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Title:      The Millionairess (1936)
Author:     George Bernard Shaw
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Edition:    1
Language:   English
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Date first posted:          February 2003
Date most recently updated: February 2003

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A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook

Title:      The Millionairess (1936)
Author:     George Bernard Shaw




Preface to etext edition:  The printed source excludes apostrophes
from most contractions, i.e. don't becomes dont.  This extext
reproduces that style.







CONTENTS


PREFACE ON BOSSES


THE MILLIONAIRESS

ACT I

ACT II

ACT III

ACT IV



PREFACE ON BOSSES


Though this play of The Millionairess does not pretend to be
anything more than a comedy of humorous and curious contemporary
characters, such as Ben Jonson might write were he alive now, yet
it raises a question that has troubled human life and moulded human
society since the creation.

The law is equal before all of us; but we are not all equal before
the law.  Virtually there is one law for the rich and another for
the poor, one law for the cunning and another for the simple, one
law for the forceful and another for the feeble, one law for the
ignorant and another for the learned, one law for the brave and
another for the timid, and within family limits one law for the
parent and no law at all for the child.

In the humblest cabin that contains a family you may find a
maîtresse femme who rules in the household by a sort of divine
right.  She may rule amiably by being able to think more quickly
and see further than the others, or she may be a tyrant ruling
violently by intensity of will and ruthless egotism.  She may be a
grandmother and she may be a girl.  But the others find they are
unable to resist her.  Often of course the domestic tyrant is a
man; but the phenomenon is not so remarkable in his case, as he is
by convention the master and lawgiver of the hearthstone.

In every business street you will find a shopkeeper who is always
in difficulties and ends his business adventures in the bankruptcy
court.  Hard by you will find another shopkeeper, with no greater
advantages to start with, or possibly less, who makes larger and
larger profits, and inspires more and more confidence in his
banker, until he ends as the millionaire head of a giant multiple
shop.

How does the captain of a pirate ship obtain his position and
maintain his authority over a crew of scoundrels who are all, like
himself, outside the law?  How does an obscure village priest, the
son of humble fisherfolk, come to wear the triple crown and sit in
the papal chair?  How do common soldiers become Kings, Shahs, and
Dictators?  Why does a hereditary peer find that he is a nonentity
in a grand house organized and ruled by his butler?

Questions like these force themselves on us so continually and
ruthlessly that many turn in despair from Socialism and political
reform on the ground that to abolish all the institutional
tyrannies would only deliver the country helplessly into the hands
of the born bosses.  A king, a prelate, a squire, a capitalist, a
justice of the peace may be a good kind Christian soul, owing his
position, as most of us do, to being the son of his father; but a
born boss is one who rides roughshod over us by some mysterious
power that separates him from our species and makes us fear him:
that is, hate him.

What is to be done with that section of the possessors of specific
talents whose talent is for moneymaking?  History and daily
experience teach us that if the world does not devise some plan of
ruling them, they will rule the world.  Now it is not desirable
that they should rule the world; for the secret of moneymaking is
to care for nothing else and to work at nothing else; and as the
world's welfare depends on operations by which no individual can
make money, whilst its ruin by war and drink and disease and drugs
and debauchery is enormously profitable to moneymakers, the
supremacy of the moneymaker is the destruction of the State.  A
society which depends on the incentive of private profit is doomed.

And what about ambitious people who possess commanding business
ability or military genius or both?  They are irresistible unless
they are restrained by law; for ordinary individuals are helpless
in their hands.  Are they to be the masters of society or its
servants?

What should the nineteenth century have done in its youth with
Rothschild and Napoleon?  What is the United States to do with its
money kings and bosses?  What are we to do with ours?  How is the
mediocre private citizen to hold his own with the able bullies and
masterful women who establish family despotisms, school despotisms,
office despotisms, religious despotisms in their little circles all
over the country?  Our boasted political liberties are a mockery to
the subjects of such despotisms.  They may work well when the
despot is benevolent; but they are worse than any political tyranny
in the selfish cases.

It is much more difficult to attack a personal despotism than an
institutional one.  Monarchs can be abolished: they have been
abolished in all directions during the last century and a half,
with the result, however, of sometimes replacing a personally
amiable and harmless monarch, reigning under strict constitutional
and traditional restraints, by energetic dictators and presidents
who, having made hay of constitutions and traditions, are under no
restraints at all.  A hereditary monarch, on the throne because he
is the son of his father, may be a normal person, amenable to
reasonable advice from his councils, and exercising no authority
except that conferred on him (or her) by the Constitution.  Behead
him, as we beheaded our Charles, or the French their Louis, and the
born despot Cromwell or Napoleon (I purposely avoid glaring
contemporary examples because I am not quite sure where they will
be by the time this book is published) takes his place.  The same
mysterious personal force that makes the household tyrant, the
school tyrant, the office tyrant, the brigand chief and the pirate
captain, brings the born boss to the top by a gravitation that
ordinary people cannot resist.

The successful usurpers of thrones are not the worst cases.  The
political usurper may be an infernal scoundrel, ruthless in murder,
treachery, and torture; but once his ambition is achieved and he
has to rule a nation, the magnitude and difficulty of his job, and
the knowledge that if he makes a mess of it he will fall as
suddenly as he has risen, will civilize him with a ruthlessness
greater than his own.  When Henry IV usurped the English crown he
certainly did not intend to die of political overwork; but that is
what happened to him.  No political ruler could possibly be as
wickedly selfish and cruel as the tyrant of a private house.  Queen
Elizabeth was a maîtresse femme; but she could have had her own way
much more completely as landlady of the Mermaid Tavern than she had
as sovereign of England.  Because Nero and Paul I of Russia could
not be made to understand this, they were killed like mad dogs by
their own courtiers.  But our petty fireside tyrants are not
killed.  Christina of Sweden would not have had to abdicate if her
realm had been a ten-roomed villa.  Had Catherine II reigned over
her husband only, she need not nor could not have had him murdered;
but as Tsarina she was forced to liquidate poor Peter very much
against her own easy good nature, which prevented her from scolding
her maids properly.

Modern Liberal democracy claims unlimited opportunities for
tyranny: qualification for rule by heredity and class narrows it
and puts it in harness and blinkers.  Especially does such
democracy favor money rule.  It is in fact not democracy at all,
but unashamed plutocracy.  And as the meanest creature can become
rich if he devotes his life to it, and the people with wider and
more generous interests become or remain poor with equal certainty,
plutocracy is the very devil socially, because it creates a sort of
Gresham law by which the baser human currency drives out the nobler
coinage.  This is quite different from the survival of the fittest
in the contests of character and talent which are independent of
money.  If Moses is the only tribesman capable of making a code of
laws, he inevitably becomes Lawgiver to all the tribes, and,
equally inevitably, is forced to add to what he can understand of
divine law a series of secular regulations designed to maintain his
personal authority.  If he finds that it is useless to expect the
tribesmen to obey his laws as a matter of common sense, he must
persuade them that his inspiration is the result of direct and
miraculous communication with their deity.  Moses and Mahomet and
Joseph Smith the Mormon had to plead divine revelations to get them
out of temporary and personal difficulties as well as out of
eternal and impersonal ones.  As long as an individual of their
calibre remains the indispensable man (or woman) doing things that
the common man can neither do without nor do for himself, he will
be, up to a point, the master of the common man in spite of all the
democratic fudge that may be advanced to the contrary.

Of course there are limits.  He cannot go to the lengths at which
the common man will believe him to be insane or impious: when
measures of that complexion are necessary, as they very often are,
he must either conceal them or mask them as follies of the sort the
common man thinks splendid.  If the ruler thinks it well to begin a
world war he must persuade his people that it is a war to end war,
and that the people he wants them to kill are diabolical
scoundrels; and if he is forced to suspend hostilities for a while,
and does so by a treaty which contains the seeds of half a dozen
new wars and is impossible enough in its conditions to make its
violation certain, he must create a general belief that it is a
charter of eternal peace and a monument of retributive justice.

In this way the most honest ruler becomes a tyrant and a fabricator
of legends and falsehoods, not out of any devilment in himself, but
because those whom he rules do not understand his business, and, if
they did, would not sacrifice their own immediate interests to the
permanent interests of the nation or the world.  In short, a ruler
must not only make laws, and rule from day to day: he must, by
school instruction and printed propaganda, create and maintain an
artificial mentality which will endorse his proceedings and obey
his authority.  This mentality becomes what we call Conservatism;
and the revolt against it when it is abused oppressively or becomes
obsolete as social conditions change, is classed as sedition, and
reviled as Radicalism, Anarchism, Bolshevism, or what you please.

When a mentality is created and a code imposed, the born ruler, the
Moses or Lenin, is no longer indispensable: routine government by
dunderheads becomes possible and in fact preferable as long as the
routine is fairly appropriate to the current phase of social
development.  The assumption of the more advanced spirits that
revolutionists are always right is as questionable as the
conservative assumption that they are always wrong.  The
industrious dunderhead who always does what was done last time
because he is incapable of conceiving anything better, makes the
best routineer.  This explains the enormous part played by
dunderheads as such in the history of all nations, provoking
repeated explanations of surprise at the littleness of the wisdom
with which the world is governed.

But what of the ambitious usurper? the person who has a capacity
for kingship but has no kingdom and must therefore acquire a
readymade one which is getting along in its own way very well
without him?  It cannot be contended with any plausibility that
William the Conqueror was indispensable in England: he wanted
England and grabbed it.  He did this by virtue of his personal
qualities, entirely against the will of the people of England, who,
as far as they were politically conscious at all, would have
greatly preferred Harold.  But William had all the qualities that
make an individual irresistible: the physical strength and ferocity
of a king of beasts, the political genius of a king of men, the
strategic cunning and tactical gumption of a military genius; and
nothing that France or England could say or do prevailed against
him.  What are we to do with such people?

When an established political routine breaks down and produces
political chaos, a combination of personal ambition with military
genius and political capacity in a single individual gives that
individual his opportunity.  Napoleon, if he had been born a
century earlier, would have had no more chance of becoming emperor
of the French than Marshal Saxe had of supplanting Louis XV.  In
spite of the French Revolution, he was a very ordinary snob in his
eighteenth-century social outlook.  His assumption of the imperial
diadem, his ridiculous attempt to establish the little Buonaparte
family on all the thrones under his control, his remanufacture of a
titular aristocracy to make a court for himself, his silly
insistence on imperial etiquette when he was a dethroned and
moribund prisoner in St Helena, shew that, for all his genius, he
was and always had been behind the times.  But he was for a time
irresistible because, though he could fight battles on academic
lines only, and was on that point a routineer soldier, he could
play the war game on the established procedure so superbly that all
the armies of Europe crumpled up before him.  It was easy for anti-
Bonapartist writers, from Taine to Mr H. G. Wells, to disparage him
as a mere cad; but Goethe, who could face facts, and on occasion
rub them in, said simply 'You shake your chains in vain.'
Unfortunately for himself and Europe Napoleon was fundamentally a
commonplace human fool.  In spite of his early failure in the east
he made a frightful draft on the manhood of France for his march to
Moscow, only to hurry back leaving his legions dead in the snow,
and thereafter go from disaster to disaster.  Bernadotte, the
lawyer's son who enlisted as a common soldier and ended unconquered
on the throne of Sweden (his descendants still hold it), made a far
better job of his affairs.  When for the first time Napoleon came
up against a really original commander at Waterloo, he still made
all the textbook moves he had learnt at the military academy, and
did not know when he was beaten until it was too late to do
anything but run away.  Instead of making for America at all
hazards he threw himself on the magnanimity of the Prince Regent,
who obviously could not have spared him even if he had wanted to.
His attempt to wedge himself and his upstart family into the old
dynasties by his divorce and his Austrian marriage ended in making
him a notorious cuckold.  But the vulgarer fool and the paltrier
snob you prove Napoleon to have been, the more alarming becomes the
fact that this shabby-genteel Corsican subaltern (and a very
unsatisfactory subaltern at that) dominated Europe for years, and
placed on his own head the crown of Charlemagne.  Is there really
nothing to be done with such men but submit to them until, having
risen by their specialities, they ruin themselves by their
vulgarities?

It was easy for Napoleon to make a better job of restoring order
after the French Revolution than Sieyès, who tried to do it by
writing paper constitutions, or than a plucky bully like Barras,
who cared for nothing except feathering his own nest.  Any tidy and
public spirited person could have done as much with the necessary
prestige.  Napoleon got that prestige by feeding the popular
appetite for military glory.  He could not create that natural
appetite; but he could feed it by victories; and he could use all
the devices of journalism and pageantry and patriotic braggadocio
to make La Gloire glorious.  And all this because, like William the
Conqueror, he had the group of talents that make a successful
general and democratic ruler.  Had not the French Revolution so
completely failed to produce a tolerable government to replace the
monarchy it overthrew, and thereby reduced itself to desperation,
Napoleon would have been only a famous general like Saxe or
Wellington or Marlborough, who under similar circumstances could
and indeed must have become kings if they had been ungovernable
enough to desire it.  Only the other day a man without any of the
social advantages of these commanders made himself Shah of Iran.

Julius Caesar and Cromwell also mounted on the débris of collapsing
political systems; and both of them refused crowns.  But no crown
could have added to the power their military capacity gave them,
Caesar bribed enormously; but there were richer men than he in Rome
to play that game.  Only, they could not have won the battle of
Pharsalia.  Cromwell proved invincible in the field--such as it
was.

It is not, however, these much hackneyed historical figures that
trouble us now.  Pharsalias and Dunbars and Waterloos are things of
the past: battles nowadays last several months and then peter out
on barbed wire under the fire of machine guns.  Suppose Ludendorff
had been a Napoleon, and Haig a Marlborough, Wellington, and
Cromwell rolled into one, what more could they have done than
either declare modern war impossible or else keep throwing masses
of infantry in the old fashion against slaughtering machinery like
pigs in Chicago?  Napoleon's booklearnt tactics and the columns
that won so many battles for him would have no more chance nowadays
than the ragged Irish pikemen on Vinegar Hill; and Wellington's
thin red line and his squares would have vanished in the fumes of
T.N.T. on the Somme.  'The Nelson touch' landed a section of the
British fleet at the bottom of the Dardanelles.  And yet this war,
which, if it did not end civilized war (perhaps it did, by the way,
though the War Office may not yet have realized it) at least made
an end of the supremacy of the glory virtuoso who can play
brilliant variations on the battle of Hastings, has been followed
by such a group of upstart autocrats as the world had ceased to
suppose possible.  Mussolini, Hitler, Kemal and Riza Khan began in
the ranks, and have no Marengos to their credit; yet there they are
at the top!

Here again the circumstances gave the men their opportunity.
Neither Mussolini nor Hitler could have achieved their present
personal supremacy when I was born in the middle of the nineteenth
century, because the prevailing mentality of that deluded time was
still hopefully parliamentary.  Democracy was a dream, an ideal.
Everything would be well when all men had votes.  Everything would
be better than well when all women had votes.  There was a great
fear of public opinion because it was a dumb phantom which every
statesman could identify with his own conscience and dread as the
Nemesis of unscrupulous ambition.  That was the golden age of
democracy: the phantom was a real and beneficent force.  Many
delusions are.  In those days even our Conservative rulers agreed
that we were a liberty loving people: that, for instance,
Englishmen would never tolerate compulsory military service as the
slaves of foreign despots did.

It was part of the democratic dream that Parliament was an
instrument for carrying out the wishes of the voters, absurdly
called its constituents.  And as, in the nineteenth century, it was
still believed that British individual liberty forbad Parliament to
do anything that it could possibly leave to private enterprise,
Parliament was able to keep up its reputation by simply maintaining
an effective police force and enforcing private contracts.  Even
Factory Acts and laws against adulteration and sweating were
jealously resisted as interferences with the liberty of free
Britons.  If there was anything wrong, the remedy was an extension
of the franchise.  Like Hamlet, we lived on the chameleon's dish
'air, promise crammed.'

But you cannot create a mentality out of promises without having to
face occasional demands for their materialization.  The Treasury
Bench was up for auction at every election, the bidding being in
promises.  The political parties, finding it much less troublesome
to give the people votes than to carry out reforms, at last
established adult suffrage.

The result was a colossal disappointment and disillusion.  The
phantom of Democracy, alias Public Opinion, which, acting as an
artificial political conscience, had restrained Gladstone and
Disraeli, vanished.  The later parliamentary leaders soon learnt
from experience that they might with perfect impunity tell the
nation one thing on Tuesday and the opposite on Friday without
anyone noticing the discrepancy.  The donkey had overtaken the
carrots at last; and instead of eating them he allowed them to be
snatched away from him by any confidence trickster who told him to
look up into the sky.

The diplomatists immediately indulged themselves with a prodigiously
expensive war, after which the capitalist system, which had
undertaken to find employment for everybody at subsistence wages,
and which, though it had never fulfilled that undertaking, had at
least found employment for enough of them to leave the rest too few
to be dangerous, defaulted in respect of unprecedented millions of
unemployed, who had to be bought off by doles administered with a
meanness and cruelty which revived all the infamies of the Poor Law
of a century ago (the days of Oliver Twist) and could not be
administered in any kinder way without weakening the willingness
of its recipients to prefer even the poorliest paid job to its
humiliations.

The only way of escape was for the Government to organize the labor
of the unemployed for the supply of their own needs.  But
Parliament not only could not do this, but could and did prevent
its being done.  In vain did the voters use their votes to place a
Labor Government, with a Cabinet of Socialists, on the Treasury
Bench.  Parliament took these men, who had been intransigent
Socialists and revolutionists all their lives, and reduced them to
a condition of political helplessness in which they were
indistinguishable except by name from the most reactionary members
of the House of Lords or the military clubs.  A Socialist Prime
Minister, after trying for years to get the parliamentary car into
gear for a move forward, and finding that though it would work
easily and smoothly in neutral the only gear that would engage was
the reverse gear (popularly called 'the axe' because it could do
nothing but cut down wages), first formed what he called a national
government by a coalition of all parties, and then, having proved
by this experiment that it did not make the smallest difference
whether members of the Cabinet were the reddest of Bolsheviks or
the bluest of Tories, made things easier by handing over his
premiership to a colleague who, being a Conservative, and popular
and amiable into the bargain, could steal a horse where a Socialist
dare not look over a hedge.  The voters rejected him at the next
election; but he retained his membership of the Cabinet precisely
as if he had been triumphantly returned.  Bismarck could have done
no more.

These events, helped by the terrific moral shock of the war, and
the subsequent exposure of the patriotic lying by which the workers
of Europe had been provoked to slaughter one another, made an end
of the nineteenth century democratic mentality.  Parliament fell
into contempt; ballot papers were less esteemed than toilet papers;
the men from the trenches had no patience with the liberties that
had not saved them from being driven like sheep to the shambles.

Of this change our parliamentarians and journalists had no
suspicion.  Creatures of habit, they went on as if nothing had
occurred since Queen Victoria's death except a couple of extensions
of the franchise and an epoch-making revolution in Russia which
they poohpoohed as a transient outburst of hooliganism fomented by
a few bloodthirsty scoundrels, exactly as the American revolution
and the French revolution had been poohpoohed when they, too, were
contemporary.

Here was clearly a big opportunity for a man psychologist enough to
grasp the situation and bold enough to act on it.  Such a man was
Mussolini.  He had become known as a journalist by championing the
demobilized soldiers who, after suffering all the horrors of the
war, had returned to find that the men who had been kept at home in
the factories comfortably earning good wages, had seized those
factories according to the Syndicalist doctrine of 'worker's
control', and were wrecking them in their helpless ignorance of
business.  As one indignant master-Fascist said to me 'They were
listening to speeches round red flags and leaving the cows
unmilked.'

The demobilized fell on the Syndicalists with sticks and stones.
Some, more merciful, only dosed them with castor oil.  They carried
Mussolini to Rome with a rush.  This gave him the chance of making
an irreparable mistake and spending the next fifteen years in
prison.  It seemed just the occasion for a grand appeal for
liberty, for democracy, for a parliament in which the people were
supreme: in short, for nineteenth century resurrection pie.
Mussolini did not make that mistake.  With inspired precision he
denounced Liberty as a putrefying corpse.  He declared that what
people needed was not liberty but discipline, the sterner the
better.  He said that he would not tolerate Oppositions: he called
for action and silence.  The people, instead of being shocked like
good Liberals, rose to him.  He was able to organize a special
constabulary who wore black shirts and applied the necessary
coercion.

Such improvised bodies attracted young men of military tastes and
old soldiers, inevitably including a percentage of ruffians and
Sadists.  This fringe of undesirables soon committed outrages and a
couple of murders, whereupon all the Liberal newspapers in Europe
shrieked with horror, as if nothing else was happening in Italy.
Mussolini refused to be turned aside from his work like a
parliamentary man to discuss 'incidents'.  All he said was 'I take
the responsibility for everything that has happened.'  When the
Italian Liberals joined in the shrieking he seized the shriekers
and transported them to the Lipari Isles.  Parliament, openly
flouted, chastised, and humiliated, could do nothing.  The people
were delighted; for that was just how they wanted to see Parliament
treated.  The doctrinaires of liberty fled to France and England,
preferring them to Lipari, and wrote eloquent letters to the papers
demanding whether every vestige of freedom, freedom of speech,
freedom of the press, freedom of Parliament, was to be trampled
under the heel of a ruthless dictator merely because the Italian
trains were running punctually and travellers in Italy could depend
on their luggage not being stolen without actually sitting on it.
The English editors gave them plenty of space, and wrote
sympathetic articles paraphrasing John Stuart Mill's Essay on
Liberty.  Mussolini, now Il Duce, never even looked round: he was
busy sweeping up the elected municipalities, and replacing them
with efficient commissioners of his own choice, who had to do their
job or get out.  The editors had finally to accord him a sort of
Pragmatic Sanction by an admission that his plan worked better than
the old plan; but they were still blind to the fact staring them in
the face that Il Duce, knowing what the people wanted and giving it
to them, was responding to the real democratic urge whilst the cold
tealeaves of the nineteenth century were making them sick.  It was
evident that Mussolini was master of Italy as far as such
mastership is possible; but what was not evident to Englishmen who
had had their necks twisted the other way from their childhood was
that even when he deliberately spat in the face of the League of
Nations at Corfu, and defiantly asked the Powers whether they had
anything to say about it, he was delighting his own people by the
spectacle of a great Italian bullying the world, and getting away
with it triumphantly.  Parliaments are supposed to have their
fingers always on the people's pulse and to respond to its
slightest throb.  Mussolini proved that parliaments have not the
slightest notion of how the people are feeling, and that he, being
a good psychologist and a man of the people himself to boot, was a
true organ of democracy.

