The Fugitive (Play of the 3rd Series)
Part 2 out of 2
The door is pushed open, and REGINALD HUNTINGDON stands there.
HUNTINGDON. I apologize, sir; can I come in a minute?
[MALISE bows with ironical hostility]
HUNTINGDON. I don't know if you remember me--Clare Dedmond's
MALISE. I remember you.
[He motions to the stolid Boy to go outside again]
HUNTINGDON. I've come to you, sir, as a gentleman----
MALISE. Some mistake. There is one, I believe, on the first floor.
HUNTINGDON. It's about my sister.
MALISE. D--n you! Don't you know that I've been shadowed these last
three months? Ask your detectives for any information you want.
HUNTINGDON. We know that you haven't seen her, or even known where
MALISE. Indeed! You've found that out? Brilliant!
HUNTINGDON. We know it from my sister.
MALISE. Oh! So you've tracked her down?
HUNTINGDON. Mrs. Fullarton came across her yesterday in one of those
big shops--selling gloves.
MALISE. Mrs. Fullarton the lady with the husband. Well! you've got
her. Clap her back into prison.
HUNTINGDON. We have not got her. She left at once, and we don't
know where she's gone.
HUNTINGDON. [Taking hold of his bit] Look here, Mr. Malise, in a
way I share your feeling, but I'm fond of my sister, and it's
damnable to have to go back to India knowing she must be all adrift,
without protection, going through God knows what! Mrs. Fullarton
says she's looking awfully pale and down.
MALISE. [Struggling between resentment and sympathy] Why do you
come to me?
HUNTINGDON. We thought----
HUNTINGDON. My--my father and myself.
MALISE. Go on.
HUNTINGDON. We thought there was just a chance that, having lost
that job, she might come to you again for advice. If she does, it
would be really generous of you if you'd put my father in touch with
her. He's getting old, and he feels this very much. [He hands
MALISE a card] This is his address.
MALISE. [Twisting the card] Let there be no mistake, sir; I do
nothing that will help give her back to her husband. She's out to
save her soul alive, and I don't join the hue and cry that's after
her. On the contrary--if I had the power. If your father wants to
shelter her, that's another matter. But she'd her own ideas about
HUNTINGDON. Perhaps you don't realize how unfit my sister is for
rough and tumble. She's not one of this new sort of woman. She's
always been looked after, and had things done for her. Pluck she's
got, but that's all, and she's bound to come to grief.
MALISE. Very likely--the first birds do. But if she drops half-way
it's better than if she'd never flown. Your sister, sir, is trying
the wings of her spirit, out of the old slave market. For women as
for men, there's more than one kind of dishonour, Captain Huntingdon,
and worse things than being dead, as you may know in your profession.
MALISE. We each have our own views as to what they are. But they
all come to--death of our spirits, for the sake of our carcases.
HUNTINGDON. My leave's up. I sail to-morrow. If you do see my
sister I trust you to give her my love and say I begged she would see
MALISE. If I have the chance--yes.
He makes a gesture of salute, to which HUNTINGDON responds.
Then the latter turns and goes out.
MALISE. Poor fugitive! Where are you running now?
He stands at the window, through which the evening sunlight is
powdering the room with smoky gold. The stolid Boy has again
come in. MALISE stares at him, then goes back to the table,
takes up the MS., and booms it at him; he receives the charge,
MALISE. "Man of the world--product of a material age; incapable of
perceiving reality in motions of the spirit; having 'no use,' as you
would say, for 'sentimental nonsense'; accustomed to believe yourself
the national spine--your position is unassailable. You will remain
the idol of the country--arbiter of law, parson in mufti, darling of
the playwright and the novelist--God bless you!--while waters lap
He places the sheets of MS. in an envelope, and hands them to
MALISE. You're going straight back to "The Watchfire"?
BOY. [Stolidly] Yes, sir.
MALISE. [Staring at him] You're a masterpiece. D'you know that?
BOY. No, sir.
MALISE. Get out, then.
He lifts the portfolio from the table, and takes it into the
inner room. The Boy, putting his thumb stolidly to his nose,
turns to go. In the doorway he shies violently at the figure of
CLARE, standing there in a dark-coloured dress, skids past her
and goes. CLARE comes into the gleam of sunlight, her white
face alive with emotion or excitement. She looks round her,
smiles, sighs; goes swiftly to the door, closes it, and comes
back to the table. There she stands, fingering the papers on
the table, smoothing MALISE's hat wistfully, eagerly, waiting.
MALISE. [Returning] You!
CLARE. [With a faint smile] Not very glorious, is it?
He goes towards her, and checks himself, then slews the armchair
MALISE. Come! Sit down, sit down! [CLARE, heaving a long sigh,
sinks down into the chair] Tea's nearly ready.
He places a cushion for her, and prepares tea; she looks up at
him softly, but as he finishes and turns to her, she drops that
CLARE. Do you think me an awful coward for coming? [She has taken a
little plain cigarette case from her dress] Would you mind if I
MALISE shakes his head, then draws back from her again, as if
afraid to be too close. And again, unseen, she looks at him.
MALISE. So you've lost your job?
CLARE. How did you----?
MALISE. Your brother. You only just missed him. [CLARE starts up]
They had an idea you'd come. He's sailing to-morrow--he wants you to
see your father.
CLARE. Is father ill?
MALI$E. Anxious about you.
CLARE. I've written to him every week. [Excited] They're still
MALISE. [Touching her shoulder gently] It's all right--all right.
She sinks again into the chair, and again he withdraws. And
once more she gives him that soft eager look, and once more
averts it as he turns to her.
CLARE. My nerves have gone funny lately. It's being always on one's
guard, and stuffy air, and feeling people look and talk about you,
and dislike your being there.
MALISE. Yes; that wants pluck.
