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Title: The Private Secretary
Author: Charles Hawtry
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------------------------------------------------------------------------

Title: The Private Secretary
Author: Charles Hawtry

* * *

THE PRIVATE SECRETARY

A farcical Comedy in three Acts

by CHARLES HAWTREY

1907


Originally produced at Theatre Royal, Cambridge, 1883
afterwards performed at Prince's Theatre, London 1884,
with the following cast:

MR. MARSLAND, M.F.H                       Mr. A. Beaumont.
HARRY MARSLAND (his Nephew)               Mr. H. Reeves Smith.
MR. CATTERMOLE                            Mr. W. J. Hill.
DOUGLAS CATTERMOLE (his Nephew)           Mr. R. C. Carton.
REV. ROBERT SPALDINO                      Mr. H. Beerbohm Trea
MR. SYDNEY GIBSON (Bond St. Tailor)       Mr. G. W. Anson.
JOHN (a Servant)                          Mr. G. Ogilvy.
KNOX (a Writ Server)                      Mr. Chalinor.
GARDENER                                  Mr. H. Parry.
EDITH MARSLAND (Daughter to Mr. Marsland) Miss Lucy Buckstone.
EVA WEBSTER (her friend and companion)    Miss Tilbury.
MRS. STEAD (Douglas's landlady).          Mrs. Leigh Murray.
Miss ASHFORD                              Mrs. Stephens.

*

SCENES.

ACT I "FOUND"          Douglas Cattermole's Chamber?

ACT II "FULL CRY"      Mr. Marsland's Country Seat.

ACT III "RUN TO EARTH" Mr. Marsland's Country Seat.

Time in Representation, two hours and five minutes.

(Editors note: A blue ribbon badge was worn by temperance disciples of
Francis Murphy, advocates against alcohol consumption)

*

THE PRIVATE SECRETARY.


ACT I.

SCENE. DOUGLAS CATTERMOLE'S apartments at MRS. STEAD'S. Comfortable but
not luxurious. Doors, R. I E. and L. I E. Window practicable, R. C.
fireplace, L. Sofa, R. c. Table with writing materials and books, L. C.
Sideboard with liqueurs. Cigars, cards, boxing-gloves, etc., at back,
L. c. Small table-lamp; at back, c., with papers, bills, etc.

DOUGLAS discovered, smoking cigar.

DOUGLAS. (L. of table, reading letter) Of course, uncle's old fad
again! it's enough to drive one mad. Any other man would be glad of a
fellow living quietly and decently, but he's got the absurd idea into
his head that I must sow my wild oats, and will do nothing for me until
I've done so. (rising and going to fireplace) And I've no talent for
knocking about. I've run up a few bills and I find that is all I can
accomplish. And he's as obstinate as possible. When he finds I've been
living quietly he is quite capable of going off and leaving me high and
dry. When does he say he's coming? (knock R.) Come in! (Returns to L.
of table, picks up letter)

Enter MRS. STEAD, R.

MRS. STEAD. Good morning, Mr. Cattermole. (aside) I'm determined to
have it out with him this morning, (aloud) Good morning, sir.

DOUGLAS, (looking up) Ah, good morning, Mrs. Stead, I--

MRS. STEAD, (coming to table) If you please, sir, these papers have
been left for you.

DOUGLAS, (taking papers; opens one) A bill! (gives it back to her)
Another! (gives it back to her) And another, (gives it back to her)

MRS. STEAD, (going up) Shall I put them with the others, sir? I have
put all the bills together on this little table. (puts bills on table
up c)

DOUGLAS. (L. of table) You are a very careful Woman, I know, Mrs. Stead.

MRS. STEAD, (coming down) I hope I am, sir. But oh, dear, how is all
this to end?

DOUGLAS. What?

MRS. STEAD. Why, all these bills are owing.

DOUGLAS. Yes; I only wish there were more of them.

MRS. STEAD, (aside) That's what he always says, (aloud) But sir, you
used to be so exact, so very exact.

DOUGLAS. Well?

MRS. STEAD. And now you owe me four months lodging.

DOUGLAS. Yes. I wish I had never paid you at all.

MRS. STEAD. Thank you, sir, but I wasn't going to speak to you about
myself, I have the utmost confidence in you.

DOUGLAS. Thank you so have I. (turns up to fireplace)

MRS. STEAD. But for the others, sir; how will all this end?

DOUGLAS. Oh, you wait and see.

MRS. STEAD. I think I can tell you beforehand. At present your
creditors are all very civil, but by-and-bye they'll grow pressing then
impudent till at last they '11 hunt you down like a pack of bloodhounds.

DOUGLAS, (laughing) Ha! ha! ha! That's funny!

MRS. STEAD, (crying) And you can laugh at that sir? I can't bear to
think of it.

DOUGLAS, (comes down c. on MRS. STEAD'S left) Oh stop that crying, my
good woman, and listen to me. It's a very funny affair altogether.

MRS. STEAD. Funny, sir!

DOUGLAS. Yes you must know that I have an uncle.

MRS. STEAD. Yes, sir.

(Knock heard at outer door R.)

DOUGLAS. Who is very

MRS. STEAD, (interrupting) Stop a minute, sir, there's a knock at the
outer door. Do step into the next room for a minute.

DOUGLAS. My good woman, I don't want to step into the next room.

MRS. STEAD. But do, sir, just to oblige me.

DOUGLAS. But why should I?

MRS. STEAD. Oh, do, sir, I'm sure it's one of the creditors.

DOUGLAS, (going towards door L.) But I am not afraid of my creditors.

MRS. STEAD, (ushers off DOUGLAS L I E. Shuts door and returns to L. c.)
But I am, sir, I am.

DOUGLAS. But you won't have to pay them. Oh, very well. (Exit L., knock
R.)

MRS. STEAD. Come in.

(Enter GIBSON; door R. I E. exaggerated attire, large stick with much
gesticulation, at times very affected.)

GIBSON. Ah I Good morning, Mrs. Stead.

MRS. STEAD. Good morning, sir.

GIBSON, (coming down R. c.) Is Mr. Cattermole at home?

MRS. STEAD. (hesitatingly) I--I really don't know, sir.

GIBSON. The servant said he hadn't gone out yet.

MRS. STEAD. Perhaps it is that he hasn't been home all night, sir.

GIBSON. Very clever, but it won't do for me. (sniffing, crossing L.) Do
you smoke?

MRS. STEAD. Smoke, sir! me, sir! no, sir!

GIBSON. Well, I can smell smoke.

MRS STEAD. Perhaps it's the chimney, sir.

GIBSON. Well, then, the chimney smokes devilish good cigars, (going up
L. and seating himself in arm chair by fire) Very clever, but I'm too
old a bird to be caught with chaff like that.

MRS. STEAD, (a little up stage R. c.) Well, sir, I see it's no use
trying to deceive you.

GIBSON. Not a bit.

MRS. STEAD. So I may as well tell you the truth at once. The fact is,
sir, Mr. Cattermole came home late last night.

GIBSON. Oh, what a life these young fellows do lead to be sure. Heigho!
(sighing)

MRS. STEAD. And why should you sigh like that, sir?

GIBSON. Because I can't live like them myself.

MRS. STEAD. You can if you like, sir.

GIBSON. No, I can't! Don't you know, my good woman, that I'm only a
tailor?

MRS STEAD. A tailor? (aside) It's Mr. Gibson!

GIBSON. That's just it! You see, if I were a common tailor, I could
live in a common way. But that's just what I'm not. I hate and detest
vulgarity, and have a longing for higher spheres. You know, as the
poet says so prettily, I long to soar to soar well, not exactly into
ethereal blue but on to the upper crust of society.

MRS. STEAD. Soar on to the upper crust! Good gracious! Are you in your
right senses, Mr. Gibson? (goes down R. c.)

GIBSON, (rising, coming down, L.) Why, of course I am, my good woman.
But prejudice, vile prejudice, Mrs. Stead. Now, I assure you, I very
rarely flatter myself, but I. feel that there's all the makings of a
first class gentlemanly article about me. Don't you think so, eh? Don't
you like this style, eh? It's good, isn't it? I say, you don't mean to
say you don't think I don't look like a gentleman, do you?

MRS. STEAD. Very elegant, indeed, sir but, then, with your figure

GIBSON. What do you know about my figure? You let my figure alone. My
figure's not good. No, I don't want to flatter myself it's very far
from elegant; in fact, it's wretched.

MRS. STEAD. Oh, no, sir; I'm sure you have a very excellent figure.

GIBSON. Well, you'll allow me to know something about my own figure!
(surveying himself) This is not figure, my good woman it's cut! the
embellishment of art high art! I am a believer in high art. And I'm a
believer in the higher classes. I wish I could soar among them.

MRS. STEAD. I think you do believe in the higher classes, sir.

GIBSON. Yes, I only feel at home in the company of gentlemen; but, as
I said before, prejudice, vile prejudice! Ah, if they'd only give me
a chance, I'd show them what a part I could play among the exclusive
aristocracy the upper ten thousand. I don't wish to flatter myself, but
I think I should astonish the world, (crosses to R.)

MRS. STEAD. I think you ought to be satisfied, sir, with your present
position.

GIBSON, (with eye-glass) I wish this glass would stick in.

MRS. STEAD. (L. c.) You have an excellent business.

GIBSON. What business have you to talk about my business? I hate my
business.

MRS. STEAD. And you make plenty of money.

GIBSON. Money I Yes, I've plenty of money. But money can't buy
happiness, can it, Mrs. Stead?

MRS. STEAD. No. indeed, sir, it cannot.

GIBSON. No, and money can't make a gentleman.

MRS. STEAD. All very true, sir

GIBSON. And I flatter myself I can be a gentleman without the money,
(going up to door R.) Well, good morning, Mrs. Stead, I shall call
again and see Mr. Cattermole. (MRS. STEAD turning makes gesture of
distress) Ah, by-the-bye now you seem to be a sensible woman, and know
an elegant article when you see one. Now, I shouldn't be very much
offended if you were to tell people that you thought I really was a
gentleman.

MRS. STEAD. I will, sir I I'll tell them that you want to soar.

GIBSON. Yes, that's my sore point! Bon soir! (Exit R.)

(At GIBSON'S exit t MRS. STEAD goes to door L., opens it to call
DOUGLAS, then turns to R. c.)

MRS. STEAD, (laughing) If he wants to soar, he had better go up in a
balloon, (calling L.) Mr. Cattermole! You may come out now.

(Enter DOUGLAS, L., he goes L. of table.)

That was Mr. Gibson, sir; but I've got rid of him. And now, sir, will
you go on?

DOUGLAS. What?

MRS. STEAD. That wonderful story.

DOUGLAS. Oh, that's soon done! You must know that I've an uncle

MRS. STEAD. Yes, sir; that's where we left off.

DOUGLAS. Who is very rich.

(Enter Harry quickly, R. I E.)

HARRY, (coming down to table, and shaking hands with DOUGLAS) Good
morning, old fellow, lucky you're here.

DOUGLAS. Good morning!

MRS STEAD, (to DOUGLAS) Won't you continue the--

DOUGLAS. By-and-bye, my good woman. (turns up, L.)

MRS. STEAD, (aside) Oh, how provoking, (cross to door, R.) How will it
all end? (Exit, R.)

HARRY, (sitting R. of table) Douglas, I want you to do me a great
service.

DOUGLAS, (at fireplace) If I can I shall be very glad.

HARRY. You remember that some months ago I wanted three hundred pounds,
and you gave me your signature?

DOUGLAS. Oh, yes, I remember.

(DOUGLAS gets cigarette from box on sideboard, lights it c. then drops
down to L. of table)

HARRY. That bill fell due three or four days ago.

DOUGLAS. I know it did. The fellow came to me I told him I couldn't pay.

HARRY. Well, of course not, and Jenkins won't wait. I had notice from
him this morning that unless the money was paid before night he would
have me served with a writ.

DOUGLAS. Well, let him serve it, that won't hurt you. (comes to chair
L. of table)

HARRY. No; but look here, old chap, I have an invitation from my Uncle
Marsland. You know he's the master of the Featherstone Hounds, and
tomorrow is the first meet of the season. I have also a charming note
from my cousin, begging me to be sure to come. Now, my chances in that
quarter would be quite gone if I were not to turn up.

DOUGLAS. Then turn up, there's nothing to prevent you.

HARRY. But, my dear old chap, the fellow would be sure to find me out,
and serve, his confounded writ on me down there. My uncle has the most
righteous horror of a bill; and as to a writ, why he'd kick me out of
the house.

DOUGLAS. Well, what do you want me to do?

HARRY. Write to Jenkins and tell him you'll be responsible for the
whole thing.

DOUGLAS. But, my dear fellow, my signature makes me responsible. Depend
upon it he'll get out two writs while he's about it. I'm in just as
great a hole as you are.

HARRY, But then, your uncle would help you, wouldn't he?

DOUGLAS. Not a bit of it! Won't give me a penny till I've sown my wild
oats, as he calls it.

HARRY. Then the sooner you start off to sow those wild oats the better.

DOUGLAS. But I've no inclination for that sort of thing. Now, if it was
your uncle--

HARRY, (interrupting) Stop a moment! I have it! My uncle has engaged a
new private secretary, whom he has never seen, and who was to have gone
down with me to-day. I've got him with me here. Now we'll leave him
here and you shall go down in his place.

DOUGLAS. Will that be sowing wild oats?

HARRY. Well, it's a beginning, and may lead to the wildest of wild
oats, (rising) Here, between these four walls, you never will have much
of a chance but there, who knows you may fall in love, and when a man's
in love he's sure to begin to play the fool, and everything else will
come of itself. (goes up to door, R.)

DOUGLAS, (rising and going up, remonstrating) But, my dear fellow

HARRY, (interrupting) Not a word! (opens door; tails) Mr. Spalding!

SPALDING. (without) Yes.

HARRY. Will you be good enough to step this way? (closes door; goes to
DOUGLAS) This is the most extraordinary fellow you ever saw. (Knock R.)

DOUGLAS. Come in!

SPALDING puts his head in shyly, at door R.

SPALDING. I beg your pardon. Am I right?

HARRY. Oh yes. (introducing) My friend, Douglas Cattermole Mr.
Spalding, my uncle's private secretary.

DOUGLAS. How do you do?

SPALDINGC How do you do? (slight pause, DOUGLAS and HARRY are both up
stage, c., chatting and laughing) I hope I'm not in the way. (going)

DOUGLAS. Won't you come in?

SPALDING. Thanks. (Enters. A very shy, awkward young man, dressed like
a parson. Umbrella in one hand, goloshes over his boots. DOUGLAS and
HARRY stand apart, laughing and talking, not noticing SPALDING, who is
standing looking about him as if waiting to be asked to take a seat.)

DOUGLAS, (suddenly seeing him) Oh, I beg your pardon. Won't you sit
down?

SPALDING, Thanks! (Seats himself on sofa; umbrella between legs; puts
hat on umbrella; picture.)

DOUGLAS, (returns to sideboard, offers HARRY cigarttte, they remain
talking till SPALDING speaks, then DOUGLAS goes to L. of table) Have a
brandy and soda?

SPALDING. No, thanks, (points to Blue Ribbon)

HARRY, (going to him) Allow me to take your Umbrella.

SPALDING. No, thanks. I might forget it. I would rather keep it, if you
don't mind.

HARRY. Not in the least!

(Smacks him on shoulder, and returns to DOUGLAS, SPALDING places his
hat and umbrella by his side, takes off goloshes, carefully puts them
under sofa, and takes off gloves. DOUGLAS and HARRY laughing aside.
SPALDING smooths hair and dabs nose with handkerchief.)

SPALDING. Would you kindly tell me by what train we start? as all my
goods and chattels are still at the hotel.

HARRY. You seem to be in a great hurry. Don't you like London? (takes
chair R. of table and sits by SPALDING; DOUGLAS sits on table)

SPALDING. Oh no, I don't like London! D'you know, (points finger at
HARRY, who starts slightly) I'm so used to my quiet little study at
home that my head gets quite bewildered with all this noise. Everywhere
I see written up "Beware of Pickpockets." One is kept busy guarding
one's pockets.

DOUGLAS. Oh, come, it's not so bad as that.

SPALDING. Oh yes, it is. D'you know, (points finger, HARRY jumps)
yesterday I wanted some luncheon so I went to the British Museum to buy
a bath bun; and there I met a gentleman who most politely told me they
were just closing. He evidently saw that I was a stranger I don't know
why and asked me to lunch with him. At first I refused, but he was so
pressing that at last I consented, and it ended in our having a very
good meal. D'you know, (points finger, HARRY moves chair away) that
when he wanted to pay he found that his purse had been stolen.

HARRY & DOUGLAS. (Look at each other and laugh, together) Oh, indeed!

SPALDING. But, luckily, I had mine with me, so qould pay for him.

HARRY & DOUGLAS (together) Oh, that was very lucky! How fortunate!

SPALDING. But that's not all.

HARRY. No?

SPALDING. No. To-day I met a young lady in an omnibus.

HARRY. Who had also lost her purse.

SPALDING. Oh, no. She had lost her aunt. She was so nice! She told me
that her papa was a clergyman, and asked me to protect her. She was
very nice! D'you know, we searched for that aunt the whole morning.

HARRY. Of course, without result?

SPALDING. Well, it resulted in a very grave expense. If this continues
I shall spend all my money. Would you kindly tell me by what train we
start?

HARRY. My good fellow (slaps him on knee, rises and puts back chair), I
have just heard from my uncle. He wishes you to remain here.

SPALDING. Here in London? How nice! (handkerchief business)

HARRY. You will have no expenses whatever. My friend Cattermole, is
going with me to-day and leaves his rooms at your disposal.

