The Plays of W. E. Henley and R. L. Stevenson
Part 3 out of 5
To these, DOROTHY, L.
DOROTHY (ENTERING). Good-morning, aunt! Is there anything for
me? (SHE GOES EAGERLY TO TABLE, AND LOOKS AT LETTERS.)
MISS FOSTER. Good-morrow, niece. Breakfast, Barbara.
DOROTHY (WITH LETTER UNOPENED). Nothing.
MISS FOSTER. And what do you call that, my dear? (SITTING.) Is
John Fenwick nobody?
DOROTHY (LOOKING AT LETTER.) From John? O yes, so it is. (LAYS
DOWN LETTER UNOPENED, AND SITS TO BREAKFAST, BARBARA WAITING.)
MISS FOSTER (TO BARBARA, WITH PLATE). Thanks, child; now you may
give me some tea. Dolly, I must insist on your eating a good
breakfast: I cannot away with your pale cheeks and that
Patience-on-a Monument kind of look. (Toast, Barbara.) At
Edenside you ate and drank and looked like Hebe. What have you
done with your appetite?
DOROTHY. I don't know, aunt, I'm sure.
MISS FOSTER. Then consider, please, and recover it as soon as
you can: to a young lady in your position a good appetite is an
attraction - almost a virtue. Do you know that your brother
arrives this morning?
DOROTHY. Dear Anthony! Where is his letter, Aunt Evelina? I am
pleased that he should leave London and its perils, if only for a
MISS FOSTER. My dear, there are moments when you positively
amaze. (Barbara, some PATE, if you please!) I beg you not to be
a prude. All women, of course, are virtuous; but a prude is
something I regard with abhorrence. The Cornet is seeing life,
which is exactly what he wanted. You brought him up surprisingly
well; I have always admired you for it; but let us admit - as
women of the world, my dear - it was no upbringing for a man.
You and that fine solemn fellow, John Fenwick, led a life that
was positively no better than the Middle Ages; and between the
two of you, poor Anthony (who, I am sure, was a most passive
creature!) was so packed with principle and admonition that I vow
and declare he reminded me of Issachar stooping between his two
burdens. It washigh time for him to be done with your
apron-string, my dear: he has all his wild oats to sow; and that
is an occupation which it is unwise to defer too long. By the
bye, have you heard the news? The Duke of York has done us a
service for which I was unprepared. (More tea, Barbara!) George
Austin, bringing the prince in his train, is with us once more.
DOROTHY. I knew he was coming.
MISS FOSTER. You knew, child? and did not tell? You are a
DOROTHY. I did not think it mattered, Aunt Evelina.
MISS FOSTER. O do not make-believe. I am in love with him
myself, and have been any time since Nelson and the Nile. As for
you, Dolly, since he went away six months ago, you have been
positively in the megrims. I shall date your loss of appetite
from George Austin's vanishing. No, my dear, our family require
entertainment: we must have wit about us, and beauty, and the
BARBARA. Well, Miss Dorothy, perhaps it's out of my place: but
I do hope Mr. Austin will come: I should love to have him see my
DOROTHY. Necklace? what necklace? Did he give you a necklace?
BARBARA. Yes, indeed, Miss, that he did: the very same day he
drove you in his curricle to Penshurst. You remember, Miss, I
DOROTHY. I remember.
MISS FOSTER. And so do I. I had a touch of . . . Foster in the
blood: the family gout, dears! . . . And you, you ungrateful
nymph, had him a whole day to yourself, and not a word to tell me
when you returned.
DOROTHY. I remember. (RISING.) Is that the necklace, Barbara?
It does not suit you. Give it me.
BARBARA. La, Miss Dorothy, I wouldn't for the world.
DOROTHY. Come, give it me. I want it. Thank you: you shall
have my birthday pearls instead.
MISS FOSTER. Why, Dolly, I believe you're jealous of the maid.
Foster, Foster: always a Foster trick to wear the willow in
DOROTHY. I do not think, madam, that I am of a jealous habit.
MISS FOSTER. O, the personage is your excuse! And I can tell
you, child, that when George Austin was playing Florizel to the
Duchess's Perdita, all the maids in England fell a prey to green-
eyed melancholy. It was the TON, you see: not to pine for that
Sylvander was to resign from good society.
DOROTHY. Aunt Evelina, stop; I cannot endure to hear you. What
is he after all but just Beau Austin? What has he done - with
half a century of good health, what has he done that is either
memorable or worthy? Diced and danced and set fashions;
vanquished in a drawing-room, fought for a word; what else? As
if these were the meaning of life! Do not make me think so
poorly of all of us women. Sure, we can rise to admire a better
kind of man than Mr. Austin. We are not all to be snared with
the eye, dear aunt; and those that are - O! I know not whether I
more hate or pity them.
MISS FOSTER. You will give me leave, my niece: such talk is
neither becoming in a young lady nor creditable to your
understanding. The world was made a great while before Miss
Dorothy Musgrave; and you will do much better to ripen your
opinions, and in the meantime read your letter, which I perceive
you have not opened. (DOROTHY OPENS AND READS LETTER.) Barbara,
child, you should not listen at table.
BARBARA. Sure, madam, I hope I know my place.
MISS FOSTER. Then do not do it again.
DOROTHY. Poor John Fenwick! he coming here!
MISS FOSTER. Well, and why not? Dorothy, my darling child, you
give me pain. You never had but one chance, let me tell you
pointedly: and that was John Fenwick. If I were you, I would
not let my vanity so blind me. This is not the way to marry.
DOROTHY. Dear aunt, I shall never marry.
MISS FOSTER. A fiddlestick's end! every one must marry.
(RISING.) Are you for the Pantiles?
DOROTHY. Not to-day, dear,
MISS FOSTER. Well, well! have your wish, Dolorosa. Barbara,
attend and dress me.
DOROTHY. How she tortures me, poor aunt, my poor blind aunt; and
I - I could break her heart with a word. That she should see
nothing, know nothing - there's where it kills. O, it is more
than I can bear . . . and yet, how much less than I deserve! Mad
girl, of what do I complain? that this dear innocent woman still
believes me good, still pierces me to the soul with trustfulness.
Alas, and were it otherwise, were her dear eyes opened to the
truth, what were left me but death? - He, too - she must still be
praising him, and every word is a lash upon my conscience. If I
could die of my secret: if I could cease - but one moment cease
- this living lie; if I could sleep and forget and be at rest! -
Poor John! (READING THE LETTER) he at least is guiltless; and yet
for my fault he too must suffer, he too must bear part in my
shame. Poor John Fenwick! Has he come back with the old story:
with what might have been, perhaps, had we stayed by Edenside?
Eden? yes, my Eden, from which I fell. O my old north country,
my old river - the river of my innocence, the old country of my
hopes - how could I endure to look on you now? And how to meet
John? - John, with the old love on his lips, the old, honest,
innocent, faithful heart! There was a Dorothy once who was not
unfit to ride with him, her heart as light as his, her life as
clear as the bright rivers we forded; he called her his Diana, he
crowned her so with rowan. Where is that Dorothy now? that
Diana? she that was everything to John? For O, I did him good;
I know I did him good; I will still believe I did him good: I
made him honest and kind and a true man; alas, and could not
guide myself! And now, how will he despise me! For he shall
know; if I die, he shall know all; I could not live, and not be
true with him. (SHE TAKES OUT THE NECKLACE AND LOOKS AT IT.)
That he should have bought me from my maid! George, George, that
you should have stooped to this! Basely as you have used me,
this is the basest. Perish the witness! (SHE TREADS THE TRINKET
UNDER FOOT.) Break, break like my heart, break like my hopes,
perish like my good name!
To her, FENWICK, C.
FENWICK (AFTER A PAUSE). Is this how you receive me, Dorothy?
Am I not welcome? - Shall I go then?
DOROTHY (RUNNING TO HIM, WITH HANDS OUTSTRETCHED). O no, John,
not for me. (TURNING, AND POINTING TO THE NECKLACE.) But you
find me changed.
FENWICK (WITH A MOVEMENT TOWARDS THE NECKLACE). This?
DOROTHY. No, no, let it lie. That is a trinket - broken. But
the old Dorothy is dead.
FENWICK. Dead, dear? Not to me.
DOROTHY. Dead to you - dead to all men.
FENWICK. Dorothy, I loved you as a boy. There is not a meadow
on Edenside but is dear to me for your sake, not a cottage but
recalls your goodness, not a rock nor a tree but brings back
something of the best and brightest youth man ever had. You were
my teacher and my queen; I walked with you, I talked with you, I
rode with you; I lived in your shadow; I saw with your eyes. You
will never know, dear Dorothy, what you were to the dull boy you
bore with; you will never know with what romance you filled my
life, with what devotion, with what tenderness and honour. At
night I lay awake and worshipped you; in my dreams I saw you, and
you loved me; and you remember, when we told each other stories -
you have not forgotten, dearest - that Princess Hawthorn that was
still the heroine of mine: who was she? I was not bold enough
to tell, but she was you! You, my virgin huntress, my Diana, my
DOROTHY. O silence, silence - pity!
FENWICK. No, dear; neither for your sake nor mine will I be
silenced. I have begun; I must go on and finish, and put fortune
to the touch. It was from you I learned honour, duty, piety, and
love. I am as you made me, and I exist but to reverence and
serve you. Why else have I come here, the length of England, my
heart burning higher every mile, my very horse a clog to me? why,
but to ask you for my wife? Dorothy, you will not deny me.
