The First and Last (A Play in the Series Six Short Plays)
This etext was produced by David Widger
FROM THE SERIES OF SIX SHORT PLAYS
By John Galsworthy
THE FIRST AND THE LAST
A DRAMA IN THREE SCENES
PERSONS OF THE PLAY
KEITH DARRANT, K.C.
LARRY DARRANT, His Brother.
SCENE I. KEITH'S Study.
SCENE II. WANDA's Room.
SCENE III. The Same.
Between SCENE I. and SCENE II.--Thirty hours.
Between SCENE II. and SCENE III.--Two months.
It is six o'clock of a November evening, in KEITH DARRANT'S
study. A large, dark-curtained room where the light from a single
reading-lamp falling on Turkey carpet, on books beside a large
armchair, on the deep blue-and-gold coffee service, makes a sort of
oasis before a log fire. In red Turkish slippers and an old brown
velvet coat, KEITH DARRANT sits asleep. He has a dark, clean-cut,
clean-shaven face, dark grizzling hair, dark twisting eyebrows.
[The curtained door away out in the dim part of the room behind
him is opened so softly that he does not wake. LARRY DARRANT
enters and stands half lost in the curtain over the door. A
thin figure, with a worn, high cheek-boned face, deep-sunk blue
eyes and wavy hair all ruffled--a face which still has a certain
beauty. He moves inwards along the wall, stands still again and
utters a gasping sigh. KEITH stirs in his chair.]
KEITH. Who's there?
LARRY. [In a stifled voice] Only I--Larry.
KEITH. [Half-waked] Come in! I was asleep. [He does not turn his
head, staring sleepily at the fire.]
The sound of LARRY's breathing can be heard.
[Turning his head a little] Well, Larry, what is it?
LARRY comes skirting along the wall, as if craving its support,
outside the radius of the light.
[Staring] Are you ill?
LARRY stands still again and heaves a deep sigh.
KEITH. [Rising, with his back to the fire, and staring at his
brother] What is it, man? [Then with a brutality born of nerves
suddenly ruffled] Have you committed a murder that you stand there
like a fish?
LARRY. [In a whisper] Yes, Keith.
KEITH. [With vigorous disgust] By Jove! Drunk again! [In a
voice changed by sudden apprehension] What do you mean by coming
here in this state? I told you---- If you weren't my brother----!
Come here, where I can we you! What's the matter with you, Larry?
[With a lurch LARRY leaves the shelter of the wall and sinks into
a chair in the circle of light.]
LARRY. It's true.
[KEITH steps quickly forward and stares down into his brother's
eyes, where is a horrified wonder, as if they would never again
get on terms with his face.]
KEITH. [Angry, bewildered-in a low voice] What in God's name is
[He goes quickly over to the door and draws the curtain aside, to
see that it is shut, then comes back to LARRY, who is huddling
over the fire.]
Come, Larry! Pull yourself together and drop exaggeration! What on
earth do you mean?
LARRY. [In a shrill outburst] It's true, I tell you; I've killed a
KEITH. [Bracing himself; coldly] Be quiet!
LARRY lifts his hands and wrings them.
[Utterly taken aback] Why come here and tell me this?
LARRY. Whom should I tell, Keith? I came to ask what I'm to do--
give myself up, or what?
LARRY. Last night.
KEITH. Good God! How? Where? You'd better tell me quietly from
the beginning. Here, drink this coffee; it'll clear your head.
He pours out and hands him a cup of coffee. LARRY drinks it
LARRY. My head! Yes! It's like this, Keith--there's a girl----
KEITH. Women! Always women, with you! Well?
LARRY. A Polish girl. She--her father died over here when she was
sixteen, and left her all alone. There was a mongrel living in the
same house who married her--or pretended to. She's very pretty,
Keith. He left her with a baby coming. She lost it, and nearly
starved. Then another fellow took her on, and she lived with him two
years, till that brute turned up again and made her go back to him.
He used to beat her black and blue. He'd left her again when--I met
her. She was taking anybody then. [He stops, passes his hand over
his lips, looks up at KEITH, and goes on defiantly] I never met a
sweeter woman, or a truer, that I swear. Woman! She's only twenty
now! When I went to her last night, that devil had found her out
again. He came for me--a bullying, great, hulking brute. Look!
[He touches a dark mark on his forehead] I took his ugly throat, and
when I let go--[He stops and his hands drop.]
LARRY. [In a smothered voice] Dead, Keith. I never knew till
afterwards that she was hanging on to him--to h-help me. [Again he
wrings his hands.]
KEITH. [In a hard, dry voice] What did you do then?
