The Philanderer/Act III
- Still the library. Ten minutes later. Julia, angry and miserable, comes in from the dining room, followed by Craven. She crosses the room tormentedly, and throws herself into a chair.
CRAVEN (impatiently). What is the matter? Has everyone gone mad to-day? What do you mean by suddenly getting up from the table and tearing away like that? What does Paramore mean by reading his paper and not answering when he's spoken to? (Julia writhes impatiently.) Come, come (tenderly): won't my pet tell her own father what— (irritably) what the devil is wrong with everybody? Do pull yourself straight, Julia, before Cuthbertson comes. He's only paying the bill: he'll be here in a moment.
JULIA. I couldn't bear it any longer. Oh, to see them sitting there at lunch together, laughing, chatting, making game of me! I should have screamed out in another moment—I should have taken a knife and killed her—I should have—(Cuthbertson appears with the luncheon bill in his hand. He stuffs it into his waistcoat pocket as he comes to them. He begins speaking the moment he enters.)
CUTHBERTSON. I'm afraid you've had a very poor lunch, Dan. It's disheartening to see you picking at a few beans and drinking soda water. I wonder how you live!
JULIA. That's all he ever takes, Mr. Cuthbertson, I assure you. He hates to be bothered about it.
CRAVEN. Where's Paramore?
CUTHBERTSON. Reading his paper, I asked him wasn't he coming; but he didn't hear me. It's amazing how anything scientific absorbs him. Clever man! Monstrously clever man!
CRAVEN (pettishly). Oh yes, that's all very well, Jo; but it's not good manners at table: he should shut up the shop sometimes. Heaven knows I am only too anxious to forget his science, since it has pronounced my doom. (He sits down with a melancholy air.)
CUTHBERTSON (compassionately). You mustn't think about that, Craven: perhaps he was mistaken. (He sighs deeply and sits down.) But he is certainly a very clever fellow. He thinks twice before he commits himself. (They sit in silence, full of the gloomiest thoughts. Suddenly Paramore enters, pale and in the utmost disorder, with the British Medical Journal in his clenched hand. They rise in alarm. He tries to speak, but chokes, clutches at his throat, and staggers. Cuthbertson quickly takes his chair and places it behind Paramore, who sinks into it as they crowd about him, Craven at his right shoulder, Cuthbertson on his left, and Julia behind Craven.)
CRAVEN. What's the matter, Paramore?
JULIA. Are you ill?
CUTHBERTSON. No bad news, I hope?
PARAMORE (despairingly). The worst of news! Terrible news! Fatal news! My disease—
CRAVEN (quickly). Do you mean my disease?
PARAMORE (fiercely). I mean my disease—Paramore's disease—the disease I discovered—the work of my life. Look here (pointing to the B. M. J. with a ghastly expression of horror.) If this is true, it was all a mistake: there is no such disease. (Cuthbertson and Julia look at one another, hardly daring to believe the good news.)
CRAVEN (in strong remonstrance). And you call this bad news! Now really, Paramore—
PARAMORE (cutting him short hoarsely). It's natural for you to think only of yourself. I don't blame you: all invalids are selfish. Only a scientific man can feel what I feel now. (Writhing under a sense of intolerable injustice.) It's the fault of the wickedly sentimental laws of this country. I was not able to make experiments enough—only three dogs and a monkey. Think of that, with all Europe full of my professional rivals—men burning to prove me wrong! There is freedom in France—enlightened republican France. One Frenchman experiments on two hundred monkeys to disprove my theory. Another sacrifices 36 pounds—three hundred dogs at three francs apiece—to upset the monkey experiments. A third proves them to be both wrong by a single experiment in which he gets the temperature of a camel's liver 60 degrees below zero. And now comes this cursed Italian who has ruined me. He has a government grant to buy animals with, besides the run of the largest hospital in Italy. (With desperate resolution) But I won't be beaten by any Italian. I'll go to Italy myself. I'll re-discover my disease: I know it exists; I feel it; and I'll prove it if I have to experiment on every mortal animal that's got a liver at all. (He folds his arms and breathes hard at them.)
CRAVEN (his sense of injury growing upon him). Am I to understand, Paramore, that you took it on yourself to pass sentence of death—yes, of Death—on me, on the strength of three dogs and an infernal monkey?
