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- Belinda - 5/17 -

DEVENISH. Well, I-----

BELINDA (_to_ BAXTER). Yes, Mr. Baxter, it was your article I was reading. If you'd come five minutes earlier you'd have found me wrestling--I mean revelling in it.

BAXTER. I am very greatly honoured, Mrs. Tremayne. Ah--it seemed to me a very interesting curve showing the rise and fall of-----

BELINDA. I hadn't got up to the curves. They _are_ interesting, aren't they? They are really more in Mr. Devenish's line. (_To_ DEVENISH.) Mr. Devenish, it was a great disappointment to me that all the poems in your book seemed to be written to somebody else.

DEVENISH. It was before I met you, lady. They were addressed to the goddess of my imagination. It is only in these last few weeks that I have discovered her.

BELINDA. And discovered she was dark and not fair.

DEVENISH. She will be dark in my next volume.

BELINDA. Oh, how nice of her!

BAXTER (_kindly_). You should write a real poem to Mrs. Tremayne.

BELINDA (_excitedly_). Oh do! "To Belinda." I don't know what rhymes, except cinder. You could say your heart was like a cinder--all burnt up.

DEVENISH (_pained_). Oh, my lady, I'm afraid that is a cockney rhyme.

BELINDA. How thrilling! I've never been to Hampstead Heath.

DEVENISH. "Belinda." It is far too beautiful to rhyme with anything but itself.

BELINDA. Fancy! But what about Tremayne? (_Singing_.) Oh, I am Mrs. Tremayne, and I don't want to marry again.

DEVENISH (_protesting_). My lady!

BAXTER (_protesting_). Belinda!

BELINDA (_pointing excitedly to_ BAXTER). There, that's the first time he's called me Belinda! This naughty boy--(_indicating_ DEVENISH)--is always doing it--by accident.

DEVENISH. Are you serious?

BELINDA. Not as a rule.

DEVENISH. You're not going to marry again?

BELINDA. Well, who could I marry?

DEVENISH and BAXTER (_together_). Me!

BELINDA (_dropping her eyes modestly_). But this is England.

BAXTER (_rising and taking off his hat, which he places on table, and going up to_ BELINDA). Mrs. Tremayne, I claim the right of age--of my greater years--to speak first.

DEVENISH. Mrs. Tremayne, I--

BELINDA (_kindly to_ DEVENISH). You can speak afterwards, Mr. Devenish. It's so awkward when you both speak together. (_To_ BAXTER, _giving encouragement_.) Yes?

BAXTER (_moving down a little and then returning to_ BELINDA). Mrs. Tremayne, I am a man of substantial position--(DEVENISH _sniggers-- to_ BAXTER'S _great annoyance_.) and perhaps I may say of some repute in serious circles.

(DEVENISH _sniggers again_.)

All that I have, whether of material or mental endowment, I lay at your feet, together with an admiration which I cannot readily put into words. As my wife I think you would be happy, and I feel that with you by my side I could achieve even greater things.

BELINDA. How sweet of you! But I ought to tell you that I'm no good at figures.

DEVENISH (_protesting_). My lady--

BELINDA. I don't mean what you mean, Mr. Devenish. You wait till it's your turn. (_To_ BAXTER.) Yes?

BAXTER (_very formally_). I ask you to marry me, Belinda.

BELINDA (_settling herself happily and closing her eyes_). O-oh!... Now it's _your_ turn, Mr. Devenish.

DEVENISH (_excitedly_). Money--thank Heaven, I have no money. Reputation--thank Heaven, I have no reputation.

(BAXTER, _very annoyed, moves down and sits on deck-chair_.)

What can I offer you? Dreams--nothing but dreams. Come with me and I will show you the world through my dreams. What can I give you? Youth, freedom, beauty--

BAXTER. Debts.

BELINDA (_still with her eyes shut_). You mustn't interrupt, Mr. Baxter.

DEVENISH (_leaning across hammock_). Belinda, marry me and I will open your eyes to the beauty of the world. Come to me!

BELINDA (_happily_). O-oh! You've got such different ways of putting things. How can I choose between you?

DEVENISH. Then you will marry one of us?

BELINDA. You know I really _oughtn't_ to.

BAXTER. I don't see why not.

BELINDA. Well, there's just a little difficulty in the way.

DEVENISH. What is it? I will remove it. For you I could remove anything --yes, even Baxter. (_He looks at_ BAXTER, _who is sitting more solidly than ever in his chair_.)

BELINDA. And anyhow I should have to choose between you.

DEVENISH (_in a whisper_), choose me.

BAXTER (_stiffly_). Mrs. Tremayne does not require any prompting. A fair field and let the best man win.

DEVENISH (_going across to and slapping the astonished_ BAXTER _on the back_). Aye, let the best man win! Well spoken, Baxter. (BAXTER _is very annoyed. To_ BELINDA _and going back to her_ L.) Send us out into the world upon some knightly quest, lady, and let the victor be rewarded.

BAXTER. I--er--ought to say that I should be unable to go very far. I have an engagement to speak at Newcastle on the 2lst.

DEVENISH. Baxter, I will take no unfair advantage of you. Let the beard of the Lord Mayor of Newcastle be the talisman that my lady demands; I am satisfied.

BAXTER. This sort of thing is entirely contrary to my usual mode of life, but I will not be outfaced by a mere boy. (_Rising_.) I am prepared. (_Going to her_.)

DEVENISH. Speak, lady.

BELINDA (_speaking in a deep, mysterious voice_). Gentlemen, ye put wild thoughts into my head. In sooth, I _am_ minded to send ye forth upon a quest that is passing strange. Know ye that there is a maid journeyed hither, hight Robinson--whose--(_in her natural voice_) what's the old for aunt?

BAXTER (_hopefully_). Mother's sister.

BELINDA. You know, I think I shall have to explain this in ordinary language. You won't mind very much, will you, Mr. Devenish?

DEVENISH. It is the spirit of this which matters, not the language which clothes it.

BELINDA. Oh, I'm so glad you think so. Well, now about Miss Robinson. She's my niece and she's just come to stay with me, and--poor girl-- she's lost her father. Absolutely lost him. He disappeared ever such a long time ago, and poor Miss Robinson--Delia--naturally wants to find him. Poor girl! she _can't_ think where he is.

DEVENISH (_nobly_). I will find him.

BELINDA. Oh, thank you, Mr. Devenish; Miss Robinson would be so much obliged.

BAXTER. Yes--er--but what have we to go upon? Beyond the fact that his name is Robinson--

BELINDA. I shouldn't go on _that_ too much. You see, he may easily have changed it by now. He was never very much of a Robinson. Nothing to do with Peter or any of those.

DEVENISH. I will find him.

BAXTER (_with a look of annoyance at_ DEVENISH). Well, can you tell us what he's like?

BELINDA. Well, it's such a long time since I saw him. (_Looking down modestly_.) Of course, I was quite a girl then. The only thing I know for certain is that he has a mole on his left arm about here. (_She indicates a spot just below the elbow_. BAXTER _examines it closely_.)

DEVENISH (_folding his arms and looking nobly upwards_). I will find him.

Belinda - 5/17

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