Belinda (Milne)/Act II


It is morning in BELINDA'S hall, a low-roofed, oak-beamed place, comfortably furnished as a sitting-room. There is an inner and an outer front-door, both of which are open. Up C. is a door leading to a small room where hats and coats are kept. A door on the L. leads towards the living-rooms.

DEVENISH enters from up L. at back, passes the windows of the inner room and crosses to the porch. He rings the electric bell outside, then enters through the swing doors R.C. BETTY enters R. and moves up at back of settee R. to DEVENISH by the swing doors. He is carrying a large bunch of violets and adopts a very aesthetic attitude.

BETTY. Good morning, sir.

DEVENISH. Good morning. I am afraid this is an unceremonious hour for a call, but my sense of beauty urged me hither in defiance of convention.

BETTY. Yes, sir.

DEVENISH (holding up his bouquet to BETTY). See, the dew is yet lingering upon them; how could I let them wait until this afternoon?

BETTY. Yes, sir; but I think the mistress is out.

DEVENISH. They are not for your mistress; they are for Miss Delia.

BETTY. Oh, I beg your pardon, sir. If you will come in, I'll see if I can find her. (She crosses to the door R. and goes away to find DELIA, dosing the door after her.)

(DEVENISH tries a number of poses about the room for himself and hit bouquet. He crosses below the table C. and sits L. of it and is about to place his elbow on the table when he finds the toy dog which has been placed there is in his way. He removes it to the centre of the table and then leans with his elbow on table and finds this pose unsuitable so he crosses to above the fireplace and leans against the upper portico, resting on his elbow which slips and nearly prostrates him. He then crosses up to L. of the cupboard door at back centre and leans on his elbow against the wall.)

(Enter DELIA from the door R.)

DELIA (shutting the door and going to DEVENISH). Oh, good morning, Mr. Devenish.

[Illustration :]

(DEVENISH kisses her hand.)

I'm afraid my—er—aunt is out.

DEVENISH. I know, Miss Delia, I know.

DELIA. She'll be so sorry to have missed you. It is her day for you, isn't it?

DEVENISH. Her day for me?

DELIA. Yes; Mr. Baxter generally comes to-morrow, doesn't he?

DEVENISH (jealously). Miss Delia, if our friendship is to progress at all, it can only be on the distinct understanding that I take no interest whatever (coming to back of table C.) in Mr. Baxter's movements.

DELIA (moving down R. a little). Oh, I'm so sorry; I thought you knew. What lovely flowers! Are they for my aunt?

DEVENISH. To whom does one bring violets? To modest, shrinking, tender youth.

DELIA. I don't think we have anybody here like that.

DEVENISH (with a bow and holding out the violets to her). Miss Delia, they are for you.

DELIA (smelling and taking violets). Oh, how nice of you! But I'm afraid I oughtn't to take them from you under false pretences; I don't shrink.

DEVENISH. A fanciful way of putting it, perhaps. They are none the less for you.

DELIA. Well, it's awfully kind of you. (Puts flowers down. Then she moves up to the cupboard. He follows on her L. and opens the door.) I'm afraid I'm not a very romantic person. (Turning to him in cupboard doorway.) Aunt Belinda does all the romancing in our family.

DEVENISH. Your aunt is a very remarkable woman.

DELIA. She is. Don't you dare to say a word against her. (Takes up a vase from a chair in cupboard and shakes it as if draining it.)

DEVENISH. My dear Miss Delia, nothing could be further from my thoughts. Why, am I not indebted to her for that great happiness which has come to me in these last few days?

DELIA (surprised). Good gracious! and I didn't know anything about it. (Coming down to R. of table with vase.) But what about poor Mr. Baxter?

DEVENISH (stiffly, crossing over to fireplace, very annoyed). I must beg that Mr. Baxter's name be kept out of our conversation.

DELIA (going up to table behind Chesterfield up L.). But I thought Mr. Baxter and you were such friends.

(DELIA takes water carafe from the table and smiles at DEVENISH— which he does not see.)

Do tell me what's happened. (Moving down to R. of table C., she sits and arranges the flowers.) I seem to have lost myself.

DEVENISH (coming to the back of C. table and reclining on it.) What has happened, Miss Delia, is that I have learnt at last the secret that my heart has been striving to tell me for weeks past. As soon as I saw that gracious lady, your aunt, I knew that I was in love. Foolishly I took it for granted that it was she for whom my heart was thrilling. How mistaken I was! Directly you came, you opened my eyes, and now—

DELIA. Mr. Devenish, you don't say you're proposing to me?