CLARE. [Shaking her head] I curl up all the time. The only thing I
know for certain is, that I shall never go back to him. The more
I've hated what I've been doing, the more sure I've been. I might
come to anything--but not that.
MALISE. Had a very bad time?
CLARE. [Nodding] I'm spoilt. It's a curse to be a lady when you
have to earn your living. It's not really been so hard, I suppose;
I've been selling things, and living about twice as well as most shop
MALISE. Were they decent to you?
CLARE. Lots of the girls are really nice. But somehow they don't
want me, can't help thinking I've got airs or something; and in here
[She touches her breast] I don't want them!
MALISE. I know.
CLARE. Mrs. Fullarton and I used to belong to a society for helping
reduced gentlewomen to get work. I know now what they want: enough
money not to work--that's all! [Suddenly looking up at him] Don't
think me worse than I am-please! It's working under people; it's
having to do it, being driven. I have tried, I've not been
altogether a coward, really! But every morning getting there the
same time; every day the same stale "dinner," as they call it; every
evening the same "Good evening, Miss Clare," "Good evening, Miss
Simpson," "Good evening, Miss Hart," "Good evening, Miss Clare."
And the same walk home, or the same 'bus; and the same men that you
mustn't look at, for fear they'll follow you. [She rises] Oh! and
the feeling-always, always--that there's no sun, or life, or hope, or
anything. It was just like being ill, the way I've wanted to ride
and dance and get out into the country. [Her excitement dies away
into the old clipped composure, and she sits down again] Don't think
too badly of me--it really is pretty ghastly!
MALISE. [Gruffly] H'm! Why a shop?
CLARE. References. I didn't want to tell more lies than I could
help; a married woman on strike can't tell the truth, you know. And
I can't typewrite or do shorthand yet. And chorus--I thought--you
MALISE. I? What have I----? [He checks himself ] Have men been
CLARE. [Stealing a look at him] One followed me a lot. He caught
hold of my arm one evening. I just took this out [She draws out her
hatpin and holds it like a dagger, her lip drawn back as the lips of
a dog going to bite] and said: "Will you leave me alone, please?"
And he did. It was rather nice. And there was one quite decent
little man in the shop--I was sorry for him--such a humble little
MALISE. Poor devil--it's hard not to wish for the moon.
At the tone of his voice CLARE looks up at him; his face is
CLARE. [Softly] How have you been? Working very hard?
MALISE. As hard as God will let me.
CLARE. [Stealing another look] Have you any typewriting I could do?
I could learn, and I've still got a brooch I could sell. Which is
the best kind?
MALISE. I had a catalogue of them somewhere.
He goes into the inner room. The moment he is gone, CLARE
stands up, her hands pressed to her cheeks as if she felt them
flaming. Then, with hands clasped, she stands waiting. He
comes back with the old portfolio.
MALISE. Can you typewrite where you are?
CLARE. I have to find a new room anyway. I'm changing--to be safe.
[She takes a luggage ticket from her glove] I took my things to
Charing Cross--only a bag and one trunk. [Then, with that queer
expression on her face which prefaces her desperations] You don't
want me now, I suppose.
CLARE. [Hardly above a whisper] Because--if you still wanted me--
[Etext editors note: In the 1924 revision, 11 years after this
1913 edition: "I do--now" is changed to "I could--now"--
a significant change in meaning. D.W.]
MALISE. [Staring hard into her face that is quivering and smiling]
You mean it? You do? You care----?
CLARE. I've thought of you--so much! But only--if you're sure.
He clasps her and kisses her closed eyes; and so they stand for
a moment, till the sound of a latchkey in the door sends them
MALISE. It's the housekeeper. Give me that ticket; I'll send for
Obediently she gives him the ticket, smiles, and goes quietly
into the inner room. MRS. MILER has entered; her face, more
Chinese than ever, shows no sign of having seen.
MALISE. That lady will stay here, Mrs. Miler. Kindly go with this
ticket to the cloak-room at Charing Cross station, and bring back her
luggage in a cab. Have you money?
MRS. MILER. 'Arf a crown. [She takes the ticket--then impassively]
In case you don't know--there's two o' them men about the stairs now.
The moment she is gone MALISE makes a gesture of maniacal fury.
He steals on tiptoe to the outer door, and listens. Then,
placing his hand on the knob, he turns it without noise, and
wrenches back the door. Transfigured in the last sunlight
streaming down the corridor are two men, close together,
listening and consulting secretly. They start back.
MALISE. [With strange, almost noiseless ferocity] You've run her to
earth; your job's done. Kennel up, hounds! [And in their faces he
slams the door]
SCENE II--The same, early on a winter afternoon, three months later.
The room has now a certain daintiness. There are curtains over the
doors, a couch, under the window, all the books are arranged on
shelves. In small vases, over the fireplace, are a few violets and
chrysanthemums. MALISE sits huddled in his armchair drawn close to
the fore, paper on knee, pen in hand. He looks rather grey and
drawn, and round his chair is the usual litter. At the table, now
nearer to the window, CLARE sits working a typewriter. She finishes
a line, puts sheets of paper together, makes a note on a card--adds
some figures, and marks the total.
CLARE. Kenneth, when this is paid, I shall have made two pound
seventeen in the three months, and saved you about three pounds. One
hundred and seventeen shillings at tenpence a thousand is one hundred
and forty thousand words at fourteen hundred words an hour. It's
only just over an hour a day. Can't you get me more?
MALISE lifts the hand that holds his pen and lets it fall again.
CLARE puts the cover on the typewriter, and straps it.
CLARE. I'm quite packed. Shall I pack for you? [He nods] Can't we
have more than three days at the sea? [He shakes his head. Going up
to him] You did sleep last night.
MALISE. Yes, I slept.
CLARE. Bad head? [MALISE nods] By this time the day after to-
morrow the case will be heard and done with. You're not worrying for
me? Except for my poor old Dad, I don't care a bit.
