Belinda (Milne)/Act III


It is after dinner in BELINDA'S hall. The log fire, chandelier and wall brackets are all alight. BELINDA is lying on the Chesterfield with a coffee-cup in her hand. DELIA, in the chair down L. below the fireplace, has picked up "The Lute of Love" from a table and is reading it impatiently. She also has a coffee-cup in her hand.

DELIA (throwing the book away). What rubbish he writes!

BELINDA (coming back from her thoughts). Who, dear?

DELIA. Claude

(BELINDA gives her a quick look of surprise.)

—Mr. Devenish. (She rises and stands by the fireplace with her cup in her hand.) Of course, he's very young.

BELINDA. So was Keats, darling.

DELIA. I don't think Claude has had Keats' advantages. Keats started life as an apothecary.

BELINDA. So much nicer than a chemist.

DELIA. Now, Claude started with nothing to do.

BELINDA (mildly). Do you always call him Claude, darling? I hope you aren't going to grow into a flirt like that horrid Mrs. Tremayne.

DELIA. Silly mother! (She moves to BELINDA, takes her cup, then crosses to the table and places both the cups on the table— seriously.) I don't think he'll ever be any good till he really gets work. Did you notice his hair this evening?

BELINDA (dreamily). Whose, dear?

DELIA (going to the back of the Chesterfield and to the L. of BELINDA). Mummy, look me in the eye and tell me you are not being bad.

BELINDA (having playfully turned her head away and hidden her face with her handkerchief, says innocently). Bad, darling?

DELIA (moving down to the front of the fireplace). You've made Mr. Robinson fall in love with you.

BELINDA (happily). Have I?

DELIA. Yes; it's serious this time. He's not like the other two.

BELINDA. However did you know that?

DELIA. Oh, I know.

BELINDA. Darling, I believe you've grown up. It's quite time I settled down.

DELIA. With Mr. Robinson?

(BELINDA sits up and looks thoughtfully at DELIA for a little time.)

BELINDA (mysteriously). Delia, are you prepared for a great secret to be revealed to you?

DELIA (childishly and jumping on to the L. arm of the Chesterfield facing BELINDA). Oh, I love secrets.

BELINDA (reproachfully). Darling, you mustn't take it like that. This is a great, deep, dark secret; you'll probably need your sal volatile.

DELIA (excitedly). Go on!

BELINDA. Well— (Looking round the room.) Shall we have the lights down a little?

DELIA. Go on, mummy.

BELINDA. Well, Mr. Robinson is—(impressively)—is not quite the Robinson he appears to be.

DELIA. Yes?

BELINDA. In fact, child, he is— Darling, hadn't you better come and hold your mother's hand?

DELIA (struggling with some emotion and placing her hand on BELINDA'S arm, who playfully smacks it). Go on.

BELINDA. Well, Mr. Robinson is a—sort of relation of yours; in fact— (playing with her rings and looking down coyly)—he is your— father. (She looks up at DELIA to see how the news is being received.) (DELIA gives a happy laugh.)

Dear one, this is not a matter for mirth.

DELIA. Darling, it is lovely, isn't it? (Sliding down to the seat of the Chesterfield next to BELINDA, who moves along to make room for her.) I am laughing because I am so happy.

BELINDA. Aren't you surprised?

DELIA. No. You see, Claude told me this morning. (BELINDA displays annoyance.) He found out just before Mr. Baxter.

BELINDA. Well! Every one seems to have known except me.

DELIA. Didn't you see how friendly father and I got at dinner? I thought I'd better start breaking the ice—because I suppose he'll be kissing me directly.

BELINDA. Say you like him.

DELIA. I think he's going to be awfully nice. (She kisses BELINDA and rises.) Does he know you know?

BELINDA. Not yet.

DELIA. Oh! (She moves to the fireplace and warms her hands.)