LARRY. We--we sat by it a long time.
LARRY. Then I carried it on my back down the street, round a corner,
to an archway.
KEITH. How far?
LARRY. About fifty yards.
KEITH. Was--did anyone see?
KEITH. What time?
LARRY. Three in the morning.
KEITH. And then?
LARRY. Went back to her.
KEITH. Why--in heaven's name?
LARRY. She way lonely and afraid. So was I, Keith.
KEITH. Where is this place?
LARRY. Forty-two Borrow Square, Soho.
KEITH. And the archway?
LARRY. Corner of Glove Lane.
KEITH. Good God! Why, I saw it in the paper this morning. They
were talking of it in the Courts! [He snatches the evening paper
from his armchair, and runs it over anal reads] Here it is again.
"Body of a man was found this morning under an archway in Glove Lane.
>From marks about the throat grave suspicion of foul play are
entertained. The body had apparently been robbed. "My God!
[Suddenly he turns] You saw this in the paper and dreamed it. D'you
understand, Larry?--you dreamed it.
LARRY. [Wistfully] If only I had, Keith!
[KEITH makes a movement of his hands almost like his brother's.]
KEITH. Did you take anything from the-body?
LARRY. [Drawing au envelope from his pocket] This dropped out while
we were struggling.
KEITH. [Snatching it and reading] "Patrick Walenn"--Was that his
name? "Simon's Hotel, Farrier Street, London." [Stooping, he puts it
in the fire] No!--that makes me----[He bends to pluck it out, stays
his hand, and stamps it suddenly further in with his foot] What in
God's name made you come here and tell me? Don't you know I'm--I'm
within an ace of a Judgeship?
LARRY. [Simply] Yes. You must know what I ought to do. I didn't,
mean to kill him, Keith. I love the girl--I love her. What shall I
LARRY. [In a flash] Love!--That swinish brute! A million creatures
die every day, and not one of them deserves death as he did. But but
I feel it here. [Touching his heart] Such an awful clutch, Keith.
Help me if you can, old man. I may be no good, but I've never hurt a
fly if I could help it. [He buries his face in his hands.]
KEITH. Steady, Larry! Let's think it out. You weren't seen, you
LARRY. It's a dark place, and dead night.
KEITH. When did you leave the girl again?
LARRY. About seven.
KEITH. Where did you go?
LARRY. To my rooms.
KEITH. To Fitzroy Street?
KEITH. What have you done since?
LARRY. Sat there--thinking.
KEITH. Not been out?
KEITH. Not seen the girl?
[LARRY shakes his head.]
Will she give you away?
KEITH. Or herself hysteria?
KEITH. Who knows of your relations with her?
LARRY. No one.
KEITH. No one?
LARRY. I don't know who should, Keith.
KEITH. Did anyone see you go in last night, when you first went to
LARRY. No. She lives on the ground floor. I've got keys.
KEITH. Give them to me.
LARRY takes two keys from his pocket and hands them to his
LARRY. [Rising] I can't be cut off from her!
KEITH. What! A girl like that?
LARRY. [With a flash] Yes, a girl like that.
KEITH. [Moving his hand to put down old emotion] What else have you
that connects you with her?
KEITH. In your rooms?
[LARRY shakes his head.]
KEITH. No one saw you going back to her?
[LARRY shakes his head. ]
Nor leave in the morning? You can't be certain.
LARRY. I am.
KEITH. You were fortunate. Sit down again, man. I must think.
He turns to the fire and leans his elbows on the mantelpiece and
his head on his hands. LARRY Sits down again obediently.
KEITH. It's all too unlikely. It's monstrous!
LARRY. [Sighing it out] Yes.
KEITH. This Walenn--was it his first reappearance after an absence?
KEITH. How did he find out where she was?
LARRY. I don't know.
KEITH. [Brutally] How drunk were you?
LARRY. I was not drunk.
KEITH. How much had you drunk, then?
LARRY. A little claret--nothing!
KEITH. You say you didn't mean to kill him.
LARRY. God knows.
KEITH. That's something.
LARRY. He hit me. [He holds up his hands] I didn't know I was so
KEITH. She was hanging on to him, you say?--That's ugly.
LARRY. She was scared for me.
KEITH. D'you mean she--loves you?
LARRY. [Simply] Yes, Keith.
KEITH. [Brutally] Can a woman like that love?
LARRY. [Flashing out] By God, you are a stony devil! Why not?
KEITH. [Dryly] I'm trying to get at truth. If you want me to help,
I must know everything. What makes you think she's fond of you?
