One-Act Plays
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a play in one-act

by Henry Arthur Jones

The following one-act play is reprinted from The Theatre of Ideas: A Burlesque and Three One-act Plays. Henry Arthur Jones. New York: George H. Doran Company, 1915. It is now in the public domain and may therefore be performed without royalties.


MINNIE BRACE, her cousin
WALTER SCOBELL, a rich Argentine planter
FRED BRACY, Minnie's husband


Varley's Private Hotel, Southampton


The Present--a morning in Autumn

[Varley's Hotel, Southampton. A private sitting room furnished in an old-fashioned, rather dingy, comfortable way. A door at back to the right, leading into a passage. A fireplace, right, with fire burning. A large looking-glass over the fireplace. A large bay window all along left, giving a view of a garden, and beyond its wall shipping, masts, big steamer funnels, etc... Left center, toward the window, a large narrow table with a cloth.]

[Discover WAITER, showing in FRED and MINNIE BRACY.]

WAITER: How long should you require the sitting-room, sir?

FRED: (An ordinary Englishman, about thirty-five) Only for an hour or so. My friend is leaving by the Dunstaffnage--what time does she sail?

WAITER: At two o'clock. Will this room suit you, sir?

FRED: Yes; this will do. When my friend comes back, ask him to come here.

WAITER: Yes, sir. (Exit.)

FRED: (Laughing) Well, this is a pretty mad bit of business.

MINNIE: (A well-dressed Englishwoman, about thirty) Not at all! I saw Mr. Scobell was rather struck by Patty at the ball last week. It was lucky she was staying at Southsea and could get over so easily.

FRED: What's the good of bringing her over for an hour? They can't fix up an engagement in that time.

MINNIE: Why not? Mr. Scobell seems to know his own mind.

FRED: Oh, yes!

MINNIE: And he wants to get married.

FRED: Yes; but you're going ahead too fast, old girl.

MINNIE: There isn't much time to waste, is there? He has only another hour in England, and he isn't engaged yet. What did he really say in the smoking room last night?

FRED: Nothing much. Except that he wanted a wife out there, and he wished he'd had an opportunity of seeing more of Patty. And on the strength of that, you telegraph straight off to Patty to come here and meet him.

MINNIE: Naturally! Mr. Scobell will be a very rich man, and I wanted to give poor old Pat a chance.

FRED: She has muddled her love affairs terribly. You might just give Pat a friendly caution.

MINNIE: Her tongue? (FRED nods.) Yes, she does talk.

FRED: And never says anything! But look at her mother!

MINNIE: Oh, aunt's a downright horrid old bore!

FRED: And Patty's just as bad! Poor old Lorry!

MINNIE: Why poor old Lorry?

FRED: Fancy being out alone in the wilds of Argentina, and having nothing to listen to but Patty's tongue for four or five years. (Bursts into a roar of laughter.)


[Enter at back, LAWRENCE SCOBELL, about thirty-five, rather heavy, thick-set, stolid, quiet, cautious.]

FRED: So you've turned up, Lorry?

SCOBELL: Yes, there's a mistake about my cabin; wrong number; they've turned another fellow in.

MINNIE: Perhaps you'll have to stay till the next boat.

SCOBELL: (Shakes his head) Can't!

MINNIE: Not even to meet my charming cousin, Patty, and get to know her better?

SCOBELL: (Shakes his head) I must be in Buenos Aires this day three weeks. Miss Hanslope is coming here?

MINNIE: (Taking out an opened telegram) Yes, I've just got her telegram. She says-- (reading): "Delighted to come over, will be at Varley's about twelve." She'll be here directly.

SCOBELL: In your telegram to her you didn't mention it was on my account?

MINNIE: No--at least I said you were sailing by the Dunstaffnage, and wished to say goodbye to her.

SCOBELL: You haven't committed me?

MINNIE: Oh no! But you are--a--interested in Patty?

SCOBELL: Yes, indeed!

MINNIE: And you hope to be--still further interested?

SCOBELL: Yes. I dread the terrible loneliness out there. Not a soul to speak to for weeks together!

MINNIE: Patty is splendid company--isn't she, Fred?

