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Title: The Resignation of Mr. Bagsworth
Author: Lionel Shave
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Language: English
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The Resignation of Mr. Bagsworth
A Comedy in One Act

by

Lionel Shave


From Five Proven One Act Plays
The Australasian Publishing Co. Pty. Ltd.
Sydney, N.S.W.
First published 1948

* * *

To the memory of "PAKIE" MACDOUGALL
to whose kindly encouragement these plays owe their being.


THE CHARACTERS.

ROBERT CRAMSTON, a young company promoter
BERTRAM BAGSWORTH, a Bank official
WINNIE, a waitress
1ST DINER, an uninspiring person of middle age
2ND and 3RD DINERS, are probably in the Government service
4TH DINER, one of those bright complacent people

THE PLACE. A little, old café in a little, old building.

THE TIME. 12.50 p.m. on any day in the prosperous near-past.

THE SCENE.

A small, inside room such as you find in such a café. Backstage are two tables, each seat two diners. Another table is placed centre stage, also to seat two diners. The right-hand chair at the centre table is leaning forward against the table, to indicate that it is reserved. The tables are set in anticipation of the mid-day rush. Doorway D.L. hung with the ancient curtains usually found in such a café, leads to outer dining rooms and the street. Hat rack on wall, on which all the regular diners deposit their headgear as they enter. Swing door covered in baize [up right], leads, presumably to the kitchen, since it is through this door that WINNIE enters, pushing it open with her stern and sidling in with a tray on which are folded serviettes, plates of cut bread, etc. WINNIE is a pert little waitress of no breeding and little education. She wears the uniform of a waitress, but not particularly well.

* * *

WINNIE [speaking to someone off]. Won't be long now before the 'awks arrive. 'Ungry, impatient lot. Pity some of 'em wasn't waitin' on themselves...they'd starve to death...an' that'd be too good for 'em. [A piece of bread falls from one of the plates to the floor.] Blast yer! [She addresses her remark to the bread on the floor, places the plate on the centre table, picks up the bread and proceeds to clean it up.]—It's good enough for old Bagsworth.

[Enter CRAMSTON, carrying a newspaper. He is 25 years of age, well dressed, in good style, and appears to be as prosperous as his self assurance justifies. He looks around the room as though trying to recall something. He remembers and makes for the centre table just as WINNIE deposits the piece of bread on the plate.]

CRAMSTON. That's the way, girl, waste not, want not. [He picks up a fork from the table, sticks it in the slice of bread which he deposits on another table, picking off a piece of fluff which he blows into the air as he does so.] But, if you don't mind I'll...

WINNIE. Certainly not, 'elp yourself. I'll drop another couple of bits for yer, since you seem to like 'em that way.

CRAMSTON [returning to centre table]. Don't trouble, my dear, There was too much fluff on that slice as it was. I like my bread bald-headed.

WINNIE. You shall 'ave it just to your likin', sir, even if the cook 'as to run 'is safety razor over it.

CRAMSTON. Let him give it a singe—and call it toast. [Goes to seat himself in reserved seat.]

WINNIE. Where do you think you're sittin'?

CRAMSTON. Here!

[Seats himself in the reserved seat beneath which he goes to deposit his hat.]

WINNIE [pointing to hat-rack]. There's the 'ook.

CRAMSTON [handing her his hat]. Much obliged. You might use it for me.

WINNIE [so astonished that she accepts his hat and proceeds to hang it up, speaking almost to herself]. Well, I like that! [Over her shoulder to CRAMSTON]. In case you don't know, that seat's reserved.

CRAMSTON. Thanks very much. I like them like that.

WINNIE. Well, of all the...You can't sit there...

CRAMSTON [looking around and about the seat]...I seem to be making a very good stab at it. What's the matter with it? A perfectly passable chair. A bit ricketty, not enough vitamin A in its youth, that's all.

WINNIE. But you mustn't sit there. It's someone else's seat.

CRAMSTON. Oh, is that all? Then why isn't he sitting on it?

WINNIE. 'Ow can 'e when 'e isn't 'ere?

CRAMSTON. Of course not! How silly of me!