BELINDA. Just at present I've rather got Mr. Baxter on my mind. I suppose, darling, you wouldn't like him as well as Mr. Devenish! (Pathetically.) You see, they're so used to going about together.

DELIA. Claude is quite enough.

BELINDA. I think I must see Mr. Baxter and get it over. Do you mind if I have Mr. Devenish too? I feel more at home with both of them. I'll give you him back. Oh dear, I feel so happy to-night! (She jumps up and goes to DELIA.) And is my little girl going to be happy too? That's what mothers always say on the stage. I think it's so sweet.

(They move together to below table.)

DELIA (smiling at her). Yes, I think so, mummy. Of course, I'm not romantic like you. I expect I'm more like father, really.

BELINDA (dreamily). Jack can be romantic now. He was telling me this morning all about the people he has proposed to. I mean, I was telling him. Anyhow, he wasn't a bit like a father. Of course, he doesn't know he is a father yet. Darling, I think you might take him into the garden; only don't let him know who he is. You see, he ought to propose to me first, oughtn't he?

(The men come in from R. TREMAYNE goes to the foot of the settee R., DEVENISH to the back of the table up R., while BAXTER stands at the back of the settee. BELINDA moves to the front of the settee and DELIA sits on the table.)

Here you all are! I do hope you haven't been throwing away your cigars, because smoking is allowed all over the house.

TREMAYNE (as he comes to the foot of the settee). Oh, we've finished, thank you.

BELINDA (going up to the swing doors and opening them). Isn't it a wonderful night?—and so warm for April. Delia, you must show Mr. Robinson the garden by moonlight—it's the only light he hasn't seen it by.

DEVENISH (quickly coming to R. back of table C.). I don't think I've ever seen it by moonlight, Miss Delia.

BELINDA (coming down a little). I thought poets were always seeing things by moonlight.

BAXTER (moving toward BELINDA). I was hoping, Mrs. Tremayne, that—er—perhaps—

DELIA (moving quickly to above TREMAYNE and taking his L. hand, and pulling him up stage to swing doors). Come along, Mr. Robinson.

(TREMAYNE looks at BELINDA, who gives him a nod. BELINDA then moves down R.)

TREMAYNE (L. of DELIA). It's very kind of you, Miss Robinson. I suppose there is no chance of a nightingale?

BELINDA. There ought to be. I ordered one specially for Mr. Devenish.

(DELIA and TREMAYNE go out together. BELINDA, with a sigh, moves over to the Chesterfield and settles herself comfortably into it. DEVENISH, annoyed by TREMAYNE'S attentions to DELIA, crosses up angrily and looks off through the window up L. above fireplace, then comes down L. of the Chesterfield to the front of the fireplace. BAXTER moves up to the swing doors angrily watching DELIA and TREMAYNE, then moves to the window R. and looks off. BETTY then enters with a salver from R. She moves by the back of the settee to the back of the table C., picks up the coffee-cups and goes out R. BAXTER then moves over to the window facing the audience, up L. He looks off, then comes down to the R. of BELINDA.)

Now we're together again. Well, Mr. Devenish?

DEVENISH. Er—I—

BELINDA. No; I think I'll let Mr. Baxter speak first. I know he's longing to.

BAXTER (leaning on the back of the chair L. of table—he clears his throat). H'r'm! Mrs. Tremayne, I beg formally to claim your hand.

BELINDA (sweetly). On what grounds, Mr. Baxter?

DEVENISH (spiritedly). Yes, sir, on what grounds?

BAXTER (coming to R. of Chesterfield, close to BELINDA). On the grounds that, as I told you this morning, I had succeeded in the quest.

DEVENISH (appearing to be greatly surprised). Succeeded?

BAXTER. Yes, Mr. Devenish, young fellow, you have lost. (He moves a few paces R. to below the chair L. of the table.) I have discovered the missing Mr. Robinson.

DEVENISH (wiping hit brow and coming to BAXTER). Who—where—

BAXTER (dramatically). Miss Robinson has at this moment gone out with her father.