FRED: Delightful! You'll never have a dull moment, old boy.

MINNIE: She has refused three offers in the last six months.

FRED: And I know Bill Garriss is screwing up his pluck to ask her.

MINNIE: (Shakes her head) I'm afraid you don't stand much chance. Still you can but try.

SCOBELL: Thank you. If you will merely give me half an hour alone with Miss Hanslope--

[Enter WAITER.]

WAITER: Mr. Scobell?


WAITER: A clerk from the shipping office wishes to see you about your cabin, sir.

SCOBELL: I'll come to him. (Exit WAITER.) If Miss Hanslope comes, I shall be back in a few minutes. (Exit.)

FRED: Well, Patty can't say we haven't done our best for her!

MINNIE: If only she won't talk too much!

FRED: Yes, Pat's a good-looking girl; if she'd only hold her tongue, nobody would ever guess what a fool she is!

MINNIE: It was her terrible chatter that choked off George Moorcroft--he told me so himself.

FRED: Perhaps Lorry won't find her out--he'll only have half an hour. Let's hope he'll spend all the time in looking at her.

[PATTY'S voice is heard in the passage; a moment or two later the WAITER opens the door for her and stands back; she is heard coming along the passage speaking very rapidly.]

PATTY: (Off) Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Bracy. He's a little fair man with reddish hair and a sandy bristling moustache that he's always curling up at the end, like the German Emperor, and she's a tall dark woman with a Chinchilla muff, and a pointed nose something like my own.

[Sailing into the room, talking all the while. She is a handsome woman about 30, with a perpetual smile, and a perpetual stream of empty irrelevant talk, which flows on in a cackling but not unpleasant voice, and is constantly punctuated by an irritating, meaningless little laugh of three notes; the last note is the highest, so the laugh is never completed, but turns up unexpectedly in another part of the sentence. She has an air of joyous self-complacency, and never suspects herself of being an empty silly fool. She over-emphasizes nearly every word in a sentence, especially unimportant adjectives and adverbs.]

PATTY: (To WAITER) Now, why couldn't you show me in at first instead of making such a fuss about it? (WAITER is going--she continues speaking.) Oh! I've left a waterproof--please look after it.

[WAITER goes off and closes door after him. PATTY goes up, opens it and calls off.]

PATTY: Oh, and an umbrella. (Closes door.) Well, here you are, my dear! (Kissing MINNIE) I've been racing all over the hotel to find you! I do think Southampton is the most stupid place, and the waiters are absolutely the most stupid people under the sun! Well, dear, where is Mr. Scobell? Do you really think now that he is-- (silly little laugh) smitten? I couldn't quite understand your telegram, so I flew upstairs without any breakfast and dressed as quickly as I could. I hope I haven't overdone it-- (glancing at herself in the glass) --because I don't wish Mr. Scobell to think me a dressy, extravagant woman. At the same time I want to look my-- (silly little laugh) sweetest and best. Oh, Fred, how are you? How can Minnie let you wear such awful waistcoats? When I get a husband-- (silly little laugh) I shall take care to---- Where have I put that telegram? (Searching her pockets and a handbag) But you know I thought that night at the ball he was-- (silly little laugh) because he kept on looking at me in a-- (silly little laugh) Well, you know how men look when they really are-- (silly little laugh) Oh, here it is! (Producing the telegram, reading) "You have made a great impression (silly little laugh) on Mr. Scobell. He is most anxious to see you again. (silly little laugh) Meet us at Varley's Hotel, Southampton, early as possible. Your whole future at stake--most important you have an understanding with him before he sails." Do you know I think it was the dearest and sweetest thing in the world for you to spend all that money on a telegram-- (kisses her) --and when it's all settled (silly little laugh) I shall give you my diamond and pearl brooch as a little acknowledgment--darling. You know, the one with the large pearl for the body of the bee--it's my favorite brooch. And I shall work Fred a very handsome waistcoat myself instead of that awful thing he's wearing. And do you really think, eh? (silly little laugh) Mr. Scobell is really, really, really smitten?

MINNIE: We've all but fixed it up for you! You've only got to let him propose and accept him!