DOROTHY. You have not asked me about this broken trinket?
FENWICK. Why should I ask? I love you.
DOROTHY. Yet I must tell you. Sit down. (SHE PICKS UP THE
NECKLACE, AND STANDS LOOKING AT IT. THEN, BREAKING DOWN.) O
John, John, it's long since I left home.
FENWICK. Too long, dear love. The very trees will welcome you.
DOROTHY. Ay, John, but I no longer love you. The old Dorothy is
dead, God pardon her!
FENWICK. Dorothy, who is the man?
DOROTHY. O poor Dorothy! O poor dead Dorothy! John, you found
me breaking this: me, your Diana of the Fells, the Diana of your
old romance by Edenside. Diana - O what a name for me! Do you
see this trinket? It is a chapter in my life. A chapter, do I
say? my whole life, for there is none to follow. John, you must
bear with me, you must help me. I have that to tell - there is a
secret - I have a secret, John - O, for God's sake, understand.
That Diana you revered - O John, John, you must never speak of
love to me again.
FENWICK. What do you say? How dare you?
DOROTHY. John, it is the truth. Your Diana, even she, she whom
you so believed in, she who so believed in herself, came out into
the world only to be broken. I met, here at the Wells, a man -
why should I tell you his name? I met him, and I loved him. My
heart was all his own; yet he was not content with that: he must
intrigue to catch me, he must bribe my maid with this. (THROWS
THE NECKLACE ON THE TABLE.) Did he love me? Well, John, he said
he did; and be it so! He loved, he betrayed, and he has left me.
DOROTHY. Ay, even so; I was betrayed. The fault was mine that I
forgot our innocent youth, and your honest love.
FENWICK. Dorothy, O Dorothy!
DOROTHY. Yours is the pain; but, O John, think it is for your
good. Think in England how many true maids may be waiting for
your love, how many that can bring you a whole heart, and be a
noble mother to your children, while your poor Diana, at the
first touch, has proved all frailty. Go, go and be happy, and
let me be patient. I have sinned.
FENWICK. By God, I'll have his blood.
DOROTHY. Stop! I love him. (BETWEEN FENWICK AND DOOR, C.)
FENWICK. What do I care? I loved you too. Little he thought of
that, little either of you thought of that. His blood - I'll
have his blood!
DOROTHY. You shall never know his name.
FENWICK. Know it? Do you think I cannot guess? Do you think I
had not heard he followed you. Do you think I had not suffered -
O suffered! George Austin is the man. Dear shall he pay it!
DOROTHY (AT HIS FEET). Pity me; spare me, spare your Dorothy! I
love him - love him - love him!
FENWICK. Dorothy, you have robbed me of my happiness, and now
you would rob me of my revenge.
DOROTHY. I know it; and shall I ask, and you not grant?
FENWICK (RAISING HER). No, Dorothy, you shall ask nothing,
nothing in vain from me. You ask his life; I give it you, as I
would give you my soul; as I would give you my life, if I had any
left. My life is done; you have taken it. Not a hope, not an
end; not even revenge. (HE SITS.) Dorothy, you see your work.
DOROTHY. O God, forgive me.
FENWICK. Ay, Dorothy, He will, as I do.
DOROTHY. As you do? Do you forgive me, John?
FENWICK. Ay, more than that, poor soul. I said my life was
done, I was wrong; I have still a duty. It is not in vain you
taught me; I shall still prove to you that it was not in vain.
You shall soon find that I am no backward friend. Farewell.
MUSICAL INDUCTION: 'THE LASS OF RICHMOND HILL.'
The Stage represents George Austin's dressing-room. Elaborate
toilet-table, R., with chair; a cheval glass so arranged as to
correspond with glass on table. Breakfast-table, L., front.
Door, L. The Beau is discovered at table, in dressing-grown,
trifling with correspondence. MENTEITH is frothing chocolate.
MENTEITH. At the barber's, Mr. George, I had the pleasure of
meeting two of the Dook's gentlemen.
AUSTIN. Well, and was his Royal Highness satisfied with his
MENTEITH. Quite so, Mr. George. Delighted, I believe.
AUSTIN. I am rejoiced to hear it. I wish I could say I was as
pleased with my journey, Menteith. This is the first time I ever
came to the Wells in another person's carriage; Duke or not, it
shall be the last, Menteith.
MENTEITH. Ah, Mr. George, no wonder. And how many times have we
made that journey back and forth?
AUSTIN. Enough to make us older than we look.
MENTEITH. To be sure, Mr. George, you do wear well.
AUSTIN. WE wear well, Menteith.
MENTEITH. I hear, Mr. George, that Miss Musgrave is of the
AUSTIN. Is she so? Well, well! well, well!
MENTEITH. I've not seen the young lady myself, Mr. George; but
the barber tells me she's looking poorly.
MENTEITH. Yes, Mr. George, poorly was his word.
AUSTIN. Well, Menteith, I am truly sorry. She is not the first.
MENTEITH. Yes, Mr. George. (A BELL. MENTEITH GOES OUT, AND RE-
ENTERS WITH CARD.)
AUSTIN (WITH CARD). Whom have we here? Anthony Musgrave?
MENTEITH. A fine young man, Mr. George; and with a look of the
young lady, but not so gentlemanly.
AUSTIN. You have an eye, you have an eye. Let him in.
AUSTIN, MENTEITH, ANTHONY
AUSTIN. I am charmed to have this opportunity, Mr. Musgrave.
You belong to my old corps, I think? And how does my good
friend, Sir Frederick? I had his line; but like all my old
comrades, he thinks last about himself, and gives me not of his
ANTHONY. I protest, sir, this is a very proud moment. Your name
is still remembered in the regiment. (AUSTIN BOWS.) The Colonel
- he keeps his health, sir, considering his age (AUSTIN BOWS
AGAIN, AND LOOKS AT MENTEITH) - tells us young men you were a
devil of a fellow in your time.
AUSTIN. I believe I was - in my time. Menteith, give Mr.
Musgrave a dish of chocolate. So, sir, we see you at the Wells.
ANTHONY. I have but just alighted. I had but one thought, sir:
to pay my respects to Mr. Austin. I have not yet kissed my aunt
AUSTIN. In my time - to which you refer - the ladies had come
ANTHONY. The women? I take you, sir. But then you see, a man's
relatives don't count. And besides, Mr. Austin, between men of
the world, I am fairly running away from the sex: I am
positively in flight. Little Hortense of the Opera; you know;
she sent her love to you. She's mad about me, I think. You
never saw a creature so fond.
AUSTIN. Well, well, child! you are better here. In my time - to
which you have referred - I knew the lady. Does she wear well?
ANTHONY. I beg your pardon, sir!
AUSTIN. No offence, child, no offence. She was a very lively
creature. But you neglect your chocolate I see?
ANTHONY. We don't patronise it, Mr. Austin; we haven't for some
years: the service has quite changed since your time. You'd be
AUSTIN. Doubtless. I am.
ANTHONY. I assure you, sir, I and Jack Bosbury of the
AUSTIN. The Hampshire Bosburys? -
ANTHONY. I do not know exactly, sir. I believe he is related.
AUSTIN. Or perhaps - I remember a Mr. Bosbury, a cutter of
coats. I have the vanity to believe I formed his business.
ANTHONY. I - I hope not, sir. But as I was saying, I and this
Jack Bosbury, and the Brummagem Bantam - a very pretty light-
weight, sir - drank seven bottles of Burgundy to the three of us
inside the eighty minutes. Jack, sir, was a little cut; but me
and the Bantam went out and finished the evening on hot gin.
Life, sir, life! Tom Cribb was with us. He spoke of you, too,
Tom did: said you'd given him a wrinkle for his second fight
with the black man. No, sir, I assure you, you're not forgotten.
AUSTIN (BOWS). I am pleased to learn it. In my time, I had an
esteem for Mr. Cribb.
ANTHONY. O come, sir! but your time cannot be said to be over.
AUSTIN. Menteith, you hear?
MENTEITH. Yes, Mr. George.
ANTHONY. The Colonel told me that you liked to shake an elbow.
Your big main, sir, with Lord Wensleydale, is often talked about.
I hope I may have the occasion to sit down with you. I shall
count it an honour, I assure you.
AUSTIN. But would your aunt, my very good friend, approve?
ANTHONY. Why, sir, you do not suppose I am in leading-strings?
AUSTIN. You forget, child: a family must hang together. When I
was young - in my time - I was alone; and what I did concerned
myself. But a youth who has - as I think you have - a family of
ladies to protect, must watch his honour, child, and preserve his
fortune. You have no commands from Sir Frederick?
ANTHONY. None, sir, none.
AUSTIN. Shall I find you this noon upon the Pantiles? . . . I
shall be charmed. Commend me to your aunt and your fair sister.
MENTEITH. Yes, Mr. George. (SHOWS ANTHONY OUT.)
AUSTIN, MENTEITH, RETURNING
AUSTIN. Was I ever like that, Menteith?
MENTEITH. No, Mr. George, you was always a gentleman.
AUSTIN. Youth, my good fellow, youth.
MENTEITH. Quite so, Mr. George.
AUSTIN. Well, Menteith, we cannot make no mend. We cannot play
the jockey with Time. Age is the test: of wine, Menteith, and
MENTEITH. Me and you and the old Hermitage, Mr. George, he-he!