SPALDING. You mean that I (rises)

HARRY. I mean that you may consider yourself lucky, so without any more
fuss, my dear Spalding (slaps him on shoulder)

SPALDING. How nice!

HARRY. You stay here! (SPALDING sits, puts on one golosh) You will
fetch your things from the hotel, Your landlady is a charming woman,
who has neither lost her purse nor her aunt. You will be well cared for
and can live at your ease, so look sharp.

SPALDING. How very kind of you to let me have your rooms. (takes hat)

HARRY, (with DOUGLAS leading him to door R.) Oh, for goodness sake, no
pretty speeches, if you want to see us again.

(HARRY holding door open. DOUGLAS L. c.)

SPALDING. (turning c.) Oh, you'll pardon me, but I've left my umbrella,
(going to sofa taking umbrella, returning to door) I'll take it with
me, if you don't mind. I always notice that if one leaves one's
umbrella it is always sure to rain. (turning at door) Oh, I have
left my golosh I (returning to sofa and fetching golosh) D'you know,
(points golosh at DOUGLAS'S face who starts back) I suffer so much with
chronic influenza that I am obliged to wear these, (tries to put it on
his foot) With your permission, I will put it on. (Business SPALDING
hopping on one foot trying to pull on golosh, HARRY says "Allow me to
help you!") No. I'll take it with me, if you don't mind.

( Exit SPALDING R.)

(HARRY shuts door and stands with his back against it, laughing.
DOUGLAS falls into arm-chair by fire.)

HARRY. Got a brandy and soda, old fellow?

DOUGLAS. Yes, you'll find one there, (pointing to sideboard) What time
does this train start?

HARRY. 1.15 from King's Cross.

DOUGLAS, (looking at watch) Then we've just got an hour to spare. What
shall we do? (picks up newspaper)

HARRY. Oh, we can't go out. Here are cards. let's have a game at ecarte.

(N. B. Cards to be "made" with twos to sevens at bottom of pack to
throw out easily as for ecarte. Deal and play as for ecarte.)

DOUGLAS. My dear boy, we can't play cards at this time of the morning.

HARRY. Oh, nonsense! Imagine you've been sitting up all night, and then
you'll think nothing of it. Shall I begin?

(They come down to table, and sit and play. DOUGLAS, L., HARRY, R.
Knock at door, R.)

DOUGLAS. Come in!

(Enter GIBSON, R.)

GIBSON. Ah, good morning, gentlemen! (places hat and stick on small
table at back) How glad I am to find you at home at last.

DOUGLAS, Good morning, Gibson. What can I do for you?

GIBSON. Very little, sir. I merely called to inquire after your health,
(comes down to back of table)

DOUGLAS. Thanks, Gibson; I'm quite well.

GIBSON. I'm very glad to hear that, sir, I'm sure. Some time ago I took
the liberty of presenting my little bill. It's been mislaid, perhaps,
eh?

DOUGLAS. Oh, no. I think not, Gibson. You'll probably find it over
there (GIBSON goes up to c. table) among the rest.

GIBSON, (taking up handful of bills) Oh! I see it's not lonely.

DOUGLAS. Oh, I never forget a thing of that sort, But at present it's
rather inconvenient for me to pay.

GIBSON, (aside) I thought as much.

DOUGLAS. Heavy losses at the Shark Club.

GIBSON, (eagerly coming down) The Shark Club, did you say, sir? Do you
know, sir, I've heard a good deal about the Shark Club lately. I should
very much like to go there myself. You couldn't manage to take me there
with you some night? (back of table)

DOUGLAS. My dear Mr. Gibson, a club is a private house one can
introduce one's friends but scarcely--

GIBSON. Oh, yes, I know. You needn't say another word, (going R.)
Because I'm only a tailor.

DOUGLAS. But I shall be passing your door in a few days.

GIBSON. Passing my door?

DOUGLAS. Yes.

GIBSON. I'd much rather you came in.

DOUGLAS. Merely a manner of speaking, you know,

GIBSON, (aside) That's his manner of paying, too.

DOUGLAS. Won't you have a cigarette or a cigar?

GIBSON. Thanks! (crosses eagerly to bottom of table and holds out hand.)

DOUGLAS. "Oh, you'll find one over there. (points to sideboard)

GIBSON says "Oh!" (goes up to sideboard and gets cigarette)

DOUGLAS. Brandy and soda?

GIBSON. No, thanks! That's not one of my weaknesses. In fact, I've a
poor head for drink at any time, but I can smoke (takes cigarette;
lighting it; aside) Evidently wants me to make myself at home. Well,
I'll show him I can be as much at my ease as he can. Lord! what a jolly
life these young fellows do lead to be sure, (coming down to table) If
I could only get in among their set . . . Ah! what are you playing?

HARRY. Ecarte.

GIBSON, Ecarte'! I'm a don at Ecarte. Jolly good game, (looks over
HARRY'S hand)

HARRY, (to DOUGLAS.) I say, old fellow, I want cards.

GIBSON. No, you don't. (DOUGLAS offers cards)

HARRY. Eh?

GIBSON. Don't you propose you play.

HARRY. I wish you'd be quiet.

GIBSON. You don't want cards with a hand like that, surely to goodness.

HARRY. What do you mean?

GIBSON. Why, look here! You've got the king and the knave; the third
point must be yours.

HARRY, (rising and throwing down cards) Oh, I say, this is too bad!
You're exposing my cards! What the devil do you mean?

GIBSON. Why, you can't play the game. Here. I'll bet you a sovereign
I win with a hand like that. (puts hand in pocket) Oh, no. I beg your
pardon, I can't bet you a sovereign (going, R.) because I don't happen
to have less than a fiver. (DOUGLAS rises and gets c. at table)

HARRY. At any rate, you don't know how to behave. It's very evident
you're not a gentleman.

GIBSON, (turning and coming up to him) Here, don't you insult me! Don't
you know that's my weak point?

HARRY, (moving threateningly towards him) Yes, I should say your
weakest.

DOUGLAS, (coming between them) Now, shut up Harry! Gibson, you'd better
clear out.

GIBSON. But he said--

DOUGLAS. (interrupting) I don't care what he said.

GIBSON. Oh, you, too, eh? You're a precious couple, you are! Why don't
you pay your debts? I'm as much of a gentleman as you are. (taking
hat and stick from table, HARRY and DOUGLAS following him up, talking
loudly) This is the first time in my life I've been treated like this,
but you shall suffer for it.

(This to be worked up, HARRY and DOUGLAS saying, "Clear out!" "Can't
you see you are not wanted," etc., etc. All talking at once. HARRY to
keep over L. DOUGLAS and GIBSON R. all three well up stage.)

(flourishes stick and strikes hat-box, which SPALDING, who now enters,
R., is carrying. Pushes SPALDING down stage, upsetting goods and
chattels and exit quickly, saying "Pay your debts! Pay your debts!"
HARRY and DOUGLAS laugh loudly. Enter MRS. STEAD, R.)

(Business of SPALDING and MRS. STEAD of picking up and redropping props
to be humored with audience. Picture at finish of business.)

MRS. STEAD, (seeing goods and chattels) Oh, dear! what a litter! (runs
to assist SPALDING in picking them up; he quickly snatches them up and
places them on sofa, then sits. To DOUGLAS) Oh, if you please, sir,
this gentleman says--

HARRY, (crossing to R. door) Yes, my good woman, this gentleman is
going to stay here for a few days.

MRS. STEAD, (to DOUGLAS) Mr. Cattermole?

DOUGLAS, (crossing to c.) Yes, I am going away for a few days, so
please pack my portmanteau.

MRS. STEAD, But, sir, before you go, won't you finish that story?

HARRY, (at door, impatiently) Come along, Douglass.

DOUGLAS. Oh, that's soon done. You must know that I've an uncle--



18 THE PRIVATE SECRETARY.

MRS. STEAD. Yes, sir, I know that. Who is very rich.

DOUGLAS. And this uncle has a fixed idea in his head (crosses to door.)

HARRY. Come along, Douglas. We shall miss the train.

MRS. STEAD. And what is this idea, sir?

DOUGLAS. In fact, he's a little cracked.

(Exeunt DOUGLAS and HARRY, R.)

MRS. STEAD. Good gracious! here's a discovery! A rich uncle who is a
little cracked, (sees SPALDING, bursts out laughing aside; to him) Oh,
I beg your pardon, sir. Are you going to stay here?

SPALDING. I am going to take that liberty if you don't mind. I am to
live here.

MRS. STEAD. So Mr. Cattermole says, sir.

SPALDING. But I shall not give you much trouble. Would you kindly tell
me where I am to put all my goods and chattels?

MRS. STEAD. Oh certainly, sir. (running to door, L.) Here, in this
inner room, though both these rooms are at your disposal.

SPALDING. Thanks! (commences to pick up goods and chattels.)

MRS. STEAD, (running across) Allow me to assist you, sir. (MRS. STEAD
crosses behind sofa to R. of SPALDING. At end of business he has the
rug between his legs and MRS. STEAD follows him holding it up like a
train. In front of table she turns to look round to see if anything
left, pulling rug tight and tripping SPALDING up.)

(Attempts to pick up parcels and SPALDING hastily snatches them from
her. Business ad lib. picking up and dropping parcels etc. then
SPALDING crosses to L. followed by MRS. STEAD laughing; and exit, door
L. I. E.)

MRS. STEAD, (sinking into chair L. of table) What a funny little man!
Well, at any rate he won't give me much trouble. I think, though, Mr.
Cattermole might have asked me if I minded having a stranger staying
here, (knock, R. Packs up cards) Oh, dear! here's somebody else! Come
in! (knock again) Another of the creditors, I suppose! Come in!(third
knock) Oh, come in! (impatiently)

Enter CATTERMOLE, R.; old gentleman; loud voice, gruff, short-spoken.

CATTERMOLE. Good morning!

(places hat and stick on sofa)

MRS. STEAD. Good morning, sir. (rises, gets L. C.)

CATTERMOLE. (coming down) Does young Mr. Cattermole live here?

MRS. STEAD. Yes, sir, he does.

CATTERMOLE. (looking about him) Oh, he does, does he? That's all right!

MRS. STEAD. Yes, sir, but the young gentleman has just gone out.

CATTERMOLE. Oh, he's gone out! Well, so much the better.

MRS. STEAD. But I don't think he'll be very long, sir, because he said--

CATTERMOLE. (turning sharply on her) That's quite sufficient! I don't
want to hear any more! He's gone out! So you're the old landlady, I
suppose?

MRS. STEAD, (indignantly) Sir!

CATTERMOLE. (shouting) I say you're the old landlady.

MRS. STEAD, (frightened, goes L., aside) Oh, what a strange fierce man.

CATTERMOLE. My name's Cattermole.

MRS. STEAD. What, sir?

CATTERMOLE. Watson? No, not Watson! Cattermole! (spells)
C-a-t-t-e-r-m-o-l-e, mole Cattermole!

MRS. STEAD, (going L., aside) Good gracious! it's the cracked uncle!
(in agitation puts hand to face)

CATTERMOLE. Why, what's the matter with the old fool? What are you
crying for?

MRS. STEAD, I'm not crying, sir.

CATTERMOLE. Well, then, don't you laugh at me, don't you laugh at me!

MRS. STEAD. Oh, dear no, sir, I wouldn't think of taking such a liberty.

CATTERMOLE. Well, if you're not laughing or crying, what are you doing?
(loudly) I say, what are you doing?

MRS. STEAD, (alarmed) N--n--nothing, sir.

CATTERMOLE. Yes, you are; you're shaking.

MRS. STEAD. Ah, no, sir; I'm not shaking.

CATTERMOLE. But I say you are!

MRS. STEAD. No, indeed, I am not, sir.

CATTERMOLE. I say you are! (loudly banging book on table) And when I
say you are you are!

MRS. STEAD, (meekly) Yes, sir, I am.

CATTERMOLE. Then what did you say you wasn't for? I know what it is.
It's your conscience.

MRS. STEAD. Oh, no, sir.

CATTERMOLE. Yes, it is! Your conscience pricks you..

MRS. STEAD. Oh, no, indeed it does not, sir; my conscience is perfectly
clear.

CATTERMOLE. I say it is your conscience! (loudly with book) And when I
say it is it is.

MRS. STEAD, (meekly) Yes, sir, it is.

CATTERMOLE. Then what did you say it wasn't for? I suppose my nephew's
a scamp? (goes c.)

MRS. STEAD. A scamp, sir?

CATTERMOLE. Yes, a scamp, I said. Don't eat my words! If he is, out
with it; don't mind me.

MRS. STEAD. Oh, no, sir! He's the steadiest young man in London.

CATTERMOLE. Steady, is he? (aside) Well, I'm very sorry to hear that,
(taking up cards) Hallo! cards! Does my nephew play cards, eh?

MRS. STEAD. Oh, no, sir, he never touches them!

CATTERMOLE. Never touches them! (throws down cards disgusted)

MRS. STEAD. No, sir, it was I playing patience before you came in.
(goes on knees and picks up cards)

CATTERMOLE. Well, I've no patience with old women playing patience.
You ought to be better employed. I'm surprised at you! at your time of
life. Well, if he doesn't gamble, what does he do with his time?

MRS. STEAD, (hesitating) He

CATTERMOLE. (loudly) I say, how does he spend his time? (stamps)

MRS. STEAD. He he studies, sir.

CATTERMOLE. Studies? Studies what?

MRS. STEAD. B-b-b-books, sir.

CATTERMOLE. What sorts of b-b-b-books?

MRS. STEAD, All sorts of books, sir.

CATTERMOLE. What sorts of all sorts of books?

MRS. STEAD. (waves her arms above her head) All kinds of all sorts of
books, sir.

CATTERMOLE (acknowledging arm waving) "Oh lor' I thinks she a windmill!"

CATTERMOLE. What kind of all sorts of all--oh, you don't know what
you're talking about, (goes tip to sideboard) What's this? (taking up
decanter) What's all this rubbish?

MRS. STEAD. Rubbish, sir! that's not rubbish that's brandy! (down L.)

CATTERMOLE. Brandy! (CATTERMOLE chuckles and says: "Oh! oh!" shaking
head reprovingly at MRS. STEAD who tosses her head scandalized and
indignant) Oh, well does the boy drink, eh? Does my nephew drink?

MRS. STEAD. Oh, sir, what can have put drink into your head?

CATTERMOLE. No, not into my head, you old fool! I'm talking about my
nephew, (comes down R of table)

MRS. STEAD. No, sir. He never drinks, never gambles, and likes nothing
better than stopping at home and studying.

CATTERMOLE. Has he got any debts?

MRS. STEAD. Oh, no, sir. (glances aside at bills with a sigh)

CATTERMOLE. No debts and doesn't drink! Why he must be a perfect ninny!
(goes R. c.) But, now, tell me what he is like. You see I've been away
in India for some years. (MRS. STEAD says: "Yes, sir," and curtseys.
CATTERMOLE imitates saying "Well, you needn't say Yes, Sir, as if you
knew all about it.") What is the boy like?

MRS. STEAD, (going closer to him) Oh, sir, he is such a handsome young
man. (clasping hands)

CATTERMOLE. Yes; you old women have such queer tastes. (imitates)

MRS. STEAD. And he's so gentle. (folds hands on breast)

CATTERMOLE. Oh, gentle! (imitates)

MRS. STEAD. And so modest. (finger of 'R. hand to cheek)

CATTREMOLE. Oh, modest, is he? (imitates)

MRS. STEAD. Oh! oh! oh!

CATTERMOLE. O o oh! sorry to hear that? Well, now tell me how's his
liver?

MRS. STEAD. Sir?

CATTERMOLE. (shouting) How's his liver?

MRS. STEAD, (screams and runs to L.) I do assure you, sir, I've never
seen such a thing in the house.

CATTERMOLE. Oh, you're an old fool, you are! (with shouts of laughter)

MRS. STEAD. Oh, no, sir I I'm not an old fool! Poor dear Stead never
called me an old fool.

CATTERMOLE. Well, I'll give you a treat now! (loudly with book) I am
going to call you an old fool. You're an old fool! And when I say
you're an old fool, you are an old fool.

MRS. STEAD. Y y yes, sir, I am,

CATTERMOLE. Then, what did you say you wasn't for? I know all about it,
my nephew's an idiot.

MRS. STEAD. Oh, no, indeed, sir. He's very clever.

CATTERMOLE. I say he's an idiot, and if I say he's an idiot, he is an
idiot. (book business)

MRS. STEAD. Y y yes, sir, he is. (MRS. STEAD shrieks and collapses on
her knees. CATTERMOLE stand over her flourishing book)

CATTERMOLE. Then what did you say he wasn't for? But I'm going to knock
all that nonsense out of him! I'll make him sow his wild oats! I'll
make him go it.

MRS. STEAD, (alarmed) Oh, don't make him go it.

CATTERMOLE. (determinedly) I will make him go it.

MRS. STEAD. Oh, please don't make him go it.

CATTERMOLE. He shall go it.

MRS. STEAD. He's getting violent! Oh, do sit down, sir. Pray sit down!
(MRS. STEAD crosses behind table to his right. He says, "Pooh!" at her
she retreats up)

CATTERMOLE. I don't want to sit down, (sitting R. of table) I won't sit
down! I'll write to the fool. Where are pens, ink and paper?

(takes them in right hand )

MRS. STEAD, (Putting writing-case in front of him) There, sir, you'll
find everything there.

CATTERMOLE. I don't want everything! I only want pens, ink and paper.
Where's the pen? pen? pen!

MRS. STEAD. There, sir!

CATTERMOLE. (angrily) Where? Where?

MRS. STEAD. Why, there, sir, in your hand I That's a pen.

CATTERMOLE. (seeing it) Well, I know that, you old stupid, but that
isn't the ink, is it?

