of her.
HEL. (_rises_) Absurd! She has not the intelligence of an insect.
NIO. (C.) It is not a necessity, for I am beautiful. It is such as you who need intelligence.
CORN. Phew! That's a facer!
HEL. (_rises fiercely_) Minx! How dare you!
NIO. (_clinging to DUNN as she recoils from HELEN, to L. of DUNN_) Petramos! I ask protection from this Medusa!
DUNN. Of course! Yes! Helen, you're _too_ severe.
NIO. (_L. C., rising_) Helen! Ah! Like her of Troy, at whom the finger of scandal pointed. (_pose, as if denouncing HELEN_)
HEL. It is false! The story is untrue!
CAR. Be calm, Helen!
_DUNN turns up C., back to audience, shaking with laughter._
HEL. (R. C.) How dare you hint at scandal against me; but such innuendos will not deter me. Peter! This woman leaves this house, or _I_ do!
NIO. (L. C.) Then there is little doubt which of us two will go. He'd sooner _fifty_ fold, that I should stay.
DUNN. (_turning round C._) I must endorse that truism, if it ruins me. _I would!_ Damme! there! (_turns again up stage_)
HEL. Caroline, you hear!
CAR. (R. C.) Peter, after this you must see that it is absolutely necessary for this person to depart.
_CARRIE sobs in HELEN'S arms._
CORN. Confound Helen! Mifton will be on to _me_ next.
_Enter INNINGS from L. D., drops down L._
HEL. (R. C.) Carrie, you have been patient and long suffering, but there is a limit.
DUNN. (C.) Yes! There is a limit. And you've gone it. It's _my_ say now, and I am reckless, and may raise the devil!
NIO. (_kneeling and clinging to him_) Petramos, restrain! Be merciful! Invoke not now the curses of the gods!
DUNN. Oh, hang the gods! Be quiet, you only make things worse!
NIO. (_bursting into tears, rising and falling on DUNN'S neck_) Oh, Petramos!
_CARRIE sees the situation, and sobs loudly._
DUNN. (C.) She's at it again!
CORN. It's a shame--poor girl--why----
INN. (_aside to CORNEY_) Don't waste your superfluous sympathies, that is not Miss Mifton at all.
CORN. What! Can it be the women are right in their suspicions? What a blackguard Peter is!
HEL. (_embracing CARRIE_) When you have finished comforting that shameless creature, you may observe your wife needs consolation.
DUNN. Certainly! Corney! comfort my wife, can't you?
CORN. (_L. of NIOBE_) Don't try to make me a party to your vile intrigues! (_goes to L. corner_)
DUNN. What's come to you? (_DUNN tries to get at CORNEY, but turns back to CARRIE_) Listen to me, Carrie! I admit circumstances are----
CAR. Go away! I never wish to speak to you again!
_They go up C.; DUNN going L.; CARRIE R._
HEL. (_R., to NIOBE_) Begone, Hussy! Leave the House!
NIO. (C.) Not at your _bidding_. Petramos is lord, and Petramos decrees that I abide with him! (_as if going to DUNN_)
OMNES. (_strong_) Oh, Peter!!! (_NIOBE gets over R., up stage_)
DUNN. (_wildly excited, coming down R. C._) In a sense, Miss Mifton is right. She came here with an irreproachable character and the highest references, and as the Master of the house, knowing nothing to her discredit, I am responsible for her. Miss Mifton is here and for the present must remain. (_goes to R. of CORNEY_)
HAT. (_who has entered C. and has tried to get a word with DUNN, taking up DUNN'S tone_) That's what I tell her, but she insists it can't be.
HEL. Of whom are you speaking?
HAT. The lady here, who is asking for Mr. Dunn.
DUNN. (_L. C.; facing audience_) What lady? What's her business? Who is she?
_Turns and confronts MISS MIFTON, who has entered C. and just reached L. C._
MIFT. The new Governess, Miss Mifton!
_NIOBE advances R. C. close to MISS MIFTON, who turns and recognises her dress._
DUNN. (L. C.) The other Mifton!
CORN. (L.) Another Mifton!
LADIES. Two Miftons! What infamy! (_together_)
_NIOBE and MISS MIFTON stand looking at each other; NIOBE doing her usual action of "Hail to you!" Picture of consternation and surprise, by other characters as curtain falls._
N. B.--_No Second Picture. Company Call._
TIME.--_The same day as Act II. A few hours later._
_SCENE.--Another side of the same room. The fireplace centre, the bay window cornerwise L. of fireplace; the hallway R. U.; screen below it; when open, covers a door down R.; couch and piano off; table is L. C.; chairs, etc.; low chair at a small table against scene down L.; fire in fireplace._
_HELEN discovered seated R. of fireplace; CARRIE seated L.; CORNEY, back to fireplace, standing smoking._
HEL. (_R. C., seated_) There is nothing left us but departure. Mr. Dunn's falsehoods, and the woman's shamelessness, render any further stay impossible. We are decided to leave his roof.
CORN. Certainly! Leave him the entire house; you've raised it about his ears, you can't do more.
CAR. _How_ he has deceived us!
HEL. What _lies_ he has told us.
CORN. Hasn't he? Beauties! What a political future for a man who could lie like Peter!
CAR. I'm appalled to find he is so wicked.
CORN. And mad to think you never suspected him. You feel so mean at having been fooled, don't you? Why, I positively looked up _to him_. Ah! It's the same old story, scores of presumably, blameless, spotless men, only waiting to be found out.