DEVENISH (placing his hands heavily on BAXTER'S shoulders, who staggers). Good heavens! It was he!

(BAXTER pats DEVENISH sympathetically and moves to the back of the Chesterfield and is about to speak to BELINDA. She, however, silences him and he drops down to the front of the fireplace.)

BELINDA (sympathetically). Poor Mr. Devenish!

DEVENISH (pointing tragically to the table). And to think that I actually sat on that table—no, that seat (he points to the settee R., then he moves up stage between it and the table)— that I sat there with him this morning, and never guessed! Why, ten minutes ago I was asking him for the nuts!

BAXTER. Aha, Devenish, you're not so clever as you thought you were.

DEVENISH (coming quickly to the back of the chair L. of the table). Why, I must have given you the clue myself! He told me he had a scar on his arm, and I never thought any more of it. And then I went away innocently and left you two talking about it.

BELINDA (alarmed). A scar on his arm?

DEVENISH. Where a lion mauled him.

(BELINDA gives a little cry and shudder.)

BAXTER. It's quite healed up now, Mrs. Tremayne.

BELINDA (looking at him admiringly). A lion! What you two have adventured for my sake!

BAXTER. I suppose you will admit, Devenish, that I may fairly claim to have won?

(Looking the picture of despair, DEVENISH drops down L. of the chair, droops his head, raises his arms and lets them fall hopelessly to his sides.)

BELINDA. Mr. Devenish, I have never admired you so much as I do at this moment. (She extends her R. hand to DEVENISH, who gropes for it with his L. hand and eventually manages to seize it.)

BAXTER (noticing he is holding her hand, moving to them and looking at them quizzically—indignantly to DEVENISH). I say, you know, that's not fair. It's all very well to take your defeat like a man, but you mustn't overdo it. (They release their hands.) Mrs. Tremayne, I claim the reward which I have earned.

BELINDA (after a pause and rising). Mr. Baxter—Mr. Devenish, I have something to tell you.

(DEVENISH moves to her R.)

(BELINDA kneels upon the Chesterfield facing them. Penitently.) I have not been quite frank with you. I think you both ought to know that— I—I made a mistake. Delia is not my niece; she is my daughter. (She buries her face in her hands.)

DEVENISH. Your daughter! I say, how ripping!

(BELINDA gives him an understanding look.)

BAXTER. Your daughter!

BELINDA. Yes.

BAXTER. But—but you aren't old enough to have a daughter of that age.

BELINDA (apologetically). Well, there she is.

BAXTER. But—but she's grown up.

BELINDA. Quite.

BAXTER. Then in that case you must be—(He hesitates, evidently working it out.)

BELINDA (hastily). I'm afraid so, Mr. Baxter.

BAXTER. But this makes a great difference. I had no idea. Why, when I'm fifty you would be—

BELINDA (sighing). Yes, I suppose I should.

BAXTER. And when I'm sixty—

BELINDA (pleadingly to DEVENISH). Can't you stop him?

DEVENISH (with a threatening gesture). Look here, Baxter, another word from you and you'll never get to sixty.

BAXTER. And then there's Miss—er—Delia. In the event of our marrying, Mrs. Tremayne, she, I take it, would be my step-daughter.

BELINDA. I don't think she would trouble us much, Mr. Baxter. (With a sly look at DEVENISH.) I have an idea that she will be getting married before long. (She again glances at DEVENISH, who returns her look gratefully.)

BAXTER (moving up L. into the inner room). None the less, the fact would be disturbing.

(DEVENISH with a wink at BELINDA crosses in front of her and warms his hands at the fire. BELINDA watches BAXTER over the back of the Chesterfield.)

I have never yet considered myself seriously as a step-father. (Moving round the refectory table.) I don't think I am going too far if I say that to some extent I have been deceived in this matter. (He comes down to behind the C. table.)

BELINDA (reproachfully). And so have I. I thought you loved me.