MALISE heaves himself out of the chair, and begins pacing up and
CLARE. Kenneth, do you understand why he doesn't claim damages,
after what he said that day-here? [Looking suddenly at him] It is
true that he doesn't?
MALISE. It is not.
CLARE. But you told me yourself
MALISE. I lied.
MALISE. [Shrugging] No use lying any longer--you'd know it
CLARE. How much am I valued at?
MALISE. Two thousand. [Grimly] He'll settle it on you. [He laughs]
Masterly! By one stroke, destroys his enemy, avenges his "honour,"
and gilds his name with generosity!
CLARE. Will you have to pay?
MALISE. Stones yield no blood.
CLARE. Can't you borrow?
MALISE. I couldn't even get the costs.
CLARE. Will they make you bankrupt, then? [MALISE nods] But that
doesn't mean that you won't have your income, does it? [MALISE
laughs] What is your income, Kenneth? [He is silent] A hundred and
fifty from "The Watchfire," I know. What else?
MALISE. Out of five books I have made the sum of forty pounds.
CLARE. What else? Tell me.
MALISE. Fifty to a hundred pounds a year. Leave me to gnaw my way
CLARE stands looking at him in distress, then goes quickly into
the room behind her. MALISE takes up his paper and pen. The
paper is quite blank.
MALISE. [Feeling his head] Full of smoke.
He drops paper and pen, and crossing to the room on the left
goes in. CLARE re-enters with a small leather box. She puts it
down on her typing table as MALISE returns followed by MRS.
MILER, wearing her hat, and carrying His overcoat.
MRS. MILER. Put your coat on. It's a bitter wind.
[He puts on the coat]
CLARE. Where are you going?
MALISE. To "The Watchfire."
The door closes behind him, and MRS. MILER goes up to CLARE
holding out a little blue bottle with a red label, nearly full.
MRS. MILER. You know he's takin' this [She makes a little motion
towards her mouth] to make 'im sleep?
CLARE. [Reading the label] Where was it?
MRS. MILER. In the bathroom chest o' drawers, where 'e keeps 'is
odds and ends. I was lookin' for 'is garters.
CLARE. Give it to me!
MRS. MILER. He took it once before. He must get his sleep.
CLARE. Give it to me!
MRS. MILER resigns it, CLARE takes the cork out, smells, then
tastes it from her finger. MRS. MILER, twisting her apron in
her hands, speaks.
MILS. MILER. I've 'ad it on my mind a long time to speak to yer.
Your comin' 'ere's not done 'im a bit o' good.
MRS. MILER. I don't want to, but what with the worry o' this 'ere
divorce suit, an' you bein' a lady an' 'im havin' to be so careful of
yer, and tryin' to save, not smokin' all day like 'e used, an' not
gettin' 'is two bottles of claret regular; an' losin' his sleep, an'
takin' that stuff for it; and now this 'ere last business. I've seen
'im sometimes holdin' 'is 'ead as if it was comin' off. [Seeing
CLARE wince, she goes on with a sort of compassion in her Chinese
face] I can see yer fond of him; an' I've nothin' against yer you
don't trouble me a bit; but I've been with 'im eight years--we're
used to each other, and I can't bear to see 'im not 'imself, really I
She gives a sadden sniff. Then her emotion passes, leaving her
as Chinese as ever.
CLARE. This last business--what do you mean by that?
MRS. MILER. If 'e a'n't told yer, I don't know that I've any call
MRS. MILER. [Her hands twisting very fast] Well, it's to do with
this 'ere "Watchfire." One of the men that sees to the writin' of
it 'e's an old friend of Mr. Malise, 'e come 'ere this mornin' when
you was out. I was doin' my work in there [She points to the room
on the right] an' the door open, so I 'earl 'em. Now you've 'ung
them curtains, you can't 'elp it.
MRS. MILER. It's about your divorce case. This 'ere "Watchfire,"
ye see, belongs to some fellers that won't 'ave their men gettin'
into the papers. So this 'ere friend of Mr. Malise--very nice 'e
spoke about it: "If it comes into Court," 'e says, "you'll 'ave to
go," 'e says. "These beggars, these dogs, these dogs," 'e says,
"they'll 'oof you out," 'e says. An' I could tell by the sound of
his voice, 'e meant it--proper upset 'e was. So that's that!
CLARE. It's inhuman!
MRS. MILER. That's what I thinks; but it don't 'elp, do it?
"'Tain't the circulation," 'e says, "it's the principle," 'e says;
and then 'e starts in swearin' horrible. 'E's a very nice man. And
Mr. Malise, 'e says: "Well, that about does for me!" 'e says.
CLARE. Thank you, Mrs. Miler--I'm glad to know.
MRS. MILER. Yes; I don't know as I ought to 'ave told you.
[Desperately uncomfortable] You see, I don't take notice of Mr.
MALISE, but I know 'im very well. 'E's a good 'arted gentleman, very
funny, that'll do things to help others, and what's more, keep on
doin' 'em, when they hurt 'im; very obstinate 'e is. Now, when you
first come 'ere, three months ago, I says to meself: "He'll enjoy
this 'ere for a bit, but she's too much of a lady for 'im." What 'e
wants about 'im permanent is a woman that thinks an' talks about all
them things he talks about. And sometimes I fancy 'e don't want
nothin' permanent about 'im at all.
MRS. MILER. [With another sudden sniff] Gawd knows I don't want to
upset ye. You're situated very hard; an' women's got no business to
'urt one another--that's what I thinks.
CLARE. Will you go out and do something for me? [MRS. MILER nods]
[CLARE takes up the sheaf of papers and from the leather box a
note and an emerald pendant]
Take this with the note to that address--it's quite close. He'll
give you thirty pounds for it. Please pay these bills and bring me
back the receipts, and what's over.