LARRY. [With a crzay laugh] Oh, you lawyer! Were you never in a
KEITH. I'm talking of love.
LARRY. [Fiercely] So am I. I tell you she's devoted. Did you ever
pick up a lost dog? Well, she has the lost dog's love for me. And I
for her; we picked each other up. I've never felt for another woman
what I feel for her--she's been the saving of me!
KEITH. [With a shrug] What made you choose that archway?
LARRY. It was the first dark place.
KEITH. Did his face look as if he'd been strangled?
KEITH. Did it?
[LARRY bows his head.]
KEITH. Did you look to see if his clothes were marked?
KEITH. Why not?
LARRY. [In an outburst] I'm not made of iron, like you. Why not?
If you had done it----!
KEITH. [Holding up his hand] You say he was disfigured. Would he
LARRY. [Wearily] I don't know.
KEITH. When she lived with him last--where was that?
LARRY. In Pimlico, I think.
KEITH. Not Soho?
[LARRY shakes his head.]
How long has she been at this Soho place?
LARRY. Nearly a year.
KEITH. Living this life?
LARRY. Till she met me.
KEITH. Till, she met you? And you believe----?
LARRY. [Starting up] Keith!
KEITH. [Again raising his hand] Always in the same rooms?
LARRY. [Subsiding] Yes.
KEITH. What was he? A professional bully?
Spending most of his time abroad, I suppose.
LARRY. I think so.
KEITH. Can you say if he was known to the police?
LARRY. I've never heard.
KEITH turns away and walks up and down; then, stopping at
LARRY's chair, he speaks.
KEITH. Now listen, Larry. When you leave here, go straight home,
and stay there till I give you leave to go out again. Promise.
LARRY. I promise.
KEITH. Is your promise worth anything?
LARRY. [With one of his flashes] "Unstable as water, he shall not
KEITH. Exactly. But if I'm to help you, you must do as I say.
I must have time to think this out. Have you got money?
LARRY. Very little.
KEITH. [Grimly] Half-quarter day--yes, your quarter's always spent
by then. If you're to get away--never mind, I can manage the money.
LARRY. [Humbly] You're very good, Keith; you've always been very
good to me--I don't know why.
KEITH. [Sardonically] Privilege of A brother. As it happens, I'm
thinking of myself and our family. You can't indulge yourself in
killing without bringing ruin. My God! I suppose you realise that
you've made me an accessory after the fact--me, King's counsel--sworn
to the service of the Law, who, in a year or two, will have the
trying of cases like yours! By heaven, Larry, you've surpassed
LARRY. [Bringing out a little box] I'd better have done with it.
KErra. You fool! Give that to me.
LARRY. [With a strange smite] No. [He holds up a tabloid between
finger and thumb] White magic, Keith! Just one--and they may do
what they like to you, and you won't know it. Snap your fingers at
all the tortures. It's a great comfort! Have one to keep by you?
KEITH. Come, Larry! Hand it over.
LARRY. [Replacing the box] Not quite! You've never killed a man,
you see. [He gives that crazy laugh.] D'you remember that hammer
when we were boys and you riled me, up in the long room? I had luck
then. I had luck in Naples once. I nearly killed a driver for
beating his poor brute of a horse. But now--! My God! [He covers
KEITH touched, goes up and lays a hand on his shoulder.
KEITH. Come, Larry! Courage!
LARRY looks up at him.
LARRY. All right, Keith; I'll try.
KEITH. Don't go out. Don't drink. Don't talk. Pull yourself
LARRY. [Moving towards the door] Don't keep me longer than you can
KEITH. No, no. Courage!
LARRY reaches the door, turns as if to say something-finds no
words, and goes.
[To the fire] Courage! My God! I shall need it!
At out eleven o'clock the following night an WANDA'S room on the
ground floor in Soho. In the light from one close-shaded
electric bulb the room is but dimly visible. A dying fire burns
on the left. A curtained window in the centre of the back wall.
A door on the right. The furniture is plush-covered and
commonplace, with a kind of shabby smartness. A couch, without
back or arms, stands aslant, between window and fire.
[On this WANDA is sitting, her knees drawn up under her, staring
at the embers. She has on only her nightgown and a wrapper over
it; her bare feet are thrust into slippers. Her hands are
crossed and pressed over her breast. She starts and looks up,
listening. Her eyes are candid and startled, her face alabaster
pale, and its pale brown hair, short and square-cut, curls
towards her bare neck. The startled dark eyes and the faint
rose of her lips are like colour-staining on a white mask.]