I, being a bit of a psychologist myself, also understood the
situation, and was immediately denounced by the refugees and their
champions as an anti-democrat, a hero worshipper of tyrants, and
all the rest of it.

Hitler's case was different; but he had one quality in common with
Il Duce: he knew what the victorious Allies would fight for and
what they would only bluster about.  They had already been forced
to recognize that their demands for plunder had gone far beyond
Germany's utmost resources.  But there remained the clauses of the
Versailles treaty by which Germany was to be kept in a condition of
permanent, decisive, and humiliating military inferiority to the
other Powers, and especially to France.  Hitler was political
psychologist enough to know that the time had arrived when it would
be quite impossible for the Allies to begin the war over again to
enforce these clauses.  He saw his opportunity and took it.  He
violated the clauses, and declared that he was going to go on
violating them until a fully re-armed Germany was on equal terms
with the victors.  He did not soften his defiance by any word of
argument or diplomacy.  He knew that his attitude was safe and sure
of success; and he took care to make it as defiant as that of Ajax
challenging the lightning.  The Powers had either to renew the war
or tear up the impossible clauses with a good grace.  But they
could not grasp the situation, and went on nagging pitifully about
the wickedness of breaking a treaty.  Hitler said that if they
mentioned that subject again Germany would withdraw from the League
of Nations and cut the Powers dead.  He bullied and snubbed as the
man who understands a situation can always bully and snub the
nincompoops who are only whining about it.  He at once became a
popular idol, and had the regular executive forces so completely
devoted to him that he was able to disband the brownshirted
constabulary he had organized on the Mussolini model.  He met the
conventional democratic challenge by plebiscites of ninety per cent
in his favor.  The myopia of the Powers had put him in a position
so far stronger than Mussolini's that he was able to kill seventy-
seven of his most dangerous opponents at a blow and then justify
himself completely before an assembly fully as representative as
the British Parliament, the climax being his appointment as
absolute dictator in Germany for life, a stretch of Caesarism no
nineteenth-century Hohenzollern would have dreamt of demanding.

Hitler was able to go further than Mussolini because he had a
defeated, plundered, humiliated nation to rescue and restore,
whereas Mussolini had only an irritated but victorious one.  He
carried out a persecution of the Jews which went to the scandalous
length of outlawing, plundering, and exiling Albert Einstein, a
much greater man than any politician, but great in such a manner
that he was quite above the heads of the masses and therefore so
utterly powerless economically and militarily that he depended for
his very existence on the culture and conscience of the rulers of
the earth.  Hitler's throwing Einstein to the Antisemite wolves was
an appalling breach of cultural faith.  It raised the question
which is the root question of this preface: to wit, what safeguard
have the weaponless great against the great who have myrmidons at
their call?  It is the most frightful betrayal of civilization for
the rulers who monopolize physical force to withhold their
protection from the pioneers in thought.  Granted that they are
sometimes forced to do it because intellectual advances may present
themselves as quackery, sedition, obscenity, or blasphemy, and
always present themselves as heresies.  Had Einstein been formally
prosecuted and sentenced by the German National Socialist State, as
Galileo was prosecuted by the Church, for shaking the whole
framework of established physical science by denying the
infallibility of Newton, introducing fantastic factors into
mathematics, destroying human faith in absolute measurement, and
playing an incomprehensible trick with the sacred velocity of
light, quite a strong case could have been made out by the public
prosecutor.  But to set the police on him because he was a Jew
could be justified only on the ground that the Jews are the natural
enemies of the rest of the human race, and that as a state of
perpetual war necessarily exists between them any Gentile has the
same reason for killing any Jew at sight as the Roman soldier had
for killing Archimedes.

Now no doubt Jews are most obnoxious creatures.  Any competent
historian or psycho-analyst can bring a mass of incontrovertible
evidence to prove that it would have been better for the world if
the Jews had never existed.  But I, as an Irishman, can, with
patriotic relish, demonstrate the same of the English.  Also of the
Irish.  If Herr Hitler would only consult the French and British
newspapers and magazines of the latter half of 1914, he would learn
that the Germans are a race of savage idolaters, murderers, liars,
and fiends whose assumption of the human form is thinner than that
of the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood.

We all live in glass houses.  Is it wise to throw stones at the
Jews?  Is it wise to throw stones at all?

Herr Hitler is not only an Antisemite, but a believer in the
possibility and desirability of a pure bred German race.  I should
like to ask him why.  All Germans are not Mozarts, nor even
Mendelssohns and Meyerbeers, both of whom, by the way, though
exceptionally desirable Germans, were Jews.  Surely the average
German can be improved.  I am told that children bred from Irish
colleens and Chinese laundrymen are far superior to inbred Irish or
Chinese.  Herr Hitler is not a typical German.  I should not be at
all surprised if it were discovered that his very mixed blood (all
our bloods today are hopelessly mixed) got fortified somewhere in
the past by that of King David.  He cannot get over the fact that
the lost tribes of Israel expose us all to the suspicion
(sometimes, as in Abyssinia, to the boast) that we are those lost
tribes, or at least that we must have absorbed them.

One of my guesses in this matter is that Herr Hitler in his youth
was fascinated by Houston Chamberlain's Foundations of the XIX
Century, an interesting book which at the time of its appearance I
recommended everybody to read.  Its ethnology was not wholly
imaginary.  A smattering of Mendelism is all that one needs to know
that the eternal fusion of races does not always blend them.  The
Jews will often throw up an apparently pure-bred Hittite or a pure-
bred Philistine.  The Germans throw up out-and-out blond beasts
side by side with dark Saturnine types like the Führer himself.  I
am a blond, much less an antique Roman than a Dane.  One of my
sisters was a brunette: the other had hair of a flaming red seen
only in the Scottish Highlands, to which my ancestry has been
traced.  All these types with which writers like Chamberlain play:
the Teutons and Latins, the Apollonians and Dionysians, the Nordics
and Southics, the Dominants and Recessives, have existed and keep
cropping up as individuals, and exciting antipathies or affinities
quite often enough to give substance to theories about them; but
the notion that they can be segregated as races or species is bosh.
We have nations with national characteristics (rapidly fading, by
the way), national languages, and national customs.  But they
deteriorate without cross fertilization; and if Herr Hitler could
put a stop to cross fertilization in Germany and produce a
population of brainless Bismarcks Germany would be subjugated by
crossfertilized aliens, possibly by cosmopolitan Jews.  There is
more difference between a Catholic Bavarian and a Lutheran
Prussian, between a tall fair Saxon and a stocky Baltic Celt, than
there is between a Frankfort Jew and a Frankfort Gentile.  Even in
Africa, where pink emigrants struggle with brown and black natives
for possession of the land, and our Jamaican miscegenation shocks
public sentiment, the sun sterilizes the pinks to such an extent
that Cabinet ministers call for more emigration to maintain the
pink population.  They do not yet venture to suggest that the pinks
had better darken their skins with a mixture of Bantu or Zulu
blood; but that conclusion is obvious.  In New Zealand, in Hawaii,
there are pure-bred pinks and yellows; but there are hardly any
pure-bred Maories or South Sea Islanders left.  In Africa the
intelligent pink native is a Fusionist as between Dutch and British
stock.  The intelligent Jew is a Fusionist as between Jew and
Gentile stock, even when he is also a bit of a Zionist.  Only the
stupidest or craziest ultra-Nationalists believe that people
corralled within the same political frontier are all exactly alike,
and that they improve by continuous inbreeding.

Now Herr Hitler is not a stupid German.  I therefore urge upon him
that his Antisemitism and national exclusiveness must be
pathological: a craze, a complex, a bee in his bonnet, a hole in
his armor, a hitch in his statesmanship, one of those lesions which
sometimes prove fatal.  As it has no logical connection with
Fascism or National Socialism, and has no effect on them except to
bring them into disrepute, I doubt whether it can survive its
momentary usefulness as an excuse for plundering raids and coups
d'état against inconvenient Liberals or Marxists.  A persecution is
always a man hunt; and man hunting is not only a very horrible
sport but socially a dangerous one, as it revives a primitive
instinct incompatible with civilization: indeed civilization rests
fundamentally on the compact that it shall be dropped.

And here comes the risk we run when we allow a dominant individual
to become a despot.  There is a story told of a pious man who was
sustained through a lifetime of crushing misfortune by his steady
belief that if he fought the good fight to the end he would at last
stand in the presence of his God.  In due course he died, and
presented himself at the gates of heaven for his reward.  Saint
Peter, who was for some reason much worried, hastily admitted him
and bade him go and enjoy himself.  But the good man said that he
did not want to enjoy himself: he wanted to stand in the presence
of God.  Saint Peter tried to evade the claim, dwelling on the
other delights of heaven, coaxing, bullying, arguing.  All in vain:
he could not shake the claimant and could not deny his right.  He
sent for Saint Paul, who was as worried and as evasive as his
colleague; but he also failed to induce the newcomer to forgo his
promised privilege.  At last they took him by the arms and led him
to a mighty cathedral, where, entering by the west door, he saw the
Ancient of Days seated in silent majesty on a throne in the choir.
He sprang forward to prostrate himself at the divine feet, but was
held back firmly by the apostles.  'Be quiet' said Saint Paul.  'He
has gone mad; and we dont know what to do.'  'Dont tell anybody'
added Saint Peter.  And there the story ends.

But that is not how the story ends on earth.  Make any common
fellow an autocrat and at once you have the Beggar on Horseback
riding to the devil.  Even when, as the son of his father, he has
been trained from infancy to behave well in harness and blinkers,
he may go as mad sadistically as a Roman emperor or a Russian Tsar.
But that is only the extreme case.  Uncommon people, promoted on
their merits, are by no means wholly exempt from megalomania.
Morris's simple and profound saying that 'no man is good enough to
be another man's master' holds good unless both master and man
regard themselves as equally the fellow servants of God in States
where God still reigns, or, in States where God is dead, as the
subjects and agents of a political constitution applying humane
principles which neither of them may violate.  In that case
autocrats are no longer autocrats.  Failing any such religious or
political creed all autocrats go more or less mad.  That is a plain
fact of political pathology.

Judged in this light our present predicament is lamentable.  We no
longer believe in the old 'sanctions' (as they are called nowadays)
of heaven and hell; and except in Russia there is not in force a
single political constitution that enables and enjoins the citizen
to earn his own living as a matter of elementary honesty, or that
does not exalt vast personal riches and the organization of
slaughter and conquest above all other conditions and activities.
The financier and the soldier are the cocks of the walk; and
democracy means that their parasites and worshippers carry all
before them.

Thus when so many other tyrannies have been swept away by simple
Liberalism, the tyranny of the talented individuals will remain.
Again I ask what are we to do with them in self-defence?  Mere
liquidation would be disastrous, because at present only about five
per cent of the population are capable of making decisions of any
importance; and without many daily decisions civilization would go
to pieces.  The problem is how to make sure that the decisions
shall be made in the general interest and not solely in the
immediate personal interest of the decider.  It was argued by our
classical political economists that there is a divine harmony
between these two interests of such a nature that if every decider
does the best for himself the result will also be the best for
everybody.  In spite of a century of bitter experience of the
adoption of these excuses for laziness in politics, shameless
selfishness in industry, and glorification of idle uselessness in
the face of the degrading misery of the masses, they are still
taught in our universities, and, what is worse, broadcast by
university professors by wireless, as authentic political economy
instead of what they really are: that is, the special pleading put
forward in defence of the speculators, exploiters, and parasitic
property owners in whose grossly anti-social interests the country
is misgoverned.  Since Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels exposed the
horrible condition of the working classes that underlies the
pursepride and snobbery of the upper middle classes and the
prestige of the landed gentry and peerage there has been no
substantial excuse for believing in the alleged harmony of
interests.  Nothing more diabolical can be conceived than the
destiny of a civilization in which the material sources of the
people's subsistence are privately owned by a handful of persons
taught from childhood that every penny they can extort from the
propertyless is an addition to the prosperity of their country and
an enrichment of the world at large.

But private property is not the subject of my demonstration in The
Millionairess.  Private property can be communized.  Capitalists
and landlords can be pressed into the service of the community, or,
if they are idle or incorrigibly recalcitrant, handed over to the
police.  Under such circumstances the speculator would find his
occupation gone.  With him would disappear the routine exploiter.
But the decider, the dominator, the organizer, the tactician, the
mesmerizer would remain; and if they were still educated as ladies
and gentlemen are educated today, and consequently had the same
sort of consciences and ambitions, they would, if they had anything
like our present proletariat to deal with, re-establish industrial
anarchy and heritable private property in land with all their
disastrous consequences and Gadarene destiny.  And their rule,
being that of able persons and not of nincompoops born with silver
spoons in their mouths, would at first produce some striking
improvements in the working of the public services, including the
elimination of dud dignitaries and the general bracing up of
plodders and slackers.  But when dominators die, and are succeeded
by persons who can only work a routine, a relapse is inevitable;
and the destruction by the dominators of the organizations by which
citizens defend themselves against oppression (trade unions, for
example) may be found to leave society less organized than it was
before the hand of the master had risen from the dust to which it
has returned.  For it is obvious that a business organized for
control by an exceptionally omnipotent and omniscient head will go
to pieces when that head is replaced by a commonplace numskull.  We
need not go back to Richard Cromwell or the Duke of Reichstadt to
illustrate this.  It is occurring every day in commercial business.

Now the remedy lies, not in the extermination of all dominators and
deciders, but on the contrary in their multiplication to what may
be called their natural minority limit, which will destroy their
present scarcity value.  But we must also eliminate the mass of
ignorance, weakness, and timidity which force them to treat fools
according to their folly.  Armies, fanatical sects and mobs, and
the blackshirts complained of today by their black and blue
victims, have consisted hitherto mostly of people who should not
exist in civilized society.  Titus Oates and Lord George Gordon
owed their vogue to the London mob.  There should not have been any
London mob.  The soldiers of Marlborough and Wellington were never-
do-wells, mental defectives, and laborers with the minds and habits
of serfs.  Military geniuses could hunt with such products more
easily than with a pack of hounds.  Our public school and
university education equips armies of this kind with appropriate
staffs of officers.  When both are extinct we shall be able to
breathe more freely.

Let us therefore assume that the soldier and his officer as we know
them, the Orange and Papist rioters of Belfast, the Moslem and
Hindu irreconcilables of the east and the Ku-Klux-Klans and
lynching mobs of the west, have passed away as the less dangerous
prehistoric monsters have passed, and that all men and women are
meeting on equal terms as far as circumstances and education are
concerned.  Let us suppose that no man can starve or flog his
fellows into obeying him, or force upon them the alternative of
risking their lives for him in battle or being shot at dawn.  Let
us take for granted armies intelligent enough to present their
officers at any moment with the alternative of organizing a return
home or being superseded out of hand.  Let us narrow the case to
the mysterious precedence into which certain people get pushed even
when they lack ambition and are far too intelligent to believe that
eminence and its responsibilities are luxuries.  To be 'greatest
among you' is a distinction dearly bought at the price of being
'servant to all the rest.'  Plato was quite right in taking
reluctance to govern as a leading symptom of supreme fitness for
it.  But if we insisted on this qualification in all cases, we
should find ourselves as short of governors as the churches would
be if they insisted on all their parish priests or rectors being
saints.  A great deal of the directing and organizing work of the
world will still have to be done by energetic and capable
careerists who are by no means void of vulgar ambition, and very
little troubled by the responsibilities that attend on power.  When
I said that Napoleon was fundamentally a fool and a snob I did not
mean for a moment to question his extraordinary capacity as a ruler
of men.  If we compare him with his valet-secretary Bourrienne we
find that there were no external circumstances to prevent
Bourrienne becoming the emperor and Napoleon the valet.  They
quarrelled and parted with an exchange of epithets unprintable in
polite English.  Bourrienne was as much a Man of Destiny as
Buonaparte.  But it was his destiny to be ruled and Buonaparte's to
rule; and so Buonaparte became Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul and
Emperor, as inevitably as Bourrienne remained a speculator,
litterateur and diplomatist.  I am not forgetting that Bourrienne
saw Napoleon come and go, and had a much more comfortable and
finally a more successful career than his quondam master; but the
point is that Napoleon was master whilst their personal relations
lasted.  And please note that Napoleon did not and could not impose
on Bourrienne and Talleyrand, nor even on the more cultivated of
his marshals (all planetary Napoleons) as he could and did on the
soldiery and peasantry.  They turned against him very promptly when
his fortunes changed and he could no longer be of any use to them.

Now if a ruler can command men only as long as he is efficient and
successful his rule is neither a tyranny nor a calamity: it is a
very valuable asset.  But suppose the nation is made up for the
most part of people too ignorant to understand efficient
government, and taught, as far as they are taught at all, to
measure greatness by pageantry and the wholesale slaughter called
military glory.  It was this ignorance and idolatry that first
exalted Napoleon and then smashed him.  From Toulon to Austerlitz
Napoleon did what good he did by stealth, and had no occasion to
'blush to find it fame,' as nobody gave him the least credit for
anything but killing.  When the glory turned to shame on the road
back from Moscow his good works availed him nothing, and the way
was open to St Helena.  Catherine of Russia, when she was faced
with a revolt against the misery of her people, said, not 'Let us
relieve their misery by appropriate reforms,' but 'Let us give them
a little war to amuse them.'  Every tottering regime tries to rally
its subjects to its support in the last resort by a war.  It was
not only the last card of Napoleon III before he lost the game:
it played a considerable part in the capitalist support of
Hohenzollern sabre rattling which made the desperate onslaught of
Germany in 1914 possible.  Patriotism, roused to boiling point by
an enemy at the gate, is not only the last refuge of a scoundrel in
Dr Johnson's sense, it is far more dangerously the everyday resort
of capitalism and feudalism as a red herring across the scent of
Communism.  Under such circumstances it is fortunate that war on
the modern scale is so completely beyond the capacity of private
capitalism that, as in 1915, it forces the belligerents into
national factory production, public discipline, and rationed
distribution: in short, into Socialism.  Not only did national
factories spring up like mushrooms, but the private factories had
to be brought up to the mark by public control of prices and
dictation of scientific business methods, involving such an
exposure of the obsolescence and inefficiency of profitmongering
methods that it took years of reckless lying from Press and
platform to make the silly public believe the contrary.  For war is
like the seven magic bullets which the devil has ready to sell for
a human soul.  Six of them may hit the glorymonger's mark very
triumphantly; but the seventh plays some unexpected and unintended
trick that upsets the gunman's apple cart.  It seemed an astute
stroke of German imperial tactics to send Lenin safely through
Germany to Russia so that he might make trouble for the Tsar.  But
the bullet was a number seven: it killed the Tsar very efficiently;
but it came back like a boomerang and laid the Hohenzollerns beside
the Romanoffs.

Pageantry will lose its black magic when it becomes a local popular
amusement; so that the countryside may come to know it from behind
the scenes, when, though it will still please, it will no longer
impose.  For mere iconoclasm is a mistake: the Roundhead folly
(really a Thickhead one) of destroying the power of the pageant by
forbidding all theatrical displays and dressings-up, and making
everybody wear ugly clothes, ended in the flamboyant profligacy of
the Restoration; and the attempt to enforce the second commandment
by smashing the images soon smashed the second commandment.  Give
away the secret that the dressed-up performers are only amateurs,
and the images works of art, and the dupes and worshippers will
become undeluded connoisseurs.

Unfortunately it is easier to produce a nation of artistic than of
political connoisseurs.  Our schools and universities do not
concern themselves with fine art, which they despise as an unmanly
pursuit.  It is possible for a young gentleman to go through the
whole educational mill of preparatory school, public school, and
university with the highest academic honors without knowing the
difference between a chanty and a symphony, a tavern sign and a
portrait by Titian, a ballad by Macaulay and a stanza by Keats.
But at least he is free to find out all this for himself if he has
a fancy that way.

Not so in political science.  Not so in religion.  In these
subjects he is proselytized from the beginning in the interests of
established institutions so effectually that he remains all his
life firmly convinced that his greatest contemporaries are rascally
and venal agitators, villainous blasphemers, or at best seditious
cads.  He will listen to noodles' orations, read pompous leading
articles, and worship the bloodthirsty tribal idols of Noah and
Samuel with a gravity and sincerity that would make him infinitely
pitiable if they did not also make him infinitely dangerous.  He
will feed his mind on empty phrases as Nebuchadnezzar fed his body
on grass; and any boss who has mastered these phrases can become
his dictator, his despot, his evangelist, and in effect his god-
emperor.

Clearly we shall be bossridden in one form or another as long as
education means being put through this process, or the best
imitation of it that our children's parents can afford.  The remedy
is another Reformation, now long and perilously overdue, in the
direction and instruction of our children's minds politically and
religiously.  We should begin well to the left of Russia, which is
still encumbered with nineteenth century superstitions.  Communism
is the fairy godmother who can transform Bosses into 'servants to
all the rest'; but only a creed of Creative Evolution can set the
souls of the people free.  Then the dominator will still find
himself face to face with subordinates who can do nothing without
him; but that will not give him the inside grip.  A late rich
shipowner, engaged in a quarrel with his workmen in which he
assumed that I was on their side, rashly asked me what his men
could do without him.  Naturally I asked him what he could do
without them, hoping to open his eyes to the fact that apart from
the property rights he had bought or borrowed he was as dependent
on them as they on him.  But I fear I impressed him most by adding,
quite untruly, that no gentleman would have asked that question.