MRS. MILER. [Taking the pendant and note] It's a pretty thing.
CLARE. Yes. It was my mother's.
MRS. MILER. It's a pity to part with it; ain't you got another?
CLARE. Nothing more, Mrs. Miler, not even a wedding ring.
MRS. MILER. [Without expression] You make my 'eart ache sometimes.
[She wraps pendant and note into her handkerchief and goes out to
MRS. MILER. [From the door] There's a lady and gentleman out here.
Mrs. Fuller--wants you, not Mr. Malise.
CLARE. Mrs. Fullarton? [MRS. MILER nods] Ask them to come in.
MRS. MILER opens the door wide, says "Come in," and goes. MRS.
FULLARTON is accompanied not by FULLARTON, but by the lawyer,
TWISDON. They come in.
MRS. FULLARTON. Clare! My dear! How are you after all this time?
CLARE. [Her eyes fixed on TWISDEN] Yes?
MRS. FULLARTON. [Disconcerted by the strange greeting] I brought
Mr. Twisden to tell you something. May I stay?
CLARE. Yes. [She points to the chair at the same table: MRS.
FULLARTON sits down] Now!
[TWISDEN comes forward]
TWISDEN. As you're not defending this case, Mrs. Dedmond, there is
nobody but yourself for me to apply to.
CLARE. Please tell me quickly, what you've come for.
TWISDEN. [Bowing slightly] I am instructed by Mr. Dedmond to say
that if you will leave your present companion and undertake not to
see him again, he will withdraw the suit and settle three hundred a
year on you. [At CLARE's movement of abhorrence] Don't
misunderstand me, please--it is not--it could hardly be, a request
that you should go back. Mr. Dedmond is not prepared to receive you
again. The proposal--forgive my saying so--remarkably Quixotic--is
made to save the scandal to his family and your own. It binds you to
nothing but the abandonment of your present companion, with certain
conditions of the same nature as to the future. In other words, it
assures you a position--so long as you live quietly by yourself.
CLARE. I see. Will you please thank Mr. Dedmond, and say that I
MRS. FULLARTON. Clare, Clare! For God's sake don't be desperate.
[CLARE, deathly still, just looks at her]
TWISDEN. Mrs. Dedmond, I am bound to put the position to you in its
naked brutality. You know there's a claim for damages?
CLARE. I have just learnt it.
TWISDEN. You realize what the result of this suit must be: You will
be left dependent on an undischarged bankrupt. To put it another
way, you'll be a stone round the neck of a drowning man.
CLARE. You are cowards.
MRS. FULLARTON. Clare, Clare! [To TWISDEN] She doesn't mean it;
please be patient.
CLARE. I do mean it. You ruin him because of me. You get him down,
and kick him to intimidate me.
MRS. FULLARTON. My dear girl! Mr. Twisden is not personally
concerned. How can you?
CLARE. If I were dying, and it would save me, I wouldn't take a
penny from my husband.
TWISDEN. Nothing could be more bitter than those words. Do you
really wish me to take them back to him?
CLARE. Yes. [She turns from them to the fire]
MRS. FULLARTON. [In a low voice to TWISDEN] Please leave me alone
with her, don't say anything to Mr. Dedmond yet.
TWISDEN. Mrs. Dedmond, I told you once that I wished you well.
Though you have called me a coward, I still do that. For God's sake,
think--before it's too late.
CLARE. [Putting out her hand blindly] I'm sorry I called you a
coward. It's the whole thing, I meant.
TWISDEN. Never mind that. Think!
With the curious little movement of one who sees something he
does not like to see, he goes. CLARE is leaning her forehead
against the mantel-shelf, seemingly unconscious that she is not
alone. MRS. FULLARTON approaches quietly till she can see
MRS. FULLARTON. My dear sweet thing, don't be cross with met [CLARE
turns from her. It is all the time as if she were trying to get away
from words and people to something going on within herself] How can
I help wanting to see you saved from all this ghastliness?
CLARE. Please don't, Dolly! Let me be!
MRS. FULLARTON. I must speak, Clare! I do think you're hard on
George. It's generous of him to offer to withdraw the suit--
considering. You do owe it to us to try and spare your father and
your sisters and--and all of us who care for you.
CLARE. [Facing her] You say George is generous! If he wanted to be
that he'd never have claimed these damages. It's revenge he wants--I
heard him here. You think I've done him an injury. So I did--when I
married him. I don't know what I shall come to, Dolly, but I shan't
fall so low as to take money from him. That's as certain as that I
MRS. FULLARTON. Do you know, Clare, I think it's awful about you!
You're too fine, and not fine enough, to put up with things; you're
too sensitive to take help, and you're not strong enough to do
without it. It's simply tragic. At any rate, you might go home to
CLARE. After this!
MRS. FULLARTON. To us, then?
CLARE. "If I could be the falling bee, and kiss thee all the day!"
MRS. FULLARTON turns from her ashamed and baffled, but her quick
eyes take in the room, trying to seize on some new point of
MRS. FULLARTON. You can't be--you aren't-happy, here?
CLARE. Aren't I?
MRS. FULLARTON. Oh! Clare! Save yourself--and all of us!
CLARE. [Very still] You see, I love him.
MRS. FULLARTON. You used to say you'd never love; did not want it--
would never want it.
CLARE. Did I? How funny!
MRS. FULLARTON. Oh! my dear! Don't look like that, or you'll make
CLARE. One doesn't always know the future, does one? [Desperately]
I love him! I love him!
MRS. FULLARTON. [Suddenly] If you love him, what will it be like for
you, knowing you've ruined him?
CLARE. Go away! Go away!
MRS. FULLARTON. Love!--you said!
CLARE. [Quivering at that stab-suddenly] I must--I will keep him.
He's all I've got.