CAR. (_rises_) We cannot longer remain under the same roof with him.
_Down to table, packing trinkets in small bag on table. HELEN rises and goes to cabinet up R._
CORN. Of course not, and the only question is, _who's_ to quit! We can, but why shouldn't _he_? There's four of us, and only one of him.
HEL. And her, the woman. (_crossing to table with small vase_)
CORN. Yes! Well, it would be far less trouble to arrange for us to remain, and let him go, and take _her along with him_.
HEL. AND CAR. (_CARRIE turning quickly from window_) Corney!!
HEL. How can you suggest such a breach of propriety? (_back to cabinet for another small treasure_)
CORN. I can't see that it's worse than leaving them here. Beside it would save the inconvenience of packing, and as far as I'm concerned, I don't relish getting out of my comfortable quarters for a trifle. (_sits in chair R. of fireplace, stretching himself_)
_HELEN crossing to table L. C. with vase--CARRIE packing with tissue paper, and placing in bag on table._
HEL. A trifle?
CORN. Well, say a serious little thing!
CAR. She is not a serious little thing! (_CARRIE rings bell on table L._)
CORN. It's foolish to hurry our departure in any case. Give them time, and we may find they have _eloped_, and left us in possession. (_CORNEY gets L. of fireplace on MARY'S entrance_)
CAR. How can you hint at anything so shocking? (_at table L., getting photo_) If Peter can clear himself, I will give him one more opportunity.
HEL. (_taking photo out of CARRIE'S hand_) And one more chance for new and greater falsehoods. (_crosses back to cabinet R. and puts down photo. MARY enters from hallway R., front of them_)
CAR. Where is Mr. Dunn?
MARY. (R. C.) He's _gone_, Ma'am!
CORN. (_rises quickly_) _There!_ What did I say?
HEL. (_advancing R._) Gone! Gone where?
MARY. Gone out, Ma'am!
CAR. And Miss Mifton--is--she in the house?
MARY. Yes Ma'am, both of them. The one, the _first one_, was on the point of going out, but Miss Mifton, the second, stopped her and says: "No you don't, not in them clothes; take my frock off," she said, and the high words they've been having you might have heard down here.
_HATTIE enters R. C._
HAT. (R. C.) A downright quarrel over the nursery table.
CORN. Well, if I'm a judge of character, number two could hold her own.
HAT. Oh, the other's no duffer.
HEL. Hattie! Such language. (_MARY exits R. to hallway_)
HAT. She has such dignity, she's withering. She curled the new one up, I can tell you.
HEL. And where are they now?
HAT. Number one is on the roof.
_INNINGS enters R._
INN. (_entering_) I say, it's awful, you know, there's a crowd collecting in front of the house; I think they imagine it's a sleep-walking seance----
_Shouts of mob off L.; all run to window except INNINGS and HATTIE._
HEL. (_returning_) What do they want?
CORN. What's the matter? What is it?
INN. One of the Miftons, the Governess, is on the tiles.
_Shouts; same business as before._
HEL. What a disgrace!
CAR. What is she doing on the roof?
HAT. I don't know, the step ladder was there, and she ran up through the skylight, she's calling out Phoebus! Phoebus! and waving her arms about like this. (_HATTIE down R., and comes over again_)
HEL. Tell her to come down.
CORN. She must belong to some new sect that has taken up the old Pagan idolatry.
INN. Yes! That's it! She's calling on the gods.
_Shouts; all to window again._
CAR. But why up there--why upon the roof?
HAT. Thinks she's getting _nearer_ to 'em, up there.
CORN. Tell her to try the upper story of a residential flat.
HAT. Or the top of the Eiffel Tower.
_HATTIE exits to hall R. U. E._
INN. (_following_) If she would like to go up in a balloon, I shall be delighted----
_INNINGS exits R._
HEL. When will our humiliation cease? (_crosses R._)
_MISS MIFTON enters R. U. E._
MIFT. (_R. C.; speaking as she enters_) I will not put up with it--you will pardon me troubling you; but if I cannot get my rights any other way, I must send for the policeman.
CORN. I fancy the Cook's got a mortgage on him! (_comes down L._)
CAR. (L. C.) What is it you want, Miss Mifton?
MIFT. (_indignantly, C._) My wearing apparel, Mrs. Dunn! That imposter is in possession of my trunk, and is still wearing some of my dresses.
HEL. What insufferable impudence!
CAR. Have you asked her to give them up?
MIFT. I did more than ask; I insisted; I commanded her to take my property off her back; and she replied, by imploring Artemis, to strike me dumb. (_puts her hands up a-la-NIOBE_)
HEL. Artemis, who?
CORN. Artemis Ward, of course. She meant it in some humorous way, probably.
CAR. (L. C.) What a vindictive wretch she must be.
MIFT. (R. C.) The most annoying part of it is she won't lose her temper; she simply waves me off, and says, "The audience hour is noon."
CORN. (L.) A new way of implying "At home, Thursdays, 12 to 2."
CAR. Miss Mifton, will you please be patient, and silent, too; endeavour to spare us the pain of a great scandal.
MIFT. You may rely on my discretion, Mrs. Dunn.
HEL. Be prepared to leave with us, and have the children ready.
MIFT. I'll do my best, but she has set the dear pets against me. They won't leave her side.
CAR. (_crosses R. to HELEN_) Oh, Helen, this is the bitterest blow of all.