PARAMORE (utterly contemptuous of Craven's narrow personal view of the matter). Yes. That was all I could get a license for.
CRAVEN. Now upon my soul, Paramore, I'm vexed at this. I don't wish to be unfriendly; but I'm extremely vexed, really. Why, confound it, do you realize what you've done? You've cut off my meat and drink for a year—made me an object of public scorn—a miserable vegetarian and a teetotaller.
PARAMORE (rising). Well, you can make up for lost time now. (Bitterly, shewing Craven the Journal) There! you can read for yourself. The camel was fed on beef dissolved in alcohol; and he gained weight under it. Eat and drink as much as you please. (Still unable to stand without support, he makes his way past Cuthbertson to the revolving bookcase and stands there with his back to them, leaning on it with his head on his hand.)
CRAVEN (grumbling). Oh yes, it's very easy for you to talk, Paramore. But what am I to say to the Humanitarian societies and the Vegetarian societies that have made me a Vice President?
CUTHBERTSON (chuckling). Aha! You made a virtue of it, did you, Dan?
CRAVEN (warmly). I made a virtue of necessity, Jo. No one can blame me.
JULIA (soothing him). Well, never mind, Daddy. Come back to the dining room and have a good beefsteak.
CRAVEN (shuddering). Ugh! (Plaintively) No: I've lost my old manly taste for it. My very nature's been corrupted by living on pap. (To Paramore.) That's what comes of all this vivisection. You go experimenting on horses; and of course the result is that you try to get me into condition by feeding me on beans.
PARAMORE (curtly, without changing his position). Well, if they've done you good, so much the better for you.
CRAVEN (querulously). That's all very well; but it's very vexing. You don't half see how serious it is to make a man believe that he has only another year to live: you really don't, Paramore: I can't help saying it. I've made my will, which was altogether unnecessary; and I've been reconciled to a lot of people I'd quarrelled with—people I can't stand under ordinary circumstances. Then I've let the girls get round me at home to an extent I should never have done if I'd had my life before me. I've done a lot of serious thinking and reading and extra church going. And now it turns out simple waste of time. On my soul, it's too disgusting: I'd far rather die like a man when I said I would.
PARAMORE (as before). Perhaps you may. Your heart's shaky, if that's any satisfaction to you.
CRAVEN (offended). You must excuse me, Paramore, if I say that I no longer feel any confidence in your opinion as a medical man. (Paramore's eye flashes: he straightens himself and listens.) I paid you a pretty stiff fee for that consultation when you condemned me; and I can't say I think you gave me value for it.
PARAMORE (turning and facing Craven with dignity). That's unanswerable, Colonel Craven. I shall return the fee.
CRAVEN. Oh, it's not the money; but I think you ought to realize your position. (Paramore turns stiffly away. Craven follows him impulsively, exclaiming remorsefully) Well, perhaps it was a nasty thing of me to allude to it. (He offers Paramore his hand.)
PARAMORE (conscientiously taking it). Not at all. You are quite in the right, Colonel Craven. My diagnosis was wrong; and I must take the consequences.
CRAVEN (holding his hand). No, don't say that. It was natural enough: my liver is enough to set any man's diagnosis wrong. (A long handshake, very trying to Paramore's nerves. Paramore then retires to the recess on Ibsen's left, and throws himself on the divan with a half suppressed sob, bending over the British Medical Journal with his head on his hands and his elbows on his knees.)
CUTHBERTSON (who has been rejoicing with Julia at the other side of the room). Well, let's say no more about it. I congratulate you, Craven, and hope you may long be spared. (Craven offers his hand.) No, Dan: your daughter first. (He takes Julia's hand gently and hands her across to Craven, into whose arms she flies with a gush of feeling.)
JULIA. Dear old Daddy!
CRAVEN. Ah, is Julia glad that the old Dad is let off for a few years more?
JULIA (almost crying). Oh, so glad: so glad! (Cuthbertson sobs audibly. The Colonel is affected. Sylvia, entering from the dining room, stops abruptly at the door on seeing the three. Paramore, in the recess, escapes her notice.)
CRAVEN. Tell her the news, Julia: it would sound ridiculous from me. (He goes to the weeping Cuthbertson, and pats him consolingly on the shoulder.)