MRS. FULLARTON. Can you--can you keep him?
MRS. FULLARTON. I'm going. But, men are hard to keep, even when
you've not been the ruin of them. You know whether the love this man
gives you is really love. If not--God help you! [She turns at the
door, and says mournfully] Good-bye, my child! If you can----
Then goes. CLARE, almost in a whisper, repeats the words:
"Love! you said!" At the sound of a latchkey she runs as if to
escape into the bedroom, but changes her mind and stands blotted
against the curtain of the door. MALISE enters. For a moment
he does not see her standing there against the curtain that is
much the same colour as her dress. His face is that of a man in
the grip of a rage that he feels to be impotent. Then, seeing
her, he pulls himself together, walks to his armchair, and sits
down there in his hat and coat.
CLARE. Well? "The Watchfire?" You may as well tell me.
MALISE. Nothing to tell you, child.
At that touch of tenderness she goes up to his chair and kneels
down beside it. Mechanically MALISE takes off his hat.
CLARE. Then you are to lose that, too? [MALISE stares at her] I
know about it--never mind how.
MALISE. Sanctimonious dogs!
CLARE. [Very low] There are other things to be got, aren't there?
MALISE. Thick as blackberries. I just go out and cry, "MALISE,
unsuccessful author, too honest journalist, freethinker, co-
respondent, bankrupt," and they tumble!
CLARE. [Quietly] Kenneth, do you care for me? [MALISE stares at
her] Am I anything to you but just prettiness?
MALISE. Now, now! This isn't the time to brood! Rouse up and
MALISE. We're not going to let them down us, are we? [She rubs her
cheek against his hand, that still rests on her shoulder] Life on
sufferance, breath at the pleasure of the enemy! And some day in the
fullness of his mercy to be made a present of the right to eat and
drink and breathe again. [His gesture sums up the rage within him]
Fine! [He puts his hat on and rises] That's the last groan they get
CLASS. Are you going out again? [He nods] Where?
MALISE. Blackberrying! Our train's not till six.
He goes into the bedroom. CLARE gets up and stands by the fire,
looking round in a dazed way. She puts her hand up and
mechanically gathers together the violets in the little vase.
Suddenly she twists them to a buttonhole, and sinks down into
the armchair, which he must pass. There she sits, the violets
in her hand. MALISE comes out and crosses towards the outer
door. She puts the violets up to him. He stares at them,
shrugs his shoulders, and passes on. For just a moment CLARE
CLARE. [Quietly] Give me a kiss!
He turns and kisses her. But his lips, after that kiss, have
the furtive bitterness one sees on the lips of those who have
done what does not suit their mood. He goes out. She is left
motionless by the armchair, her throat working. Then,
feverishly, she goes to the little table, seizes a sheet of
paper, and writes. Looking up suddenly she sees that MRS. MILER
has let herself in with her latchkey.
MRS. MILER. I've settled the baker, the milk, the washin' an' the
groceries--this 'ere's what's left.
She counts down a five-pound note, four sovereigns, and two
shillings on to the little table. CLARE folds the letter into
an envelope, then takes up the five-pound note and puts it into
CLARE. [Pointing to the money on the table] Take your wages; and
give him this when he comes in. I'm going away.
MRS. MILER. Without him? When'll you be comin' back?
CLARE. [Rising] I shan't be coming back. [Gazing at MRS. MILER'S
hands, which are plaiting at her dress] I'm leaving Mr. Malise, and
shan't see him again. And the suit against us will be withdrawn--the
divorce suit--you understand?
MRS. MILER. [Her face all broken up] I never meant to say anything
CLARE. It's not you. I can see for myself. Don't make it harder;
help me. Get a cab.
MRS. MILER. [Disturbed to the heart] The porter's outside, cleanin'
the landin' winder.
CLARE. Tell him to come for my trunk. It is packed. [She goes into
MRS. MILER. [Opening the door-desolately] Come 'ere!
[The PORTER appears in shirt-sleeves at the door]
MRS. MILER. The lady wants a cab. Wait and carry 'er trunk down.
CLARE comes from the bedroom in her hat and coat.
MRS. MILER. [TO the PORTER] Now.
They go into the bedroom to get the trunk. CLARE picks up from
the floor the bunch of violets, her fingers play with it as if
they did not quite know what it was; and she stands by the
armchair very still, while MRS. MILER and the PORTER pass her
with trunk and bag. And even after the PORTER has shouldered
the trunk outside, and marched away, and MRS. MILER has come
back into the room, CLARE still stands there.
MRS. MILER. [Pointing to the typewriter] D'you want this 'ere, too?
MRS. MILER carries it out. Then, from the doorway, gazing at
CLARE taking her last look, she sobs, suddenly. At sound of
that sob CLARE throws up her head.
CLARE. Don't! It's all right. Good-bye!
She walks out and away, not looking back. MRS. MILER chokes her
sobbing into the black stuff of her thick old jacket.
Supper-time in a small room at "The Gascony" on Derby Day.
Through the windows of a broad corridor, out of which the door
opens, is seen the dark blue of a summer night. The walls are
of apricot-gold; the carpets, curtains, lamp-shades, and gilded
chairs, of red; the wood-work and screens white; the palms in
gilded tubs. A doorway that has no door leads to another small
room. One little table behind a screen, and one little table in
the open, are set for two persons each. On a service-table,
above which hangs a speaking-tube, are some dishes of hors
d'ouvres, a basket of peaches, two bottles of champagne in ice-
pails, and a small barrel of oysters in a gilded tub. ARNAUD,
the waiter, slim, dark, quick, his face seamed with a quiet,
soft irony, is opening oysters and listening to the robust joy
of a distant supper-party, where a man is playing the last bars
of: "Do ye ken John Peel" on a horn. As the sound dies away, he
murmurs: "Tres Joli!" and opens another oyster. Two Ladies with
bare shoulders and large hats pass down the corridor. Their
talk is faintly wafted in: "Well, I never like Derby night! The
boys do get so bobbish!" "That horn--vulgar, I call it!"