DEVENISH. I am. I feel sure I am. (Leaning towards her.) Delia, I love you.

DELIA. How exciting of you!

DEVENISH (with a modest shrug). It's nothing; I am a poet.

DELIA. You really want to marry me?

DEVENISH. Such is my earnest wish.

DELIA. But what about my aunt?

DEVENISH (simply). She will be my aunt-in-law.

DELIA. She'll be rather surprised.

DEVENISH. Delia, I will be frank with you. (Sits.) I admit that I made Mrs. Tremayne an offer of marriage.

DELIA (excitedly). You really did? Was it that first afternoon I came?

DEVENISH. Yes.

DELIA. Oh, I wish I'd been there!

DEVENISH (with dignity, rising and moving to L. of table). It is not my custom to propose in the presence of a third party. It is true that on the occasion you mention a man called Baxter was on the lawn, but I regarded him no more than the old apple-tree or the flower- beds, or any other of the fixtures.

DELIA. What did she say?

DEVENISH. She accepted me conditionally.

DELIA. Oh, do tell me!

DEVENISH. It is rather an unhappy story. This man called Baxter in his vulgar way also made a proposal of marriage. Mrs. Tremayne was gracious enough to imply that she would marry whichever one of us fulfilled a certain condition.

DELIA. How sweet of her!

DEVENISH. It is my earnest hope, Miss Delia, that the man called Baxter will be the victor. As far as is consistent with honour, I shall endeavour to let Mr. Baxter (banging the table with his hand) win.

DELIA. What was the condition?

DEVENISH. That I am not at liberty to tell.

DELIA. Oh!

DEVENISH. It is, I understand, to be a surprise for you.

DELIA. How exciting! (Rising and taking vase of violets which she places up R.) Mr. Devenish, you have been very frank (coming to front of settee R. and sitting). May I be equally so?

(DEVENISH crosses to her and bows in acquiescence.) Why do you wear your hair so long?

DEVENISH (pleased). You have noticed it?

DELIA. Well, yes, I have.

DEVENISH. I wear it so to express my contempt for the conventions of so-called society. DELIA. I always thought that people wore it very very short if they despised the conventions of society.

DEVENISH. I think that the mere fact that my hair annoys Mr. Baxter is sufficient justification for its length.

DELIA. But if it annoys me too?

DEVENISH (heroically). It shall go. (Sits on settee above DELIA.)

(BELINDA enters from up L. with a garden basket supposed to contain cutlets. She crosses the windows at back.)

DELIA (apologetically). I told you I wasn't a very romantic person, didn't I? (Kindly.) You can always grow it again if you fall in love with somebody else.

DEVENISH. That is cruel of you, Delia. I shall never fall in love again.

(Enter BELINDA through swing doors B.C.)

BELINDA. Why, it's Mr. Devenish!

(DEVENISH rises and kisses her hand somewhat sheepishly.)

How nice of you to come so early in the morning! How is Mr. Baxter!

DEVENISH (annoyed and crossing behind BELINDA to her L.). I do not know, Mrs. Tremayne.

BELINDA (coming down to DELIA and sitting in the place vacated by DEVENISH). I got most of the things, Delia. (To DEVENISH.) "The things," Mr. Devenish, is my rather stuffy way of referring to all the delightful poems that you are going to eat to-night.

DEVENISH. I am looking forward to it immensely, Mrs. Tremayne.

BELINDA. I do hope I've got all your and Mr. Baxter's favourite dishes.

DEVENISH (annoyed and, moving to L. foot of table C.). I'm afraid Mr. Baxter and I are not likely to appreciate the same things.

BELINDA (coyly). Oh, Mr. Devenish! And you were so unanimous a few days ago.

DELIA. I think Mr. Devenish. was referring entirely to things to eat.

BELINDA. I felt quite sad when I was buying the lamb cutlets. To think that, only a few days before, they had been frisking about with their mammas, and having poems written about them by Mr. Devenish. There! I'm giving away the whole dinner. Delia, take him away before I tell him any more.

(DELIA rises, goes to table and picks up water carafe which she replaces on refectory table up L.)

We must keep some surprises for him.

DELIA (to DEVENISH as she crosses back to table R. and picks up the flowers). Come along, Mr. Devenish.

BELINDA (wickedly). Are those my flowers, Mr. Devenish?

DEVENISH (advancing to BELINDA and laughing awkwardly, after a little hesitation, with a bow which might refer to either of them). They are for the most beautiful lady in the land.

BELINDA. Oh, how nice of you!

(DEVENISH crosses to door R. and opens it for DELIA, who follows him and exits. DEVENISH, standing above door, catches BELINDA'S eye and with an awkward laugh follows DELIA.)