JULIA. Silly: only think! Dad's not ill at all. It was only a mistake of Dr. Paramore's. Oh, dear! (She catches Craven's left hand and stoops to kiss it, his right hand being still on Cuthbertson's shoulder.)
SYLVIA (contemptuously). I knew it. Of course it was nothing but eating too much. I always said Paramore was an ass. (Sensation. Cuthbertson, Craven and Julia turn in consternation.)
PARAMORE (without malice). Never mind, Miss Craven. That is what is being said all over Europe now. Never mind.
SYLVIA (a little abashed). I'm so sorry, Dr. Paramore. You must excuse a daughter's feelings.
CRAVEN (huffed). It evidently doesn't make much difference to you, Sylvia.
SYLVIA. I'm not going to be sentimental over it, Dad, you may bet. (Coming to Craven.) Besides, I knew it was nonsense all along. (Petting him.) Poor dear old Dad! why should your days be numbered any more than any one else's? (He pats her cheek, mollified. Julia impatiently turns away from them.) Come to the smoking room, and let's see what you can do after teetotalling for a year.
CRAVEN (playfully). Vulgar little girl! (He pinches her ear.) Shall we come, Jo! You'll be the better for a pick-me-up after all this emotion.
CUTHBERTSON. I'm not ashamed of it, Dan. It has done me good. (He goes up to the table and shakes his fist at the bust over the mantelpiece.) It would do you good too if you had eyes and ears to take it in.
CRAVEN (astonished). Who?
SYLVIA. Why, good old Henrik, of course.
CRAVEN (puzzled). Henrik?
CUTHBERTSON (impatiently). Ibsen, man: Ibsen. (He goes out by the staircase door followed by Sylvia, who kisses her hand to the bust as she passes. Craven stares blankly after her, and then up at the bust. Giving the problem up as insoluble, he shakes his head and follows them. Near the door he checks himself and comes back.)
CRAVEN (softly). By the way, Paramore?—
PARAMORE (rousing himself with an effort). Yes?
CRAVEN. You weren't in earnest that time about my heart, were you?
PARAMORE. Oh, nothing, nothing. There's a slight murmur—mitral valves a little worn, perhaps; but they'll last your time if you're careful. Don't smoke too much.
CRAVEN. What! More privations! Now really, Paramore, really—
PARAMORE (rising distractedly). Excuse me: I can't pursue the subject. I—I—
JULIA. Don't worry him now, Daddy.
CRAVEN. Well, well: I won't. (He comes to Paramore, who is pacing restlessly up and down the middle of the room.) Come, Paramore, I'm not selfish, believe me: I can feel for your disappointment. But you must face it like a man. And after all, now really, doesn't this shew that there's a lot of rot about modern science? Between ourselves, you know, it's horribly cruel: you must admit that it's a deuced nasty thing to go ripping up and crucifying camels and monkeys. It must blunt all the finer feelings sooner or later.
PARAMORE (turning on him). How many camels and horses and men were ripped up in that Soudan campaign where you won your Victoria Cross, Colonel Craven?
CRAVEN (firing up). That was fair fighting—a very different thing, Paramore.
PARAMORE. Yes, Martinis and machine guns against naked spearmen.
CRAVEN (hotly). I took my chance with the rest, Dr. Paramore. I risked my own life: don't forget that.
PARAMORE (with equal spirit). And I have risked mine, as all doctors do, oftener than any soldier.
CRAVEN. That's true. I didn't think of that. I beg your pardon, Paramore: I'll never say another word against your profession. But I hope you'll let me stick to the good old-fashioned shaking up treatment for my liver—a clinking run across country with the hounds.
PARAMORE (with bitter irony). Isn't that rather cruel—a pack of dogs ripping up a fox?
JULIA (coming coaxingly between them). Oh, please don't begin arguing again. Do go to the smoking room, Daddy: Mr. Cuthbertson will wonder what has become of you.
CRAVEN. Very well, very well: I'll go. But you're really not reasonable to-day, Paramore, to talk that way of fair sport—
JULIA. Sh—sh (coaxing him toward the door).
CRAVEN. Well, well, I'm off. (He goes good-humoredly, pushed out by Julia.)
JULIA (turning at the door with her utmost witchery of manner). Don't look so disappointed, Dr. Paramore. Cheer up. You've been most kind to us; and you've done papa a lot of good.