[Footsteps as of a policeman, very measured, pass on the
pavement outside, and die away. She gets up and steals to the
window, draws one curtain aside so that a chink of the night is
seen. She opens the curtain wider, till the shape of a bare,
witch-like tree becomes visible in the open space of the little
Square on the far side of the road. The footsteps are heard
once more coming nearer. WANDA closes the curtains and cranes
back. They pass and die again. She moves away and looking down
at the floor between door and couch, as though seeing something
there; shudders; covers her eyes; goes back to the couch and
down again just as before, to stare at the embers. Again she is
startled by noise of the outer door being opened. She springs
up, runs and turns the light by a switch close to the door. By
the glimmer of the fire she can just be seen standing by the
dark window-curtains, listening. There comes the sound of
subdued knocking on her door. She stands in breathless terror.
The knocking is repeated. The sound of a latchkey in the door
is heard. Her terror leaves her. The door opens; a man enters
in a dark, fur overcoat.]
WANDA. [In a voice of breathless relief, with a rather foreign
accent] Oh! it's you, Larry! Why did you knock? I was so
frightened. Come in! [She crosses quickly, and flings her arms
round his neck] [Recoiling--in a terror-stricken whisper] Oh! Who
KEITH. [In a smothered voice] A friend of Larry's. Don't be
She has recoiled again to the window; and when he finds the
switch and turns the light up, she is seen standing there
holding her dark wrapper up to her throat, so that her face has
an uncanny look of being detached from the body.
[Gently] You needn't be afraid. I haven't come to do you harm--
quite the contrary. [Holding up the keys] Larry wouldn't have given
me these, would he, if he hadn't trusted me?
WANDA does not move, staring like a spirit startled out of the
[After looking round him] I'm sorry to have startled you.
WANDA. [In a whisper] Who are you, please?
KEITH. Larry's brother.
WANDA, with a sigh of utter relief, steals forward to the couch
and sinks down. KEITH goes up to her.
He'd told me.
WANDA. [Clasping her hands round her knees.] Yes?
KEITH. An awful business!
WANDA. Yes; oh, yes! Awful--it is awful!
KEITH. [Staring round him again.] In this room?
WANDA. Just where you are standing. I see him now, always falling.
KEITH. [Moved by the gentle despair in her voice] You--look very
young. What's your name?
KEITH. Are you fond of Larry?
WANDA. I would die for him!
[A moment's silence.]
KEITH. I--I've come to see what you can do to save him.
WANDA, [Wistfully] You would not deceive me. You are really his
KEITH. I swear it.
WANDA. [Clasping her hands] If I can save him! Won't you sit down?
KEITH. [Drawing up a chair and sitting] This, man, your--your
husband, before he came here the night before last--how long since
you saw him?
WANDA. Eighteen month.
KEITH. Does anyone about here know you are his wife?
WANDA. No. I came here to live a bad life. Nobody know me. I am
KEITH. They've discovered who he was--you know that?
WANDA. No; I have not dared to go out.
KEITH: Well, they have; and they'll look for anyone connected with
him, of course.
WANDA. He never let people think I was married to him. I don't know
if I was--really. We went to an office and signed our names; but he
was a wicked man. He treated many, I think, like me.
KEITH. Did my brother ever see him before?
WANDA. Never! And that man first went for him.
KEITH. Yes. I saw the mark. Have you a servant?
WANDA. No. A woman come at nine in the morning for an hour.
KEITH. Does she know Larry?
WANDA. No. He is always gone.
WANDA. No; I am verree quiet. Since I know your brother, I see no
KEITH. [Sharply] Do you mean that?
WANDA. Oh, yes! I love him. Nobody come here but him for a long
KEITH. How long?
WANDA. Five month.
KEITH. So you have not been out since----?
[WANDA shakes her head.]
What have you been doing?
WANDA. [Simply] Crying. [Pressing her hands to her breast] He is
in danger because of me. I am so afraid for him.
KEITH. [Checking her emotion] Look at me.
[She looks at him.]
If the worst comes, and this man is traced to you, can you trust
yourself not to give Larry away?
WANDA. [Rising and pointing to the fire] Look! I have burned all
the things he have given me--even his picture. Now I have nothing
KEITH. [Who has risen too] Good! One more question. Do the police
know you--because--of your life?
[She looks at him intently, and shakes her, head.]
You know where Larry lives?
KEITH. You mustn't go there, and he mustn't come to you.
[She bows her head; then, suddenly comes close to him.]
WANDA. Please do not take him from me altogether. I will be so
careful. I will not do anything to hurt him. But if I cannot see
him sometimes, I shall die. Please do not take him from me.
