Heartbreak House/Act II, § i
The same room, with the lights turned up and the curtains drawn. Ellie comes in, followed by Mangan. Both are dressed for dinner. She strolls to the drawing-table. He comes between the table and the wicker chair.
MANGAN. What a dinner! I don't call it a dinner: I call it a meal.
ELLIE. I am accustomed to meals, Mr Mangan, and very lucky to get them. Besides, the captain cooked some maccaroni for me.
MANGAN [shuddering liverishly]. Too rich: I can't eat such things. I suppose it's because I have to work so much with my brain. That's the worst of being a man of business: you are always thinking, thinking, thinking. By the way, now that we are alone, may I take the opportunity to come to a little understanding with you?
ELLIE [settling into the draughtsman's seat]. Certainly. I should like to.
MANGAN [taken aback]. Should you? That surprises me; for I thought I noticed this afternoon that you avoided me all you could. Not for the first time either.
ELLIE. I was very tired and upset. I wasn't used to the ways of this extraordinary house. Please forgive me.
MANGAN. Oh, that's all right: I don't mind. But Captain Shotover has been talking to me about you. You and me, you know.
ELLIE [interested]. The captain! What did he say?
MANGAN. Well, he noticed the difference between our ages.
ELLIE. He notices everything.
MANGAN. You don't mind, then?
ELLIE. Of course I know quite well that our engagement--
MANGAN. Oh! you call it an engagement.
ELLIE. Well, isn't it?
MANGAN. Oh, yes, yes: no doubt it is if you hold to it. This is the first time you've used the word; and I didn't quite know where we stood: that's all. [He sits down in the wicker chair; and resigns himself to allow her to lead the conversation]. You were saying--?
ELLIE. Was I? I forget. Tell me. Do you like this part of the country? I heard you ask Mr Hushabye at dinner whether there are any nice houses to let down here.
MANGAN. I like the place. The air suits me. I shouldn't be surprised if I settled down here.
ELLIE. Nothing would please me better. The air suits me too. And I want to be near Hesione.
MANGAN [with growing uneasiness]. The air may suit us; but the question is, should we suit one another? Have you thought about that?
ELLIE. Mr Mangan, we must be sensible, mustn't we? It's no use pretending that we are Romeo and Juliet. But we can get on very well together if we choose to make the best of it. Your kindness of heart will make it easy for me.
MANGAN [leaning forward, with the beginning of something like deliberate unpleasantness in his voice]. Kindness of heart, eh? I ruined your father, didn't I?
ELLIE. Oh, not intentionally.
MANGAN. Yes I did. Ruined him on purpose.
ELLIE. On purpose!
MANGAN. Not out of ill-nature, you know. And you'll admit that I kept a job for him when I had finished with him. But business is business; and I ruined him as a matter of business.
ELLIE. I don't understand how that can be. Are you trying to make me feel that I need not be grateful to you, so that I may choose freely?
MANGAN [rising aggressively]. No. I mean what I say.
ELLIE. But how could it possibly do you any good to ruin my father? The money he lost was yours.
MANGAN [with a sour laugh]. Was mine! It is mine, Miss Ellie, and all the money the other fellows lost too. [He shoves his hands into his pockets and shows his teeth]. I just smoked them out like a hive of bees. What do you say to that? A bit of shock, eh?
ELLIE. It would have been, this morning. Now! you can't think how little it matters. But it's quite interesting. Only, you must explain it to me. I don't understand it. [Propping her elbows on the drawingboard and her chin on her hands, she composes herself to listen with a combination of conscious curiosity with unconscious contempt which provokes him to more and more unpleasantness, and an attempt at patronage of her ignorance].