PARAMORE (delighted, rushing over to her). How beautiful it is of you to say that to me, Miss Craven!
JULIA. I hate to see any one unhappy. I can't bear unhappiness. (She runs out, casting a Parthian glance at him as she flies. Paramore stands enraptured, gazing after her through the glass door. Whilst he is thus absorbed Charteris comes in from the dining room and touches him on the arm.)
PARAMORE (starting). Eh! What's the matter?
CHARTERIS (significantly). Charming woman, isn't she, Paramore? (Looking admiringly at him.) How have you managed to fascinate her?
PARAMORE. I! Do you really mean— (He looks at him; then recovers himself and adds coldly.) Excuse me: this is a subject I do not care to jest about. (He walks away from Charteris down the side of the room, and sits down in an easy chair reading his Journal to intimate that he does not wish to pursue the conversation.)
CHARTERIS (ignoring the hint and coolly taking a chair beside him). Why don't you get married, Paramore? You know it's a scandalous thing for a man in your profession to be single.
PARAMORE (shortly, still pretending to read). That's my own business, not yours.
CHARTERIS. Not at all: it's pre-eminently a social question. You're going to get married, aren't you?
PARAMORE. Not that I am aware of.
CHARTERIS (alarmed). No! Don't say that. Why?
PARAMORE (rising angrily and rapping one of the SILENCE placards). Allow me to call your attention to that. (He crosses to the easy chair near the revolving bookstand, and flings himself into it with determined hostility.)
CHARTERIS (following him, too deeply concerned to mind the rebuff). Paramore: you alarm me more than I can say. You've been and muffed this business somehow. I know perfectly well what you've been up to; and I fully expected to find you a joyful accepted suitor.
PARAMORE (angrily). Yes, you have been watching me because you admire Miss Craven yourself. Well, you may go in and win now. You will be pleased to hear that I am a ruined man.
CHARTERIS. You! Ruined! How? The turf?
PARAMORE (contemptuously). The turf!! Certainly not.
CHARTERIS. Paramore: if the loan of all I possess will help you over this difficulty, you're welcome to it.
PARAMORE (rising in surprise). Charteris! I— (suspiciously.) Are you joking?
CHARTERIS. Why on earth do you always suspect me of joking? I never was more serious in my life.
PARAMORE (shamed by Charteris's generosity). Then I beg your pardon. I thought the news would please you.
CHARTERIS (deprecating this injustice to his good feeling). My dear fellow—!
PARAMORE. I see I was wrong. I am really very sorry. (They shake hands.) And now you may as well learn the truth. I had rather you heard it from me than from the gossip of the club. My liver discovery has been—er—er—(he cannot bring himself to say it).
CHARTERIS (helping him out). Confirmed? (Sadly.) I see: the poor Colonel's doomed.
PARAMORE. No: on the contrary, it has been—er—called in question. The Colonel now believes himself to be in perfectly good health; and my friendly relations with the Cravens are entirely spoiled.
CHARTERIS. Who told him about it?
PARAMORE. I did, of course, the moment I read the news in this. (He shews the Journal and puts it down on the bookstand.)
CHARTERIS. Why, man, you've been a messenger of glad tidings! Didn't you congratulate him?
PARAMORE (scandalised). Congratulate him! Congratulate a man on the worst blow pathological science has received for the last three hundred years!
CHARTERIS. No, no, no. Congratulate him on having his life saved. Congratulate Julia on having her father spared. Swear that your discovery and your reputation are as nothing to you compared with the pleasure of restoring happiness to the household in which the best hopes of your life are centred. Confound it, man, you'll never get married if you can't turn things to account with a woman in these little ways.
PARAMORE (gravely). Excuse me; but my self-respect is dearer to me even than Miss Craven. I cannot trifle with scientific questions for the sake of a personal advantage. (He turns away coldly and goes toward the table.)
CHARTERIS. Well, this beats me! The nonconformist conscience is bad enough; but the scientific conscience is the very devil. (He follows Paramore and puts his arm familiarly round his shoulder, bringing him back again whilst he speaks.) Now look here, Paramore: I've got no conscience in that sense at all: I loathe it as I loathe all the snares of idealism; but I have some common humanity and common sense. (He replaces him in the easy chair and sits down opposite him.) Come: what is a really scientific theory?—a true theory, isn't it?
PARAMORE. No doubt.
