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- Fanny's First Play - 3/19 -
chaffing him. However, youll get on with him all right: hes a man of the world and a man of sense. The one youll have to be careful about is Vaughan.
THE COUNT. In what way, may I ask?
SAVOYARD. Well, Vaughan has no sense of humor; and if you joke with him he'll think youre insulting him on purpose. Mind: it's not that he doesnt see a joke: he does; and it hurts him. A comedy scene makes him sore all over: he goes away black and blue, and pitches into the play for all hes worth.
THE COUNT. But surely that is a very serious defect in a man of his profession?
SAVOYARD. Yes it is, and no mistake. But Vaughan is honest, and dont care a brass farthing what he says, or whether it pleases anybody or not; and you must have one man of that sort to say the things that nobody else will say.
THE COUNT. It seems to me to carry the principle of division of labor too far, this keeping of the honesty and the other qualities in separate compartments. What is Mr Gunn's speciality, if I may ask?
SAVOYARD. Gunn is one of the intellectuals.
THE COUNT. But arnt they all intellectuals?
SAVOYARD. Lord! no: heaven forbid! You must be careful what you say about that: I shouldnt like anyone to call me an Intellectual: I dont think any Englishman would! They dont count really, you know; but still it's rather the thing to have them. Gunn is one of the young intellectuals: he writes plays himself. Hes useful because he pitches into the older intellectuals who are standing in his way. But you may take it from me that none of these chaps really matter. Flawner Bannal's your man. Bannal really represents the British playgoer. When he likes a thing, you may take your oath there are a hundred thousand people in London thatll like it if they can only be got to know about it. Besides, Bannal's knowledge of the theatre is an inside knowledge. We know him; and he knows us. He knows the ropes: he knows his way about: he knows what hes talking about.
THE COUNT. [with a little sigh] Age and experience, I suppose?
SAVOYARD. Age! I should put him at twenty at the very outside, myself. It's not an old man's job after all, is it? Bannal may not ride the literary high horse like Trotter and the rest; but I'd take his opinion before any other in London. Hes the man in the street; and thats what you want.
THE COUNT. I am almost sorry you didnt give the gentleman his full terms. I should not have grudged the fifty guineas for a sound opinion. He may feel shabbily treated.
SAVOYARD. Well, let him. It was a bit of side, his asking fifty. After all, what is he? Only a pressman. Jolly good business for him to earn ten guineas: hes done the same job often enough for half a quid, I expect.
_Fanny O'Dowda comes precipitately through the curtains, excited and nervous. A girl of nineteen in a dress synchronous with her father's._
FANNY. Papa, papa, the critics have come. And one of them has a cocked hat and sword like a-- [she notices Savoyard] Oh, I beg your pardon.
THE COUNT. This is Mr Savoyard, your impresario, my dear.
FANNY. [shaking hands] How do you do?
SAVOYARD. Pleased to meet you, Miss O'Dowda. The cocked hat is all right. Trotter is a member of the new Academic Committee. He induced them to go in for a uniform like the French Academy; and I asked him to wear it.
THE FOOTMAN. [announcing] Mr Trotter, Mr Vaughan, Mr Gunn, Mr Flawner Bannal. [The four critics enter. Trotter wears a diplomatic dress, with sword and three-cornered hat. His age is about 50. Vaughan is 40. Gunn is 30. Flawner Bannal is 20 and is quite unlike the others. They can be classed at sight as professional men: Bannal is obviously one of those unemployables of the business class who manage to pick up a living by a sort of courage which gives him cheerfulness, conviviality, and bounce, and is helped out positively by a slight turn for writing, and negatively by a comfortable ignorance and lack of intuition which hides from him all the dangers and disgraces that keep men of finer perception in check. The Count approaches them hospitably].
SAVOYARD. Count O'Dowda, gentlemen. Mr Trotter.
TROTTER. [looking at the Count's costume] Have I the pleasure of meeting a confrere?
THE COUNT. No, sir: I have no right to my costume except the right of a lover of the arts to dress myself handsomely. You are most welcome, Mr Trotter. [Trotter bows in the French manner].
SAVOYARD. Mr Vaughan.
THE COUNT. How do you do, Mr Vaughan?
VAUGHAN. Quite well, thanks.
SAVOYARD. Mr Gunn.
THE COUNT. Delighted to make your acquaintance, Mr Gunn.
GUNN. Very pleased.
SAVOYARD. Mr Flawner Bannal.
THE COUNT. Very kind of you to come, Mr Bannal.
BANNAL. Dont mention it.
THE COUNT. Gentlemen, my daughter. [They all bow]. We are very greatly indebted to you, gentlemen, for so kindly indulging her whim. [The dressing bell sounds. The Count looks at his watch]. Ah! The dressing bell, gentlemen. As our play begins at nine, I have had to put forward the dinner hour a little. May I shew you to your rooms? [He goes out, followed by all the men, except Trotter, who, going last, is detained by Fanny].
FANNY. Mr Trotter: I want to say something to you about this play.
TROTTER. No: thats forbidden. You must not attempt to _souffler_ the critic.
FANNY. Oh, I would not for the world try to influence your opinion.
TROTTER. But you do: you are influencing me very shockingly. You invite me to this charming house, where I'm about to enjoy a charming dinner. And just before the dinner I'm taken aside by a charming young lady to be talked to about the play. How can you expect me to be impartial? God forbid that I should set up to be a judge, or do more than record an impression; but my impressions can be influenced; and in this case youre influencing them shamelessly all the time.
FANNY. Dont make me more nervous than I am already, Mr Trotter. If you knew how I feel!
TROTTER. Naturally: your first party: your first appearance in England as hostess. But youre doing it beautifully. Dont be afraid. Every _nuance_ is perfect.
FANNY. It's so kind of you to say so, Mr Trotter. But that isnt whats the matter. The truth is, this play is going to give my father a dreadful shock.
TROTTER. Nothing unusual in that, I'm sorry to say. Half the young ladies in London spend their evenings making their fathers take them to plays that are not fit for elderly people to see.
FANNY. Oh, I know all about that; but you cant understand what it means to Papa. Youre not so innocent as he is.
TROTTER. [remonstrating] My dear young lady--
FANNY. I dont mean morally innocent: everybody who reads your articles knows youre as innocent as a lamb.
FANNY. Yes, Mr Trotter: Ive seen a good deal of life since I came to England; and I assure you that to me youre a mere baby: a dear, good, well-meaning, delightful, witty, charming baby; but still just a wee lamb in a world of wolves. Cambridge is not what it was in my father's time.
TROTTER. Well, I must say!
FANNY. Just so. Thats one of our classifications in the Cambridge Fabian Society.
TROTTER. Classifications? I dont understand.
FANNY. We classify our aunts into different sorts. And one of the sorts is the "I must says."
TROTTER. I withdraw "I must say." I substitute "Blame my cats!" No: I substitute "Blame my kittens!" Observe, Miss O'Dowda: kittens. I say again in the teeth of the whole Cambridge Fabian Society, kittens. Impertinent little kittens. Blame them. Smack them. I guess what is on your conscience. This play to which you have lured me is one of those in which members of Fabian Societies instruct their grandmothers in the art of milking ducks. And you are afraid it will shock your father. Well, I hope it will. And if he consults me about it I shall recommend him to smack you soundly and pack you off to bed.
FANNY. Thats one of your prettiest literary attitudes, Mr Trotter; but it doesnt take me in. You see, I'm much more conscious of what you really are than you are yourself, because weve discussed you thoroughly at Cambridge; and youve never discussed yourself, have you?
FANNY. Of course you havnt; so you see it's no good Trottering at me.
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