MANGAN. Of course you don't understand: what do you know about business? You just listen and learn. Your father's business was a new business; and I don't start new businesses: I let other fellows start them. They put all their money and their friends' money into starting them. They wear out their souls and bodies trying to make a success of them. They're what you call enthusiasts. But the first dead lift of the thing is too much for them; and they haven't enough financial experience. In a year or so they have either to let the whole show go bust, or sell out to a new lot of fellows for a few deferred ordinary shares: that is, if they're lucky enough to get anything at all. As likely as not the very same thing happens to the new lot. They put in more money and a couple of years' more work; and then perhaps they have to sell out to a third lot. If it's really a big thing the third lot will have to sell out too, and leave their work and their money behind them. And that's where the real business man comes in: where I come in. But I'm cleverer than some: I don't mind dropping a little money to start the process. I took your father's measure. I saw that he had a sound idea, and that he would work himself silly for it if he got the chance. I saw that he was a child in business, and was dead certain to outrun his expenses and be in too great a hurry to wait for his market. I knew that the surest way to ruin a man who doesn't know how to handle money is to give him some. I explained my idea to some friends in the city, and they found the money; for I take no risks in ideas, even when they're my own. Your father and the friends that ventured their money with him were no more to me than a heap of squeezed lemons. You've been wasting your gratitude: my kind heart is all rot. I'm sick of it. When I see your father beaming at me with his moist, grateful eyes, regularly wallowing in gratitude, I sometimes feel I must tell him the truth or burst. What stops me is that I know he wouldn't believe me. He'd think it was my modesty, as you did just now. He'd think anything rather than the truth, which is that he's a blamed fool, and I am a man that knows how to take care of himself. [He throws himself back into the big chair with large self approval]. Now what do you think of me, Miss Ellie?
ELLIE [dropping her hands]. How strange! that my mother, who knew nothing at all about business, should have been quite right about you! She always said not before papa, of course, but to us children--that you were just that sort of man.
MANGAN [sitting up, much hurt]. Oh! did she? And yet she'd have let you marry me.
ELLIE. Well, you see, Mr Mangan, my mother married a very good man--for whatever you may think of my father as a man of business, he is the soul of goodness--and she is not at all keen on my doing the same.
MANGAN. Anyhow, you don't want to marry me now, do you?
ELLIE. [very calmly]. Oh, I think so. Why not?
MANGAN. [rising aghast]. Why not!
ELLIE. I don't see why we shouldn't get on very well together.
MANGAN. Well, but look here, you know--[he stops, quite at a loss].
ELLIE. [patiently]. Well?
MANGAN. Well, I thought you were rather particular about people's characters.
ELLIE. If we women were particular about men's characters, we should never get married at all, Mr Mangan.
MANGAN. A child like you talking of "we women"! What next! You're not in earnest?
ELLIE. Yes, I am. Aren't you?
MANGAN. You mean to hold me to it?
ELLIE. Do you wish to back out of it?
MANGAN. Oh, no. Not exactly back out of it.
He has nothing to say. With a long whispered whistle, he drops into the wicker chair and stares before him like a beggared gambler. But a cunning look soon comes into his face. He leans over towards her on his right elbow, and speaks in a low steady voice.
MANGAN. Suppose I told you I was in love with another woman!
ELLIE [echoing him]. Suppose I told you I was in love with another man!
MANGAN [bouncing angrily out of his chair]. I'm not joking.
ELLIE. Who told you I was?
MANGAN. I tell you I'm serious. You're too young to be serious; but you'll have to believe me. I want to be near your friend Mrs Hushabye. I'm in love with her. Now the murder's out.
ELLIE. I want to be near your friend Mr Hushabye. I'm in love with him. [She rises and adds with a frank air] Now we are in one another's confidence, we shall be real friends. Thank you for telling me.
MANGAN [almost beside himself]. Do you think I'll be made a convenience of like this?
ELLIE. Come, Mr Mangan! you made a business convenience of my father. Well, a woman's business is marriage. Why shouldn't I make a domestic convenience of you?
MANGAN. Because I don't choose, see? Because I'm not a silly gull like your father. That's why.
ELLIE [with serene contempt]. You are not good enough to clean my father's boots, Mr Mangan; and I am paying you a great compliment in condescending to make a convenience of you, as you call it. Of course you are free to throw over our engagement if you like; but, if you do, you'll never enter Hesione's house again: I will take care of that.
MANGAN [gasping]. You little devil, you've done me. [On the point of collapsing into the big chair again he recovers himself]. Wait a bit, though: you're not so cute as you think. You can't beat Boss Mangan as easy as that. Suppose I go straight to Mrs Hushabye and tell her that you're in love with her husband.
ELLIE. She knows it.
MANGAN. You told her!!!
ELLIE. She told me.
MANGAN [clutching at his bursting temples]. Oh, this is a crazy house. Or else I'm going clean off my chump. Is she making a swop with you--she to have your husband and you to have hers?
ELLIE. Well, you don't want us both, do you?
MANGAN [throwing himself into the chair distractedly]. My brain won't stand it. My head's going to split. Help! Help me to hold it. Quick: hold it: squeeze it. Save me. [Ellie comes behind his chair; clasps his head hard for a moment; then begins to draw her hands from his forehead back to his ears]. Thank you. [Drowsily]. That's very refreshing. [Waking a little]. Don't you hypnotize me, though. I've seen men made fools of by hypnotism.