Save for my allusion to the persecution and exile of Einstein I
have not said a word here about the miserable plight of the great
men neglected, insulted, starved, and occasionally put to death,
sometimes horribly, by the little ones.  Their case is helpless
because nothing can defend them against the might of overwhelming
numbers unless and until they develop the Vril imagined by Bulwer-
Lytton which will enable one person to destroy a multitude, and
thereby make us more particular than we are at present about the
sort of persons we produce.  I am confining myself to the power
wielded by the moneymakers and military geniuses in political life
and by the dominant personalities in private life.  Lytton's Vril
was a fiction only in respect of its being available for everybody,
and therefore an infallible preventive of any attempt at
oppression.  For that individuals here and there possess a power of
domination which others are unable to resist is undeniable; and
since this power is as yet nameless we may as well call it Vril as
anything else.  It is the final reality of inequality.  It is easy
to equalize the dominators with the commonplacers economically: you
just give one of them half-a-crown and the other two-and-sixpence.
Nelson was paid no more than any other naval captain or admiral;
and the poverty of Mozart or Marx was worse than the voluntary holy
poverty of the great heads of the religious orders.  Dominators and
dominated are already equalized before the law: shall not I, a
playwright of Shakesperean eminence, be hanged if I commit a murder
precisely as if I were the most illiterate call boy?  Politically
we all have at least the symbol of equality in our votes, useless
as they are to us under political and economic institutions made to
encourage William the Conqueror to slay Harold and exploit Hodge.
But, I repeat, when all these perfectly feasible equalizations are
made real, there still remains Epifania, shorn of her millions and
unable to replace them, but still as dominant as Saint Joan, Saint
Clare, and Saint Teresa.  The most complete Communism and Democracy
can only give her her chance far more effectively than any feudal
or capitalist society.

And this, I take it, is one of the highest claims of Communism and
Democracy to our consideration, and the explanation of the
apparently paradoxical fact that it is always the greatest spirits,
from Jesus to Lenin, from Saint Thomas More to William Morris, who
are communists and democrats, and always the commonplace people who
weary us with their blitherings about the impossibility of equality
when they are at a loss for any better excuse for keeping other
people in the kitchen and themselves in the drawing room.  I say
cheerfully to the dominators 'By all means dominate: it is up to us
to so order our institutions that you shall not oppress us, nor
bequeath any of your precedence to your commonplace children.'  For
when ambition and greed and mere brainless energy have been
disabled, the way will be clear for inspiration and aspiration to
save us from the fatheaded stagnation of the accursed Victorian
snobbery which is bringing us to the verge of ruin.

MALVERN
28 August 1935




THE MILLIONAIRESS



ACT I


Mr Julius Sagamore, a smart young solicitor, is in his office in
Lincoln's Inn Fields.  It is a fine morning in May.  The room, an
old panelled one, is so arranged that Mr Sagamore, whom we see
sitting under the window in profile with his back to it and his
left side presented to us, is fenced off by his writing table from
excessive intimacy with emotional clients or possible assault by
violent or insane ones.  The door is on his right towards the
farther end of the room.  The faces of the clients are thus
illuminated by the window whilst his own countenance is in shadow.
The fireplace, of Adam design, is in the wall facing him.  It is
surmounted by a dingy portrait of a judge.  In the wall on his
right, near the corner farthest from him, is the door, with a cleft
pediment enshrining a bust of some other judge.  The rest of this
wall is occupied by shelves of calf-bound law books.  The wall
behind Mr Sagamore has the big window as aforesaid, and beside it a
stand of black tin boxes inscribed with clients' names.

So far, the place proclaims the eighteenth century; but as the year
is 1935, and Mr Sagamore has no taste for dust and mould, and
requires a room which suggests opulence, and in which lady clients
will look their best, everything is well dusted and polished; the
green carpet is new, rich, and thick; and the half dozen chairs,
four of which are ranged under the bookshelves, are Chippendales of
the very latest fake.  Of the other two one is occupied by himself,
and the other stands half way between his table and the fireplace
for the accommodation of his clients.

The telephone, on the table at his elbow, rings.


SAGAMORE [listening]  Yes? . . .  [Impressed]  Oh!  Send her up at
once.

A tragic looking woman, athletically built and expensively dressed,
storms into the room.  He rises obsequiously.

THE LADY.  Are you Julius Sagamore, the worthless nephew of my late
solicitor Pontifex Sagamore?

SAGAMORE.  I do not advertize myself as worthless; but Pontifex
Sagamore was my uncle; and I have returned from Australia to
succeed to as much of his business as I can persuade his clients to
trust me with.

THE LADY.  I have heard him speak of you; and I naturally concluded
that as you had been packed off to Australia you must be worthless.
But it does not matter, as my business is very simple.  I desire to
make my will, leaving everything I possess to my husband.  You can
hardly go wrong about that, I suppose.

SAGAMORE.  I shall do my best.  Pray sit down.

THE LADY.  No: I am restless.  I shall sit down when I feel tired.

SAGAMORE.  As you please.  Before I draw up the will it will be
necessary for me to know who your husband is.

THE LADY.  My husband is a fool and a blackguard.  You will state
that fact in the will.  You will add that it was his conduct that
drove me to commit suicide.

SAGAMORE.  But you have not committed suicide.

THE LADY.  I shall have, when the will is signed.

SAGAMORE.  Of course, quite so: stupid of me.  And his name?

THE LADY.  His name is Alastair Fitzfassenden.

SAGAMORE.  What!  The amateur tennis champion and heavy weight
boxer?

THE LADY.  Do you know him?

SAGAMORE.  Every morning we swim together at the club.

THE LADY.  The acquaintance does you little credit.

SAGAMORE.  I had better tell you that he and I are great friends,
Mrs Fitzfassen--

THE LADY.  Do not call me by his detestable name.  Put me in your
books as Epifania Ognisanti di Parerga.

SAGAMORE [bowing]  Oh!  I am indeed honored.  Pray be seated.

EPIFANIA.  Sit down yourself; and dont fuss.

SAGAMORE.  If you prefer it, certainly.  [He sits].  Your father
was a very wonderful man, madam.

EPIFANIA.  My father was the greatest man in the world.  And he
died a pauper.  I shall never forgive the world for that.

SAGAMORE.  A pauper!  You amaze me.  It was reported that he left
you, his only child, thirty millions.

EPIFANIA.  Well, what was thirty millions to him?  He lost a
hundred and fifty millions.  He had promised to leave me two
hundred millions.  I was left with a beggarly thirty.  It broke his
heart.

SAGAMORE.  Still, an income of a million and a half--

EPIFANIA.  Man: you forget the death duties.  I have barely seven
hundred thousand a year.  Do you know what that means to a woman
brought up on an income of seven figures?  The humiliation of it!

SAGAMORE.  You take away my breath, madam.

EPIFANIA.  As I am about to take my own breath away, I have no time
to attend to yours.

SAGAMORE.  Oh, the suicide!  I had forgotten that.

EPIFANIA.  Had you indeed?  Well, will you please give your mind to
it for a moment, and draw up a will for me to sign, leaving
everything to Alastair.

SAGAMORE.  To humiliate him?

EPIFANIA.  No.  To ruin him.  To destroy him.  To make him a beggar
on horseback so that he may ride to the devil.  Money goes to his
head.  I have seen it at work on him.

SAGAMORE.  I also have seen that happen.  But you cannot be sure.
He might marry some sensible woman.

EPIFANIA.  You are right.  Make it a condition of the inheritance
that within a month from my funeral he marries a low female named
Polly Seedystockings.

SAGAMORE [making a note of it]  A funny name.

EPIFANIA.  Her real name is Patricia Smith.  But her letters to
Alastair are signed Polly Seedystockings, as a hint, I suppose,
that she wants him to buy her another dozen.

SAGAMORE [taking another sheet of paper and writing]  I should like
to know Polly.

EPIFANIA.  Pray why?

SAGAMORE [talking as he writes]  Well, if Alastair prefers her to
you she must be indeed worth knowing.  I shall certainly make him
introduce me.

EPIFANIA.  You are hardly tactful, Julius Sagamore.

SAGAMORE.  That will not matter when you have taken this [he hands
her what he has written].

EPIFANIA.  What's this?

SAGAMORE.  For the suicide.  You will have to sign the chemist's
book for the cyanide.  Say it is for a wasp's nest.  The tartaric
acid is harmless: the chemist will think you want it to make
lemonade.  Put the two separately in just enough water to dissolve
them.  When you mix the two solutions the tartaric and potash will
combine and make tartrate of potash.  This, being insoluble, will
be precipitated to the bottom of the glass; and the supernatant
fluid will be pure hydrocyanic acid, one sip of which will kill you
like a thunderbolt.

EPIFANIA [fingering the prescription rather disconcertedly]  You
seem to take my death very coolly, Mr Sagamore.

SAGAMORE.  I am used to it.

EPIFANIA.  Do you mean to tell me that you have so many clients
driven to despair that you keep a prescription for them?

SAGAMORE.  I do.  It's infallible.

EPIFANIA.  You are sure that they have all died painlessly and
instantaneously?

SAGAMORE.  No.  They are all alive.

EPIFANIA.  Alive!  The prescription is a harmless fraud!

SAGAMORE.  No.  It's a deadly poison.  But they dont take it.

EPIFANIA.  Why?

SAGAMORE.  I dont know.  But they never do.

EPIFANIA.  I will.  And I hope you will be hanged for giving it to
me.

SAGAMORE.  I am only acting as your solicitor.  You say you are
going to commit suicide; and you come to me for advice.  I do my
best for you, so that you can die without wasting a lot of gas or
jumping into the Serpentine.  Six and eightpence I shall charge
your executors.

EPIFANIA.  For advising me how to kill myself!

SAGAMORE.  Not today.  Tomorrow.

EPIFANIA.  Why put it off until tomorrow?

SAGAMORE.  Well, it will do as well tomorrow as today.  And
something amusing may happen this evening.  Or even tomorrow
evening.  Theres no hurry.

EPIFANIA.  You are a brute, a beast, and a pig.  My life is nothing
to you: you do not even ask what has driven me to this.  You make
money out of the death of your clients.

SAGAMORE.  I do.  There will be a lot of business connected with
your death.  Alastair is sure to come to settle your affairs.

EPIFANIA.  And you expect me to kill myself to make money for you?

SAGAMORE.  Well, it is you who have raised my expectations, madam.

EPIFANIA.  O God, listen to this man!  Has it ever occurred to you
that when a woman's life is wrecked she needs a little sympathy and
not a bottle of poison?

SAGAMORE.  I really cant sympathize with suicide.  It doesnt appeal
to me, somehow.  Still, if it has to be done, it had better be done
promptly and scientifically.

EPIFANIA.  You dont even ask what Alastair has done to me?

SAGAMORE.  It wont matter what he has done to you when you are
dead.  Why bother about it?

EPIFANIA.  You are an unmitigated hog, Julius Sagamore.

SAGAMORE.  Why worry about me?  The prescription will cure
everything.

EPIFANIA.  Damn your prescription.  There!  [She tears it up and
throws the pieces in his face].

SAGAMORE [beaming]  It's infallible.  And now that you have blown
off steam, suppose you sit down and tell me all about it.

EPIFANIA.  You call the outcry of an anguished heart blowing off
steam, do you?

SAGAMORE.  Well, what else would you call it?

EPIFANIA.  You are not a man: you are a rhinoceros.  You are also a
fool.

SAGAMORE.  I am only a solicitor.

EPIFANIA.  You are a rotten solicitor.  You are not a gentleman.
You insult me in my distress.  You back up my husband against me.
You have no decency, no understanding.  You are a fish with the
soul of a black-beetle.  Do you hear?

SAGAMORE.  Yes: I hear.  And I congratulate myself on the number of
actions for libel I shall have to defend if you do me the honor of
making me your solicitor.

EPIFANIA.  You are wrong.  I never utter a libel.  My father
instructed me most carefully in the law of libel.  If I questioned
your solvency, that would be a libel.  If I suggested that you are
unfaithful to your wife, that would be a libel.  But if I call you
a rhinoceros--which you are: a most unmitigated rhinoceros--that is
only vulgar abuse.  I take good care to confine myself to vulgar
abuse; and I have never had an action for libel taken against me.
Is that the law, or is it not?

SAGAMORE.  I really dont know.  I will look it up in my law books.

EPIFANIA.  You need not.  I instruct you that it is the law.  My
father always had to instruct his lawyers in the law whenever he
did anything except what everybody was doing every day.  Solicitors
know nothing of law: they are only good at practice, as they call
it.  My father was a great man: every day of his life he did things
that nobody else ever dreamt of doing.  I am not, perhaps, a great
woman; but I am his daughter; and as such I am an unusual woman.
You will take the law from me and do exactly what I tell you to do.

SAGAMORE.  That will simplify our relations considerably, madam.

EPIFANIA.  And remember this.  I have no sense of humor.  I will
not be laughed at.

SAGAMORE.  I should not dream of laughing at a client with an
income of three quarters of a million.

EPIFANIA.  Have you a sense of humor?

SAGAMORE.  I try to keep it in check; but I am afraid I have a
little.  You appeal to it, somehow.

EPIFANIA.  Then I tell you in cold blood, after the most careful
consideration of my words, that you are a heartless blackguard.
My distress, my disgrace, my humiliation, the horrible mess and
failure I have made of my life seem to you merely funny.  If it
were not that my father warned me never to employ a solicitor who
had no sense of humor I would walk out of this office and deprive
you of a client whose business may prove a fortune to you.

SAGAMORE.  But, my dear lady, I dont know anything about your
distress, your disgrace, the mess you have made of your life and
all the rest of it.  How can I laugh at things I dont know?  If I
am laughing--and am I really laughing?--I assure you I am laughing,
not at your misfortunes, but at you.

EPIFANIA.  Indeed?  Am I so comic a figure in my misery?

SAGAMORE.  But what is your misery?  Do, pray, sit down.

EPIFANIA.  You seem to have one idea in your head, and that is to
get your clients to sit down.  Well, to oblige you.  [She sits down
with a flounce.  The back of the chair snaps off short with a loud
crack.  She springs up].  Oh, I cannot even sit down in a chair
without wrecking it.  There is a curse on me.

SAGAMORE [collapses on the table, shaking with uncontrollable
laughter]!!!!!!

EPIFANIA.  Ay: laugh, laugh, laugh.  Fool!  Clown!

SAGAMORE [rising resolutely and fetching another chair from the
wall]  My best faked Chippendale gone.  It cost me four guineas.
[Placing the chair for her]  Now will you please sit down as gently
as you can, and stop calling me names?  Then, if you wish, you can
tell me what on earth is the matter.  [He picks up the broken-off
back of the chair and puts it on the table].

EPIFANIA [sitting down with dignity]  The breaking of that chair
has calmed and relieved me, somehow.  I feel as if I had broken
your neck, as I wanted to.  Now listen to me.  [He comes to her and
looks down gravely at her].  And dont stand over me like that.  Sit
down on what is left of your sham Chippendale.

SAGAMORE.  Certainly [he sits].  Now go ahead.

EPIFANIA.  My father was the greatest man in the world.  I was his
only child.  His one dread was that I should make a foolish
marriage, and lose the little money he was able to leave me.

SAGAMORE.  The thirty millions.  Precisely.

EPIFANIA.  Don't interrupt me.  He made me promise that whenever a
man asked me to marry him I should impose a condition on my
consent.

SAGAMORE [attentive]  So?  What condition?

EPIFANIA.  I was to give him one hundred and fifty pounds, and tell
him that if within six months he had turned that hundred and fifty
pounds into fifty thousand, I was his.  If not, I was never to see
him again.  I saw the wisdom of this.  Nobody but my father could
have thought of such a real, infallible, unsentimental test.  I
gave him my sacred promise that I would carry it out faithfully.

SAGAMORE.  And you broke that promise.  I see.

EPIFANIA.  What do you mean--broke that promise?

SAGAMORE.  Well, you married Alastair.  Now Alastair is a dear good
fellow--one of the best in his way--but you are not going to
persuade me that he made fifty thousand pounds in six months with a
capital of one hundred and fifty.

EPIFANIA.  He did.  Wise as my father was, he sometimes forgot the
wise things he said five minutes after he said them.  He warned me
that ninety per cent of our self-made millionaires are criminals
who have taken a five hundred to one chance and got away with it by
pure luck.  Well, Alastair was that sort of criminal.

SAGAMORE.  No no: not a criminal.  That is not like Alastair.  A
fool, perhaps, in business.  But not a criminal.

EPIFANIA.  Like all solicitors you think you know more about my
husband than I do.  Well, I tell you that Alastair came back to me
after six months probation with fifty thousand pounds in his pocket
instead of the penal servitude he richly deserved.  That man's luck
is extraordinary.  He always wins.  He wins at tennis.  He wins at
boxing.  He won me, the richest heiress in England.

SAGAMORE.  But you were a consenting party.  If not, why did you
put him to the test?  Why did you give him the hundred and fifty to
try his luck with?

EPIFANIA.  Boxing.

SAGAMORE.  Boxing?

EPIFANIA.  His boxing fascinated me.  My father held that women
should be able to defend themselves.  He made me study Judo.

SAGAMORE.  Judo?  Do you mean Hebrew?

EPIFANIA.  Hebrew!  Nonsense!  Judo is what ignorant people call
jujitsu.  I could throw you through that window as easily as you
handed me that rotten chair.

SAGAMORE.  Oh!  Japanese wrestling.  Rather a rough sport for a
lady, isnt it?

EPIFANIA.  How dare you call Judo a sport?  It is a religion.

SAGAMORE [collapsing]  Forgive me.  Go on with your story.  And
please break it to me as gently as you can.  I have never had a
client like you before.

EPIFANIA.  You never will again.

SAGAMORE.  I dont doubt it for a moment.  Now tell me: where does
Alastair come in?

EPIFANIA.  I saw him win an amateur heavy weight championship.  He
has a solar plexus punch that no other boxer can withstand.

SAGAMORE.  And you married a man because he had a superlative solar
plexus punch!

EPIFANIA.  Well, he was handsome.  He stripped well, unlike many
handsome men.  I am not insusceptible to sex appeal, very far from
it.

SAGAMORE [hastily]  Oh quite, quite: you need not go into details.

EPIFANIA.  I will if I like.  It is your business as a solicitor to
know the details.  I made a very common mistake.  I thought that
this irresistible athlete would be an ardent lover.  He was nothing
of the kind.  All his ardor was in his fists.  Never shall I forget
the day--it was during our honeymoon--when his coldness infuriated
me to such a degree that I went for him with my fists.  He knocked
me out with that abominable punch in the first exchange.  Have you
ever been knocked out by a punch in the solar plexus?

SAGAMORE.  No, thank heaven.  I am not a pugilist.

EPIFANIA.  It does not put you to sleep like a punch on the jaw.
When he saw my face distorted with agony and my body writhing on
the floor, he was horrified.  He said he did it automatically--that
he always countered that way, by instinct.  I almost respected him
for it.

SAGAMORE.  Then why do you want to get rid of him?

EPIFANIA.  I want to get rid of myself.  I want to punish myself
for making a mess of my life and marrying an imbecile.  I, Epifania
Ognisanti di Parerga, saw myself as the most wonderful woman in
England marrying the most wonderful man.  And I was only a goose
marrying a buck rabbit.  What was there for me but death?  And now
you have put me off it with your fooling; and I dont know what I
want.  That is a horrible state of mind.  I am a woman who must
always want something and always get it.

SAGAMORE.  An acquisitive woman.  Precisely.  How splendid!  [The
telephone rings.  He rises].  Excuse me.  [He goes to the table and
listens]  Yes? . . .  [Hastily]  One moment.  Hold the line.  [To
Epifania]  Your husband is downstairs, with a woman.  They want to
see me.

EPIFANIA [rising]  That woman!  Have them up at once.

SAGAMORE.  But can I depend on you to control yourself?

EPIFANIA.  You can depend on Alastair's fists.  I must have a look
at Seedystockings.  Have them up, I tell you.

SAGAMORE [into the telephone]  Send Mr Fitzfassenden and the lady
up.

EPIFANIA.  We shall see now the sort of woman for whom he has
deserted ME!

SAGAMORE.  I am thrilled.  I expect something marvellous.

EPIFANIA.  Dont be a fool.  Expect something utterly common.

Alastair Fitzfassenden and Patricia Smith come in.  He is a
splendid athlete, with most of his brains in his muscles.  She is a
pleasant quiet little woman of the self-supporting type.  She makes
placidly for the table, leaving Alastair to deal with his wife.

ALASTAIR.  Eppy!  What are you doing here?  [To Sagamore]  Why
didn't you tell me?

EPIFANIA.  Introduce the female.

PATRICIA.  Patricia Smith is my name, Mrs Fitzfassenden.

EPIFANIA.  That is not how you sign your letters, I think.

ALASTAIR.  Look here, Eppy.  Dont begin making a row--

EPIFANIA.  I was not speaking to you.  I was speaking to the woman.

ALASTAIR [losing his temper]  You have no right to call her a
woman.

PATRICIA.  Now, now, Ally: you promised me--

EPIFANIA.  Promised you!  What right had he to promise you?  How
dare he promise you?  How dare you make him promise you?

ALASTAIR.  I wont have Polly insulted.

SAGAMORE [goodhumoredly]  You dont mind, Miss Smith, do you?

PATRICIA [unconcerned]  Oh, I dont mind.  My sister goes on just
like that.