[She catches his hand and presses it desperately between her
KEITH. Leave that to me. I'm going to do all I can.
WANDA. [Looking up into his face] But you will be kind?
Suddenly she bends and kisses his hand. KEITH draws his hand
away, and she recoils a little humbly, looking up at him again.
Suddenly she stands rigid, listening.
[In a whisper] Listen! Someone--out there!
She darts past him and turns out the light. There is a knock on
the door. They are now close together between door and window.
[Whispering] Oh! Who is it?
KEITH. [Under his breath] You said no one comes but Larry.
WANDA. Yes, and you have his keys. Oh! if it is Larry! I must open!
KEITH shrinks back against the wall. WANDA goes to the door.
[Opening the door an inch] Yes? Please? Who?
A thin streak of light from a bull's-eye lantern outside plays
over the wall. A Policeman's voice says: "All right, Miss.
Your outer door's open. You ought to keep it shut after dark,
WANDA. Thank you, air.
[The sound of retreating footsteps, of the outer door closing.
WANDA shuts the door.]
KEITH. [Moving from the wall] Curse! I must have left that door.
[Suddenly-turning up the light] You told me they didn't know you.
WANDA. [Sighing] I did not think they did, sir. It is so long I
was not out in the town; not since I had Larry.
KEITH gives her an intent look, then crosses to the fire. He
stands there a moment, looking down, then turns to the girl, who
has crept back to the couch.
KEITH. [Half to himself] After your life, who can believe---? Look
here! You drifted together and you'll drift apart, you know. Better
for him to get away and make a clean cut of it.
WANDA. [Uttering a little moaning sound] Oh, sir! May I not love,
because I have been bad? I was only sixteen when that man spoiled
me. If you knew----
KEITH. I'm thinking of Larry. With you, his danger is much greater.
There's a good chance as things are going. You may wreck it. And
for what? Just a few months more of--well--you know.
WANDA. [Standing at the head of the couch and touching her eyes with
her hands] Oh, sir! Look! It is true. He is my life. Don't take
him away from me.
KEITH. [Moved and restless] You must know what Larry is. He'll
never stick to you.
WANDA. [Simply] He will, sir.
KEITH. [Energetically] The last man on earth to stick to anything!
But for the sake of a whim he'll risk his life and the honour of all
his family. I know him.
WANDA. No, no, you do not. It is I who know him.
KEITH. Now, now! At any moment they may find out your connection
with that man. So long as Larry goes on with you, he's tied to this
murder, don't you see?
WANDA. [Coming close to him] But he love me. Oh, sir! he love me!
KEITH. Larry has loved dozens of women.
WANDA. Yes, but----[Her face quivers].
KEITH. [Brusquely] Don't cry! If I give you money, will you
disappear, for his sake?
WANDA. [With a moan] It will be in the water, then. There will be
no cruel men there.
KEITH. Ah! First Larry, then you! Come now. It's better for you
both. A few months, and you'll forget you ever met.
WANDA. [Looking wildly up] I will go if Larry say I must. But not
to live. No! [Simply] I could not, sir.
[KEITH, moved, is silent.]
I could not live without Larry. What is left for a girl like me--
when she once love? It is finish.
KEITH. I don't want you to go back to that life.
WANDA. No; you do not care what I do. Why should you? I tell you I
will go if Larry say I must.
KEITH. That's not enough. You know that. You must take it out of
his hands. He will never give up his present for the sake of his
future. If you're as fond of him as you say, you'll help to save
WANDA. [Below her breath] Yes! Oh, yes! But do not keep him long
from me--I beg! [She sinks to the floor and clasps his knees.]
KEITH. Well, well! Get up.
[There is a tap on the window-pane]
[A faint, peculiar whistle. ]
WANDA. [Springing up] Larry! Oh, thank God!
[She runs to the door, opens it, and goes out to bring him in.
KEITH stands waiting, facing the open doorway.]
[LARRY entering with WANDA just behind him.]
KEITH. [Grimly] So much for your promise not to go out!
LARRY. I've been waiting in for you all day. I couldn't stand it
LARRY. Well, what's the sentence, brother? Transportation for life
and then to be fined forty pounds'?
KEITH. So you can joke, can you?
KEITH. A boat leaves for the Argentine the day after to-morrow; you
must go by it.
LARRY. [Putting his arms round WANDA, who is standing motionless
with her eyes fixed on him] Together, Keith?
KEITH. You can't go together. I'll send her by the next boat.
KEITH. Yes. You're lucky they're on a false scent.
KEITH. You haven't seen it?
LARRY. I've seen nothing, not even a paper.