AUSTIN. And the best of these, the Hermitage. But come: we
lose our day. Help me off with this. (MENTEITH TAKES OFF
AUSTIN'S DRESSING-GOWN; AUSTIN PASSES R. TO DRESSING-TABLE, AND
TAKES UP FIRST CRAVAT.)
AUSTIN. Will the hair do, Menteith?
MENTEITH. Never saw it lay better, Mr. George. (AUSTIN PROCEEDS
TO WIND FIRST CRAVAT. A BELL: EXIT MENTEITH. AUSTIN DROPS
FIRST CRAVAT IN BASKET AND TAKES SECOND.)
AUSTIN (WINDING AND SINGING) -
'I'd crowns resign To call her mine, Sweet Lass of Richmond
(SECOND CRAVAT A FAILURE. RE-ENTER MENTEITH WITH CARD.)
Fenwick? of Allonby Shaw? A good family, Menteith, but I don't
know the gentleman. (LAYS DOWN CARD, AND TAKES UP THIRD CRAVAT.)
Send him away with every consideration.
MENTEITH. To be sure, Mr. George. (HE GOES OUT. THIRD CRAVAT A
SUCCESS. RE-ENTER MENTEITH.) He says, Mr. George, that he has
an errand from Miss Musgrave.
AUSTIN (WITH WAISTCOAT). Show him in, Menteith, at once.
(SINGING AND FITTING WAISTCOAT AT GLASS) -
'I'd crowns resign To call her mine, Sweet Lass of Richmond
AUSTIN, R. TO HIM MENTEITH AND FENWICK
MENTEITH (ANNOUNCING). Mr. Fenwick, Mr. George.
AUSTIN. At the name of Miss Musgrave, my doors fly always open.
FENWICK. I believe, sir, you are acquainted with my cousin,
AUSTIN. The county member? An old and good friend. But you
need not go so far afield: I know your good house of Allonby
Shaw since the days of the Black Knight. We are, in fact, and at
a very royal distance, cousins.
FENWICK. I desired, sir, from the nature of my business, that
you should recognise me for a gentleman.
AUSTIN. The preliminary, sir, is somewhat grave.
FENWICK. My business is both grave and delicate.
AUSTIN. Menteith, my good fellow. (EXIT MENTEITH.) Mr.
Fenwick, honour me so far as to be seated. (THEY SIT.) I await
FENWICK. Briefly, sir, I am come, not without hope, to appeal to
your good heart.
AUSTIN. From Miss Musgrave?
FENWICK. No, sir, I abused her name, and am here upon my own
authority. Upon me the consequence.
FENWICK. Mr. Austin, Dorothy Musgrave is the oldest and dearest
of my friends, is the lady whom for ten years it has been my hope
to make my wife. She has shown me reason to discard that hope
for another: that I may call her Mrs. Austin.
AUSTIN. In the best interests of the lady (RISING) I question if
you have been well inspired. You are aware, sir, that from such
interference there is but one issue: to whom shall I address my
FENWICK. Mr. Austin, I am here to throw myself upon your mercy.
Strange as my errand is, it will seem yet more strange to you
that I came prepared to accept at your hands any extremity of
dishonour and not fight. The lady whom it is my boast to serve
has honoured me with her commands. These are my law, and by
these your life is sacred.
AUSTIN. Then, sir (WITH HIS HAND UPON THE BELL), his
conversation becomes impossible. You have me at too gross a
disadvantage; and, as you are a gentleman and respect another, I
would suggest that you retire.
FENWICK. Sir, you speak of disadvantage; think of mine. All my
life long, with all the forces of my nature, I have loved this
lady. I came here to implore her to be my wife, to be my queen;
my saint she had been always! She was too noble to deceive me.
She told me what you know. I will not conceal that my first mood
wasof anger: I would have killed you like a dog. But, Mr.
Austin - bear with me awhile - I, on the threshold of my life,
who have made no figure in the world, nor ever shall now, who had
but one treasure, and have lost it - if I, abandoning revenge,
trampling upon jealousy, can supplicate you to complete my
misfortune - O Mr. Austin! you who have lived, you whose
gallantry is beyond the insolence of a suspicion, you who are a
man crowned and acclaimed, who are loved, and loved by such a
woman - you who excel me in every point of advantage, will you
suffer me to surpass you in generosity?
AUSTIN. You speak from the heart. (SITS.) What do you want
FENWICK. Marry her.
AUSTIN. Mr. Fenwick, I am the older man. I have seen much of
life, much of society, much of love. When I was young, it was
expected of a gentleman to be ready with his hat to a lady, ready
with his sword to a man; to honour his word and his king; to be
courteous with his equals, generous to his dependants, helpful
and trusty in friendship. But it was not asked of us to be
quixotic. If I had married every lady by whom it is my fortune -
not my merit - to have been distinguished, the Wells would scarce
be spacious enough for my establishment. You see, sir, that
while I respect your emotion, I am myself conducted by
experience. And besides, Mr. Fenwick, is not love a warfare? has
it not rules? have not our fair antagonists their tactics, their
weapons, their place of arms? and is there not a touch of -
pardon me the word! of silliness in one who, having fought, and
having vanquished, sounds a parley, and capitulates to his own
prisoner? Had the lady chosen, had the fortune of war been
other, 'tis like she had been Mrs. Austin. Now I . . . You know
FENWICK. I know, sir, that the world contains much cowardice.
To find Mr. Austin afraid to do the right, this surprises me.
AUSTIN. Afraid, child?
FENWICK. Yes, sir, afraid. You know her, you know if she be
worthy; and you answer me with - the world: the world which has
been at your feet: the world which Mr. Austin knows so well how
to value and is so able to rule.
AUSTIN. I have lived long enough, Mr. Fenwick, to recognise that
the world is a great power. It can make; but it can break.
FENWICK. Sir, suffer me: you spoke but now of friendship, and
spoke warmly. Have you forgotten Colonel Villiers?
AUSTIN. Mr. Fenwick, Mr. Fenwick, you forget what I have
FENWICK. O sir, I know you loved him. And yet, for a random
word you quarrelled; friendship was weighed in vain against the
world's code of honour; you fought, and your friend fell. I have
heard from others how he lay long in agony, and how you watched
and nursed him, and it was in your embrace he died. In God's
name have you forgotten that? Was not this sacrifice enough? or
must the world, once again, step between Mr. Austin and his
AUSTIN. Good God, sir, I believe you are in the right; I
believe, upon my soul I believe, there is something in what you
FENWICK. Something, Mr. Austin? O credit me, the whole
difference betwixt good and evil.
AUSTIN. Nay, nay, but there you go too far. There are many
kinds of good: honour is a diamond cut in a thousand facets, and
with the true fire in each. Thus, and with all our differences,
Mr. Fenwick, you and I can still respect, we can still admire
FENWICK. Bear with me still, sir, if I ask you what is the end
of life but to excel in generosity? To pity the weak, to comfort
the afflicted, to right where we have wronged, to be brave in
reparation - these noble elements you have; for of what besides
is the fabric of your dealing with Colonel Villiers? That is
man's chivalry to man. Yet to a suffering woman - a woman
feeble, betrayed, unconsoled - you deny your clemency, you refuse
your aid, you proffer injustice for atonement. Nay, you are so
disloyal to yourself that you can choose to be ungenerous and
unkind. Where, sir, is the honour? What facet of the diamond is
AUSTIN. You forget, sir, you forget. But go on.
FENWICK. O sir, not I - not I but yourself forgets: George
Austin forgets George Austin. A woman loved by him, betrayed by
him, abandoned by him - that woman suffers; and a point of honour
keeps him from his place at her feet. She has played and lost,
and the world is with him if he deign to exact the stakes. Is
that the Mr. Austin whom Miss Musgrave honoured with her trust?
Then, sir, how miserably was she deceived!
AUSTIN. Child - child -
FENWICK. Mr. Austin, still bear with me, still follow me. O
sir, will you not picture that dear lady's life? Her years how
few, her error thus irreparable, what henceforth can be her
portion but remorse, the consciousness of self-abasement, the
shame of knowing that her trust was ill-bestowed? To think of
it: this was a queen among women; and this - this is George
Austin's work! Sir, let me touch your heart: let me prevail
with you to feel that 'tis impossible.
AUSTIN. I am a gentleman. What do you ask of me?
FENWICK. To be the man she loved: to be clement where the world
would have you triumph, to be of equal generosity with the
vanquished, to be worthy of her sacrifice and of yourself.
AUSTIN. Mr. Fenwick, your reproof is harsh -
FENWICK (INTERRUPTING HIM). O sir, be, just be just! -
AUSTIN. But it is merited, and I thank you for its utterance.
You tell me that the true victory comes when the fight is won:
that our foe is never so noble nor so dangerous as when she is
fallen, that the crowning triumph is that we celebrate over our
conquering selves. Sir, you are right. Kindness, ay kindness
after all. And with age, to become clement. Yes, ambition
first; then, the rounded vanity - victory still novel; and last,
as you say, the royal mood of the mature man; to abdicate for
others . . . Sir, you touched me hard about my dead friend; still
harder about my living duty; and I am not so young but I can take
a lesson. There is my hand upon it: she shall be my wife.
FENWICK. Ah, Mr. Austin, I was sure of it.
AUSTIN. Then, sir, you were vastly mistaken. There is nothing
of Beau Austin here. I have simply, my dear child, sate at the
feet of Mr. Fenwick.
FENWICK. Ah, sir, your heart was counsellor enough.