EPIFANIA.  Your sister!  You presume to compare your sister to me!

PATRICIA.  Only when she goes off at the deep end.  You mustnt mind
me: theres nothing like letting yourself go if you are built that
way.  Introduce me to the gentleman, Ally.

ALASTAIR.  Oh, I forgot.  Julius Sagamore, my solicitor.  An old
pal.  Miss Smith.

EPIFANIA.  Alias Polly Seedystockings.

PATRICIA.  Thats only my pet name, Mr Sagamore.  Smith is the
patronymic, as dear wise old father says.

EPIFANIA.  She sets up a wise father!  This is the last straw.

SAGAMORE.  Do sit down, Miss Smith, wont you?  [He goes to fetch a
chair from the wall].

PATRICIA [contemplating the wrecked chair]  Hallo!  Whats happened
to the chair?

EPIFANIA.  _I_ have happened to the chair.  Let it be a warning to
you.

Sagamore places the chair for Patricia next the table.  Alastair
shoves the broken chair back out of the way with his foot; fetches
another from the wall, and is about to sit on it next Patricia when
Epifania sits on it and motions him to her own chair, so that she
is seated between the two, Patricia on her left, Alastair on her
right, Sagamore goes back to his official place at the table.

PATRICIA.  You see, Mr Sagamore, it's like this.  Alastair--

EPIFANIA.  You need not explain.  I have explained everything to Mr
Sagamore.  And you will please have the decency in his presence and
in mine to speak of my husband as Mr Fitzfassenden.  His Christian
name is no business of yours.

ALASTAIR [angry]  Of course, Eppy, if you wont let anybody speak--

EPIFANIA.  I am not preventing you nor anybody from speaking.  If
you have anything to say for yourself, say it.

PATRICIA.  I am sorry.  But it's such a long name.  In my little
circle everyone calls him just Ally.

EPIFANIA [her teeth on edge]  You hear this, Mr Sagamore!  My
husband is called 'Ally' by these third rate people!  What right
have they to speak of him at all?  Am I to endure this?

PATRICIA [soothingly]  Yes: we know you have to put up with a lot,
deary;--

EPIFANIA.  [stamping]  Deary!!!

PATRICIA [continuing]  --but thats what the world is like.

EPIFANIA.  The world is like that to people who are like that.
Your world is not my world.  Every woman has her own world within
her own soul.  Listen to me, Mr Sagamore.  I married this man.  I
admitted him to my world, the world which my imagination had
peopled with heroes and saints.  Never before had a real man been
permitted to enter it.  I took him to be hero, saint, lover all in
one.  What he really was you can see for yourself.

ALASTAIR [jumping up with his fists clenched and his face red]  I
am damned if I stand this.

EPIFANIA [rising and facing him in the pose of a martyr]  Yes:
strike me.  Shew her your knock-out punch.  Let her see how you
treat women.

ALASTAIR [baffled]  Damn!  [He sits down again].

PATRICIA.  Dont get rattled, Ally: you will only put yourself in
the wrong before Mr Sagamore.  I think youd better go home and
leave me to have it out with her.

EPIFANIA.  Will you have the goodness not to speak of me as 'her'?
I am Mrs Fitzfassenden.  I am not a pronoun.  [She resumes her seat
haughtily].

PATRICIA.  Sorry; but your name is such a tonguetwister.  Mr
Sagamore: dont you think Ally had better go?  It's not right that
we should sit here arguing about him to his face.  Besides, he's
worn out: he's hardly slept all night.

EPIFANIA.  How do you know that, pray?

PATRICIA.  Never mind how I know it.  I do.

ALASTAIR.  It was quite innocent; but where could I go to when you
drove me out of the house by your tantrums?

EPIFANIA [most unexpectedly amused]  You went to her?

ALASTAIR.  I went to Miss Smith: she's not a pronoun, you know.  I
went where I could find peace and kindness, to my good sweet
darling Polly.  So there!

EPIFANIA.  I have no sense of humor; but this strikes me as
irresistibly funny.  You actually left ME to spend the night in the
arms of Miss Seedystockings!

ALASTAIR.  No, I tell you.  It was quite innocent.

EPIFANIA [to Patricia]  Was he in your arms or was he not?

PATRICIA.  Well, yes, of course he was for a while.  But not in the
way you mean.

EPIFANIA.  Then he is even a more sexless fish than I took him for.
But really a man capable of flouncing out of the house when I was
on the point of pardoning him and giving him a night of legitimate
bliss would be capable of any imbecility.

ALASTAIR.  Pardoning me!  Pardoning me for what?  What had I done
when you flew out at me?

EPIFANIA.  I did not fly out at you.  I have never lost my dignity
even under the most insufferable wrongs.

ALASTAIR.  You hadnt any wrongs.  You drove me out of the house--

EPIFANIA.  I did not.  I never meant you to go.  It was abominably
selfish of you.  You had your Seedystockings to go to; but I had
nobody.  Adrian was out of town.

SAGAMORE.  Adrian!  This is a new complication.  Who is Adrian?

PATRICIA.  Adrian is Mrs Fitzfassenden's Sunday husband, Mr
Sagamore.

EPIFANIA.  My what, did you say?

PATRICIA.  Your Sunday husband.  You understand.  What Mr Adrian
Blenderbland is to you, as it were.  What Ally is to me.

SAGAMORE.  I dont quite follow.  What is Mr Blenderbland to you,
Mrs Fitzfassenden, if I may ask?

EPIFANIA.  Well, he is a gentleman with whom I discuss subjects
that are beyond my husband's mental grasp, which is extremely
limited.

ALASTAIR.  A chap that sets up to be an intellectual because his
father was a publisher!  He makes up to Eppy and pretends to be in
love with her because she has a good cook; but I tell her he cares
for nothing but his food.  He always calls at mealtimes.  A
bellygod, I call him.  And I am expected to put up with him.  But
if I as much as look at Polly!  Oh my!

EPIFANIA.  The cases are quite different.  Adrian worships the
ground I tread on: that is quite true.  But if you think that
Seedystockings worships the ground you tread on, you flatter
yourself grossly.  She endures you and pets you because you buy
stockings for her, and no doubt anything else she may be short of.

PATRICIA.  Well, I never contradict anyone, because it only makes
trouble.  And I am afraid I do cost him a good deal; for he likes
me to have nice things that I cant afford.

ALASTAIR [affectionately]  No, Polly: you dont.  Youre as good as
gold.  I'm always pressing things on you that you wont take.  Youre
a jolly sight more careful of my money than I am myself.

EPIFANIA.  How touching!  You are the Sunday wife, I suppose.

PATRICIA.  No: I should say that you are the Sunday wife, Mrs
Fitzfassenden.  It's I that have to look after his clothes and make
him get his hair cut.

EPIFANIA.  Surely the creature is intelligent enough to do at least
that much for himself.

PATRICIA.  You dont understand men: they get interested in other
things and neglect themselves unless they have a woman to look
after them.  You see, Mr Sagamore, it's like this.  There are two
sorts of people in the world: the people anyone can live with and
the people that no one can live with.  The people that no one can
live with may be very goodlooking and vital and splendid and
temperamental and romantic and all that; and they can make a man or
woman happy for half an hour when they are pleased with themselves
and disposed to be agreeable; but if you try to live with them they
just eat up your whole life running after them or quarrelling or
attending to them one way or another: you cant call your soul your
own.  As Sunday husbands and wives, just to have a good tearing bit
of love-making with, or a blazing row, or mostly one on top of the
other, once a month or so, theyre all right.  But as everyday
partners theyre just impossible.

EPIFANIA.  So I am the Sunday wife.  [To Patricia, scornfully]  And
what are you, pray?

PATRICIA.  Well, I am the angel in the house, if you follow me.

ALASTAIR [blubbering]  You are, dear: you are.

EPIFANIA [to Patricia]  You are his doormat: thats what you are.

PATRICIA.  Doormats are very useful things if you want the house
kept tidy, dear.

The telephone rings.  Sagamore attends to it.

SAGAMORE.  Yes? . . .  Did you say Blenderbland?

EPIFANIA.  Adrian!  How did he know I was here?

SAGAMORE.  Ask the gentleman to wait.  [He hangs up the receiver].
Perhaps you can tell me something about him, Mrs Fitzfassenden.  Is
he the chairman of Blenderbland's Literary Pennyworths?

EPIFANIA.  No.  That is his father, who created the business.
Adrian is on the board; but he has no business ability.  He is on
fifteen boards of directors on the strength of his father's
reputation, and has never, as far as I know, contributed an idea to
any of them.

ALASTAIR.  Be fair to him, Eppy.  No man in London knows how to
order a dinner better.  That's what keeps him at the top in the
city.

SAGAMORE.  Thank you: I think I have his measure sufficiently.
Shall I have him up?

EPIFANIA.  Certainly.  I want to know what he is doing here.

ALASTAIR.  I dont mind.  You understand, of course, that I am not
supposed to know anything of his relations with my wife, whatever
they may be.

EPIFANIA.  They are perfectly innocent, so far.  I am not quite
convinced that I love Adrian.  He makes himself agreeable: that is
all.

SAGAMORE [into the telephone]  Send Mr Blenderbland up.  [He hangs
up the instrument].

ALASTAIR [to Patricia]  You will now see the blighter who has cut
me out with Eppy.

PATRICIA.  I cant imagine any man cutting you out with any woman,
dear.

EPIFANIA.  Will you be good enough to restrain your endearments
when he comes in?

Adrian Blenderbland, an imposing man in the prime of life, bearded
in the Victorian literary fashion, rather handsome, and well
dressed, comes in.  Sagamore rises.  Adrian is startled when he
sees the company, but recovers his aplomb at once, and advances
smiling.

ADRIAN.  Hallo!  Where have we all come from?  Good morning, Mrs
Fitzfassenden.  How do, Alastair?  Mr Sagamore, I presume.  I did
not know you were engaged.

SAGAMORE.  Your arrival is quite opportune, sir.  Will you have the
goodness to sit down?  [He takes a chair from the wall and places
it at the table, on his own right and Patricia's left].

ADRIAN [sitting down]  Thank you.  I hope I am not interrupting
this lady.

PATRICIA.  Not at all.  Dont mind me.

SAGAMORE [introducing]  Miss Smith, an intimate friend of Mr
Fitzfassenden.

PATRICIA.  Pleased to meet you, I'm sure.

Adrian bows to her; then turns to Sagamore.

ADRIAN.  The fact is, Mrs Fitzfassenden mentioned your name to me
in conversation as her choice of a new solicitor.  So I thought I
could not place myself in better hands.

SAGAMORE [bowing]  Thank you, sir.  But--excuse me--had you not a
solicitor of your own?

ADRIAN.  My dear Mr Sagamore: never be content with a single
opinion.  When I feel ill I always consult at least half a dozen
doctors.  The variety of their advice and prescriptions convinces
me that I had better cure myself.  When a legal point arises I
consult six solicitors, with much the same--

EPIFANIA.  Adrian: I have no sense of humor; and you know how it
annoys me when you talk the sort of nonsense that is supposed to be
funny.  Did you come here to consult Mr Sagamore about me?

ADRIAN.  I did.  But of course I expected to find him alone.

SAGAMORE.  Has the matter on which you wish to consult me any
reference to Mr Fitzfassenden's family circle?

ADRIAN.  It has.

SAGAMORE.  Is it of such a nature that sooner or later it will have
to be discussed with all the adult members of that circle?

ADRIAN.  Well, yes: I suppose so.  But hadnt we better talk it over
a little in private first?

EPIFANIA.  You shall do nothing of the sort.  I will not have my
affairs discussed by anybody in public or in private.  They concern
myself alone.

ADRIAN.  May I not discuss my own affairs?

EPIFANIA.  Not with my solicitor.  I will not have it.

ALASTAIR.  Now she is off at the deep end again.  We may as well go
home.

EPIFANIA [restlessly rising]  Oh, the deep end! the deep end!  What
is life if it is not lived at the deep end?  Alastair: you are a
tadpole.  [She seizes his head and ruffles his hair as she passes
him].

ALASTAIR.  Dont do that.  [He tries to smooth his hair].

EPIFANIA [to Patricia]  Smooth it for him, angel in the house.

PATRICIA [moving to Epifania's chair and doing so]  You shouldnt
make a sight of him like that.

SAGAMORE.  Mr Fitzfassenden: why did you marry Mrs Fitzfassenden?

EPIFANIA.  Why!!!  Does that require any explanation?  I have told
you why _I_ married him.

ALASTAIR.  Well, though you mightnt think it, she can be
frightfully fascinating when she really wants to be.

EPIFANIA.  Why might he not think it?  What do you mean?

ALASTAIR.  He knows what I mean.

EPIFANIA.  Some silly joke, I suppose.

ADRIAN.  Dont be absurd, Fitzfassenden.  Your wife is the most
adorable woman on earth.

EPIFANIA.  Not here, Adrian.  If you are going to talk like that,
take me away to some place where we can be alone.

ALASTAIR.  Do, for heaven's sake, before she drives us all crazy.

SAGAMORE.  Steady! steady!  I hardly know where I am.  You are all
consulting me; but none of you has given me any instructions.  Had
you not better all be divorced?

EPIFANIA.  What is the creature to live on?  He has nothing: he
would have had to become a professional boxer or tennis player if
his uncle had not pushed him into an insurance office, where he was
perfectly useless.

ALASTAIR.  Look here, Eppy: Sagamore doesnt want to hear all this.

EPIFANIA.  He does.  He shall.  Be silent.  When Alastair proposed
to me--he was too great an idiot to comprehend his own audacity--I
kept my promise to my father.  I handed him a cheque for a hundred
and fifty pounds.  'Make that into fifty thousand within six
months' I said 'and I am yours.'

ADRIAN.  You never told me this.

EPIFANIA.  Why should I?  It is a revolting story.

ALASTAIR.  What is there revolting about it?  Did I make good or
did I not?  Did I go through hell to get that money and win you or
did I not?

ADRIAN [amazed]  Do I understand you to say, Alastair, that you
made fifty thousand pounds in six months?

ALASTAIR.  Why not?

EPIFANIA.  You may well look incredulous, Adrian.  But he did.
Yes: this imbecile made fifty thousand pounds and won Epifania
Ognisanti di Parerga for his bride.  You will not believe me
when I tell you that the possession of all that money, and the
consciousness of having made it himself, gave him a sort of
greatness.  I am impulsive: I kept my word and married him
instantly.  Then, too late, I found out how he had made it.

ALASTAIR.  Well, how did I make it?  By my own brains.

EPIFANIA.  Brains!  By your own folly, your ignorance, your
criminal instincts, and the luck that attends the half-witted.  You
won my hand, for which all Europe was on its knees to me.  What you
deserved was five years penal servitude.

ALASTAIR.  Five years!  Fifteen, more likely.  That was what I
risked for you.  And what did I get by it?  Life with you was worse
than any penal servitude.

EPIFANIA.  It would have been heaven to you if Nature had fitted
you for such a companionship as mine.  But what was it for me?  No
man had been good enough for me.  I was like a princess in a fairy
tale offering all men alive my hand and fortune if they could turn
my hundred and fifty pound cheque into fifty thousand within six
months.  Able men, brilliant men, younger sons of the noblest
families either refused the test or failed.  Why?  Because they
were too honest or too proud.  This thing succeeded; and I found
myself tied for life to an insect.

ALASTAIR.  You may say what you like; but you were just as much in
love with me as I was with you.

EPIFANIA.  Well, you were young; you were well shaped, your lawn
tennis was outstanding; you were a magnificent boxer; and I was
excited by physical contact with you.

SAGAMORE.  Is it necessary to be so very explicit, Mrs
Fitzfassenden?

EPIFANIA.  Julius Sagamore: you may be made of sawdust; but I am
made of flesh and blood.  Alastair is physically attractive: that
is my sole excuse for having married him.  Will you have the face
to pretend that he has any mental charm?

ADRIAN.  But how did he make the fifty thousand pounds?  Was it on
the Stock Exchange?

EPIFANIA.  Nonsense! the creature does not know the difference
between a cumulative preference and a deferred ordinary.  He would
not know even how to begin.

ADRIAN.  But how did he begin?  My bank balance at present is
somewhere about a hundred and fifty.  I should very much like to
know how to make it up to fifty thousand.  You are so rich,
Epifania, that every decent man who approaches you feels like a
needy adventurer.  You dont know how a man to whom a hundred pounds
is a considerable sum feels in the arms of a woman to whom a
million is mere pin money.

EPIFANIA.  Nor do you know what it feels like to be in the arms of
a man and know that you could buy him up twenty times over and
never miss the price.

ADRIAN.  If I give you my hundred and fifty pounds, will you invest
it for me?

EPIFANIA.  It is not worth investing.  You cannot make money on the
Stock Exchange until your weekly account is at least seventy
thousand.  Do not meddle with money, Adrian: you do not understand
it.  I will give you all you need.

ADRIAN.  No, thank you: I should lose my self-respect.  I prefer
the poor man's luxury of paying for your cabs and flowers and
theatre tickets and lunches at the Ritz, and lending you all the
little sums you have occasion for when we are together.

The rest all stare at this light on Epifania's habits.

EPIFANIA.  It is quite true: I never have any pocket money: I must
owe you millions in odd five pound notes.  I will tell my bankers
that you want a thousand on account.

ADRIAN.  But I dont.  I love lending you fivers.  Only, as they run
through my comparatively slender resources at an appalling rate, I
should honestly like a few lessons from Alastair in the art of
turning hundreds into tens of thousands.

EPIFANIA.  His example would be useless to you, Adrian, because
Alastair is one of Nature's marvels; and there is nothing
marvellous about you except your appetite.  Listen.  On each of his
birthdays his aunt had presented him with a gramophone record of
the singing of the celebrated tenor Enrico Caruso.  Now it so
happens that Nature, in one of her most unaccountable caprices, has
endowed Alastair with a startlingly loud singing voice of almost
supernatural range.  He can sing high notes never before attained
by mortal man.  He found that he could imitate gramophone records
with the greatest facility; and he became convinced that he could
make a fortune as an operatic tenor.  The first use he made of my
money was to give fifty pounds to the manager of some trumpery
little opera company which was then on its last legs in the suburbs
to allow him to appear for one night in one of Caruso's most
popular roles.  He actually took me to hear his performance.

ALASTAIR.  It wasnt my fault.  I can sing Caruso's head off.  It
was a plot.  The regular tenor of the company: a swine that could
hardly reach B flat without breaking his neck, paid a lot of
blackguards to go into the gallery and boo me.

EPIFANIA.  My dear Alastair, the simple truth is that Nature, when
she endowed you with your amazing voice, unfortunately omitted to
provide you with a musical ear.  You can bellow loudly enough to
drown ten thousand bulls; but you are always at least a quarter
tone sharp or flat as the case may be.  I laughed until I fell on
the floor of my box in screaming hysterics.  The audience hooted
and booed; but they could not make themselves heard above your
roaring.  At last the chorus dragged you off the stage; and the
regular tenor finished the performance only to find that the
manager had absconded with my fifty pounds and left the whole
company penniless.  The prima donna was deaf in the left ear, into
which you had sung with all your force.  I had to pay all their
salaries and send them home.

ALASTAIR.  I tell you it was a plot.  Why shouldnt people like my
singing?  I can sing louder than any tenor on the stage.  I can
sing higher.

EPIFANIA.  Alastair: you cannot resist a plot when the whole world
is a party to it.

ADRIAN.  Still, this does not explain how Alastair made the fifty
thousand pounds.

EPIFANIA.  I leave him to tell that disgraceful tale himself.  I
believe he is proud of it.  [She sits down disdainfully in the
vacant chair].

ALASTAIR.  Well, it worked out all right.  But it was a near thing,
I tell you.  What I did was this.  I had a hundred pounds left
after the opera stunt.  I met an American.  I told him I was crazy
about a woman who wouldn't marry me unless I made fifty thousand in
six months, and that I had only a hundred pounds in the world.  He
jumped up and said 'Why, man alive, if you have a hundred you can
open a bank account and get a cheque book,' I said 'What good is a
cheque book?'  He said 'Are we partners, fifty fifty?'  So I said
yes: what else could I say?  That very day we started in.  We
lodged the money and got a book of a hundred cheques.  We took a
theatre.  We engaged a first rate cast.  We got a play.  We got a
splendid production: the scenery was lovely: the girls were lovely:
the principal woman was an angry-eyed creature with a queer foreign
voice and a Hollywood accent, just the sort the public loves.  We
never asked the price of anything: we just went in up to our necks
for thousands and thousands.

ADRIAN.  But how did you pay for all these things?

ALASTAIR.  With our cheques, of course.  Didn't I tell you we had a
cheque book?

ADRIAN.  But when the hundred was gone the cheques must have been
dishonored.

ALASTAIR.  Not one of them.  We kited them all.  But it was a
heartbreaking job.

ADRIAN.  I dont understand.  What does kiting mean?

SAGAMORE.  It is quite simple.  You pay for something with a cheque
after the banks have closed for the day: if on Saturday or just
before a bank holiday all the better.  Say the cheque is for a
hundred pounds and you have not a penny at the bank.  You must then
induce a friend or a hotel manager to cash another cheque for one
hundred pounds for you.  That provides for the previous cheque; but
it obliges you, on pain of eighteen months hard labour, to induce
another friend or hotel manager to cash another cheque for you for
two hundred pounds.  And so you go on spending and kiting from
hundreds to thousands and from risks of eighteen months imprisonment
to five years, ten years, fourteen years even.