BELINDA. I suppose he means Delia—bless them! (She kisses her hand towards the door R. She then rises and crosses below the table C., placing her basket on the L. end of it, to the fireplace. She rings the bell. Then she moves up on the R. side of the Chesterfield to the refectory table and takes off her hat. She takes up a mirror from the table and gives a few pats to her hair, and as she is doing so BETTY enters from door R. and crosses the room towards C.)

BELINDA (pointing to basket on the C. table). Oh, Betty—

(BETTY moves to back of C. table and takes up the basket. Crosses above settee and exits through door R. BELINDA is moving towards the swing doors when she catches sight of BAXTER entering from the garden up R. She moves quickly to the L. of C. table, takes up a book and going to Chesterfield L., lies down with her head to R. BAXTER looks in through the window up R., then crosses round and enters through the portico and the swing doors. BELINDA pretends to be very busy reading.)

BAXTER (rather nervously, in front of wring doors). Er—may I come in, Mrs. Tremayne?

BELINDA (dropping her book and turning round with a violent start). Oh, Mr. Baxter, how you surprised me! (She puts her hand to her heart and sits up and faces him.)

BAXTER. I must apologize for intruding upon you at this hour, Mrs. Tremayne.

BELINDA (holding up her hand). Stop!

BAXTER (startled). What?

BELINDA. I cannot let you come in like that.

BAXTER (looking down at himself). Like what?

BELINDA (dropping her eyes). You called me Belinda once.

BAXTER (coming down to her). May I explain my position, Mrs. Tremayne?

BELINDA. Before you begin—have you been seeing my niece lately?

BAXTER (surprised). No.

BELINDA. Oh! (Sweetly.) Please go on.

BAXTER. Why, is she lost too?

BELINDA. Oh no; I just— Do sit down.

(BAXTER moves to the chair L. of C. table and sits. BELINDA rises when he has sat down.)

Let me put your hat down somewhere for you.

BAXTER (keeping it firmly in his hand). It will be all right here, thank you.

BELINDA (returning to the Chesterfield and sitting). I'm dying to hear what you are going to say.

BAXTER. First as regards the use of your Christian name. I felt that, as a man of honour, I could not permit myself to use it until I had established my right over that of Mr. Devenish.

BELINDA. All my friends call me Belinda.

BAXTER. As between myself and Mr. Devenish the case is somewhat different. Until one of us is successful over the other in the quest upon which you have sent us, I feel that as far as possible we should hold aloof from you.

BELINDA (pleadingly). Just say "Belinda" once more, in case you're a long time.

BAXTER (very formally). Belinda.

BELINDA. How nicely you say it—Harold.

BAXTER (getting out of his seat). Mrs. Tremayne, I must not listen to this.

BELINDA (meekly). I won't offend again, Mr. Baxter. Please go on. (She motions him to sit—he does so.) Tell me about the quest; are you winning?

BAXTER. I am progressing, Mrs. Tremayne. Indeed, I came here this morning to acquaint you with the results of my investigations. (Clears his throat.) Yesterday I located a man called Robinson working upon a farm close by. I ventured to ask him if he had any marks upon him by which he could be recognized. He adopted a threatening attitude, and replied that if I wanted any he could give me some. With the aid of half-a-crown I managed to placate him. Putting my inquiry in another form, I asked if he had any moles. A regrettable misunderstanding, which led to a fruitless journey to another part of the village, was eventually cleared up, and on my return I satisfied myself that this man was in no way related to your niece.

BELINDA (admiringly). How splendid of you!

BAXTER. Yes.

BELINDA. Well, now, we know he's not. (She holds up one finger.)

BAXTER. Yes. In the afternoon I located another Mr. Robinson following the profession of a carrier. My first inquiries led to a similar result, with the exception that in this case Mr. Robinson carried his threatening attitude so far as to take off his coat and roll up his sleeves. Perceiving at once that he was not the man, I withdrew.

BELINDA. How brave you are!

BAXTER. Yes.

BELINDA. That makes two.

BAXTER. Yea.

BELINDA (holding up another finger). It still leaves a good many. (Pleadingly.) Just call me Belinda again.

BAXTER (rising and backing to R. a little, nervously). You mustn't tempt me, Mrs. Tremayne.

BELINDA (penitently). I won't!

BAXTER (going slowly to fireplace and placing his hat down on urmchair below fireplace). To resume, then, my narrative. This morning I have heard of a third Mr. Robinson. Whether there is actually any particular fortune attached to the number three I cannot say for certain. It is doubtful whether statistics would be found to support the popular belief. But one likes to flatter oneself that in one's own case it may be true; and so—

BELINDA. And so the third Mr. Robinson—?