Anyway I'm here and I'm sitting on it and that's that!

WINNIE. But Mr. Bagsworth will go terrible crook!

CRAMSTON. So this is old Bertie's seat, is it? I thought I remembered. Ah well, it will do him good to find me in it. [Picks up menu] Now come along, my girl, and bring me some food...I'll miss the soup.

WINNIE. But you can't...

CRAMSTON. Can't miss the soup? I say, can't I please myself in anything I do here?

WINNIE. No, that seat of Mr. Bagsworth's...

CRAMSTON. Oh, forget it I I'll deal with Bagsworth when he comes in,

[1ST DINER enters. He is an uninspiring person of middle age. From his baggy knees, turned-up shoe-toes and obsequious manner, one places him as a salesman in a bootshop. He is rather surprised to find a stranger in BAGSWORTH'S seat, takes chair facing R. at table nearest kitchen door, continues to look towards CRAMSTON, who proceeds with his order.]

CRAMSTON. I'll have veal cutlets, please, and hurry.

[WINNIE flounces out. 1ST DINER coughs several times to attract CRAMSTON'S attention, but CRAMSTON is busy reading the paper. Finally the 1ST DINER can stand it no longer and leans forward to CRAMSTON, Speaking in a stage whisper.]

1ST DINER. Er...er...excuse me!

CRAMSTON [looks up from his paper]. Quite all right, sir, I have a slightly relaxed throat myself. Lot of colds about lately.

1ST DINER. Yes, there are, but it isn't that. I was trying to attract your attention. That seat...you see it's...er...er...

CRAMSTON [looking around and about the seat again].

Good heavens! Giving way, is it?

1ST DINER. No, it's not that, it's [confidentially] it's reserved.

[2ND and 3RD DINERS enter and seat themselves at empty table, exchanging glances and looking towards CRAMSTON. They are probably in the Government Service. Their tendency towards waggishness gives you the impression that they have not been long enough in the service to have lost their sense of humour-quite. They are not yet thirty.]

CRAMSTON. Is that so? By jove [enthusiastically] I'm in luck's way, aren't I—getting a reserved seat! Makes me feel like royalty.

[WINNIE has entered with his order, which she places before him.]

1ST DINER. But you don't understand, I'm afraid.

WINNIE [going to 1ST DINER'S table for his order]. Oh yes 'e does. I told 'im. There'll be a father of a row when Mr. Bagsworth comes in. Wot are yer goin' to 'ave?

1ST DINER. Steak and kidney, please.

[WINNIE goes to 2ND and 3RD DINERS].

WINNIE. And you?

2ND DINER. Tripe and onions cut lean, with a nice bit of fat.

WINNIE. A trick, ain't yer?

3RD DINER. Curried sausages off the bone for me.

WINNIE. I'll get 'em filleted for yer.

[Exit WINNIE to fill orders. 4TH DINER enters and advances to seat opposite 1ST DINER He is a bright, complacent person of middle age, who is "hail-fellow-well-met" to all.]

4TH DINER. Hullo, everybody. [General greetings—"Good-day TOM." "Hullo, TOM."]

1ST DINER [to CRAMSTON]. Do you know, sir, Mr. Bagsworth has sat in that chair every day for the past nineteen years?

4TH DINER. Yes, every day reg'lar, excepting when he goes on leave.

3RD DINER. Even then he sneaks back to town on a few days each week to make sure his rights are preserved.

4TH DINER. Yes, for nineteen years reg'lar he's sat there.

CRAMSTON. Remarkable. I thought it was a fairly ancient chair. [Has a look at it.] No doubt they made things well in the old days.

2ND DINER. You don't understand him. He means that old Bagsworth always sits in that particular seat, not that chair, you know—just in that place.

CRAMSTON. Indeed! That must be nearly the long sitting record.

3RD DINER. He'll be as wild as blazes to find you there.

CRAMSTON. I hope not. You see Bertie and I are old friends.

[WINNIE enters and serves 1ST, 2ND and 3RD DINERS.]

1ST DINER. You must know him very well to call him Bertie.