DEVENISH (sympathetically). Yes, yes.

BELINDA (turning to him suddenly). And Mr. Devenish too.

BAXTER (moving to BELINDA). Er—

DEVENISH. Er—

(They stand before her guiltily and have nothing to say.)

BELINDA (with a shrug). Well, I shall have to marry somebody else, that's all.

BAXTER (moving to below table). Who? Who?

BELINDA. I suppose Mr. Robinson. After all, if I am Delia's mother, and Mr. Baxter says that Mr. Robinson's her father, it's about time we were married.

DEVENISH (eagerly). Mrs. Tremayne, what fools we are! He is your husband all the time!

BELINDA. Yes.

BAXTER (moving up to the R. of BELINDA). You've had a husband all the time?

BELINDA (apologetically). I lost him; it wasn't my fault.

BAXTER. Really, this is very confusing. I don't know where I am. I gather—I am to gather, it seems, that you are no longer eligible as a possible wife?

BELINDA. I am afraid not, Mr. Baxter.

BAXTER. But this is very confusing—(moving towards the swing doors)—this is very disturbing to a man of my age. For weeks past I have been regarding myself as a—a possible benedict. I have—ah—taken steps. (Back to the L. end of the C. table.) Only this morning, in writing to my housekeeper, I warned her that she might hear at any moment a most startling announcement.

DEVENISH (cheerfully). Oh, that's all right. That might only mean that you were getting a new bowler-hat.

BAXTER (dropping down L.C. a few steps—suddenly). Ah, and what about you, sir? How is it that you take this so lightly? (Triumphantly.) I have it. It all becomes clear to me. You have transferred your affections to her daughter!

DEVENISH. Oh, I say, Baxter, this is very crude.

BELINDA. And why should he not, Mr. Baxter? (Softly.) He has made me very happy.

BAXTER (staggered). He has made you happy, Mrs. Tremayne!

BELINDA. Very happy.

BAXTER (thoughtfully). Oh! Oh ho! Oh ho! (He takes a turn up the room into the inner room, muttering to himself. BELINDA kneels and watches him over the back of the Chesterfield. Then he comes down again to her R. side.) Mrs. Tremayne, I have taken a great resolve. (Solemnly.) I also will make you happy. (Thumping his heart.) I also will woo Miss Delia.

BELINDA. Oh!

DEVENISH. Look here, Baxter—

BAXTER (suddenly crossing and seizing DEVENISH'S arm and pulling him towards the siding doors up R. between the Chesterfield and the table). Come, we will seek Miss Delia together.

(BELINDA seizes DEVENISH'S hand as he is passing and he, clinging to it, nearly pulls her off the Chesterfield. She is very amused.)

It may be that she will send us upon another quest in which I shall again be victorious.

(BELINDA releases her hand and slips down into the Chesterfield. Tempestuously.)

Come, I say—

(He marches the resisting DEVENISH to the swing doors.)

Let us put it to the touch, to win or lose it all.

DEVENISH (turning and appealing to BELINDA). Please!

BELINDA (gently). Mr. Baxter... Harold.

(BAXTER stops and turns round.)

You are too impetuous. I think that as Delia's mother—

BAXTER (coming down R. to the foot of the C. table). Your pardon, Mrs. Tremayne. In the intoxication of the moment I am forgetting. (Formally.) I have the honour to ask your permission to pay my addresses—(Moves to chair L. of table.)

BELINDA. No, no, I didn't mean that. But, as Delia's mother, I ought to warn you that she is hardly fitted to take the place of your housekeeper. She is not very domesticated.

BAXTER (indignantly). Not domesticated? (Sits L. of table.) Why, did I not hear her tell her father at dinner that she had arranged all the flowers?

BELINDA. There are other things than flowers.

DEVENISH (on BAXTER'S R., behind the table). Bed-socks, for instance, Baxter.

(BAXTER is annoyed.)