ALASTAIR.  If you think that was an easy job, just try it yourself:
thats all.  I dream of it sometimes: it's my worst nightmare.  Why,
my partner and I never saw that theatre! never saw that play! until
the first night: we were signing cheques and kiting them all the
time.  Of course, it was easier after a while, because as we paid
our way all right we found it easier to get credit; and the biggest
expenses didnt come until after the play was produced and the money
was coming in.  I could have done it for half the money; but the
American could only keep himself up to the excitement of it by
paying twice as much as we needed for everything and shoving shares
in it on people for nothing but talk.  But it didnt matter when the
money began to come in.  My! how it did come in!  The whole town
went mad about the angry-eyed woman.  It rained money in
bucketsful.  It went to my head like drink.  It went to the
American's head.  It went to the head of the American's American
friends.  They bought all the rights: the film rights, the
translation rights, the touring rights, all sorts of rights that I
never knew existed, and began selling them to one another until
everybody in London and New York and Hollywood had a rake-off on
them.  Then the American bought all the rights back for five
hundred thousand dollars, an I sold them to an American syndicate
for a million.  It took six more Americans to do it; and every one
of then had to have a rake-off; but all I wanted was fifty thousand
pounds; and I cleared out with that and came swanking back to claim
Eppy's hand.  She thought I was great.  I was great: the money made
me great: I tell you I was drunk with it: I was another man.  You
may believe it or not as you like; but my hats were really too
small for me.

EPIFANIA.  It is quite true.  The creature was not used to money;
and it transfigured him.  I, poor innocent, had no suspicion that
money could work such miracles; for I had possessed millions in my
cradle; and it meant no more to me than the air I breathed.

SAGAMORE.  But just now, when I suggested a divorce, you asked how
he was to live.  What has become of the fifty thousand pounds?

EPIFANIA.  He lost it all in three weeks.  He bought a circus with
it.  He thought everything he touched would turn into gold.  I had
to liquidate that circus a month later.  He was about to turn the
wild beasts loose and run away when I intervened.  I was down four
hundred and thirty pounds sixteen and seven-pence by the
transaction.

ALASTAIR.  Was it my fault?  The elephant got influenza.  The
Ministry of Health closed me down and wouldnt let me move on
because the animals might carry foot-and-mouth disease.

EPIFANIA.  At all events, the net result was that instead of his
being fifty thousand pounds to the good I was four hundred and
thirty pounds to the bad.  Instead of bringing me the revenues of a
prince and a hero he cost me the allowance of a worm.  And now he
has the audacity to ask for a divorce.

ALASTAIR.  No I dont.  It was Sagamore who suggested that.  How can
I afford to let you divorce me?  As your husband I enjoy a good
deal of social consideration; and the tradesmen give me unlimited
credit.

EPIFANIA.  For stockings, among other things.

PATRICIA.  Oh [she weeps]!  Does she pay for them, Ally?

ALASTAIR.  Never mind, dear: I have shewn that I can make money
when I am put to it; and I will make it again and buy you all the
stockings you need out of my own earnings.  [He rises and goes
behind her chair to take her cheeks in his hands].  There, darling:
dont cry.

EPIFANIA.  There!  They think they are married already!

SAGAMORE.  But the matter is not in your hands, Mr Fitzfassenden.
Mrs Fitzfassenden can divorce you whether you like it or not.  The
evidence is that on a recent occasion you left your wife and took
refuge in the arms of Miss Smith.  The Court will give Mrs
Fitzfassenden a decree on that.

PATRICIA [consoled and plucky]  Well, let it.  I can support
Alastair until he has time to make another fortune.  You all think
him a fool; but he's a dear good boy; and it just disgusts me the
way you all turn against him, and the way his wife treats him as if
he were dirt under her feet.  What would she be without her money,
I'd like to know?

EPIFANIA.  Nobody is anybody without money, Seedystockings.  My
dear old father taught me that.  'Stick to your money' he said 'and
all the other things shall be added unto you.'  He said it was in
the Bible.  I have never verified the quotation; but I have never
forgotten it.  I have stuck to my money; and I shall continue to
stick to it.  Rich as I am, I can hardly forgive Alastair for
letting me down by four hundred and thirty pounds.

ALASTAIR.  Sixteen and sevenpence!  Stingy beast.  But I will pay
it.

PATRICIA.  You shall, dear.  I will sell out my insurance and give
it to you.

EPIFANIA.  May I have that in writing, Miss Smith?

ALASTAIR.  Oh, you ought to be ashamed of yourself, you greedy pig.
It was your own fault.  Why did you let the elephant go for thirty
pounds?  He cost two hundred.

SAGAMORE.  Do not let us wander from the point.

EPIFANIA.  What is the point, pray?

SAGAMORE.  The point is that you can obtain a divorce if you wish.

EPIFANIA.  I dont wish.  Do you think I am going to be dragged
through the divorce court and have my picture in the papers with
that thing?  To have the story of my infatuation told in headlines
in every rag in London!  Besides, it is convenient to be married.
It is respectable.  It keeps other men off.  It gives me a freedom
that I could not enjoy as a single woman.  I have become accustomed
to a husband.  No: decidedly I will not divorce Alastair--at least
until I can find a substitute whom I really want.

PATRICIA.  You couldnt divorce him unless he chose to let you.
Alastair's too much the gentleman to mention it; but you know very
well that your own behavior hasnt been so very nunlike that you
dare have it shewn up in court.

EPIFANIA.  Alastair was the first man I ever loved; and I hope he
will not be the last.  But legal difficulties do not exist for
people with money.  At all events, as Alastair cannot afford to
divorce me, and I have no intention of divorcing him, the question
does not arise.  What o'clock is it?

ALASTAIR.  I really think, Eppy, you might buy a wrist watch.  I
have told you so over and over again.

EPIFANIA.  Why should I go to the expense of buying a wrist watch
when everyone else has one; and I have nothing to do but ask?  I
have not carried a watch since I lost the key of my father's old
repeater.

PATRICIA.  It is ten minutes past twelve.

EPIFANIA.  Gracious!  I have missed my lesson.  How annoying!

ALASTAIR.  Your lesson?  What are you learning now, may I ask?

EPIFANIA.  All-in wrestling.  When you next indulge in your
favorite sport of wife beating, look out for a surprise.  What did
I come here for, Mr Sagamore?

SAGAMORE.  To give me instructions about your will.

ALASTAIR.  She makes a new will every time she loses her temper,
Sagamore.  Jolly good business for you.

EPIFANIA.  Do be quiet, Alastair.  You forget the dignity of your
position as my husband.  Mr Sagamore: I have changed my mind about
my will.  And I shall overlook your attempt to poison me.

SAGAMORE.  Thank you.

EPIFANIA.  What do I owe you for this abortive consultation?

SAGAMORE.  Thirteen and fourpence, if you please.

EPIFANIA.  I do not carry money about with me.  Adrian: can you
lend me thirteen and fourpence?

ADRIAN [puts his hand in his pocket]--

EPIFANIA.  Stop.  Mr Sagamore: you had better be my family
solicitor and send me your bill at the end of the year.

ALASTAIR.  Send a County Court summons with it, Sagamore; or you
may go whistle for your money.

EPIFANIA.  Do hold your tongue, Alastair.  Of course I always wait
for a summons.  It is a simple precaution against paying bills sent
in twice over.

SAGAMORE.  Quite, Mrs Fitzfassenden.  An excellent rule.

EPIFANIA.  You are a man of sense, Mr Sagamore.  And now I must
have some fresh air: this orgy of domesticity has made the room
stuffy.  Come along, Adrian: we'll drive out into the country
somewhere, and lunch there.  I know the quaintest little place up
the river.  Goodbye, Mr Sagamore.  Goodbye, Seedy: take care of
Alastair for me.  His good looks will give you a pleasing sensation
down your spine.  [She goes out].

SAGAMORE [as Adrian is following her out]  By the way, Mr
Blenderbland, what did you come for?

ADRIAN.  I totally forget.  I dont feel equal to any more this
morning.  [He goes out without further salutations].

SAGAMORE [to Alastair]  Your wife is a most extraordinary lady.

ALASTAIR [utters a stifled howl]!

PATRICIA.  He cant find words for her, poor dear.

SAGAMORE.  And now, Mr Fitzfassenden, may I ask what you came to
consult me about?

ALASTAIR.  I dont know.  After ten minutes of Eppy I never do know
whether I am standing on my head or my heels.

PATRICIA.  It was about a separation.  Pull yourself together a
bit, dear.

ALASTAIR.  Separation!  You might as well try to separate yourself
from a hurricane.  [He becomes sententious].  Listen to me,
Sagamore.  I am one of those unfortunate people--you must know a
lot of them--I daresay many of them have sat in this chair and
talked to you as I am now talking to you--

SAGAMORE [after waiting in vain for a completion of the sentence]
Yes?  You were saying--?

PATRICIA.  Dont wander, Ally.  Tell Mr Sagamore what sort of
people.

ALASTAIR.  The people that have bitten off more than they can chew.
The ordinary chaps that have married extraordinary women.  The
commonplace women that have married extraordinary men.  They all
thought it was a splendid catch for them.  Take my advice,
Sagamore: marry in your own class.  Dont misunderstand me: I dont
mean rank or money.  What I mean--what I mean--

PATRICIA [coming to the rescue]  What he means is that people who
marry should think about the same things and like the same things.
They shouldnt be over one another's heads, if you follow me.

SAGAMORE.  Perfectly.  May I take it that Alastair made that
mistake, and that later on (too late, unfortunately) he discovered
in you a--shall I say a soul mate?

ALASTAIR.  No: that sounds silly.  Literary, you know.

PATRICIA.  More of a mind mate, I should call it.

SAGAMORE.  Precisely.  Thank you.  A mind mate with whom he could
be thoroughly comfortable.

ALASTAIR [grasping Sagamore's hand fervently]  Thank you, Sagamore:
you are a real friend.  Youve got it exactly.  Think over it for
us.  Come on, Seedy darling: we mustnt waste a busy man's time.

He goes out, leaving Patricia and Sagamore alone together.  She
rises and goes to the table.

PATRICIA.  Mr Sagamore: youll stand by us, wont you?  Youll save
Ally from that awful woman.  Youll save him for me.

SAGAMORE.  I'm afraid I cant control her, Miss Smith.  Whats worse,
I'm afraid she can control me.  It's not only that I cant afford to
offend so rich a client.  It's that her will paralyzes mine.  It's
a sort of genius some people have.

PATRICIA.  Dont you be afraid of her, Mr Sagamore.  She has a
genius for making money.  It's in her family.  Money comes to her.
But I have my little bit of genius too; and she cant paralyze me.

SAGAMORE.  And what have you a genius for, Miss Smith, if I may
ask?

PATRICIA.  For making people happy.  Unhappy people come to me just
as money comes to her.

SAGAMORE [shaking his head]  I cant think that your will is
stronger than hers, Miss Smith.

PATRICIA.  It isnt, Mr Sagamore.  I have no will at all.  But I get
what I want, somehow.  Youll see.

ALASTAIR [outside, shouting]  Seedy!  Come on!

PATRICIA.  Coming, darling.  [To Sagamore]  Goodbye, Mr Sagamore.
[They shake hands quickly.  She hurries to the door].  Youll see.
[She goes out].

SAGAMORE [to himself]  I think I shall wait and see.

He resumes his morning's work.



ACT II


A dismal old coffee room in an ancient riverside inn.  An immense
and hideous sideboard of the murkiest mahogany stretches across the
end wall.  Above it hang, picturewise, two signboards, nearly black
with age: one shewing the arms of the lord of the manor, and the
other a sow standing upright and playing a flageolet.  Underneath
the sow is inscribed in tall letters THE PIG & WHISTLE.  Between
these works of art is a glass case containing an enormous stuffed
fish, certainly not less than a century old.

At right angles to the sideboard, and extending nearly the whole
length of the room, are two separate long tables, laid for lunch
for about a dozen people each.  The chairs, too close together, are
plain wooden ones, hard and uncomfortable.  The cutlery is cheap
kitchen ware, with rickety silver cruets and salt cellars to keep
up appearances.  The table cloths are coarse, and are not fresh
from the laundry.

The walls are covered with an ugly Victorian paper which may have
begun as a design of dull purple wreaths on a dark yellow
background, but is now a flyblown muck of no describable color.  On
the floor a coarse drugget, very old.  The door, which stands wide
open and has COFFEE ROOM inscribed on it, is to the right of anyone
contemplating the sideboard from the opposite end of the room.
Next the door an old fashioned hatstand flattens itself against the
wall; and on it hang the hat and light overcoat of Mr Adrian
Blenderbland.

He, with Epifania, is seated at the end of the table farthest from
the door.  They have just finished a meal.  The cheese and biscuits
are still on the table.  She looks interested and happy.  He is in
the worst of tempers.


EPIFANIA.  How jolly!

ADRIAN [looking round disparagingly]  I must be a very attractive
man.

EPIFANIA [opening her eyes wide]  Indeed!  Not that I am denying
it; but what has it to do with what I have just said?

ADRIAN.  You said 'How jolly!'  I look round at this rotten old inn
trying to pretend that it's a riverside hotel.  We have just had a
horrible meal of tomato tea called soup, the remains of Sunday's
joint, sprouts, potatoes, apple tart and stale American synthetic
cheese.  If you can suffer this and say 'How jolly!' there must be
some irresistible attraction present; and I can see nothing that is
not utterly repulsive except myself.

EPIFANIA.  Dont you like these dear old-world places?  I do.

ADRIAN.  I dont.  They ought all to be rooted up, pulled down,
burnt to the ground.  Your flat on the Embankment in London cost
more to furnish than this place did to build from the cellar to the
roof.  You can get a decent lunch there, perfectly served, by a
word through the telephone.  Your luxurious car will whisk you out
to one of a dozen first rate hotels in lovely scenery.  And yet you
choose this filthy old inn and say 'How jolly!'  What is the use of
being a millionairess on such terms?

EPIFANIA.  Psha!  When I was first let loose on the world with
unlimited money, how long do you think it took me to get tired of
shopping and sick of the luxuries you think so much of?  About a
fortnight.  My father, when he had a hundred millions, travelled
third class and never spent more than ten shillings a day on
himself except when he was entertaining people who were useful to
him.  Why should he?  He couldnt eat more than anyone else.  He
couldnt drink more than anyone else.  He couldnt wear more than
anyone else.  Neither can I.

ADRIAN.  Then why do you love money and hate spending it?

EPIFANIA.  Because money is power.  Money is security.  Money is
freedom.  It's the difference between living on the slope of a
volcano and being safe in the garden of the Hesperides.  And there
is the continual pleasure of making more of it, which is quite easy
if you have plenty to start with.  I can turn a million into two
million much more easily than a poor woman can turn five pounds
into ten, even if she could get the five pounds to begin with.  It
turns itself, in fact.

ADRIAN.  To me money is a vulgar bore and a soul destroying worry.
I need it, of course; but I dont like it.  I never think of it when
I can possibly help it.

EPIFANIA.  If you dont think about money what do you think about?
Women?

ADRIAN.  Yes, of course; but not exclusively.

EPIFANIA.  Food?

ADRIAN.  Well, I am not always thinking about my food; but I am
rather particular about it.  I confess I looked forward to a better
lunch than [indicating the table] that.

EPIFANIA.  Oho!  So that is what has put you out of temper, is it?

ADRIAN [annoyed]  I am not out of temper, I hope.  But you promised
me a very special treat.  You said you had found out the most
wonderful place on the river, where we could be ourselves and have
a delicious cottage meal in primitive happiness.  Where is the
charm of this dismal hole?  Have you ever eaten a viler lunch?
There is not even a private sitting room: anybody can walk in here
at any moment.  We should have been much more comfortable at
Richmond or Maidenhead.  And I believe it is raining.

EPIFANIA.  Is that my fault?

ADRIAN.  It completes your notion of a happy day up the river.  Why
is it that the people who know how to enjoy themselves never have
any money, and the people who have money never know how to enjoy
themselves?

EPIFANIA.  You are not making yourself agreeable, Adrian.

ADRIAN.  You are not entertaining me very munificently, Epifania.
For heaven's sake let us get into the car and drive about the
country.  It is much more luxurious than this hideous coffee room,
and more private.

EPIFANIA.  I am tired of my car.

ADRIAN.  I am not.  I wish I could afford one like it.

EPIFANIA.  I thought you would enjoy sitting in this crazy out-of-
way place talking to me.  But I find you are a spoilt old bachelor:
you care about nothing but your food and your little comforts.  You
are worse than Alastair; for he at least could talk about boxing
and tennis.

ADRIAN.  And you can talk about nothing but money.

EPIFANIA.  And you think money uninteresting!  Oh, you should have
known my father!

ADRIAN.  I am very glad I did not.

EPIFANIA [suddenly dangerous]  Whats that you say?

ADRIAN.  My dear Epifania, if we are to remain friends, I may as
well be quite frank with you.  Everything you have told me
about your father convinces me that though he was no doubt an
affectionate parent and amiable enough to explain your rather
tiresome father fixation, as Dr Freud would call it, he must have
been quite the most appalling bore that ever devastated even a
Rotary club.

EPIFANIA [stunned for a moment by this blasphemy]  My father!  You
infinite nothingness!  My father made a hundred and fifty millions.
You never made even half a million.

ADRIAN.  My good girl, your father never made anything.  I have not
the slightest notion of how he contrived to get a legal claim on so
much of what other people made; but I do know that he lost four
fifths of it by being far enough behind the times to buy up the
properties of the Russian nobility in the belief that England would
squash the Soviet revolution in three weeks or so.  Could anyone
have made a stupider mistake?  Not I.

EPIFANIA [springing up]  You rotten thing.  [He rises apprehensively].
Take that for calling my father a bore.  [She throws him].

ADRIAN [picking himself up painfully]  Oh!  Restrain yourself.  You
might have hurt me very seriously.

EPIFANIA.  I will hurt you until you wish yourself dead.  Scum!
Filth!  Take that for saying he never made anything.  [She throws
him again].

ADRIAN.  Help!  Help!  There is a madwoman here: I shall not be
able to hold her single handed.  Help!  [He comes behind her and
seizes her round the waist].

EPIFANIA.  Vermin!  [She throws him over her shoulder].

ADRIAN.  Police!  She is murdering me.  She is mad.  Help! help!
[He scrambles up and is flying to the door when she overtakes him].

EPIFANIA.  Dirt!  Carrion!  [She throws him out head over heels and
flings his hat and overcoat after him].

ADRIAN [outside, rolling downstairs with appalling bumps]  Oh!  Oh!
Help!  Murder!  Police!  Oh!  [He faints.  Silence].

EPIFANIA.  You brute!  You have killed me.  [She totters to the
nearest chair and sinks into it, scattering the crockery as she
clutches the table with her outstretched arms and sprawls on it in
convulsions].

A serious looking middleaged Egyptian gentleman in an old black
frock coat and a tarboosh, speaking English too well to be mistaken
for a native, hurries in.

THE EGYPTIAN [peremptorily]  Whats the matter?  What is going on
here?

EPIFANIA [raising her head slowly and gazing at him]  Who the devil
are you?

THE EGYPTIAN.  I am an Egyptian doctor.  I hear a great disturbance.
I hasten to ascertain the cause.  I find you here in convulsions.
Can I help?

EPIFANIA.  I am dying.

THE DOCTOR.  Nonsense!  You can swear.  The fit has subsided.  You
can sit up now: you are quite well.  Good afternoon.

EPIFANIA.  Stop.  I am not quite well: I am on the point of death.
I need a doctor.  I am a rich woman.

THE DOCTOR.  In that case you will have no difficulty in finding an
English doctor.  Is there anyone else who needs my help?  I was
upstairs.  The noise was of somebody falling downstairs.  He may
have broken some bones.  [He goes out promptly].

EPIFANIA [struggling to her feet and calling after him]  Never mind
him: if he had broken every bone in his body it is no more than he
deserves.  Come back instantly.  I want you.  Come back.  Come
back.

THE DOCTOR [returning]  The landlord is taking the gentleman to the
Cottage Hospital in your car.

EPIFANIA.  In my car!  I will not permit it.  Let them get an
ambulance.

THE DOCTOR.  The car has gone.  You should be very glad that it is
being so useful.

EPIFANIA.  It is your business to doctor me, not to lecture me.

THE DOCTOR.  I am not your doctor: I am not in general practice.  I
keep a clinic for penniless Mahometan refugees; and I work in the
hospital.  I cannot attend to you.

EPIFANIA.  You can attend to me.  You must attend to me.  Are you
going to leave me here to die?

THE DOCTOR.  You are not dying.  Not yet, at least.  Your own doctor
will attend to you.

EPIFANIA.  You are my own doctor.  I tell you I am a rich woman:
doctors' fees are nothing to me: charge me what you please.  But
you must and shall attend to me.  You are abominably rude; but you
inspire confidence as a doctor.

THE DOCTOR.  If I attended all those in whom I inspire confidence I
should be worn out in a week.  I have to reserve myself for poor
and useful people.

EPIFANIA.  Then you are either a fool or a Bolshevik.

THE DOCTOR.  I am nothing but a servant of Allah.

EPIFANIA.  You are not: you are my doctor: do you hear?  I am a
sick woman: you cannot abandon me to die in this wretched place.

THE DOCTOR.  I see no symptoms of any sickness about you.  Are you
in pain?

EPIFANIA.  Yes.  Horrible pain.

THE DOCTOR.  Where?

EPIFANIA.  Dont cross-examine me as if you didnt believe me.  I
must have sprained my wrist throwing that beast all over the place.

THE DOCTOR.  Which hand?

EPIFANIA [presenting a hand]  This.

THE DOCTOR [taking her hand in a businesslike way, and pulling and
turning the fingers and wrist]  Nothing whatever the matter.

EPIFANIA.  How do you know?  It's my hand, not yours.

THE DOCTOR.  You would scream the house down if your wrist were
sprained.  You are shamming.  Lying.  Why?  Is it to make yourself
interesting?

EPIFANIA.  Make myself interesting!  Man: I am interesting.

THE DOCTOR.  Not in the least, medically.  Are you interesting in
any other way?