MRS. STEAD, (putting inkstand close to his face) There's the ink, sir.

CATTERMOLE. Well, I don't want to drink it. Where's the note-paper?

MRS. STEAD, (handing him a packet) Here's note-paper, lots of
note-paper.

CATTERMOLE. (snatching it from her) I don't want lots of note-paper. I
only want one sheet.

MRS. STEAD. And here are envelopes.

CATTERMOLE. (snatching them from her and throwing them down, some
falling on floor) Don't play with them.

(MRS. STEAD picks up envelopes, goes on knees, gathers envelopes,
crossing to front of table, drops them again by his feet and makes
dives at them with her hand. CATTERMOLE draws up legs saying "Don't you
try and tickle me. Go away. What are you digging at? "She says," I'm
not digging, sir, I'm picking up the envelopes." She rises and gets
quickly to back of table for blotting paper!)

MRS. STEAD. There's the blotting paper, (placing pen in his left hand)
and here's another pen!

CATTERMOLE. I can't write with both hands at once, can I? And now you
can go!

MRS. STEAD. But, Mr. Cattermole

CATTERMOLE. You can go! I can write this letter without you.

MRS. STEAD. If you please. Mr. Cattermole, I only just wanted to say
one word, (pointing at him)

CATTERMOLE. (interrupting) But I just don't want you to say it.
(imitates her)

MRS. STEAD. (aside, crossing at back to R.) If I could only speak a
good word for his nephew, (comes to his right) Mr. Cattermole!

CATTERMOLE. What, ain't you gone yet?

MRS. STEAD, (running up to door R.) Oh, I'm going, sir, I'm going!

CATTERMOLE. You're a precious long time about it.

MRS. STEAD, (coming down a little) But, Mr. Cattermole.

CATTERMOLE. Oh, she's come back again! Will you go away? Leave me.
(turns his back to her and kicks out)

MRS. STEAD. But, sir, you haven't seen your nephew for such a long time.

CATTERMOLE. No, and I don't want to see him I'm going to write to the
fool.

MRS. STEAD. But if you would only allow me to describe him.

CATTERMOLE. I don't want you to describe him. He's not a panorama, is
he?

MRS. STEAD. He's so gentle, and so studious.

CATTERMOLE. Oh dear! oh dear! (he turns chair round with a howl. She
shrieks and runs away) My good woman, go and play! go and run up and
down!

MRS. STEAD. And he never goes out always, etc. etc.

CATTERMOLE. (buries his head in his hands, then takes piece of blotting
paper and gives it to her) Here's some paper! Go and blot yourself out
altogether!

MRS. STEAD. Oh! (Exit R., hurriedly)

CATTERMOLE. I believe she'd have stayed here all day if I'd encouraged
her! that I do. Now, if she'd told me that my nephew was fast, had a
lot of gay companions, and, in fact, was a regular little demon, I
believe I could have cuddled that old woman. But I won't cuddle her.
I'll write to the fool!

(turns to write)

(Enter SPALDING, L. Umbrella in left hand, hat on handkerchief in right
hand. He carefully closes door after him, and walks across at back
to R. c. As he enters CATTERMOLE looks up t sees him and whistles in
astonishment.)

CATTERMOLE. (rising and going round at back to him) This is the young
hopeful I suppose! (as they meet, R. c., SPALDING looks up, sees him,
and turns to walk back again) Come here! (SPALDING stops near door L.
Shouting) Come here!! (SPALDING turns) Sit down! (SPALDING hesitates)
Sit down!! (SPALDING places umbrella by door and is going to sit on
chair placed there) No, not there, here, here! Come and sit down here!
(throws book on chair, L. of table. SPALDING walks nervously to chair
and sits) Take that hat off. (CATTERMOLE says, "Oh, lor'!" averts
face, extends left arm, waves hand, SPALDING nervously shakes hands.
CATTERMOLE knocks hand away with a grol.L SPALDING does so and looks at
him, smooths hair. CATTERMOLE sits; looking at him) Oh! oh! oh! (bursts
into a fit of laughter) What a face! (SPALDING rubs his nose with
handkerchief rolled up tight. Knocking his hand down) Don't do that
when I'm talking to you. (SPALDING looks at him bewildered) He looks
like a parson, I'm blest if he don't! (repeat handkerchief business)
Don't do that! (SPALDING makes for door, L., and goes off. CATTERMOLE
follows, drags him back, and throws him into chair. CATTERMOLE stands
over him gives him three vicious punches. SPALDING squirms and finally
falls on floor--Picture) How dare you run away when I'm talking to you?
(going round back of table to his seat) You're a perfect young fiend,
you are! (sees blue ribbon in SPALDING'S coat) Hallo! What's this?
(pointing to ribbon SPALDING puts hand up. CATTERMOLE taps it with pen)
No, not that! this! this! this! (pulling coat and hauling him half over
table) What do you want to wear that for now? The boat race is all over
long ago. (SPALDING again looks at him, bewildered) Oh, oh, oh! (aside)
And that's the heap of misery that old fool of a woman called handsome!
handsome that is! let's have a look at Handsome, (puts glasses on and
looks at him)

SPALDING. I've no doubt you are surprised! (CATTERMOLE shouts with
laughter)

CATTERMOLE. Surprised! surprised! I should think I was surprised for
of all the objects (repeat handkerchief business) Don't do that!
(CATTERMOLE knocks it out of his hand. SPALDING goes and picks it up.
CATTERMOLE sees goloshes) Hallo! What are those? What on earth have you
got on your feet? What are those? (tapping goloshes with pen)

SPALDING. Those are my goloshes.

CATTERMOLE. Go what?

SPALDING. Goloshes!

GATTERMOLE. Goloshes! What do you want to wear goloshes for?

SPALDING. D' you know

CATTERMOLE. (shouting and bringing his hand down on table) No, I don't
know! (run off. repeat business making for door, etc.) How dare you run
away when I'm talking to you? I want to talk to you calmly and quietly.
Now, then, what do you want to wear those wretched things for?

SPALDING. D' you know (catches CATTERMOLE's eye attempts to run off.
CATTERMOLE says "No you don't," and stops him)

CATTERMOLE. No, I don't

SPALDING. I wear these because I'm so used to them.

CATTERMOLE. Oh, you want to slink about like a ghost, I suppose.

SPALDING. No.

CATTERMOLE. Yes, you do!

SPALDING. Yes.

CATTERMOLE. (mocking) Yes. Then what do you want to wear them for?

SPALDING. I suffer so much with chronic influenza,

CATTERMOLE. Oh, you do? Well, that's all right! Now tell me. How's your
liver?

SPALDING. How's what?

CATTERMOLE. (gruffly) How's your liver!

SPALDING. Nicely, thanks. (CATTERMOLE laughs)

CATTERMOLE. Oh, that's all right.

SPALDING. How's yours?

CATTERMOLE. (angrily, rising. SPALDING nearly falls off chair) Never
you mind my liver; you look after your own that's quite enough for
you to do. Now, what do you want to wear those Indian liver, I mean
india-rubber things for?

SPALDING. I wear them to keep my feet warm while walking.

CATTERMOLE. Walking! But what do you want to walk for? (SPALDING says
"H'm?" CATTERMOLE mimicks) What on earth do you want to walk at all for?

SPALDING. Because I can't afford to ride

CATTERMOLE. Can't afford to ride. Why not?

SPALDING. D' you know

CATTERMOLE. (shouting) No. I don't know! If I knew I shouldn't ask you
you idiot!

SPALDING. No! You see the London cabmen use such bad language.

CATTERMOLE. Yes that's their livers.

SPALDING. And they're so extortionate in their charges.

CATTERMOLE. I say that doesn't affect you. You have an uncle, you
have a rich uncle, you have a wealthy (disgusted at SPALDING'S not
understanding) Oh! you have an uncle, damn it!

SPALDING. I have an uncle Robert.

CATTERMOLE. (turns away from him) Oh, dear! oh, dear! oh, dear! (to
him) Now, listen to me. Everybody (handkerchief business as before)
Don't do that! Put that thing away. Don't let me see it again!
(SPALDING puts handkerchief in pocket) Everybody makes fools of
themselves some time or other. (SPALDING says "M' yes!" CATTERMOLE says
"Eh? oh! yes") When it's done young it doesn't matter they improve as
they grow older, but there are no fools like old fools.

SPALDING. Yes.

CATTERMOLE. But I say there are not!

SPALDING. Ye-es.

CATTERMOLE. I say there are not! There are no fools like old fools.
(threatening him with book)

SPALDING. Oh, no! there are no fools like old fools. (pointedly)

CATTERMOLE. I'm determined you shan't be one of the latter. You
understand that? (SPALDING starts to say "No." CATTERMOLE threatens him
and corrects himself to "Yes" hastily)

SPALDING. Yes. I understand that.

CATTERMOLE. I'm glad of that. Because I'd rather strangle you with my
own hands--that I would.

SPALDING. How nice!

CATTERMOLE. (turning from him disgusted) How nice! I wonder if the poor
fool's hard up? I suppose I'd better give him some money.

(SPALDING takes off golosh)

CATTERMOLE. (to SPALDING) Here, give me yourpurse.

SPALDING. H'm?

(SPALDING looks at him suspiciously)

CATTERMOLE. (determinedly) Hand me over your purse!

SPALDING. (rising) No.

(Runs over at back to door, R., crying "Help, help!" followed by
CATTERMOLE. Enter MRS. STEAD, R. SPALDING puts her in front of him;
CATTERMOLE jams them both behind door, shaking his fist at SPALDING:
MRS. STEAD screams; CATTERMOLE gets his stick.)

MRS. STEAD. Oh, don't strike him, sir, please don't strike him.

CATTERMOLE. Don't cuddle me, old woman! (taking up hat) I shall come
back, and I'll make him go it; if I don't I'm--(strikes door with stick
and exits, furious. MRS. STEAD closes doors, goes c. showing SPALDING
on knees hiding behind the window curtain. He rises and gets c. to
catch her)

MRS. STEAD, (falling into SPALDING'S arms) Oh. sir, I can't stand it. I
am going to faint. (SPALDING fans her with golosh)

MRS. STEAD. He's mad, sir. I'm sure he's mad.

SPALDING. (going to L. of table) Do you know, I think the poor old
gentleman's a lunatic he wanted my purse.

MRS. STEAD. Did he indeed, sir? How alarmed you must have been. You're
looking quite pale. Sit down and I'll make you a nice cup of tea.

(crosses at back to door, SPALDING sits L of table)

(Enter GIBSON, R., showing in KNOX with writ)

GIBSON. Serve the writ on him! I'll teach him to say I'm no gentleman;
confound his impertinence!

(Places stick on sofa. KNOX crosses to SPALDING, slaps him heavily on
shoulder and places writ in his hand)

SPALDING. What is this?

KNOX. A writ.

(Exit. R. SPALDING reads writ, bewildered)

GIBSON, (crossing to SPALDING) Now, which is the gentleman? (seeing
SPALDING) Why, it's the wrong man!

MRS. STEAD. Who is it you want, sir? (at door R.)

GIBSON. Mr. Marsland.

MRS. STEAD. Oh, sir; he's just gone out of town with Mr. Cattermole.

GIBSON. Out of town! Where's he gone to?

MRS. STEAD. I don't know, sir; somewhere in the country.

GIBSON. Oh, I know. He's gone home! Here, fetch me a cab.

MRS. STEAD. Yes, sir. (Exit door R.)

GIBSON. I'll be on their track before (feeling in pocket) Why, hang it
all, I haven't got any change, (sees SPALDING; goes to him) Here, lend
me a sovereign.

SPALDING. (terrified) No.

(Rises and turns to run round at lack to R. door. GIBSON goes to meet
him, turning over chair, R. SPALDING avoids GIBSON by turning and
crossing, front to R. door, leaping overturned chair and crying, "Help,
help!" followed by GIBSON, calling, "Where are you going to?" etc.
SPALDING tries to open door, R., but cannot do so; then jumps through
window. GIBSON seizes by leg and calling, "Help, help!")

CURTAIN.




ACT II.

SCENE. Morning-room at MR. MARSLAND'S country house; doors R. i E.,
R. U. E., L. i E., L. U. E.; casement window, C., opening on to
conservatory; fireplace, R.; piano, L.; hunting portraits and trophies
on walls; large oak chest at back, L. Miss ASH FORD discovered seated
at table R., reading book.

Miss ASHFORD. It's as plain as the sun at noonday. Besides, what rapid
strides Spiritualism has made during the last few years! Ah, if I could
but convince Mr. Marsland of the reality of the spirits! Why, here it
says they may even be photographed by the aid of a medium, (rising and
going up to c.) Now where are those girls? They've sneaked off again;
they always do directly I begin to read. Oh, there they stand looking
down the road through a glass, (looks off to L.)

(Enter MR. MARSLAND, L. i E.)

Miss ASHFORD. (calling) My dears! my dears! that is very unbecoming
most unladylike.

MARSLAND. What! Are the girls disobeying again?

(looks off. to L.)

Miss ASHFORD. Well, judge for yourself, Mr. Marsland. There's your
daughter climbing up a huge heap of stones.

MARSLAND. Oh, come now, there's nothing very disgraceful in that.

Miss ASHFORD. (coming down, R.) No, but it's such bad form.

MARSLAND. (coming down, c.) Well, just now there's no one to see them,
(motions Miss ASHFORD to seat and sits on settee) You know I'm rather
glad I've found you alone, for the fact is, I shall be so busy hunting
the next few days that I shall have no time for the girls.

Miss ASHFORD. Well, am I not here?

MARSLAND. Yes, and you know my rules, no flirtation.

Miss ASHFORD. Oh, you may depend upon me. I'll keep the girls
occupied. Besides they can have some music with the new private
secretary. You know he's very musical.

MARSLAND. Yes. I hope he'll improve their music. But you know, the song
he sang last night was scarcely the style of music I expected.

Miss ASHFORD. Indeed? What was it?

MARSLAND. Yes. Let me see, you saw nothing of him last night

Miss ASHFORD. No. I was so ill I was obliged to keep to my room.

MARSLAND. Oh, yes, I remember. Well then, the song he sang . . . Bless
me if I can remember. Oh, yes, the song he sang was something like
this, (substitute title of latest well-known comic song) Do you like
that style?

Miss ASHFORD. Not much I But I daresay it's from one of the oratorios.
You know I take a great interest in the dear boy on account of my long
friendship with his mother. I hope he'll be happy here.

MARSLAND. Yes, but you must not make too much fuss with the young
fellow. You must remember that he is in a subordinate position, and
must be kept within his proper sphere.

Miss ASHFORD. Oh, I daresay his mental culture is quite equivalent to
our social position. Besides, I never can forget my lifelong friendship
with his mother. (rising and giving book to him) But to change the
subject, will you allow me to persuade you to read that book?

MARSLAND. (rising and looking at book) "The Latest Proof of
Spiritualism." Bah I don't come near me with such nonsense. (goes L.)

Miss ASHFORD. Oh, if I had a medium I could Soon convince you.

MARYLAND. My dear Miss Ashford, go in for all that sort of humbug
(EDITH and EVA heard laughing and talking without) as much as you
please, but don't you put such stuff into my daughter's head.

Miss ASHFORD. Certainly not; but its not nonsense! (goes up R.)

(Enter EDITH and EVA, running and laughing, c. from L. EDITH with
dog-whip, runs down R. of MARSLAND. EVA, with glasses, hands them to
Miss ASHFORD, and remains up stage with her, over R.)

MARSLAND. (taking EDITH'S hands) Why, what on earth is the matter?

EDITH. Oh, papa, there's a cab coming, with such a fat old gentleman in
it.

EVA. Yes, we saw him quite plainly.

MARSLAND. Well, did you never see a fat old gentleman before? (EDITH
says "Not fatter than you. He's just like a mountain with the setting
sun on top.") I was just going to speak to you upon the subject. Here,
Eva, come here I (EVA come down, L. C. both girls keep up a constant
chatter) Quiet, quiet! Will you be (they cease talking) Mr. Spalding
has been very highly recommended to me, so you must not play him any of
your pranks, as you did his predecessor.

EDITH. Oh, papa, we never did.

EVA. No, we never did.

MARSLAND. (putting his arms on their shoulders) Oh come now we know all
about that. You must remember that you are grown up now, and must drop
all your practical jokes. (EVA tries to snatch dog-whip from EDITH.
Girls dispute saying, "Let me have it," "No, it's my own whip," etc.,
etc.) Now! now! now! Mr. Spalding is a very talented man, and it's a
great chance for you to reap some advantage from his presence amongst
us. So mind you treat him with respect, and at the same time make him
feel at home.

EDITH & EVA (together) Yes. Certainly

MARSLAND. But you must promise me that!

EVA & EDITH (together) We promise!

(noise of cab starts off)

MARSLAND. Very well, then on that condition I forgive all past sins,
(listening) Hallo! why that must be the carriage with the stout party
you spoke of. (goes up, c. EDITH goes up R. EVA runs up after MARSLAND,
and jumps up to look over his shoulder, jumps on chair R. of opening,
hand on MARSLAND'S shoulder. As he exits she nearly falls off chair
laughs) I wonder who it can be?

(Exit, c. to L.)

Miss ASHFORD. (coming down c. EVA comes down L.) There, young ladies,
you heard what papa said. Now, how often have I warned and entreated
you?

EDITH. Ah, but you were amused yourself.

Miss ASHFORD. But in this instance I shall be against you throughout,
for this young man is the son of my oldest and dearest friend.

EVA. Well, you should have seen us with him last night. (EDITH above
Miss ASHFORD shakes head. EVA catches her eye and changes to very
demure tone) I'm sure our conduct was most discreet.

Miss ASHFORD. (to EDITH) And yours?