It's a very tricky thing airing bed-socks. I am sure your house-keeper—

BAXTER (silencing DEVENISH). Mrs. Tremayne, she will learn. The daughter of such a mother... I need say no more.

BELINDA. Oh, thank you. But there is something else, Mr. Baxter. You are not being quite fair to yourself. In starting out upon this simultaneous wooing, you forget that Mr. Devenish has already had his turn—(DEVENISH tries to stop her. BAXTER turns round and nearly catches him.)—this morning alone. You should have yours ... alone ... too.

DEVENISH. Oh, I say!

BAXTER. Yes, yes, you are right. I must introduce myself first as a suitor. I see that. (Rising, to DEVENISH.) You stay here; I will go alone into the garden, and—(Moving below table and up to the swing doors.)

BELINDA. It is perhaps a little cold out of doors for people of ... of our age, Mr. Baxter. Now, in the library—

BAXTER (at the swing doors, turning to her, astonished). Library?

BELINDA. Yes.

BAXTER (moving down R. a little). You have a library?

BELINDA (to DEVENISH). He doesn't believe I have a library.

DEVENISH. You ought to see the library, Baxter.

BAXTER (moving more down to below R. of table). But you are continually springing surprises on me this evening, Mrs. Tremayne. First a daughter, then a husband, and then—a library! I have been here three weeks, and I never knew you had a library. Dear me, I wonder how it is that I never saw it?

BELINDA (modestly, rising). I thought you came to see me.

BAXTER. Yes, yes, to see you, certainly. But if I had known you had a library ....

BELINDA. Oh, I am so glad I mentioned it. Wasn't it lucky, Mr. Devenish?

BAXTER. My work has been greatly handicapped of late.

(DELIA and TREMAYNE enter the garden from up L. and pass the window at the back.)

BELINDA (sweetly). By me?

BAXTER. I was about to say by lack of certain books to which I wanted to refer. It would be a great help. (He moves up R, reflectively muttering "Library.")

BELINDA (moving below and to R. of C. table). My dear Mr. Baxter, my whole library is at your disposal. (She turns to DEVENISH, who is on her L., and at the back of the table. She speaks in a confidential whisper.) I'm just going to show him the Encyclopedia Britannica. (She moves below the settee to the door R.) You won't mind waiting—Delia will be in directly.

(BAXTER, still muttering "Library," crosses to the door and opens it for her. She goes out and he follows her. DEVENISH moves to the R. of the swing doors and welcomes DELIA and TREMAYNE. TREMAYNE enters from the portico and holds open the swing doors for DELIA.)

DELIA (speaking from the portico). Hullo, we're just coming in.

(They enter and DELIA moves down R. of the table.)

TREMAYNE. Where's Mrs. Tremayne?

DEVENISH (moving to down R.). She's gone to the library with Baxter.

TREMAYNE (coming down on DELIA'S R. side—carelessly). Oh, the library. Where's that?

DEVENISH (promptly going towards the door, opening it and standing above it). The end door on the right.

(DELIA sits on the R. end of the table facing R.)

Right at the end. You can't mistake it. On the right.

TREMAYNE. Ah, yes. (He looks round at DELIA, who points significantly at the door twice.) Yes. (He looks at DEVENISH.) Yes. (He goes out.)

(DEVENISH hastily shuts the door and comes back to DELIA.)

DEVENISH. I say, your mother is a ripper.

DELIA (enthusiastically). Isn't she! (Remembering.) At least, you mean my aunt?

DEVENISH (smiling at her). No, I mean your mother. To think that I once had the cheek to propose to her.

DELIA. Oh! Is it cheek to propose to people!

DEVENISH. To her.

DELIA. But not to me?

DEVENISH. Oh I say, Delia!

DELIA (with great dignity). Thank you, my name is Miss Robinson— I mean, Tremayne.

DEVENISH. Well, if you're not quite sure which it is, it's much safer to call you Delia.