KEITH. They've taken up a vagabond who robbed the body. He pawned a
snake-shaped ring, and they identified this Walenn by it. I've been
down and seen him charged myself.
LARRY. With murder?
WANDA. [Faintly] Larry!
KEITH. He's in no danger. They always get the wrong man first.
It'll do him no harm to be locked up a bit--hyena like that. Better
in prison, anyway, than sleeping out under archways in this weather.
LARRY. What was he like, Keith?
KEITH. A little yellow, ragged, lame, unshaven scarecrow of a chap.
They were fools to think he could have had the strength.
LARRY. What! [In an awed voice] Why, I saw him--after I left you
KEITH. You? Where?
LARRY. By the archway.
KEITH. You went back there?
LARRY. It draws you, Keith.
KErra. You're mad, I think.
LARRY. I talked to him, and he said, "Thank you for this little
chat. It's worth more than money when you're down." Little grey man
like a shaggy animal. And a newspaper boy came up and said: "That's
right, guv'nors! 'Ere's where they found the body--very spot. They
'yn't got 'im yet."
[He laughs; and the terrified girl presses herself against him.]
An innocent man!
KEITH. He's in no danger, I tell you. He could never have
strangled----Why, he hadn't the strength of a kitten. Now, Larry!
I'll take your berth to-morrow. Here's money [He brings out a pile
of notes and puts them on the couch] You can make a new life of it
out there together presently, in the sun.
LARRY. [In a whisper] In the sun! "A cup of wine and thou."
[Suddenly] How can I, Keith? I must see how it goes with that poor
KEITH. Bosh! Dismiss it from your mind; there's not nearly enough
KEITH. No. You've got your chance. Take it like a man.
LARRY. [With a strange smile--to the girl] Shall we, Wanda?
WANDA. Oh, Larry!
LARRY. [Picking the notes up from the couch] Take them back, Keith.
KEITH. What! I tell you no jury would convict; and if they did, no
judge would hang. A ghoul who can rob a dead body, ought to be in
prison. He did worse than you.
LARRY. It won't do, Keith. I must see it out.
KEITH. Don't be a fool!
LARRY. I've still got some kind of honour. If I clear out before I
know, I shall have none--nor peace. Take them, Keith, or I'll put
them in the fire.
KEITH. [Taking back the notes; bitterly] I suppose I may ask you
not to be entirely oblivious of our name. Or is that unworthy of
LARRY. [Hanging his head] I'm awfully sorry, Keith; awfully sorry,
KEITH. [sternly] You owe it to me--to our name--to our dead mother-
-to do nothing anyway till we see what happens.
LARRY. I know. I'll do nothing without you, Keith.
KEITH. [Taking up his hat] Can I trust you? [He stares hard at his
LARRY. You can trust me.
LARRY. I swear.
KEITH. Remember, nothing! Good night!
LARRY. Good night!
KEITH goes. LARRY Sits down on the couch sand stares at the
fire. The girl steals up and slips her arms about him.
LARRY. An innocent man!
WANDA. Oh, Larry! But so are you. What did we want--to kill that
man? Never! Oh! kiss me!
[LARRY turns his face. She kisses his lips.]
I have suffered so--not seein' you. Don't leave me again--don't!
Stay here. Isn't it good to be together?--Oh! Poor Larry! How
tired you look!--Stay with me. I am so frightened all alone. So
frightened they will take you from me.
LARRY. Poor child!
WANDA. No, no! Don't look like that!
LARRY. You're shivering.
WANDA. I will make up the fire. Love me, Larry! I want to forget.
LARRY. The poorest little wretch on God's earth--locked up--for me!
A little wild animal, locked up. There he goes, up and down, up and
down--in his cage--don't you see him?--looking for a place to gnaw
his way through--little grey rat. [He gets up and roams about.]
WANDA. No, no! I can't bear it! Don't frighten me more!
[He comes back and takes her in his arms.]
LARRY. There, there! [He kisses her closed eyes.]
WANDA. [Without moving] If we could sleep a little--wouldn't it be
WANDA. [Raising herself] Promise to stay with me--to stay here for
good, Larry. I will cook for you; I will make you so comfortable.
They will find him innocent. And then--Oh, Larry! in the sun-right
away--far from this horrible country. How lovely! [Trying to get
him to look at her] Larry!
LARRY. [With a movement to free 'himself] To the edge of the
WANDA. No, no! No, no! You don't want me to die, Larry, do you? I
shall if you leave me. Let us be happy! Love me!