EDITH. Most! (very demurely)

Miss ASHFORD. I should like to have seen that.

EDITH, but he's not a bit like your description of him.

Miss ASHFORD. My dear, mine was only a fancy portrait, for I only saw
him once, when he was a tiny little baby. Now, he may be an Apollo, or
the reverse, for anything I know, but he must have a sweet face has he
not?

EDITH. Yes, he is rather nice looking.

EVA. (crossing to R.) And plays a rattling good game at billiards.

MBS ASHFORD. Eva, my dear!

EVA. Well, that's what cousin Harry says.

(Enter MARSLAND and CATTERMOLE, c. from L.)

MARSLAND. (L. c.) Ah, my dear old friend, this is indeed an unexpected
pleasure.

CATTERMOLE. (c.) Yes, I could not stay away when once I returned.

MARSLAND. (introducing) This is Miss Ashford, Mr. Cattermole.

CATTERMOLE. (going to EDITH who comes down R. c.) How do you do, Miss
Ashford?

EDITH, (laughing) I am not Miss Ashford.

CATTERMOLE. Then where is Miss Ashford? (turning)

Miss ASHFORD. I am Miss Ashford. (comes down R. c.)

CATTERMOLE. (shaking hands) Oh, how do you do?

Miss ASHFORD. Happy to know you, Mr. Scaffoldpole.

CATTERMOLE. No, Cattermole! (spells)

MARSLAND. This is my daughter Edith.

CATTERMOLE. (shaking hands) How do you do, Miss Edith? I hope we shall
be good friends.

EDITH. Yes, I hope so.

MARSLAND. Why, of course you will.

EDITH. This is my friend, Eva Webster.

CATTERMOLE. How do you do, Miss Webster? hope you're better. (EDITH
and EVA at fireplace, MARSLAND sits on settee L. c. EVA bursts
out laughing, goes up and sits in armchair. MARSLAND looks at her
reprovingly; to MARSLAND) Miss Webster's a bit of a kitten, isn't she?

Miss ASHFORD. I was about to ask you, Mr. Rattlepole

CATTERMOLE. Cattermole! (spells)

Miss ASHFORD. I was about to ask you if you believe in spirits?

CATTERMOLE. Spirits! Well, yes in moderation.

Miss ASHFORD. Don't you think they influence our lives for good?

CATTERMOLE. Yes. I shouldn't go in for them too much if I were you.

Miss ASHFORD. Not too much? Oh if I had my own way I would devote my
entire life to them.

CATTERMOLE. What a bibulous old lady to be sure.

MARSLAND. I say, Miss Ashford, you must keep your Spiritualistic craze
within reasonable bounds.

Miss ASHFORD. So I do.

MARSLAND. Would you mind letting us have a little luncheon here and
seeing after Mr. Cattermole's room?

Miss ASHFORD. With great pleasure.

MARSLAND. Thanks!

(sits with CATTERMOLE on settee)

Miss ASHFORD. Come along, young ladies. (CATTERMOLE is blowing kisses
to girls, as Miss ASHFORD up, she sees him is scandalized. Exit, R.u.E.)

EVA. (to EDITH as they go up) Why, Edith dear, you are always so cold
to strangers. You behave quite differently to him.

EDITH. Yes, he's an old fellow (EDITH swings EVA across to L. c. She
falls on one knee at CATERMOLES feet and looks up at him coquettishly.
CATTERMOLE pleased) and I always respect age.

EVA. And size! (laughs. Exeunt, R. u. E.)

CATTERMOLE. That's a very nice girl your daughter.

(CATTERMOLE on R. of settee, MARSLAND on L. of settee)

MARSLAND. Yes, and she's a good girl, too.

CATTERMOLE. You won't have her at home long.

MARSLAND. Eh why why?

CATTERMOLE. Why why

MARSLAND. Oh, she's a perfect child yet.

CATTERMOLE. Yes, they're the sort of children that are run after.

MARSLAND. She mustn't think of that sort of thing for another three
years at least.

CATTERMOLE. Oh, you give her three years, do you, well, I don't! But
tell me now how's her liver?

MARSLAND Eh?

CATTERMOLE. How's her liver, I said.

MARSLAND. (laughing) Why she hasn't got a liver yet.

CATTERMOLE. Hasn't she? What a lucky state of things. I wish I hadn't,
but I have, and well I know it.

MARSLAND. Suppose we change the subject.

CATTERMOLE. I wish you could change my liver.

MARSLAND. How about that old scheme of ours that your nephew should
marry Edith?

CATTERMOLE. (uneasily) My nephew?

MARSLAND. Yes, your nephew?

CATTERMOLE. Oh, you mean my nephew oh, of course. Well you know I think
we'd better forget all about that.

MARSLAND. Forget all about it! (CATTERMOLE says Ye es!) Why, you wrote
to me about nothing else, from India.

CATTERMOLE. From India, yes.

MARSLAND. Don't you remember, not three months ago, describing the sort
of young fellow that you hoped to find him?

CATTERMOLE. That I hoped to find him ye es.

MARSLAND. Have you seen him?

CATTERMOLE. Yes; I've seen him! Oh, don't! please don't!

MARSLAND. Does he come up to your expectations?

CATTERMOLE. Up to them. He's far, far beyond them.

MARSLAND. Aren't you satisfied with him?

CATTERMOLE. Satisfied with him? Why he hasn't made the slightest
endeavor to carry out one of my wishes. He's a ninny! a nincompoop!

MARSLAND. I'm sorry to hear that.

CATTERMOLE. He's got a blue ribbon thing here.

(pointing to button-hole)

MARSLAND. A blue ribbon!

CATTERMOLE. And wears goloshes; My nephew wears goloshes!

MARSLAND. Goloshes! I never heard of such a thing.

CATTERMOLE No. nor! in the whole course of my life!

MARSLAND. Well, perhaps the poor fellow's delicate,

CATTERMOLE. He's no right to be delicate, has he? I'm not delicate, am
I? (rises)

MARSLAND. (smiling) No.

CATTERMOLE. I should think not, indeed. If I had I should have
been dead years ago. I say, do you remember the night I drove the
costermonger's cart from Covent Garden to St. John's Wood in the
pouring rain?

(sits again)

MARSLAND. Yes, I remember.

CATTERMOLE. What a night that was. Shall you ever forget it?

MARSLAND. Never.

CATTERMOLE. I say, you were getting on a bit that night, weren't you?

MARSLAND. (uneasily) No.

CATTERMOLE. Don't you remember we'd been to Evans (singing) "Oh, who
will o'er the downs so free, To win a bloo" (MARSLAND stops CATTERMOLE)
What's the matter?

MARSLAND. (looking around uneasily) I say, we can't have anything bloo
here now, you know; you must remember that all this happened years and
years ago.

CATTERMOLE. Yes, that must be five-and-twenty years ago. I was a little
slim chap then; wasn't I?

MARSLAND. Ah, so you were.

CATTERMOLE. Do you remember the night I tried to crawl through the
railings in Hyde Park?

MARSLAND. No, I don't think I remember anything about that.

CATTERMOLE. Why, you were with us that night you must remember.

MARSLAND. No I don't seem to.

CATTERMOLE. Oh, no, of course not, you were run in. (laughs)

MARSLAND. Oh, no! no!

(looking round uneasily)

CATTERMOLE. Yes; don't you remember you wanted to take the policeman to
your club?

MARSLAND. (trying to silence him) Nothing of that kind tell me

CATTERMOLE. I shall never forget your struggling to get a light from
his bull's-eye.

MARSLAND. Never mind his bull's-eye. Tell me something about your
nephew.

CATTERMOLE. I never shall forget that night as long; as I live.

MARSLAND. Your nephew! Your nephew!

CATTERMOLE. (stops laughing) Eh? Oh, no, don't let's talk about him.
He's a failure, a downright failure.

HARRY, (off c.) Come along, Spalding!

(Enter DOUGLAS and HARRY, c.from L. Enter JOHN with luncheon , R. u. E.
He lays same on table, R., and exits L. u. E. DOUGLAS goes down to L.
corner. HARRY to R. C. MARSLAND remains on settee)

MARSLAND. (to DOUGLAS) Ah, Mr. Spalding, here you are at last. I must
ask you to be a little earlier in your hour of rising in the future,
(introducing HARRY who is down R.) This is my nephew Harry.

CATTERMOLE. (shaking hands) How do you do Harry? (rises, goes R.)

HARRY. How do you do? (goes to fireplace)

CATTERMOLE. (to MARSLAND) Why, he looks quite the pink of perfection,
doesn't he? When I look at him, and think of that miserable object of
mine oh!

MARSLAND. Mr. Spalding, Mr. Cattermole.

( DOUGLAS starts and stares at CATTERMOLE)

CATTERMOLE. Well, what are you staring at? Did you never hear the name
Cattermole before? (CATTERMOLE intones as he spells it and sits at
table)

DOUGLAS. Yes, I know how to spell it.

(goes up to HARRY)

MARSLAND. (sitting on settee) You know, Mr. Spalding, I'm so very
pleased the young ladies are to have the benefit of your highly
cultivated literary tastes. (with paper, not seeing DOUGLAS go up)

(DOUGLAS and HARRY express in dumb show, their surprise and amusement
at having met MR. CATTERMOLE. HARRY puffs out cheek and with hands
passing over stomach indicates CATTERMOLE'S size. DOUGLAS laughs and
slaps thigh, drawing MARSLAND'S attention to him. DOUGLAS, who is
laughing, catches MARSLAND'S eye, subsides and returns to L. corner)

MARSLAND. First of all (turning, and seeing DOUGLAS) Mr. Spalding, I
must ask for a little of your attention, if you please. I was saying
that first of all I am going to ask you to give them a few lessons.

DOUGLAS. Lessons?

MARSLAND. Yes read with them interest them, and so forth,

DOUGLAS. I'll do my best to interest them.

CATTERMOLE. Yes, you look quite capable.

(shakes finger at DOUGLAS)

MARSLAND. And, then, I'm going to ask you to give them some music.

DOUGLAS. Music? (nonplussed)

MARSLAND. Yes. I'm so very glad you're musical.

DOUGLAS, (confused) Oh, yes; so I am!

(DOUGLAS goes c. to HARRY in alarm then crosses to top of table for pie
bus.)

CATTERMOLE. (to MARSLAND) I say, old fellow, this is a capital pie.

MARSLAND. Is it?

CATTERMOLE. Um!

MARSLAND. I'm glad you like it.

CATTERMOLE. Yes, there's only one thing wanting.

MARSLAND. Eh?

CATTERMOLE. I say there's only one thing wanting in that pie, and that
is

DOUGLAS, (interrupting) Mushrooms! (attabli)

CATTERMOLE. I beg your pardon.

DOUGLAS. Mushrooms!

CATTERMOLE. Mushrooms? (looking about) I don't see any. Where are they?

DOUGLAS, (taking up fork, and emphasizijig by tapping pie with it)
No, no, you misunderstand me. I thought you said there was one thing
wanting in the pie.

CATTERMOLE. (waving off DOUGLAS' fork) Yes, I did say that.

DOUGLAS, I merely suggested mushrooms. It's the one thing wanting to
give it a flavor.

MARSLAND. (to CATTERMOLE) By Jove, he's right there, though!

CATTERMOLE. (hitting at DOUGLAS' fork) Oh, yes, he's quite right (to
DOUGLAS) but I wouldn't fork it about quite so much as that if I were
you.

DOUGLAS. Now you know, there are precious few cooks who know how to do
the thing really smartly.

CATTERMOLE. Is that so? (repeats fork bus.)

DOUGLAS. Now the best place in town to get a thing of this kind really
good is at the Continental, (stops short and drops fork, CATTERMOLE and
MARSLAND stare) On--on the Continent.

CATTERMOLE. That's the first time I ever heard the Continent was in
town, (to MARSLAND) I say, old man, do you remember when we went on
the Continent together? What games we had. Harry come here! (whispers
him. DOUGLAS looks knowingly at MARSLAND and imitates the can-fan.
MARSLAND laughs then pulls up shocked. DOUGLAS recollecting turns up
c. CATTERMOLE looks at MARSLAND and says; "Oh you gay old cock, you!"
MARSLAND looks disconcerted; all laugh; MARSLAND looks at DOUGLAS;
pulls him Up)

CATTERMOLE. (to DOUGLAS) Where did you pick up your Continental
experience, young fellow?

DOUGLAS. Oh I used to go there every evening

(sees mistake)

MARSLAND. (astonished) Every eve? And where have you gained your
culinary knowledge?

DOUGLAS. I--I've an uncle, who's a cook, (leaning over settee) A damned
good cook too!

(slaps MARSLAND on shoulder)

(MARSLAND starts up. CATTERMOLE, who is drinking a glass of wine &
chokes, and spits it out on carpet. He beats his back, shakes his fist
at DouGLAS,/<?2/r.r out another glass of wine, drinks it and falls
back in his chair exhausted. HARRY pats CATTERMOLE'S back goes up to
DOUGLAS and remonstrates in dumb show)

MARSLAND. Mr. Spalding, I must ask you to be kind enough to moderate
your language.

DOUGLAS, (looks at HARRY, who prompts him to say) Merely a manner of
speaking, you know.

(HARRY and DOUGLAS go up to c. opening. MARSLAND crosses to CATTERMOLE)

MARSLAND. I should rather think it was. (to CATTERMOLE) Well, how about
the pie? Have you enjoyed it? (CATTERMOLE nods assent) Better? (CAT-
TERMOLE nods assent) Well, as soon as you're quite recovered 1 should
like to show you my horses.

CATTERMOLE. Yes, you'll give me no peace till you do will you?

MARSLAND. And after that if you feel inclined we'll have a look over
the kennels.

CATTERMOLE. Yes, we generally end by going to the dogs. (rises)

DOUGLAS, (running down R. c. and slapping MARSLAND on the back) Shall I
come too?

MARSLAND. (with dignity) You come, too? My dear sir, you have your
duties to attend to!

(cross and exit, R. i E.)

CATTERMOLE. (to DOUGLAS) Yes, you'll go to the dogs quite soon enough.

(Exit, following MARSLAND)

HARRY. I say, Douglas, you really must be more careful, you're certain
to be found out if you're not.

DOUGLAS. I can't help it, old fellow, I'm getting reckless and
beginning to go it.

(Enter JOHN, L. u. E.)

HARRY. But you shouldn't tell people that you go to the Continental
every evening.

JOHN. Beg pardon, sir, there's a gentleman wishes to see you.

HARRY. Who me?

JOHN. Yes, sir. (DOUGLAS turns up to piano)

HARRY. What's his name?

JOHN. He wouldn't say, sir.

HARRY. What's his business?

JOHN. I don't know, sir. He said he wouldn't detain you a moment, but
that his business was most im- portant.

HARRY. Very well, I'll go to him at once. I won't be long, Douglas.
(Exit, L. u. E.)

(JOHN crosses to table R. c.; and exits, R. i E., carrying tray and
table as it stands.)

DOUGLAS. All right, old chap! I rather like this place, (at piano ',
taking up photos of girls) The old boy does the thing well, and these
little girls are simply delightful. (goes down in front of settee)

(Enter Miss ASHFORD, c.from R.)

Miss ASHFORD. (aside) There he is. He shall find a second mother in me!
I never thought he would have grown so tall.

(DOUGLAS kisses photos and sits.)

Miss ASHFORD. My dear Robert (kisses him. He crosses again to L.
astonished. He runs to door L. i E. and turns hiding photos behind him,
replaces photos on piano hastily as she turns her back) Don't seek to
run away! It was but a motherly embrace. I will explain. I was your
mother's dearest friend, and was introduced to you when you were only
two months old and about so high. (hands near ground)

DOUGLAS I really don't remember.

Miss ASHFORD. Naturally; but I do, and you were such a tiny lump of
pink soft terra cotta, with flaxen hair.

DOUGLAS. Flaxen hair? Do you mean to say that my hair was ever flaxen?

Miss ASHFORD. Yes, when you were a baby and curly.

DOUGLAS. Oh, yes of course. But then one's hair grows darker as one
grows older.

Miss ASHFORD. Not always, as you may find if you live long enough,
(points to her own hair) But now let me look at you, and see if you
resemble your dear mother at all. (puts on spectacles; he leans over
settee) Not a bit; not an atom! She was very handsome. (DOUGLAS laughs,
gets L. c. Goes and sits, R. c.)

DOUGLAS. Oh, I'm like my father; you know it's the case sometimes.

Miss ASHFORD. Well, whoever you are like, I am heartily glad to have
you here. My heart jumped for joy when I saw your testimonials.

DOUGLAS. My testimonials were good?

Miss ASHFORD. Excellent! Especially the one for classical music.

DOUGLAS. Yes, I thought that would be good.

(sits on settee)

Miss ASHFORD. You must have worked very hard.

DOUGLAS. Yes, I took a deal of trouble.

Miss ASHFORD. Well, I think you'll be happy here.

DOUGLAS. I hope so.

Miss ASHFORD. Mr, Marsland is a nice kind gentleman, very fond of good
music. Miss Edith is a little too fond of fun and frolic, but she's a
very good girl for all that

DOUGLAS. But there was another Eva.

Miss ASHFORD. Yes. Edith being alone, Mr. Marsland invited the daughter
of a friend of his to live in the house. Oh, she's a darling child.

DOUGLAS, (drily) Yes, they both seem darling children.

Miss ASHFORD. Yes, they are very good girls, but full of their tricks.
You mustn't let them impose upon you too much.

DOUGLAS. Oh, never fear; I shall know how to make use of my authority.
Besides, my reception was most cordial. They were most kind.

Miss ASHFORD. Ah, that was my doing. In fact, you must depend upon me
for everything in this house. If you have a favorite dish or anything
of that kind let me know, and I will see to it for you.