BAXTER. Something for which I cannot altogether account inspires me with hope. He is, I have discovered, staying at Mariton. This afternoon I go to look for him.

BELINDA (to herself). Mariton! How funny! I wonder if it's the same one.

BAXTER. What one?

BELINDA. Oh, just one of the ones. (Gratefully.) Mr. Baxter, you are doing all this for me.

BAXTER. Pray do not mention it. I don't know if it's Devonshire (going to and sitting L. of BELINDA), or the time of the year, or the sort of atmosphere you create, Mrs. Tremayne, but I feel an entirely different man. There is something in the air which—yes, I shall certainly go over to Mariton this afternoon.

BELINDA (gravely). I have had the same feeling sometimes, Mr. Baxter. I am not always the staid respectable matron which I appear to you to be. Sometimes I—(She looks absently at the watch on her wrist.) Good gracious!

BAXTER (alarmed). What is it!

BELINDA (looking anxiously from the door to him). Mr. Baxter, I'm going to throw myself on your mercy.

BAXTER. My dear Mrs. Tremayne—

BELINDA (looking at her watch again, rising and moving up L.C., looking at door). A strange man will be here directly. He must not find you with me.

BAXTER (rising, jealously). A man?

BELINDA (excitedly). Yes, yes, a man! He is pursuing me with his attentions. If he found you here, there would be a terrible scene.

BAXTER. I will defend you from him.

BELINDA (crossing down to R. of Chesterfield). No, no. He is a big man. He will—he will overpower you. (Moving L. a little and looking out of windows.)

BAXTER. But you—!

BELINDA. I can defend myself. I will send him away. But he must not find you here. You must hide before he overpowers you.

BAXTER (with dignity, crossing below table to R.). I will withdraw if you wish it. BELINDA (following to R. at back of table C.). No, not withdraw, hide. He might see you withdrawing. (Leading the way to the cupboard door.) Quick, in here.

BAXTER (embarrassed at the thought that this sort of thing really only happens in a bedroom farce and moving towards her). I don't think I quite—

BELINDA (reassuring him). It's perfectly respectable; it's where we keep the umbrellas. (She takes him by the hand.)

BAXTER (resisting and looking nervously into the cupboard). I'm not at all sure that I—

BELINDA (earnestly). Oh, but don't you see what trust I'm putting in you? (To herself.) Some people are so nervous about their umbrellas.

BAXTER. Well, of course, if you—but I don't see why I shouldn't just slip out of the door before he comes.

BELINDA (reproachfully). Of course, if you grudge me every little pleasure—(Crossing in front of BAXTER towards swing doors and seeing TREMAYNE coming.) Quick! Here he is.

(She bundles him through the cupboard door and closes it and with a sign of happiness crosses down to C. table. She sees BAXTER'S bowler hat on the arm-chair below the fireplace. She fetches and carries it over to the cupboard door, knocks and hands it to him, saying, "Your hat!")

BAXTER (expostulating and nearly knocking her over as he comes out). Well, really I—

BELINDA (bundling him into the cupboard and closing the door). Hush!

(BELINDA straightens her hair, takes up her book from L. of C. table and sits, stroking the head of the toy dog and pretending to read. TREMAYNE enters from garden up R. and through the swing doors up R.C. BELINDA gives an assumed cry of surprise.)

TREMAYNE (at the swing doors). It's no good your pretending to be surprised, because you said I could come. (Coming down to the back of the table C. and putting down his hat.)

BELINDA (rising, shaking hands and welcoming him). But I can still be surprised that you wanted to come.

TREMAYNE Oh no, you aren't.

BELINDA (markng it off on her fingers). Just a little bit—that much.

TREMAYNE. It would be much more surprising if I hadn't come.

BELINDA (crossing to the Chesterfield, picking up her book and handing it to TREMAYNE, who puts it on the table). It is a pretty garden, isn't it? (She sits on R. end of Chesterfield.)

TREMAYNE (coming to her). You forget that I saw the garden yesterday.

BELINDA. Oh, but the things have grown so much since then. Let me see, this is the third day you've been and we only met three days ago. (He moves behind the Chesterfield to the left end of it.) And then you're coming to dinner again to-night.

TREMAYNE (eagerly and leaning over the Chesterfield). Am I?

BELINDA. Yes. Haven't you been asked?

TREMAYNE (going round the left end of the Chesterfield). No, not a word.