ELLIE [steadily]. Be quiet. I've seen men made fools of without hypnotism.
MANGAN [humbly]. You don't dislike touching me, I hope. You never touched me before, I noticed.
ELLIE. Not since you fell in love naturally with a grown-up nice woman, who will never expect you to make love to her. And I will never expect him to make love to me.
MANGAN. He may, though.
ELLIE [making her passes rhythmically]. Hush. Go to sleep. Do you hear? You are to go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep; be quiet, deeply deeply quiet; sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep.
He falls asleep. Ellie steals away; turns the light out; and goes into the garden.
Nurse Guinness opens the door and is seen in the light which comes in from the hall.
GUINNESS [speaking to someone outside]. Mr Mangan's not here, duckie: there's no one here. It's all dark.
MRS HUSHABYE [without]. Try the garden. Mr Dunn and I will be in my boudoir. Show him the way.
GUINNESS. Yes, ducky. [She makes for the garden door in the dark; stumbles over the sleeping Mangan and screams]. Ahoo! O Lord, Sir! I beg your pardon, I'm sure: I didn't see you in the dark. Who is it? [She goes back to the door and turns on the light]. Oh, Mr Mangan, sir, I hope I haven't hurt you plumping into your lap like that. [Coming to him]. I was looking for you, sir. Mrs Hushabye says will you please [noticing that he remains quite insensible]. Oh, my good Lord, I hope I haven't killed him. Sir! Mr Mangan! Sir! [She shakes him; and he is rolling inertly off the chair on the floor when she holds him up and props him against the cushion]. Miss Hessy! Miss Hessy! [quick, doty darling. Miss Hessy! [Mrs Hushabye comes in from the hall, followed by Mazzini Dunn]. Oh, Miss Hessy, I've been and killed him.
Mazzini runs round the back of the chair to Mangan's right hand, and sees that the nurse's words are apparently only too true.
MAZZINI. What tempted you to commit such a crime, woman?
MRS HUSHABYE [trying not to laugh]. Do you mean, you did it on purpose?
GUINNESS. Now is it likely I'd kill any man on purpose? I fell over him in the dark; and I'm a pretty tidy weight. He never spoke nor moved until I shook him; and then he would have dropped dead on the floor. Isn't it tiresome?
MRS HUSHABYE [going past the nurse to Mangan's side, and inspecting him less credulously than Mazzini]. Nonsense! he is not dead: he is only asleep. I can see him breathing.
GUINNESS. But why won't he wake?
MAZZINI [speaking very politely into Mangan's ear]. Mangan! My dear Mangan! [he blows into Mangan's ear].
MRS HUSHABYE. That's no good [she shakes him vigorously]. Mr Mangan, wake up. Do you hear? [He begins to roll over]. Oh! Nurse, nurse: he's falling: help me.
Nurse Guinness rushes to the rescue. With Mazzini's assistance, Mangan is propped safely up again.
GUINNESS [behind the chair; bending over to test the case with her nose]. Would he be drunk, do you think, pet?
MRS HUSHABYE. Had he any of papa's rum?
MAZZINI. It can't be that: he is most abstemious. I am afraid he drank too much formerly, and has to drink too little now. You know, Mrs Hushabye, I really think he has been hypnotized.
GUINNESS. Hip no what, sir?
MAZZINI. One evening at home, after we had seen a hypnotizing performance, the children began playing at it; and Ellie stroked my head. I assure you I went off dead asleep; and they had to send for a professional to wake me up after I had slept eighteen hours. They had to carry me upstairs; and as the poor children were not very strong, they let me slip; and I rolled right down the whole flight and never woke up. [Mrs Hushabye splutters]. Oh, you may laugh, Mrs Hushabye; but I might have been killed.
MRS HUSHABYE. I couldn't have helped laughing even if you had been, Mr Dunn. So Ellie has hypnotized him. What fun!
MAZZINI. Oh no, no, no. It was such a terrible lesson to her: nothing would induce her to try such a thing again.
MRS HUSHABYE. Then who did it? I didn't.
MAZZINI. I thought perhaps the captain might have done it unintentionally. He is so fearfully magnetic: I feel vibrations whenever he comes close to me.
GUINNESS. The captain will get him out of it anyhow, sir: I'll back him for that. I'll go fetch him [she makes for the pantry].