4TH DINER. Yes I He's rather a stickler for the correct thing. Bank training and so forth.

1ST DINER. His closest friends wouldn't dare call him anything but Bertram.

CRAMSTON. Well, I've got him off his seat. I may get him off some of his old-fashioned ideas as well.

WINNIE. You won't get 'im off 'is roast rib of beef an' apple pie I bet yer. [Goes to 4TH DINER for order].

CRAMSTON. You don't tell me he's a stickler for roast beef and apple pie, too, do you?

WINNIE. 'As 'em every day, sure as death. [To 4TH DINER]. Wot's yours?

4TH DINER [looking at 1ST DINER'S meal]. I'll have some of that—it smells good.

[Exit WINNIE to fill order.]

1ST DINER. Yes. I've never known Mr. Bagsworth to order anything else but roast rib of beef and apple pie and I've been coining here for eight years.

CRAMSTON. I lunched here with him a few times myself many years ago, and he certainly did order the same meal, if I remember right, just as he always sat in this seat.

3RD DINER. Yes, that's right.

CRAMSTON. What a dreadful state for him to get into. Mental lock-jaw. It's high time that someone loosened him up.

[WINNIE enters with 4TH DINER'S order, which she delivers to him and proceeds to CRAMSTON'S table.]

2ND DINER [looking at clock]. Well, it won't be long now before he gets here.

3RD DINER. Four and a half past to the tick. You could set your watch by him.

WINNIE. I 'ope I'm not 'ere when 'e comes. [To CRAMSTON.] Will you 'ave some sweets?

CRAMSTON. Yes, please, just an ice.

[Exit WINNIE to fill his order. CRAMSTON picks up his paper again and begins to read.

BAGSWORTH enters door, pulls up short when he sees a stranger sitting in his seat, then advances to the table, acknowledging the greetings of the diners. He is tall, thin and bowed with long poring over ledgers. He wears a dark, inconspicuous suit with a stiff white collar needlessly out of date. His tie is, of course, black, with possibly a most unobtrusive white figuring. His moustache is as dejected looking as the rest of him and his glasses are of the austere pince-nez variety. He is passing 40 years of age.

He stands looking down on CRAMSTON, whom he does not recognise.]

BAGSWORTH. Sorry to trouble you, sir.

CRAMSTON [looking up]. No trouble, I assure you.

BAGSWORTH. But didn't the waitress t ell you? That's my customary seat, sir.

CRAMSTON. I believe she did mention something of the sort. In fact, it seems to have been a general topic of conversation.

[He looks around at the other DINERS, as does BAGSWORTH. They admit it with such remarks as, "Quite right," "We did, too," and "I told you so."]

WINNIE [entering with CRAMSTON'S ice, which she places before him]. An' I told 'im, but 'e just give me sauce, 'e did.

CRAMSTON. A trifle of airy persiflage.

WINNIE. I'm sorry Mr. Bagsworth, any other gent would 'ave give up the seat.

BAGSWORTH. Don't worry, Winifred. It's not your fault I'm sure. [To CRAMSTON.] I should have thought, sir...

CRAMSTON [indicating other seat]. Oh, sit down Bertie and don't make such a scene.

BAGSWORTH [taken aback, as are the other diners]. You have the advantage of me, sir. You presumably know me, but not very well, judging by your familiarity.

Not even my relations call me other than Bertram, Mr...er?

CRAMSTON. Cramston, Bagsworth. Bob Cramston!

BAGSWORTH. You, Robert?

CRAMSTON. Yes, me! In Sydney, and in your seat. What about it?

BAGS WORTH. I must admit I'm very—surprised.

CRAMSTON. I thought you might be. I came here because I wanted to see you particularly.

BAGSWORTH. To see me?

CRAMSTON. Yes! I came over from Melbourne partly for that purpose. Now sit down like a good chap.

BAGSWORTH. In view of your behaviour, past and present, I don't know that I care to.

CRAMSTON. Oh, do sit down Bertie, don't be a fool.

BAGSWORTH. Bertram, if you must use my first name.

WINNIE. You might as well, Mr. Bagsworth. 'E won't move till 'e's ready if I knows the likes of 'im.