CHARTERIS. For instance, you have a theory about Craven's liver, eh?
PARAMORE. I still believe that to be a true theory, though it has been upset for the moment.
CHARTERIS. And you have a theory that it would be pleasant to be married to Julia?
PARAMORE. I suppose so—in a sense.
CHARTERIS. That theory also will be upset, probably, before you're a year older.
PARAMORE. Always cynical, Charteris.
CHARTERIS. Never mind that. Now it's a perfectly damnable thing for you to hope that your liver theory is true, because it amounts to hoping that Craven will die an agonizing death. (This strikes Paramore as paradoxical; but it startles him.) But it's amiable and human to hope that your theory about Julia is right, because it amounts to hoping that she may live happily ever after.
PARAMORE. I do hope that with all my soul—(correcting himself) I mean with all my function of hoping.
CHARTERIS. Then, since both theories are equally scientific, why not devote yourself, as a humane man, to proving the amiable theory rather than the damnable one?
PARAMORE. But how?
CHARTERIS. I'll tell you. You think I'm fond of Julia myself. So I am; but then I'm fond of everybody; so I don't count. Besides, if you try the scientific experiment of asking her whether she loves me, she'll tell you that she hates and despises me. So I'm out of the running. Nevertheless, like you, I hope that she may be happy with all my—what did you call your soul?
PARAMORE (impatiently). Oh, go on, go on: finish what you were going to say.
CHARTERIS (suddenly affecting complete indifference, and rising carelessly). I don't know that I have anything more to say. If I were you I should invite the Cravens to tea in honor of the Colonel's escape from a horrible doom. By the way, if you've done with that British Medical Journal, I should like to see how they've smashed your theory up.
PARAMORE (wincing as he also rises). Oh, certainly, if you wish it. I have no objection. (He takes the Journal from the bookstand.) I admit that the Italian experiments apparently upset my theory. But please remember that it is doubtful—extremely doubtful—whether anything can be proved by experiments on animals. (He hands Charteris the Journal.)
CHARTERIS (taking it). It doesn't matter: I don't intend to make any. (He retires to the recess on Ibsen's right, picking up the step ladder as he passes and placing it so that he is able to use it for a leg rest as he settles himself to read on the divan with his back to the corner of the mantelpiece. Paramore goes to the left hand door, and is about to leave the library when he meets Grace entering.)
GRACE. How do you do, Dr. Paramore. So glad to see you. (They shake hands.)
PARAMORE. Thanks. Quite well, I hope?
GRACE. Quite, thank you. You're looking overworked. We must take more care of you, Doctor.
PARAMORE. You are very kind.
GRACE. It is you who are too kind—to your patients. You sacrifice yourself. Have a little rest. Come and talk to me—tell me all about the latest scientific discoveries, and what I ought to read to keep myself up to date. But perhaps you're busy.
PARAMORE. No, not at all. Only too delighted. (They go into the recess on Ibsen's left, and sit there chatting in whispers, very confidentially.)
CHARTERIS. How they all love a doctor! They can say what they like to him! (Julia returns. He takes his feet down from the ladder and sits up.) Whew! (Julia wanders down his side of the room, apparently looking for someone. Charteris steals after her.)
CHARTERIS (in a low voice). Looking for me, Julia?
JULIA (starting violently). Oh! How you startled me!
CHARTERIS. Sh! I want to shew you something. Look! (He points to the pair in the recess.)
JULIA (jealously). That woman!
CHARTERIS. My young woman, carrying off your young man.
JULIA. What do you mean? Do you dare insinuate—
CHARTERIS. Sh—sh—sh! Don't disturb them. (Paramore rises; takes down a book; and sits on a footstool at Grace's feet.)
JULIA. Why are they whispering like that?
CHARTERIS. Because they don't want anyone to hear what they are saying to one another. (Paramore shews Grace a picture in the book. They both laugh heartily over it.)
JULIA. What is he shewing her?
CHARTERIS. Probably a diagram of the liver. (Julia, with an exclamation of disgust makes for the recess. Charteris catches her sleeve.) Stop: be careful, Julia. (She frees herself by giving him a push which upsets him into the easy chair; then crosses to the recess and stands looking down at Grace and Paramore from the corner next the fireplace.)