PATTY: Thank you, dear. Of course I shall accept him if he gives me the chance.

MINNIE: He's tremendously rich--in a few years he'll be a millionaire.

FRED: A multi-millionaire! You've only got to go out to Argentina for four or five years, Pat, and then come back to London and help him to spend it.

MINNIE: It will be your own fault if you don't bring it off this time!

PATTY: My dear! How can it be my fault when I've simply flown over here without any breakfast to see him? I wonder if I could have just a biscuit, and a glass of sherry?

FRED: Certainly.

PATTY: Not--it might make my nose red. My nose isn't red now, is it? (Glancing at herself in glass) It always gets a little red when I go without breakfast. (Looking at herself in the glass) I almost wish I'd put on my other hat--you know, the large one-- (Her present hat is enormous.) --but I thought it might get dusty--however if he is really-- (silly little laugh) I daresay it will do well enough (silly little laugh), and after all, it isn't what one wears as much as what one is in oneself that really matters--I think I'll take my hat off if you don't think it looks just a little too--too-- (Takes hat off) Yes, I really think that looks better--don't you? (Looking at herself in the glass) Do you know I think I shall hang back at first, and give him just a tiny, tiny little wee bit of a snubbing----

MINNIE: My dear Pat, there's no time for that.

FRED: Take my advice, Pat--come to business at once. The moment Lorry makes you an offer, or even a little before, down on him, and don't give him a chance of escape.

PATTY: Very well. I will. But I hope he won't think I'm throwing myself at him, because it isn't as if I hadn't got other chances. There's George Moorcroft only waiting for me to give him another chance--and I rather fancy Mr. Garriss is hoping I-- (Looking at herself in the glass) --I'm sure my nose is a little red.

FRED: Not a bit! Your nose is all right. It isn't your nose that will do the mischief.

PATTY: What then? What do you mean?

MINNIE: Now, Pat, don't get angry! George Moorcroft told me that the reason he hung back was---- Well, my dear, it was your tongue.

PATTY: My tongue?! My tongue?!! My tongue??!! The reason George Moorcroft holds back is because I've very plainly given him to understand that it's absolutely not the least possible use in the world his coming forward! George Moorcroft! Why, he has the vilest temper. George Moorcroft! (With a little snort)

FRED: Well, never mind George Moorcroft. Lorry Scobell will be here in a moment.

MINNIE: Yes! Now, Patty, for your own sake--take care!

PATTY: Take care of what?

MINNIE: Mr. Scobel is a very cold, quiet, reserved man.

PATTY: Then he'll naturally want somebody who is very gay and lively.

MINNIE: (Looking dubiously at FRED) I don't think Mr. Scobell will like--

PATTY: My dear Minnie, that shows how little you know about human nature. People are always attracted by their opposites. I'm very glad you've told me Mr. Scobell is cold and reserved, because now I know exactly how to manage him. I was going to be a little reserved and standoffish myself, but now, well, I shall be a little, just a little (silly little laugh) free and easy, so as to fit completely into his moods. Why are you two looking at each other like that? Do let me know how to manage my own love affairs. Really any one would think I'd never had (silly little laugh) a proposal before!

FRED: (Solemnly) I hope, Patty, you'll never stand in need of one again!

[SCOBELL enters at back with a steamship ticket in his hand.]

FRED: (To LORRY) Miss Hanslope has just arrived.

PATTY: (Shaking hands eagerly with SCOBELL) How d'ye do? It was so kind of you to wish to see me again. I had a croquet party at the Barringers'--they're really very nice people, and one meets such a lot of nice people there, but the moment I got Minnie's telegram I flew off, and--

FRED: (Has been making signs to PATTY to be quiet--he now bursts in upon her stream of talk) One moment, Patty--Minnie and I have a little shopping to do, and if you'll excuse us--Lorry, old fellow, I'll order lunch for four, and I'll have it all ready to pop on the table the moment we come in. Come along, Minnie! We must make haste! (Exit.)

[MINNIE kisses PATTY, gives her a warning look and sign, and exits.]

[SCOBELL has gone up to the fireplace.]

PATTY: (Glances at him a moment) So you're really sailing for Argentina today?