AUSTIN. Pardon me. I am vain enough to be the judge: there are
but two people in the world who could have wrought this change:
yourself and that dear lady. (TOUCHES BELL.) Suffer me to
dismiss you. One instant of toilet, and I follow. Will you do
me the honour to go before, and announce my approach? (ENTER
FENWICK. Sir, if my admiration -
AUSTIN. Dear child, the admiration is the other way. (EMBRACES
HIM. MENTEITH SHOWS HIM OUT.)
AUSTIN. Upon my word, I think the world is getting better. We
were none of us young men like that - in my time, to quote my
future brother. (HE SITS DOWN BEFORE THE MIRROR.) Well, here
ends Beau Austin. Paris, Rome, Vienna, London - victor
everywhere: and now he must leave his bones in Tunbridge Wells.
(LOOKS AT HIS LEG.) Poor Dolly Musgrave! a good girl after all,
and will make me a good wife; none better. The last - of how
many? - ay, and the best! Walks like Hebe. But still, here ends
Beau Austin. Perhaps it's time. Poor Dolly - was she looking
poorly? She shall have her wish. Well, we grow older, but we
grow no worse.
AUSTIN. Menteith, I am going to be married.
MENTEITH. Well, Mr. George, but I am pleased to hear it. Miss
Musgrave is a most elegant lady.
AUSTIN. Ay, Mr. Menteith? and who told you the lady's name?
MENTEITH. Mr. George, you was always a gentleman.
AUSTIN. You mean I wasn't always? Old boy, you are in the
right. This shall be a good change for both you and me. We have
lived too long like a brace of truants: now is the time to draw
about the fire. How much is left of the old Hermitage?
MENTEITH. Hard upon thirty dozen, Mr. George, and not a bad cork
in the bin.
AUSTIN. And a mistress, Menteith, that's worthy of that wine.
MENTEITH. Mr. George, sir, she's worthy of you.
AUSTIN. Gad, I believe it. (SHAKES HANDS WITH HIM.)
MENTEITH (BREAKING DOWN). Mr. George, you've been a damned good
master to me, and I've been a damned good servant to you; we've
been proud of each other from the first; but if you'll excuse my
plainness, Mr. George, I never liked you better than to-day.
AUSTIN. Cheer up, old boy, the best is yet to come. Get out the
tongs, and curl me like a bridegroom. (SITS BEFORE
DRESSING-GLASS; MENTEITH PRODUCES CURLING IRONS AND PLIES THEM.
AUSTIN SINGS) -
'I'd crowns resign
To call her mine, S
weet Lass of Richmond Hill!'
MUSICAL INDUCTION: the 'Minuet' from 'DON GIOVANNI'
The stage represents Miss Foster's lodging as in Act I.
DOROTHY, R., at tambour; ANTHONY, C., bestriding chair; MISS
ANTHONY. Yes, ma'am, I like my regiment: we are all gentlemen,
from old Fred downwards, and all of a good family. Indeed, so
are all my friends, except one tailor sort of fellow, Bosbury.
But I'm done with him. I assure you, Aunt Evelina, we are
Corinthian to the last degree. I wouldn't shock you ladies for
the world -
MISS FOSTER. Don't mind me, my dear; go on.
ANTHONY. Really, ma'am, you must pardon me: I trust I
understand what topics are to be avoided among females - And
before my sister, too! A girl of her age!
DOROTHY. Why, you dear, silly fellow, I'm old enough to be your
ANTHONY. My dear Dolly, you do not understand; you are not a man
of the world. But, as I was going on to say, there is no more
spicy regiment in the service.
MISS FOSTER. I am not surprised that it maintains its old
reputation. You know, my dear (TO DOROTHY), it was George
DOROTHY. Was it, aunt?
ANTHONY. Beau Austin? Yes, it was; and a precious dust they
make about him still - a parcel of old frumps! That's why I went
to see him. But he's quite extinct: he couldn't be Corinthian
if he tried.
MISS FOSTER. I am afraid that even at your age George Austin
held a very different position from the distinguished Anthony
ANTHONY. Come, ma'am, I take that unkindly. Of course I know
what you're at: of course the old put cut no end of a dash with
MISS FOSTER. My dear child, I was thinking of no such thing;
THAT was immoral.
ANTHONY. Then you mean that affair at Brighton: when he cut the
Prince about Perdita Robinson.
MISS FOSTER. No, I had forgotten it.
ANTHONY. O, well, I know - that duel! But look here, Aunt
Evelina, I don't think you'd be much gratified after all if I
were to be broke for killing my commanding officer about a
quarrel at cards.
DOROTHY. Nobody asks you, Anthony, to imitate Mr. Austin. I
trust you will set yourself a better model. But you may choose a
worse. With all his faults, and all his enemies, Mr. Austin is a
pattern gentleman: You would not ask a man to be braver, and
there are few so generous. I cannot bear to hear him called in
fault by one so young. Better judges, dear, are better pleased.
ANTHONY. Hey-day! what's this?
MISS FOSTER. Why, Dolly, this is April and May. You surprise
DOROTHY. I am afraid, indeed, madam, that you have much to
suffer from my caprice. (SHE GOES OUT, L.)
ANTHONY, MISS FOSTER
ANTHONY. What is the meaning of all this, ma'am? I don't like
MISS FOSTER. Nothing, child, that I know. You spoke of Mr.
Austin, our dear friend, like a groom; and she, like any lady of
taste, took arms in his defence.
ANTHONY. No, ma'am, that won't do. I know the sex. You mark my
words, the girl has some confounded nonsense in her head, and
wants looking after.
MISS FOSTER. In my presence, Anthony, I shall ask you to speak
of Dorothy with greater respect. With your permission, your
sister and I will continue to direct our own affairs. When we
require the interference of so young and confident a champion,
you shall know. (CURTSIES, KISSES HER HAND, AND GOES OUT, L.)
ANTHONY. Upon my word, I think Aunt Evelina one of the most
uncivil old women in the world. Nine weeks ago I came of age;
and they still treat me like a boy. I'm a recognised Corinthian,
too: take my liquor with old Fred, and go round with the
Brummagem Bantam and Jack Bosb- . . . O damn Jack Bosbury. If
his father was a tailor, he shall fight me for his ungentlemanly
conduct. However, that's all one. What I want is to make Aunt
Evelina understand that I'm not the man to be put down by an old
maid who's been brought up in a work-basket, begad! I've had
nothing but rebuffs all day. It's very remarkable. There was
that man Austin, to begin with. I'll be hanged if I can stand
him. I hear too much of him; and if I can only get a good excuse
to put him to the door, I believe it would give Dorothy and all
of us a kind of a position. After all, he's not a man to visit
in the house of ladies: not when I'm away, at least. Nothing in
it of course; but is he a man whose visits I can sanction?
BARBARA. Please, Mr. Anthony, Miss Foster said I was to show
ANTHONY. Ha! Baby? Now, you come here. You're a girl of
sense, I know.
BARBARA. La, Mr. Anthony, I hope I'm nothing of the kind.
ANTHONY. Come, come! that's not the tone I want: I'm serious.
Does this man Austin come much about the house?
BARBARA. O Mr. Anthony, for shame! Why don't you ask Miss
ANTHONY. Now I wish you to understand: I'm the head of this
family. It's my business to look after my sister's reputation,
and my aunt's too, begad! That's what I'm here for: I'm their
natural protector. And what I want you, Barbara Ridley, to
understand - you whose fathers have served my fathers - is just
simply this: if you've any common gratitude, you're bound to
help me in the work. Now Barbara, you know me, and you know my
Aunt Evelina. She's a good enough woman; I'm the first to say
so. But who is she to take care of a young girl? She's ignorant
of the world to that degree she believes in Beau Austin! Now you
and I, Bab, who are not so high and dry, see through and through
him; we know that a man like that is no fit company for any
BARBARA. O Mr. Anthony, don't say that. (WEEPING.)
ANTHONY. Hullo! what's wrong?
BARBARA. Nothing that I know of. O Mr. Anthony, I don't think
there can be anything.
ANTHONY. Think? Don't think? What's this?
BARBARA. O sir! I don't know, and yet I don't like it. Here's
my beautiful necklace all broke to bits: she took it off my very
neck, and gave me her birthday pearls instead; and I found it
afterwards on the table, all smashed to pieces; and all she
wanted it for was to take and break it. Why that? It frightens
me, Mr. Anthony, it frightens me.
ANTHONY (WITH NECKLACE). This? What has this trumpery to do
BARBARA. He gave it me: that's why she broke it.
ANTHONY. He? who?
BARBARA. Mr. Austin did; and I do believe I should not have
taken it, Mr. Anthony, but I thought no harm, upon my word of
honour. He was always here: that was six months ago; and
indeed, indeed, I thought they were to marry. How would I think
else with a born lady like Miss Dorothy?
ANTHONY. Why, Barbara, God help us all, what's this? You don't
mean to say that there was -
BARBARA. Here it is, as true as true: they were going for a
jaunt; and Miss Foster had her gout; and I was to go with them;
and he told me to make-believe I was ill; and I did; and I stayed
at home; and he gave me that necklace; and they went away
together; and, oh dear! I wish I'd never been born.
ANTHONY. Together? he and Dolly? Good Lord! my sister! And
BARBARA. We haven't seen him from that day to this, the wicked
villain; and, Mr. Anthony, he hasn't so much as written the poor
dear a word.