HEL. (_following CARRIE down R._) Don't despair Carrie. Miss Mifton is, as yet, new to them; you at least will be able to lure the darlings from the pernicious influence.
_Crosses to table and gets hand-bag._
CORN. (_aside_) If I can get a chance, I'll have my little business out with Miss Mifton at once.
HEL. (_crossing back with hand-bag_) We will see to the children ourselves, Miss Mifton. (_crosses R. of CARRIE_) Come Carrie, we must first send to a Hotel and secure rooms! The very air here seems loathsome.
_HELEN exits with CARRIE R. I. E._
CORN. Yes, there's an escape of gas somewhere.
MIFT. (_looks after CARRIE and HELEN--then speaks down R.--aside_) He's here! Now is my opportunity to endeavour to obtain my sister's letters.
CORN. (_L.--aside_) The annoyance she's meeting with will make her more spiteful to _me_. I must pacify her the first thing. (_aloud_) We deeply regret the vile treatment you have received. I myself am pained beyond measure at the ignominy you have suffered. (_DUNN enters R. U. E., as if from street, with paper parcel, puts down hat on cabinet, up R._) And if it were not for the ties of relationship, Mr. Dunn should answer to me for his dastardly conduct.
DUNN. (_coming down C._) Should he? If you will only show your authority for questioning, Mr. Dunn is prepared with unlimited replies.
CORN. I have merely the authority of equity and common justice.
DUNN. Justice for whom?
_During following scene CORNEY bullies DUNN very considerably._
CORN. (L. C.) Justice for all.
DUNN. (C.) That's rather a large order, isn't it? and you might find your portion of it, a little more than you bargained for; as for the little inconvenience Miss Mifton has experienced----
MIFT. (R. C.) It is no small matter, Mr. Dunn, to have your trunk seized and your dresses appropriated.
CORN. Even her very name has been stolen.
DUNN. How do you know? I suppose there may be other Miftons? (_to MIFTON_) You don't quite claim a monopoly for the name, do you Mifton?
MIFT. It's a remarkable coincidence, that I should find a person of _my name_, occupying my situation.
DUNN. You were so long coming to _fill it_. You threw away your chances.
MIFT. I merely delayed to call upon some friends.
CORN. (_going to DUNN C._) The fact of Miss Mifton being delayed is no excuse for the pretence.
DUNN. But it accounts for the _mistake_. We had engaged a Miss Mifton, and a Miss Mifton came; it was a case of first come--first serve.
MIFT. But she appears here in my tea gown--she's wearing my clothes.
DUNN. That's your fault again for _sending them on_. If you had _come in them_, it couldn't have happened. And there's no desire to keep your clothes. The lady will get some made with all possible dispatch. I have here samples of materials that I have obtained for her to select from. (_showing parcel_)
_N. B.--This parcel contains a number of small sample cuttings of dress goods, a printed measure form to fill up, tape measure and pencil._
CORN. You take a remarkable interest in this woman.
DUNN. The interest one naturally feels for the unprotected. She is an Orphan; of _long standing_; she is misjudged and suffering an injustice.
_CORNEY goes up to window L._
MIFT. (R. C.) You are strangely blind to _my_ grievances, Mr. Dunn. You engaged me as Governess, and I came here to teach your children.
DUNN. (C.) No! No! Let us be correct. You came here to hunt down the gay deceiver--(_indicating CORNEY, who comes quickly down to him C._) who trifled with the young affections of a confiding Mifton.
CORN. (_aside to DUNN_) Don't be a fool Peter; she'll put up the damages, a couple of thousand, on a remark like that. (_aloud_) What reason have you to suppose--who could have told you such was the object of the lady's visit?
DUNN. (C.) You told me yourself, and asked me to speak to Miss Mifton.
CORN. (L. C.) Not _that one_!
DUNN. But you _meant_ that one. Why, the other hasn't had a sister for _years and years_. And it's the sister you had broken off with. (_goes up and unties parcel at cabinet R._)
CORN. (R.) I never said she was broken off.
MIFT. (_comes down R. C._) I admit I took the engagement for the purpose, if it proved the same, of speaking with Mr. Griffin of my sister; and if he still loved her, to prepare him for the worst.
CORN. (_with mock grief_) What! Is she dead? My bonny Ethel, a thing of the past! Oh!
_Falls into chair R. of table._
MIFT. (_crosses to CORNEY_) No! No! Not that, Mr. Griffin; my sister still lives.
CORN. (_rises_) Oh, I see; you mean the worst if I refuse to compromise. Of course, it is to be regretted that mercenary motives should creep in, where once love reigned. And your case is not a strong one, Mr. Dunn will tell you----
DUNN. (_at table, arranging his patterns under newspaper_) No, Mr. Dunn won't. Don't drag me into your vile deceptions. I've enough to worry with my own.
CORN. Why can't Ethel let by-gones be by-gones; she must know I was an impressionable young jackass; that we never could be happy together, at least I couldn't, and she is very wrong, very wrong, to insist on marrying me.
MIFT. (C.) She does not. How could she when she is already married?
CORN. (_bus._) Married! Oh, Miss Mifton--oh--(_aside_) oh, this is lovely! (_going to L. corner_)
DUNN. Oh, what luck some people have!
MIFT. (C.) I came to plead to your generosity; her husband believes she was never engaged before! She dreads you might disclose her deception, and expose her letters.