CRAMSTON. You're a great little guesser.

BAGSWORTH. Very well, Winifred.

[Seats himself opposite CRAMSTON, to the mild astonishment of the DINERS, who make inaudible remarks to one another, the younger one with smirks, the older pair with a little more compassion.]

CRAMSTON [passing his empty ice-cream dish to WINNIE]. A cup of coffee please and Mr. Bagsworth will not be ordering for a few minutes.

BAGSWORTH. If you don't mind, I...

WINNIE. Well, of all the...

CRAMSTON [airily]. Just to oblige me, Bertie...I'm sorry, Bertram. I want to talk to you very urgently. I haven't many minutes to spare and what, I have to say will need all your attention, so if you don t mind...

BAGSWORTH [resignedly]. Oh, very well, though I'm in the habit of eating at the same hour every day.

CRAMSTON. And of eating the same thing, in the same way, in the same place...Man, you'd drive me mad...All right, Winnie, don't wait. Coffee, and my bill.

[WINNIE departs. She goes to 1ST DINER and 4TH DINER'S table, takes their orders and their dirty plates and returns. Henceforward, until she is required by the action, she goes quietly and as unobtrusively as possible through the service of sweet courses, tea and tickets to the other diners, who, at the conclusion of their various meals take their departures, their tickets, hats and their leave of BAGSWORTH and CRAMSTON, interrupting the conversation of the pair with their farewell salutations.]

CRAMSTON. Now, Bagsworth.

BAGSWORTH. I thought I told you, six years ago, to get out of Sydney and to stay out.

CRAMSTON. So you did, Bagsworth.

BAGSWORTH. Then what brings you here to see me that is so important?

CRAMSTON. The time arrived when I could come and face you with my chin up and my cheque book in my hand. [He has taken a cheque book from his pocket from which he tears a cheque, which he hands to BAGSWORTH.]

BAGSWORTH. What might this be?

CRAMSTON. A cheque for two hundred and ninety one pounds, eleven and sevenpence, in payment of my indebtedness to you.

BAGSWORTH. My dear boy, you owe me nothing. That was Wiped out years ago. At the time, in fact.

CRAMSTON, Not at all!

BAGSWORTH. Yes, it was intended as a gift to a decent youngster who should have known better.

CRAMSTON. And now jumps your favourite seat.

BAGSWORTH. Why...er...yes. I'd rather have the seat back than the money.

CRAMSTON. I owe you more than a sum of money. Apart from the amount you squared up at the bank so that no-one would know, the fifty you gave me to clear out with, was the means of setting me on my feet.

BAGSWORTH. I'm Very glad to hear it.

CRAMSTON. Then I insist on you accepting it. I can very well afford it. Here, you old fathead, take It. [He forces cheque on BAGSWORTH.]

BAGSWORTH. Very well, if you insist. But this cheque is for more than I advanced you. If I recollect, the amount was under two hundred.

CRAMSTON. One hundred and ninety-three pounds to be exact. And compound interest at seven per cent, for SIX years, calculated half-yearly, brings it to two hundred and ninety-one pounds eleven and sevenpence. Cheap at half the price I can assure you.

BAGSWORTH. But, Robert, I'm not a moneylender I couldn't take all that...

CRAMSTON. Oh, keep quiet! You're going to take a lot more before I've finished with you. Tell me—did they ever suspect at the Bank?

BAGSWORTH. Of course not! I fixed up your books and paid in the money so that no one could suspect. They went through everything very thoroughly when you cleared out, naturally.

CRAMSTON. They would!

BAGSWORTH. Eventually they put your sudden departure down to the impetuousness of youth.

CRAMSTON. And if they'd only known, it was the impetuous boot of Bagsworth hoofing me out into the world.

BAGSWORTH. You could hardly have expected me to let you stay in the Bank's employ could you, knowing what I did?

CRAMSTON. Hardly—and a darned good thing you didn't. I might have been still there in a hopeless groove.

BAGSWORTH. No doubt you would have. But it's good, steady employment. Not spectacular, of course.