DOUGLAS. Very kind of you, I'm sure.

Miss ASHFORD. (going to him and suddenly grasping his wrist. He
rises) But there's one thing, my dear Robert, I want you to do for
me. (looks around mysteriotisly, he does same. Both turning together
they bump back to back) I want you I want you to get me some books on
Spiritualism for the library. Will you?

DOUGLAS. Oh, is Mr. Marsland a Spiritualist?

Miss ASHFORD. Oh dear no, I wish he was, but I am. I am devoted to the
science, (turning to him and making a sudden pass, he retreats alarmed.
She makes several passes. He retreats alarmed to door L. i E. watches
her and then makes semi-burlesque imitations of her gestures) Are you
initiated? Are you one of us?

(up c.)

DOUGLAS. I really don't know but I've heard a great deal about it.
(back of settee)

Miss ASHFORD. Oh, you do know something about it. That's all right.
Then this evening we'll take a walk together.

DOUGLAS, (aside) Oh, will we?

Miss ASHFORD. We'll have a conference, and exchange views.

DOUGLAS. Yes. I wouldn't miss that for the world.

(goes up c.)

Miss ASHFORD. But now I must leave you, for I have a hundred things to
see to. It is not necessary that everybody should know on what intimate
terms we are.

DOUGLAS. Certainly not. I am happy to have found so good a friend.
(kisses her hand, goes up L.)

Miss ASHFORD. Now, no formality, my dear Robert, but come to my heart,
where the memory of your dear mother dwells, (he goes to her embraces
awkwardly: going up) And now, good-bye, my dear Robert, and remember
that you are to look upon this house as your home, and upon me as your
second mother.

(Exit, R. u. E.)

DOUGLAS, (coming down, R.) What a remarkable old lady! Funny household
altogether! (He puts chair which was by table R. c. above door R. i E.)
Anyhow the existence of Edith and Eva reconciles me to the place

(Enter HARRY, quickly, c. from L.)

HARRY. I say, Douglas, here's the devil to pay. Gibson's here and
swears he won't go until he's paid.

DOUGLAS. But what did you say?

HARRY. I didn't say anything. I couldn't pay the man. (goes L.)

(Enter GIBSON, c.from L.)

GIBSON. Ah! good morning, gentlemen.

DOUGLAS. I say, Gibson, what cheek! What do you want here? (R.)

GIBSON, (c. to HARRY) You sent your hunting coat to be repaired. I
remembered it, sent it down, and took the liberty of following it.

DOUGLAS. But what for?

GIBSON. He owes Mr. Jenkins three hundred pounds for a bill due four
days ago.

DOUGLAS. But what s that got to do with you?

GIBSON. I've bought that bill and want to know if he's ready to pay.

(DOUGLAS looks at HARRY amused)

HARRY. (leaning over settee) We shall soon be returning to town, Mr.
Gibson; when everything shall be made straight

DOUGLAS. Yes, the very moment we arrive

GIBSON. Very likely, but I want it made straight here and now.

HARRY. Oh, that's impossible!

MARSLAND. (without) All right I'll see about it.

(off, i E.)

GIBSON, (crossing to R.) Impossible? How would you like the writ shown
to your uncle?

DOUGLAS. Let's kick him out of the house.

(crosses L. above settee)

HARRY. That would be no good. We must keep him quiet somehow, (crossing
to GIBSON. HARRY crosses below settee) Look here, Gibson, I'm sure you
will listen to reason. Can't this thing be arranged?

GIBSON. Yes, sir, it can in one way.

HARRY. What is that?

GIBSON. By letting me remain down here with you.

HARRY. Oh, that's impossible!

GIBSON. Oh, don't say that, sir. Do you know it's the ambition of my
life to be invited on a visit to a Country mansion?

HARRY. But, my uncle, the guests?

GIBSON. Oh, bless your soul, I shan't disgrace you. I can behave like a
gentleman if I like. Now, you must arrange this for me.

MARSLAND. (without) Come along, Cattermole come along.

(HARRY seizes GIBSON and throws him round to l. DOUGLAS catches GIBSON,
takes him up L. to c. trying to persuade him to go. Enter MARSLAND R. i
E. with letter in hand, followed by CATTERMOLE, who sits in arm-chair
up R.)

R. CATTERMOLE. DOUGLAS L, GIBSON. MARSLAND. HARRY.

HARRY. Uncle, something very strange has happened; I hope you won't be
vexed.

MARSLAND. Well, be quick about it. I've no time to spare.

HARRY. The other day, I made the acquaintance of a gentleman, and he's
never seen a meet of hounds, and he's here.

GIBSON, (who has crossed to HARRY) Introduce me.

MARSLAND. Well, introduce him.

(GIBSON is pulling HARRY'S coat-tail. HARRY knocks his hand away)

HARRY, (introducing) My uncle Marsland Mr Gibson. (goes up)

MARSLAND. How do you do, sir?

GIBSON. How do you do, sir? I'm delighted to make the acquaintance
of such a fine old English gentleman! (surveying him) Why, bless me,
sir, what a noble chest you have! That must be forty-two inches round,
(feeling in pocket for tape) Where's my . . . (producing tape)

(DOUGLAS pulls at his coat-tail to stop him. then slaps him on the
back, and turns up)

MARSLAND. (aside) What an extraordinary man! (introducing) Mr. Gib Gib

GIBSON. Gibson, sir.

MARSLAND. Mr. Gibson, Mr. Cattermole. (goes up to back)

CATTERMOLE. (curtly) How do you do?

(GIBSON bows extravagantly)

GIBSON, (astonished, looking at DOUGLAS) Cat--Cat

CATTERMOLE. Cattermole. (spelts)

GIBSON. How do you do, sir? I'm delighted to make your acquaintance,
I'm sure, (looking around at DOUGLAS) Strange to say I know someone
named Cattermole. Any relation to (DOUGLAS who is L. up stage runs
across quickly, nudges GIBSON, then returns to L.)

DOUGLAS, (aside to GIBSON) Shut up!

CATTERMOLE. No. No relation to shut up

(Enter JOHN, R. u. E.)

JOHN. (announcing) Breakfast is ready.

MARSLAND. That's all right! Come along, Cattermole.

HARRY, (hurrying off R. u. E.) Come along, Spalding!

(MARSLAND follows. DOUGLAS is hurrying off)

MARSLAND. (turning and stopping him) Certainty not. I've already said
that Mr. Spalding has his duties to attend to.

(Exit, R. u. E. DOUGLAS turns to go off, L. i E. GIBSON tries to speak
to him, but he repels him, and exits. CATTERMOLE rises and goes up.
GIBSON turns to him, and tries to attract his attention by catching
hold of his coat. Business, and exeunt, R. u. E. Exit JOHN, L. u. E.
Enter Miss ASH FORD, followed by EDITH and EVA, R. i E.)

Miss ASHFORD. (coming down to L.) Now young ladies, our reading. You
know I promised your father.

EDITH, (coming c. with EVA) Oh, I think it's an absurd idea that we
should work to-day.

EVA. So do I. (they run up)

Miss ASHFORD. My dears, you don't call reading work. (calling off L. i
E.) Mr. Spalding, will you kindly prepare the books in the library.

DOUGLAS, (without) Certainly.

EDITH. Well, at any rate, we needn't go into that stuffy old library.

EVA. No it's so lovely here.

Miss ASHFORD. Very well, you shall remain here (calling) Mr. Spalding,
will you bring the books here?

DOUGLAS, (without) With pleasure.

Miss ASHFORD. Now, young ladies, you see that Mr. Spalding is a most
accomplished gentleman, so let me again beg of you to keep up a proper
decorum; cease from all fun and nonsense, and behave like young ladies.

EDITH. (R. demurely) Yes.

Miss ASHFORD. Yes, you little dove-eyed hypocrite you are the worst of
the two. It's you who teach that silly child all her wicked tricks.

EDITH. Well, I will be good, if only for Eva's sake. (kisses her. EVA
waves handkerchief)

Miss ASHFORD. Be good for your own sake.

EVA. (at piano wagging handkerchief) Oh, go on, I don't care.

(Enter DOUGLAS, L. i E., with heap of books)

DOUGLAS. Here you are, ladies; I've brought you quite a collection.
(EVA places small table L. of settee; he drops book on it) The gems of
our literature, so they can choose for themselves, eh, Miss Ashford?

Miss ASHFORD. Yes, with the guide, philosopher and friend.

(DOUGLAS fetches music-stool, and sits behind table, EVA places chair
L. of table, and sits; EDITH sits on settee; Miss ASHFORD on chairs,
at back, DOUGLAS commences to arrange books. EVA gets table from
behind piano L. and chair from below door L. EDITH at once takes a
book--DOUGLAS puts it back on table then sees EVA has taken one, he
replaces that and goes up for stool. Both girls retake books and read.
DOUGLAS comes down with stool sees them takes EVA'S book, shuts it with
a bang. EVA jumps. He then takes EDITH'S she says, "Oh! they were just
getting married." He sits looking at her reprovingly.)

DOUGLAS. First of all (EVA tries to look over book he has taken up; he
withdraws it) First of all, here's The Vicar of Wakefield.

EVA. I thought so!

EDITH. Oh, we know that by heart.

DOUGLAS. No, by Goldsmith! (they laugh, he sees the joke) Well, we'll
put the worthy man aside, (takes up two others) Mill on Political
Economy, Ditto on the Floss, (they laugh, he puts it aside and takes up
another) Tom Jones by Fielding.

Miss ASHFORD. (rising and coming down) Surely that must be a mistake.
Tom Jones is a very clever book, but not at all suitable for young
ladies, (girls try to see book) My dears! my dears!

(DOUGLAS prevents them, rises and goes to Miss ASHFORD; girls talk.)

DOUGLAS. Have you read it?

Miss ASHFORD. Oh, yes; (DOUGLAS looks shocked) that is, no! well a long
time ago.

DOUGLAS. Well, I haven't, (offering, book) Perhaps you'd like to
refresh your memory.

Miss ASHFORD. (taking book) I should like to have the care of the book.

DOUGLAS, (going back to table and taking another book) I've got another
in your line, Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded.

Miss ASHFORD. Virtue Rewarded! That must be a very small pamphlet
indeed, (aside going up) Dear boy, how innocent, he's never read Tom
Jones.

(DOUGLAS sits stool. Girls prepare handkerchiefs)

DOUGLAS. (reading) Milton's Paradise Lost

Miss ASHFORD. Ah, that's a good book--read that.

EDITH. It's awfully dry, but go on, we're listening.

DOUGLAS. Well, Milton was a poet, don't you know.

EVA. No?

EDITH. Was he?

DOUGLAS. Well, it says so here; and he was blind, don't you know.

EDITH. Poor old chappie!

DOUGLAS. And he dictated Paradise Lost to his daughters, don't you know.

EVA. Poor things!

DOUGLAS. There were only two people in Paradise.

EDITH, (holding up handkerchief tied in a knot) Adam!

EVA. And Eve! (business handkerchief, L.)

DOUGLAS. Quite right! Eve he described as the representative of beauty.

EVA. (wagging knot) That's me!

DOUGLAS. Which is nearly allied to evil.

EVA. (annoyed) Oh!

DOUGLAS. Adam, on the contrary, was a weak man. (EDITH lets knot drop /
all laugh) In fact, about the weakest man of his time.

(he examines handkerchiefs amused.)

Miss ASHFORD. (who has come down) Mr. Spalding! Mr. Spalding! (they
stop laughing and sit straight) I think you had better read.

DOUGLAS. Better read?

Miss ASHFORD. Yes, I think the young ladies will understand it better.
(goes back to chair)

DOUGLAS. All right, (looks at the girls; all break into a titter; EDITH
whispers in DOUGLAS'S ear; he laughs; EVA says to him "Tell me"; he
does so. DOUGLAS says "I can tell you a much funnier one than that"
puts his arms round their shoulders and whispers. Miss ASHFORD says
"Oh!" horrified, rises and comes down and looks at them with glasses.
They all laugh until DOUGLAS looks over his shoulder, and sees Miss
ASHFORD looking, then all pull up; DOUGLAS reads) "Of man's first" (EVA
tickles his ear with knot) "Of man's first" (EDITH same business) "Of
man's first" (both same business)

Miss ASHFORD, (aside) Now they are fairly started I can go, Poor boy! I
wish him joy.

(Exit, R. u. E.)

DOUGLAS, (reading) "Of man's first"

(EDITH sees that Miss ASHFORD has gone; seizes book from DOUGLAS and
throws it over his head)

EDITH, (running to R.) She's gone!

EVA. (rising) Edith!

EDITH. I couldn't help it, it was so fearfully slow.

DOUGLAS. ( quietly pointing to door) Do you think she'll come back?

EDITH. No, I don't think she will, (imitates him)

DOUGLAS, (picks up book and gives it to EVA. Replacing stool) Very
well, I'm quite at your service. What shall we do? (up c.)

EVA. (replacing table and chair) We can't play tennis here.

EDITH. No. Let's have some table turning.

DOUGLAS. Oh, table turning's out of date, like planchette. Spiritualism
has made such rapid progress.

EDITH. Are you a Spiritualist?

DOUGLAS. Well, no, not exactly. I've had a good deal to do with it
lately, though.

EDITH & EVA. (together) Really?

DOUGLAS. Yes. (makes a pass; they start alarmed and run to corners) Got
an uncle who's a medium.

EDITH. Oh, tell us all about it.

(go to him on R.)

EVA. Miss Ashford has great thick books about it, but she always hides
them from us.

(go to him on L.)

DOUGLAS. Well, you must know, then, that the latest thing out is
materialization.

EDITH & EVA (together) What's that?

DOUGLAS. They've succeeded in making spirits appear in visible form.

(repeats pass girls run away as before)

EVA. Never?

DOUGLAS, (imitating tone) Yes! They come bringing violets, and
hollyhocks, and cabbages, and buttercups--

EVA. (eagerly) And butterscotch butterscotch?

DOUGLAS. Yes. You can shake hands with them.

(shakes hands with EVA)

EDITH, (coming to him) Really?

DOUGLAS. Yes. And even kiss them.

(tries to put his arm round EDITH'S waist and kiss her)

EDITH, (running to R.) Thanks. I'd rather be excused.

EVA. (close to DOUGLAS, meaningly) Do make a spirit appear. (she puts
her head on his shoulder)

DOUGLAS. That's not so easy.

EVA. Why not?

DOUGLAS. We require a medium.

EVA. A medium?

EDITH. What's that?

DOUGLAS. A privileged being, whose highly nervous temperament forms a
connecting link between the real and spiritual world.

(mysterious wave of the hands; girls retreat from him frightened)

EDITH. Do get us a medium, (returning to him)

EVA. Yes, please, do.

DOUGLAS. How odd! Miss Ashford has asked me to do the same thing, and
I've promised to get her one. But what will your father say?

EDITH, (excitedly) Oh, he mustn't know anything about it.

EVA. No. We'll put up the medium at the gardener's. (runs across to R.)

DOUGLAS. But Mr. Marsland.

EDITH & EVA (together) Oh! never mind him, etc., etc.

(Exeunt, R. i E., followed by DOUGLAS, remonstrating, GIBSON heard
without calling, "Yoicks, Yoicks!" Enter CATTERMOLE, R. u. E.)

CATTERMOLE. Confound that fellow! He's perfectly unbearable! The more
he drinks the more he talks, the more he talks! the more he drinks.

(goes to settee and takes up newspaper)

(Enter GIBSON, intoxicated, R. u. E.)

GIBSON. Yoicks! Yoicks! Yoicks!

CATTERMOLE. Here, Yoicks, you'll upset your liver if you go on like
that.

GIBSON. Yoicks! Yoicks!

CATTERMOLE. You've been taking too much wine, Yoicks. I shouldn't
advise you not to take any more, Yoicks.

GIBSON. Oh no. I'm all right. (coming down)

CATTERMOLE. Yes, all right and tight!

GIBSON. Jolly thing this hunting breakfast! They're all shouting
"Yoicks, yoicks." They've all been to the meet.

CATTERMOLE. Yes, and you've been to the drink.

GIBSON. I wish I hadn't had that champagne. (walks to settee and pushes
against CATTERMOLE, making him sit) Let's sit down and talk.

CATTERMOLE. (aside) Confound the fellow! (aloud, forcing newspaper into
GIBSON'S hand, and taking up another himself) Here! Go and sit down and
read the paper.

GIBSON. I beg your pardon.

CATTERMOLE. You do read the paper sometimes, I suppose.

GIBSON. I hope I didn't hurt you. But you take up so much room.

CATTERMOLE. I say I suppose you can read?

GIBSON, (going to arm-chair) Yes, of course, I can read. But I feel too
jolly to read now. I'd rather play a game of sst. (sits)

CATTERMOLE. I never played it.

GIBSON. A game of whizzt.

CATTERMOLE. You don't know what you're talking about.

GIBSON. I say, I'd rather play a game of whizzt sst.

CATTERMOLE. Whist? I think a little nap would do you more good.
Besides, I never play double dummy.

GIBSON. Extraordinary thing! they've taken to printing the paper upside
down.

CAITERMOLE. Try it the other way about.

GIBSON. Oh, it's all right now. (pause) Oh, I can't see to read.
Perhaps it's the lights.

CATTERMOLE. More lkely the liver.

GIBSON, (dropping paper on knees) Oh, I can't read.

CATTERMOLE. I thought not! How long do you think the Government will
hold out?

GIBSON, (laughing) He! he! he! he!

CATTERMOLE. Oh, don't make that "idiotic" noise! I say, how long do you
think the Government will hold out?

GIBSON. I was just thinking how long your waistcoat buttons will hold
out.

