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Title:  Their First Dinner
Author: Rufus H. Gillmore
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 1800661h.html
Language: English
Date first posted:  August 2018
Most recent update: August 2018

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Their First Dinner
A Farce in One Act

Rufus H. Gillmore


SCENE. — The modest interior of a modern dining-room. Table at L. laid for dinner; sideboard at R., and china cabinet at L. C.; door at C. At R. an open fire-place with andirons, etc.; on the chimney piece a few beer mugs, a box of tobacco, a few cigars and some pipes with long stems. As the curtain rises, Daisy is discovered arranging some roses in a vase in the centre of the table.

Daisy. Botheration, why can’t you stay put? There, that’s better. (Stands off admiringly.) The table really looks quite pretty now! The vegetable dishes are to be put here (pointing), with the meat platter just in front — I think Bridget understands — no, I don’t think so, I can only hope so. When a girl has only one maid and that one’s Irish, she mustn’t expect her to talk so she can understand her, or, in fact, do anything that she can understand. There, I guess that will do! How Jack would laugh if he knew it took me a whole hour to set this table. But oh, dear! you can’t put things the way you like them best the first time. Not if you are a girl. Things have to be tried in different ways. A man can plank a thing down just where he wants it — but a woman’s mind, well, Bob Wheelright says it’s like his tailor bill— never settled. Well, they can poke fun at our sex, if they like, but gracious! for the top notch of stupidity, give me a man every time. What woman would have been stupid enough to invite such an utter stranger as Mr. Proctor to dine with us to-day — the very day after we got back from our honeymoon — the stupid — the great big stupid! (Looking round.) I mustn’t let Jack hear. It isn’t well to let your husband imagine that you think him anything but a god. Poor things! They like to be adored just as much as we do. The heroic virtues may be confined to one sex, but the womanly weaknesses aren’t. I wonder what sort of a man this Mr. Proctor will turn out to be. How strange that Jack should never have met him — his cousin, too! Well, he’s English, but he’s rich, so we must make a good impression. Jack seems to think we shall get a handsome wedding present from him. I wonder if he’s the kind of a man it will be hard to entertain. (Sighing.) Well, I shall know soon enough. I’m glad I invited Mr. Coulthurst as a fourth. Henri can talk. Jolly! but it’s cold! I wonder how Jack’s getting along with the furnace. He’s such an immaculate fellow — it seems almost a shame he should have to look after the beastly thing, but then I guess he will handle it in his own immaculate way. (Goes to register.) I guess he is, it’s as cold as most immaculate things. I wonder if he knows how late it is getting. (Calls through register.) Jack! Jack!

Jack (through register). Well?

Daisy. Aren’t you nearly through, dear? (A muffled oath is heard.) Oh, don’t swear! Come up, won’t you, dear? It’s terribly lonely! It seems as though I hadn’t seen you for years. Jack!

Jack (gruffly). What?

Daisy (she looks around, then says, putting her mouth close to the register). Do you love me?

(No answer.)

Daisy (expectantly). Do you?

Daisy (petulantly). Oh, Jack, why don’t you answer, do you?

(A few muffled words heard.)

Daisy. That’s right; why didn’t you say so at first? What? Any heat coming up here? No, dear; there’s nothing but cold air and — and smoke. There’s a hot time down there. (Laughs.) Then drop the beastly thing and come up, wont you? That’s a dear. (Comes down stage, dusting.)

Enter Jack, in negligee; face and clothes smootched.

Daisy (turning). Why, Jack!

Jack. It’s no use! I can’t do anything with the old thing.

Daisy. Well. It hasn’t done a thing to you. (Laughing.) Jack (walks down stage). You’d better try it yourself next time. It won’t be quite so funny then.

Daisy. Why, Jack, you aren’t mad, are you?

Jack (turning testily). It’s all very well for a girl who has been sitting round doing nothing all the morning to make fun of a man who’s been working like a nigger.

Daisy. I want you to understand right here, Mr. Crane, that you are not the only one in this house that has been working this morning, and what’s more, accomplishing something. You make me tired! A man who isn’t good-natured enough to know how to take a joke is no gentleman.

Jack. No gentleman? Huh! A gentleman is a mat for women to wipe their feet upon. If he gets up before they are quite through he is — you remember what you called me this morning?

Daisy. A brute, yes; and a man who treats his wife the way you have me deserves to be called that. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

Jack (going to the pipes). Go on.

Daisy. Go on? (Jack lights his pipe.) You mean thing, you (crosses) to treat your wife in this way, and not two weeks married! What will it be when we are married a year? You’ll be throwing things at me, I know you will.

Jack (sotto voice). I won’t be throwing kisses, I’m deuced sure of that.

Daisy. What’s that? Oh, I knew you would, I knew you would. Oh, I wish I hadn’t married. (Crying.) I want to go back to my mother.

Jack. Oh, you do?

Daisy. Yes. (Sobs.) I do. (Sobs.)

Jack. Well, why don’t you go?

Daisy (stopping; aghast). What?

Jack. Why don’t you go?