CORN. Ah! How she has misjudged me; I forgive her freely; she shall have her letters----
MIFT. Thank you!
CORN. In exchange for mine, of course. It must be a sound reciprocal arrangement.
MIFT. Yes! Yes! I have them in my trunk.
CORN. Good! When you are packing, I will take them.
DUNN. (_coming down_) And as you have now thoroughly accomplished the object of your coming, Miss Mifton, there is nothing further to detain you. I wish you good day. (_taking her hand_) I'm sorry you had so much trouble, but compensation will of course----
MIFT. (_withdrawing her hand, indignantly, and going R._) You are mistaken, Mr. Dunn. I could never consent to leave the ladies in their distress.
CORN. (_crosses to MISS MIFTON_) That sentiment does you credit, Miss Mifton! Don't be intimidated, I will stand by you.
MIFT. (_excitedly_) I will not! (_crosses C., DUNN running L._) I will send for an officer. I will demand my clothes--I cannot pack my dress while it is on the back of that person.
_Going hurriedly R. and exits R. U. E._
CORN. (_following her up_) No! have it off! have it off! Send for the police.
DUNN. (L. C.) Do you know you're spreading insubordination, Cornelius Griffin, and breeding contempt for me; the constituted authority of this house?
CORN. (_returning C._) I can't help that, Peter, I must stand up for the innocent and oppressed.
DUNN. (C.) Must you! How long has this wave of virtuous indignation been raging along _your_ seaboard?
CORN. (R. C.) _For several minutes!_ Aroused by the vile treatment of poor little Mifton; it was contemptible to seize her trunk and pick the lock. (_goes R._)
DUNN. (_following CORNEY closely_) I did not. I only picked the key; and it was only by the merest chance that it fitted.
CORN. (_backing DUNN to C._) But you have the nerve to utilize the contents of the said trunk to _deck out_ your precious beauty!
_Crosses to L. H._
DUNN. (_follows CORNEY_) What d'ye mean by _deck out_? She's not a shop window, and don't call her _my_ beauty, I have never made any special claim to comeliness.
CORN. Oh, come Dunn! (_gets L. of table_)
DUNN. (_R. of table_) Don't, Oh come Dunn me!
CORN. (_turns on DUNN across table_) I had a _high_ opinion of you once.
DUNN. (_same business_) I never had a high opinion of _you_ at any time.
CORN. I was mistaken.
DUNN. I wasn't! You're no good--you're not solid; you've about as much vertebral support to you as a rubber pipe; you haven't the pluck to stand by your own tom-fooleries, but shift the blame on to others.
CORN. (_across table_) You never will understand how necessary it is for me not to worry. The doctor says I _cannot_ both worry and _live_.
DUNN. (_across table_) Then worry and _die_! I've had enough of this scapegoat business. You can allot me shares in a newer enterprise. (_sits R. of table_)
CORN. (_crossing behind table to C._) And this is your gratitude to me for letting you down easy?
DUNN. (_turning fiercely_) Letting _me_ down easy!
CORN. (C.) Why certainly! Being, so to say, sullied with my smaller vices has served to break your fall, hasn't it? If you had possessed a spotless reputation, the effect of your colossal villainy _now_ would be paralyzing.
DUNN. (_aghast_) _My colossal villainy!_
CORN. It's bad enough as it is. Carrie has washed her hands of you; they are preparing to depart.
DUNN. Preparing to depart! What for?
CORN. (R. C.) What for? You must see that I cannot allow my sisters to remain longer under your roof. (_turns from DUNN_)
DUNN. Then take 'em away; you can take Helen away, and Hattie too, I can even spare Hattie, but Carrie ceased to be your sister when she became my wife; she is going to remain. (_goes to low chair L., is about to sit_)
CORN. (C.) There! I said you'd be agreeable to that. My argument was, that if _somebody_ must go, it would be better for you to get out.
DUNN. Better--for me to get out!
CORN. Yes! You have only one trunk to pack! The girls have two each, and I have another, that's seven.
DUNN. Yes, it's seven to one against me; but I _decline_ to be the _outsider_. (_sits L._)
CORN. Well, don't be too hasty in deciding--think it over. I shall not pack my traps till I hear from you, and I rely on your good sense to show you the value of my suggestions; Peter, you nearly worried me that time.
_CORNEY exits R. I. D._
DUNN. Why! Why didn't I tell the truth at first, as Niobe suggested. It might _not_ have been believed; it wouldn't have been, but I could have stuck to it instead of floundering about, and getting up to my neck in a quicksand of equivocation. (_rises, going C._) If I can only get a dress made for her to go out in, I'll send her to my sister, Mabel--who would believe whatever I might tell her. (_turns to table back to audience_)
_Enter NIOBE R. U. E.--comes down R. C._
NIO. (_not seeing DUNN when first entering_) Ah me! I would I were a stone again! Anything were better than to suffer such indignities as now I meet. Petramos! you will remove my cares as Eos lifts the sable pall of night.
DUNN. I don't know anything of Knight's pall. Don't talk undertaking business. What is it?
NIO. That daughter of Athena claims these robes, the which you gave me yester e'en.
DUNN. Oh well, for the sake of peace give them to her. Avoid war if you can. There's no money in it. (_goes L._)
NIO. (_following him slightly C._) Why yield to her when we might ostracise her?
DUNN. Because she'll call in the police--if she hasn't already done so.
NIO. Perlice? Is that some portion of the things we wear?