JULIA (with suppressed fury). You seem to have found a very interesting book, Dr. Paramore. (They look up, astonished.) May I ask what it is? (She stoops swiftly; snatches the book from Paramore; and comes down to the table quickly to look at it whilst they rise in amazement.) Good Words! (She flings it on the table and sweeps back past Charteris, exclaiming contemptuously) You fool! (Paramore and Grace, meanwhile, come from the recess; Paramore bewildered, Grace very determined.)
CHARTERIS (aside to Julia as he gets out of the easy chair). Idiot! She'll have you turned out of the club for this.
JULIA (terrified). She can't—can she?
PARAMORE. What is the matter, Miss Craven?
CHARTERIS (hastily). Nothing—my fault—a stupid, practical joke. I beg your pardon and Mrs. Tranfield's.
GRACE (firmly). It is not your fault in the least, Mr. Charteris. Dr. Paramore: will you oblige me by finding Sylvia Craven for me, if you can?
PARAMORE (hesitating). But—
GRACE. I want you to go now, if you please.
PARAMORE (succumbing). Certainly. (He bows and goes out by the staircase door.)
GRACE. You are going with him, Charteris.
JULIA. You will not leave me here to be insulted by this woman, Mr. Charteris. (She takes his arm as if to go with him.)
GRACE. When two ladies quarrel in this club, it is against the rules to settle it when there are gentlemen present—especially the gentleman they are quarrelling about. I presume you do not wish to break that rule, Miss Craven. (Julia sullenly drops Charteris's arm. Grace turns to Charteris and adds) Now! Trot off.
CHARTERIS. Certainly, certainly. (He follows Paramore ignominiously.)
GRACE (to Julia, with quiet peremptoriness). Now: what have you to say to me?
JULIA (suddenly throwing herself tragically on her knees at Grace's feet). Don't take him from me. Oh don't—don't be so cruel. Give him back to me. You don't know what you're doing—what our past has been—how I love him. You don't know—
GRACE. Get up; and don't be a fool. Suppose anyone comes in and sees you in that ridiculous attitude!
JULIA. I hardly know what I'm doing. I don't care what I'm doing: I'm too miserable. Oh, won't you listen to me?
GRACE. Do you suppose I am a man to be imposed on by this sort of rubbish?
JULIA (getting up and looking darkly at her). You intend to take him from me, then?
GRACE. Do you expect me to help you to keep him after the way you have behaved?
JULIA (trying her theatrical method in a milder form—reasonable and impulsively goodnatured instead of tragic). I know I was wrong to act as I did last night. I beg your pardon. I am sorry. I was mad.
GRACE. Not a bit mad. You calculated to an inch how far you could go. When he is present to stand between us and play out the scene with you, I count for nothing. When we are alone you fall back on your natural way of getting anything you want—crying for it like a baby until it is given to you.
JULIA (with unconcealed hatred). You learnt this from him.
GRACE. I learnt it from yourself, last night and now. How I hate to be a woman when I see, by you, what wretched childish creatures we are! Those two men would cut you dead and have you turned out of the club if you were a man and had behaved in such a way before them. But because you are only a woman, they are forbearing, sympathetic, gallant—Oh, if you had a scrap of self-respect, their indulgence would make you creep all over. I understand now why Charteris has no respect for women.
JULIA. How dare you say that?
GRACE. Dare! I love him. And I have refused his offer to marry me.
JULIA (incredulous but hopeful). You have refused!
GRACE. Yes: because I will not give myself to any man who has learnt how to treat women from you and your like. I can do without his love, but not without his respect; and it is your fault that I cannot have both. Take his love then; and much good may it do you! Run to him and beg him to have mercy on you and take you back.
JULIA. Oh, what a liar you are! He loved me before he ever saw you—before he ever dreamt of you, you pitiful thing. Do you think I need go down on my knees to men to make them come to me? That may be your experience, you creature with no figure: it is not mine. There are dozens of men who would give their souls for a look from me. I have only to lift my finger.
GRACE. Lift it then; and see whether he will come.
JULIA. How I should like to kill you! I don't know why I don't.
GRACE. Yes: you like to get out of your difficulties cheaply—at other people's expense. It is something to boast of, isn't it, that dozens of men would make love to you if you invited them?
JULIA (sullenly). I suppose it's better to be like you, with a cold heart and a serpent's tongue. Thank Heaven, I have a heart: that is why you can hurt me as I cannot hurt you. And you are a coward. You are giving him up to me without a struggle.