Daisy. Oh, you brute, you monster! I won’t live with you another minute. (Exit angrily.)

Jack. There it is! Married two weeks, and fighting like — like people married two years. Damnation! We had fireworks enough while we were engaged. I thought they would let up a little when we were married. That’s where I fooled myself. Well, she isn’t going to bulldoze me any longer with her tears on tap. (Sings.)

“Oh, she may have licked McCarthy,
For McCarthy wasn’t hearty,
But I’m a different party;
She may have licked McCarthy,
But she can’t lick me.”

By Jove! that did the business. Here she comes. (Sits down and smokes.)

Enter Daisy. She busies herself on the other side of the stage, paying no attention to Jack. Suddenly she detects the odor of smoke.

Daisy. Jack — (biting her lips) — Mr. Crane, do you consider that you ought to smoke here?

Jack. Eh? (A pause.) Don’t you want me to?

Daisy. Oh, I don’t care.

Jack (mildly). Oh, if you don’t care, why I guess I’ll keep on.

Daisy. You know very well that I simply abhor tobacco smoke.

Jack. Can’t say I do. Before we were married, I remember your saying many a time that there was nothing you liked better than the odor of a good cigar — do you remember it — come now, be honest.

Daisy. Y — es.

Jack (cajolingly). Then how was I to know that you abhored this — unless I judged by contraries. Tell me that.

Daisy (going to him). Oh, Jack, but this is different.

Jack. Oh, this is different.

Daisy. Yes, Jack, this is a pipe; you used to smoke cigars.

Jack (cajolingly). Tut, tut! Isn’t it tobacco smoke just the same? The reason I don’t smoke cigars any longer is because I can’t do it and have my little wife dress as well as I want her to.

Daisy (coming closer). You darling boy, I knew you loved me. (Changing.) But, oh, Jack! how could you say those horrid things to me; how could you?

Jack. What things?

Daisy. You said you wished I’d go home to mother, and a lot of other things just as bad.

Jack. What!

Daisy. You certainly did.

Jack (laughing). Now I’d have sworn it was you.

Daisy. Now don’t try to become satirical, Jack. It isn’t becoming to you. Are you sorry?

Jack. Sorry for what?

Daisy. Sorry that you — that I — that they were said.

Jack. Oh, I guess so. Now what are you doing?

Daisy. Trying to hear your heart tick. (Joyously.) Jack, do you remember the first time you showed that you loved me?

Jack (confidentially). Of course, dearest.

Daisy (turning sharply). Well, when was it?

Jack. Eh? Ah — well — how the deuce can I think with you so near?

Daisy (walking off). You don’t remember; men never do, they think it trifling — oh, if we women only realized in time how little sentiment men have!

Jack. Hold on! Wasn’t it the time you insisted on going home from your sister’s concert before it was through? The rest stayed, and when you got home, you found you were afraid to go into the dark house alone, you remember — you opened the door and stepped in, I after you; then you made a little cry and shrunk back right into my arms —

Daisy. No, no, no. That was two weeks before you showed any signs whatever.

Jack. Two weeks!

Daisy. Yes, sir; two weeks.

Jack. What a simple, honest, little fool I was!

Daisy. You were an idiot! The time you first showed me that —

Jack. I have it! It was the time I took you to shoot the chutes —

Daisy (astonished). To shoot the chutes?

Jack. Yes, to shoot the chutes; you were so afraid coming down the first time that I put my arm around your waist just to steady you. Just as we started, the man at the top cried “hold tight”! so I held you about the waist a little tighter than was absolutely necessary.

Daisy. Jack Crane!

Jack. Why, what’s the matter? Wasn’t that the first time?

Daisy. I never shot the chutes with you in my life.

Jack. What — you never — (Aside.) Shoot the chutes! Why Daisy, I tell you it must have been you; you must have shot them sometime, surely —

Daisy. Never.

Jack (aside). By Jove! I’m in for it! Stop a minute and think!

Daisy (turning sharply). Don’t you think I should remember, if I had ever shot the chutes?

Jack (wincing). Yes — that is — no — we are all of us liable to forget. Shooting the chutes is a rather vivid experience, but —

Daisy. Yes, with another girl I can imagine it must have been a decidedly vivid experience. Who was she?

Jack. Really, Dais, the more I think of it, the more convinced I am that if I ever shot the chutes, it was with you.

Daisy. And the more I think of it, the more convinced I am that it was not. Who was she?

Jack. I say if I ever did shoot the chutes —

Daisy. Who was she?

Jack (aside). By Jove! I have it! (Turning his back to laugh.) This will floor her! Well, — if you must know —

Daisy. Who was she?

Jack. It was — (Introduce any local or celebrated name.)

Daisy. What! Oh, Jack. (They both laugh.) The idea! You — funny boy —  how could you? —

Jack. Oh, yes, now we’ll see how many mistakes you make.

Daisy. One minute —

Jack. Oh!

Daisy. Now, Jack, I want you to answer me this one question and tell the truth. Was it before you began to call on me that this happened?

Jack. What, this little shoot with Mrs. —

Daisy. Yes.