DUNN. No, no! Police--the Police--the gentlemen who guide and direct us--of whom we enquire the time--the officers of justice. They keep the peace--where nobody can find it.
NIO. Ah, the custodians of law and order? (_DUNN nods affirmatively_) Why, we have but to fill their hands with _bribes_.
DUNN. What! They were the same in the old time! We've trouble enough in the house without getting the police in. Of course, you couldn't foresee the mischief you were doing, but you've ruined me. (_NIOBE starts_) Yes, ruined me. My wife will leave me, and my family be scattered to the fore and hind quarters of the globe.
_Crosses R. and rests head against side of screen._
NIO. (_sees and takes paper knife from table_) If I have wrecked your pleasure, let me die. You gave new life to me; 'tis yours, take it away.
_Kneeling, offering paper knife with outstretched hands._
DUNN. With a paper knife! You can't remove existence in that off-handed way. You're flesh and blood now and it would be murder. If you were only electrified back to stone now, if you were only _stone dead_.
NIO. (_rises--throws knife up stage_) I'll rouse again the wrath of High Olympus. (_crosses R._)
DUNN. (_annoyed_) I've told you the firm went to smash long ago. Do be rational. You must go and give that woman her frock. Put on your own dress--your stone dress, till we can get you one made to go out in. (_gets back of table a-la-shopman_) I have here samples of materials and a choice variety of colours for you to select from. (_takes newspaper off patterns_)
NIO. Ah, Petramos! How good you are! (_takes up patterns and places them on stage, kneeling, interested, and sorting them_)
DUNN. (_coming down L._) I was afraid to bring the dressmaker into the house, but I have full instructions here for measuring you. (_coming down L. with printed form, taking out pencil and tape measures, which he hangs about his neck_)
NIO. (_on stage C., spreading out samples_) It will be hard to choose from such a store of prettiness.
DUNN. (_placing form on table_) Yes, if you'd had about two, you might have come to a decision. Don't scatter them about, you haven't time to play patience now. I suppose it doesn't matter much where I begin on her, so that I fill up the form! (_he measures length of back, 18, crosses to table and writes it down_) 18.
NIO. This pink and grey would be the sweetest match. If this dress is the fashion it becomes me well.
DUNN. (_returning to R. of NIOBE_) Stand up, please--(_placing her arm to measure sleeve, NIOBE puts arm full up, DUNN goes up to door R., returns to NIOBE and places arm in position; measures, 6. 13. 24., crosses to table_) 6. 13. 24.
NIO. (C.) May I, too, have a full accordion skirt?
DUNN. (_coming back to R. of NIOBE_) Oh yes, with concertina sleeves; and harmonican puffs if you like.
NIO. As you decide. Whom have I in the world but you! (_going to embrace DUNN, as he places arm to measure bust; NIOBE attempts to embrace him as he puts his hand around to measure her; DUNN gets the measurement and bobbing under arm, goes to table_)
DUNN. Thirty-nine. (_writes thirty-nine_)
NIO. Why I am forty times as old as you. I think that grey would suit me.
DUNN. (_returns to C. L. of NIOBE, bringing card form with him; he goes to measure her waist--she embraces him ad lib. He falls on his knees and takes measurement_) Waist 36. (_CARRIE enters R.; NIOBE gets over on his L.; he measures skirt and sees CARRIE'S foot, she having entered during business; DUNN falls flat on stage, muttering measurement and gathering up loose patterns, pushing them into his vest._)
CAR. (_R. C., indignantly to NIOBE_) I had some business with my husband, but I can wait.
NIO. (L. C.) Oh no! We would not have you wait. He's here and you may speak.
CAR. (R.) You're too gracious. I came, Peter, unknown to Helen, to see if you could not remove my doubts; and I find you, as usual, in open unblushing companionship with this woman.
DUNN. Open! Yes open! There is no deception. None. (_rising_)
CAR. You loved me once, Peter.
NIO. (_crosses to CARRIE_) He loves you still. His heart is yours; you cannot grudge me a little corner in it.
DUNN. (_at table, putting down patterns_) She wants a corner on it.
CAR. How can I bear this infamous creature's insolence.
DUNN. Carrie, you don't understand; she's _not_ infamous.
CAR. You defend her!
DUNN. I'd defend anyone who's unjustly accused.
CAR. (_crying R._) If you are bewitched, confess it; say you are under the spell of this fair Siren.
NIO. (_crying C._) The Sirens lured Odysseus with melody and song. I have not played or sung here to Petramos.
DUNN. Now they're both at it. Here's a chance for the gods! Carrie, there's no spell in the business.
CAR. (R.) Ah! Why do I protest. I _might_ have expected it.
DUNN. (_crossing to CARRIE_) I _did_ expect it. The moment I saw her, I knew you would object to her being here.
CAR. What self-respecting wife would not? (_cries at screen_)
DUNN. (_going to seat L. corner_) Now we're all at it. (_sits_) I knew it was useless to say who she was, or how she came.
NIO. (C.) He feared the truth, tho' I advised it. Truth might have worked more mischief.
DUNN. No! truth couldn't! But what's the use of a truth which seemed like throwing down the gauntlet to Annanias.
CAR. (_crosses to PETER_) Oh Peter! Confess you were beguiled and I'll forgive you. (_taking his face in her hands, turns his head towards her_)
DUNN. I cannot criminate myself by owning up to what doesn't belong to me. If you had been here when she arrived--if you had seen _how_ she came, it would have been all right; you would understand that--(_rises_) that she is no more to me--than a sister I have not seen for years.