CATTERMOLE. Hem! hem! I was not referring to the corporation, sir. I
was speaking of the Government. How long do you think the Government
will hold out?

GIBSON. Well, don't fly in a passion. (rising)

CATTERMOLE. I don't want to fly. I'm not the figure for flying.

GIBSON, (crossing to him) Gentlemen don't quarrel about politics

CATTERMOLE. Gentlemen never quarrel.

GIBSON. No; I'm a gentleman.

CATTERMOLE. Yes, you are!

GIBSON, (catching hold of CATTERMOLE'S coat) Excuse me?

CATTERMOLE Be quiet.

GIBSON. Excuse me

CATTERMOLE. Don't do that!

GIBSON. No but excuse me.

CATTERMOLE. (rising and crossing to R.) If you Want a redistribution of
seats you can have it.

GIBSON. Excuse me, but your coat's very badly cut.

CATTERMOLE. Who's been cutting my coat?

(trying to see his back)

GIBSON. You'll pardon me making the remark but you 'aven't got a fit.

CATTERMOLE. No, but I shall have in a minute if you go on like this.

GIBSON. I'm a judge of these things.

CATTERMOLE. We were not talking of coats we were talking of politics!

GIBSON. Oh, blow politics! (CATTERMOLE says "I don't want to blow
politics.") Do you know where the fault lies?

CATTERMOLE. Yes, in the Government.

GIBSON. No, in the coat, (taking hold of him under the arm) Here, I'll
show you in two minutes.

CATTERMOLE. Don't tickle me!

GIBSON. The sleeve's put in all wrong!

CATTERMOLE. Who's been putting my sleeve in wrong?

GIBSON. That coat was made by an ijyot.

CATTERMOLE. It was not, "made in Egypt." It was made in Calcutta.

GIBSON. What cutter?

CATTERMOLE. Calcutta.

GIBSON. I don't know him! Whoever he is, he has made you look an
object, (trying to measure him with newspaper) Here, I'll measure you
for a coat! I'll measure you for a pair of trousers!

(CATTERMOLE walks round room to L. then R. to avoid Him; he follows.
CATTERMOLE pushes him on to settee, tearing a piece out of his paper.
Enter DOUGLAS quickly, R. i E.)

CATTERMOLE. (R.) That fellow's talking like a tailor

DOUGLAS, (crossing to GIBSON) I say, Gibson.

GIBSON. That old gentleman's 99 round the waist.

(on settee back to audience)

CATTERMOLE. It's a libel!

DOUGLAS, (going to CATTERMOLE) Don't take any notice of him. He's an
amateur tailor; he's President of the Dress Improvement Society.

(goes to GIBSON who goes L.)

CATTERMOLE. I'm sorry for the society.

GIBSON, (with paper to DOUGLAS) It's all right! I'm reading a leading
article.

DOUGLAS, (to CATTERMOLE) He had a bad sunstroke. (c.)

CATTERMOLE. He ought to be put under restraint

GIBSON. I'll measure him for a sunstroke! Oh, look at his baggy old
trousers! I'll measure him for a pair of trousers.

(Unfolds paper to measure him; it is torn in the shape of a pair of
trousers. CATTERMOLE points it out to DOUGLAS, who rushes at GIBSON and
forces him off, L. i E., closes door)

CATTERMOLE. Go and put his head under a pump!

(Exit, R. u. E.)

(Enter SPALDING, cautiously, c.from L., with goods and chattels. After
looking about, he comes down to settee, sits, and carefully places his
goods and chattels on floor in front of him. After placing props in
a row neat floats, band-box nearest settee, counts them with finger,
finds one short. Counts from other end. Considers. realizes he has
goloshes on, removes them and place them end of row. Counts again,
satisfied. Places hat on top of settee, smooths hair, handkerchief to
nose before he speaks.)

Thank smodness. here I an? at last!

I've walked over two miles with all my goods and chatels, and I'm
half dead! I was obliged to come after that telegram. This seems like
city of the dead! I haven't met a soul! They told me in the village
that they had all gone to the meet. I suppose there's no harm in
my remaining here till someone comes. Oh, dear, I'm so tired! I'll
endeavor to take a little repose, (yawns)

(Covers his head with shawl, and lies lack on settee Enter CATTERMOLE,
R. u. E. with paper)

CATTERMOLE. (coming down) Thank goodness that amateur snip's gone! I
never met such a vulgar brute in the whole course of my life. Now I
shall have a chance to read the newspaper in peace.

(Sits on SPALDING, who throws shawl off his head. They turn and
recognize each other. Picture. CATTERMOLE rises, putting his foot
through band-box. SPALDING tries to pick up the contents. CATTERMOLE
prevents him. In rising SPALDING throws shawl over CATTERMOLE'S
shoulders. CATTERMOLE puts orange and bun in his pocket. Draws shawl
round him and brandishes bottle of milk. Picture. SPALDING on knees
says "You've got my bath bun.")

CATTERMOLE. How dare you come here, sir? What brought you here?

SPALDING. The train brought me here.

CATTERMOLE. None of your nonsense! What motive?

SPALDING. The locomotive.

CATTERMOLE. Don't you jest with me, sir! I say, what brought you here?

SPALDING. D'you know

CATTERMOLE. No, I don't know.

(strikes hat on settee with bottle)

SPALDING. Mr. Marsland telegraphed for me to come immediately,
(snatching hat away)

CATTERMOLE. Mr. Marsland acted in perfect good faith; but you've no
right to come here without my permission.

SPALDING. But I came here to see Mr. Marsland, not you.

CATTERMOLE. (shouting) Is Mr. Marsland the principal object or am I?
Answer me that!

SPALDING. He's beginning again! I shall go back to London and I don't
like London, (attempts to run off, c. CATTERMOLE catches him and drags
him back to L.) Look here, sir, if you will persist in behaving in this
extraordinary manner, I shall have to be very cross with you.

CATTERMOLE. Cross with me! Well, I like that! I shall send you away. I
shall send you to America. Six months among the Mormons; that'll settle
you. (SPALDING says "How nice!" SPALDING puts handkerchief to his nose;
knocking it down) Don't do that!

(SPALDING goes to pick it up. CATTERMOLE seizes him by the collar;
placing his foot on parcel)

CATTERMOLE. Here, I must put you in here for the present, (dragging
him to L. i E. and looking off) No, you can't go in there! (swings him
round over settee: and takes him up to L. u. E.) Nor there! (Ditto to
R. u. E. and, finally to R. i E., where he slings him off) There! don't
you dare come out till I call you! Here's a wreck.

SPALDING. (putting his head out) Would you kindly restore to me all my
goods and chattels?

CATTERMOLE. (throwing each article separately. Gags; "There's
your goods" (bag), "there's your chattels" (shawl), "there's your
showerstick" (umbrella), "frying-pan" (hat), "your Sunday trousers"
(parcel), "your tobacco pouch" (golosh), "portmanteau" (band-box).

SPALDING exits and returns says "Pardon me, my periodicals." CATTERMOLE
hands "Sunday at Home" showing title saying "There's your War Cry."
SPALDING goes, returns, says "My bottle of milk" and runs off,

CATTERMOLE says "Third," throws it. (It must be caught off. SPALDING
returns, says, "Pardon me, my orange." CATTERMOLE says "Play," and
bowls it. SPALDING muffs it and CATTERMOLE kicks him off saying
"Butter-fingers!") And now I must get him away! but how I don't know.

(Enter Miss ASHFORD. R. u. E.)

Miss ASHFORD. Excuse me, Mr. Cattleshow!

CATTERMOLE. Cattermole! (spells)

Miss ASHFORD. Excuse me, Mr. Cattermole, but have you seen a stranger?

CATTERMOLE. No, I have not.

Miss ASHFORD. I thought I saw some one pass in here.

CATTERMOLE. (angrily) Well, I've not seen him. Don't you believe me?

Miss ASHFORD, Good gracious! Leave me my nose! (goes up; exit R. u. E.)

CATTERMOLE. I don't want your nose. That old fool of a woman's after
him now.

(Enter DOUGLAS, L. i E., with GIBSON'S coat; he is going up stage)

CATTERMOLE. Hullo! Where are you going with that coat? (c.)

DOUGLAS. Oh, I've an uncle who's a pawnbroker.

CATTERMOLE. Another uncle! Brother, I suppose, to the damned good cook.
You seem a sensible young fellow so put that coat down and come and
talk to me. (DOUGLAS puts coat on chest) The fact is, I am in a devil
of a fix and I want you to help me out of it.

DOUGLAS. If I can, I will. (down L. c.)

CATTERMOLE. Oh you can, because you know this house better than I do.
The fact is, I have a nephew.

DOUGLAS. Indeed.

CATTERMOLE. Yes; and he's a blithering idiot.

DOUGLAS. Oh, really.

CATTERMOLE. He's here!

DOUGLAS, (aside) By Jove, he's found me out. I thought he would. (go L.)

CATTERMOLE. I want you to get rid of him. (turns up)

DOUGLAS. I think I can do that.

(goes L. c. back of settee)

CATTERMOLE. (pointing to R. i E.) I've got him in there!

DOUGLAS, (surprised, imitating CATTERMOLE, pointing) In there?

CATTERMOLE. Yes, with all his goods and chattels. Now you must get him
away. (goes tip)

DOUGLAS. But where is he to go?

CATTERMOLE. I don't care, get him away. Take him to London America
Kamschatka Potter's Bar Camberwell anywhere.

DOUGLAS. But

CATTERMOLE. Take him to the races and lose him, (Exit R. u. E. Begin
gently lowering lights)

DOUGLAS, (coming down to R. i E.) I wonder who on earth I shall find
here? (opens door, looks in, starts, quickly shuts door, and whistles
in astonishment) Yes, by Jove, you must be got rid of 1 (calling off)
Mr Spalding!

SPALDING. Yes.

DOUGLAS. You can come out!

(goes up and carefully looks off c. and L. u. E.)

SPALDING. (going up to him) Oh! how fortunate to find you here! Has
that dreadful man gone?

DOUGLAS, (running SPALDING down to c., looking round cautiously) Yes,
he has gone, but tell me--

SPALDING. Tell you what?

DOUGLAS. How is it you've come here?

SPALDING. Mr. Marsland telegraphed for me to come immediately.

DOUGLAS. Oh, I see, And we had just left?

SPALDING. Yes.

DOUGLAS. But then, how is it that Mr. Cattermole takes you for his
nephew?

SPALDING. I haven't an idea! I think the poor old gentleman's a lunatic
and he's got my bath bun.

DOUGLAS. Never mind your bath bun, but listen to me.

SPALDING. But I do mind it. I'm so fearfully hungry. D'you know I've
had nothing to eat all day and I've such a pain here

DOUGLAS, (shaking him) Will you listen to me?

SPALDING. (resignedly) Yes. I'm listening.

DOUGLAS. I'm going to take you away, and put you where you where you
won't be seen.

SPALDING. Oh, fancy. Very odd! When I was sent for.

DOUGLAS. Yes, I daresay it appears odd, but I haven't time to explain
now. So bring your things and come along. (looks off, L. u. E.)

SPALDING. (drops orange) Oh, I've dropped my orange, (going uf) I'm
sure I've lost half of my goods and chattels.

DOUGLAS, (returning excitedly and running SPALDING down) Confound it
all I too late!

SPALDING. Too late I What's too late? I say, don't frighten me.

DOUGLAS. You can't go out there.

SPALDING. But where am I to go?

DOUGLAS. Oh, I know I I must put you up in the library. (pushing him
towards L. I E. )

SPALDING. Oh, that'll just suit me.

DOUGLAS. Though there is already some one there.

SPALDING. (alarmed) Not that dreadful man?

DOUGLAS. No, though this fellow's a little mad too; but I've no doubt
you'll be all right. (tries to force him through door)

SPALDING. You'll pardon me, but I 'm getting a little jammed. (DOUGLAS
pushes him off, shuts door, and goes up. SPALDING returns; looks
carefully about floor.)

DOUGLAS, (coming down) What is it now? What is it now?

SPALDING. I've lost one of my buttons. (DOUGLAS rushes him off. Putting
his head out) I say, you won't forget, it was a most important button!

DOUGLAS. No! no!

(throws settee cushion. Hurriedly closes door)

(Enter Miss ASHFORD, R. u. E.)

Miss ASHFORD. (coming down, c.) Then I did see right. And he is here.

DOUGLAS, (at door) Who?

Miss ASHFORD. The stranger I saw enter a little while ago. Who is it?

DOUGLAS, (aside) What on earth am I to say?

Miss ASHFORD. Who is it?

DOUGLAS. Miss Ashford you promised to be a motherly friend to me. (goes
c. to her)

Miss ASHFORD. I did.

DOUGLAS. I claim the fulfilment of that promise now.

Miss ASHFORD. I'm quite ready.

DOUGLAS, (looking cautiously around) There is a secret connected with
this stranger! He must be hidden for several days.

Miss ASHFORD. (delighted) Mr. Spalding! you have gratified the dearest
wish of my heart! It is here!

DOUGLAS. What?

Miss ASHFORD. The medium.

DOUGLAS, (aside) By Jove, what a good idea.

Miss ASHFORD. Yes; I see it in your face! I asked you to telegraph, and
it is here! Now, don't deny it.

DOUGLAS. Well, of course, if you will guess everything, it's no use
denying it.

Miss ASHFORD. Oh, this is so good of you; so like your dear mother But
now let me see him! (advancing towards L. I E.)

DOUGLAS, (stopping her) No, no.

Miss ASHFORD. Why?

DOUGLAS. On no account! He's very much exhausted, and must have perfect
rest and quiet for tonight.

Miss ASHFORD. These celestial beings are so highly organized. (points
to sky. DOUGLAS imitates)

DOUGLAS, (pointing to door) This chap's fearfully highly organized.

Miss ASHFORD. But what shall we do with him? Where shall we put him?

DOUGLAS. I know. We must get him away to the gardener's.

Miss ASHFORD. The very place I Meet me here shortly before dinner. We
dine, you know, at eight; it will then be quite dark, and we can get
him away unperceived.

(goes up, gradually lower lights to semi-darkness)

DOUGLAS, (follows her) Very well. I shall expect you.

Miss ASHFORD. I'll go and tell Edith and Eva at once. How can I ever
thank you for this great obligation? (Exit, R. u. E.)

DOUGLAS. Oh, don't mention it.

(Enter HARRY, L. u. E.)

HARRY, (crossing to fireplace) Well, old fellow, how have you been
getting on?

DOUGLAS. I'm half dead! (sits arm-chair R.)

HARRY. Anything the matter?

DOUGLAS. Everything's the matter! That fool Gibson got drunk at
breakfast. Fortunately, I collared him just as the tailor was coming
out; so I've put him away in there! (pointing to L. i E.)

HARRY. Then he's all right?

DOUGLAS. But that's not the worst of it! Mr Spalding, the real private
secretary, has turned up.

HARRY. No?

DOUGLAS. He's also in there! (points)

HARRY. By Jove, you seem to have quite a collection in there. (points)

SPALDING. (without) No, I really cannot permit it.

(off i.. i E.)

GIBSON, (without) What are you talking about, you silly fool? Why don't
you talk sense? (off L. i E.)

DOUGLAS, (running to door) They're actually talking! I should like to
have seen the mutual introduction. (half opens door)

HARRY. So should I!

SPALDING. (without) D'you know--

GIBSON, (without) No, I don't know. I can't make head nor tail of what
you're saying.

(DOUGLAS shuts door hastily)

(Enter EDITH and EVA, cautiously, R. i E.; stage dark. From this point
to the entrance of GIBSON, the characters all speak in half whispers,
except SPALDING, keeping up the ghostly mysterious line)

EDITH, (crosses stealthily) Mr. Spalding! Are you alone?

EVA. (crossing stealthily) Where's the medium?

DOUGLAS. You surely don't really believe--

(HARRY rattles fire-irons, and runs down; girls scream; EDITH falls
into DOUGLAS'S arms, EVA into HARRY'S)

(positions: R. HARRY, EVA. and EDITH, DOUGLAS. R. all down stage.)

EDITH. Miss Ashford has told us everything. The gardener's got a room
ready, and now we want to see the medium.

EVA. Yes, please; we want to see the medium.

DOUGLAS. But I've already told you that such beings are highly nervous.

HARRY. Yes, please let him have perfect rest and quiet for to-night.

EDITH. What is he like?

EVA. Very creepy, I'm sure.

HARRY. Well, yes, rather.

EDITH. Is he young or old?

DOUGLAS. Well, he's young.

EVA. Young and creepy! How thrilling!

EDITH. Thrilling? I begin to feel quite frightened!

(Enter SPALDING, L. i E.)

EVA. (frightened) But wait until real spirits appear.

SPALDING. (to DOUGLAS) Do you know--(crosses to C.)

(Girls scream and run up stage, hide behind curtains. DOUGLAS and
HARRY seize SPALDING. SPALDING carried by one hand of each under
knee, the other under arm, and throw him off L. I E., struggling and
remonstrating. Pause.)

(Picture the boys looking at each other in dismay?)

DOUGLAS, (crossing to R., to HARRY) We must get him away to the
gardener's.

HARRY. Yes, but we must first get the key. (c.)

DOUGLAS, (going) Come along then, (at door R. i E.)

EDITH, (running down to DOUGLAS) Don't go without us!

EVA. (running down to HARRY) No, I won't be left here alone.

DOUGLAS. We'll all go together.

HARRY. Yes, we'll all go together!

(Exeunt, R. i E. Noise without R. i E. GIBSON shouting "Don't talk to
me." Broken up band-box thrown on after SPALDING who has remains of
lid round his neck. Enter SPALDING greatly alarmed; he closes door and
holds It; then runs c.)