BELINDA. Yes, that's quite right; I remember now, I only thought of it this morning, so I couldn't ask you before, could I?

TREMAYNE (earnestly). What made you think of it then?

BELINDA (romantically). It was at the butcher's.

TREMAYNE. Eh?

BELINDA. There was one little lamb cutlet left over and sitting out all by itself, and there was nobody to love it. And I said to myself, suddenly, "I know, that will do for Mr. Robinson." (Protaically.) I do hope you like lamb?

TREMAYNE (sitting on her left side). I adore it.

BELINDA. Oh, I'm so glad I When I saw it sitting there I thought you'd love it. I'm afraid I can't tell you any more about the rest of the dinner, because I wouldn't tell Mr. Devenish, and I want to be fair.

TREMAYNE (jealously). Who's Mr. Devenish?

BELINDA. Oh, haven't you met him? He's always coming here.

TREMAYNE Is he in love with you too?

BELINDA. Too? Oh, you mean Mr. Baxter?

TREMAYNE (rising and moving to fireplace). Confound it, that's three!

BELINDA (innocently). Three? (She looks up at him and down again.)

TREMAYNE. Who is Mr. Baxter?

BELINDA. Oh, haven't you met him? He's always coming here.

TREMAYNE (turning away and looking into fireplace). Who is Mr. Baxter?

(BAXTER appears at cupboard doorway. BELINDA hears him and gives a startled look round. She signs to him to go back. BAXTER retreats immediately and closes door.)

BELINDA. Oh, he's a sort of statistician. Isn't that a horrid word to say? So stishany.

TREMAYNE. What does he make statistics about?

BELINDA. Oh (giving a sly look round at cupboard door), umbrellas and things. Don't let's talk about him.

TREMAYNE. All right, then; (going up to her jealously) who is Mr. Devenish?

BELINDA. Oh, he's a poet. (She throws up her eyes and sighs deeply.) Ah me!

TREMAYNE. What does he write poetry about?

(BELINDA looks at him, and down again, and then at him again, and then down, then raises and drops her arms, and gives a little sigh—all of which means, "Can't you guess?")

What does he write poetry about?

BELINDA (obediently). He wrote "The Lute of Love and other Poems, by Claude Devenish."

(TREMAYNE is annoyed and turns away to the fireplace.)

The Lute of Love—(To herself.) I haven't been saying that lately. (With great expression.) The Lute of Love—the Lute. (She pats her mouth back.)

TREMAYNE. And who is Mr. Devenish—!

BELINDA (putting her hand on his sleeve). You'll let me know when it's my turn, won't you?

TREMAYNE. Your turn?

BELINDA. Yes, to ask questions. I love this game—it's just like clumps. (She crosses her hands on her lap and waits for the next question.)

TREMAYNE. I beg your pardon. I—er—of course have no right to cross- examine you like this.

BELINDA. Oh, do go on, I love it. (With childish excitement.) I've got my question ready.

TREMAYNE (smiling and going and sitting beside her again). I think perhaps it is your turn.

BELINDA (eagerly). Is it really? (He nods.) Well then— (in a loud voice)—who is Mr. Robinson?

TREMAYNE (alarmed). What?

BELINDA. I think it's a fair question. I met you three days ago and you told me you were staying at Mariton. Mariton. You can say it all right now, can't you?

TREMAYNE. I think so.

BELINDA (coaxingly). Just say it.

TREMAYNE. Mariton.

BELINDA (clapping her hands). Lovely! I don't think any of the villagers do it as well as that.

TREMAYNE. Well?

BELINDA (looking very hard at TREMAYNE—he wonders whether she has discovered his identity). Well, that was three days ago. You came the next day to see the garden, and you came the day after to see the garden, and you've come this morning—to see the garden; and you're coming to dinner to-night, and it's so lovely, we shall simply have to go into the garden afterwards. And all I know about you is that you haven't any relations called Robinson.

TREMAYNE. What do I know about Mrs. Tremayne but that she has a relation called Robinson?

BELINDA. And two dear friends called Devenish and Baxter.

TREMAYNE (rising—annoyed). I was forgetting them. (Crosses to below L. end of C. table.)

BELINDA (to herself, with a sly look round at the cupboard), I mustn't forget Mr. Baxter.

TREMAYNE. But what does it matter? What would it matter if I knew nothing about you? (Moving up to R. end of Chesterfield and leaning over it.) I know everything about you—everything that matters.

BELINDA (leaning back and closing her eyes contentedly). Tell me some of them. TREMAYNE (bending over her earnestly). Belinda—

BELINDA (still with her eyes shut). He's going to propose to me. I can feel it coming.