ANTHONY. Bab, Bab, Bab, this is a devil of a bad business; this
is a cruel bad business, Baby; cruel upon me, cruel upon all of
us; a family like mine. I'm a young man, Barbara, to have this
delicate affair to manage; but, thank God, I'm Musgrave to the
bone. He bribed a servant-maid, did he? I keep his bribe; it's
mine now; dear bought, by George! He shall have it in his teeth.
Shot Colonel Villiers, did he? we'll see how he faces Anthony
Musgrave. You're a good girl, Barbara; so far you've served the
family. You leave this to me. And, hark ye, dry your eyes and
hold your tongue: I'll have no scandal raised by you.
BARBARA. I do hope, sir, you won't use me against Miss Dorothy.
ANTHONY. That's my affair; your business is to hold your tongue.
Miss Dorothy has made her bed and must lie on it. Here's Jack
Fenwick. You can go.
ANTHONY. Jack Fenwick, is that you? Come here, my boy. Jack,
you've given me many a thrashing, and I deserved 'em; and I'll
not see you made a fool of now. George Austin is a damned
villain, and Dorothy Musgrave is no girl for you to marry: God
help me that I should have to say it.
FENWICK. Good God, who told YOU?
ANTHONY. Ay, Jack; it's hard on me, Jack. But you'll stand my
friend in spite of this, and you'll take my message to the man,
won't you? For it's got to come to blood, Jack: there's no way
out of that. And perhaps your poor friend will fall, Jack; think
of that: like Villiers. And all for an unworthy sister.
FENWICK. Now, Anthony Musgrave, I give you fair warning; see you
take it: one word more against your sister, and we quarrel.
ANTHONY. You let it slip yourself, Jack: you know yourself
she's not a virtuous girl.
FENWICK. What do you know of virtue, whose whole boast is to be
vicious? How dare you draw conclusions? Dolt and puppy! you can
no more comprehend that angel's excellencies than she can stoop
to believe in your vices. And you talk morality? Anthony, I'm a
man who has been somewhat roughly tried: take care.
ANTHONY. You don't seem able to grasp the situation, Jack. It's
very remarkable; I'm the girl's natural protector; and you should
buckle-to and help, like a friend of the family. And instead of
that, begad! you turn on me like all the rest.
FENWICK. Now mark me fairly: Mr. Austin follows at my heels; he
comes to offer marriage to your sister - that is all you know,
and all you shall know; and if by any misplaced insolence of
yours this marriage should miscarry, you have to answer, not to
Mr. Austin only, but to me.
ANTHONY. It's all a most discreditable business, and I don't see
how you propose to better it by cutting my throat. Of course if
he's going to marry her, it's a different thing; but I don't
believe he is, or he'd have asked me. You think me a fool? Well
see they marry, or they'll find me a dangerous fool.
TO THESE, AUSTIN, BARBARA ANNOUNCING
BARBARA. Mr. Austin. (SHE SHOWS AUSTIN IN, AND RETIRES.)
AUSTIN. You will do me the justice to acknowledge, Mr. Fenwick,
that I have been not long delayed by my devotion to the Graces.
ANTHONY. So, sir, I find you in my house -
AUSTIN. And charmed to meet you again. It went against my
conscience to separate so soon. Youth, Mr. Musgrave, is to us
older men a perpetual refreshment.
ANTHONY. You came here, sir, I suppose, upon some errand?
AUSTIN. My errand, Mr. Musgrave, is to your fair sister.
Beauty, as you know, comes before valour.
ANTHONY. In my own house, and about my own sister, I presume I
have the right to ask for something more explicit.
AUSTIN. The right, my dear sir, is beyond question; but it is
one, as you were going on to observe, on which no gentleman
FENWICK. Anthony, my good fellow, I think we had better go.
ANTHONY. I have asked a question.
AUSTIN. Which I was charmed to answer, but which, on repetition,
might begin to grow distasteful.
ANTHONY. In my own house -
FENWICK. For God's sake, Anthony!
AUSTIN. In your aunt's house, young gentleman, I shall be
careful to refrain from criticism. I am come upon a visit to a
lady: that visit I shall pay; when you desire (if it be possible
that you desire it) to resume this singular conversation, select
some fitter place. Mr. Fenwick, this afternoon, may I present
you to his Royal Highness?
ANTHONY. Why, sir, I believe you must have misconceived me. I
have no wish to offend: at least at present.
AUSTIN. Enough, sir. I was persuaded I had heard amiss. I
trust we shall be friends.
FENWICK. Come, Anthony, come: here is your sister.
(AS FENWICK AND ANTHONY GO OUT, C., ENTER DOROTHY, L.)
DOROTHY. I am told, Mr. Austin, that you wish to see me.
AUSTIN. Madam, can you doubt of that desire? can you question my
DOROTHY. Sir, between you and me these compliments are worse
than idle: they are unkind. Sure, we are alone!
AUSTIN. I find you in an hour of cruelty, I fear. Yet you have
condescended to receive this poor offender; and having done so
much, you will not refuse to give him audience.
DOROTHY. You shall have no cause, sir, to complain of me. I
AUSTIN. My fair friend, I have sent myself - a poor ambassador -
to plead for your forgiveness. I have been too long absent; too
long, I would fain hope, madam, for you; too long for my honour
and my love. I am no longer, madam, in my first youth; but I may
say that I am not unknown. My fortune, originally small, has not
suffered from my husbandry. I have excellent health, an
excellent temper, and the purest ardour of affection for your
person. I found not on my merits, but on your indulgence. Miss
Musgrave, will you honour me with your hand in marriage?
DOROTHY. Mr. Austin, if I thought basely of marriage, I should
perhaps accept your offer. There was a time, indeed, when it
would have made me proudest among women. I was the more
deceived, and have to thank you for a salutary lesson. You chose
to count me as a cipher in your rolls of conquest; for six months
you left me to my fate; and you come here to-day - prompted, I
doubt not, by an honourable impulse - to offer this tardy
reparation. No: it is too late.
AUSTIN. Do you refuse?
DOROTHY. Yours is the blame: we are no longer equal. You have
robbed me of the right to marry any one but you; and do you think
me, then, so poor in spirit as to accept a husband on compulsion?
AUSTIN. Dorothy, you loved me once.
DOROTHY. Ay, you will never guess how much: you will never live
to understand how ignominious a defeat that conquest was. I
loved and trusted you: I judged you by myself; think, then, of
my humiliation, when, at the touch of trial, all your qualities
proved false, and I beheld you the slave of the meanest vanity -
selfish, untrue, base! Think, sir, what a humbling of my pride
to have been thus deceived: to have taken for my idol such a
commonplace imposture as yourself; to have loved - yes, loved -
such a shadow, such a mockery of man. And now I am unworthy to
be the wife of any gentleman; and you - look me in the face,
George - are you worthy to be my husband?
AUSTIN. No, Dorothy, I am not. I was a vain fool; I blundered
away the most precious opportunity; and my regret will be
lifelong. Do me the justice to accept this full confession of my
fault. I am here to-day to own and to repair it.
DOROTHY. Repair it? Sir you condescend too far.
AUSTIN. I perceive with shame how grievously I had misjudged
you. But now, Dorothy, believe me, my eyes are opened. I plead
with you, not as my equal, but as one in all ways better than
myself. I admire you, not in that trivial sense in which we men
are wont to speak of women, but as God's work: as a wise mind, a
noble soul, and a most generous heart, from whose society I have
all to gain, all to learn. Dorothy, in one word, I love you.
DOROTHY. And what, sir, has wrought this transformation? You
knew me of old, or thought you knew me? Is it in six months of
selfish absence that your mind has changed? When did that change
begin? A week ago? Sure, you would have written! To-day? Sir,
if this offer be anything more than fresh offence, I have a right
to be enlightened.
AUSTIN. Madam, I foresaw this question. So be it: I respect,
and I will not deceive you. But give me, first of all, a moment
for defence. There are few men of my habits and position who
would have done as I have done: sate at the feet of a young boy,
accepted his lessons, gone upon his errand: fewer still, who
would thus, at the crisis of a love, risk the whole fortune of
the soul - love, gratitude, even respect. Yet more than that!
For conceive how I respect you, if I, whose lifelong trade has
been flattery, stand before you and make the plain confession of
a truth that must not only lower me, but deeply wound yourself.
DOROTHY. What means - ?
AUSTIN. Young Fenwick, my rival for your heart, he it was that
DOROTHY. He? O disgrace! He sent you! That was what he meant?
Am I fallen so low? Am I your common talk among men? Did you
dice for me? Did he kneel? O John, John, how could you! And
you, Mr. Austin, whither have you brought me down? shame heaping
upon shame - to what end! oh, to what end?
AUSTIN. Madam, you wound me: you look wilfully amiss. Sure,
any lady in the land might well be proud to be loved as you are
loved, with such nobility as Mr. Fenwick's, with such humility as
mine. I came, indeed, in pity, in good-nature, what you will.
(See, dearest lady, with what honesty I speak: if I win you, it
shall be with the unblemished truth.) All that is gone. Pity?
it is myself I pity. I offer you not love - I am not worthy. I
ask, I beseech of you: suffer me to wait upon you like a
servant, to serve you with my rank, my name, the whole devotion
of my life. I am a gentleman - ay, in spite of my fault - an
upright gentleman; and I swear to you that you shall order your
life and mine at your free will. Dorothy, at your feet, in
remorse, in respect, in love - O such love as I have never felt,
such love as I derided - I implore, I conjure you to be mine!