CRAMSTON. No, hardly a display of pyrotechnics! It wouldn't suit me.

BAGSWORTH. Tell me, what have you been doing and what are you engaged in now?

CRAMSTON. The share business.

BAGSWORTH. Robert, Not speculating, surely?

CRAMSTON. No I Much safer than that! I got into the share selling business in Melbourne and did well. Things were just beginning to boom about then.

BAGSWORTH. I remember the period.

CRAMSTON. A couple of years ago I started International Underwriters Ltd.

BAGSWORTH. You don't mean to say you're Julian R. Cramston, Managing Director of that rather successful company?

CRAMSTON. I am—Julian was my second name—I just changed the order. [He picks up the paper and opens it up, showing a paragraph to BAGSWORTH.] Read this.

BAGSWORTH [reading]. "Mr. Julian R. Cramston arrived here from Melbourne yesterday. It is understood that he intends to open a branch of International Underwriters Ltd. in Sydney."

CRAMSTON. That's what I want to see you about. I need you as my Sydney Manager. You'd have a seat on the Board, of course.

BAGSWORTH. That's very good of you, but I know nothing of share selling.

CRAMSTON. You don't have to. You'd have a Sales Manager and a team of our own boys from Melbourne to do the selling. I want you on the financial end.

BAGSWORTH. Sound finance is, of course, fundamental.

CRAMSTON. Exactly. And you'd be a tower of strength—provided you could get out of that soul destroying groove you're in.

BAGSWORTH. Oh, I'm not in any groove—not by any means.

CRAMSTON. Not in a groove—nonsense! How long have you been with the Bank?

BAGSWORTH. Twenty-six years.

CRAMSTON. Twenty-six years! Up the credit columns and down the debit for twenty-six years. Not in a groove, eh?

BAGSWORTH. I shouldn't say so!

CRAMSTON. Nineteen years in the same seat for lunch. Nineteen years of roast beef and apple pie. And if you'd ever found a clove in your pie you'd have choked in your confusion. Bertie, old boy...

BAGSWORTH. Bertram, if you don't mind—

CRAMSTON. Bertie, and be damned to you. You've to be Jerked out of this stolid conservatism. You're nothing but a slave of routine, confined between the column rules of a ledger, manacled by method.

BAGSWORTH. I certainly am methodical, but then, you too must have method in your...

CRAMSTON. Method in my madness if you like, but not madness in my method. And that's what you're suffering from. Man, you'll probably get melancholia good if you don't step out of the humdrum into the hurly-burly. But I'm afraid it's expecting too much.

BAGSWORTH [deprecatingly]. Oh, I don't know.

CRAMSTON. I do! The Lord knows I owe you a debt of gratitude, Bertie. I know you've got the ability, I know you've got the experience and you'd make a real fist of the job I'm offering you. But although it's...tell me, what are you making at the Bank now?

BAGSWORTH. Four hundred and thirty-two pounds per annum.

CRAMSTON. Less than nine pounds a week, eh, after twenty-six years? Huh!

BAGSWORTH. I usually get a bonus as well.

CRAMSTON. Splendid! Well, my show's worth seven hundred and fifty to you, with half per cent commission on all business. That should bring you in two thousand the first year. Worth getting out of the rut for, isn't it?

BAGSWORTH. It's certainly very liberal. Of course, it's a more or less speculative kind of business.

CRAMSTON. Certainly it is, but the odds are worth while.

BAGSWORTH. Have you a balance sheet I might see?

CRAMSTON. With pleasure, Mr. Banker. [He produces one from his pocket and passes it to BAGS WORTH.] You'll find that pretty fair for the second year of operation.

BAGSWORTH [reading carefully]. Yes, it does read well. Net profits for the year five thousand three hundred and eighty two pounds seventeen. Very excellent on a capital of twenty thousand.

CRAMSTON. And only half paid-up, don't forget.

BAGSWORTH. Yes, a very fine showing indeed. You spoke of a directorship. Would that necessitate my investing in the Company?

CRAMSTON. Not a penny beyond one qualifying share. We need no further capital.

BAGSWORTH [slightly disappointed]. Oh!