DELIA (smiling). Well, perhaps it is.

DEVENISH. And if I did propose to you, you haven't answered

DELIA (sitting in the chair R. of the table). If you want an answer now, it's no; but if you like to wait till next April—

DEVENISH (moving up to behind table—reproachfully). Oh, I say, and I cut my hair for you the same afternoon. (Turning quickly.) You haven't really told me how you like it yet.

DELIA. Oh, how bad of me! You look lovely.

DEVENISH (sitting at back of the table). And I promised to give up poetry for your sake.

DELIA. Perhaps I oughtn't to have asked you that.

DEVENISH. As far as I'm concerned, Delia, I'll do it gladly, but, of course, one has to think about posterity.

DELIA. But you needn't be a poet. You could give posterity plenty to think about if you were a statesman.

DEVENISH. I don't quite see your objection to poetry.

DELIA. You would be about the house so much. I want you to go away every day and do great things, and then come home in the evening and tell me all about it.

DEVENISH. Then you are thinking of marrying me!

DELIA. Well, I was just thinking in case I had to.

DEVENISH (he rises and taking her hands, raises her from the chair. She backs a step to R.). Do. It would be rather fun if you did. And look here—(he pulls her gently back. They both sit on the table. He places his arm round her waist)—I will be a statesman, if you like, and go up to Downing Street every day, and come back in the evening and tell you all about it.

DELIA. How nice of you!

DEVENISH (magnificently, holding up his L. hand to Heaven). Farewell, Parnassus!

DELIA (pulling down his hand). What does that mean?

DEVENISH. Well, it means that I've chucked poetry. A statesman's life is the life for me; behold Mr. Devenish, the new M.P.—(she holds up her L. hand admonishingly and he laughs apologetically )—no, look here, that was quite accidental.

DELIA (smiling at him). I believe I shall really like you when I get to know you.

DEVENISH. I don't know if it's you, or Devonshire, or the fact that I've had my hair cut, but I feel quite a different being from what I was three days ago.

DELIA. You are different. (They both rise from the table. She pulls him to R. one step.) Perhaps it's your sense of humour coming back.

DEVENISH. Perhaps that's it. It's a curious feeling.

DELIA (pulling him towards the swing doors). Let's go outside; there's a heavenly moon.

DEVENISH. Moon? Moon? Now where have I heard that word before?

DELIA. What do you mean?

DEVENISH. I was trying not to be a poet.

(DELIA opens the doors.)

Well, I'll come with you, but I shall refuse to look at it. (Putting his L. hand behind his back, he walks slowly out with her, saying to himself) The Prime Minister then left the House.

(They cross the windows at the back and go off L.)

(BELINDA and TREMAYNE come from the library, the latter holding the door for her to pass.)

BELINDA (moving below the settee across the room). Thank you. I don't think it's unkind to leave him, do you? He seemed quite happy.

TREMAYNE (following her). I shouldn't have been happy if we'd stayed.

BELINDA (reaching the Chesterfield she puts her feet up. Her head it towards L.). Yes, but I was really thinking of Mr. Baxter.

TREMAYNE (above table C.). Not of me?

BELINDA. Well, I thought it was Mr. Baxter's turn. Poor man, he's had a disappointment lately.

TREMAYNE (coming to B. of the Chesterfield—eagerly). A disappointment?

BELINDA. Yes, he thought I was—younger than I was.

TREMAYNE (smiling to himself). How old are you, Belinda?

BELINDA (dropping her eyes). Twenty-two. (After a pause.) He thought I was eighteen. Such a disappointment!

TREMAYNE (smiling openly at her). Belinda, how old are you?

BELINDA. Just about the right age, Mr. Robinson.

TREMAYNE. The right age for what?

BELINDA. For this sort of conversation.

TREMAYNE. Shall I tell you how old you are?

BELINDA. Do you mean in figures or—poetically?