PATTY: I've always wished to travel. Of course, we've done Switzerland and the Riviera till we're utterly sick of it. I loathe Switzerland! But I've always had a great desire to explore fresh countries, and camp out, and rough it a great deal, and perhaps do a little pig-sticking--that is if you wouldn't think it a little--just a tiny little bit (silly little laugh) unwomanly. I've such a horror of doing anything unwomanly. When I die I should like my epitaph to be "She never did anything unwomanly." Just that! No more! "She never did anything unwomanly." And perhaps you think pigsticking unwomanly?

SCOBELL: There is no pigsticking in Argentina.

PATTY: Isn't there? Then, of course, that settles the question. Where is Argentina?

SCOBELL: In South America.

PATTY: South America! How awfully interesting! I've always dreamed of South America since I was a schoolgirl, and read about Red Indians, and the Incas, and Pagodas, and the Conquest of Peru. I can't remember who it was that conquered Peru. (A pause.) Pere was conquered, wasn't it? (Pause.) Peru is in South America, isn't it?

SCOBELL: Yes. (She looks at him--a longish pause.)

PATTY: And so you really sail for Argentina this afternoon?


PATTY: I felt so flattered when I got Minnie's telegram to say that you remembered me. And we only met that one night at the ball! But how often one finds that even chance meetings like ours are charged with lifelong consequences, doesn't one?


PATTY: One sees a face in a crowd, or perhaps in a railway carriage, or one hears a distant note of music; or perhaps in the bustle and whirl of a London season a sense of the utter emptiness of things comes over one, and one longs to throw off all the trammels of civilization, and live just a sweet simple existence in some new country--haven't you ever felt like that?

SCOBELL: Not exactly.

[PATTY feels discouraged, and there is a long pause.]

PATTY: So you really must sail for Argentina this afternoon?


[Another long pause. PATTY looks at him and then goes towards table.]

PATTY: (In a colder, less eager voice) I really couldn't understand Minnie's telegram. She said something about your sailing, and you'd like an opportunity of seeing me. You did wish to see me?

SCOBELL: Yes. (Coming up to her) The fact is, I was very lonely out there, and last night at Fred's smoking-room I felt very down in the mouth at the thought of leaving England--and I thought-- (approaching her rather tenderly)

PATTY: Yes? (Approaching him a little)

SCOBEL: I felt-- (approaching her)


SCOBELL: I thought if I could persuade some nice girl--


SCOBELL: I dreaded being out there alone--

PATTY: How terrible for you! How absolutely awful! I think there's nothing more dreadful than that feeling of utter solitude and desolation that creeps over one when one is left alone for any long time. What do you do in Argentina?

SCOBELL: I'm developing a large tract of land, cutting it up into farms. I farm one large tract myself.

PATTY: What a perfectly sweet life! Three years ago we went for a month to a farmhouse in Wales, and I used to watch the girl milking the cows every evening. I asked her to let me try one evening, but she didn't understand a word of English, and the cow got rather troublesome, and when I patted her dear little calf she looked quite vicious, as if she was going to toss me. Not that I'm afraid of cows!--Or of anything! In fact I love danger of all kinds! I positively revel in danger! That's my one fault--if it is a fault. And there couldn't be a prettier dress to face dangers and hardships in than a Welse girl's. I wonder if it would be possible to get a Welsh dress in Southampton? No, there isn't time, is there?

SCOBELL: I'm afraid not. (He goes to the corner of table upstage.)

[During the following scene he gradually gets into window--she gradually follows him up, gets on the right side of table, which is on casters; she unconsciously pushes it toward the window until she has hemmed him in the lower bay of the window, with the table diagonally across from middle of window to the corner of the bay, so that he cannot escape. This is done very gradually and quite unconsciously.]

PATTY: (After a pause) What do the women generally wear in Argentina?

SCOBELL: I haven't noticed.

PATTY: But they must wear something! I do think it's so charming when the women of a country adopt some distinctive national costume, like the Tyrolese or the Welse. I believe that some of the Tyrolese women wear a dress that is--a--well, it's really a masculine dress. I couldn't do that! I loathe masculine women, don't you?