CRAMSTON. Of course, I could probably persuade my Board to issue you up to a thousand shares if you wanted them. In fact, I'd insist on it.

BAGSWORTH. Yes, I'd like that...if I came in. Tell me, what prospective business have you?

CRAMSTON. Two big floats definitely arranged. Aerated Waters Amalgamated, a hundred and fifty thousand pound show, that should go off inside two months, and Consolidated Engineering, probably a quarter of a million company. Then we expect to finalise another big one while I'm here.

BAGSWORTH. Very good prospects, I must say. My share of the commission on those would be very considerable. Yes, it seems to be a good opportunity for me.

CRAMSTON. It's the chance of a lifetime. Admittedly speculative and if you want a roast beef and apple pie life for another nineteen years, don't you take it on, Bertie. Mind you, I shan't be surprised if you don't.

BAGSWORTH. It's very tempting I must say. Two thousand a year! Why, I could have roast duck and green peas every day.

CRAMSTON. If I caught you ordering the same dinner twice in the same month, I'd sack you on the spot.

BAGSWORTH [with the ghost of a smile]. That would make the position even more precarious—but I feel half inclined to accept.

CRAMSTON. Good! Then we'll take it that you'll be ready to join us in, say, a month's time.

BAGSWORTH. Well,...of course...that is...I'd like till tomorrow to think it over.

CRAMSTON. Till tomorrow, eh? Meantime you'll be up and down those credit and debit columns again, back into your old seat here, getting that same old roast beef and apple pie into your system. No Bertie, it's now or never!

BAGSWORTH. Now or never?

CRAMSTON. Yes, you've scrambled up on to the edge of the groove and you'll slip back again as sure as the Lord made little apples...for those eternal pies of yours. But once out of it—once you shake off the sloth of your long hibernation, there's no saying how high you'll climb. Come on man, out of it!

BAGS WORTH. My word Robert...Rob...you're a splendid salesman, but you do rush things.

CRAMSTON. One can't sit down on the job these days and you can't sit down on your decision. For the life of me I fail to see why you should hesitate.

BAGSWORTH. It's a big step out of a permanent...

CRAMSTON. Groove...

BAGSWORTH. position and really needs serious consideration.

CRAMSTON. Were you ever made such an offer before?

BAGSWORTH. Never.

CRAMSTON. Ever likely to be?—stowed away in a bank, where no one in the outside world can ever possibly learn of your qualities.

BAGSWORTH. No. I'm certainly in what might be termed the backwash. I think I'll decide...but you must give me till...

CRAMSTON. Winnie, bring me a sheet of writing paper from the office, please. [He takes a pen from his pocket.] I'll give you just two minutes, Bertie. No, I'll call you Bert as a compromise. Just two minutes!

BAGSWORTH. But...

CRAMSTON. No "buts." Two thousand a year at least, a directorship, your own boss, the world your oyster.

BAGSWORTH. I should be a fool to pass such a chance by.

CRAMSTON. A bigger fool than I take you for, Bert.

BAGSWORTH. All right, Bob, I'll join you.

CRAMSTON. Knew you would, old chap, and you'll never regret it. [Stretching out his hand to BAGSWORTH.] But I had to sock it into you to get action.

BAGSWORTH [brightly]. Do you know I think it's doing me good. [He picks a flower from the vase on the table, which he Places in his buttonhole.] Your enthusiasm is certainly infectious. By the way is that a Melbourne suit?

CRAMSTON. Yes, do you like it?

BAGS WORTH. I'm afraid I couldn't quite see myself in that colour, but Its rather smart, isn't it?

CRAMSTON. We'll have you wearing purple pullovers yet.

BAGSWORTH. I trust that's not the office uniform Bob.

CRAMSTON. No, only for directors on Sundays. [WINNIE returns with paper.] Ah, the notepaper. Thanks, Winnie.

WINNIE. When's the gent goin' to let you eat, Mr. Bagsworth? You must be starvin'.

BAGSWORTH. That's quite all right, Winifred...Winnie, thanks, there's no hurry. [To CRAMSTON.] What is this for?