EPIFANIA.  I am the most interesting woman in England.  I am
Epifania Ognisanti di Parerga.

THE DOCTOR.  Never heard of her.  Italian aristocrat, I presume.

EPIFANIA.  Aristocrat!  Do you take me for a fool?  My ancestors
were moneylenders to all Europe five hundred years ago: we are now
bankers to all the world.

THE DOCTOR.  Jewess, eh?

EPIFANIA.  Christian, to the last drop of my blood.  Jews throw
half their money away on charities and fancies like Zionism.  The
stupidest di Parerga can just walk round the cleverest Jew when it
comes to moneymaking.  We are the only real aristocracy in the
world: the aristocracy of money.

THE DOCTOR.  The plutocracy, in fact.

EPIFANIA.  If you like.  I am a plutocrat of the plutocrats.

THE DOCTOR.  Well, that is a disease for which I do not prescribe.
The only known cure is a revolution; but the mortality rate is
high; and sometimes, if it is the wrong sort of revolution, it
intensifies the disease.  I can do nothing for you.  I must go back
to my work.  Good morning.

EPIFANIA [holding him]  But this is your work.  What else have you
to do?

THE DOCTOR.  There is a good deal to be done in the world besides
attending rich imaginary invalids.

EPIFANIA.  But if you are well paid?

THE DOCTOR.  I make the little money I need by work which I venture
to think more important.

EPIFANIA [throwing him away and moving about distractedly]  You are
a pig and a beast and a Bolshevik.  It is the most abominable thing
of you to leave me here in my distress.  My car is gone.  I have no
money.  I never carry money about.

THE DOCTOR.  I have none to carry.  Your car will return presently.
You can borrow money from your chauffeur.

EPIFANIA.  You are an unmitigated hippopotamus.  You are a
Bashibazouk.  I might have known it from your ridiculous tarboosh.
You should take it off in my presence.  [She snatches it from his
head and holds it behind her back].  At least have the manners to
stay with me until my chauffeur comes back.

The motor horn is heard honking.

THE DOCTOR.  He has come back.

EPIFANIA.  Damn!  Cant you wait until he has had his tea and a
cigarette?

THE DOCTOR.  No.  Be good enough to give me back my fez.

EPIFANIA.  I wanted to see what you looked like without it.  [She
puts it tenderly on his head].  Listen to me.  You are having an
adventure.  Have you no romance in you?  Havent you even common
curiosity?  Dont you want to know why I threw that beast
downstairs?  Dont you want to throw your wretched work to the devil
for once and have an afternoon on the river with an interesting and
attractive woman?

THE DOCTOR.  Women are neither interesting nor attractive to me
except when they are ill.  I know too much about them, inside and
out.  You are perfectly well.

EPIFANIA.  Liar.  Nobody is perfectly well, nor ever has been, nor
ever will be.  [She sits down, sulking].

THE DOCTOR.  That is true.  You must have brains of a sort.  [He
sits down opposite to her].  I remember when I began as a young
surgeon I killed several patients by my operations because I had
been taught that I must go on cutting until there was nothing left
but perfectly healthy tissue.  As there is no such thing as
perfectly healthy tissue I should have cut my patients entirely
away if the nurse had not stopped me before they died on the table.
They died after they left the hospital; but as they were carried
away from the table alive I was able to claim a successful
operation.  Are you married?

EPIFANIA.  Yes.  But you need not be afraid.  My husband is openly
unfaithful to me and cannot take you into court if you make love to
me.  I can divorce him if necessary.

THE DOCTOR.  And the man you threw downstairs: who was he?  One does
not throw one's husband downstairs.  Did he make love to you?

EPIFANIA.  No.  He insulted my father's memory because he was
disappointed with his lunch here.  When I think of my father all
ordinary men seem to me the merest trash.  You are not an ordinary
man.  I should like to see some more of you.  Now that you have
asked me confidential questions about my family, and I have
answered them, you can no longer pretend that you are not my family
doctor.  So that is settled.

THE DOCTOR.  A father fixation, did you say?

EPIFANIA [nods]!

THE DOCTOR.  And an excess of money?

EPIFANIA.  Only a beggarly thirty millions.

THE DOCTOR.  A psychological curiosity.  I will consider it.

EPIFANIA.  Consider it!  You will feel honored, gratified,
delighted.

THE DOCTOR.  I see.  Enormous self-confidence.  Reckless audacity.
Insane egotism.  Apparently sexless.

EPIFANIA.  Sexless!  Who told you that I am sexless?

THE DOCTOR.  You talk to me as if you were a man.  There is no
mystery, no separateness, no sacredness about men to you.  A man to
you is only a male of your species.

EPIFANIA.  My species indeed!  Men are a different and very
inferior species.  Five minutes conversation with my husband will
convince you that he and I do not belong to the same species.  But
there are some great men, like my father.  And there are some good
doctors, like you.

THE DOCTOR.  Thank you.  What does your regular doctor say about
you?

EPIFANIA.  I have no regular doctor.  If I had I should have an
operation a week until there was nothing left of me or of my bank
balance.  I shall not expect you to maul me about with a
stethoscope, if that is what you are afraid of.  I have the lungs
of a whale and the digestion of an ostrich.  I have a clockwork
inside.  I sleep eight hours like a log.  When I want anything I
lose my head so completely about it that I always get it.

THE DOCTOR.  What things do you want mostly?

EPIFANIA.  Everything.  Anything.  Like a lightning flash.  And
then there is no stopping me.

THE DOCTOR.  Everything and anything is nothing.

EPIFANIA.  Five minutes ago I wanted you.  Now I have got you.

THE DOCTOR.  Come!  You cannot bluff a doctor.  You may want the sun
and the moon and the stars; but you cannot get them.

EPIFANIA.  That is why I take good care not to want them.  I want
only what I can get.

THE DOCTOR.  Good.  A practical intellect.  And what do you want at
present, for instance?

EPIFANIA.  That is the devil of it.  There is nothing one can get
except more money.

THE DOCTOR.  What about more men?

EPIFANIA.  More Alastairs!  More Blenderblands!  Those are not deep
wants.  At present I want a motor launch.

THE DOCTOR.  There is no such thing in this little place.

EPIFANIA.  Tell the landlord to stop the first one that
comes along and buy it.

THE DOCTOR.  Tcha!  People will not sell their boats like that.

EPIFANIA.  Have you ever tried?

THE DOCTOR.  No.

EPIFANIA.  I have.  When I need a car or a motor boat or a launch
or anything like that I buy straight off the road or off the river
or out of the harbor.  These things cost thousands when they are
new; but next day you cannot get fifty pounds for them.  Offer £300
for any of them, and the owner dare not refuse: he knows he will
never get such an offer again.

THE DOCTOR.  Aha!  You are a psychologist.  This is very
interesting.

EPIFANIA.  Nonsense!  I know how to buy and sell, if that is what
you mean.

THE DOCTOR.  That is how good psychologists make money.

EPIFANIA.  Have you made any?

THE DOCTOR.  No.  I do not care for money: I care for knowledge.

EPIFANIA.  Knowledge is no use without money.  Are you married?

THE DOCTOR.  I am married to Science.  One wife is enough for me,
though by my religion I am allowed four.

EPIFANIA.  Four!  What do you mean?

THE DOCTOR.  I am what you call a Mahometan.

EPIFANIA.  Well, you will have to be content with two wives if you
marry me.

THE DOCTOR.  Oh!  Is there any question of that between us?

EPIFANIA.  Yes.  I want to marry you.

THE DOCTOR.  Nothing doing, lady.  Science is my bride.

EPIFANIA.  You can have Science as well: I shall not be jealous of
her.  But I made a solemn promise to my father on his deathbed--

THE DOCTOR [interrupting]  Stop.  I had better tell you that I made
a solemn promise to my mother on her deathbed.

EPIFANIA.  What!!!

THE DOCTOR.  My mother was a very wise woman.  She made me swear to
her that if any woman wanted to marry me, and I felt tempted, I
would hand the woman two hundred piastres and tell her that unless
she would go out into the world with nothing but that and the
clothes she stood in, and earn her living alone and unaided for six
months, I would never speak to her again.

EPIFANIA.  And if she stood the test?

THE DOCTOR.  Then I must marry her even if she were the ugliest
devil on earth.

EPIFANIA.  And you dare ask me--me, Epifania Ognisanti di Parerga!
to submit myself to this test--to any test!

THE DOCTOR.  I swore.  I have a mother fixation.  Allah willed it
so.  I cannot help myself.

EPIFANIA.  What was your mother?

THE DOCTOR.  A washerwoman.  A widow.  She brought up eleven
children.  I was the youngest, the Benjamin.  The other ten are
honest working folk.  With their help she made me a man of
learning.  It was her ambition to have a son who could read and
write.  She prayed to Allah; and he endowed me with the necessary
talent.

EPIFANIA.  And you think I will allow myself to be beaten by an old
washerwoman?

THE DOCTOR.  I am afraid so.  You could never pass the test.

EPIFANIA.  Indeed!  And my father's test for a husband worthy of
me?

THE DOCTOR.  Oh!  The husband is to be tested too!  That never
occurred to me.

EPIFANIA.  Nor to your mother either, it seems.  Well, you know
better now.  I am to give you a hundred and fifty pounds.  In six
months you are to increase it to fifty thousand.  How is that for a
test?

THE DOCTOR.  Quite conclusive.  At the end of the six months I shall
not have a penny of it left, praise be to Allah.

EPIFANIA.  You confess yourself beaten?

THE DOCTOR.  Absolutely.  Completely.

EPIFANIA.  And you think I am beaten too.

THE DOCTOR.  Hopelessly.  You do not know what homeless poverty is;
and Allah the Compassionate will take care that you never do.

EPIFANIA.  How much is two hundred piastres?

THE DOCTOR.  At the rate of exchange contemplated by my mother,
about thirtyfive shillings.

EPIFANIA.  Hand it over.

THE DOCTOR.  Unfortunately my mother forgot to provide for this
contingency.  I have not got thirtyfive shillings.  I must borrow
them from you.

EPIFANIA.  I have not a penny on me.  No matter: I will borrow it
from the chauffeur.  He will lend you a hundred and fifty pounds on
my account if you dare ask him.  Goodbye for six months.  [She goes
out].

THE DOCTOR.  There is no might and no majesty save in Thee, O Allah;
but oh! most Great and Glorious, is this another of Thy terrible
jokes?



ACT III


A basement in the Commercial Road.  An elderly man, anxious, poor,
and ratlike, sits at a table with his wife.  He is poring over his
accounts.  She, on his left, is sewing buttons on a coat, working
very fast.  There is a pile of coats on the table to her right
waiting to have buttons sewn on, and another to her left which she
has finished.  The table is draped down to the ground with an old
cloth.  Some daylight comes in down the stone stairs; but does not
extend to the side where the couple sit, which is lighted by a
small electric bulb on a wire.  Between the stairs and the table a
dirty old patched curtain hangs in front of an opening into a
farther compartment.

A bell tinkles.  The woman instantly stops sewing and conceals the
piles of coats under the table.  Epifania, her dress covered by an
old waterproof, and wearing an elaborately damaged hat, comes down
the stairs.  She looks at the pair; then looks round her; then goes
to the curtain and looks through.  The old man makes a dash to
prevent her, but is too late.  He snatches the curtain from her and
bars her passage.


THE MAN.  What do you want?  What are you doing here?

EPIFANIA.  I want employment.  A woman told me I should find it
here.  I am destitute.

THE MAN.  Thats not the way to get employment: poking your nose into
places that dont concern you.  Get out.  There are no women
employed here.

EPIFANIA.  You lie.  There are six women working in there.  Who
employs them?

THE MAN.  Is that the way to talk to me?  You think a lot of
yourself, dont you?  What do you take me for?

EPIFANIA.  A worm.

THE MAN [making a violent demonstration]!!

EPIFANIA.  Take care.  I can use my fists.  I can shoot, if
necessary.

THE WOMAN [hurrying to the man and holding him]  Take care, Joe.
She's an inspector.  Look at her shoes.

EPIFANIA.  I am not an inspector.  And what is the matter with my
shoes, pray?

THE WOMAN [respectfully]  Well maam, could a woman looking for work
at tuppence hapeny an hour afford a west end shoe like that?  I
assure you we dont employ any women here.  We're only caretakers.

EPIFANIA.  But I saw six women--

THE MAN [throwing open the curtain]  Where?  Not a soul.  Search
the whole bloody basement.

THE WOMAN.  Hush, hush, Joe: dont speak to the lady like that.  You
see, maam: theres not a soul.

EPIFANIA.  Theres a smell.  You have given them a signal to hide.
You are breaking the law.  Give me some work or I will send a
postcard to the Home Office.

THE MAN.  Look here, lady.  Cant we arrange this?  What good will it
do you to get me into trouble and shut up my little shop?

EPIFANIA.  What good will it do me to say nothing?

THE MAN.  Well, what about half a crown a week?

EPIFANIA.  I cannot live on half a crown a week.

THE MAN.  You can if you look round a bit.  There are others you
know.

EPIFANIA.  Give me the address of the others.  If I am to live by
blackmail I must have an extended practice.

THE MAN.  Well, if I have to pay I dont see why the others shouldnt
too.  Will you take half a crown?  [He holds up half a crown.]
Look here!  Look at it!  Listen to it!  [He rings it on the table].
It's yours, and another every Wednesday if you keep the inspector
off me.

EPIFANIA.  It's no use ringing half crowns at me: I am accustomed
to them.  And I feel convinced that you will pay five shillings if
I insist.

THE WOMAN.  Oh, maam, have some feeling for us.  You dont know the
struggle we have to live.

THE MAN [roughly]  Here: we're not beggars.  I'll pay what the
business can afford and not a penny more.  You seem to know that it
can afford five shillings.  Well, if you know that, you know that
it cant afford any more.  Take your five shillings and be damned to
you.  [He flings two half crowns on the table].

THE WOMAN.  Oh, Joe, dont be so hasty.

THE MAN.  You shut up.  You think you can beg a shilling or two off;
but you cant.  I can size up a tough lot without looking at her
shoes.  She's got us; and she knows she's got us.

EPIFANIA.  I do not like this blackmailing business.  Of course if
I must I must; but can you not give me some manual work?

THE MAN.  You want to get a little deeper into our business, dont
you?

EPIFANIA.  I am as deep as I can go already.  You are employing six
women in there.  The thing in the corner is a gas engine: that
makes you a workshop under the Act.  Except that the sanitary
arrangements are probably abominable, there is nothing more for me
to know.  I have you in the hollow of my hand.  Give me some work
that I can live by or I will have you cleared out like a wasp's
nest.

THE MAN.  I have a good mind to clear out now and take some place
where you wont find me so easy.  I am used to changing my address.

EPIFANIA.  That is the best card in your hand.  You have some
business ability.  Tell me why you cannot give me work to live by
just as you give it, I suppose, to the women I saw in there.

THE MAN.  I dont like the people I employ to know too much.

EPIFANIA.  I see.  They might call in the inspector.

THE MAN.  Call in the inspector!  What sort of fool are you?  They
dread the inspector more than I do.

EPIFANIA.  Why?  Dont they want to be protected?

THE WOMAN.  The inspector wouldnt protect them, maam: he'd only shut
up the place and take away their job from them.  If they thought
youd be so cruel as to report them theyd go down on their knees to
you to spare them.

THE MAN.  You that know such a lot ought to know that a business
like this cant afford any luxuries.  It's a cheap labor business.
As long as I get women to work for their natural wage, I can get
along; but no luxuries, mind you.  No trade union wages.  No
sanitary arrangements as you call them.  No limewashings every six
months.  No separate rooms to eat in.  No fencing in of dangerous
machinery or the like of that: not that I care; for I have nothing
but the old gas engine that wouldnt hurt a fly, though it brings me
under the blasted Workshop Act as you spotted all right.  I have no
big machinery; but I have to undersell those that have it.  If I
put up my prices by a farthing theyd set their machinery going and
drop me.  You might as well ask me to pay trade union wages as do
all that the inspector wants: I should be out of business in a
week.

EPIFANIA.  And what is a woman's natural wage?

THE MAN.  Tuppence hapeny an hour for twelve hours a day.

EPIFANIA.  Slavery!

THE WOMAN.  Oh no, maam: nobody could call that slavery.  A good
worker can make from twelve to fifteen shillings a week at it, week
in and week out.

THE MAN.  Isnt it what the Government paid at the beginning of the
war when all the women were called on to do their bit?  Do you
expect me to pay more than the British Government?

THE WOMAN.  I assure you it's the regular and proper wage and always
has been, maam.

THE MAN.  Like five per cent at the Bank of England it is.  This is
a respectable business, whatever your inspectors may say.

EPIFANIA.  Can a woman live on twelve shillings a week?

THE MAN.  Of course she can.  Whats to prevent her?

THE WOMAN.  Why, maam, when I was a girl in a match factory I had
five shillings a week; and it was a godsend to my mother.  And a
girl who had no family of her own could always find a family to
take her in for four and sixpence, and treat her better than if she
had been in her father's house.

THE MAN.  I can find you a family what'll do it today, in spite of
all the damned doles and wages boards that have upset everything
and given girls ideas above their station without giving them the
means to pamper themselves.

EPIFANIA.  Well, I will work even for that, to prove that I can
work and support myself.  So give me work and have done talking.

THE MAN.  Who started talking?  You or I?

EPIFANIA.  I did.  I thank you for the information you have given
me: it has been instructive and to the point.  Is that a sufficient
apology?  And now to work, to work.  I am in a hurry to get to
work.

THE MAN.  Well, what work can you do?

THE WOMAN.  Can you sew?  Can you make buttonholes?

EPIFANIA.  Certainly not.  I dont call that work.

THE MAN.  Well, what sort of work are you looking for?

EPIFANIA.  Brain work.

THE MAN.  She's dotty!

EPIFANIA.  Your work.  Managing work.  Planning work.  Driving
work.  Let me see what you make here.  Tell me how you dispose of
it.

THE MAN [to his wife]  You had better get on with your work.  Let
her see it.  [To Epifania, whilst the woman pulls out the pile of
coats from under the table and sits down resignedly to her sewing]
And when youve quite satisfied your curiosity, perhaps youll take
that five shillings and go.

EPIFANIA.  Why?  Dont you find my arrival a pleasant sort of
adventure in this den?

THE MAN.  I never heard the like of your cheek, not from nobody.
[He sits down to his accounts].

EPIFANIA [to the woman, indicating the pile of coats]  What do you
do with these when they are finished?

THE WOMAN [going on with her work]  The man comes with his lorry
and takes them away.

EPIFANIA.  Does he pay you for them?

THE WOMAN.  Oh no.  He gives us a receipt for them.  Mr Superflew
pays us for the receipts at the end of the week.

EPIFANIA.  And what does Mr Superflew do with the coats?

THE WOMAN.  He takes them to the wholesaler that supplies him with
the cloth.  The lorry brings us the cloth when it takes away the
finished clothes.

EPIFANIA.  Why dont you deal directly with the wholesalers?

THE WOMAN.  Oh no: that wouldnt be right.  We dont know who they
are; and Mr Superflew does.  Besides, we couldnt afford a lorry.

EPIFANIA.  Does Mr Superflew own the lorry?

THE WOMAN.  Oh no: that wouldnt be right.  He hires it by the hour
from Bolton's.

EPIFANIA.  Is the driver always the same man?

THE WOMAN.  Yes, of course: always old Tim Goodenough.

EPIFANIA [to the man]  Write those names for me: Superflew,
Bolton's, Goodenough.

THE MAN.  Here!  I'm not your clerk, you know.

EPIFANIA.  You will be, soon.  Do as I tell you.

THE MAN.  Well of all the cheek--!  [He obeys].

EPIFANIA.  When Goodenough comes round next, tell him to tell
Bolton's that he has found somebody who will buy the lorry for
fourteen pounds.  Tell him that if he can induce Bolton's to part
from it at that figure you will give him a pound for himself and
engage him at half a crown advance on his present wages to drive it
just the same old round to the same places.  He knows the
wholesalers.  Mr Superflew is superfluous.  We shall collect not
only our own stuff but that of all the other sweaters.

THE MAN.  Sweaters!  Who are you calling sweaters?

EPIFANIA.  Man, know thyself.  You sweat yourself; you sweat your
wife; you sweat those women in there; you live on sweat.

THE MAN.  Thats no way to talk about it.  It isnt civil.  I pay the
right wages, same as everybody pays.  I give employment that the
like of them couldnt make for themselves.

EPIFANIA.  You are sensitive about it.  I am not.  I am going to
sweat Mr Superflew out of existence.  I am going to sweat Mr
Timothy Goodenough instead of allowing Mr Superflew to sweat him.

THE MAN.  See here.  Does this business belong to me or to you?

EPIFANIA.  We shall see.  Dare you buy the lorry?

THE MAN.  Wheres the money to come from?

EPIFANIA.  Where does all money come from?  From the bank.

THE MAN.  You got to put it there first, havnt you?

EPIFANIA.  Not in the least.  Other people put it there; and the
bank lends it to you if it thinks you know how to extend your
business.

THE WOMAN [terrified]  Oh, Joe, dont trust your money in a bank.
No good ever comes out of banks for the likes of us.  Dont let her
tempt you, Joe.

EPIFANIA.  When had you last a holiday?

THE WOMAN.  Me!  A holiday!  We cant afford holidays.  I had one on
Armistice Day, eighteen years ago.

EPIFANIA.  Then it cost a world war and the slaughter of twenty
millions of your fellow creatures to give you one holiday in your
lifetime.  I can do better for you than that.

THE WOMAN.  We dont understand that sort of talk here.  Weve no time
for it.  Will you please take our little present and go away?

The bell tinkles.

THE MAN [rising]  Thats Tim, for the clothes.