MRS HUSHABYE. Wait a bit. [To Mazzini]. You say he is all right for eighteen hours?
MAZZINI. Well, I was asleep for eighteen hours.
MRS HUSHABYE. Were you any the worse for it?
MAZZINI. I don't quite remember. They had poured brandy down my throat, you see; and--
MRS HUSHABYE. Quite. Anyhow, you survived. Nurse, darling: go and ask Miss Dunn to come to us here. Say I want to speak to her particularly. You will find her with Mr Hushabye probably.
GUINNESS. I think not, ducky: Miss Addy is with him. But I'll find her and send her to you. [She goes out into the garden].
MRS HUSHABYE [calling Mazzini's attention to the figure on the chair]. Now, Mr Dunn, look. Just look. Look hard. Do you still intend to sacrifice your daughter to that thing?
MAZZINI [troubled]. You have completely upset me, Mrs Hushabye, by all you have said to me. That anyone could imagine that I--I, a consecrated soldier of freedom, if I may say so--could sacrifice Ellie to anybody or anyone, or that I should ever have dreamed of forcing her inclinations in any way, is a most painful blow to my--well, I suppose you would say to my good opinion of myself.
MRS HUSHABYE [rather stolidly]. Sorry.
MAZZINI [looking forlornly at the body]. What is your objection to poor Mangan, Mrs Hushabye? He looks all right to me. But then I am so accustomed to him.
MRS HUSHABYE. Have you no heart? Have you no sense? Look at the brute! Think of poor weak innocent Ellie in the clutches of this slavedriver, who spends his life making thousands of rough violent workmen bend to his will and sweat for him: a man accustomed to have great masses of iron beaten into shape for him by steam-hammers! to fight with women and girls over a halfpenny an hour ruthlessly! a captain of industry, I think you call him, don't you? Are you going to fling your delicate, sweet, helpless child into such a beast's claws just because he will keep her in an expensive house and make her wear diamonds to show how rich he is?
MAZZINI [staring at her in wide-eyed amazement]. Bless you, dear Mrs Hushabye, what romantic ideas of business you have! Poor dear Mangan isn't a bit like that.
MRS HUSHABYE [scornfully]. Poor dear Mangan indeed!
MAZZINI. But he doesn't know anything about machinery. He never goes near the men: he couldn't manage them: he is afraid of them. I never can get him to take the least interest in the works: he hardly knows more about them than you do. People are cruelly unjust to Mangan: they think he is all rugged strength just because his manners are bad.
MRS HUSHABYE. Do you mean to tell me he isn't strong enough to crush poor little Ellie?
MAZZINI. Of course it's very hard to say how any marriage will turn out; but speaking for myself, I should say that he won't have a dog's chance against Ellie. You know, Ellie has remarkable strength of character. I think it is because I taught her to like Shakespeare when she was very young.
MRS HUSHABYE [contemptuously]. Shakespeare! The next thing you will tell me is that you could have made a great deal more money than Mangan. [She retires to the sofa, and sits down at the port end of it in the worst of humors].
MAZZINI [following her and taking the other end]. No: I'm no good at making money. I don't care enough for it, somehow. I'm not ambitious! that must be it. Mangan is wonderful about money: he thinks of nothing else. He is so dreadfully afraid of being poor. I am always thinking of other things: even at the works I think of the things we are doing and not of what they cost. And the worst of it is, poor Mangan doesn't know what to do with his money when he gets it. He is such a baby that he doesn't know even what to eat and drink: he has ruined his liver eating and drinking the wrong things; and now he can hardly eat at all. Ellie will diet him splendidly. You will be surprised when you come to know him better: he is really the most helpless of mortals. You get quite a protective feeling towards him.
MRS HUSHABYE. Then who manages his business, pray?
MAZZINI. I do. And of course other people like me.
MRS HUSHABYE. Footling people, you mean.
MAZZINI. I suppose you'd think us so.
MRS HUSHABYE. And pray why don't you do without him if you're all so much cleverer?
MAZZINI. Oh, we couldn't: we should ruin the business in a year. I've tried; and I know. We should spend too much on everything. We should improve the quality of the goods and make them too dear. We should be sentimental about the hard cases among the work people. But Mangan keeps us in order. He is down on us about every extra halfpenny. We could never do without him. You see, he will sit up all night thinking of how to save sixpence. Won't Ellie make him jump, though, when she takes his house in hand!
