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- Belinda - 2/17 -


DELIA. Well, mummy, aren't you glad to see me?

BELINDA. My darling child!

DELIA. Say you're glad.

BELINDA (_sitting up_). My darling, I'm absolutely--(DELIA _crosses round to_ L. _of hammock_.) Hold the hammock while I get out, dear; we don't want an accident. (DELIA _holds the_ L. _end of it and_ BELINDA _struggles out, leaving the magazine and her handkerchief in the hammock_.) They're all right when you're there, and they'll bear two tons, but they're horrid getting in and out of. (_Kissing her again_.) Darling, it really _is_ you?

DELIA. Oh, it is jolly seeing you again. I believe you were asleep.

BELINDA (_with dignity_). Certainly not, child. I was reading _The Nineteenth Century_--(_with an air_)--and after. (_Earnestly_) Darling, wasn't it next Thursday you were coming back?

DELIA. No, this Thursday, silly.

BELINDA (_penitently_). Oh, my darling, and I was going over to Paris to bring you home.

DELIA. I half expected you.

BELINDA. So confusing their both being called Thursday. And you were leaving school for the very last time. If you don't forgive me, Delia, I shall cry.

DELIA (_kissing her and stroking her hand fondly_). Silly mother!

(BELINDA _sits down in the deck-chair and_ DELIA _sits on the table_.)

BELINDA. Isn't it a lovely day for April, darling! I've wanted to say that to somebody all day, and you're the first person who's given me the chance. Oh, I said it to Betty, but she only said, "Yes, ma'am."

DELIA. Poor mother!

BELINDA (_jumping up suddenly, crossing to_ L. _of and kissing_ DELIA _again_). I simply must have another one. And to think that you're never going back to school any more. (_Looking at her fondly, and backing to_ L.) Darling, you _are_ looking pretty.

DELIA. Am I?

BELINDA. Lovely. (_She kisses her once more, then she takes the cushion from the hammock, moves at back of table and places it on the head of the deck-chair_.) And now you're going to stay with me for just as long as you want a mother. (_Anxiously moving to_ R. _of deckchair_.) Darling, you didn't mind being sent away to school, did you? It _is_ the usual thing, you know.

DELIA. Silly mother! of course it is.

BELINDA (_relieved, and sitting on deck-chair_). I'm so glad you think so too.

DELIA. Have you been very lonely without me?

BELINDA (_with a sly look at_ DELIA). Very.

DELIA (_turning to_ BELINDA _and holding up a finger_). The truth, mummy!

BELINDA. I've missed you horribly, Delia. (_Primly_.) The absence of female companionship of the requisite--

DELIA. Are you really all alone?

BELINDA (_smiling mysteriously and coyly_). Well, not always, of course.

DELIA (_excitedly, at she slips off the table, and backing to_ L. _a little_). Mummy, I believe you're being bad again.

BELINDA. Really, darling, you forget that I'm old enough to be--in fact, am--your mother.

DELIA (_nodding her head_). You are being bad.

BELINDA (_rising with dignity and drawing herself up to her full height, moving_ L.). My child, that is not the way to--Oh, I say, what a lot taller I am than you! (_Turning her back to_ DELIA _and comparing sizes_.)

DELIA. And prettier.

BELINDA (_playfully rubbing noses with_ DELIA). Oh, do you think so? (_Firmly, but pleased_.) Don't be silly, child.

DELIA (_holding up a finger_). Now tell me all that's been happening here at once.

BELINDA (_with a sigh_). And I was just going to ask you how you were getting on with your French. (_Sits in deck-chair_.)

DELIA. Bother French! You've been having a much more interesting time than I have, so you've got to tell.

BELINDA (_with a happy sigh_). O-oh! (_She sinks back into her chair_.)

DELIA (_taking off her coat_). Is it like the Count at Scarborough?

BELINDA (_surprised and pained_). My darling, what do you mean?

DELIA. Don't you remember the Count who kept proposing to you at Scarborough? I do. (_Places coat on hammock_.)

BELINDA (_reproachfully_). Dear one, you were the merest child, paddling about on the beach and digging castles.

DELIA (_smiling to herself_). I was old enough to notice the Count.

BELINDA (_sadly_). And I'd bought her a perfectly new spade! How one deceives oneself!

DELIA (_at table and leaning across, with hands on table_). And then there was the M.P. who proposed at Windermere.

BELINDA. Yes, dear, but it wasn't seconded--I mean he never got very far with it.

DELIA. And the artist in Wales.

BELINDA. Darling child, what a memory you have. No wonder your teachers are pleased with you.

DELIA (_settling herself comfortably in deck-chair_ L. _of_ BELINDA _and lying in her arms_). Now tell me all about this one.

BELINDA (_meekly_). Which one?

DELIA (_excitedly_). Oh, are there lots?

BELINDA (_severely_). Only two.

DELIA. Two! You abandoned woman!

BELINDA. It's something in the air, darling. I've never been in Devonshire in April before.

DELIA. Is it really serious this time?

BELINDA (_pained_). I wish you wouldn't say this time, Delia. It sounds so unromantic. If you'd only put it into French--_cette fois_--it sounds so much better. _Cette fois_. (_Parentally_.) When one's daughter has just returned from an expensive schooling in Paris, one likes to feel-----

DELIA. What I meant, dear, was, am I to have a stepfather at last?

BELINDA. Now you're being too French, darling.

DELIA. Why, do you still think father may be alive?

BELINDA. Why not? It's only eighteen years since he left us, and he was quite a young man then.

DELIA. Yes, but surely, surely you'd have heard from him in all those years, if he'd been alive?

BELINDA. Well, he hasn't heard from _me, _and I'm still alive.

DELIA (_looking earnestly at her mother, rises and moves_ L.C.). I shall never understand it.

BELINDA. Understand what?

DELIA. Were you as heavenly when you were young as you are now?

BELINDA (_rapturously_). Oh, I was sweet!

DELIA. And yet he left you after only six months.

BELINDA (_rather crossly, sitting up_). I wish you wouldn't keep on saying he left me. I left him too.

DELIA (_running to and kneeling in front of_ BELINDA _and looking anxiously into her face_). Why?

BELINDA (_smiling to herself_). Well, you see, he was quite certain he knew how to manage women, and I was quite certain I knew how to manage men. (_Thoughtfully_.) If only one of us had been certain, it would have been all right.

DELIA (_seriously_). What really happened, mummy? I'm grown up now, so I think you ought to tell me.

BELINDA (_thoughtfully_). That was about all, you know ... except for his beard.

DELIA. Had he a beard? (_Laughing_.) How funny!


Belinda - 2/17

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