_Goes up C. to fireplace._
NIO. (R. C.) He was near when I first drew my breath! But him in the wide world I have no one, he is my guardian, my _protector_.
CAR. (_crosses C._) Ah, how blind I've been. (_goes to DUNN and brings him down L. of her_) Forgive me, Peter, for having doubted. Why did you not say she was your sister?
DUNN. Why! I never thought of it.
CAR. (_to NIOBE_) You, too, must forgive me, and let me call you Sister. (_DUNN smiling_)
NIO. Oh yes, that will be sweet. I have wanted so _much_ to love you, but you would not let me.
CAR. (_arms around NIOBE_) I might have known you would wish to be near Peter. Though he never said so; and what a resemblance! Come, Peter dear, kiss your sister. And--Helen thought different.
DUNN. Helen would. (_back at table, putting away, hiding patterns_)
CAR. I was to blame for neglecting Peter's kindred. I knew of your existence, that is all. What is your name, dear?
DUNN. (_at back, trying to stop her_) Mab----
NIO. (_not heeding DUNN_) My name is Niobe!
DUNN. (_goes down L._) She conceals nothing. She's altogether too guileless for this nineteenth century.
_Enter HELEN and HATTIE from dining-room R. I. E._
CAR. Sister Niobe! (_embracing her and putting her over C._) Helen! (_crosses to HELEN_) We have wronged Peter; _we_ are to blame. She is his sister.
HEL. (_severely_) Sister!
HAT. Peter's Sister!
CAR. And if we had not kept her a stranger to our circle, her coming would not have caused all this anxiety.
HEL. (_nastily spoken_) I always said, if she came there would be trouble.
HAT. (_crosses to NIOBE, R. C._) Peter's sister. Well, you're not a bit like him. You're altogether too scrumptious for anything.
NIO. (C.) Though I am ignorant of what "scrumptious" means, your manner tells me it is something good.
HAT. (L. C.) You bet your boots it is.
HEL. (_R._) Hattie!
HAT. (_sharply_) Don't you interfere. We're going to run our new sister on our own lines, aren't we Carrie?
NIO. You have my sympathy--(_pointing to HELEN_)--that _she_ claims kinship with you.
_HELEN turns indignantly from NIOBE._
HAT. Oh, you are a funny old thing. And say, Ni', won't you tell me how you dress your hair like that? (_round to L. of NIOBE_)
NIO. I cannot tell you that; my tiring women dressed it. It is as it was left three thousand years ago.
OMNES. Three thousand years!
DUNN. (_crossing in front to C._) Ha!--Er--that's a quotation; you know the quotation "Rode the three thousand." (_goes up C.)_
_Enter MARY, R., from hallway, R. C._
MARY. (_to NIOBE_) Miss Mifton wants to know if she's ever goin' to get her clothes?
DUNN. Yes, yes! Of course! (_to NIOBE_) Go! Go! and give her dress back by all means. (_goes up_)
_MARY exits R._
HAT. Bother her shabby old clothes! You can have some of my dresses.
CAR. Or mine. You are about my figure.
NIO. I am pleased you are so shapely. Cleophas thought that I was well nigh faultless.
CAR. Who's Cleophas?
HAT. (_quickly, R. C._) Is he your mash?
DUNN. (_going down, pushes HATTIE away_) Never mind him. He's a fellow we met at the races. (_to NIOBE--aside_) Be quiet and do as I tell you or you'll spoil all. (_goes over to window_)
NIO. (_gradually working up_) Ah no! Fear not! (_coming down C._) I cannot take the robes you'd kindly loan me, but I am touched no less with all your love and moved to the relief of melting tears.
_NIOBE exits crying, off R. C. up stairs; CARRIE up C., looks after NIOBE; HATTIE goes up R. C., and exits after NIOBE._
DUNN. (_coming down L._) At it again. Kindness or cruelty, care or neglect, all melt her alike.
CAR. Poor, tender hearted darling.
HEL. (_down R._) Irrigating Crocodile! She's a huge sham--mark my words, we shall live to regret her coming.
DUNN. (_goes a little towards HELEN_) There's no occasion for you to _live here_ to regret it. If you feel you could _bear_ it better somewhere else, don't let us keep you. (_goes L._)
_Enter BEATRICE R., from hallway, advances with HATTIE._
HAT. (R. C.) Bea! What do you think? Such a surprise; Miss Mifton, the first Miss Mifton is----
DUNN. (L.) Hattie, my dear, be quiet. Miss Sillocks is not interested in our family surprises.
BEA. (R. C.) Oh yes I am! Especially as I have one of my own.
CAR. For whom?
BEA. For all of you! Papa has always imagined, as Mr. Dunn's sister never visited him, that there was some kind of estrangement.
HAT. Yes! And her papa was determined to get Peter's sister over on a visit, and give them the chance to kiss and be friends.
BEA. That's it! And he has just received a telegram to say she will come.
HEL. AND CAR. (_R. and R. C._) Who will come?
BEA. (C.) Mr. Dunn's sister, Mabel!
DUNN. Niobe--Niobe Mabel Dunn--she has several names. Those are the two front ones--Miobe, Nabel, Dunn.
BEA. Mabel; tho' papa says they always called her Gypsy, she was so dark.
HEL. (_rises_) Dark? She is fair!