ARNAUD'S eyebrows rise, the corners of his mouth droop. A Lady
with bare shoulders, and crimson roses in her hair, comes along
the corridor, and stops for a second at the window, for a man to
join her. They come through into the room. ARNAUD has sprung
to attention, but with: "Let's go in here, shall we?" they pass
through into the further room. The MANAGER, a gentleman with
neat moustaches, and buttoned into a frock-coat, has appeared,
brisk, noiseless, his eyes everywhere; he inspects the peaches.
MANAGER. Four shillin' apiece to-night, see?
ARNAUD. Yes, Sare.
From the inner room a young man and his partner have come in.
She is dark, almost Spanish-looking; he fair, languid, pale,
clean-shaved, slackly smiling, with half-closed eyes-one of
those who are bred and dissipated to the point of having lost
all save the capacity for hiding their emotions. He speaks in
LANGUID VOICE. Awful row they're kickin' up in there, Mr. Varley.
A fellow with a horn.
MANAGER. [Blandly] Gaddesdon Hunt, my lord--always have their
supper with us, Derby night. Quiet corner here, my lord. Arnaud!
ARNAUD is already at the table, between screen and palm. And,
there ensconced, the couple take their seats. Seeing them
safely landed, the MANAGER, brisk and noiseless, moves away. In
the corridor a lady in black, with a cloak falling open, seems
uncertain whether to come in. She advances into the doorway.
It is CLARE.
ARNAUD. [Pointing to the other table as he flies with dishes] Nice
CLARE moves to the corner of it. An artist in observation of
his clients, ARNAUD takes in her face--very pale under her wavy,
simply-dressed hair; shadowy beneath the eyes; not powdered; her
lips not reddened; without a single ornament; takes in her black
dress, finely cut, her arms and neck beautifully white, and at
her breast three gardenias. And as he nears her, she lifts her
eyes. It is very much the look of something lost, appealing for
ARNAUD. Madame is waiting for some one? [She shakes her head] Then
Madame will be veree well here--veree well. I take Madame's cloak?
He takes the cloak gently and lays it on the back of the chair
fronting the room, that she may put it round her when she
wishes. She sits down.
LANGUID VOICE. [From the corner] Waiter!
LANGUID VOICE. The Roederer.
ARNAUD. At once, Milord.
CLARE sits tracing a pattern with her finger on the cloth, her
eyes lowered. Once she raises them, and follows ARNAUD's dark
ARNAUD. [Returning] Madame feels the 'eat? [He scans her with
increased curiosity] You wish something, Madame?
CLARE. [Again giving him that look] Must I order?
ARNAUD. Non, Madame, it is not necessary. A glass of water. [He
pours it out] I have not the pleasure of knowing Madame's face.
CLARE. [Faintly smiling] No.
ARNAUD. Madame will find it veree good 'ere, veree quiet.
LANGUID VOICE. Waiter!
ARNAUD. Pardon! [He goes]
The bare-necked ladies with large hats again pass down the
corridor outside, and again their voices are wafted in: "Tottie!
Not she! Oh! my goodness, she has got a pride on her!"
"Bobbie'll never stick it!" "Look here, dear----" Galvanized
by those sounds, CLARE has caught her cloak and half-risen; they
die away and she subsides.
ARNAUD. [Back at her table, with a quaint shrug towards the
corridor] It is not rowdy here, Madame, as a rule--not as in some
places. To-night a little noise. Madame is fond of flowers? [He
whisks out, and returns almost at once with a bowl of carnations from
some table in the next room] These smell good!
CLARE. You are very kind.
ARNAUD. [With courtesy] Not at all, Madame; a pleasure. [He bows]
A young man, tall, thin, hard, straight, with close-cropped,
sandyish hair and moustache, a face tanned very red, and one of
those small, long, lean heads that only grow in Britain; clad in
a thin dark overcoat thrown open, an opera hat pushed back, a
white waistcoat round his lean middle, he comes in from the
corridor. He looks round, glances at CLARE, passes her table
towards the further room, stops in the doorway, and looks back
at her. Her eyes have just been lifted, and are at once cast
down again. The young man wavers, catches ARNAUD's eye, jerks
his head to summon him, and passes into the further room.
ARNAUD takes up the vase that has been superseded, and follows
him out. And CLARE sits alone in silence, broken by the murmurs
of the languid lord and his partner, behind the screen. She is
breathing as if she had been running hard. She lifts her eyes.
The tall young man, divested of hat and coat, is standing by her
table, holding out his hand with a sort of bashful hardiness.
YOUNG MAN. How d'you do? Didn't recognize you at first. So sorry-
awfully rude of me.
CLARE'S eyes seem to fly from him, to appeal to him, to resign
herself all at once. Something in the YOUNG MAN responds. He
drops his hand.
CLARE. [Faintly] How d'you do?
YOUNG MAN. [Stammering] You--you been down there to-day?
YOUNG MAN. [With a smile] The Derby. What? Don't you generally go
down? [He touches the other chair] May I?
CLARE. [Almost in a whisper] Yes.
As he sits down, ARNAUD returns and stands before them.
ARNAUD. The plovers' eggs veree good to-night, Sare. Veree good,
Madame. A peach or two, after. Veree good peaches. The Roederer,
Sare--not bad at all. Madame likes it frappe, but not too cold--yes?
[He is away again to his service-table.]
YOUNG MAN. [Burying his face in the carnations] I say--these are
jolly, aren't they? They do you pretty well here.
CLARE. Do they?
YOUNG MAN. You've never been here? [CLARE shakes her head] By Jove!