Jack. Why, certainly. It was years ago. (Aside.) Before the chutes were invented. Does that make you feel better?

Daisy. A great deal better. I was not responsible for your actions then.

Jack. Oh, I see; but you are now?

Daisy. Yes, I am now; and you had better look out, you rogue, that I don’t hear of any more like this.

Jack. Great Scott! You don’t think a married man would put himself in danger a second time, do you? Don’t go. We were getting along famously.

Daisy. I must, Jack. There are oceans of things to do. Don’t. Oh, let me go!

Jack. Wait a minute, Dais; I want to tell you something.

Daisy (reprovingly). No, Jack— no. No, not now. (She escapes.)

(Bell rings unnoticed by them. Bridget crosses at back.)

Jack (following). Just a minute, Dais. Just one minute. Only one kiss.

Daisy. What, now that we’re married! Oh, no; you missed too many chances before we were engaged. Stop, Jack!

(He is about to kiss her when enter Bridget.)

Brid. Ixcuse me, sor.

Jack It’s all right, Bridget, what is it?

Brid Shure, sor, there’s a gentleman in the parlor to see yez.

Jack. Great Scott! Can it be Mr. Proctor? Did he ask for me?

Brid. Ayther one of yez will do, Oi’m after thinking.

Jack. Very well.

Daisy. Perhaps I had better go in, Jack. You run up the back stairs and fix yourself up.

Jack (to Bridget, who stands stolidly, listening). Very well. Yes, Dais, I guess you had better. If it’s Mr. Proctor, either one of us would have to introduce himself anyway. Be sure and be especially nice to him. I’ll go right up. (Runs into Bridget.) Here yet? (Aside.) What in the name of Heaven shall we do with this greenhorn? (Exit Jack, R.; exit Daisy, L.)

Brid. Phwat was he after sayin’ so quiet loike? Nayther wun av thim is over bright. Shure yez can’t make out more thin half phwat they say. ‘Tis the skules. Niver an Englishman hev I heard talk plain. Howley Saint Patrick! Luk at the table. Is that phwat she calls arrangin’? The baby! Shure it’s laid out loike a graveyard. Tell me how could a mon sitting here rach the mate over there, or be after gettin’ his fair share of the praties bein’ there. He’d nade the nick of a girafficus. He would that! Shure, Oi’ll fix thim for her. (Changes the dishes about.) Now ’tis fair play for ach. Goramighty! Luk at the flowers. They’re a scraggly sight. (Makes them into a solid bunch.) Whist! and away yez go. (Taking flowers.) They’ll not ate yez, I think. It is here yez belong. (Puts them round the corner of the chimney piece.) Whist! Shure, she’s comin’. (Exit R.)

Enter Daisy; she comes down stage rapidly.

Daisy. Jack! Jack!

Jack (outside). Yes.

Daisy. I wish you’d come here a minute. (Paces up and down; enter Jack.)

Jack. What is it?

Daisy. That girl is a blockhead.

Jack. She’s a regular blunderbuss. What’s the matter now?

Daisy. Enough to drive one crazy. You’ve got to read the riot act to her, Jack; I can’t stand it any longer. I went into the drawing room to receive Mr. Proctor. There was a man sitting in the big plush chair, as though he was not accustomed to such furniture, but rather than make some irretrievable mistake, I greeted him warmly, asked him how he came, and began at once to talk upon the weather. Inside of two minutes I found he was a picture-frame peddler.

Jack. A picture-frame peddler!

Daisy. Yes, one of the kind that stick to you like a fly on a hot day. It took me all this time to drive him away. The idea! You’ve got to give Bridget a talking to.

Jack. I can’t have every peddler coming along getting into our parlor.

Jack. Leave her to me. By Jove ! I’ll fix her. (Exit R.)

Daisy. I wonder if every married woman feels so soon that she would rather do her own work than go to another intelligence office. Merciful Heavens! Who’s been here? Why can’t they let things alone. (She replaces things on the table.) But where are the flowers? (Spies them.) What could have possessed anybody to put them there of all places? (Brings them back.) And all disarranged too! (Sighs.) There! now things are all right again. I could slay anybody who goes near them. Oh, the mantel; I must dust that.

Enter Jack.

Jack (talking off). You understand that, do you? Now see that you do as I tell you. (To Daisy.) There, I guess she won’t make just that kind of a mistake again in a hurry. (He begins to alter things on the table.)

Daisy. You gave her a good dressing down, did you? I found she had been mixing things up in here.

Jack. She had? There are some things not quite right yet.

Daisy (turning). What!

Jack. This vegetable dish ought to be over here, next to the meat platter.

Daisy. Put that back. Jack Crane, if you touch a thing, I won’t speak to you again as long as I live.

Jack. What!

Daisy. You put that back. Do you hear me?

Jack. Hear you? I could hear you at a band concert a mile away. What do you mean by talking to me in that way?

Daisy. What do you mean by moving that dish?

Jack. Moving that dish? Pshaw! What are you thinking of? Who has a better right?

Daisy. When I set a table, I tell you I won’t have it interfered with.

Jack. Oh, you won’t?

