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Francis [after a pause]. This is really very interesting.

Sir C. [snorting, offended]. Is it? Thanks!

Francis. Now look here. Charlie. Of course we're strangers, but still I'm your brother. Don't be an ass. When I say that this is really very interesting, I mean that it is. I'm not laughing at you. My attitude to you-and to everybody, as far as that goesis entirely sympathetic. Because after all we're all in the same boat.

Sir C. All in the same boat? How in the same boat?

Francis. Well, on the same planet. Always getting in each other's way. And death staring all of us in the face! You keep on talking about superior people. There aren't any.

Sir C. There's a lot that think they

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one named Smythe, as being very wonderful?

Sir C. Yes, he's the chief of the editorial staff of the "Mercury." But he couldn't do this. You don't understand. He could give Lord Henry beans for the benefit of our public, and he will! But he couldn't persuade Lord Henry that the swine had got beans. He couldn't do it. It's a different sort of thing that's needed-not our snap, something else. Smythe doesn't know enough.

Francis. Well, why don't you go out and get some one who does?

Sir C. Can't. I've tried. I've had several of you superior people in this shop, and at fancy salaries too; but it doesn't work. Either they lose their own snap because they think they must imitate ours, or they come down with stuff that nobody else in the blessed building can make head or tail of, and that would ruin the paper in a fortnight. [In a different tone.] How do I strike you, straight now?

Francis. How do you strike me? Sir C. As a man. Am I a born fool, or something just a bit out of the common in the way of ability.

Francis. Well, it's quite impossible to believe that a man is a genius if you've been to school with him, or even known his father. But I don't mind telling you, in the most unbrotherly way, that if I were meeting you now for the first time, I should say you were something in the nature of a genius-a peculiar kind, of coursebut still

Sir C. [quickly]. Well, let me tell you this somehow your intellectual, your superior people won't have anything to do with me, anything serious, that is! There seems to be a sort of boycott among 'em against me! I don't think I have an acquaintance that I don't despise, and I haven't got any pals at all. Mind you, I've never

any one. I It's like this.

said as much before to can put it in a nutshell. Supposing some people are talking about Swinburne, or theosophy, or social reform, or any of those things, and I come along-well, they immediately change the conversation and begin about motor-cars!

Francis. But do you really care about Swinburne-and those things?

Sir C. I don't know. I've never tried. But that's not the point. The point is that I'm just as good as they are, and I don't like their attitude.

Francis. There's only one thing for you to do, my boy-get married.

Sir C. [continuing his train of thought]. I object to being left out in the cold. They've no right to do it.

Francis [repeating his own tone]. There's only one thing for you to do, my boy-get married.

Sir C. [quietly]. I know.

Francis. Some nice, charming, intellectual woman. You could have an Al house-first class, but not stiff. Tiptop dinners, without a lot of silly ceremony. A big drawing-room, and a little one opening off it where they could talk to her-you know the sort of thing. You'd soon see how she'd rope 'em in for you. It would really be very interesting to watch. Once get the right sort of woman


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Sir C. No! Besides-well, she's a nice woman, but there's too much of the county family touch about her. Sporting, you see. The late Calder lived for nothing but the abolition of wire fences. Before I knew where I was I should be let in for a steam yacht. She's a widow, of course, and that's in her favor [hesitatingly].

Francis. Is she intellectual?

Sir C. She would be if I wanted her to be [half sheepishly].

Francis. That's no good, no good at all! [With a sudden outburst of discovery]. I know who you ought to


Sir C. Who? Francis.

Sir C.



Emily Vernon.

Me marry an actress! No,

She isn't an actress.

Sir C. You said she was. Francis. No, I said she was on the stage. She can't act for nuts. But she's the very woman for you. Pretty; and awfully decent. Oh! and she can talk, my boy, she can talk. And she knows what she's talking about. Intellectual, eh? I bet she could wipe the floor with some of these women novelists.

Sir C. And I suppose she hasn't a cent.

Francis. What does that matter?
Sir C. Not a bit.

Francis. You'd never guess she was hard up, to look at her. She'd run a big house for you, and be even with the best of them. And then she comes from Bursley. She's our sort.

Sir C. Go on! Go on! I shall be married to her in a minute.

Francis. No, but really!