SPALDING. And this is my birthday. Oh, that dreadful man! Why he's
worse than the other! He will insist upon measuring me for a strait
waistcoat! I little thought that I was coming to be secretary to a
private lunatic asylum. I'm not safe!

GIBSON, (without) Yoicks! Yoicks! Here, where have you got to go? I'm
in the dark! Fetch a candle!

(SPALDING runs to fireplace)

SPALDING. (taking up shovel) Now, I don't wish to be unkind; but if he
attacks me again, I shall give him a good hard knock. (GIBSON mutters
outside) He seems a little quiet now. Oh, dear! oh, dear! I'm so
fearfully tired, and weary, and sleepy, I'll endeavor to take a little
repose, (seats himself in arm-chair) This is very comfortable! I shall
remain here till somebody finds me!

(Puts handkerchief over head; shovel resting over right arm; moans; and
falls asleep)

(Enter DOUGLAS, R. i E.; looks cautiously around then beckons off to
HARRY.)

DOUGLAS. Come along, Harry!

(Enter EDITH, cautiously; she goes to DOUGLAS, followed by EVA, with
HARRY.)

EDITH, (whispering) Is the coast clear?

DOUGLAS, (whispering) Yes. Come along. S-s-sh!

(They go up stage. They go up in line on tiptoe holding hands turn
simultaneously. SPALDING moans. All start and turn. Girls cling to
DOUGLAS aud HARRY.)

EVA. (seeing SPALDING) There! there! it's the medium, and it's fast
asleep!

(HARRY advance R, touches SPALDING, and pretends to be electrified. All
start.)

HARRY, (going back to EVA) All right. I'm here!

EVA. Did it bite?

EDITH. I hope nothing will appear now.

(Enter Miss ASHFORD, R. i E, enveloped in white cloak with hood. All
start)

Miss ASHFORD. Mr. Spalding! Mr. Spalding! (stumbles against settee)

DOUGLAS. It's all right it's only Miss Ashford!

EVA. (to Miss ASHFORD) Just fancy. The medium's fast asleep.

Miss ASHFORD. Is he? Where? Where?

ALL. (pointing) There!

(mysteriously, simultaneous gesture)

Miss ASHFORD. So he is!

DOUGLAS. Shall I wake him?

Miss ASHFORD. On no account! It may be a magnetic slumber! See, he
embraces a large magnet! The medium may be in ecstasy! (SPALDING
snorts) He is in ecstasy! Who knows what sublime visions are passing
through his mind? (snore) It is thus described in the book! First the
spirits make themselves heard by knocking! (GIBSON knocks off) The
knocking is heard! Now, soon the apparitions will glide from the medium.

(Enter GIBSON, enveloped in curtain)

GIBSON, (feeling his way) What infernal nonsense to take away my coat.

Miss ASHFORD, (waving her hand) He comes! he comes!

Knocks against GIBSON; screams and falls fainting on settee; when Miss
ASHFORD screams, girls do the same; EDITH falls on chair by piano; EVA
on chair by fire; SPALDING wakes, rises and strikes GIBSON with shovel.
DOUGLAS and HARRY, seeing the state of affairs, arrange in hurried talk
what to do; DOUGLAS seizes GIBSON and throws him off, L. i E.; HARRY
throws SPALDING off, R. i E.; close doors and stand with backs to them
as MARSLAND and CATTERMOLE enter, L. i E., preceded by JOHN with lamp;
lights up. Tableau)

QUICK CURTAIN.


Second Picture.

(SPALDING R. i E. and GIBSON L. i E. threatening each other. CATTERMOLE
fanning Miss ASHFORD over settee. MARSLAND supporting EDITH up c. with
DOUGLAS fanning her. HARRY on knees fanning EVA at fire place. JOHN off)

CURTAIN



ACT III.

SCENE. Same as Act II. Curtains drawn. Lamp alight on sideboard. Large
table with cover in place of small one in Act II., R. Position of
chairs at fire-place reversed. HARRY discovered seated arm-chair by
fire place; reading newspaper)

HARRY. I wish Douglas would look sharp! He must have been gone nearly
twenty minutes, (rising and looking off; R. i E.) Spalding is still in
there waiting to be taken to a place of safety. (Enter DOUGLAS, L. i
E.) Ah, thank goodness, old fellow, you've come at last! How's Gibson?

DOUGLAS. He's nearly all right now! But how about Spalding?

HARRY. We really must get this fellow out of the house. We've had a
very narrow escape! My uncle was, of course, quite convinced that we'd
been holding a stance.

DOUGLAS, (looks off door L. i E.) But does he know the part that Gibson
and Spalding played in it?

HARRY. No, he hasn't an idea; but we really must get him out of the
house, (calling off, R.I E.) Mr. Spalding!

SPALDING. (without) Yes.

HARRY. Will you be good enough to step in here? (Enter SPALDING, R. i
E.) Now, Mr. Spalding, we've got you a room ready, where you will be
able to study to your heart's content. But it's not at all necessary
that you should appear to-night, you understand?

SPALDING. Perfectly! All I ask for is a little repose and something to
eat D'you know, I've had nothing to eat all day, and I have such a pain
here. (drawing his hands across his chest)

DOUGLAS. I'll ask Miss Ashford to take him some food. (moves up a
little)

SPALDING. (crossing to DOUGLAS) Miss Ashford, did you say? She was
my mother's most intimate friend. I shall be charmed to make her
acquaintance.

HARRY. Well, so you shall, but ccme along now. (they are pushing him up
to c.)

SPALDING. (stopping) You'll pardon me, but all my goods and chattels
are in that room yonder. (pointing to L. I E.)

DOUGLAS. I'll fetch them for you. (Exit, L. I. E.)

SPALDING. Thanks.

HARRY. Now, Mr. Spalding, you must distinctly understand that you are
to remain perfectly quiet,

SPALDING. Oh, yes, from my infancy I've always been accustomed to be
seen and not heard.

HARRY. And now you're to be neither seen nor heard. (c.)

SPALDING. Very odd! I really don't understand it. (c.)

HARRY. I daresay it appears odd, but remember this--if you're
discovered you're lost.

SPALDING. Oh, fancy! (re-enter DOUGLAS with goods and chattels which
he throws to SPALDING) Thanks! Thanks! I'm sorry to give you so much
trouble.

(DOUGLAS pushes him up to c. opening)

HARRY, (looking off excitedly) No, no, he can't go out there! Edith's
coming up the passage.

DOUGLAS, (excitedly) My dear boy, he must!

HARRY. He can't! Quick! quick! (Theypush him backwards and forwards
between them. SPALDING says, "Gentlemen, do you take me for a
concertina?"

(Pushes SPALDING into arm-chair and sits over him with newspaper.
DOUGLAS stands in front of them. Enter EDITH, c.)

EDITH. Ah, I wanted you! You promised to give me a music lesson, Mr.
Spalding. (crosses to piano L.)

SPALDING. Oh, I shall be charmed!

DOUGLAS. Charmed! charmed!

(HARRY puts his hand over SPALDING'S mouth, then tips up chair )
throwing him on floor. He then pushes him under table and sits on it.
SPALDING trips him up. He throws goods and chattels under and sits on
end of table)

EDITH. (L. c. DOUGLAS c. To DOUGLAS) Why, how odd your voice sounded!
Quite far off!

DOUGLAS. Did it? Oh yes! it's a peculiarity of our family. Got an uncle
who's a ventriloquist.

EDITH. Really!

DOUGLAS. Yes; such peculiarities often occur in families. You, for
instance, I've noticed have a far away expression in your eyes.

EDITH. Have I?

DOUGLAS. Yes, and I've got it in my voice.

(EDITH goes to piano)

(comes down to table. Looks inquiringly at HARRY who points under table)

(Enter EVA, R. U. E.)

EVA. (crossing to EDITH) I'm dying to hear you play, Mr. Spalding.

SPALDING. (putting his head out at end of table) Oh, I shall be charmed!

(HARRY and DOUGLAS beat him back girls look; HARRIS pretends to be
dusting his boots with newspaper)

EDITH. He's going to give me a music lesson.

DOUGLAS, (to HARRY) What on earth am I to do? I don't know a note of
music.

HARRY. Oh, you'll be all right! You've only to beat time and count one,
two, three, four, you know.

(goes R. of table)

EVA. Won't you give us a little music?

(DOUGLAS goes c.)

EDITH. Yes, do give us a little music.

HARRY. Yes, do give us a little music, Mr. Spalding. (amused)

(DOUGLAS shakes fist at HARRY aside then runs down to beat SPALDING
back)

SPALDING. (putting out head) I shall be delighted.

(They beat him back. SPALDING puts head out above top end of table and
says "D'you know?" They beat him back. Girls looking over music at
piano. HARRY takes umbrella and sits prepared for hitting his head if
it comes out again, but SPALDING puts his feet out; HARRY puts down
umbrella in disgust. Then tells DOUGLAS what to say to girls)

HARRY, (aside) Say you've sprained your wrist.

DOUGLAS (going up to EDITH) I'm awfully sorry. I should so much have
liked to have played you something, but I've sprained my ankle (catches
HARRY'S eye) wrist!

EDITH. I'm so sorry!

EVA. What a pity! (comes down to settee, sits)

DOUGLAS, (to EDITH) But won't you play?

HARRY. Yes, please do.

EDITH, (taking up a piece of music) Here's something I think I know.
Let's see, it's common time, isn't it?

(DOUGLAS looks at HARRY, he looks at music and nods assent. HARRY R. of
table. DOUGLAS c.)

DOUGLAS. Y-yes-very!

EVA & EDITH (together) What?

DOUGLAS. Won't you go on? (EDITH plays. EVA on sofa. HARRY beats time
with news paper rolled up, DOUGLAS imitates clumsily. At four he looks
at HARRY who nods then tries to stop DOUGLAS by waving paper. DOUGLAS
not understanding goes faster as HARRY waves faster. At twenty HARRY
bangs paper on table in despair. DOUGLAS goes down to table counting,
guided by HARRY) One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine,
ten, eleven (to twenty, stopping, to HARRY) I can't count any faster.
(EDITH stops playing)

HARRY, (after trying to make DOUGLAS understand by moving his fingers;
aside to him) Four, four, four.

DOUGLAS. What for?

EDITH. What a very odd way of counting!

EVA. Yes, very.

DOUGLAS, (looking at HARRY) Is it? How do you count?

EDITH. I count one, two, three, four over and over again.

EVA. Of course.

DOUGLAS, (after a pause, suddenly) Oh yes, of course! That's the
old-fashioned way mine's the new way. Sometimes I count one way,
sometimes the other; and sometimes I don't count at all! I say, Harry,
you've heard me not count at all. (SPALDING unseen by HARRY puts feet
out. DOUGLAS points to the feet then goes up to EDITH at piano) Won't
you go on?

(EDITH resumes playing. HARRY crosses to get to EVA, stumbles over
SPALDING'S feet; he goes back, kicks SPALDING'S feet and then sits by
her)

HARRY (taking EVA'S hand) Ah, Eva, you would play much better. Your
hands seem made for the piano.

EVA. You are trifling with me.

HARRY. No, don't think that! But let's go out; we can't talk here.

EVA. No, no. I must stay here, or Edith will be cross.

HARRY. No; but listen to me Eva.

(tries to kiss her)

EVA. No, no; be quiet I

(EDITH stops playing. HARRY and EVA sit apart)

EDITH. I can't play while they're talking.

DOUGLAS. No; let's stop a littje, till we're undisturbed.

EDITH. You're not a very strict master.

DOUGLAS. I must have some consideration for these delicate little
fingers (takes hand)

EDITH. Now, if my cousin Harry were to say that.

DOUGLAS. And may I not also have a heart?

EDITH. I think I had better go on playing.

(continues playing)

HARRY, (to EVA) Now she's at it again it's all up With talking.

EVA. Well, is it absolutely necessary for us to talk?

HARRY. Yes, Eva darling for I want to tell you that to me you are the
dearest little girl upon earth. (kisses her. EDITH strikes chord stops
playing; they sit reading again, hidden behind paper)

DOUGLAS. Now, you know, I really can't give a music lesson like this!
(when DOUGLAS speaks HARRY and EVA start apart, coming down and leaning
over settee) That last passage ought to have been done mezzo-soprano.

HARRY, (showing him newspaper) I say, old fellow, here's something in
your line! "Wanted, an able-bodied young man to beat the big drum in a
travelling circus." (DOUGLAS returns to EDITH with mock dignity) Oh, I
see what it is. We're in the way, we'd better go. (rises and goes up)

EVA. (rising and following HARRY) Yes, we're in the way, we'd better go!

EDITH. No, stay here, Eva.

EVA. No, we're in the way, we'd better go!

HARRY. (calls "DOUGLAS" twice, he is bending over EDITH. DOUGLAS goes
to him at c. opening. To DOUGLAS) "None but a thorough musician need
apply." (Gives DOUGLAS paper and exit c. with EVA; DOUGLAS throws paper
after him)

EDITH, (sitting at piano) And now I can go on playing. (Plays)

DOUGLAS. Oh, stop playing and listen to me.

EDITH, (stopping) But the music lesson?

DOUGLAS. Every word you utter is music to me. If I could only find a
responsive echo in your heart to what I am going to say.

EDITH, (coming down and sitting on settee) I don't understand you.

DOUGLAS, (coming down) Miss Marsland. Edith, I've only known you for a
very very little time, but will you believe me when I tell you that I
love you with all my heart? (over settee)

EDITH. You have no right to speak to me like this.

DOUGLAS. I know I haven't, but tell me, do you hate the sight of me?

EDITH. No, I don't hate the sight of you.

DOUGLAS. Do you altogether dislike me?

EDITH. No, I don't altogether dislike you.

DOUGLAS. Do you like me a little?

(holds out hand. She gives hers)

EDITH. Yes, a little (he kisses her hand) a very little.

DOUGLAS. I thought you liked me a little more than a very little; but I
see I was mistaken. Will you forgive me?

EDITH, (rising and giving her hands) Yes, I forgive you. And now,
please leave me.

DOUGLAS. Forever?

EDITH. No, not so long as that.

DOUGLAS, (kisses her) And now to see Mr. Marsland, and make a clean
breast of it. (Exit, L. i E.)

EDITH. What have I done? I ought not to have listened to him, and yet
what he said came from the heart. I'm sure he was in earnest! But papa?
What will he say? Never mind, I shall tell him nothing, but act for
myself. (Goes up. SPALDING moans; she starts and looks about, first at
L. u. E., then off c., then comes down L. of table)

SPALDING. Oh! (crawls out R. from under table) Why, I must have gone to
sleep in my goloshes, (takes off one golosh keeps it in his hand) Just
fancy my being secretary to a private lunatic asylum, (seeing EDITH)
D'you know (over R. of table pointing with golosh)

(EDITH screams and runs round to R. u. E., SPALDING following her.
Enter CATTERMOLE, R. u. E. Picture. CATTERMOLE comes between them c.
and seizes SPALDING who has shawl in his hand and now drops it c.)

CATTERMOLE. (to EDITH) Don't make a noise, Miss Marsland; you'll alarm
the whole house.

EDITH, (crying) Take him away! the horrid little thing.

CATTERMOLE. (to SPALDING) There, you hear! the lady says you're a
horrid little thing! (SPALDING says, "No she means you!") Now then,
what are you doing here? (to EDITH, who is still crying) Don't make
such a noise! You're making more noise than he is.

EDITH. Take it away. Take it away. (goes down R.)

CATTERMOLE. My dear, 'it' shall be removed, (to SPALDING) Now, sir,
what are you doing here?

SPALDING. Do you know (points with golosh)

CATTERMOLE. No, I don't know

(knocks it out of his hand)

SPALDING. Mr. Marsland (to EDITH) what have you been saying to this
youth?

EDITH. I haven't said anything.

SPALDING. No, no. Mr. Marsland telegraphed for me to come immediately.

CATTERMOLE. Yes, I know that. You told me that hours ago. Oh, I know
what's the matter with you; you've been drinking! (SPALDING says "No!"
CAT TERMOLE says) "Yes you have, you've been with that tailor (taking
him by the coat) Here, I must put you away again, (takes him up; drags
him to chest ) Here, you must go in here! (opens chest. SPALDING breaks
away and comes down L., EDITH alarmed; CATTERMOLE comes c.) Don't be
alarmed, Miss Marsland, I'll capture him! (takes him up and puts him
into chest, SPALDING is in left corner. CATTERMOLE makes mock hypnotic
passes at him beckoning him up, he obeys meekly as if fascinated and
gets into chest. When he reappears from chest EDITH says "Look at
him.") Lie down, and don't make the slightest noise. (slams lid)

SPALDING. Would you restore to me all my goods and chattels?

CATTERMOLE. Your goods and chattels, (gives him wrap) Here's your wrap
if you're not careful you'll get a lot more raps.

SPALDING. How long am I to remain here?

CATTERMOLE. (banging down lid) Lie down! (sits on chest)

(Enter Miss ASHFORD, R. u.; E., after SPALDING knocks in chest)

Miss ASHFORD. What has happened? Is anything the matter? What's that
noise?

CATTERMOLE. That's a Punch and Judy outside.

Miss ASHFORD. Punch and Judy didn't scream.

CATTERMOLE. No, that was Miss Marsland screamed. She's upset her liver,
I think. She fancied she saw something somehow somewhat.

Miss ASHFORD. Poor child! I fear the Spiritualism has disagreed with
her. Come with me, my dear, and I'll give you something to tranquillize
your nerves.

(EDITH goes to her)

CATTERMOLE. Yes, that's right. Give her some tranquillizing stuff.

Miss ASHFORD. You want some tranquillizing stuff you wicked old man.

CATTERMOLE. Good evening! Good evening!

Miss ASHFORD. For shame, Mr. Caterpillar!