_BEA. and HATTIE go up C. in front of fireplace; CARRIE up to opening C._
DUNN. (C.) Yes, she is _fair now_. I _tried_ to keep her dark, but I couldn't. (_going--drops in chair extreme L._)
_Enter CORNEY from dining-room._
HEL. (_advances C._) I knew it--another fraud unveiled.
CORN. (R.) What is it? What's the new discovery?
HEL. (C.) He, this _monster_ of marital iniquity, has been blinding us with new and more daring falsehoods. He declared that this woman was his sister.
DUNN. Never! Never! I never declared it.
HEL. (_crosses L. C. to table_) See how he cowers, for he stands confessed. Fate, in the person of Beatrice Sillocks, has hunted him down.
CORN. Bea, in a new role. The guardian angel of innocence. (_crosses L. to DUNN_)
HAT. (_down C._) Perhaps he has two sisters! (_DUNN with a gleam of hope rises_) Why not, there are two Miss Miftons! (_CORNEY meets DUNN'S gaze_)
CORN. No, no!
DUNN. No, no! (_drops in chair again_)
CORN. No! no! That's played out. Even Peter, with all his impudence, wouldn't set up that defence. (_goes up to fire to BEATRICE_)
CAR. (_advances to R. C._) She is _not_ your sister?
DUNN. No! No!
HAT. (L. C.) Oh, Peter!
HEL. Hattie! Leave the room; these disclosures are unfit for your ears.
_HATTIE crosses front to R._
CORN. (_bringing BEATRICE down R. C._) And take Beatrice from the moral poison of his presence.
HAT. We'll hear all about it afterwards, so it doesn't make any difference. (_HATTIE exits with BEATRICE R. I. E._)
CORN. (_goes towards PETER in front of table L. C._) Now Peter Amos Dunn! As my sister's brother, I am bound to bring it to your notice, that one of us, either your party or our party, must leave this house. And, I think your best course is to leave us in possession of the home you are no longer fit to occupy.
DUNN. (_rises_) It's _my_ home, and I suit it to myself. (_desperately, CORNEY backs a little C._)
HEL. Leave him to me, _Corney_! (_going to DUNN_)
DUNN. Yes, do! Her sex gives her a protection you haven't got.
CAR. (R. C.) Peter, why, oh why did you say she was your sister?
DUNN. (_crossing to CARRIE_) I didn't! It never occurred to me or I might. You yourself said she was my sister, and I know you hate to be contradicted.
CAR. (R. C.) But she gave her consent to the fraud. She let me call her sister.
DUNN. (R. C.) Oh, what of that! I've called many a girl sister before I married you.
CAR. This woman admitted that you were her guardian and protector.
DUNN. Well, in a sense I am. I'm responsible for her. She's purely a matter of business. She was turned over to me to take care of, and when he's ready for her he'll take her away.
HEL. What disgusting levity!
CAR. Who will take her away?
DUNN. Why Tompkins! She's his property, not mine.
CORN. (_advancing C._) Tompkins! Isn't this a branch of business which ought not to be intruded on the home circle?
DUNN. (C.) Don't I know that? But Tompkins set such store by her, I had to oblige him and bring her here. (_crosses to low seat L._)
HEL. (_rises_) Then weak as you are to shield another person's infamy at the cost of insulting your family, you are a spotless infant compared to Tompkins.
CAR. Mr. Tompkins must never set foot in this house again.
CORN. (C.) Say the word and I'll kick Tompkins out every time he comes.
_Enter MARY from hallway R. from L._
MARY. Mr. Tompkins! (_MARY exits_)
_CORNEY goes quickly to R. corner; enter TOMPKINS R. U. E._
DUNN. How d'ye do, Tompkins? If you'll come to my room----
HEL. (_putting DUNN back, he falls into chair_) Let Mr. Tompkins first hear the opinion of the ladies, whose sense of delicacy he has outraged.
TOMP. (C.) What's the matter, Dunn?
DUNN. Nothing! Nothing! Don't take any notice.
HEL. He must take notice, and apologize to ladies of irreproachable character--though it is scarcely to be expected from one so utterly depraved.
TOMP. I haven't an idea what I'm supposed to have done, but few of us have past _lives, wholly_ free from blame. Even you, Miss Griffin, may have something to regret.
HEL. What dare _you_ insinuate? It is not true! Who could have told you? I--I----
DUNN. It's right! It's right! Tompkins has found it all out--Helen's down--and I can't triumph--I haven't a crow left in me. (_goes up L. to fire C._)
HEL. Even for your sake Carrie, I cannot remain here to be insulted.
CAR. Is not Corney here to protect you? (_comes down R. C._)
CORN. To be sure, tricks of this kind won't help you, Tompkins, and we must ask you to take her away, if you have not the decency to apologise for her presence.
TOMP. (C.) Whose presence? Who's _she_?
CORN. (R.) The woman you brought here.
TOMP. I brought!
CORN. The Governess!
HEL. (L.) Dunn's sister!
CAR. (R. C.) Miss Mifton!
TOMP. (R. C.) There are three of them?
DUNN. They're all one!
CAR. (_advancing to TOMPKINS_) Mr. Dunn says she was brought here to oblige you.
TOMP. Dunn says that--(_goes up to DUNN_)
DUNN. (_crouching on stool by fire_) Yes, I did, but it's a lie--a whacking lie! I'm trying to break a record--I started in without thinking and Heaven only knows where I shall end.