LARRY. [With a laugh] Ah! Let's be happy and shut out the sight of
him. Who cares? Millions suffer for no mortal reason. Let's be
strong, like Keith. No! I won't leave you, Wanda. Let's forget
everything except ourselves. [Suddenly] There he goes-up and down!
WANDA. [Moaning] No, no! See! I will pray to the Virgin. She will
She falls on her knees and clasps her hands, praying. Her lips
move. LARRY stands motionless, with arms crossed, and on his
face are yearning and mockery, love and despair.
LARRY. [Whispering] Pray for us! Bravo! Pray away!
[Suddenly the girl stretches out her arms and lifts her face
with a look of ecstasy.]
WANDA. She is smiling! We shall be happy soon.
LARRY. [Bending down over her] Poor child! When we die, Wanda,
let's go together. We should keep each other warm out in the dark.
WANDA. [Raising her hands to his face] Yes! oh, yes! If you die I
could not--I could not go on living!
TWO MONTHS LATER
WANDA'S room. Daylight is just beginning to fail of a January
afternoon. The table is laid for supper, with decanters of
WANDA is standing at the window looking out at the wintry trees
of the Square beyond the pavement. A newspaper Boy's voice is
heard coming nearer.
VOICE. Pyper! Glove Lyne murder! Trial and verdict! [Receding]
WANDA throws up the window as if to call to him, checks herself,
closes it and runs to the door. She opens it, but recoils into
the room. KEITH is standing there. He comes in.
KEITH. Where's Larry?
WANDA. He went to the trial. I could not keep him from it. The
trial--Oh! what has happened, sir?
KEITH. [Savagely] Guilty! Sentence of death! Fools!--idiots!
WANDA. Of death! [For a moment she seems about to swoon.]
KEITH. Girl! girl! It may all depend on you. Larry's still living
KEITH. I must wait for him.
WANDA. Will you sit down, please?
KEITH. [Shaking his head] Are you ready to go away at any time?
WANDA. Yes, yes; always I am ready.
KEITH. And he?
WANDA. Yes--but now! What will he do? That poor man!
KEITH. A graveyard thief--a ghoul!
WANDA. Perhaps he was hungry. I have been hungry: you do things
then that you would not. Larry has thought of him in prison so much
all these weeks. Oh! what shall we do now?
KEITH. Listen! Help me. Don't let Larry out of your sight. I must
see how things go. They'll never hang this wretch. [He grips her
arms] Now, we must stop Larry from giving himself up. He's fool
enough. D'you understand?
WANDA. Yes. But why has he not come in? Oh! If he have, already!
KEITH. [Letting go her arms] My God! If the police come--find me
here--[He moves to the door] No, he wouldn't without seeing you
first. He's sure to come. Watch him like a lynx. Don't let him go
WANDA. [Clasping her hands on her breast] I will try, sir.
[A key is heard in the lock.]
LARRY enters. He is holding a great bunch of pink lilies and
white narcissus. His face tells nothing. KEITH looks from him
to the girl, who stands motionless.
LARRY. Keith! So you've seen?
KEITH. The thing can't stand. I'll stop it somehow. But you must
give me time, Larry.
LARRY. [Calmly] Still looking after your honour, KEITH!
KEITH. [Grimly] Think my reasons what you like.
WANDA. [Softly] Larry!
[LARRY puts his arm round her.]
LARRY. Sorry, old man.
KEITH. Tnis man can and shall get off. I want your solemn promise
that you won't give yourself up, nor even go out till I've seen you
LARRY. I give it.
KEITH. [Looking from one to the other] By the memory of our mother,
LARRY. [With a smile] I swear.
KEITH. I have your oath--both of you--both of you. I'm going at
once to see what can be done.
LARRY. [Softly] Good luck, brother.
KEITH goes out.
WANDA. [Putting her hands on LARRY's breast] What does it mean?
LARRY. Supper, child--I've had nothing all day. Put these lilies in
[She takes the lilies and obediently puts them into a vase.
LARRY pours wine into a deep-coloured glass and drinks it off.]
We've had a good time, Wanda. Best time I ever had, these last two
months; and nothing but the bill to pay.
WANDA. [Clasping him desperately] Oh, Larry! Larry!
LARRY. [Holding her away to look at her.] Take off those things and
put on a bridal garment.
WANDA. Promise me--wherever you go, I go too. Promise! Larry, you
think I haven't seen, all these weeks. But I have seen everything;
all in your heart, always. You cannot hide from me. I knew--I knew!
Oh, if we might go away into the sun! Oh! Larry--couldn't we? [She
searches his eyes with hers--then shuddering] Well! If it must be
dark--I don't care, if I may go in your arms. In prison we could not
be together. I am ready. Only love me first. Don't let me cry
before I go. Oh! Larry, will there be much pain?