PATTY: I think that when once a woman goes out of her own proper sphere and tries to be a man--well, she doesn't succeed, does she?


PATTY: When a woman has so many attractions of her own, why should she go out of her own proper sphere and try to be a man? Why should she?

SCOBELL: I don't know.

PATTY: I think I shall introduce a national style of dress into Argentina. What are the shops like in Argentina?

SCOBELL: There aren't any shops where I live.

PATTY: No shops?

SCOBELL: It takes three weeks to get to the nearest town.

PATTY: Oh, how delightful! No shops! It must be quite the country.

SCOBELL: (Looking at the steamship ticket in his hand) They've made a mistake in the number of my cabin.

PATTY: Have they? How careless of them! I often ask myself how can people be so stupid? How do you account for there being so many stupid people in the world? (He has been fidgetting--a pause.) What's the climate of Argentina? Is it very hot?

SCOBELL: Rather--in the summer.

PATTY: And I suppose the winters are rather cold? I am so fond of the winter! I think there's nothing more delightful than to gather round the fire on a winter evening, while the logs are crackling on the hearth, and tell ghost stories. I know one or two awfully good ghost stories. Do you know at times I feel I must frighten people! I do! I can't help it! I feel positively wicked! I made a whole party sit up at the Vicar's the other night. The Bishop said I made him feel quite uncomfortable. The dear Bishop! It was too bad of me to frighten him, wasn't it?


PATTY: Are you fond of ghost stories?

SCOBELL: Not very.

PATTY: Then I shall tell you one. Not now--but one of these days I shall suddenly begin a creepy, creepy blood curdler that I reserve for my special friends; and before you expect it, I shall make you positively shudder all over! Positively shudder! Now, don't say I didn't warn you.

SCOBELL: I've got to change my ticket.

PATTY: But I don't know after all if I don't prefer the summer. The delightful long evenings! But really I can make myself happy and contented anywhere. Nothing ever puts me out. If things go wrong, I simply smile, and say all the pleasant things I can think of, and wait till everything comes all right again! (A longish pause.) We didn't settle what dresses I ought to get. And then, of course, there are mother's dresses to think of as well as my own.

SCOBELL: You have a mother?

PATTY: Yes, didn't I tell you? I must have forgotten it. How I wish you could have met her! But, of course, there will be plenty of opportunities, won't there? (Pause--he doesn't reply.) You will like her so much. (Pause.) Everybody says I'm exactly what she was when she was twenty-five. (SCOBELL is fidgetting and looking out of the window. By this time she has pushed the table against the window so that he is quite hemmed in at the lower bay of the window.) I must tell you mother is rather a gay old creature.

SCOBELL: Indeed!

PATTY: Yes. I rather pride myself on my good temper and my constant flow of animal spirits. (silly little laugh) Don't you think I have a rather good supply of animal spirits?


PATTY: I'm nowhere beside mother! She's simply wonderful! Always the life and soul of any company she's in. (Pause.) You've been rather dull and lonely out in Argentina, Fred tells me?

SCOBELL: Not very.

PATTY: Nobody could be dull and lonely for one moment where mother is. What amusements are there in Argentina?

SCOBELL: There aren't any amusements.

PATTY: No amusements?

SCOBELL: Not where I live.

PATTY: Mother is so fond of society, and seeing everything, and going everywhere, and knowing everybody.

SCOBELL: Argentina won't suit her at all.

PATTY: Oh, but of course, if I went to Argentina it would be impossible for me to leave my mother behind! I simply couldn't do it! She is such a dear! Always ready to make herself pleasant and agreeable wherever she is. And she has such a fund of anecdotes and recollections! And so witty and humorous! I love wit and humour in a woman, don't you?


PATTY: I'd far--oh far, rather a woman were witty and humorous than merely beautiful, wouldn't you? Because beauty itself soon fades, and when a woman has beauty and nothing else, well, it's like putting all the goods in the shop window, isn't it? And the moment she loses her good looks--poor creature! what is she? Just a mere bit of faded finery to be thrown aside. I don't wonder that men quickly tire of some women, do you?