Daisy. No, I won’t. I spent a whole hour getting that table ready this morning, and I don’t intend to set it over a dozen times more.

Jack. Oh, very well. I don’t care a rap! It isn’t worth fighting about.

Daisy. Worth fighting about? You know very well that it takes two to quarrel.

Jack. Two to keep it up, but, unfortunately, it only takes one to begin it.

Daisy (conciliatingly). Well, we know who begins all the quarrels in this house, don’t we?

Jack (dryly). Yes, I think we do.

Daisy. Well, are you sorry?

Jack. Very.

Daisy. Then let’s make up. Oh, Jack; we mustn’t quarrel so, it’s terribly vulgar. I never thought when I married my own old darling that we should ever speak a cross word to one another. Just think, darling, we can never be single again, neither of us. (He smiles.) Do you know, Jack, I think you have the sweetest disposition of anyone I ever knew.

Jack (scowling). Oh, I guess that’s only because you don’t know me. I can be as cross as a fiend when I want to.

Daisy. Well, I never saw my darling so, and what’s more, I don’t believe it. (A pause.) But, Jack, this must stop. I often think of the early years of our engagement, when we were both so lovely to one another. Shall we never be the same again?

Jack. The same again? You little innocent! Of course we will, only more so.

Daisy (pleadingly). We haven’t disagreed so very much, darling, have we?

Jack (dubiously). No, not so very much. (After a pause, looking around to make sure nobody else heard.) Not so much as most people.

Daisy. Well, we haven’t had a downright spat anyway, when we wouldn’t speak to each other for days and weeks at a time. We sometimes have an argument —

Jack. And the argument sometimes grows just a little warm —

Daisy. But we never really quarrel.

Jack. No, those are just little tiffs, such as any two persons living together are likely to have.

Daisy. Oh, you darling old huggum hubbums! Do you know Jack, dearest, sometimes I feel so fond of you, I want to hug you?

Jack. Why not?

Daisy (rising). No, no, no; you naughty boy — the bell may ring at any moment. (Bell rings.) There it is now. (Bridget crosses at back.) It can hardly be another peddler. (Arranging flowers.) Which do you think it is, Jack, Henri or your cousin? (Commotion heard outside.) Jack. I don’t know. There seems to be some little discussion. Guess it’s another peddler. Heaven help him if it is! Bridget will fix him.

(Henri Coulthurst appears, trying to force by Bridget.)

Brid. (blocking his way.) Naw, sor. Naw, sor; yez can’t coom in; yez can’t coom in; do yez hair?

Jack. Bridget! (Shouts.) Bridget! What do you mean?

Brid. Shure, sor; it’s anawther of thim peddlers.

Jack. Peddler? It’s Mr. Coulthurst — I’m awfully sorry, old man —

Daisy (smothering her laughter). Forgive me, Mr. Coulthurst — it’s too funny for anything. Jack fixed her.

Brid. (shaking her head). Shure he hev the luk of a dom peddler anyhow.

Exit Bridget.

Jack (shaking his fist). The idiot!

Daisy (recovering herself somewhat). Mr. Coulthurst, you must pardon me.

Coul. (affectedly). Nevaire! Nevaire!

Jack. For Heaven’s sake, Daisy, let up! You see Henri, our bonne, our bonnie new bonne, has been letting all the peddlers into the house. I gave her an overhauling for it only just now, and —

Daisy (laughing). Yes, Mr. Coulthurst, Jack fixed her.

Jack. Yes — I fixed her. She evidently took you for a peddler —

Coul. Ah! A peddler! It ees funny! Ha! ha!

Jack. Terribly funny! She must have judged by your dress —

Coul. By my dress? By my dress! This ees too funnee!

Jack. No, no, no. By your address, by your manner, by your politeness.

Coul. Ah, by my address?

Jack. Yes, that is it. Our peddlers over here are a most polite set, have the most distinguished manners.

Coul. Is eet so? I vil no more be so polite, so distingué to ze sairvant girls. Ah, Madame Crane (taking her hand), I am most honored, most honored. (The bell rings.)

Jack. There’s the bell! I shall answer it myself this time.

Daisy. Yes, dear, do.

Exit Jack L.; Bridget appears at back and stands with arms akimbo, watching him. Suddenly she starts as though she had been struck and goes back R.

Coul. Madame Crane, it gives me plaizure, it gives me ze great plaizure to receive you at your home so soon.

Daisy. Mr. Coulthurst, I was tickled to death yesterday to hear that you could come.

Coul. You vaire teeckled to death?

Daisy. Yes. It was such short notice.

Coul. You vaire teeckled to death? You are bettaire?

Daisy. I am better?

Coul. You haf seen ze doctaire?

Daisy. Seen the doctor, Mr. Coulthurst?

Coul. You do not appear verray seeck — you haf seen ze doctaire for — for vat you call — ze teeckles to death?

Daisy (laughing). No, no. You took me too literally, Mr. Coulthurst. When we want to say we are particularly delighted with anything over here, we say we are tickled to death with it. I meant I was delighted to hear you could come. It’s an idiom, you understand, don’t you?