TREMAYNE. I meant—

BELINDA. Mr. Devenish said I was as old as the—now, I must get this the right way round—as old as the—

TREMAYNE. I don't want to talk about Mr. Devenish.

BELINDA (with a sigh). Nobody ever does—except Mr. Devenish. As old as the stars, and as young as the dawn. (Settling herself cosily.) I think that's rather a nice age to be, don't you?

TREMAYNE. A very nice age to be.

BELINDA. It's a pity he's thrown me over for Delia; I shall miss that sort of thing rather. You don't say those sort of things about your aunt-in-law—not so often.

TREMAYNE (eagerly). He really is in love with Miss Robinson!

BELINDA. Oh yes. I expect he is out in the moonlight with her now, comparing her to Diana.

TREMAYNE. Well, that accounts for him. Now what about Baxter?

BELINDA. I thought I told you. Deeply disappointed to find that I was four years older than he expected, Mr. Baxter hurried from the drawing- room and buried himself in a column of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

TREMAYNE. Well, that settles Baxter. Are there any more men in the neighbourhood?

BELINDA (shaking her head). Isn't it awful? I've only had those two for the last three weeks.

(TREMAYNE sits on the back of the Chesterfield and looks down at her.)

TREMAYNE. Belinda.

BELINDA. Yes, Henry!

TREMAYNE. My name is John.

BELINDA. Well, you never told me. I had to guess. Everybody thinks they can call me Belinda without giving me the least idea what their own names are. You were saying, John?

TREMAYNE. My friends call me Jack.

BELINDA. Jack Robinson. That's the man who always goes away so quickly. I hope you're making more of a stay?

TREMAYNE (seizing her by both arms). Oh, you maddening, maddening woman!

BELINDA. Well, I have to keep the conversation going. You do nothing but say "Belinda."

TREMAYNE (taking her hand). Have you ever loved anybody seriously, Belinda?

BELINDA. I don't ever do anything very seriously. The late Mr. Tremayne, my first husband—Jack— Isn't it funny, his name was Jack—he used to complain about it too sometimes.

TREMAYNE (with conviction). Silly ass!

BELINDA. Ah, I think you are a little hard on the late Mr. Tremayne.

TREMAYNE. Belinda, I want you to marry me and forget about him.

BELINDA (happily to herself and lying back). This is the proposal that those lamb cutlets interrupted this morning.

TREMAYNE. Belinda, I love you—do you understand?

BELINDA. Suppose my first husband turns up suddenly like—like E. A.?

TREMAYNE. Like who?

BELINDA. Well, like anybody.

TREMAYNE. He won't—I know he won't. Don't you love me enough to risk it, Belinda?

BELINDA. I haven't really said I love you at all yet.

TREMAYNE. Well, say it now.

(BELINDA looks at him, and then down again.)

You do! Well, I'm going to have a kiss, anyway, (He kisses her quickly—moves to L. of Chesterfield.) There!

BELINDA (rising). O-oh I The late Mr. Tremayne never did that. (She powders her nose.)

TREMAYNE. I have already told you that he was a silly ass. (He makes a move as if to kiss her again.)

BELINDA (holding up her hand and sitting on the R. side of the Chesterfield). I shall scream for Mr. Baxter.

TREMAYNE (sitting down on the Chesterfield, on her L, side.) Belinda—

BELINDA. Yes, Henry—I mean, Jack?

TREMAYNE. Do you know who I am! (He is thoroughly enjoying the surprise he is about to give her.)

BELINDA (nodding). Yes, Jack.

TREMAYNE. Who?

BELINDA. Jack Tremayne.

TREMAYNE (jumping up). Good heavens, you know!

BELINDA (gently). Yes, Jack.

TREMAYNE (angrily). You've known all the time that I was your husband, and you've been playing with me and leading me on.

BELINDA (mildly). Well, darling, you knew all the time that I was your wife, and you've been making love to me and leading me on.

TREMAYNE. That's different.