I thought I didn't know your face. [CLARE looks full at him. Again
something moves in the YOUNG MAN, and he stammers] I mean--not----
CLARE. It doesn't matter.
YOUNG MAN. [Respectfully] Of course, if I--if you were waiting for
anybody, or anything--I----
[He half rises]
CLARE. It's all right, thank you.
The YOUNG MAN sits down again, uncomfortable, nonplussed. There
is silence, broken by the inaudible words of the languid lord,
and the distant merriment of the supper-party. ARNAUD brings
the plovers' eggs.
YOUNG MAN. The wine, quick.
ARNAUD. At once, Sare.
YOUNG MAN. [Abruptly] Don't you ever go racing, then?
[ARNAUD pours out champagne]
YOUNG MAN. I remember awfully well my first day. It was pretty
thick--lost every blessed bob, and my watch and chain, playin' three
cards on the way home.
CLARE. Everything has a beginning, hasn't it?
[She drinks. The YOUNG MAN stares at her]
YOUNG MAN. [Floundering in these waters deeper than he had bargained
for] I say--about things having beginnings--did you mean anything?
YOUNG MAN. What! D'you mean it's really the first----?
CLARE nods. The champagne has flicked her courage.
YOUNG MAN. By George! [He leans back] I've often wondered.
ARNAUD. [Again filling the glasses] Monsieur finds----
YOUNG MAN. [Abruptly] It's all right.
He drains his glass, then sits bolt upright. Chivalry and the
camaraderie of class have begun to stir in him.
YOUNG MAN. Of course I can see that you're not--I mean, that you're
a--a lady. [CLARE smiles] And I say, you know--if you have to--
because you're in a hole--I should feel a cad. Let me lend you----?
CLARE. [Holding up her glass] 'Le vin est tire, il faut le boire'!
She drinks. The French words, which he does not too well
understand, completing his conviction that she is a lady, he
remains quite silent, frowning. As CLARE held up her glass, two
gentlemen have entered. The first is blond, of good height and
a comely insolence. His crisp, fair hair, and fair brushed-up
moustache are just going grey; an eyeglass is fixed in one of
two eyes that lord it over every woman they see; his face is
broad, and coloured with air and wine. His companion is a tall,
thin, dark bird of the night, with sly, roving eyes, and hollow
cheeks. They stand looking round, then pass into the further
room; but in passing, they have stared unreservedly at CLARE.
YOUNG MAN. [Seeing her wince] Look here! I'm afraid you must feel
me rather a brute, you know.
CLARE. No, I don't; really.
YOUNG MAN. Are you absolute stoney? [CLARE nods] But [Looking at
her frock and cloak] you're so awfully well----
CLARE. I had the sense to keep them.
YOUNG MAN. [More and more disturbed] I say, you know--I wish you'd
let me lend you something. I had quite a good day down there.
CLARE. [Again tracing her pattern on the cloth--then looking up at
him full] I can't take, for nothing.
YOUNG MAN. By Jove! I don't know-really, I don't--this makes me
feel pretty rotten. I mean, it's your being a lady.
CLARE. [Smiling] That's not your fault, is it? You see, I've been
beaten all along the line. And I really don't care what happens to
me. [She has that peculiar fey look on her face now] I really
don't; except that I don't take charity. It's lucky for me it's you,
and not some----
The supper-party is getting still more boisterous, and there comes a
long view holloa, and a blast of the horn.
YOUNG MAN. But I say, what about your people? You must have people
of some sort.
He is fast becoming fascinated, for her cheeks have begun to
flush and her eyes to shine.
CLARE. Oh, yes; I've had people, and a husband, and--everything----
And here I am! Queer, isn't it? [She touches her glass] This is
going to my head! Do you mind? I sha'n't sing songs and get up and
dance, and I won't cry, I promise you!
YOUNG MAN. [Between fascination and chivalry] By George! One
simply can't believe in this happening to a lady.
CLARE. Have you got sisters? [Breaking into her soft laughter] My
brother's in India. I sha'n't meet him, anyway.
YOUNG MAN. No, but--I say-are you really quite cut off from
everybody? [CLARE nods] Something rather awful must have happened?
She smiles. The two gentlemen have returned. The blond one is
again staring fixedly at CLARE. This time she looks back at
him, flaming; and, with a little laugh, he passes with his
friend into the corridor.
CLARE. Who are those two?
YOUNG MAN. Don't know--not been much about town yet. I'm just back
from India myself. You said your brother was there; what's his
CLARE. [Shaking her head] You're not going to find out my name. I
haven't got one--nothing.
She leans her bare elbows on the table, and her face on her
CLARE. First of June! This day last year I broke covert--I've been
running ever since.
YOUNG MAN. I don't understand a bit. You--must have had a--a--some
But there is such a change in her face, such rigidity of her
whole body, that he stops and averts his eyes. When he looks
again she is drinking. She puts the glass down, and gives a
YOUNG MAN. [With a sort of awe] Anyway it must have been like
riding at a pretty stiff fence, for you to come here to-night.
CLARE. Yes. What's the other side?
The YOUNG MAN puts out his hand and touches her arm. It is
meant for sympathy, but she takes it for attraction.
CLARE. [Shaking her head] Not yet please! I'm enjoying this. May
I have a cigarette?
[He takes out his case, and gives her one]
CLARE. [Letting the smoke slowly forth] Yes, I'm enjoying it. Had
a pretty poor time lately; not enough to eat, sometimes.
YOUNG MAN. Not really! How damnable! I say--do have something more
CLARE gives a sudden gasp, as if going off into hysterical
laughter, but she stifles it, and shakes her head.
YOUNG MAN. A peach?
[ARNAUD brings peaches to the table]
CLARE. [Smiling] Thank you.
[He fills their glasses and retreats]
CLARE. [Raising her glass] Eat and drink, for tomorrow we--Listen!