MRS HUSHABYE. Then the creature is a fraud even as a captain of industry!
MAZZINI. I am afraid all the captains of industry are what you call frauds, Mrs Hushabye. Of course there are some manufacturers who really do understand their own works; but they don't make as high a rate of profit as Mangan does. I assure you Mangan is quite a good fellow in his way. He means well.
MRS HUSHABYE. He doesn't look well. He is not in his first youth, is he?
MAZZINI. After all, no husband is in his first youth for very long, Mrs Hushabye. And men can't afford to marry in their first youth nowadays.
MRS HUSHABYE. Now if I said that, it would sound witty. Why can't you say it wittily? What on earth is the matter with you? Why don't you inspire everybody with confidence? with respect?
MAZZINI [humbly]. I think that what is the matter with me is that I am poor. You don't know what that means at home. Mind: I don't say they have ever complained. They've all been wonderful: they've been proud of my poverty. They've even joked about it quite often. But my wife has had a very poor time of it. She has been quite resigned--
MRS HUSHABYE [shuddering involuntarily!!
MAZZINI. There! You see, Mrs Hushabye. I don't want Ellie to live on resignation.
MRS HUSHABYE. Do you want her to have to resign herself to living with a man she doesn't love?
MAZZINI [wistfully]. Are you sure that would be worse than living with a man she did love, if he was a footling person?
MRS HUSHABYE [relaxing her contemptuous attitude, quite interested in Mazzini now]. You know, I really think you must love Ellie very much; for you become quite clever when you talk about her.
MAZZINI. I didn't know I was so very stupid on other subjects.
MRS HUSHABYE. You are, sometimes.
MAZZINI [turning his head away; for his eyes are wet]. I have learnt a good deal about myself from you, Mrs Hushabye; and I'm afraid I shall not be the happier for your plain speaking. But if you thought I needed it to make me think of Ellie's happiness you were very much mistaken.
MRS HUSHABYE [leaning towards him kindly]. Have I been a beast?
MAZZINI [pulling himself together]. It doesn't matter about me, Mrs Hushabye. I think you like Ellie; and that is enough for me.
MRS HUSHABYE. I'm beginning to like you a little. I perfectly loathed you at first. I thought you the most odious, self-satisfied, boresome elderly prig I ever met.
MAZZINI [resigned, and now quite cheerful]. I daresay I am all that. I never have been a favorite with gorgeous women like you. They always frighten me.
MRS HUSHABYE [pleased]. Am I a gorgeous woman, Mazzini? I shall fall in love with you presently.
MAZZINI [with placid gallantry]. No, you won't, Hesione. But you would be quite safe. Would you believe it that quite a lot of women have flirted with me because I am quite safe? But they get tired of me for the same reason.
MRS HUSHABYE [mischievously]. Take care. You may not be so safe as you think.
MAZZINI. Oh yes, quite safe. You see, I have been in love really: the sort of love that only happens once. [Softly]. That's why Ellie is such a lovely girl.
MRS HUSHABYE. Well, really, you are coming out. Are you quite sure you won't let me tempt you into a second grand passion?
MAZZINI. Quite. It wouldn't be natural. The fact is, you don't strike on my box, Mrs Hushabye; and I certainly don't strike on yours.
MRS HUSHABYE. I see. Your marriage was a safety match.
MAZZINI. What a very witty application of the expression I used! I should never have thought of it.
Ellie comes in from the garden, looking anything but happy.
MRS HUSHABYE [rising]. Oh! here is Ellie at last. [She goes behind the sofa].
ELLIE [on the threshold of the starboard door]. Guinness said you wanted me: you and papa.
MRS HUSHABYE. You have kept us waiting so long that it almost came to--well, never mind. Your father is a very wonderful man [she ruffles his hair affectionately]: the only one I ever met who could resist me when I made myself really agreeable. [She comes to the big chair, on Mangan's left]. Come here. I have something to show you. [Ellie strolls listlessly to the other side of the chair]. Look.
ELLIE [contemplating Mangan without interest]. I know. He is only asleep. We had a talk after dinner; and he fell asleep in the middle of it.
MRS HUSHABYE. You did it, Ellie. You put him asleep.
MAZZINI [rising quickly and coming to the back of the chair]. Oh, I hope not. Did you, Ellie?
ELLIE [wearily]. He asked me to.
MAZZINI. But it's dangerous. You know what happened to me.
ELLIE [utterly indifferent]. Oh, I daresay I can wake him. If not, somebody else can.