DOROTHY. Too late! too late.
AUSTIN. No, no, not too late: not too late for penitence, not
too late for love.
DOROTHY. Which do you propose? that I should abuse your
compassion, or reward your treachery? George Austin, I have been
your mistress, and I will never be your wife.
AUSTIN. Child, dear child, I have not told you all: there is
worse still: your brother knows; the boy as good as told me.
Dorothy, this is scandal at the door - O let that move you: for
that, if not for my sake, for that, if not for love, trust me,
trust me again.
DOROTHY. I am so much the more your victim: that is all, and
shall that change my heart? The sin must have its wages. This,
too, was done long ago: when you stooped to lie to me. The
shame is still mine, the fault still yours.
AUSTIN. Child, child, you kill me: you will not understand.
Can you not see? the lad will force me to a duel.
DOROTHY. And you will kill him? Shame after shame, threat upon
threat. Marry me, or you are dishonoured; marry me, or your
brother dies: and this is man's honour! But my honour and my
pride are different. I will encounter all misfortune sooner than
degrade myself by an unfaithful marriage. How should I kneel
before the altar, and vow to reverence as my husband you, you who
deceived me as my lover?
AUSTIN. Dorothy, you misjudge me cruelly; I have deserved it.
You will not take me for your husband; why should I wonder? You
are right. I have indeed filled your life with calamity: the
wages, ay, the wages, of my sin are heavy upon you. But I have
one more thing to ask of your pity; and O remember, child, who it
is that asks it: a man guilty in your sight, void of excuse, but
old, and very proud, and most unused to supplication. Dorothy
Musgrave, will you forgive George Austin?
DOROTHY. O, George!
AUSTIN. It is the old name: that is all I ask, and more than I
deserve. I shall remember, often remember, how and where it was
bestowed upon me for the last time. I thank you, Dorothy, from
my heart; a heart, child, that has been too long silent, but is
not too old, I thank God! not yet too old, to learn a lesson and
to accept a reproof. I will not keep you longer: I will go - I
am so bankrupt in credit that I dare not ask you to believe in
how much sorrow. But, Dorothy, my acts will speak for me with
more persuasion. If it be in my power, you shall suffer no more
through me: I will avoid your brother; I will leave this place,
I will leave England, to-morrow; you shall be no longer tortured
with the neighbourhood of your ungenerous lover. Dorothy,
DOROTHY; TO WHOM, ANTHONY, L.
DOROTHY (ON HER KNEES, AND REACHING WITH HER HANDS.) George,
George! (ENTER ANTHONY.)
ANTHONY. Ha! what are you crying for?
DOROTHY. Nothing, dear! (RISING.)
ANTHONY. Is Austin going to marry you?
DOROTHY. I shall never marry.
ANTHONY. I thought as much. You should have come to me.
DOROTHY. I know, dear, I know; but there was nothing to come
ANTHONY. It's a lie. You have disgraced the family. You went
to John Fenwick: see what he has made of it! But I will have
you righted: it shall be atoned in the man's blood.
DOROTHY. Anthony! And if I had refused him?
ANTHONY. You? refuse George Austin? You never had the chance.
DOROTHY. I have refused him.
ANTHONY. Dorothy, you lie. You would shield your lover; but
this concerns not you only: it strikes my honour and my father's
DOROTHY. I have refused him - refused him, I tell you - refused
him. The blame is mine; are you so mad and wicked that you will
ANTHONY. I see this: that man must die.
DOROTHY. He? never! You forget, you forget whom you defy; you
run upon your death.
ANTHONY. Ah, my girl, you should have thought of that before.
It is too late now.
DOROTHY. Anthony, if I beg you - Anthony, I have tried to be a
good sister; I brought you up, dear, nursed you when you were
sick, fought for you, hoped for you, loved you - think of it,
think of the dear past, think of our home and the happy winter
nights, the castles in the fire, the long shining future, the
love that was to forgive and suffer always - O you will spare,
you will spare me this.
ANTHONY. I will tell you what I will do, Dolly: I will do just
what you taught me - my duty: that, and nothing else.
DOROTHY. O Anthony, you also, you to strike me! Heavens, shall
I kill them - I - I, that love them, kill them! Miserable,
sinful girl! George, George, thank God, you will be far away! O
go, George, go at once!
ANTHONY. He goes the coward! Ay, is this more of your
contrivance? Madam, you make me blush. But to-day at least I
know where I can find him. This afternoon, on the Pantiles, he
must dance attendance on the Duke of York. Already he must be
there; and there he is at my mercy. DOROTHY. Thank God, you are
deceived: he will not fight. He promised me that; thank God I
have his promise for that.
ANTHONY. Promise! Do you see this? (PRODUCING NECKLACE) the
thing he bribed your maid with? I shall dash it in his teeth
before the Duke and before all Tunbridge. Promise, you poor
fool? what promise holds against a blow? Get to your knees and
pray for him; for, by the God above, if he has any blood in his
body, one of us shall die before to-night. (HE GOES OUT.)
DOROTHY. Anthony, Anthony! . . . O my God, George will kill him.
MUSIC: 'CHE FARO,' AS THE DROP FALLS.
MUSICAL INDUCTION: 'Gavotte;' 'IPHIGENIE EN AULIDE.' GLUCK
The Stage represents the Pantiles: the alleys fronting the
spectators in parallel lines. At the back, a stand of musicians,
from which the 'Gavotte' is repeated on muted strings. The music
continues nearly through Scene I. Visitors walking to and fro
beneath the lines. A seat in front, L.
MISS FOSTER, BARBARA, MENTEITH; VISITORS
MISS FOSTER (ENTERING; ESCORTED BY MENTEITH, AND FOLLOWED BY
BARBARA). And so, Menteith, here you are once more. And vastly
pleased I am to see you, my good fellow, not only for your own
sake, but because you harbinger the Beau. (SITS, L.; MENTEITH
STANDING OVER HER.)
MENTEITH. Honoured madam, I have had the pleasure to serve Mr.
George for more than thirty years. This is a privilege - a very
great privilege. I have beheld him in the first societies,
moving among the first rank of personages; and none, madam, none
BARBARA. I assure you, madam, when Mr. Menteith took me to the
play, he talked so much of Mr. Austin that I couldn't hear a word
of Mr. Kean.
MISS FOSTER. Well, well, and very right. That was the old
school of service, Barbara, which you would do well to imitate.
This is a child, Menteith, that I am trying to form.
MENTEITH. Quite so, madam.
MISS FOSTER. And are we soon to see our princely guest,
MENTEITH. His Royal Highness, madam? I believe I may say quite
so. Mr. George will receive our gallant prince upon the Pantiles
(LOOKING AT HIS WATCH) in, I should say, a matter of twelve
minutes from now. Such, madam, is Mr. George's order of the day.
BARBARA. I beg your pardon, madam, I am sure, but are we really
to see one of His Majesty's own brothers? That will be pure! O
madam, this is better than Carlisle.
MISS FOSTER. The wood-note wild: a loyal Cumbrian, Menteith.
MENTEITH. Eh? Quite so, madam.
MISS FOSTER. When she has seen as much of the Royal Family as
you, my good fellow, she will find it vastly less entertaining.
MENTEITH. Yes, madam, indeed; In these distinguished circles,
life is but a slavery. None of the best set would relish
Tunbridge without Mr. George; Tunbridge and Mr. George (if you'll
excuse my plainness, madam) are in a manner of speaking
identified; and indeed it was the Dook's desire alone that
brought us here.
BARBARA. What? the Duke? O dear! was it for that?
MENTEITH. Though, to be sure, madam, Mr. George would always be
charmed to find himself (BOWING) among so many admired members of
his own set.
MISS FOSTER. Upon my word, Menteith, Mr. Austin is as fortunate
in his servant as his reputation.
MENTEITH. Quite so, madam. But let me observe that the
opportunities I have had of acquiring a knowledge of Mr. George's
character have been positively unrivalled. Nobody knows Mr.
George like his old attendant. The goodness of that gentleman -
but, madam, you will soon be equally fortunate, if, as I
understand, it is to be a match.
MISS FOSTER. I hope, Menteith, you are not taking leave of your
senses. Is it possible you mean my niece?
MENTEITH. Madam, I have the honour to congratulate you. I put a
second curl in Mr. George's hair on purpose.
TO THESE, AUSTIN. MENTEITH FALLS BACK, AND AUSTIN TAKES HIS
PLACE IN FRONT OF MISS FOSTER, HIS ATTITUDE A COUNTERPART OF
AUSTIN. Madam, I hasten to present my homage.
MISS FOSTER. A truce to compliments! Menteith, your charming
fellow there, has set me positively crazy. Dear George Austin,
is it true? can it be true?
AUSTIN. Madam, if he has been praising your niece he has been
well inspired. If he was speaking, as I spoke an hour ago
myself, I wish, Miss Foster, that he had held his tongue. I have
indeed offered myself to Miss Dorothy, and she, with the most
excellent reason, has refused me.
MISS FOSTER. Is it possible? why, my dear George Austin . . . .
then I suppose it is John Fenwick after all!
AUSTIN. Not one of us is worthy.
MISS FOSTER. This is the most amazing circumstance. You take my
breath away. My niece refuse George Austin? why, I give you my
word, I thought she had adored you. A perfect scandal: it
positively must not get abroad.
AUSTIN. Madam, for that young lady I have a singular regard.