TOMP. Is this meant for a joke, Mr. Dunn?
DUNN. That's it! I never thought of it before, but it's a joke. Ha! Ha!
TOMP. I fail to appreciate it, Sir; but fortunately my business with you will soon be over and our acquaintance can end with it. I have come to take away my Statue. (_comes down C._)
_CARRIE crosses to L._
DUNN. His Statue! The last straw!
TOMP. I find my place is ready, and the men are here to move it.
DUNN. Move it! You can't move it!
CORN. (R.) Why not? It's only a question of having enough men.
TOMP. I have a score, and they will exercise every care in getting it out.
DUNN. Care's of no use, and a hundred men couldn't get the Statue out! It isn't here.
TOMP. Not here!
OMNES. Not here!
TOMP. What do you mean?
HEL. The figure has not been moved.
CORN. (R.) It's here in the screen right enough, it couldn't fly out of the window. (_opening screen_) Gone!
TOMP. Nothing but the Pedestal!
DUNN. (_advancing R. C._) Didn't I tell you so? Do you think I am incapable of _ever_ speaking the truth?
TOMP. But where is it? Where! What is your explanation?
DUNN. I haven't got one! (_falling into chair R._)
CORN. Absurd! Make a break at something. (_crossing up stage and down and sits on table_)
TOMP. (C.) Stupendous misfortune! You can have no conception of the awfulness of your avowal--you cannot realize my loss.
DUNN. I can realize the loss it is to our Company!
TOMP. What is filthy lucre? No money on earth can compensate me for its destruction.
CAR. (L. C.) Be calm, Mr. Tompkins!
HEL. (_R. of table L. C._) It will be found no doubt.
TOMP. Calm! With such a treasure gone! Ah! You know nothing of the halo of romance that surrounds that figure. It was no ordinary piece of statuary. There is a legend that no mortal hand carved or chiselled it. It is believed to be the actual petrifaction of the _identical once living Niobe_, wife of Amphion, King of Thebes.
DUNN. (_jumping up_) What! Niobe herself! And you believe the story? You do!
TOMP. Why should I doubt the possibility of human petrifaction?
DUNN. (_rushing at TOMPKINS, taking his hand_) Bless you, Tompkins! Bless you! Now _I_ can be believed! (_crosses to others L. C._) The truth seemed so preposterous before, I dared not tell it. But now--oh--Tompkins! Tompkins! (_embracing TOMPKINS_)
TOMP. (_pushing him away_) Why this excitement?
DUNN. (_going back R._) Because she, Niobe herself, from the time immediately after the Trojan war, who was there in the stone, has come to life!
OMNES. Come to life!!!
DUNN. (_on pedestal_) The uncovered electric wires imparted some vital current to the system, which roused the dormant principle of respiration and circulation, unpetrified her limbs and she is alive; alive, oh! (_goes L._)
TOMP. (R. C.) Mirabile Dictu! (_goes to R. corner_)
DUNN. Call it what you like, Tompkins, you can't alter it. Ah! She is here!
_NIOBE enters R. C. as Statue, coming down C.; white lime on NIOBE._
NIO. (C.) Petramos, I have obeyed you.
TOMP. (R.) The same sweet face!
CAR. (_up C._) The same features!
HEL. (L.) The same Costume!
NIO. (C.) You stare most strangely! What does your wonder mean?
DUNN. (R. C.) It means, they have heard the truth and believe it.
TOMP. Niobe! (_hands out_)
NIO. (_seeing TOMPKINS_) What man is this?
DUNN. Your owner. The man who paid great treasure to purchase you to adorn his home.
NIO. Am I then his slave?
TOMP. Say rather I am yours.
_NIOBE advances C.; TOMPKINS to her as DUNN goes up to CARRIE--reconciliation business._
TOMP. Oh filtatese gewnaikos omma kai dommas, ekk s'aelptose, oupot opsesthai, dokone.
NIO. Ekkeis fthonosdy mee genoito tone theone.
_They turn back to audience, TOMPKINS half embracing her; enter SILLOCKS, BEATRICE, HATTIE and INNINGS R., from hallway._
SILL. (_up R. C._) Hallo! What's this? A fancy dress ball?
CORN. (L.) Oh no! A new metamorphosis for a modern Ovid. This lady is the real article, warranted three thousand years in bottle.
_SILLOCKS and BEATRICE cross to L., and NIOBE and TOMPKINS go up C._
HAT. (L.) Oh, Corney, what a stretch!
INN. (_down L._) Why, she's the exact counterpart of the Statue.
_TOMPKINS and NIOBE go up C. and face audience._
CAR. (R. C.) She is the Statue!
SILL. (_up L. C._) What does it mean?
DUNN. (_L. of CARRIE_) It means that Tompkins has no longer an Antique excuse for living single.
TOMP. (_L. of NIOBE_) It means, he does _not_ want one.
DUNN. (R. C.) She'll make you an excellent wife, Tompkins, combining all the charm of youth with a long worldly experience.
NIO. (C.) Farewell, Petramos!
DUNN. Good bye!
NIO. Good bye to all.
NIOBE TO AUDIENCE:
I know you may expect me, from the strain Of such like plays, to turn to stone again, But life is sweet, and faults if you'll forgive Sans tears, all smiling Niobe will live.
* * * * * *
Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as possible. Some minor corrections of spelling and puctuation have been made.
oe-ligatures have been expanded to "oe."