Coul. Oui, madame; when I am delighted, I am teeckled to death — Oui— I may say I am teeckled to death to see you come back so ver’ pretty — so ravishing —

Daisy. Ah, Mr. Coulthurst, you flatter me.

Coul. No, no, no. Can you not see zat you have teeckled me —

Daisy. To death, Mr. Coulthurst?

Coul. Ah, madame, you vil tickle me to tree tousand deaths.

Enter Jack and Mr. Proctor.

Jack. Come right in; dinner must be almost served. Let me present you to my wife, Mr. Proctor —

Daisy. Mr. Proctor, I am delighted to meet you; Jack was determined that you should be one of our very first guests —

Proc. Aw — I am early, Mrs. Crane; pardon me, I did not know, I am sure.

Jack. And to Mr. Coulthurst, Mr. Proctor.

Coul. I am teeckled to death, teeckled to death. (Proctor stares haughtily.)

Jack. Don’t you think dinner must be nearly ready now, Daisy?

Daisy. Why yes, of course. (Enter Bridget with tray of food.) Ah, here she is. (Oversees Bridget put the dinner on the table.)

(The three men are at R., drinking a cocktail. Daisy makes several efforts to attract her husband’s attention, and finally catches his eye.)

Jack (coming over). Well, little girl? Hurry up, I must get back; they don’t get along very well.

Daisy. What are we going to do, Jack? The house is as cold as a barn. I know they are both of them freezing. (Exit Bridget.)

Jack. Can’t help it; couldn’t do anything with the furnace. They don’t mind it. All houses are cold in the fall. You get your dinner ready, it’ll be warm enough.

Daisy. It looks as though it would have to be pretty warm to make him thaw out. (Indicating Proctor.)

Jack. Gosh! he is pretty icy. (Goes back.)

(Bridget brings in a roast chicken.)

Daisy. We are all ready, Jack.

Jack. Now, gentlemen, if you will sit down.

Coul. Ah, M’sieu Crane. Ees zis my place?

Daisy (pointing to her left). M’sieur, you shall sit nowhere but here.

Coul. Madame! Madame! Ze plaizure! Ze plaizure!

Jack (to Mr. Proctor, who stands aloof). Mr. Proctor, won’t you join us?

Proc. I believe I may. Thank you. (Sits.)

(Jack begins to carve the fowl rather unskilfully; Mr. Proctor sitting frigidly silent.)

Coul. Cold, madame? No, no, no; ze French heart ees alvays warm and ze warm heart — ze warm heart — keeps ze very toes warm.

Daisy (archly). Ah, Mr. Coulthurst, but the nose? Your nose is blue.

Goul. Ees it so? Zen ze nose ees vat you call — a traitor — ees it not so, M’sieur Proctor?

Proc. Aw — really, Mr. Coldthurst — you must excuse me.

Coul. (with dignity). Pardon me, m’sieur, Mr. Coulthurst.

Jack (handing plate to Bridget). There, Daisy; I’ve given you a wing — not that you need another. (Bridget carries it to Coul.)

Coul. For me? You haf mistek not?

Jack. Bridget, that is for your mistress.

(Bridget takes plate to Daisy and remains there.)

Jack. Mr. Proctor, are you partial to white or dark meat?

Proc. You really must excuse me, Mr. Crane, but really I am quite indifferent.

Jack. You like both kinds equally well?

Proc. Really, I think I care for neither?

Jack. Oh!

Proc. That is to say, particularly.

Jack. Ah! Well, it is too bad. I suppose I ought to have known that you would prefer a joint of beef.

Proc. Ah, permit me to say roast beef is indeed a grand dish.

Coul. Bettaire zen ze biftec, m’sieur?

Proc. Sir, it is much better than beefsteak — it is also, permit me to say, infinitely better than frogs.

Coul. Zan frogs? (Enraged.) M’sieur, you know not, you haf not eaten zem, you —

Daisy. Mr. Coulthurst!

Coul. Madame?

Daisy. Really, I am beginning to feel very much neglected.

Coul. Ah! madame, I asssure you it ees quite impossible, quite —

Jack. Perhaps you will find a few scraps, Mr. Proctor, that will be palatable. Where are you? Bridget.

Brid. (intent on the conversation). Sor?

Jack. Here, take this to Mr. Proctor.

Brid. Yis, sor. (Takes it to Coul.)

Coul. It ees not for me, it ees for — him. (Pointing contemptuously.)

Proc. (rising angrily). Ah — permit me to say —

Jack (distracting him). Excuse me, Mr. Proctor, do you feel cold? I suppose I ought to have had a fire here somehow. I spent the whole morning down cellar — you like both kinds of meat, Henri?

Coul. (significantly). I like everaything, verray much.

Jack (calming Proc. again). Now, really, Mr. Proctor, you must let me explain. I spent the whole morning down cellar, as I said; I think I must have cut up over a hundred laths .— we found them in the cellar, you know, and started a fire with them three different times, but somehow that furnace coal wouldn’t seem to catch. It was exasperating — the only time the coal seemed to have any heat at all was when I had to take it out with my hands — I found it devilish hot then. Bridget!