Judge me as tenderly as you can, and set it down, if you must, to
an old man's vanity - for, Evelina, we are no longer in the
heyday of our youth - judge me as you will: I should prefer to
have it known.
MISS FOSTER. Can you? George Austin, you? My youth was
nothing; I was a failure; but for you? no, George, you never can,
you never must be old. You are the triumph of my generation,
George, and of our old friendship too. Think of my first dance
and my first partner. And to have this story - no, I could not
bear to have it told of you.
AUSTIN. Madam, there are some ladies over whom it is a boast to
have prevailed; there are others whom it is a glory to have
loved. And I am so vain, dear Evelina, that even thus I am proud
to link my name with that of Dorothy Musgrave.
MISS FOSTER. George, you are changed. I would not know you.
AUSTIN. I scarce know myself. But pardon me, dear friend
(TAKING HIS WATCH), in less than four minutes our illustrious
guest will descend amongst us; and I observe Mr. Fenwick, with
whom I have a pressing business. Suffer me, dear Evelina! -
To these, FENWICK. MISS FOSTER remains seated, L. AUSTIN goes
R. to FENWICK, whom he salutes with great respect
AUSTIN. Mr. Fenwick, I have played and lost. That noble lady,
justly incensed at my misconduct, has condemned me. Under the
burden of such a loss, may I console myself with the esteem of
FENWICK. She refused you? Pardon me, sir, but was the fault not
AUSTIN. Perhaps to my shame, I am no novice, Mr. Fenwick; but I
have never felt nor striven as to-day. I went upon your errand;
but, you may trust me, sir, before I had done I found it was my
own. Until to-day I never rightly valued her; sure, she is fit
to be a queen. I have a remorse here at my heart to which I am a
stranger. Oh! that was a brave life, that was a great heart that
I have ruined.
FENWICK. Ay, sir, indeed.
AUSTIN. But, sir, it is not to lament the irretrievable that I
intrude myself upon your leisure. There is something to be done,
to save, at least to spare, that lady. You did not fail to
observe the brother?
FENWICK. No, sir, he knows all; and being both intemperate and
AUSTIN. Surely. I know. I have to ask you then to find what
friends you can among this company; and if you have none, to make
them. Let everybody hear the news. Tell it (if I may offer the
suggestion) with humour: how Mr. Austin, somewhat upon the wane,
but still filled with sufficiency, gloriously presumed and was
most ingloriously set down by a young lady from the north: the
lady's name a secret, which you will permit to be divined. The
laugh - the position of the hero - will make it circulate; - you
perceive I am in earnest; - and in this way I believe our young
friend will find himself forestalled.
FENWICK. Mr. Austin, I would not have dared to ask so much of
you; I will go further: were the positions changed, I should
fear to follow your example.
AUSTIN. Child, child, you could not afford it.
To there, the ROYAL DUKE, C.; then, immediately, ANTHONY, L.
FENWICK crosses to MISS FOSTER, R. AUSTIN accosts the DUKE, C.,
in dumb show; the muted strings take up a new air, Mozart's
'Anglaise'; couples passing under the limes, and forming a group
behind AUSTIN and the DUKE. ANTHONY in front, L., watches
AUSTIN, who, as he turns from the DUKE, sees him, and comes
forward with extended hand.
AUSTIN. Dear child, let me present you to his Royal Highness.
ANTHONY (WITH NECKLACE). Mr. Austin, do you recognise the bribe
you gave my sister's maid?
AUSTIN. Hush, sir, hush! you forget the presence of the Duke.
ANTHONY. Mr. Austin, you are a coward and a scoundrel.
AUSTIN. My child, you will regret these words: I refuse your
ANTHONY. You do? Take that. (HE STRIKES AUSTIN ON THE MOUTH.
AT THE MOMENT OF THE BLOW -)
TO THESE, DOROTHY, L. U. E. DOROTHY, UNSEEN BY AUSTIN, SHRIEKS.
SENSATION. MUSIC STOPS. TABLEAU
AUSTIN (RECOVERING HIS COMPOSURE). Your Royal Highness, suffer
me to excuse the disrespect of this young gentleman. He has so
much apology, and I have, I hope, so good a credit, as incline me
to accept this blow. But I must beg of your Highness, and,
gentlemen, all of you here present, to bear with me while I will
explain what is too capable of misconstruction. I am the
rejected suitor of this young gentleman's sister; of Miss Dorothy
Musgrave: a lady whom I singularly honour and esteem; a word
from whom (if I could hope that word) would fill my life with
happiness. I was not worthy of that lady; when I was defeated in
fair field, I presumed to make advances through her maid. See in
how laughable a manner fate repaid me! The waiting-girl derided,
the mistress denied, and now comes in this very ardent champion
who publicly insults me. My vanity is cured; you will judge it
right, I am persuaded, all of you, that I should accept my proper
punishment in silence; you, my Lord Duke, to pardon this young
gentleman; and you, Mr. Musgrave, to spare me further
provocation, which I am determined to ignore.
DOROTHY (RUSHING FORWARD, FALLING AT AUSTIN'S KNEES, AND SEIZING
HIS HAND). George, George, it was for me. My hero! take me!
What you will!
AUSTIN (IN AN AGONY). My dear creature, remember that we are in
public. (RAISING HER.) Your Royal Highness, may I present you
Mrs. George Frederick Austin? (THE CURTAIN FALLS ON A FEW BARS
OF THE 'LASS OF RICHMOND HILL.')
Play: ADMIRAL GUINEA
DEDICATED WITH AFFECTION AND ESTEEM TO ANDREW LANG BY THE
SURVIVORS OF THE WALRUS
SAVANNAH, this 27TH day of SEPTEMBER 1884
JOHN GAUNT, called 'ADMIRAL GUINEA,' once Captain of the Slaver
ARETHUSA GAUNT, his Daughter.
DAVID PEW, a Blind Beggar, once Boatswain of the ARETHUSA
KIT FRENCH, a Privateersman.
MRS. DRAKE, Landlady of the ADMIRAL BENBOW Inn.
The Scene is laid in the neighbourhood of Barnstaple. The Time
is about the year 1760. The action occupies part of a day and
NOTE. - PASSAGES SUGGESTED FOR OMISSION IN REPRESENTATION ARE
ENCLOSED IN SQUARE BRACKETS, THUS [ ].
The Stage represents a room in the Admiral Guinea's house:
fireplace, arm-chair, and table with Bible, L., towards the
front; door C., with window on each side, the window on the R.,
practicable; doors, R. and L., back; corner cupboard, a brass-
strapped sea-chest fixed to the wall and floor, R.; cutlasses,
telescopes, sextant, quadrant, a calendar, and several maps upon
the wall; a ship clock; three wooden chairs; a dresser against
wall, R. C.; on the chimney-piece the model of a brig and several
shells. The centre bare of furniture. Through the widows and
the door, which is open, green trees and a small field of sea.
ARETHUSA IS DISCOVERED, DUSTING
ARETHUSA. Ten months and a week to-day! Now for a new mark.
Since the last, the sun has set and risen over the fields and the
pleasant trees at home, and on Kit's lone ship and the empty sea.
Perhaps it blew; perhaps rained; (AT THE CHART) perhaps he was
far up here to the nor'ard, where the icebergs sail; perhaps at
anchor among these wild islands of the snakes and buccaneers. O,
you big chart, if I could see him sailing on you! North and
South Atlantic; such a weary sight of water and no land; never an
island for the poor lad to land upon. But still, God's there.
(SHE TAKES DOWN THE TELESCOPE TO DUST IT.) Father's spy-glass
again; and my poor Kit perhaps with such another, sweeping the
ARETHUSA; to her, KIT, C. [He enters on tiptoe, and she does not
see or hear him]
ARETHUSA (DUSTING TELESCOPE). At sea they have less dust at
least: that's so much comfort.
KIT. Sweetheart, ahoy!
ARETHUSA. My Kit! Home again - O my love! - home again to me!
KIT. As straight as wind and tide could carry me!
ARETHUSA. O Kit, my dearest. O Kit - O! O!
KIT. Hey? Steady, lass: steady, I say. For goodness' sake,
ease it off.
ARETHUSA. I will, Kit - I will. But you came so sudden.
KIT. I thought ten months of it about preparation enough.
ARETHUSA. Ten months and a week: you haven't counted the days
as I have. Another day gone, and one day nearer to Kit: that
has been my almanac. How brown you are! how handsome!
KIT. A pity you can't see yourself! Well, no, I'll never be
handsome: brown I may be, never handsome. But I'm better than
that, if the proverb's true; for I'm ten hundred thousand fathoms
deep in love. I bring you a faithful sailor. What! you don't
think much of that for a curiosity? Well, that's so: you're
right; the rarity is in the girl that's worth it ten times over.
Faithful? I couldn't help it if I tried! No, sweetheart, and I
fear nothing: I don't know what fear is, but just of losing you.
(STARTING.) Lord, that's not the Admiral?
ARETHUSA. Aha, Mr. Dreadnought! you see you fear my father.
KIT. That I do. But, thank goodness, it's nobody. Kiss me:
no, I won't kiss you: kiss ME. I'll give you a present for
ARETHUSA. A wedding-ring!
KIT. My mother's. Will you take it?
ARETHUSA. Yes, will I - and give myself for it.
KIT. Ah, if we could only count upon your father! He's a man
every inch of him; but he can't endure Kit French.