Sir C. What's she coming here for, to-day, by the way?

Francis. I gathered that it was a question of [Enter Page-boy].

Page-boy. Mrs. Vernon.

Sir C. [after a pause]. Show her in! [Enter Emily Vernon. Exit Page-boy.]

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Emily. Yes. I'm quite relieved. I expected something majestic and terrible, something like a battleship. I did, truly. Now what am I to call you?

Sir C. What you used to call me.
Emily. Charlie.

Francis. No, you always called him Tarlie.

Emily. I'm sure I never did. Every one used to say that I talked just like a little woman. The fact is, I was born at the wrong end, and I'm getting more childish every day. I say, Charlie, I do wish I'd known a little earlier that you weren't a battleship. I'd worked myself up into a fine state of


Sir C. You don't seem nervous. Emily. No. But I am. At least, I


When I'm amusing and clever, that's a sure sign I'm very nervous. People say, "How bright she is!" And all the time I'm shivering with fright. When I'm quite at my ease I become quite dull. Natural idleness, I expect. Sir C. Well, suppose we sit down? [They sit.]

Emily. How nice it is of you to see me like this! Now, there was another illusion. I always thought you were most frightfully difficult to see.

Sir C. Not to any one from the Five Towns, and especially from Bursley. Francis. Don't you believe it! I assure you that I only got at him this afternoon over the dead bodies of a soldier and five office-boys.

Emily [to Francis]. Yes, I guessed it was you who had made straight the pathway. [To Sir C.] Francis and I 2336



got rather intimate yesterday-didn't we, Francis?-over the Yeats play. Francis. Very! Very! But the butter-scotch helped, you know.

Emily. I never asked you how you thought I said my lines, and you never told me.

Francis. Oh, well. I daresay you've seen what Macquoid said of the first performance. He said you were as heaven made you! . . . So you must have been very fine.

Emily. How horrid he is! He really is horrid! . . . I suppose I oughtn't to say that to you, Charlie, as he's on one of your papers now. Of course I know he's generally right. That's what makes it so annoying.

Sir C. Say anything you choose. He's no longer on our staff.

Emily. You've dismissed him?
Sir C. It comes to that.

Emily. Oh! Rejoicing in Zion! A sigh of relief will run through the whole profession. And who's going to take his place?

Francis. Me, madam.

Emily. Well, it's just like a fairytale. But I wonder if our young and untried friendship will stand the awful strain.

Francis. I've decided what I shall do in regard to you. If I can't honestly praise you, I sha'n't mention you at all.

Emily. Charlie, let me beg you to dispense with his services at once. He'll be more disliked even than Macquoid. [To Francis.] Do you know what we're going to produce next-if we can keep open? Ford's "Broken Heart."

Francis [recites].

"Crowns may flourish and decay; Beauties shine, but fade away; Youth may revel, yet it must Lie down in a bed of dust." Emily. Yes, isn't it lovely? Don't you think it's a lovely play, Charlie.

Sir C. Never read it. Ford, did you

say? Don't know him. You see, I'm so taken up

Emily [sympathetically]. I know how busy you must be. But if you could find time to read "The Broken Heart," I'm sure you'd enjoy it. Has Francis told you what I've come about?

Francis. I was just beginning to explain when you arrived and interrupted


Emily. How clumsy of me! [composing her features]. Well, it's like this, Charlie [laughs].

Sir C. What's the joke?

Emily. Nothing. Only nervousness! Mere hysterics! I was just thinking how absurd I have been to come here and worry you. Francis, do explain. Francis [to Sir Charles]. The creature is after money.

Emily [with a cry of protest]. You appalling and unprincipled bungler! [To Charlie.] It's like this. Our chief is a very great man.

Sir C. St. John-is it? [Turns to Francis as if for confirmation.]


Emily. Yes. We aways call him the Chief. He's a most fearful brute. stamps on us and curses us, and pays us miserably, miserably, and we all adore him, and nobody knows why. He simply cares about nothing but his theatre; and of course for producing a play, there's only him. But as a man of business-well, it would be no use trying to describe what he is as a man of business; an infant in arms could give him lessons in business through the post. Now only a fortnight ago, when the Chancellor of Oxford University made that appeal for funds, what do you think the Chief did? He sent twenty pounds, just because he rowed once in the Boat-race. And he simply hadn't got twenty pounds. Clever chap!