Brid. Here, sor.

Jack. Take this to Mr. Coulthurst. (Watching her; aside.) Great Scott! she’s improving.

Daisy. It would really amuse you very much, Mr. Proctor, to hear the ludicrous mistakes we have both made. I think it was yesterday morning that Jack was going down town, so I told him we needed some yeast to make bread. An hour afterwards, the grocer’s boy brought up a dozen yeast cakes — yes, a dozen; said Jack had ordered them — the boy was grinning.

Jack. That was hardly as funny as when you discovered you needed some pepper, and told Bridget she had better order five pounds of it.

Daisy. Or when you ordered five pounds of soda crackers. They ought to have come in a dray.

Jack. Or you half a quart of spinach.

Daisy. But you will agree with me, Mr. Proctor, in giving Jack the palm, I feel sure, when you hear this. You see everyone has advised us to get things in large quantities. It is much more economical. Well, yesterday noon, I was in the kitchen watching Bridget getting lunch ready, when the expressman came round and said he had a box for us.

Jack. Daisy, do you think this is quite fair?

Daisy. Why, certainly.

Jack. Mr. Proctor, let me give you just a little more white meat. No? Well, Henri, you are ready for a little, are you not?

Coul. No, no, no. Madame, ze box, it vas?

Daisy. Well, I jumped to the conclusion at once that it was a wedding present, so I had the expressman bring it into the front hall. There it was, a great heavy box, big enough to hold a dinner set, with Jack’s name written on the top, and the card of some business house in town — everything to warrant the greatest expectations. Well, after a while, with the help of Bridget and the stove lifter, we managed to pry up the lid, and what do you suppose we found?

Coul. Ah, madame, it vas an elegant lamp or a vase, or a —

Daisy. No, Mr. Coulthurst, it was a case of eggs.

Coul. A case of eggs!

Daisy. A case of eggs. Jack had bought the whole case just for us two.

Proc. Really! It is hard to believe —

Coul. Ah, madame, you should punish him. You should mek him eat ze last egg.

Jack. That would be rotten!

Coul. Eh? (Mr. Proctor turns up his collar.)

Daisy. Jack, we really must do something. I know Mr. Proctor is freezing.

Jack. Why can’t we have the kitchen door open?

Daisy. So we might. How would it do to have Bridget make the lemonade with hot water?

Proc. Aw — permit me — hot lemonade — in a cold room, madame, with all due respect, it would be positively suicidal

Jack. That would never do. However, I’ve got a little something to bring on a little later which will warm us all up.

Daisy. Very well. Bridget, you may bring in the cranberry sauce, and, as you come, leave the kitchen door open, so as to let the heat come in here.

Brid. All right, mum. Shure, I was joost after thinkin’ yez must all be freezing in here. Did himself fail complately with the furnace?

Daisy. Yes, the furnace went out. Get the sauce at once, Bridget. We are waiting.

Brid. Shure, Oi’ll not kape yer long.

Jack. Just a minute, Daisy. Bridget, you may take the gravy round first.

Coul. and Daisy are talking together; Jack is endeavoring to start a conversation with Proctor; Bridget is listening, as she takes the gravy round. Her mistress scowls at her without effect; finally, she drops the cover in Mr. Proctor’s lap.

Daisy. Bridget, you must be careful. I hope it didn’t soil your clothes, Mr. Proctor.

Brid. Shure, mum, there was nothing but a little gravy on it.

Proc. Gravy? Really I must — (Runs his hand into it.) Aw — permit me to say, this is disgusting.

Jack. Take my napkin, Mr. Proctor — I am very sorry. She was inexcusably stupid.

Coul. (aside to Bridget). It vas all right. You sairve him right. (Bridget overturns his glass.) Ze devil! you vaire smart not.

Daisy. That will do, Bridget. I think we can spare you now. You may get the sauce. (Exit Bridget.)

Daisy. Did you ever!

Jack. Absolutely unequalled!

Coul. Eef zis had been in a book, anybody vill believe not.

Enter Bridget; they become silent.

Daisy. Bridget, did you strain this cranberry sauce?

Brid. Yis, mum.

Daisy. It seems very thick and lumpy; are you sure?

Brid. Yis, mum. Shure, there may have been a hole in the stawking, though.

Daisy. A hole in the stocking!

Jack. Stocking!

Daisy. What do you mean? Do you mean to tell me that you strained this sauce through a stocking?

Brid. Yissum.

Jack. Good Heavens!

Daisy. Goodness Gracious!

Brid. Don’t be after takin’ on so, mum; shure, I didn’t use a clane one.

Daisy (calmly). Bridget, you may take this out and throw it away. (Exit Bridget.) Jack, I am sorry to trouble you with the matter before our guests, but I have stood all I can possibly stand from this girl. You must discharge her. (Overturns her glass.)

Jack. There; there, Daisy, don’t get nervous. I’ll attend to her after dinner.

Daisy. She’s beyond enduring.

Proc. Really, she is the most remarkable creature!

Jack. Have you anything to serve in the place of the cranberry, Daisy?