EPIFANIA [masterfully]  Sit down.  I will deal with Tim.

She goes out.  The man, after a moment of irresolution, sits down
helplessly.

THE WOMAN [crying]  Oh, Joe, dont listen to her: dont let her
meddle with us.  That woman would spend our little savings in a
week, and leave us to slave to the end of our days to make it up
again.  I cant go on slaving for ever; we're neither of us as young
as we were.

THE MAN [sullen]  What sort of wife are you for a man?  You take
the pluck out of me every time.  Dont I see other men swanking
round and throwing money about that they get out of the banks?  In
and out of banks they are, all day.  What do they do but smoke
cigars and drink champagne?  A five pound note is to them what a
penny is to me.  Why shouldn't I try their game instead of slaving
here for pence and hapence?

THE WOMAN.  Cause you dont understand it, Joe.  We know our own
ways; and though we're poor our ways have never let us down; and
they never will if we stick to them.  And who would speak to us?
who would know us or give us a helping hand in hard times if we
began doing things that nobody else does?  How would you like to
walk down Commercial Road and get nothing but black looks from all
your friends and be refused a week's credit in the shops?  Joe: Ive
gone on in our natural ways all these years without a word of
complaint; and I can go on long enough still to make us comfortable
when we're too old to see what I'm sewing or you to count the
pence.  But if youre going to risk everything and put our money in
a bank and change our ways I cant go on: I cant go on: itll kill
me.  Go up and stop her, Joe.  Dont let her talk: just put her out.
Be a man, darling: dont be afraid of her.  Dont break my heart and
ruin yourself.  Oh, dont sit there dithering: you dont know what
she may be doing.  Oh! oh! oh!  [She can say no more for sobbing].

THE MAN [rising, but not very resolutely]  There! there!  Hold your
noise: I'm not going to let her interfere with us.  I'll put her
out all right.  [He goes to the stairs.  Epifania comes down].
Now, missis: lets have an understanding.

EPIFANIA.  No understanding is necessary.  Tim is sure that
Bolton's will take ten pounds for the lorry.  Tim is my devoted
slave.  Make that poor woman stop howling if you can.  I am going
now.  There is not enough work here for me: I can do it all in half
a day every week.  I shall take a job as scullery maid at a hotel
to fill up my time.  But first I must go round to the address Tim
has given me and arrange that we send them our stuff direct and
collect just as Superflew did.  When I have arranged everything
with them I will come back and arrange everything for you.
Meanwhile, carry on as usual.  Good morning.  [She goes out].

THE MAN [stupefied]  It seems to me like a sort of dream.  What
could I do?

THE WOMAN [who has stopped crying on hearing Epifania's allusion to
her]  Do what she tells us, Joe.  We're like children--  [She
begins crying again softly].

There is nothing more to be said.



ACT IV


The coffee room of The Pig & Whistle, now transmogrified into the
lounge of The Cardinal's Hat, a very attractive riverside hotel.
The long tables are gone, replaced by several teatables with
luxurious chairs round them.  The old sideboard, the stuffed fish,
the signboards are no more: instead there is an elegant double
writing desk for two sitters, divided by stationery cases and
electric lamps with dainty shades.  Near it is a table with all the
illustrated papers and magazines to hand.  Farther down the room,
towards the side next the door, there is a long well cushioned
seat, capable of accommodating three persons.  With three chairs at
the other side it forms a fireside circle.  The old hatstand has
gone to its grave with the sideboard.  The newly painted walls
present an attractive color scheme.  The floor is parquetted and
liberally supplied with oriental rugs.  All the appurtenances of a
brand new first class hotel lounge are in evidence.

Alastair, in boating flannels, is sprawling happily on the long
seat, reading an illustrated magazine.  Patricia, in her gladdest
summer rags, is knitting in the middle chair opposite, full of
quiet enjoyment.

It is a fine summer afternoon; and the general effect is that of a
bank holiday paradise.


ALASTAIR.  I say, Seedy, isnt this jolly?

PATRICIA.  Yes, darling: it's lovely.

ALASTAIR.  Nothing beats a fine week-end on the river.  A pull on
the water in the morning to give one a good stretch and a good
appetite.  A good lunch, and then a good laze.  What more can any
man desire on earth?

PATRICIA.  You row so beautifully, Ally.  I love to see you
sculling.  And punting too.  You look so well standing up in the
punt.

ALASTAIR.  It's the quiet of it, the blessed quiet.  You are so
quiet: I'm never afraid of your kicking up a row about nothing.
The river is so smooth.  I dont know which is more comforting, you
or the river, when I think of myself shooting Niagara three or four
times a day at home.

PATRICIA.  Dont think of it, darling.  It isnt home: this is home.

ALASTAIR.  Yes, dear: youre right: this is what home ought to be,
though it's only a hotel.

PATRICIA.  Well, what more could anyone ask but a nice hotel?  All
the housekeeping done for us: no trouble with the servants: no
rates nor taxes.  I have never had any peace except in a hotel.
But perhaps a man doesnt feel that way.

The manager of the hotel, a young man, smartly dressed, enters.
He carries the hotel register, which he opens and places on the
newspaper table.  He then comes obsequiously to his two guests.

MANAGER [between them]  Good afternoon, sir.  I hope you find
everything here to your liking.

ALASTAIR.  Yes, thanks.  But what have you done to the old place?
When I was here last, a year ago, it was a common pub called The
Pig and Whistle.

THE MANAGER.  It was so until quite lately, sir.  My father kept The
Pig and Whistle.  So did his forefathers right back to the reign of
William the Conqueror.  Cardinal Wolsey stopped once for an hour at
The Pig and Whistle when his mule cast a shoe and had to go to the
blacksmith's.  I assure you my forefathers thought a lot of
themselves.  But they were uneducated men, and ruined the old place
by trying to improve it by getting rid of the old things in it.  It
was on its last legs when you saw it, sir.  I was ashamed of it.

ALASTAIR.  Well, you have made a first rate job of it now.

THE MANAGER.  Oh, it was not my doing, sir: I am only the manager.
You would hardly believe it if I were to tell you the story of it.
Much more romantic, to my mind, than the old tale about Wolsey.
But I mustnt disturb you talking.  You will let me know if theres
anything I can do to make you quite comfortable.

PATRICIA.  I should like to know about the old Pig if it's
romantic.  If you can spare the time, of course.

THE MANAGER.  I am at your service, madam, always.

ALASTAIR.  Fire ahead, old man.

THE MANAGER.  Well, madam, one day a woman came here and asked for a
job as a scullery maid.  My poor old father hadnt the nerve to turn
her out: he said she might just try for a day or two.  So she
started in.  She washed two dishes and broke six.  My poor old
mother was furious: she thought the world of her dishes.  She had
no suspicion, poor soul, that they were ugly and common and old and
cheap and altogether out of date.  She said that as the girl had
broken them she should pay for them if she had to stay for a month
and have the price stopped out of her wages.  Off went the girl to
Reading and came back with a load of crockery that made my mother
cry: she said we should be disgraced for ever if we served a meal
on such old fashioned things.  But the very next day an American
lady with a boating party bought them right off the table for three
times what they cost; and my poor mother never dared say another
word.  The scullery maid took things into her own hands in a way we
could never have done.  It was cruel for us; but we couldnt deny
that she was always right.

PATRICIA.  Cruel!  What was there cruel in getting nice crockery
for you?

THE MANAGER.  Oh, it wasnt only that, madam: that part of it was
easy and pleasant enough.  You see all she had to do with the old
crockery was to break it and throw the bits into the dustbin.  But
what was the matter with the old Pig and Whistle was not the old
thick plate that took away your appetite.  It was the old people it
had gathered about itself that were past their work and had never
been up to much according to modern ideas.  They had to be thrown
into the street to wander about for a few days and then go into the
workhouse.  There was the bar that was served by father and mother:
she dressed up to the nines, as she thought, poor old dear, never
dreaming that the world was a day older than when she was married.
The scullery maid told them the truth about themselves; and it just
cut them to pieces; for it was the truth; and I couldnt deny it.
The old man had to give in, because he had raised money on his
freehold and was at his wits' end to pay the mortgage interest.
The next thing we knew, the girl had paid off the mortgage and got
the whip hand of us completely.  'It's time for you two to sell
your freehold and retire: you are doing no good here' she said.

PATRICIA.  But that was dreadful, to root them up like that.

THE MANAGER.  It was hard; but it was the truth.  We should have had
the brokers in sooner or later if we had gone on.  Business is
business; and theres no room for sentiment in it.  And then, think
of the good, she did.  My parents would never have got the price
for the freehold that she gave them.  Here was I, ashamed of the
place, tied to the old Pig and Whistle by my feeling for my
parents, with no prospects.  Now the house is a credit to the
neighborhood and gives more employment than the poor old Pig did in
its best days; and I am the manager of it with a salary and a
percentage beyond anything I could have dreamt of.

ALASTAIR.  Then she didnt chuck you, old man.

THE MANAGER.  No, sir.  You see, though I could never have made the
change myself, I was intelligent enough to see that she was right.
I backed her up all through.  I have such faith in that woman, sir,
that if she told me to burn down the hotel tonight I'd do it
without a moment's hesitation.  When she puts her finger on a thing
it turns into gold every time.  The bank would remind my father if
he overdrew by five pounds; but the manager keeps pressing
overdrafts on her: it makes him miserable when she has a penny to
her credit.  A wonderful woman, sir: one day a scullery maid, and
the next the proprietress of a first class hotel.

PATRICIA.  And are the old people satisfied and happy?

THE MANAGER.  Well, no: the change was too much for them at their
age.  My father had a stroke and wont last long, I'm afraid.  And
my mother has gone a bit silly.  Still, it was best for them; and
they have all the comforts they care for.

ALASTAIR.  Well, thats a very moving tale: more so than you think,
old boy, because I happen to know a woman of that stamp.  By the
way, I telegraphed for a friend of mine to come and spend the week-
end with us here: a Mr Sagamore.  I suppose you can find a room for
him.

THE MANAGER.  That will be quite all right, sir, thank you.

PATRICIA.  Have you many people in the house this week-end?

THE MANAGER.  Less than usual, madam.  We have an Egyptian doctor
who takes his meals here: a very learned man I should think: very
quiet: not a word to anybody.  Then there is another gentleman, an
invalid, only just discharged from the Cottage Hospital.  The
Egyptian doctor recommended our chef to him; and he takes his meals
here too.  And that is all, madam, unless some fresh visitors
arrive.

ALASTAIR.  Well, we must put up with them.

THE MANAGER.  By the way, sir, I am sorry to trouble you; but you
came up this morning without signing the register.  I have brought
it up.  Would you be so good?  [He fetches the register from the
table and presents it to Alastair with his fountain pen].

ALASTAIR [sitting up and taking it on his knees]  Oh, I am sorry: I
forgot.  [He signs].  There you are.  [He puts up his legs again].

THE MANAGER.  Thanks very much, sir.  [He glances at the register
before shutting it.  The signature surprises him].  Oh, indeed,
sir!  We are honored.

ALASTAIR.  Anything wrong?

THE MANAGER.  Oh no, sir, nothing wrong: quite the contrary.  Mr and
Mrs Fitzfassenden.  The name is so unusual.  Have I the honor of
entertaining the celebrated--

ALASTAIR [interrupting]  Yes: it's all right: I am the tennis
champion and the boxing champion and all the rest of it; but I am
here for a holiday and I dont want to hear anything more about it.

THE MANAGER [shutting the book]  I quite understand, sir.  I should
not have said anything if it were not that the proprietress of this
hotel, the lady I told you of, is a Mrs Fitzfassenden.

ALASTAIR [rising with a yell]  What!  Let me out of this.  Pack up,
Seedy.  My bill, please, instantly.

THE MANAGER.  Certainly, sir.  But may I say that she is not on the
premises at present and that I do not expect her this week-end.

PATRICIA.  Dont fuss, darling.  Weve a perfect right to be in her
hotel if we pay our way just like anybody else.

ALASTAIR.  Very well: have it your own way.  But my week-end is
spoilt.

THE MANAGER.  Depend on it, she wont come, sir.  She is getting
tired of paying us unexpected visits now that she knows she can
depend on me.  [He goes out, but immediately looks in again to say]
Your friend Mr Sagamore, sir, coming up with the invalid gentleman.
[He holds the door open for Sagamore and Adrian, who come in.  Then
he goes out, taking the register with him].

Adrian, who comes first, limps badly on two walking sticks; and his
head is bandaged.  He is disagreeably surprised at seeing
Fitzfassenden and Patricia.

ADRIAN.  Alastair!  Miss Smith!  What does this mean, Sagamore?
You never told me who you were bringing me to see: you said two
friends.  Alastair: I assure you I did not know you were here.
Sagamore said some friends who would be glad to see me.

PATRICIA.  Well, we are glad to see you, Mr Blenderbland.  Wont you
sit down?

ALASTAIR.  But whats happened to you, old chap?  What on earth have
you done to yourself?

ADRIAN [exasperated]  Everyone asks me what I have done to myself.
I havent done anything to myself.  I suppose you mean this and this
[he indicated his injuries].  Well, they are what your wife has
done to me.  That is why Sagamore should not have brought me here.

ALASTAIR.  I say: I am frightfully sorry, old chap.

PATRICIA [rising solicitously]  Do sit down, Mr Blenderbland.  Rest
yourself on that couch.  [Arranging cushions]  Dear! dear!

ALASTAIR.  Eppy is like that, you know.

ADRIAN.  Yes: I know now.  But I ought not to be here: Sagamore
should not have brought me here.

PATRICIA.  But why not?  I assure you we're delighted to see you.
We dont mind what Mrs Fitzfassenden does.

ADRIAN.  But I do.  You are most kind; but I cannot claim the
privilege of a friend and at the same time be the plaintiff in an
action for assault and battery.

ALASTAIR.  Yes you can, old chap.  The situation is not new.  The
victims always come to us for sympathy.  Make yourself comfortable.

ADRIAN [reluctantly sitting down and disposing his damaged limbs
along the couch]  Well, it's most kind of you; and I really cant
stand any longer.  But I dont understand why Sagamore should have
played such a trick on me.  And, of course, on you too.

Patricia returns to her chair, and resumes her knitting.

SAGAMORE [taking a chair next Patricia on her left]  Well, the
truth of the matter is that Blenderbland wont be reasonable; and I
thought you two might help me to bring him to his senses.

ADRIAN [obstinately]  It's no use, Sagamore.  Two thousand five
hundred.  And costs.  Not a penny less.

SAGAMORE.  Too much.  Ridiculous.  A jury might give five hundred
if there was a clear disablement from earning, or if the defendant
had done something really womanly, like throwing vitriol.  But you
are only a sleeping partner in the firm your father founded: you
dont really earn your income.  Besides, hang it all! a man accusing
a woman of assault!

ALASTAIR.  Why didnt you give her a punch in the solar plexus?

ADRIAN.  Strike a woman!  Impossible.

ALASTAIR.  Rot!  If a woman starts fighting she must take what she
gets and deserves.

PATRICIA.  Look at the marks she's left on you, Mr Blenderbland!
You shouldnt have put up with it: it only encourages her.

ALASTAIR.  Search me for marks: you wont find any.  Youd have found
a big mark on her the first time she tried it on me.  There was no
second time.

ADRIAN.  Unfortunately I have neither your muscle nor your
knowledge of how to punch.  But I will take lessons when I get
well.  And she shall pay for them.  Two thousand five hundred.  And
medical expenses.  And costs.

SAGAMORE.  And cab fare to the Cottage Hospital, I suppose.

ADRIAN.  No: I went in her own car.  But now you remind me, I
tipped the chauffeur.  Now dont misunderstand me.  It is not the
money.  But I wont be beaten by a woman.  It's a point of honor: of
self-respect.

SAGAMORE.  Yes; but how do you arrive at the figure?  Why is your
honor and self-respect worth two thousand five hundred pounds and
not two thousand five hundred millions?

ADRIAN.  My brother got two thousand five hundred from the railway
company when an electric truck butted into him on the platform at
Paddington.  I will not let Epifania off with less.  It was an
unprovoked, brutal, cowardly assault.

SAGAMORE.  Was it quite unprovoked?  You will not get a jury to
swallow that without a peck of salt?

ADRIAN.  I have told you over and over again that it was absolutely
unprovoked.  But the concussion from which I suffered obliterated
all consciousness of what happened immediately before the assault:
the last thing I can recollect was a quite ordinary conversation
about her father's money.

SAGAMORE.  So much the worse for you.  She can accuse you of
anything she likes.  And remember: no man can get damages out of a
British jury unless he goes into court as a moral man.

ADRIAN.  Do you suggest that I am not a moral man?

SAGAMORE.  No; but Mrs Fitzfassenden's counsel will if you take her
into court.

ADRIAN.  Stuff!  Would any jury believe that she and I were lovers
on the strength of a sprained ankle, a dislocated knee, and a lump
on my head the size of an ostrich's egg?

SAGAMORE.  The best of evidence against you.  It's only lovers that
have lovers' quarrels.  And suppose she pleads self-defence against
a criminal assault!

ADRIAN.  She dare not swear to such a lie.

SAGAMORE.  How do you know it's a lie?  You dont know what happened
at the end.  You had concussion of the brain.

ADRIAN.  Yes: after the assault.

SAGAMORE.  But it obliterated your consciousness of what happened
before the assault.  How do you know what you did in those moments?

ADRIAN.  Look here.  Are you my solicitor or hers?

SAGAMORE.  Fate seems to have made me the solicitor of everybody in
this case.  If I am forced to throw up either her case or yours, I
must throw up yours.  How can I afford to lose a client with such
an income and such a temper?  Her tantrums are worth two or three
thousand a year to any solicitor.

ADRIAN.  Very well, Sagamore.  You see my condition: you know that
right and justice are on my side.  I shall not forget this.

The manager enters, looking very serious.

THE MANAGER [to Alastair]  I am extremely sorry, sir.  Mrs
Fitzfassenden is downstairs with the Egyptian doctor.  I really did
not expect her.

EPIFANIA [dashing into the room and addressing herself fiercely to
the manager]  You have allowed my husband to bring a woman to my
hotel and register her in my name.  You are fired.  [She is behind
the couch and does not see Adrian.  Sagamore rises].

THE MANAGER.  I am sorry, madam: I did not know that the gentleman
was your husband.  However, you are always right.  Do you wish me
to go at once or to carry on until you have replaced me?

EPIFANIA.  I do not wish you to go at all: you are re-engaged.
Throw them both out, instantly.

ALASTAIR.  Ha ha ha!

SAGAMORE.  Your manager cannot throw Alastair out: Alastair can
throw all of us out, if it comes to that.  As to Miss Smith, this
is a licensed house; and she has as much right to be here as you or
I.

EPIFANIA.  I will set fire to the hotel if necessary.  [She sees
Adrian].  Hallo!  What is this?  Adrian here too!  What has
happened to your head?  What are those sticks for?  [To the
manager]  Send the doctor here at once.  [To Adrian]  Have you hurt
yourself?

The manager hurries out, glad to escape from the mêlée.

ADRIAN.  Hurt myself!  Hurt myself!!

EPIFANIA.  Has he been run over?

ADRIAN.  This woman has half killed me; and she asks have I hurt
myself!  I fell down the whole flight of stairs.  My ankle was
sprained.  My knee was twisted.  The small bone of my leg was
broken.  I ricked my spine.  I had to give them a subscription at
the Cottage Hospital, where your man took me.  I had to go from
there to a nursing home: twelve guineas a week.  I had to call in
three Harley Street surgeons; and none of them knew anything about
dislocated knees: they wanted to cut my knee open to see what was
the matter with it.  I had to take it to a bonesetter; and he
charged me fifty guineas.

EPIFANIA.  Well, why did you not walk downstairs properly?  Were
you drunk?

ADRIAN [suffocating]  I--

SAGAMORE [cutting in quickly]  He declares that his injuries were
inflicted by you when you last met, Mrs Fitzfassenden.

EPIFANIA.  By me!  Am I a prizefighter?  Am I a coal-heaver?

ADRIAN.  Both.

SAGAMORE.  Do you deny that you assaulted him?

EPIFANIA.  Of course I deny it.  Anything more monstrous I never
heard.  What happened was that he insulted my father grossly,
without the slightest provocation, at a moment when I had every
reason to expect the utmost tenderness from him.  The blood rushed
to my head: the next thing I remember is that I was lying across
the table, trembling, dying.  The doctor who found me can tell you
what my condition was.

ADRIAN.  I dont care what your condition was.  What condition did
your chauffeur find me in?

SAGAMORE.  Then neither of you has the least notion of how this
affair ended.

ADRIAN.  I have medical evidence.

EPIFANIA.  So have I.

ADRIAN.  Well, we shall see.  I am not going to be talked out of my
case.

EPIFANIA.  What do you mean by your case?

SAGAMORE.  He is taking an action against you.

EPIFANIA.  An action!  Very well: you know my invariable rule.
Fight him to the last ditch, no matter what it costs.  Take him to
the House of Lords if necessary.  We shall see whose purse will
hold out longest.  I will not be blackmailed.

ADRIAN.  You think your father's money places you above the law?

EPIFANIA [flushing]  Again!

She makes for him.  Alastair seizes her from behind and whirls her
away towards Sagamore; then places himself on guard between her and
the couch, balancing his fist warningly.

ALASTAIR.  Now! now! now!  None of that.  Toko, my girl, toko.

SAGAMORE.  Toko!  What is toko?

ALASTAIR.  She knows.  Toko is an infallible medicine for calming
the nerves.  A punch in the solar plexus and a day in bed: thats
toko.

EPIFANIA.  You are my witness, Mr Sagamore, how I go in fear of my
husband's brutal violence.  He is stronger than I am: he can batter
me, torture me, kill me.  It is the last argument of the lower
nature against the higher.  My innocence is helpless.  Do your
worst.  [She sits down in Sagamore's chair with great dignity].