GRACE. Yes, it is for you to struggle. I wish you success. (She turns away contemptuously and is going to the dining-room door when Sylvia enters on the opposite side, followed by Cuthbertson and Craven, who come to Julia, whilst Sylvia crosses to Grace.)
SYLVIA. Here I am, sent by the faithful Paramore. He hinted that I'd better bring the elder members of the family too: here they are. What's the row?
GRACE (quietly). Nothing, dear. There's no row.
JULIA (hysterically, tottering and stretching out her arms to Craven). Daddy!
CRAVEN (taking her in his arms). My precious! What's the matter?
JULIA (through her tears). She's going to have me expelled from the club; and we shall all be disgraced. Can she do it, Daddy?
CRAVEN. Well, really, the rules of this club are so extraordinary that I don't know. (To Grace.) May I ask, Mrs. Tranfield, whether you have any complaint to make of my daughter's conduct?
GRACE. Yes, Colonel Craven. I am going to complain to the committee.
SYLVIA. I knew you'd overdo it some day, Julia. (Craven, at a loss, looks at Cuthbertson.)
CUTHBERTSON. Don't look at me, Dan. Within these walls a father's influence counts for nothing.
CRAVEN. May I ask the ground of complaint, Mrs. Tranfield?
GRACE. Simply that Miss Craven is essentially a womanly woman, and, as such, not eligible for membership.
JULIA. It's false. I'm not a womanly woman. I was guaranteed when I joined just as you were.
GRACE. By Mr. Charteris, I think, at your own request. I shall call him as a witness to your thoroughly womanly conduct just now in his presence and Dr. Paramore's.
CRAVEN. Cuthbertson: are they joking; or am I dreaming?
CUTHBERTSON (grimly). It's real, Dan: you're awake.
SYLVIA (taking Craven's left arm and hugging it affectionately). Dear old Rip Van Winkle!
CRAVEN. Well, Mrs. Tranfield, all I can say is that I hope you will succeed in establishing your complaint, and that Julia may soon see the last of this most outrageous institution. (Sylvia, still caressing his arm, laughs at him; Charteris returns.)
CHARTERIS (at the door). May I come in?
SYLVIA (releasing the Colonel). Yes: you're wanted here as a witness. (Charteris comes in.) It's a bad case of womanliness.
GRACE (half aside to him, significantly). You understand. (Julia, watching them jealously, leaves her father and gets close to Charteris. Grace adds aloud) I shall expect your support before the committee.
JULIA. If you have a scrap of manhood you will take my part.
CHARTERIS. But then I shall be expelled for being a manly man. Besides, I'm on the committee myself; I can't act as judge and witness, too. You must apply to Paramore: he saw it all.
GRACE. Where is Dr. Paramore?
CHARTERIS. Just gone home.
JULIA (with sudden resolution). What is Dr. Paramore's number in Savile Row?
CHARTERIS. Seventy-nine. (Julia goes out quickly by the staircase door, to their astonishment. Charteris follows her to the door, which swings back in his face, leaving him staring after her through, the glass. Sylvia runs to Grace.)
SYLVIA. Grace: go after her. Don't let her get beforehand with Paramore. She'll tell him the most heartbreaking stories about how she's been treated, and get him round completely.
CRAVEN (floundering). Sylvia! Is that the way to speak of your sister, miss? (Grace squeezes Sylvia's hand to console her, and sits down calmly. Sylvia posts herself behind Grace's chair, leaning over the back to watch the ensuing colloquy between the three men.) I assure you, Mrs. Tranfield, Dr. Paramore has just invited us all to take afternoon tea with him; and if my daughter has gone to his house, she is simply taking advantage of his invitation to extricate herself from a very embarrassing scene here. We're all going there. Come, Sylvia. (He turns to go, followed by Cuthbertson.)
CHARTERIS (in consternation). Stop! (He gets between Craven and Cuthbertson.) What hurry is there? Can't you give the man time?
CRAVEN. Time! What for?
CHARTERIS (talking foolishly in his agitation). Well, to get a little rest, you know—a busy professional man like that! He's not had a moment to himself all day.
CRAVEN. But Julia's with him.