From the supper-party comes the sound of an abortive chorus:
"With a hey ho, chivy, hark forrard, hark forrard, tantivy!"
Jarring out into a discordant whoop, it sinks.
CLARE. "This day a stag must die." Jolly old song!
YOUNG MAN. Rowdy lot! [Suddenly] I say--I admire your pluck.
CLARE. [Shaking her head] Haven't kept my end up. Lots of women do!
You see: I'm too fine, and not fine enough! My best friend said
that. Too fine, and not fine enough. [She laughs] I couldn't be a
saint and martyr, and I wouldn't be a soulless doll. Neither one
thing nor the other--that's the tragedy.
YOUNG MAN. You must have had awful luck!
CLARE. I did try. [Fiercely] But what's the good--when there's
nothing before you?--Do I look ill?
YOUNG MAN. No; simply awfully pretty.
CLARE. [With a laugh] A man once said to me: "As you haven't money,
you should never have been pretty!" But, you see, it is some good.
If I hadn't been, I couldn't have risked coming here, could I? Don't
you think it was rather sporting of me to buy these [She touches the
gardenias] with the last shilling over from my cab fare?
YOUNG MAN. Did you really? D---d sporting!
CLARE. It's no use doing things by halves, is it? I'm--in for it--
wish me luck! [She drinks, and puts her glass down with a smile] In
for it--deep! [She flings up her hands above her smiling face] Down,
down, till they're just above water, and then--down, down, down, and
--all over! Are you sorry now you came and spoke to me?
YOUNG MAN. By Jove, no! It may be caddish, but I'm not.
CLARE. Thank God for beauty! I hope I shall die pretty! Do you
think I shall do well?
YOUNG MAN. I say--don't talk like that!
CLARE. I want to know. Do you?
YOUNG MAN. Well, then--yes, I do.
CLARE. That's splendid. Those poor women in the streets would give
their eyes, wouldn't they?--that have to go up and down, up and down!
Do you think I--shall----
The YOUNG MAN, half-rising, puts his hand on her arm.
YOUNG MAN. I think you're getting much too excited. You look all--
Won't you eat your peach? [She shakes her head] Do! Have something
else, then--some grapes, or something?
CLARE. No, thanks.
[She has become quite calm again]
YOUNG MAN. Well, then, what d'you think? It's awfully hot in here,
isn't it? Wouldn't it be jollier drivin'? Shall we--shall we make a
The YOUNG MAN turns to look for the waiter, but ARNAUD is not in
the room. He gets up.
YOUNG MAN. [Feverishly] D---n that waiter! Wait half a minute, if
you don't mind, while I pay the bill.
As he goes out into the corridor, the two gentlemen re-appear.
CLARE is sitting motionless, looking straight before her.
DARK ONE. A fiver you don't get her to!
BLOND ONE. Done!
He advances to her table with his inimitable insolence, and
taking the cigar from his mouth, bends his stare on her, and
says: "Charmed to see you lookin' so well! Will you have supper
with me here to-morrow night?" Startled out of her reverie,
CLARE looks up. She sees those eyes, she sees beyond him the
eyes of his companion-sly, malevolent, amused-watching; and she
just sits gazing, without a word. At that regard, so clear, the
BLOND ONE does not wince. But rather suddenly he says: "That's
arranged then. Half-past eleven. So good of you. Good-night!"
He replaces his cigar and strolls back to his companion, and in
a low voice says: "Pay up!" Then at a languid "Hullo, Charles!"
they turn to greet the two in their nook behind the screen.
CLARE has not moved, nor changed the direction of her gaze.
Suddenly she thrusts her hand into the, pocket of the cloak that
hangs behind her, and brings out the little blue bottle which,
six months ago, she took from MALISE. She pulls out the cork
and pours the whole contents into her champagne. She lifts the
glass, holds it before her--smiling, as if to call a toast, then
puts it to her lips and drinks. Still smiling, she sets the
empty glass down, and lays the gardenia flowers against her
face. Slowly she droops back in her chair, the drowsy smile
still on her lips; the gardenias drop into her lap; her arms
relax, her head falls forward on her breast. And the voices
behind the screen talk on, and the sounds of joy from the
supper-party wax and wane.
The waiter, ARNAUD, returning from the corridor, passes to his
service-table with a tall, beribboned basket of fruit. Putting
it down, he goes towards the table behind the screen, and sees.
He runs up to CLARE.
ARNAUD. Madame! Madame! [He listens for her breathing; then
suddenly catching sight of the little bottle, smells at it] Bon Dieu!
[At that queer sound they come from behind the screen--all four,
and look. The dark night bird says: "Hallo; fainted!" ARNAUD
holds out the bottle.]
LANGUID LORD. [Taking it, and smelling] Good God! [The woman bends
over CLARE, and lifts her hands; ARNAUD rushes to his service-table,
and speaks into his tube]
ARNAUD. The boss. Quick! [Looking up he sees the YOUNG MAN,
returning] 'Monsieur, elle a fui! Elle est morte'!
LANGUID LORD. [To the YOUNG MAN standing there aghast] What's this?
Friend of yours?
YOUNG MAN. My God! She was a lady. That's all I know about her.
LANGUID LORD. A lady!
[The blond and dark gentlemen have slipped from the room; and out
of the supper-party's distant laughter comes suddenly a long,
shrill: "Gone away!" And the sound of the horn playing the seven
last notes of the old song: "This day a stag must die!" From the
last note of all the sound flies up to an octave higher, sweet
and thin, like a spirit passing, till it is drowned once more in
laughter. The YOUNG MAN has covered his eyes with his hands;
ARNAUD is crossing himself fervently; the LANGUID LORD stands
gazing, with one of the dropped gardenias twisted in his
fingers; and the woman, bending over CLARE, kisses her forehead.]
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