Daisy (continuous clatter of dishes heard from the kitchen). No, Jack, she has utterly upset all my plans. (Rings.)

Jack. Well, never mind, I have something on the sideboard which will warm us up and fill the gap. (Enter Bridget.)

Daisy. You may shut the kitchen door. Can’t you understand that we can’t talk with such a noise?

Brid. Niver a doubt! If yez loike not me way, there be others.

Daisy. That will do, Bridget.

Brid. Shure, Oi’ll not starve.

Jack (furiously). Did you hear your mistress? That will do. Now, go to the sideboard and bring me the bottle and the glasses on the tray there.

(Bridget brings them.)

Proc. Really, you must permit me to say, her actions are most remarkable.

Brid. And phwhat hev yez to do with it, yez glimheaded ould duck.

Jack. Bridget, leave the room, instantly.

Brid. (going). Phwat right hev he — shure, Oi’ll take no lip from the loikes of him. (Exit.)

Jack. Mr. Proctor, pray be seated.

Proc. You must permit me — you really must permit me to say —

Coul. Veil? You haf our permission for ze last tree minutes. (Daisy silences him.)

Proc. Sir, I must be permitted to say, I have been most outrageously —

Daisy (interrupting). Really, Mr. Proctor, you cannot feel half so badly as we.

Jack. Yes, Mr. Proctor, I do not know how to tell you my unhappiness at what has happened. You cannot feel near so badly over it as I. Let me beg of you to overlook it and sit down with us again.

Daisy. Do, Mr. Proctor, do.

Proc. Really, then you are quite sure this was not premeditated?

Jack. Premeditated! Sir! This whole dinner was arranged in your honor.

Daisy. For the past two days our one thought has been to make this, our first dinner, a pleasant one to you.

Proc. (sits). Really, I suppose I ought to be very grateful to you.

Jack. Not at all; not at all, Mr. Proctor, we did not count upon your gratitude in the least.

Coul. Permeet me to say, zen you did veil.

Proc. Sir!

Daisy. You misunderstand Mr. Coulthurst. He means we do right. What we do is in good taste, is it not so, Mr. Coulthurst?

Coul. Ah, madame, vat you say would be right, though eet deceive.

Jack. Now, let us forget our troubles and grow good humored over the wine. This bottle, which I have opened in honor of to-day, is exactly my age. The very autumn I was born, twenty-five years ago, my good old uncle Henry put away a gross of these jolly good fellows. When he heard I was married he sent me this, the only one left. He had denied himself it — the good old soul — for five years, waiting for some fit occasion for breaking the seal.

Coul. We vill drink ze good healths to you.

Jack. Thank you, Henri.

Coul. (rising). To ze good healths of Madame et Monsieur! Mat zay be full —  no, no, no — may zaire life be full— of ze teeckles to death. You laugh. You no drink. Why laugh you?

Daisy. Stop, Jack!

Jack. Oh, Lord! Who has been giving you points on English, Henri?

Coul. Points on Anglais? Ha! I haf made a mistek? Eet ees funny. (Laughs.)

Proc. Permit me to say, sir, you flatter yourself; it is not funny.

Coul. Ha, eet is not funny?

Proc. Far otherwise, it is absurd.

Coul. Ha, eef you see ze uzzerwise, zen zat ees funny.

Proc. Sir!

Jack. Here, Henri, let me fill your glass again.

Coul. Ha, ze wine makes ze touchdown — at ze right spot. We vill drink. I vill try again.

Jack. Well, Henri.

Coul. Here eez to ze good healths of Madame et Monsieur, may zay— (pausing) he does not drink.

Jack. Will you not join us, Mr. Proctor?

Proc. Really, I feel I must decline. I find wine too stimulating. I seldom drink anything but plain soda.

Jack. Ha, plain soda! Then you shall have some. There’s a syphon on the sideboard. Will you ring, Dais? (Daisy rings.)

Coul. (aside). Nossing but ze plain soda! (Enter Bridget.)

Jack. You have thrown out the cranberry sauce, Bridget?

Brid. Oi hov.

Jack. Well, you may bring the syphon on the sideboard to Mr. Proctor.

Brid. (aside). It’s the surroughfun the ould duck is wantin’. Shure, and phwat is that he’d be drinkin’? He’ll not drink from the same bottle with thim; shure, it’s this. (Takes him another bottle of wine.)

Proc. (coldly). Aw — really — did I ask for this?

Jack. No, no, no; Bridget, take it back. (Sarcastically.) It’s the bottle on the right hand front corner. It is a bottle made of glass and filled with a substance like water; — it has a beak like a duck.

Brid. (aside). Did he arsk for this! The ould turk! Shure, sor, is it this that yez mane?

Jack. Yes, Bridget, look out you don’t drop it.

Brid. Divil a bit! Shure, I hev hold of it loike a cat ov a fish.

As she starts to set it down beside Mr. Proctor, her grasp opens the catch, the stream of soda strikes Mr. Proctor full in the face.

Proc. Aw!

Bridget turns the bottle round to see what is the matter, and gets a jet of it herself. She recoils, holds it out at arm’s length, and it spurts over Mr. Proctor, Jack and the table.