ALASTAIR.  Quite safe now, ladies and gentlemen.  [He picks up his
illustrated paper, and retires with it to one of the remoter tea-
tables, where he sits down to read as quietly as may be].

ADRIAN [to Epifania]  Now you know what I felt.  It serves you
right.

EPIFANIA.  Yes: go on.  Insult me.  Threaten me.  Blackmail me.
You can all do it with impunity now.

SAGAMORE [behind her chair]  Dont take it that way, Mrs
Fitzfassenden.  There is no question of blackmailing or insulting
you.  I only want to settle this business of Mr Blenderbland's
injuries before we go into the matrimonial question.

EPIFANIA.  I want to hear no more of Mr Blenderbland and his
ridiculous injuries.

SAGAMORE.  Do be a little reasonable, Mrs Fitzfassenden.  How are
we to discuss the compensation due to Mr Blenderbland without
mentioning his injuries?

EPIFANIA.  There is no compensation due to Mr Blenderbland.  He
deserved what he got, whatever that was.

SAGAMORE.  But he will take an action against you.

EPIFANIA.  Take one against him first.

SAGAMORE.  What for?

EPIFANIA.  For anything; only dont bother me about it.  Claim
twenty thousand pounds damages.  I tell you I will not be
blackmailed.

ADRIAN.  Neither will I.  I am entitled to compensation and I mean
to have it.

SAGAMORE [coming between them]  Steady! steady! please.  I cannot
advise either of you to go to law; but quite seriously, Mrs
Fitzfassenden, Mr Blenderbland is entitled to some compensation.
You can afford it.

EPIFANIA.  Mr Sagamore: a woman as rich as I am cannot afford
anything.  I have to fight to keep every penny I possess.  Every
beggar, every blackmailer, every swindler, every charity, every
testimonial, every political cause, every league and brotherhood
and sisterhood, every church and chapel, every institution of every
kind on earth is busy from morning to night trying to bleed me to
death.  If I weaken for a moment, if I let a farthing go, I shall
be destitute by the end of the month.  I subscribe a guinea a year
to the Income Tax Payers' Defence League; but that is all:
absolutely all.  My standing instructions to you are to defend
every action and to forestall every claim for damages by a counter-
claim for ten times the amount.  That is the only way in which I
can write across the sky 'Hands off My Money.'

SAGAMORE.  You see, Mr Blenderbland, it's no use.  You must
withdraw your threat of an action.

ADRIAN.  I wont.

SAGAMORE.  You will.  You must.  Mrs Fitzfassenden: he can do
nothing against you.  Let me make an appeal on his behalf ad
misericordiam.

EPIFANIA [impatiently]  Oh, we are wasting time; and I have more
important business to settle.  Give him a ten pound note and have
done with it.

ADRIAN.  A ten pound note!!!

SAGAMORE [remonstrant]  Oh, Mrs Fitzfassenden!

EPIFANIA.  Yes: a ten pound note.  No man can refuse a ten pound
note if you crackle it under his nose.

SAGAMORE.  But he wants two thousand five hundred.

EPIFANIA [rising stupefied]  Two thou--[She gasps].

ADRIAN.  Not a penny less.

EPIFANIA [going past Sagamore to the couch]  Adrian, my child, I
have underrated you.  Your cheek, your gluttony, your obstinacy
impose respect on me.  I threw a half baked gentleman downstairs:
and my chauffeur picked him up on the mat a magnificently complete
Skunk.

ADRIAN [furious]  Five thousand for that, Sagamore: do you hear?

SAGAMORE.  Please! please!  Do keep your temper.

ADRIAN.  Keep your own temper.  Has she lamed you for life?  Has
she raised a bump on your head?  Has she called you a skunk?

SAGAMORE.  No; but she may at any moment.

EPIFANIA [flinging her arms round him with a whoop of delight]  Ha
ha!  Ha ha!  My Sagamore!  My treasure!  Shall I give him five
thousand on condition that he turns it into a million in six
months?

ADRIAN.  I will do what I like with it.  I will have it
unconditionally.

SAGAMORE [extricating himself gently from Epifania's hug]  Mr
Blenderbland: it is a mistake to go into court in the character of
a man who has been called a skunk.  It makes the jury see you in
that light from the start.  It is also very difficult for a
plaintiff to get sympathy in the character of a man who has been
thrashed by a woman.  If Mrs Fitzfassenden had stabbed you, or shot
you, or poisoned you, that would have been quite in order: your
dignity would not have been compromised.  But Mrs Fitzfassenden
knows better.  She knows the privileges of her sex to a hair's
breadth and never oversteps them.  She would come into court
beautifully dressed and looking her best.  No woman can be more
ladylike--more feminine--when it is her cue to play the perfect
lady.  Long before we can get the case into the lists the bump on
your head will have subsided; your broken bone will have set; and
the color will have come back to your cheeks.  Unless you can
provoke Mrs Fitzfassenden to assault you again the day before the
trial--and she is far too clever for that--the chances are a
million to one against you.

ALASTAIR [rising and coming from the other end of the room]  That
is so, Blenderbland.  You havnt a dog's chance.  Next time you see
her fist coming in your direction, duck and counter.  If you dont
get that satisfaction you wont get any.  [He sits down next
Patricia, on her right].

PATRICIA.  Yes, Mr Blenderbland: Alastair's right.  Ask her nicely,
and perhaps she'll pay your expenses.

ADRIAN [sitting up and taking his head in his hands, shaken, almost
lachrymose]  Is there any justice for a man against a woman?

SAGAMORE [sitting beside him to console him]  Believe me: no.  Not
against a millionairess.

EPIFANIA.  And what justice is there for a millionairess, I should
like to know?

SAGAMORE.  In the courts--

EPIFANIA.  I am not thinking of the courts: there is little justice
there for anybody.  My millions are in themselves an injustice.  I
speak of the justice of heaven.

ALASTAIR.  Oh Lord!  Now we're for it.  [He deliberately puts his
arm round Patricia's waist].

EPIFANIA.  Alastair: how can you jeer at me?  Is it just that I,
because I am a millionairess, cannot keep my husband, cannot keep
even a lover, cannot keep anything but my money?  There you sit
before my very eyes, snuggling up to that insignificant little
nothingness who cannot afford to pay for her own stockings; and you
are happy and she is happy.  [She turns to Adrian]  Here is this
suit of clothes on two sticks.  What does it contain?

ADRIAN [broken]  Let me alone, will you?

EPIFANIA.  Something that once resembled a man, something that
liked lending me five pound notes and never asked me to repay them.
Why?  Kindness to me?  Love of me?  No: the swank of a poor man
lending to a millionairess.  In my divine wrath I smashed him as a
child smashes a disappointing toy; and when he was beaten down to
his real self I found I was not a woman to him but a bank account
with a good cook.

PATRICIA.  Thats all very fine, deary; but the truth is that no one
can live with you.

EPIFANIA.  And anyone can live with you.  And apparently you can
live with anybody.

ALASTAIR.  What Seedy says is God's truth.  Nobody could live with
you.

EPIFANIA.  But why?  Why?  Why?

SAGAMORE.  Do be reasonable, Mrs Fitzfassenden.  Can one live with
a tornado? with an earthquake? with an avalanche?

EPIFANIA.  Yes.  Thousands of people live on the slopes of
volcanoes, in the track of avalanches, on land thrown up only
yesterday by earthquakes.  But with a millionairess who can rise to
her destiny and wield the power her money gives her, no.  Well, be
it so.  I shall sit in my lonely house, and be myself, and pile up
millions until I find a man good enough to be to me what Alastair
is to Seedystockings.

PATRICIA.  Well, I hope you wont have to wait too long.

EPIFANIA.  I never wait.  I march on; and when I come upon the
things I need I grab them.  I grabbed your Alastair.  I find that
he does not suit me: he beats me--

ALASTAIR.  In self-defence.  I never raised a hand to you except in
self-defence.

EPIFANIA.  Yes: you are like the great European Powers: you never
fight except in self-defence.  But you are two stone heavier than
I; and I cannot keep my head at infighting as you can.  You do not
suit.  I throw you to Greedy-Seedy-Stockings: you can punch her to
your heart's content.  Mr Sagamore: arrange the divorce.  Cruelty
and adultery.

PATRICIA.  But I dont like this: it's not fair to Alastair.  Why is
he to be divorced instead of you?

EPIFANIA.  Mr Sagamore: take an action against Patricia Smith for
alienating my husband's affections.  Damages twenty thousand
pounds.

PATRICIA.  Oh!  Is such a thing possible, Mr Sagamore?

SAGAMORE.  I am afraid it is, Miss Smith.  Quite possible.

PATRICIA.  Well, my dear old father used to say that in the law
courts there is only one way to beat the people who have unlimited
money; and that is to have no money at all.  You cant get twenty
thousand out of me.  And call it vanity if you will; but I should
rather like the world to know that in my little way I was able to
take the best and dearest man in England from the richest woman.

EPIFANIA.  Damn your dear old father!

ALASTAIR [laughing boisterously]  Ha ha!  One for you, Eppy.  [He
kisses Patricia].

SAGAMORE [smiling]  I am afraid the laugh is with old Mr Smith, Mrs
Fitzfassenden.  Where there is nothing, the king loses his rights.

EPIFANIA.  Oh, I can bear no more of this.  I will not have my life
dragged down to planes of vulgarity on which I cannot breathe.  I
will live in utter loneliness and keep myself sacred until I find
the right man--the man who can stand with me on the utmost heights
and not lose his head--the mate created for me in heaven.  He must
be somewhere.

THE DOCTOR [appearing at the door]  The manager says I am wanted
here.  Who wants me?

EPIFANIA.  _I_ want you.  Come here [she stretches out her hand to
him imperiously].

THE DOCTOR [coming to her and feeling her pulse]  Something wrong
with your blood pressure, eh?  [Amazed]  Ooooh!!  I have never felt
such a pulse.  It is like a slow sledge hammer.

EPIFANIA.  Well, is my pulse my fault?

THE DOCTOR.  No.  It is the will of Allah.  All our pulses are part
of the will of Allah.

ALASTAIR.  Look here, you know, Doc: that wont go down in this
country.  We dont believe in Allah.

THE DOCTOR.  That does not disconcert Allah in the least, my friend.
The pulse beats still, slow, strong.  [To Epifania]  You are a
terrible woman; but I love your pulse.  I have never felt anything
like it before.

PATRICIA.  Well, just fancy that!  He loves her pulse.

THE DOCTOR.  I am a doctor.  Women as you fancy them are nothing to
me but bundles of ailments.  But the life! the pulse! is the
heartbeat of Allah, save in Whom there is no majesty and no might.
[He drops her hand].

EPIFANIA.  My pulse will never change: this is the love I crave
for.  I will marry you.  Mr Sagamore: see about a special licence
the moment you have got rid of Alastair.

THE DOCTOR.  It is not possible.  We are bound by our vows.

EPIFANIA.  Well, have I not passed your mother's test?  You shall
have an accountant's certificate.  I learned in the first half hour
of my search for employment that the living wage for a single woman
is five shillings a week.  Before the end of the week I had made
enough to support me for a hundred years.  I did it honestly and
legitimately.  I explained the way in which it was done.

THE DOCTOR.  It was not the way of Allah, the Merciful, the
Compassionate.  Had you added a farthing an hour to the wages of
those sweated women, that wicked business would have crashed on
your head.  You sold it to the man Superflew for the last penny of
his savings; and the women still slave for him at one piastre an
hour.

EPIFANIA.  You cannot change the market price of labor: not Allah
himself can do that.  But I came to this hotel as a scullery maid:
the most incompetent scullery maid that ever broke a dinner
service.  I am now its owner; and there is no tuppence-hapeny an
hour here.

THE DOCTOR.  The hotel looks well in photographs; and the wages you
pay would be a fortune to a laborer on the Nile.  But what of the
old people whose natural home this place had become? the old man
with his paralytic stroke? the old woman gone mad? the cast out
creatures in the workhouse?  Was not this preying on the poverty of
the poor?  Shall I, the servant of Allah, live on such gains?
Shall I, the healer, the helper, the guardian of life and the
counsellor of health, unite with the exploiter of misery?

EPIFANIA.  I have to take the world as I find it.

THE DOCTOR.  The wrath of Allah shall overtake those who leave the
world no better than they found it.

EPIFANIA.  I think Allah loves those who make money.

SAGAMORE.  All the evidence is that way, certainly.

THE DOCTOR.  I do not see it so.  I see that riches are a curse;
poverty is a curse; only in the service of Allah is there justice,
righteousness, and happiness.  But all this talk is idle.  This
lady has easily fulfilled the condition imposed by my mother.  But
I have not fulfilled the condition imposed by the lady's father.

EPIFANIA.  You need not trouble about that.  The six months have
not expired.  I will shew you how to turn your hundred and fifty
pounds into fifty thousand.

THE DOCTOR.  You cannot.  It is gone.

EPIFANIA.  Oh, you cannot have spent it all: you who live like a
mouse.  There must be some of it left.

THE DOCTOR.  Not a penny.  Not a piastre.  Allah--

EPIFANIA.  Oh, bother Allah!  What did you do with it?

THE DOCTOR.  Allah is never bothered.  On that afternoon when you
left me to earn your own living I called upon the Merciful, the
Compassionate, to reveal to me whether you were not one of the
strokes of his infinite humor.  Then I sat down and took up a
newspaper.  And behold! a paragraph headed Wills and Bequests.  I
read a name that I cannot remember: Mrs Somebody of Clapham Park,
one hundred and twentytwo thousand pounds.  She had never done
anything but live in Clapham Park; and she left £122,000.  But what
was the next name?  It was that of the teacher who changed my whole
life and gave me a new soul by opening the world of science to me.
I was his assistant for four years.  He used to make his own
apparatus for his experiments; and one day he needed a filament of
metal that would resist a temperature that melted platinum like
sealing wax.

EPIFANIA.  Buy his patent for me if it has not been snapped up.

THE DOCTOR.  He never took out a patent.  He believed that knowledge
is no man's property.  And he had neither time nor money to waste
in patent offices.  Millions have been made out of that discovery
of his by people who care nothing about science and everything
about money.  He left four hundred pounds and a widow: the good
woman who had been a second mother to me.  A shilling a day for her
at most: not even one piastre an hour.

EPIFANIA.  That comes of marrying an incompetent dreamer.  Are you
going to beg for her?  I warn you I am tired of destitute widows.
I should be a beggar myself if I took them all on my shoulders.

THE DOCTOR.  Have no fear.  The Merciful, the Compassionate heard
the prayer of the widow.  Listen.  I once cured a Prime Minister
when he imagined himself to be ill.  I went to him and told him
that it was the will of Allah that the widow should have a civil
list pension.  She received it: a hundred pounds a year.  I went to
the great Metallurgical Trust which exploits his discovery, and
told them that her poverty was a scandal in the face of Allah.
They were rich and generous: they made a special issue of founders'
shares for her, worth three hundred a year to her.  They called it
letting her in on the ground floor.  May her prayers win them favor
from Him save in whom there is no might and no majesty!  But all
this took time.  The illness, the nurse, the funeral, the disposal
of the laboratory, the change to a cheaper lodging, had left her
without a penny, though no doctor and no lawyer took a farthing,
and the shopkeepers were patient; for the spirit of Allah worked
more strongly upon them than on the British Treasury, which
clamored for its little death duty.  Between the death and the
pensions there was a gap exactly one hundred and fifty pounds wide.
He who is just and exact supplied that sum by your chauffeur's
hands and by mine.  It rejoiced my heart as money had never
rejoiced it before.  But instead of coming to you with fifty
thousand pounds I am in arrear with my bill for my daily bread in
your hotel, and am expecting every day to be told by your manager
that this cannot go on: I must settle.

ALASTAIR.  Well, old man, you may not have done a lot for yourself;
but you have done damned well for the widow.  And you have escaped
Eppy.  She wont marry you with your pockets empty.

EPIFANIA.  Pray why?  Fifty thousand pounds must have been made out
of that discovery ten times over.  The doctor, in putting my money
into the widow's necessary expenses, may be said to have made a
retrospective investment in the discovery.  And he has shewn the
greatest ability in the affair: has he not, Mr Sagamore?

SAGAMORE.  Unquestionably.  He has bowled out the Prime Minister.
He has bowled out the Imperial Metallurgical Trust.  He has settled
the widow's affairs to perfection.

THE DOCTOR.  But not my own affairs.  I am in debt for my food.

EPIFANIA.  Well, if you come to that, _I_ am in debt for my food.
I got a letter this morning from my purveyors to say that I have
paid them nothing for two years, and unless I let them have
something on account they will be obliged to resort to the
premises.

THE DOCTOR.  What does that mean?

EPIFANIA.  Sell my furniture.

THE DOCTOR.  You cannot sell mine, I am afraid.  I have hardly any.

BLENDERBLAND.  If you have a stick she will sell it.  She is the
meanest woman in England.

EPIFANIA.  That is why I am also the richest.  Mr Sagamore: my mind
is made up: I will marry this doctor.  Ascertain his name and make
the necessary arrangements.

BLENDERBLAND.  You take care, doctor.  She is unfaithful to her
husband in wanting to marry you.  She flirted with me: took me down
the river and made me believe I was to be Alastair's successor
before ever she saw you.  See what she has done to me!  She will do
it to you when the next man takes her fancy.

THE DOCTOR [to Epifania]  What have you to say to that?

EPIFANIA.  You must learn to take chances in this world.
This disappointed philanderer tries to frighten you with my 
unfaithfulness.  He has never been married: I have.  And I tell you
that in the very happiest marriages not a day passes without a
thousand moments of unfaithfulness.  You begin by thinking you have
only one husband: you find you have a dozen.  There is a creature
you hate and despise and are tied to for life; and before breakfast
is over the fool says something nice and becomes a man whom you
admire and love; and between these extremes there are a thousand
degrees with a different man and woman at each of them.  A wife is
all women to one man: she is everything that is devilish: the thorn
in his flesh, the jealous termagant, the detective dogging all his
movements, the nagger, the scolder, the worrier.  He has only to
tell her an affectionate lie and she is his comfort, his helper, at
best his greatest treasure, at worst his troublesome but beloved
child.  All wives are all these women in one, all husbands all
these men in one.  What do the unmarried know of this infinitely
dangerous heart tearing everchanging life of adventure that we call
marriage?  Face it as you would face a dangerous operation: have
you not performed hundreds of them?

THE DOCTOR.  Of a surety there is no wit and no wisdom like that of
a woman ensnaring the mate chosen for her by Allah.  Yet I am very
well as I am.  Why should I change?  I shall be very happy as an
old bachelor.

EPIFANIA [flinging out her wrist at him]  Can you feel my pulse
every day as an old bachelor?

THE DOCTOR [taking her wrist and mechanically taking out his watch
at the same time]  Ah! I had forgotten the pulse.  One, two, three:
it is irresistible: it is a pulse in a hundred thousand.  I love
it: I cannot give it up.

BLENDERBLAND.  You will regret it to the last day of your life.

EPIFANIA.  Mr Sagamore: you have your instructions.

SAGAMORE [bows]!

PATRICIA.  Congratulations, darling.


And that is how the story ends in capitalist countries.  In Russia,
however, and in countries with Communist sympathies, the people
demand that the tale shall have an edifying moral.  Accordingly,
when the doctor, feeling Epifania's pulse, says that he loves it
and cannot give it up, Blenderbland continues the conversation as
follows.


BLENDERBLAND.  Take care.  Her hand is accursed.  It is the hand of
Midas: it turns everything it touches to gold.

THE DOCTOR.  My hand is more deeply accursed.  Gold flies away from
it.  Why am I always poor?  I do not like being poor.

EPIFANIA.  Why am I always rich?  I do not like being rich.

ALASTAIR.  Youd better both go to Russia, where there are neither
rich nor poor.

EPIFANIA.  Why not?  I buy nothing but Russian stock now.

BLENDERBLAND.  The Russians would shoot you as they would a mad
dog.  You are a bloated capitalist, you know.

EPIFANIA.  I am a capitalist here; but in Russia I should be a
worker.  And what a worker!  My brains are wasted here: the wealth
they create is thrown away on idlers and their parasites, whilst
poverty, dirt, disease, misery and slavery surround me like a black
sea in which I may be engulfed at any moment by a turn of the money
market.  Russia needs managing women like me.  In Moscow I shall
not be a millionairess; but I shall be in the Sovnarkom within six
months and in the Politbureau before the end of the year.  Here I
have no real power, no real freedom, and no security at all: we may
all die in the workhouse.  In Russia I shall have such authority!
such scope for my natural powers! as the Empress Catherine never
enjoyed.  I swear that before I have been twenty years in Russia
every Russian baby shall weigh five pounds heavier and every
Russian man and woman live ten years longer.  I shall not be an
empress; and I may work myself to death; but in a thousand years
from now holy Russia shall again have a patron saint, and her name
shall be Saint Epifania.

BLENDERBLAND.  The egotism of that woman!!

SAGAMORE.  I am afraid there are no saints now in Russia.

THE DOCTOR.  There are saints everywhere: they are the one species
you cannot liquidate.  Kings, emperors, conquerors, pontiffs and
all the other idols are swept away sooner or later; and all the
king's horses and all the king's men cannot set them up again; but
the saints shall reign for ever and ever in the temple of the
hammer and the sickle.  But we must not go to Russia, because the
Russians do not need us: they have stayed at home and saved their
own souls.  Ought not we to stay at home and save ours?  Why not
make the British Empire a Soviet republic?

EPIFANIA.  By all means; but we shall have to liquidate all the
adult inhabitants and begin with the newly born.  And the first
step to that is to get married.  Mr Sagamore: make the necessary
arrangements.

SAGAMORE [bows]!

PATRICIA.  Congratulations, darling.



THE END





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