TREMAYNE (starting back). Confound it! how many men have proposed to you?

BELINDA (surprised). Since when?

TREMAYNE. Since your first husband proposed to you.

BELINDA. Oh, I thought you meant this year. (Sitting up.) Well now, let me see. (Slowly and thoughtfully.) One. (She pushes up her first finger.) Two. (She pushes up the second.) Three. (She pushes up the third finger, holds it there for a moment and then pushes it gently down again.) No, I don't think that one ought to count really. (She pushes up two more fingers and the thumb.) Three, four, five—do you want the names or just the total?

TREMAYNE (moving up L. and then over R.). This is horrible.

BELINDA (innocently). But anybody can propose. Now if you'd asked how many I'd accepted—

(He turns sharply to her—annoyed.)

Let me see, where was I up to?

(He moves down R.)

I shan't count yours, because I haven't really had it yet.

(BETTY enters down R. and stands behind settee.)

Six, seven—Yes, Betty, what is it?

BETTY. If you please, ma'am, cook would like to speak to you for a minute.

(TREMAYNE goes up R.C.)

BELINDA (getting up). Yes, I'll come.

(BETTY goes out, leaving the door open. BELINDA crosses Before the table.)

(To TREMAYNE.) You'll forgive me, won't you? You'll find some cigarettes there. (Points to table up R. TREMAYNE moves by the back of the settee and holds the door for BELINDA. She turns to him in the doorway.) It's probably about the lamb cutlets; I expect your little one refuses to be cooked.

(She goes out after BETTY.)

(Left alone TREMAYNE stalks moodily about the room, crossing it and kicking things which come in his way. Violently, he kicks a hassock which is above the table R. to under the table C., then he takes up his hat and moves towards the swing doors and half opens them. He pauses and considers—then he comes down to the centre table, throws down his hat, moves round the left end of the table, finds the dog in the way and then sits on the table with his hands in his pockets, facing the audience. As he has been moving about the room, he has muttered the names of BAXTER and DEVENISH.)

DEVENISH (entering from the door R., which he closes and goes to foot of the settee R.—surprised). Hullo!

(A pause.)

TREMAYNE (jealously, and rising). Are you Mr. Devenish?

DEVENISH. Yes.

TREMAYNE. Devenish the poet?

DEVENISH (coming up and shaking him warmly by the hand). My dear fellow, you know my work?

TREMAYNE (grimly). My dear Mr. Devenish, your name is most familiar to me.

DEVENISH. I congratulate you. I thought your great-grand-children would be the first to hear of me.

TREMAYNE (moving to L.). My name's Robinson, by the way.

DEVENISH (connecting him with DELIA). Then let me return the compliment, Robinson. Your name is familiar to me.

TREMAYNE (hastily, and going towards DEVENISH). I don't think I'm related to any Robinsons you know.

DEVENISH (dubiously). Well, no, I suppose not. When I was very much younger I began a collection of Robinsons. Actually it was only three days ago, but it seems much longer. (Thinking of DELIA.) Many things have happened since then.

TREMAYNE (uninterested, moving L.) Really!

DEVENISH. There is a man called Baxter—(TREMAYNE displays his jealousy of BAXTER.) who is still collecting, I believe. For myself, I am only interested in one of the great family—Delia.

TREMAYNE (eagerly, and going quickly to him and placing his hand on DEVENISH'S left shoulder). You are interested in her?

DEVENISH. Devotedly. In fact, I am at this moment waiting for her to put on her hat.

TREMAYNE (warmly, banging him on the shoulder with both hands). My dear Devenish, I am delighted to make your acquaintance. (He seizes his hand and grips it heartily.) How are you? (DEVENISH backs to the settee in pain.)

DEVENISH (sitting on settee, feeling his fingers). Fairly well, thanks.

TREMAYNE (sitting above him and banging him on the back). That's right.

DEVENISH (still nursing his hand). You are a very lucky fellow, Robinson.

TREMAYNE. In what way?

DEVENISH. People you meet must be so very reluctant to say good-bye to you. Have you ever tried strangling lions or anything like that?

TREMAYNE (with a laugh). Well, as a matter of fact, I have.

DEVENISH. I suppose you won all right?

TREMAYNE. In the end, with the help of my beater.

DEVENISH. Personally I should have backed you alone against any two ordinary lions.

TREMAYNE. One was quite enough. As it was, he gave me something to remember him by. (Putting up his left sleeve, he displays a deep scar.)

DEVENISH (looking at it casually). By Jove, that's a nasty one! (He suddenly catches sight of the mole and stares at it fascinated, then stares up at TREMAYNE.) Good heavens!

