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- Belinda - 3/17 -


BELINDA (_roaring with laughter, in which_ DELIA _joins_). Yes, dear, it was; but he never would see it. He took it quite seriously.

DELIA. And did you say dramatically, "If you really loved me, you'd take it off"?

BELINDA (_apologetically_). I'm afraid I did, darling.

DELIA. And what did he say?

BELINDA. He said--_very_ rudely--that, if I loved _him, _I'd do my hair in a different way.

DELIA (_sinks down on her haunches, facing the audience_). How ridiculous!

BELINDA (_touching her hair_). Of course, I didn't do it like this then. I suppose we never ought to have married, really.

DELIA. Why did you?

BELINDA. Mother rather wanted it. (_Solemnly_.) Delia, never get married because your mother---- Oh, I forgot; _I'm_ your mother.

DELIA. And I don't want a better one ... (_They embrace_.) And so you left each other?

BELINDA. Yes.

DELIA. But, darling, didn't you tell him there was going to be a Me?

BELINDA. Oh no!

DELIA. I wonder why not?

BELINDA. Well, you see, if I had, he might have wanted to stay.

DELIA. But----

BELINDA (_hurt_). If he didn't want to stay for _me, _I didn't want him to stay for _you_. (_Penitently_.) Forgive me, darling, but I didn't know you very well then. We've been very happy together, haven't we?

DELIA (_going to the hammock, sitting in it and dangling her legs_). I should think we have.

BELINDA (_leaning back in chair_). I don't want to deny you anything, and, of course, if you'd like a stepfather (_looking down modestly_) or two--

DELIA. Oh, you _have_ been enjoying yourself.

BELINDA. Only you see how awkward it would be if Jack turned up in the middle of the wedding, like--like Eugene Aram.

DELIA. Enoch Arden, darling.

BELINDA. It's very confusing their having the same initials. Perhaps I'd better call them both E. A. in future and then I shall be safe. Well, anyhow it would be awkward, darling, wouldn't it? Not that I should know him from Adam after all these years--except for a mole on his left arm.

DELIA. Perhaps Adam had a mole.

BELINDA. No, darling; you're thinking of Noah. He had two.

DELIA (_thoughtfully_). I wonder what would happen if you met somebody whom you really _did_ fall in love with?

BELINDA (_reproachfully_). Now you're being serious, and it's April.

DELIA. Aren't these two--the present two--serious?

BELINDA. Oh no! They think they are, but they aren't a bit, really. Besides, I'm doing them such a lot of good. I'm sure they'd hate to marry me, but they love to think they're in love with me, and--_I_ love it, and--and _they_ love it, and--and we _all_ love it.

DELIA (_rising and crossing to_ BELINDA). You really are the biggest, darlingest baby who ever lived. (_Kisses her_.) Do say I shan't spoil your lovely times.

BELINDA (_surprised_). Spoil them? Why, you'll make them more lovely than ever.

DELIA (_turning away and sitting on table_). Well, but do they know you have a grown-up daughter?

BELINDA (_suddenly realizing and sitting up_). Oh!

DELIA. It doesn't really matter, because you don't look a day more than thirty.

BELINDA (_absently_). No. (_Hurriedly_.) I mean, how sweet of you--only----

DELIA. What!

BELINDA (_playing with her rings_). Well, one of them, Mr. Baxter-- Harold--(_she looks quickly up at_ DELIA _and down again in pretty affectation, but she is really laughing at herself all the time_) he writes statistical articles for the Reviews--percentages and all those things. He's just the sort of man, if he knew that I was your mother, to work it out that I was more than thirty. The other one, Mr. Devenish--Claude--(_she looks up and down as before_) he's rather, rather poetical. He thinks I came straight from heaven--last week.

DELIA (_laughing and jumping up and crossing below deck-chair to_ R. _towards house_). I think _I'd_ better go straight back to Paris.

BELINDA (_jumping up and catching her firmly by the left arm_). You will do nothing of the sort. (_Pulling_ DELIA _back to centre_.) You will take off that hat--(_she lets go of the arm and begins to take out the pin_) which is a perfect duck, and I don't know why I didn't say so before--(_she puts the hat down on the table_) and let me take a good look at you (_she does so_), and kiss you (_she does so, then crosses_ DELIA _below her and takes her towards the house_), and then we'll go to your room and unpack and have a lovely talk about clothes. And then we'll have tea.

(BETTY _comes in and stands up at back_.)

And now here's Betty coming in to upset all our delightful plans, just when we'vt made them. (BELINDA _and_ DELIA _are now on_ BETTY'S R.)

DELIA (_leaving_ BELINDA _and shaking hands with_ BETTY). How are you, Betty? I've left school.

BETTY. Very nicely, thank you, miss. (_Backing to_ L. _and admiring_.) You've grown.

BELINDA (_moving to and patting the top of_ DELIA'S _head_). I'm much taller than she is... (_Crossing to_ BETTY _in front of_ DELIA.) Well, Betty, what is it?

BETTY. The two gentlemen, Mr. Baxter and Mr. Devenish, have both called together, ma'am.

BELINDA (_excited_). Oh! How--how very simultaneous of them!

DELIA (_eagerly, going towards house_). Oh, do let me see them!

BELINDA (_stopping her_). Darling, you'll see plenty of them before you've finished. (_To_ BETTY _in an exaggerated whisper_.) What have you done with them?

BETTY. They're waiting in the hall, ma'am, while I said I would see if you were at home.

BELINDA. All right, Betty. Give me two minutes and then show them out here.

BETTY. Yes, ma'am.

(BETTY _crosses below_ BELINDA _and_ DELIA _and exits into the house_.)

BELINDA (_taking_ DELIA _down_ R. _a step_). They can't do much harm to each other in two minutes.

DELIA (_taking her hat from table_). Well, I'll go and unpack. (_She goes back to_ BELINDA.) You really won't mind my coming down afterwards?

BELINDA. Of course not. (_A little awkwardly, taking_ DELIA'S _arm and moving down_ R.) Darling one, I wonder if you'd mind--just at first--being introduced as my niece. (_By now at foot of deck- chair_.) You see, I expect they're in a bad temper already (_now_ C.), having come here together, and we don't want to spoil their day entirely.

DELIA (_smiling, on_ BELINDA'S L.). I'll be your mother if you like.

BELINDA. Oh no, that wouldn't do, because then Mr. Baxter would feel that he ought to ask your permission before paying his attentions to me. He's just that sort of man. A niece is so safe--however good you are at statistics, you can't really prove anything.

DELIA. All right, mummy.

BELINDA (_enjoying herself_). You'd like to be called by a different name, wouldn't you? There's something so thrilling about taking a false name. Such a lot of adventures begin like that. How would you like to be Miss Robinson, darling? It's a nice easy one to remember. (_Persuasively_.) And you shall put your hair up so as to feel more disguised. What fun we're going to have!

DELIA. You baby! All right, then, I'm Miss Robinson, your favourite niece. (_She takes her jacket from the hammock and moves towards the house_.)

BELINDA. How sweet of you! No, no, not that way--you'll meet them. (_Following quickly up between tree and table to_ DELIA, _who has now reached the house_.) Oh, I'm coming with you to do your hair.


Belinda - 3/17

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