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BELINDA

An April Folly in Three Acts

BY

A. A. MILNE

CHARACTERS

Produced by Mr. Dion Boucioault at the New Theatre, London, on April 8, 1918, with the following cast:--

BELINDA TREMAYNE .......... _Irene Vanbrugh_. DELIA (her Daughter) ...... _Isabel Elsom_. HAROLD BAXTER ............. _Dion Boucicault_. CLAUDE DEVENISH ........... _Dennis Neilson-Terry_. JOHN TREMAYNE ............. _Ben Webster_. BETTY ..................... _Anne Walden_.

The action takes place in Belinda's country-house in Devonshire at the end of April, the first act in the garden and the second and last acts in the hall

[Illustration]

BELINDA

ACT I

_It is a lovely April afternoon--a foretaste of summer--in_ BELINDA'S garden_.

BETTY, _a middle-aged servant, is fastening a hammock--its first appearance this year--to a tree down_ L. _In front there is a garden-table, with a deck-chair on the right of it and a straight-backed one to the left. There are books, papers, and magazines on the table_. BELINDA, _of whom we shall know more presently, is on the other side of the open windows which look on to the garden, talking to_ BETTY, _who crosses to_ R. _of hammock, securing it to tree_ C.

BELINDA (_from inside the house_). Are you sure you're tying it up tightly enough, Betty?

BETTY (_coming to front of hammock_). Yes, ma'am; I think it's firm.

BELINDA. Because I'm not the fairy I used to be.

BETTY (_testing hammock_). Yes, ma'am; it's quite firm this end too.

BELINDA (_entering from portico with sunshade open_). It's not the ends I'm frightened of; it's the middle where the weight's coming. (_Comes down_ R. _and admiring_.) It looks very nice. (_She crosses at back of wicker table, hanging her hand-bag on hammock. Closes and places her sunshade at back of tree_ C.)

BETTY. Yes, ma'am.

BELINDA (_trying the middle of it with her hand_). I asked them at the Stores if they were quite _sure_ it would bear me, and they said it would take anything up to--I forget how many tons. I know I thought it was rather rude of them. (_Looking at it anxiously, and trying to get in, first with her right leg and then her left_.) How does one get in! So trying to be a sailor!

BETTY. I think you sit in it, ma'am, and then (_explaining with her hands_) throw your legs over.

BELINDA. I see. (_She sits gingerly in the hammock, and then, with a sudden flutter of white, does what_ BETTY _suggests_.) Yes. (_Regretfully_.) I'm afraid that was rather wasted on you, Betty. We must have some spectators next time.

BETTY. Yea, ma'am

BELINDA. Cushions.

(BETTY _moves to and takes a cushion from deck-chair_. BELINDA _assists her to place it at back of her head_. BETTY _then goes to back of hammock and arranges_ BELINDA'S _dress_.)

There! Now then, Betty, about callers.

BETTY. Yes, ma'am.

BELINDA. If Mr. Baxter calls--he is the rather prim gentleman--

BETTY. Yea, ma'am; the one who's been here several times before. (_Moves to below and_ L. _of hammock_.)

BELINDA (_giving_ BETTY _a quick look_). Yes. Well, if he calls, you'll say, "Not at home."

BETTY. Yes, ma'am.

BELINDA. He will say (_imitating_ MR. BAXTER), "Oh--er--oh--er-- really." Then you'll smile very sweetly and say, "I beg your pardon, was it Mr_. BAXTER_?" And he'll say, "Yes!" and you'll say, "Oh, I beg your pardon, sir; _this_ way, please."

BETTY. Yes, ma'am.

BELINDA. That's right, Betty. Well now, if Mr. Devenish calls--he is the rather poetical gentleman--

BETTY. Yes, ma'am; the one who's _always_ coming here.

BELINDA (_with a pleased smile_). Yes. Well, if he calls you'll say, "Not at home."

BETTY. Yes, ma'am.

BELINDA. He'll immediately (_extending her arms descriptively_) throw down his bunch of flowers and dive despairingly into the moat. You'll stop him, just as he is going in, and say, "I beg your pardon, sir, was it Mr_. DEVENISH_?" And he will say, "Yes!" and you will say, "Oh, I beg your pardon, sir; _this_ way, please."

BETTY. Yes, ma'am. And suppose they both call together?

BELINDA (_non-plussed for a moment_). We won't suppose anything so exciting, Betty.

BETTY. No, ma'am. And suppose any other gentleman calls?

BELINDA (_with a sigh_). There aren't any other gentlemen.

BETTY. It might be a clergyman, come to ask for a subscription like.

BELINDA. If it's a clergyman, Betty, I shall--I shall want your assistance out of the hammock first.

BETTY. Yes, ma'am.

BELINDA. That's all.

(BETTY _crosses below table and chairs to porch_.)

To anybody else I'm not at home, (_Trying to secure book on table and nearly falling out of the hammock_.) Oh, just give me that little green book. (_Pointing to books on the table_.) The one at the bottom there--that's the one. (BETTY _gives it to her_.) Thank you. (_Reading the title_.) "The Lute of Love," by Claude Devenish. (_To herself as she turns the pages_.) It doesn't seem much for half-a-crown when you think of the _Daily Telegraph_ .... Lute ... Lute .... I should have quite a pretty mouth if I kept on saying that. (_With a great deal of expression_.) Lute! (_She pats her mouth back_.)

BETTY. Is that all, ma'am?

BELINDA. That's all. (BETTY _prepares to go_.) Oh, what am I thinking of! (_Waving to the table_.) I want that review; I think it's the blue one. (_As_ BETTY _begins to look_.) It has an article by Mr. Baxter on the "Rise of Lunacy in the Eastern Counties"--

(BETTY _gives her "The Nineteenth Century" Magazine_.)

--yes, that's the one. I'd better have that too; I'm just at the most exciting place. You shall have it after _me, _Betty.

BETTY. Is that all, ma'am?

BELINDA. Yes, that really is all.

(BETTY _goes into the house_.)

BELINDA (_reading to herself very pronouncedly_). "It is a matter of grave concern to all serious students of social problems--" (_Putting the review down in hammock and shaking her head gently_.) But not in April. (_Lazily opening the book and reading_.) "Tell me where is love"--well, that's the question, isn't it? (_She lies back in the hammock lazily and the book of poems falls from her to the ground_. DELIA _comes into the garden, from Paris. She is decidedly a modern girl, pretty and self-possessed. Her hair is half-way up; waiting for her birthday, perhaps. She sees her mother suddenly, stops, and then goes on tiptoe to the head of the hammock. She smiles and kisses her mother on the forehead_. BELINDA, _looking supremely unconscious, goes on sleeping_. DELIA _kisses her lightly again_. BELINDA _wakes up with an extraordinarily natural start, and is just about to say, _"Oh, Mr. Devenish--you mustn't!"--_when she sees_ DELIA.) Delia! (_They kiss each other frantically_.)


Belinda - 1/17

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