(Exeunt Miss ASHFORD and EDITH, R. u. E.)

CATTERMOLE. (opening chest) Nice trouble you're getting me into! Come
up, Jack in-the-Box!

SPALDING. Pardon me. I have a complaint to lodge. (appears suddenly)

CATTERMOLE. Where is it?

SPALDING. In the chest.

CATTERMOLE. That's your liver!

SPALDING. No; the ventilation of this chest is most Inefficient.

CATTERMOLE. Can't help that. I'm not a Sanitary Inspector.

SPALDING. I'm so fearfully hungry! I've had nothing to eat all day, and
have such a pain here.

CATTERMOLE. You're a perfect cormorant, you are. (giving him golosh)
Here's your golosh, eat that! And now lie down! And remember if you are
discovered you are lost!

SPALDING. Pardon me, if I am discovered I am found.

CATTERMOLE. Lost!

SPALDING. Found!

CATTERMOLE. Lost! (bangs lid down )

SPALDING. (opening lid) Found!!

CATTERMOLE. Lost!!! (bangs lid down)

SPALDING. (popping up) D'you know, I've taken quite a dislike to you.

CATTERMOLE. (banging down lid) And now to find the secretary to get him
away. (Exit, L. u. E.)

(Enter Miss ASHFORD, R. u. E.)

Miss ASHFORD. Edith has told me the cause of her fright. Poor child,
to be left alone with a medium! Oh, that I had been in her place! What
chances some people have only to throw them away. But stay! He may
still be hovering about! Perhaps the magnetic influence which Dr. Bogus
tells me I possess may serve to call him back. I'll try! I'll try!
(waves arms in the air, looking upwards. SPALDING thumps in chest. Miss
ASHFORD walks down to R. corner) He hears! He raps and I am rapt!

SPALDING. (opening chest, and rising) It is impossible for me to remain
here any longer, (sees Miss ASHFORD) This is evidently one of the
female patients. The poor soul imagines she is swimming! I'll speak to
her. (to her) Dear lady!

Miss ASHFORD. (seeing him) Ah! 'tis he! 'tis he! and my fondest hope is
realized.

SPALDING. I beg your pardon.

Miss ASHFORD. Nay, never beg my pardon! What an honor! What an honor!

SPALDING. (aside) The poor soul's very mad! I'll hold converse with
her. (getting out of chest)

Miss ASHFORD. He comes! He comes by instalments!

SPALDING. (coming down to her t R.) Dear lady I implore you--

Miss ASHFORD. Nay, never implore me! Rather let me implore you. Let us
hold converse together. Let us journey together. Let us fly together.

SPALDING. Where?

Miss ASHFORD. Into the realms of the spirit world!

SPALDING. But may I not first tell you my story?

Miss ASHFORD. Would that I had time to hear it (leading him to settee)
for it must be an interesting one, but time presses; might we not
employ the moments better? (sits on settee)

SPALDING. This is most embarrassing! She is evidently an amorous
lunatic! I hope she won't make love to me (turns L. to go up, she putts
him down by his coat-tail he sits L. of her)

Miss ASHFORD. Ah, do not leave me! The risk we run of being discovered
is enormous, the danger great, yet would I dare all for is not the
opportunity priceless?

SPALDING. Quite so quite so. But why should we mind being discovered,
dear lady?

Miss ASHFORD. Brave creature! You care nought for bodily ills. But know
this if you are discovered you are lost!

SPALDING. (aside) That is evidently a password of some kind.

Miss ASHFORD. But why waste the time in idle talk? Teach me, oh teach
me! You'll find me an attentive pupil. See, here I will sit at your
feet. Let me learn something of the secrets of your mystic calling.

SPALDING. (rising) She's evidently a lunatic of the most advanced type.
Would I had remained in the chest. (goes up to chest)

Miss ASHFORD. (going, R.) He doesn't answer. His mind is absent! Time
presses and I must recall him to the present. (SPALDING has got quickly
into chest and closed lid. Miss ASHFORD turns, gives a little scream
and says "Gone!" He reappears slowly raising lid with head then gets
out and stands meekly in front of chest. Aloud) Ah, do not leave me,
I pray you, gentle spirit, do not vanish. Who would dream what power,
what intellect, what massive strength lies hidden behind that gentle
exterior.

SPALDING. Quite so, quite so.

Miss ASHFORD. But for the secrets of your mystic calling if you knew
how I hunger!

SPALDING. (who has come down) Dear lady, so do I.

Miss ASHFORD. But you can always attain your wishes.

SPALDING. I wish I could.

Miss ASHFORD. Then you do acknowledge a superior in your calling?

SPALDING. Be seated, dear lady! once more. (leads her to settee. they
sit)

Miss ASHFORD. Ah.

SPALDING. Quite so. Dear lady, I'm going to ask you a favor.

Miss ASHFORD. Ask me a favor?

SPALDING. Yes. Will you grant it?

Miss ASHFORD. Whatever lies in my poor power.

SPALDING. Can you get me a ham sandwich?

Miss ASHFORD. A ham sandwich?

SPALDING. Yes, or a bath bun.

Miss ASHFORD. A bath bun?

SPALDING. D'you know I've had nothing to eat all day, and I have such a
pain here.

Miss ASHFORD. Poor martyr! Yes, this poor shell must be supplied; it
won't take much, (rising) But you must remain concealed till I can take
you to a place of safety. (taking him up)

SPALDING. You're not going to hide me, are you?

Miss ASHFORD. Only for a few moments.

SPALDING. D'you know, I've been hiding all the mnorning. I never had
such a hiding before!

Miss ASHFORD. (taking him to chest) Here!

SPALDING. Pardon me, not in the chest. Think of the Mistletoe. Bough.

Miss ASHFORD. (drawing curtains) Behind these curtains, you may remain
concealed.

SPALDING. But the draught.

Miss ASHFORD. I will bring you one immediately.

SPALDING. D'you know, I've had nothing to quench my thirst all day but
an acidulated drop.

Miss ASHFORD. Poor martyr! but remain there, and I will return
immediately with viands of the choicest.

SPALDING. I should prefer the ham sandwich.

Miss ASHFORD. You shall have it, but remember this if you're
discovered, you're lost. (Exit R. u. E.)

SPALDING. It is a password. (draws curtain)

(Enter CATTERMOLE, L. u. E.; goes to chest. Enter HARRY, R. u. E.,
looks under table)

CATTERMOLE. Now, to get this miserable worm (Opens chest astonished )
Why, the worm's gone!

(slams down lid. At once HARRY turns; jumps sitting on table.
CATTERMOLE sits simultaneously on chest)

HARRY, (alarmed looks round) Ah, how do you do?

CATTERMOLE. (imitating) How do you do?

HARRY. I'm looking for something I've mislaid.

CATTERMOLE. I've mislaid something I'm looking for. (peeps into vase on
piano)

(Enter GIBSON, L. I E.)

GIBSON, (looking off) Here, none of your cheek!

CATTERMOLE. Oh, here's that tailor fellow. I cant Stand him. (Exit, L.
u. E )

JOHN, (without) Ah, yes, you're all right now, sir.

GIBSON, (to HARRY) I say, that flunkey's deuced impertinent.

HARRY. Never mind the flunkey, Mr. Gibson, but listen to me. In
consequence of your behavior this morning, my uncle has ordered your
things to be taken to the station.

GIBSON. Oh, don't say that! I'll apologize. A gentleman can apologize.

HARRY. Yes, but not in your case. I'm sure you can blame no one for
this but yourself,

GIBSON. You don't mean to say that I'm to go?

HARRY. I do! Exactly! (Exit, R. i E.)

GIBSON. Confound it, this is a nuisance! Just as I was getting on so
well, too. Well I suppose it's only the gentlemanly thing to do; so
I'll be off. I shall be able to call again and apologize, and perhaps
get on visiting terms, (going up; SPALDING puts his feet behind
curtains; he sees them) Why, that's a couple of feet! (retreating)
There's a man concealed behind that curtain. Perhaps it's a burglar! If
it is, here's my chance of distinguishing myself. I'll get into their
good graces, (taking up shovel and tongs) I'll attack him! I'll show
them I can be a man if they don't think I'm a gentleman, (advancing,
frightened, to curtains. SPALDING rests one foot on top of the other)
No, by the look of the feet he must be a brawny ruffian! On second
thoughts I'll ring for assistance, (rings bell) that's the safest
plan. I shall be the means of punishing the scoundrel and earning Mr.
Marsland's eternal gratitude, (enter JOHN, L. i E. banging him with
shovel) Here, there's a man concealed behind those curtains! (JOHN
makes for door, L. i E.; GIBSON pulls him back with tongs) Don't run
away. Run for assistance, and bring a stout cord to bind him with. You
understand?

JOHN. Yes, sir. (Exit, L. i E.)

GIBSON. I shall be able to curry favor with Mr, Marsland, expose that
infernal young Cattermole without hurting myself, and stand upon my
dignity as a gentleman if they'll only give me a chance!

(Re-enter JOHN with cord)

GIBSON. Don't be frightened! (GIBSON R. and JOHN L. points to curtains
encouraging each other to go first. They go up on tiptoe together.
SPALDING drops one foot off the other. They start back. Repeat bus. and
advance and draw curtains right back simultaneously) Seize him, bind
him and I-I-I'll find Mr. Marsland. (Exit hurriedly, R. u. E.)

(disclosing SPALDING sitting, reading "Sunday at Home" he looks up
quietly)

JOHN. Now, then, what are you doing here?

SPALDING. I'm reading the Sunday at Home.

JOHN. Come along!

(seizes him, pushes him roughly into chair, c., and binds him to it)

SPALDING. (aside) This is evidently one of the yarders. Now for the
password! (aloud) If you are discovered you are lost.

JOHN. Yes, and sent to the lock-up.

SPALDING. Would you kindly explain to me the meaning of this treatment?

JOHN. You'd better be very careful what you say. It will all be taken
down as evidence against you. (retires to back)

(Enter CATTERMOLE and MARSLAND, L. u. E.)

CATTERMOLE. The worm! (goes down L.)

MARSLAND. What's all this about?

SPALDING. That's just what I've been asking this gentleman.

MARSLAND. But what are you doing here?

SPALDING. Well, by this time I really don't know.

JOHN. Oh, sir, he's a desperate character! We found him hiding behind
the curtains.

MARSLAND. Well, have you tied him up?

JOHN. Yes, sir.

MARSLAND. Then you may go! (exit JOHN, c.)

(Enter Miss ASH FORD, with basket, R. i E.)

Miss ASHFORD. (at table) What! Is it possible? Oh, joy! What a triumph!
Is he going to do it? Is he going to show you how it's done; Now, Mr.
Marsland, you will believe me, won't you? He can't have any accomplices
here!

MARSLAND. (crossing to her) But what have you got there?

Miss ASHFORD. Something for him. Poor fellow, he's had nothing to eat
all day.

MARSLAND. For him! (points to CATTERMOLE who growls dissent) For whom?

Miss ASHFORD. The medium.

MARSLAND. A medium in my, house! Where is he?

Miss ASHFORD. There, before your eyes.

(CATTERMOLE looks pityingly at Miss ASHFORD, pointing to head and
shaking head)

CATTERMOLE. That thing a medium! Well, he doesn't look a very happy
medium! But there, I disown him, I cast him off! I'll have nothing more
to do with him.

SPALDING. Well, there's some comfort in that! Will some one release me
from this invidious position? Would you kindly untie me?

MARSLAND. Oh, untie

Miss ASHFORD. (interrupting) No, you must do that yourself, and then
you'll float around the room, won't you? And you'll make him float,
won't you? (to CATTERMOLE)

CATTERMOLE. No, no, you won't! You'd upset my liver!

MARSLAND. Miss Ashford, your Spiritualism is turning your brain.

(Enter KNOX c.from L.)

MARSLAND. What do you want?

KNOX. Beg pardon, sir, the servant told me I should find Mr. Cattermole
here.

CATTERMOLE. Well, here I am! What on earth do you want with me?

KNOX. No, sir. Not you! Mr. Cattermole, junior. Mr. Douglas Cattermole.
(sees SPALDING) Ah, here he is! I serve you with that writ! (sticks it
in his collar; going)

SPALDING. If you are discovered you are lost.

MARSLAND. Stop a moment, my good man! How do you know that this is Mr.
Douglas Cattermole?

KNOX. Why, sir, from the description. "Believed to be at Mr.
Marsland's, disguised in clerical attire". (Exit, c. to L.)

MARSLAND. Mr. Cattermole, I appeal to you. Is this young man your
nephew?

CATTERMOLE. That thing? Yes, I'm sorry to say he is. (goes up L.)

(Enter GIBSON, R. u. E.)

GIBSON. Ah, Mr. Marsland, how glad I am to find you here. Sir, I've
saved you no inconsiderable loss. I don't know what would have 'appened
if I had not been here.

MARSLAND. Much obliged to you for your good intentions, Mr. Gibson.

Miss ASHFORD. Mr. Spalding knew of his arrival. Perhaps Mr. Spalding
can explain.

SPALDING. What's the use of explaining, dear lady? No one will listen.

Miss ASHFORD. Oh, but Mr. Spalding has great weight in this household.

SPALDING. Well, I should never have thought it.

(Enter DOUGLAS, L. i E.)

DOUGLAS, (aside) By Jove! they've unearthed the parson! (L. corner)

SPALDING. (rising and coming down, c.) Ah! (SPALDING being tied to
chair brings it with him. As he rises legs of chair hit GIBSON'S shins
who is crossing at back to CATTERMOLE) here's my friend! Would you
kindly--

DOUGLAS, (aside to him) Say you're Cattermole.

SPALDING. Say my Catechism? (DOUGLAS goes L.)

MARSLAND. (to DOUGLAS) This person in the chair here appeals to you.
There's some mystery about all this. Will you be good enough to explain?

(Enter EDITH, R. u. E., followed by EVA and HARRY. EDITH comes down R.
C. on MARSLAND'S L. EVA and HARRY go to fireplace. SPALDING with chain,
C. looking round helplessly. GIBSON comes down on DOUGLAS R. CATTERMOLE
comes to back of settee)

EDITH. Papa dear, the dinner-bell has rung such a long time.

MARSLAND. But there's some mystery.

GIBSON, (to DOUGLAS) So you've got the writ, eh, Mr. Spalding?

SPALDING. Yes, this is the second time I've had it.

GIBSON. You! (taking writ from his collar) Did Knox give it you? I
don't want you, my good man. (pushes him away; he falls on settee;
to DOUGLAS, giving him writ) I serve you with this writ, Mr. Douglas
Cattermole.

ALL. Douglas Cattermole!

CATTERMOLE. That's Mr. Spalding, Mr. Marsland's private secretary.

GIBSON. I beg your pardon, sir, that is Mr. Douglas Cattermole, who
owes me, Sydney Gibson, of Bond street 300 pounds. (L. of settee)

CATTERMOLE. (imitating) Very well, Mr. Sydney Gibson of Bond-street,
you shall have your 300 pounds. (to DOUGLAS) So, then you are my nephew!

DOUGLAS. Yes. (goes to him. GIBSON goes L.)

CATTERMOLE. Then what do you mean by masquerading at my friend's house
in this manner?

DOUGLAS. I've been trying to sow my wild oats.

CATTERMOLE. And so you drink something stronger than tea?

DOUGLAS. Yes.

CATTERMOLE. And do you read the Pink 'un and the Blue 'un and the
Winning Post?

DOUGLAS. Yes.

CATTERMOLE. And you make a book on the races?

DOUGLAS. Yes sometimes.

CATTERMOLE. Come to my arms, then, you're my nephew after all.

(they embrace. EDITH goes up to c. opening. DOUGLAS joins her)

MARSLAND. (to SPALDING) Now, sir, if you're not Mr. Douglas Cattermole
who the devil are you, and what are you doing in my house?

SPALDING. D'you know

ALL. No!

SPALDING. Mr. Marsland telegraphed for me to come immediately.

MARSLAND. I telegraphed for you?

SPALDING. Yes. I came here to be secretary to your private lunatic
asylum.

MARSLAND. My private lunatic--

GIBSON, (to SPALDING) Oh, so you're not a burglar?

SPALDING. No.

Miss ASHFORD. And you're not a medium?

SPALDING. No.

CATTERMOLE. And you're not my nephew?

SPALDING & CATTERMOLE (together) No, thank goodness, not.

MARSLAND. Then your name is--

SPALDING. Robert Spalding.

Miss ASHFORD. Robert Spalding! (crossing to him) Then you are my dear
little Bobby kins after all? (kisses him)

ALL. Miss Ashford!

Miss ASHFORD. I was his mother's dearest friend, and I will be his
friend.

(They go up, behind settee. GIBSON unties chair and she gives him
sandwiches from basket)

CATTERMOLE. (to MARSLAND) Our old scheme can now be carried out. My
nephew's a fine presentable young fellow, and can marry your daughter;
and from what I can see, they've already settled it between them.

DOUGLAS, (coming down with EDITH c.) Yes, Mr. Marsland, Edith has
consented subject to your approval to become my wife.

EDITH. Yes, please, papa, we want to get married.

MARSLAND. Married! Rubbish! Just look at Eva; she's far more sensible.

HARRY, (down R. with EVA) Yes, uncle, she's sensible enough to take me.

CATTERMOLE. Come! Come! You can't have any objection. You know you're
pleased as Punch. I say, do you remember the last wedding we went to
you had a drop too much of the--(all laugh)

MARSLAND. (trying to silence him) Hush! Well, I suppose I must give
way! (to DOUGLAS) Here, take her!

DOUGLAS. Thank you, sir. Exchange, they say, is no robbery and though I
have taken from you your daughter, I've found you what you long needed.


CURTAIN.


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