ARETHUSA. He hasn't learned to know you, Kit, as I have, nor yet
do you know him. He seems hard and violent; at heart he is only
a man overwhelmed with sorrow. Why else, when he looks at me and
does not know that I observe him, should his face change, and
fill with such tenderness, that I could weep to see him? Why,
when he walks in his sleep, as he does almost every night, his
eyes open and beholding nothing, why should he cry so pitifully
on my mother's name? Ah, if you could hear him then, you would
say yourself: here is a man that has loved; here is a man that
will be kind to lovers.
KIT. Is that so? Ay, it's a hard thing to lose your wife; ay,
that must cut the heart indeed. But for all that, my lass, your
father is keen for the doubloons.
ARETHUSA. Right, Kit: and small blame to him. There is only
one way to be honest, and the name of that is thrift.
KIT. Well, and that's my motto. I've left the ship; no more
letter of marque for me. Good-bye to Kit French, privateersman's
mate; and how-d'ye-do to Christopher, the coasting skipper. I've
seen the very boat for me: I've enough to buy her, too; and to
furnish a good house, and keep a shot in the locker for bad luck.
So far, there's nothing to gainsay. So far it's hopeful enough;
but still there's Admiral Guinea, you know - and the plain truth
is that I'm afraid of him.
ARETHUSA. Admiral Guinea? Now Kit, if you are to be true lover
of mine, you shall not use that name. His name is Captain Gaunt.
As for fearing him, Kit French, you're not the man for me, if you
fear anything but sin. He's a stern man because he's in the
KIT. He is a man of God; I am what he calls a child of
perdition. I was a privateersman - serving my country, I say;
but he calls it pirate. He is thrifty and sober; he has a
treasure, they say, and it lies so near his heart that he tumbles
up in his sleep to stand watch over it. What has a harum-scarum
dog like me to expect from a man like him? He won't see I'm
starving for a chance to mend; 'Mend,' he'll say; 'I'll be shot
if you mend at the expense of my daughter;' and the worst of it
is, you see, he'll be right.
ARETHUSA. Kit, if you dare to say that faint-hearted word again,
I'll take my ring off. What are we here for but to grow better
or grow worse? Do you think Arethusa French will be the same as
KIT. I don't want her better.
ARETHUSA. Ah, but she shall be!
KIT. Hark, here he is! By George, it's neck or nothing now.
Stand by to back me up.
TO THESE, GAUNT, C.
KIT (WITH ARETHUSA'S HAND). Captain Gaunt, I have come to ask
you for your daughter.
GAUNT. Hum. (HE SITS IN HIS CHAIR, L.)
KIT. I love her, and she loves me, sir. I've left the
privateering. I've enough to set me up and buy a tidy sloop -
Jack Lee's; you know the boat, Captain; clinker built, not four
years old, eighty tons burthen, steers like a child. I've put my
mother's ring on Arethusa's finger; and if you'll give us your
blessing, I'll engage to turn over a new leaf, and make her a
GAUNT. In whose strength, Christopher French?
KIT. In the strength of my good, honest love for her: as you
did for her mother, and my father for mine. And you know,
Captain, a man can't command the wind; but (excuse me, sir) he
can always lie the best course possible, and that's what I'll do,
so God help me.
GAUNT. Arethusa, you at least are the child of many prayers;
your eyes have been unsealed; and to you the world stands naked,
a morning watch for duration, a thing spun of cobwebs for
solidity. In the presence of an angry God, I ask you: have you
heard this man?
ARETHUSA. Father, I know Kit, and I love him.
GAUNT. I say it solemnly, this is no Christian union. To you,
Christopher French, I will speak nothing of eternal truths: I
will speak to you the language of this world. You have been
trained among sinners who gloried in their sin: in your whole
life you never saved one farthing; and now, when your pockets are
full, you think you can begin, poor dupe, in your own strength.
You are a roysterer, a jovial companion; you mean no harm - you
are nobody's enemy but your own. No doubt you tell this girl of
mine, and no doubt you tell yourself, that you can change.
Christopher, speaking under correction, I defy you! You ask me
for this child of many supplications, for this brand plucked from
the burning: I look at you; I read you through and through; and
I tell you - no! (STRIKING TABLE WITH HIS FIST.)
KIT. Captain Gaunt, if you mean that I am not worthy of her, I'm
the first to say so. But, if you'll excuse me, sir, I'm a young
man, and young men are no better'n they ought to be; it's known;
they're all like that; and what's their chance? To be married to
a girl like this! And would you refuse it to me? Why, sir, you
yourself, when you came courting, you were young and rough; and
yet I'll make bold to say that Mrs. Gaunt was a happy woman, and
the saving of yourself into the bargain. Well, now, Captain
Gaunt, will you deny another man, and that man a sailor, the very
salvation that you had yourself?
GAUNT. Salvation, Christopher French, is from above.
KIT. Well, sir, that is so; but there's means, too; and what
means so strong as the wife a man has to strive and toil for, and
that bears the punishment whenever he goes wrong? Now, sir, I've
spoke with your old shipmates in the Guinea trade. Hard as
nails, they said, and true as the compass: as rough as a slaver,
but as just as a judge. Well, sir, you hear me plead: I ask you
for my chance; don't you deny it to me.
GAUNT. You speak of me? In the true balances we both weigh
nothing. But two things I know: the depth of iniquity, how foul
it is; and the agony with which a man repents. Not until seven
devils were cast out of me did I awake; each rent me as it
passed. Ay, that was repentance. Christopher, Christopher, you
have sailed before the wind since first you weighed your anchor,
and now you think to sail upon a bowline? You do not know your
ship, young man: you will go to le'ward like a sheet of paper; I
tell you so that know - I tell you so that have tried, and
failed, and wrestled in the sweat of prayer, and at last, at
last, have tasted grace. But, meanwhile, no flesh and blood of
mine shall lie at the mercy of such a wretch as I was then, or as
you are this day. I could not own the deed before the face of
heaven if I sanctioned this unequal yoke. Arethusa, pluck off
that ring from off your finger. Christopher French, take it, and
KIT. Arethusa, what do you say?
ARETHUSA. O Kit, you know my heart. But he is alone, and I am
his only comfort; and I owe all to him; and shall I not obey my
father? But, Kit, if you will let me, I will keep your ring.
Go, Kit; go, and prove to my father that he was mistaken; go and
win me. And O, Kit, if ever you should weary, come to me - no,
do not come! but send a word - and I shall know all, and you
shall have your ring. (GAUNT OPENS HIS BIBLE AND BEGINS TO
KIT. Don't say that, don't say such things to me; I sink or swim
with you. (TO GAUNT.) Old man, you've struck me hard; give me a
good word to go with. Name your time; I'll stand the test. Give
me a spark of hope, and I'll fight through for it. Say just this
- 'Prove I was mistaken,' and by George, I'll prove it.
GAUNT (LOOKING UP). I make no such compacts. Go, and swear not
ARETHUSA. Go, Kit! I keep the ring.
ARETHUSA. Father, what have we done that you should be so cruel?
GAUNT (LAYING DOWN BIBLE, AND RISING). Do you call me cruel?
You speak after the flesh. I have done you this day a service
that you will live to bless me for upon your knees.
ARETHUSA. He loves me, and I love him: you can never alter
that; do what you will, father, that can never change. I love
him, I believe in him, I will be true to him.
GAUNT. Arethusa, you are the sole thing death has left me on
this earth; and I must watch over your carnal happiness and your
eternal weal. You do not know what this implies to me. Your
mother - my Hester - tongue cannot tell, nor heart conceive the
pangs she suffered. If it lies in me, your life shall not be
lost on that same reef of an ungodly husband. (GOES OUT, C.)
ARETHUSA. I thought the time dragged long and weary when I knew
that Kit was homeward bound, all the white sails a-blowing out
towards England, and my Kit's face turned this way? (SHE BEGINS
TO DUST.) Sure, if my mother were here, she would understand and
help us; she would understand a young maid's heart, though her
own had never an ache; and she would love my Kit. (PUTTING BACK
THE TELESCOPE.) To think she died: husband and child - and so
much love - she was taken from them all. Ah, there is no parting
but the grave! And Kit and I both live, and both love each
other; and here am I cast down? O, Arethusa, shame! And your
love home from the deep seas, and loving you still; and the sun
shining; and the world all full of hope? O, hope, you're a good
ARETHUSA; TO HER, PEW
PEW (SINGING WITHOUT) -
'Time for us to go!
Time for us to go!
And we'll keep the brig three pints away,
For it's time for us to go.'
ARETHUSA. Who comes here? a seaman by his song, and father out!
(SHE TRIES THE AIR) 'Time for us to go!' It sounds a wild kind
of song. (TAP-TAP; PEW PASSES THE WINDOW.) O, what a face - and
PEW (ENTERING). Kind Christian friends, take pity on a poor
blind mariner, as lost his precious sight in the defence of his
native country, England, and God bless King George!
ARETHUSA. What can I do for you, sailor?
PEW. Good Christian lady, help a poor blind mariner to a
mouthful of meat. I've served His Majesty in every quarter of
the globe; I've spoke with 'Awke and glorious Anson, as I might
with you; and I've tramped it all night long, upon my sinful
feet, and with a empty belly.
ARETHUSA. You shall not ask bread and be denied by a sailor's
daughter and a sailor's sweetheart; and when my father returns he
shall give you something to set you on your road.
PEW. Kind and lovely lady, do you tell me that you are in a
manner of speaking alone? or do my ears deceive a poor blind
ARETHUSA. I live here with my father, and my father is abroad.
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