Sir C.

Emily. Wasn't it splendid of him? The Prince's might be a success if somebody with money would come in and look after the business side, and

never let the Chief see a cheque-book. Sir C. Isn't it a success? I thought I saw an advertisement in the "Mercury" to-day that the new matinées were very successful.

Emily. Artistically, yes. Artistically, they're a record. But the fact has escaped the public. We are not at the moment what you'd call turning money away. Most of the notices were very bad-of course.

Sir C. Were they? Was the "Mercury" bad? I forget.

Emily. No, I fancy it was rather nice.

Sir C. They say a good notice in the "Mercury" will keep any theatre open for at least a month.

Emily. Personally, I love the "Mercury." It's so exciting. Like bread and jam, without the bread. To me it's a sort of delicious children's paper

Francis [throwing his head back]. There you are again, Charles.

Emily [half laughing]. I don't know what you're laughing at. I meant that for a compliment, Charlie. [Sir Charles nods good-humoredly.] Its domestic hints are splendid. But somehow the people who would be likely to come to the Prince's don't seem to read the "Mercury"-at any rate not for its dramatic criticism. The Prince's is a very special theatre, you see.

Sir C. Superior you mean? Intellectual? Emily [half mocking]. Oh, yes! It's almost like a church.

Sir C. And this Chief of yours wants one to put money into this

some church? Emily. Yes. We're all of us trying to find capital, except him. You see, it's our livelihood. If the theatre were to close, where should I be, for instance? [Laughs.] I just happened to think of you, Charlie. The idea ran through my mind-like a mouse.

Sir C. How much would be needed?

Emily. Oh! I don't know. A thousand.

Francis. You mean five thousand. Emily. Didn't I say five? I quite meant to. But my lips went wrong all by themselves.

Sir C. [shortly]. Oh! [A pause.] Emily. Of course. Now that I'm here I can see how absurd it is. I said the Prince's might be a success-I mean financially-but honestly I don't believe it ever would. It's too good. And the Chief is too much of a genius. . . . Oh! whenever I think of him sending twenty pounds to Oxford like that, I wonder why millionaires can't attend to those great lumbering University things, instead of men like St. John. The thought of that twenty pounds always makes me perfectly furious. But the Chief's incurable.

Sir C. Well, I don't mind putting five thousand into the thing.

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Emily. I never heard of such goings-on. I hadn't the slightest idea it was so easy as that to get five thousand pounds.

Sir C. It isn't, usually. But this is a special case. I should like to help along a really superior-er-intellectual

Emily [heartily]. It is an honor, isn't it, after all? But people with money never seem to see that. . . . [Pinches herself.] Yes, I'm awake. Can I go

and tell the Chief, now, from you, that you're ready to

Sir C. You can telephone to him this instant, if you like [pointing to telephone].

Emily. No, that won't do.
'Sir C. Why not?

Emily. They cut off the theatre telephone this morning [a brief sobbing catch in her voice]. St. John would have had to close on Saturday if something hadn't turned up. I-I don't know what I should have done. I've been at the end of my tether once before. [Francis rises, alarmed by her symptoms.] I'm all right. I'm all right. [Laughs.]

Sir C. Shall I order up some tea? Emily. No, no. I must go and tell him. I'm quite all right. I was only thinking how awkward it is to alter one's old frocks to this high-waisted Directoire style.

Sir C. [lamely]. Why?

Emily. Because you can always shorten a skirt, but how are you to lengthen it? Well, I must go and tell him.

Francis. So much hurry as all that?
Emily. Let me go.

Sir C. But look here. When shall we see you again?

Francis. Yes, when shall we

Emily. Can I bring St. John to-
morrow morning?
Sir C. Certainly.
Emily. What time?

Sir C. Any time?
Emily. Eleven o'clock?

Sir C. All right. [Emily shakes hands with Sir Charles, appears to be about to speak, but is silent; then shakes hands quickly with Francis, and exit quickly under emotion. The men look at each other. Pause.]

Francis. Well! Have a cigarette?

Sir C. [moved]. No, thanks. She must have been through a thing or two, by G-!

Francis. Knocks you about a bit,

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