PATTY: Nobody could tire of mother! And she's so ready at repartee--we had my Sunday school children to tea on our lawn, and we invited the new curate, and after tea he took the garden broom and was sweeping up the litter the children had made. "Ah!" my mother said, "new brooms sweep clean!" (SCOBELL doesn't laugh.) Just like that! Quite on the spur of the moment! "New brooms sweep clean!" (SCOBELL doesn't laugh, but stands quite still--an awkward pause. She explains rather sharply.) He was quite a new curate, and so she said "New brooms sweep clean." (A long pause.) You will like my mother. (SCOBELL has been showing signs of restlessness, and glancing out of the window at the ship's funnels. After a pause.) Is anything the matter?

SCOBELL: No. I really must see about my ticket. (Making a slight effort to push the table from the window.)

PATTY: Yes, but--you--haven't--er--a----

SCOBELL: (Taking out his watch) I'd better get across at once.

PATTY: But Minnie said you particularly wished to see me.

SCOBELL: (A little lamely) I thought I should like to have the pleasure of--of saying goodbye.

PATTY: Goodbye? But you sent for me to come from Southsea. I don't understand. Please explain.

SCOBELL: I was agreeably impressed the other night at the ball, and ai said so to Fred last night--and--in his smoking-room----

PATTY: Yes. Well?

SCOBELL: And on the strength of that Mrs. Bracy telegraphed----

PATTY: Yes, there's her telegram. (Producing the telegram, giving it to him) "Your whole future at stake--most important you have an understanding with him before he sails?" Read it!

SCOBELL: I'm afraid Mrs. Bracy has been indiscreet----

PATTY: Indiscreet! But you said yourself that you were agreeably impressed by me. (Pause. She speaks very sharply.) Did you or did you not say you were agreeably impressed by me?

SCOBELL: At the ball--yes.

PATTY: Yes. Well? And that you would like to see me? (SCOBELL does not reply. She speaks again very sharply.) Did you or did you not say you wished to see me?


PATTY: Yes. Well? Why did you wish to see me?

SCOBELL: (Lamely) I thought we might begin a disinterested friendship----

PATTY: (With a little shriek, getting more and more angry, nearly crying with vexation and losing control over herself.) Disinterested friendship! You couldn't suppose I should hurry over from Southsea for a disinterested friendship!

SCOBELL: I'm very sorry if I have caused you any inconvenience.

PATTY: Inconvenience! I haven't had any breakfast! And I had a most pressing invitation to the Barringers'. They're quite the nicest people in Southsea--one meets everybody there. Instead of that you bring me over here (taking up the telegram which he has put on the table) on the distinct understanding that you intended--I don't understand your conduct, Mr. Scobell. Will you please give me some explanation of it?

SCOBELL: (Making a gentle movement to push the table back so that he can get out.) I must be getting to my boat.

PATTY: Surely, Mr. Scobell, you will not dare to leave me in this terrible uncertainty. Before you go on board we must please have a thorough understanding. (Seats herself resolutely at table. Pause.) Will you or will you not please give me some explanation of your conduct?

SCOBELL: (Getting angry and desperate.) But my boat sails--will you kindly let me pass?

PATTY: Not that I wish to force myself upon you! Please don't think that. I could never stoop to make myself cheap to any man! I'm not driven to that necessity! No! No! A thousand times no! It's simply that my womanly pride and delicacy have been cruelly outraged. It's simply that I owe it to my sense of what is due to an English lady not to be dragged over from Southsea without any breakfast, and then made the sport of your caprice, while you sail off to Argentina, utterly oblivious of your honour, and of the woman you have entangled and deserted!

SCOBELL: Take it easy, my dear lady--take it easy!

PATTY: (Shriek.) My dear lady! My dear lady! You first inveigle me here and then you insult me. Oh, if I had known! Mr. Scobell, surely you will not be so ungentlemanly--so unmanly--but there will come a time when you will vainly remember how recklessly you threw away the happiness that is still within your grasp, if you only choose to pick it up. (Suddenly bursting out.) Oh! What have I said? What have I said? Oh! (With a long wail she bursts into tears, flings herself over the table and sobs.)