TREMAYNE. What's the matter?

DEVENISH (clasping his head). Wait. (Rising and moving up to L. of TREMAYNE.) Let me think. (After a pause.) Have you ever met a man called Baxter?

TREMAYNE. No.

DEVENISH. Would you like to?

TREMAYNE (grimly). Very much indeed.

DEVENISH. He's the man I told you about who's interested in Robinsons. He'll be delighted to meet you. (With a nervous laugh.) Funny thing, he's rather an authority on lions. You must show him that scar of yours; it will intrigue him immensely. (Earnestly.) Don't shake hands with him too heartily just at first; it might put him off the whole thing.

TREMAYNE. This Mr. Baxter seems to be a curious man.

DIVENISH (absently). Yes, he is rather odd. (Looking at his watch.) I wonder if I—(To TREMAYNE.) I suppose you won't be— (He stops suddenly. A slight tapping noise comes from the room where they keep umbrellas.)

TREMAYNE. What's that!

(The tapping noise is repeated, a little more loudly this time. DEVENISH moves to end of table.)

DEVENISH. Come in.

(The door opens and BAXTER comes in nervously, holding his bowler hat in his hand. He moves towards the swing doors.)

BAXTER (apologetically). Oh, I just—(TREMAYNE stands up) —I just—(He goes back again.)

DEVENISH (springing across the room). Baxter!

(The door opens nervously again and BAXTER'S head appears round it.)

Come in, Baxter, old man; you're just the very person I wanted.

(BAXTER comes in carefully. DEVENISH closes the door.)

Good man. (To TREMAYNE, taking BAXTER down R., and placing his arm round his shoulders.) This is Mr. Baxter that I was telling you about.

(BAXTER removes DEVENISH'S arm from his shoulders.)

TREMAYNE (moving up to BAXTER and much relieved at the appearance of his rival). Oh, is this Mr. Baxter? (Holding out his hand with great friendliness.) How are you, Mr. Baxter?

DEVENISH (warningly). Steady!

(TREMAYNE shakes BAXTER quite gently by the hand.)

Baxter, this is Mr. Robinson. (Casually.) R-o-b-i-n-s-o-n. (He looks sideways at BAXTER to see how he takes it. BAXTER is noticeably impressed.)

BAXTER. Really? I am very glad to meet you, sir.

TREMAYNE. Very good of you to say so.

DEVENISH (to BAXTER, taking his arm. BAXTER is annoyed and gets free). Robinson is a great big-game hunter.

BAXTER (moving down to TREMAYNE). Indeed? I have never done anything in that way myself, but I'm sure it must be an absorbing pursuit.

TREMAYNE. Oh, well, it's something to do.

DEVENISH (to BAXTER). You must get him to tell you about a wrestle he had with a lion once. Extraordinary story! (Looking at his watch suddenly.) Jove! I must be off. See you again, Baxter. (He bangs BAXTER on the shoulder and moves down to TREMAYNE.) Good-bye, Robinson. No, don't shake hands. I'm in a hurry. (He looks at his watch again and goes out hurriedly by the door on the R.)

(TREMAYNE sits on settee R. and BAXTER on chair R. of C. table. He puts his hat on the table.)

TREMAYNE. Unusual man, your friend Devenish. I suppose it comes of being a poet.

BAXTER. I have no great liking for Mr. Devenish—

TREMAYNE. Oh, he's all right.

BAXTER. But I am sure that if he is impressed by anything outside himself or his own works, it must be something rather remarkable. Pray tell me of your adventure with the lion.

TREMAYNE (laughing). Really, you mustn't think that I go about telling everybody my adventures. It just happened to come up. I'm afraid I shook his hand rather more warmly than I meant, and he asked me if I'd ever tried strangling lions. That was all.

BAXTER. And had you?

TREMAYNE. Well, it just happened that I had.

BAXTER. Indeed! You came off scatheless, I trust?

TREMAYNE (carelessly indicating his arm). Well, he got me one across there.

BAXTER (rising and coming to above TREMAYNE, obviously excited). Really, really. (Points to his arm.) One across there. Not bad, I hope?

TREMAYNE (laughing). Well, it doesn't show unless I do that. (He pulls up his sleeve carelessly and BAXTER bends eagerly over his arm and sees the mole and very slowly looks up at TREMAYNE, then down at the arm again, then up at TREMAYNE.)

BAXTER. Good heavens! I've found it! (He runs over to the table and picks up his hat.)

TREMAYNE. Found what? (He pulls down his sleeve.)