LARRY. [In a choked voice] No pain, my pretty.
WANDA. [With a little sigh] It is a pity.
LARRY. If you had seen him, as I have, all day, being tortured.
Wanda,--we shall be out of it. [The wine mounting to his head] We
shall be free in the dark; free of their cursed inhumanities. I hate
this world--I loathe it! I hate its God-forsaken savagery; its pride
and smugness! Keith's world--all righteous will-power and success.
We're no good here, you and I--we were cast out at birth--soft,
will-less--better dead. No fear, Keith! I'm staying indoors. [He
pours wine into two glasses] Drink it up!
[Obediently WANDA drinks, and he also.]
Now go and make yourself beautiful.
WANDA. [Seizing him in her arms] Oh, Larry!
LARRY. [Touching her face and hair] Hanged by the neck until he's
dead--for what I did.
[WANDA takes a long look at his face, slips her arms from him,
and goes out through the curtains below the fireplace.]
[LARRY feels in his pocket, brings out the little box, opens it,
fingers the white tabloids.]
LARRY. Two each--after food. [He laughs and puts back the box] Oh!
[The sound of a piano playing a faint festive tune is heard afar
off. He mutters, staring at the fire.]
[Flames-flame, and flicker-ashes.]
"No more, no more, the moon is dead, And all the people in it."
[He sits on the couch with a piece of paper on his knees, adding
a few words with a stylo pen to what is already written.]
[The GIRL, in a silk wrapper, coming back through the curtains,
LARRY. [Looking up] It's all here--I've confessed. [Reading]
"Please bury us together."
"January 28th, about six p.m."
They'll find us in the morning. Come and have supper, my dear love.
[The girl creeps forward. He rises, puts his arm round her, and
with her arm twined round him, smiling into each other's faces,
they go to the table and sit down.]
The curtain falls for a few seconds to indicate the passage of
three hours. When it rises again, the lovers are lying on the
couch, in each other's arms, the lilies stream about them. The
girl's bare arm is round LARRY'S neck. Her eyes are closed; his
are open and sightless. There is no light but fire-light.
A knocking on the door and the sound of a key turned in the
lock. KEITH enters. He stands a moment bewildered by the half-
light, then calls sharply: "Larry!" and turns up the light.
Seeing the forms on the couch, he recoils a moment. Then,
glancing at the table and empty decanters, goes up to the couch.
KEITH. [Muttering] Asleep! Drunk! Ugh!
[Suddenly he bends, touches LARRY, and springs back.]
What! [He bends again, shakes him and calls] Larry! Larry!
[Then, motionless, he stares down at his brother's open,
sightless eyes. Suddenly he wets his finger and holds it to the
girl's lips, then to LARRY'S.]
[He bends and listens at their hearts; catches sight of the
little box lying between them and takes it up.]
[Then, raising himself, he closes his brother's eyes, and as he
does so, catches sight of a paper pinned to the couch; detaches
it and reads:]
"I, Lawrence Darrant, about to die by my own hand confess that I----"
[He reads on silently, in horror; finishes, letting the paper
drop, and recoils from the couch on to a chair at the
dishevelled supper table. Aghast, he sits there. Suddenly he
If I leave that there--my name--my whole future!
[He springs up, takes up the paper again, and again reads.]
My God! It's ruin!
[He makes as if to tear it across, stops, and looks down at
those two; covers his eyes with his hand; drops the paper and
rushes to the door. But he stops there and comes back,
magnetised, as it were, by that paper. He takes it up once more
and thrusts it into his pocket.]
[The footsteps of a Policeman pass, slow and regular, outside.
His face crisps and quivers; he stands listening till they die
away. Then he snatches the paper from his pocket, and goes past
the foot of the couch to the fore.]
All my----No! Let him hang!
[He thrusts the paper into the fire, stamps it down with his
foot, watches it writhe and blacken. Then suddenly clutching
his head, he turns to the bodies on the couch. Panting and like
a man demented, he recoils past the head of the couch, and
rushing to the window, draws the curtains and throws the window
up for air. Out in the darkness rises the witch-like skeleton
tree, where a dark shape seems hanging. KEITH starts back.]
What's that? What----!
[He shuts the window and draws the dark curtains across it
[Clenching his fists, he draws himself up, steadying himself
with all his might. Then slowly he moves to the door, stands a
second like a carved figure, his face hard as stone.]
[Deliberately he turns out the light, opens the door, and goes.]
[The still bodies lie there before the fire which is licking at
the last blackened wafer.]
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