CRAMSTON. You'll write out your resignation from the Bank now and hand it in at two o'clock. [BAGSWORTH hesitates.] Go on, old chap, get it over.

BAGSWORTH. Very well [commences to write].

WINNIE. Oh, Mr. Bagsworth, wot's 'e kiddin' yer to do?

CRAMSTON. Write you a proposal of marriage, Winnie. [He rises and goes round behind BAGSWORTH reading as the latter writes.] That's the stuff to give them, old man. [To WINNIE.] Don't you let him have any lunch till his signature goes on the dotted line.

[Goes to take his departure.] I'm running late, Bert. I'm staying at the Savoy. Meet me there tonight and we'll have a spot of dinner together. Cheerio meanwhile.

BAGSWORTH. Very well, Robert...Bob. I shall be there. [To WINNIE.] An extraordinary young man. Most pushing and...

WINNIE. 'E pushed 'is barrer in 'ere an' no error. The cheek of 'im takin' your seat. You might as well 'ave it now 'e's gone, Mr. Bagsworth.

BAGSWORTH [half rising]. Yes, I suppose I might, Winnie...Winifred [seating himself very suddenly]. No! Decidedly not! I've done with that seat forever. Any seat, anywhere, for me in future, Winnie. I'm emancipated at last.

WINNIE. I dunno wot it means, but it don't sound too good. It don't mean 'ungry, does it?

BAGSWORTH. Not quite, but I am hungry as well.

WINNIE. You must be, be now. I've 'ad cook put away a nice cut o' rib o' beef an' a bit o' pie...[Makes for door].

BAGSWORTH. Wait a minute. [Picks up menu]. I think I'll have a change today.

WINNIE [staggered at the latest evidence of a revolutionary change in BAGS WORTH and slightly annoyed that he should dare to break a standing order of such duration].

Wot? An' me goin' ter the trouble of 'avin' it saved for yer?

BAGSWORTH. Sorry, Winnie, but it has to be. Out of the humdrum into the burly-burly. Let me see [he picks up the menu and studies it intently, indecisively]. My word, it is difficult to decide after one has become accustomed to...What shall I have?...I want to get as far away from rib of beef as I can.

WINNIE. Well, there's ox-tongue or ox-tail.

BAGSWORTH. Yes, that's certainly going to extremes [Laughs moderately at his own joke]. Ox-tail, yes. That seems an idea. Can one have ox-tail slightly under-done?

WINNIE. Not unless you 'as some o' termorrer's, that ain't cooked yet.

BAGSWORTH. Well, bring me a portion of today's, done in any jolly old way that the cook pleases.

WINNIE. [Shaking her head as she departs]. Well, I'm blowed!

BAGS WORTH [calling after her]. And bring me a Peche Melba, Winnie. I don't know what it is but it sounds inspirational.

[Exit WINNIE still mentally disturbed. BAGSWORTH finishes writing his resignation and looks it over with a self-satisfied air].

BAGSWORTH [musingly]. Bertram Bagsworth, Esq., Sydney, Director...two thousand a year...the world my oyster.

[Enter WINNIE].

WINNIE. Ox-tail's orf!

BAGSWORTH [hardly believing his hearing]. What's that? What's that you say?

WINNIE. No more ox-tail.

BAGSWORTH. Oh—no more ox-tail [picks up menu]. Let me see. [Turns menu about, finding it difficult to make a further choice]. No more ox-tail. [By this time the magnitude of the talk of making a second choice has completely overwhelmed him. He runs his hand through his hair. He tries to pull himself together, but the effort to overcome—twice—the habits of years is too much]. I think I'll have some...some roast rib of beef.

[WINNIE turns with a grin of satisfaction to fill his order].

BAGSWORTH. And, Winifred—I'll have some apple pie to follow.

[Exit WINNIE, triumphantly. BAGSWORTH slumps in his chair and looks over his resignation. He takes a grip of himself by the lapels of his coat, his hand closes on the flower which he draws out and drops on the floor. Then he rises slowly and goes around to his customary chair, into which he sinks. He again looks at his resignation, which he tears into fragments].

SLOW CURTAIN.


THE END

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