CHARTERIS. Well, no matter: she's only one person. And she ought to have an opportunity of laying her case before him. As a member of the committee, I think that's only just. Be reasonable, Craven: give him half an hour.
CUTHBERTSON (sternly). What do you mean by this, Charteris?
CHARTERIS. Nothing, I assure you. Only common consideration for poor Paramore.
CUTHBERTSON. You've some motive. Craven: I strongly advise that we go at once. (He grasps the door handle.)
CHARTERIS (coaxingly). No, no. (He puts his hand persuasively on Craven's arm, adding) It's not good for your liver, Craven, to rush about immediately after lunch.
CUTHBERTSON. His liver's cured. Come on. Craven. (He opens the door.)
CHARTERIS (catching Cuthbertson by the sleeve). Cuthbertson, you're mad. Paramore's going to propose to Julia. We must give him time: he's not the man to come to the point in three minutes as you or I would. (Turning to Craven) Don't you see?—that will get me out of the difficulty we were speaking of this morning—you and I and Cuthbertson. You remember?
CRAVEN. Now, is this a thing to say plump out before everybody, Charteris? Confound it, have you no decency?
CUTHBERTSON (severely). None whatever.
CHARTERIS (turning to Cuthbertson). No—don't be unkind, Cuthbertson. Back me up. My future, her future, Mrs. Tranfield's future, Craven's future, everybody's future depends on our finding Julia Paramore's affianced bride when we go over to Savile Row. He's certain to propose if you'll only give him time. You know you're a kindly and sensible man as well as a deucedly clever one, Cuthbertson, in spite of all your nonsense. Say a word for me.
CRAVEN. I'm quite willing to leave the decision to Cuthbertson; and I have no doubt whatever as to what that decision will be. (Cuthbertson carefully shuts the door, and comes back into the room with an air of weighty reflection.)
CUTHBERTSON. I am now going to speak as a man of the world: that is, without moral responsibility.
CRAVEN. Quite so, Jo. Of course.
CUTHBERTSON. Therefore, though I have no sympathy whatever with Charteris's views, I think we can do no harm by waiting—say ten minutes or so. (He sits down.)
CHARTERIS (delighted). Ah, there's nobody like you after all, Cuthbertson, when there's a difficult situation to be judged.
CRAVEN (deeply disappointed). Oh, well, Jo, if that is your decision, I must keep my word and abide by it. Better sit down and make ourselves comfortable, I suppose. (He sits also, under protest.)
CHARTERIS (fidgeting about). I can't sit down: I'm too restless. The fact is, Julia has made me so nervous that I can't answer for myself until I know her decision. Mrs. Tranfield will tell you what a time I've had lately. Julia's really a most determined woman, you know.
CRAVEN (starting up). Well, upon my life! Upon my honor and conscience!! Now really!!! I shall go this instant. Come on, Sylvia. Cuthbertson: I hope you'll mark your sense of this sort of thing by coming on to Paramore's with us at once. (He marches to the door.)
CHARTERIS (desperately). Craven: you're trifling with your daughter's happiness. I only ask five minutes more.
CRAVEN. Not five seconds, sir. Fie for shame, Charteris! (He goes out.)
CUTHBERTSON (to Charteris, as he passes him on his way to the door). Bungler! (He follows Craven.)
SYLVIA. Serve you right, you duffer! (She follows Cuthbertson.)
CHARTERIS. Oh, these headstrong old men! (To Grace) Nothing to be done now but go with them and delay the Colonel as much as possible. So I'm afraid I must leave you.
GRACE (rising). Not at all. Paramore invited me, too, when we were talking over there.
CHARTERIS (aghast). You don't mean to say you're coming!
GRACE. Most certainly. Do you suppose I will let that woman think I am afraid to meet her? (Charteris sinks on a chair with a prolonged groan.) Come: don't be silly: you'll not overtake the Colonel if you delay any longer.
CHARTERIS. Why was I ever born, child of misfortune that I am! (He rises despairingly.) Well, if you must come, you must. (He offers his arm, which she takes.) By the way, what happened after I left you?
GRACE. I gave her a lecture on her behavior which she will remember to the last day of her life.
CHARTERIS (approvingly). That was right, darling. (He slips his arm round her waist.) Just one kiss—to soothe me.
GRACE (complacently offering her cheek). Foolish boy! (He kisses her.) Now come along. (They go out together.)