[SCOBELL, very uncomfortable, on the other side of the table, watches her with growing embarrassment.]

SCOBELL: My dear Miss Hanslope, I'm terribly sorry--

PATTY: (Wailing from the table.) If you're truly sorry, you can do no less, as a gentleman, than make amends.

SCOBELL: Will you please let me pass out?

PATTY: Then you're prepared to take the consequences?

SCOBELL: Certainly.

PATTY: Very well! Mr. Bracy will be here in a moment to deman a full explanation of your conduct.

SCOBELL: I'll write him about it. Meantime, my lawyers are Beame and Son, Gray's Inn Square. If you have any claim against me, please put your solicitors in communication with them. (Very decidedly) Now, may I pass?

PATTY: (Magnificently) No! How could you suppose that I could degrade myself by making a market of my most sacred feelings and bringing them into a Court of Law! No, the injuries you have done me cannot be paid by money--you have wounded my finest feelings! You have trampled upon--

[Enter MINNIE and FRED at back.]

FRED: Heigho! What's the matter?

PATTY: (Continuing her harangue to SCOBELL) Yes, I refuse you! In the first place our slight acquaintance gave you no right whatever to make me an offer of marriage! And I'm sure the more I knew of you the less I should be inclined to accept you!

FRED: What's the matter?

PATTY: (Losing her self-control, bursting into a fit of rage) I've never been so insulted in my life! (To MINNIE and FRED) How could you bring me over from Southsea only to be annoyed and insulted by this man?

FRED: Lorry! What has he done, Pat?

PATTY: He has called me the most insulting names!

FRED: What names? (Looking at SCOBELL)

PATTY: He said--he said--he said--"Take it easy, my dear lady!" My dear lady! I've never been addressed in such a manner before! Minnie, here is your telegram! Now I want you both to read that over carefully, and say whether it doesn't amount to an offer of marriage. And then before you allow him to sail for Argentina, I want you to ask him plainly whether he intends to carry out his promise, or--where is he?

[She has turned her back to SCOBELL to talk to MINNIE and FRED. Meanwhile SCOBELL has crept under the table and emerges from under it on all fours.]

FRED: (to SCOBELL) Lorry, we'd better clear this up, eh?

SCOBELL: (Getting up) I'll write you fully. Goodbye, old fellow.

FRED: (Embarrassed) You'll stay and have some lunch.

SCOBELL: Haven't a moment. I must catch this boat. Goodbye, Mrs. Bracy!

MINNIE: Goodbye? But can't you explain?

PATTY: (Shrieks out to FRED) You surely won't let him leave this room without an explanation?

SCOBELL: (Hurrying off) Take it easy, my dear lady! Take it easy! (Hurries off.)

FRED: You seem to have muddled it again, Pat!

PATTY: It was all your fault, and Minnie's for bringing me over! (WAITER enters with luncheon ready laid; puts it on table, pulls the table out from the window.) How could you suppose that I should go over to a wretched country like Argentina, where there aren't any shops--after all the really good offers I've refused! You might have had more consideration for me! And without a mouthful of breakfast!

FRED: Well, here's some lunch!

PATTY: And the Barringers sent me such a pressing invitation to their croquet party! (Looks at her watch.) I shall just have time to get back to Southsea. (Puts on her hat.)

MINNIE: You'd much better stay and have some lunch.

PATTY: No, I can get some sandwiches somewhere. I must go. They'll expect me. I mustn't disappoint them! (To WAITER) When does the next train start for Southsea? Come and get me a cab and a Bradshaw. At once! Please! Goodbye, Minnie! Goodbye, Fred! Your friend, Mr. Scobell, must be mad! (To WAITER) Please--a cab and some sandwiches and my waterproof and umbrella! And a Bradshaw! Where are my gloves? (Exit at back.) Is there anybody then who can get ma a cab and some biscuits?--I never was so insulted--and a Bradshaw--do you hear?--a cab and some biscuits and sandwiches!--or anything to eat! and my gloves! (Exit down passage.)

[FRED shrugs his shoulders, points to the lunch. MINNIE and FRED sit down to the table which the WAITER has pulled out into the room. PATTY'S voice is heard dying away along the passage.]


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