MRS HUSHABYE. It doesn't matter, anyhow, because I have at last persuaded your father that you don't want to marry him.
ELLIE [suddenly coming out of her listlessness, much vexed]. But why did you do that, Hesione? I do want to marry him. I fully intend to marry him.
MAZZINI. Are you quite sure, Ellie? Mrs Hushabye has made me feel that I may have been thoughtless and selfish about it.
ELLIE [very clearly and steadily]. Papa. When Mrs. Hushabye takes it on herself to explain to you what I think or don't think, shut your ears tight; and shut your eyes too. Hesione knows nothing about me: she hasn't the least notion of the sort of person I am, and never will. I promise you I won't do anything I don't want to do and mean to do for my own sake.
MAZZINI. You are quite, quite sure?
ELLIE. Quite, quite sure. Now you must go away and leave me to talk to Mrs Hushabye.
MAZZINI. But I should like to hear. Shall I be in the way?
ELLIE [inexorable]. I had rather talk to her alone.
MAZZINI [affectionately]. Oh, well, I know what a nuisance parents are, dear. I will be good and go. [He goes to the garden door]. By the way, do you remember the address of that professional who woke me up? Don't you think I had better telegraph to him?
MRS HUSHABYE [moving towards the sofa]. It's too late to telegraph tonight.
MAZZINI. I suppose so. I do hope he'll wake up in the course of the night. [He goes out into the garden].
ELLIE [turning vigorously on Hesione the moment her father is out of the room]. Hesione, what the devil do you mean by making mischief with my father about Mangan?
MRS HUSHABYE [promptly losing her temper]. Don't you dare speak to me like that, you little minx. Remember that you are in my house.
ELLIE. Stuff! Why don't you mind your own business? What is it to you whether I choose to marry Mangan or not?
MRS HUSHABYE. Do you suppose you can bully me, you miserable little matrimonial adventurer?
ELLIE. Every woman who hasn't any money is a matrimonial adventurer. It's easy for you to talk: you have never known what it is to want money; and you can pick up men as if they were daisies. I am poor and respectable--
MRS HUSHABYE [interrupting]. Ho! respectable! How did you pick up Mangan? How did you pick up my husband? You have the audacity to tell me that I am a--a--a--
ELLIE. A siren. So you are. You were born to lead men by the nose: if you weren't, Marcus would have waited for me, perhaps.
MRS HUSHABYE [suddenly melting and half laughing]. Oh, my poor Ellie, my pettikins, my unhappy darling! I am so sorry about Hector. But what can I do? It's not my fault: I'd give him to you if I could.
ELLIE. I don't blame you for that.
MRS HUSHABYE. What a brute I was to quarrel with you and call you names! Do kiss me and say you're not angry with me.
ELLIE [fiercely]. Oh, don't slop and gush and be sentimental. Don't you see that unless I can be hard--as hard as nails--I shall go mad? I don't care a damn about your calling me names: do you think a woman in my situation can feel a few hard words?
MRS HUSHABYE. Poor little woman! Poor little situation!
ELLIE. I suppose you think you're being sympathetic. You are just foolish and stupid and selfish. You see me getting a smasher right in the face that kills a whole part of my life: the best part that can never come again; and you think you can help me over it by a little coaxing and kissing. When I want all the strength I can get to lean on: something iron, something stony, I don't care how cruel it is, you go all mushy and want to slobber over me. I'm not angry; I'm not unfriendly; but for God's sake do pull yourself together; and don't think that because you're on velvet and always have been, women who are in hell can take it as easily as you.
MRS HUSHABYE [shrugging her shoulders]. Very well. [She sits down on the sofa in her old place. But I warn you that when I am neither coaxing and kissing nor laughing, I am just wondering how much longer I can stand living in this cruel, damnable world. You object to the siren: well, I drop the siren. You want to rest your wounded bosom against a grindstone. Well [folding her arms] here is the grindstone.
ELLIE [sitting down beside her, appeased]. That's better: you really have the trick of falling in with everyone's mood; but you don't understand, because you are not the sort of woman for whom there is only one man and only one chance.
MRS HUSHABYE. I certainly don't understand how your marrying that object [indicating Mangan] will console you for not being able to marry Hector.
ELLIE. Perhaps you don't understand why I was quite a nice girl this morning, and am now neither a girl nor particularly nice.
MRS HUSHABYE. Oh, yes, I do. It's because you have made up your mind to do something despicable and wicked.