BELINDA (to herself). That's just what the late Mr. Tremayne said, and then he slammed the door and went straight off to the Rocky Mountains and shot bears; and I didn't see him again for eighteen years.

TREMAYNE (remorsefully). Darling, I was a fool then, and I'm a fool now.

BELINDA. I was a fool then, but I'm not such a fool now—I'm not going to let you go. It's quite time I married and settled down.

TREMAYNE. You darling I (He kisses her.) How did you find out who I was?

BELINDA (awkwardly). Well, it was rather curious, darling. (After a pause.) It was April, and I felt all sort of Aprily, and—and—there was the garden all full of daffodils—and—and there was Mr. Baxter—the one we left in the library—knowing all about moles. He's probably got the M. volume down now. Well, we were talking about them one day, and I happened to say that the late Mr. Tremayne—that was you, darling—had rather a peculiar one on his arm. And then he happened to see it this morning and told me about it.

TREMAYNE. What an extraordinary story!

BELINDA. Yes, darling; it's really much more extraordinary than that. I think perhaps I'd better tell you the rest of it another time. (Coaxingly.) Now show me where the nasty lion scratched you.

(TREMAYNE pulls up his sleeve.) Oh! (She kisses his arm.) You shouldn't have left Chelsea, darling.

TREMAYNE. I should never have found you if I hadn't.

BELINDA (squeezing his arm). No, Jack, you wouldn't. (After a pause.) I—I've got another little surprise for you if—if you're ready for it. (Standing up and moving to the chair L. of the table.) Properly speaking, I ought to be wearing white. I shall certainly stand up while I'm telling you. (Modestly.) Darling, we have a daughter—our little Delia. (He is standing in front of the fireplace.)

TREMAYNE. Delia? You said her name was Robinson.

BELINDA. Yes, darling, but you said yours was. One always takes one's father's name. Unless, of course, you were Lord Robinson.

TREMAYNE. But you said her name was Robinson before you—

(She makes a playful move.)

—Oh, never mind about that. A daughter? Belinda, how could you let me go and not tell me?

BELINDA. You forget how you'd slammed the door. It isn't the sort of thing you shout through the window to a man on his way to America.

TREMAYNE (taking her in his arms). Oh, Belinda, don't let me ever go away again.

(DEVENISH and DELIA enter from up L. and pass the windows on the way to the swing doors.)

BELINDA. I'm not going to, Jack. I'm going to settle down into a staid old married woman.

TREMAYNE. Oh no, you're not. You're going on just as you did before. And I'm going to propose to you every April, and win you, over all the other men in love with you.

BELINDA. You darling! (They embrace.)

(DELIA and DEVENISH come in from the garden.)

TREMAYNE (quietly to BELINDA). Our daughter.

DELIA (going up to TREMAYNE). You're my father.

TREMAYNE. If you don't mind very much, Delia.

DELIA. You've been away a long time.

TREMAYNE. I'll do my best to make up for it.

BELINDA. Delia, darling, I think you might kiss your poor old father.

(As the does to, DEVENISH suddenly and hastily kisses BELINDA on the cheek.)

DEVENISH. Just in case you're going to be my mother-in-law.

TREMAYNE. We seem to be rather a family party.

BELINDA (suddenly). There! (Moving to the door L.) We've forgotten Mr. Baxter again.

BAXTER (who has come in quietly with a book in his hand). Oh, don't mind about me, Mrs. Tremayne. I've enjoyed myself immensely. (He crosses to the arm-chair below the fireplace and places it in front of the fire.)

(BELINDA and TREMAYNE move up into the inner room by the refectory table and embrace, their backs to BAXTER. DELIA and DEVENISH are by the swing doors. They also embrace, their backs to BAXTER.)

(Referring to his book.) I have been collecting some most valuable information on (looking round at them and sitting in the arm-chair and continuing to read) lunacy in the—er—county of Devonshire.

(The CURTAIN falls.)