BAXTER (going up L.). I must see Mrs. Tremayne. Where's Mrs. Tremayne?

TREMAYNE. She went out just now. What's the matter?

BAXTER. Out! I must find her. This is a matter of life and death. (He hurries through the swing doors.) Mrs. Tremayne! Mrs. Tremayne! (He exits R. through the garden.)

(TREMAYNE rises and moves to the swing doors, stares after him in amazement. Then he pulls up his sleeve, looks at his scar again and shakes his head. While he is still puzzling over it, BELINDA comes back R.)

BELINDA (crossing below settee). Such a to-do in the kitchen! The cook's given notice—at least she will directly—(up to TREMAYNE)—and your lamb cutlet slipped back to the shop when nobody was looking

(TREMAYNE looks off at swing doors)

and I've got to go into the village again, (going to the refectory table and getting her hat) and ok dear, oh dear, I have such a lot of things to do! (Looking across at MR. BAXTER'S door.) Oh yes, that's another one. (Coming back to table C. and putting down her hat on R. side.)

TREMAYNE. Belinda— (Moving up to her.)

BELINDA. No, not even Belinda. Wait till this evening.

TREMAYNE. I have a thousand things to say to you; I shall say them this evening.

BELINDA (giving him her hand). Begin about eight o'clock. Good-bye till then.

(He takes her hand, looks at her for a moment, then suddenly bends and kisses it, takes up his hat and hurries through the swing doors and off through the garden to L.)

(BELINDA stands looking from her hand to him, gives a little wondering exclamation and then presses the back of her hand against her cheek, and goes to the swing doors. She turns back, and remembers MR. BAXTER again. With a smile she goes to the door and taps gently.)

BELINDA. Mr. Baxter, Mr. Baxter, you may come in now; he has withdrawn. (Moves down a little and then back to L. of the door again.) Mr. Baxter, I have unhanded him. (She opens the door and going in, finds the room empty.) Oh!

(BAXTER comes quickly through the swing doors.)

BAXTER (meeting BELINDA coming out of the cupboard). Ah, (they both start) there you are! (Crossing down to R. end of C. table, he puts down his hat.)

BELINDA (turning with a start). Oh, how you frightened me, Mr. Baxter! I couldn't think what had happened to you. (She closes the door.) I thought perhaps you'd been eaten up by one of the umbrellas.

BAXTER. Mrs. Tremayne, I have some wonderful news for you. I have found Miss Robinson's father.

BELINDA (on his L., hardly understanding). Miss Bobinson's father?

BAXTER. Yes. Mr. Robinson.

BELINDA. Oh, you mean—(Points to direction when TREMAYNE has gone.) Oh yes, he told me his name was Robinson—Oh, but he's no relation.

BAXTER. Wait! I saw his arm. By a subterfuge I managed to see his arm.

BELINDA (her eyes opening more and more widely as she begins to realize). You saw—

BAXTER. I saw the mole.

BELINDA (coming down to him faintly as she holds out her own arm). Show me.

BAXTER (very decorously indicating). There!

(BELINDA holds the place with her other hand, and stitt looking at MR. BAXTER, slowly begins to laugh—half-laughter, half-tears, wonderingly, happily, contentedly.)

BELINDA (moving to R. of table and sitting). And I didn't know!

BAXTER (moving to back of table). Mrs. Tremayne, I am delighted to have done this service for your niece—

BELINDA (to herself). Of course, he knew all the time.

BAXTER (to the world). Still more am I delighted to have gained the victory over Mr. Devenish in this enterprise.

BELINDA. Eighteen years—but I ought to have known.

BAXTER (at large). I shall not be accused of exaggerating when I say that the odds against such an enterprise were enormous.

BELINDA. Eighteen years— And now I've eight whole hours to wait!

BAXTER (triumphantly). It will be announced to-night. "Mr. Devenish," I shall say, "young fellow—" (He arranges his speech in his mind.)

BELINDA (nodding to herself mischievously). So I was right, after all! (Slowly and triumphantly.) He does look better without a beard!

BAXTER (with his hand on the back of the chair on the L. side of the table). "Mr. Devenish, young fellow, when you matched yourself against a man of my repute, when you matched yourself against a man— matched yourself against a man of my repute (crossing towards fireplace)

(BELINDA rises stealthily, takes up her hat and exits through the swing doors and through the garden up R.)

when you matched yourself against a man who has read papers (moving towards centre table) at Soirees of the Royal Statistical Society—" (Looking round the room, he discovers that he is alone. He picks up his hat from the table and jams it down on his head.) Unusual!

(He moves up towards the swing doors.)

CURTAIN.