Brid. It’s some thrick yez be after playin’.

Jack. Trick! trick! I’ll trick you! Put it down, do you hear, put it down, you Irish imbecile! (He gets a stream and retreats.)

Brid. (putting it down). Take the dom thing! Take it away! Shure, it has spoilt me new dress intoirely. Will yez pay me for that, McCat?

Jack. Get out! Get out of here! I won’t have you in the house a minute longer. Do you hear?

Daisy (admonishingly). Jack!

Brid. So yez’ll not? Then Oi’ll be after givin’ yez warnin’. I’ll lave in a wake.

Jack. In a week? If you are not out of here in ten minutes, I’ll throw you and your things into the street.

Brid. (retreating). Oh, yez will?

Jack. Yes, I will. Get out, do you hear, get out of here!

(Throws a plate at her head; Bridget dodges out.)

Daisy. Jack! Jack!

Jack. Don’t you Jack me! I’ll be the death of that girl if she ever comes within reach again. It would do me good to kick her head foremost down stairs.

Brid. (poking her head in). Shure, do yez think ye are able?

Jack (rising). Great Scott! This is too much. (Going.)

Daisy (imploringly). Jack, Jack, come back! Look after Mr. Proctor.

Jack (returning). Ah, pardon me, let me help you. Use this napkin, it is a dry one.

Proc. (excitedly). Sir! Sir, this is past bearing. You invite me to dinner, you claim to be my cousin. I come to your freezing house, I sit at your barbaric board, and am insulted again and again. Again and again, I say. Any further insults would be quite superfluous. You may have meditated others, but —

Jack. Mr. Proctor, I assure you —

Proc. Enough. I have heard your own menial confess to the trick before she fled from my wrath. I regret that I have given you the benefit of the doubt. I am through with you. You are no cousin, sir, of mine; you are an imposter; I disown you. (Going; to Coul.) And as for you, you, you human snipe, if you want any satisfaction, there is my card. (Throws card at him; exit.)

Coul. Ze devil! Ze man ees mad! I vill kill him.

Daisy. Jack, go after him and explain.

Jack. What, after that? Not by a long shot! Let the devilish fool go.

Daisy. But, Jack, dear, think. We won’t get any present.

Jack. What do I care?

Daisy. You did care, you know you did. And his influence, Jack — it will tell against us dreadfully with his branch of the family.

Jack. You ought to have thought of that before.

Daisy. And that is the only branch of either of our families that is wealthy, Jack.

Jack (turning). Deuce take it! Why couldn’t you have looked out for her? I had all the rest of the dinner on my hands.

Daisy (warningly). Jack, do you realize we are not alone?

Jack. What do I care? It seems to me that anyone with the smallest grain of common sense would have known better; you ought to have watched her more closely; you ought to have got the soda yourself; you ought to have done a dozen things any other woman in the world would have known enough to.

Daisy. Stop! Don’t you dare say another word to me, do you hear?

(They take opposite sides of the stage.)

Coul. Ze bottel ees empty? No. Zay vill drink? No. Zey have spilled zemselves. I must go. It vair bettair so. Oh, ze Anglais! I could break hees wishbone; (going) but ze card! (Returns; picks it up.) Ah! Ze Meester George Proctor!

Jack. What?

Coul. Eh? Oh, ze name on ze card.

Jack. Let me see.

Coul. Ze card? Ah, oui, eet ees yours, you may have eet.

Jack. Great Scott! Daisy!

Daisy (distantly). Well?

Jack. It was not he.

Daisy (rising). What?

Jack. It was not he. The name on his card is Mr. George Proctor. My cousin’s name is Geoffrey.

Daisy. Good gracious! Are you sure?

Jack. There’s the card.

Daisy. Mr. George Proctor, The Brunswick.

Coul. Oui, Meester George Proctor. I see. He ees no friend?

Daisy. Why, Jack! How did it happen?

Jack. Why, I saw in the paper that Mr. Geoffrey Proctor was stopping at The Brunswick. It’s not a common name. I concluded it was my cousin, and sent him a note asking him to come and dine with us here to-day. Either the newspaper got the name wrong, or my invitation was delivered to the wrong party. Probably the paper was wrong.

Daisy. Jolly! Isn’t that fine!

Jack. Fine? It makes my very soul rejoice. We’ve got through with two of the greatest jays in him and Bridget the good Lord ever produced.

Daisy. An elephant and an iceberg! Ugh!

Jack. So now let’s sit down and finish our dinner. You will stay, Henri?

Coul. I vill stay? Permeet me to zay, it vill afford me ze greatest plaizure.

(They return to the table.)

Jack. Ha, Henri, you are the best kind of a guest after all. You come to the table with a zest for the food and the wine, you rogue —

Coul. Ah, monsieur, permeet me; but not ze plain soda.

Jack. True, Henri. We draw the line at that.

Coul. A toast, monsieur — a toast — tamnation and ze plain soda for ze icebergs; wine and ze teeckles to death for ze rest.

(They are eating noisily and happily.)



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