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- Heartbreak House - 10/33 -
THE CAPTAIN. So much the worse! When our relatives are at home, we have to think of all their good points or it would be impossible to endure them. But when they are away, we console ourselves for their absence by dwelling on their vices. That is how I have come to think my absent daughter Ariadne a perfect fiend; so do not try to ingratiate yourself here by impersonating her [he walks firmly away to the other side of the room].
LADY UTTERWORD. Ingratiating myself indeed! [With dignity]. Very well, papa. [She sits down at the drawing-table and pours out tea for herself].
THE CAPTAIN. I am neglecting my social duties. You remember Dunn? Billy Dunn?
LADY UTTERWORD. DO you mean that villainous sailor who robbed you?
THE CAPTAIN [introducing Ellie]. His daughter. [He sits down on the sofa].
ELLIE [protesting]. No--
Nurse Guinness returns with fresh tea.
THE CAPTAIN. Take that hogwash away. Do you hear?
NURSE. You've actually remembered about the tea! [To Ellie]. Oh, miss, he didn't forget you after all! You HAVE made an impression.
THE CAPTAIN [gloomily]. Youth! beauty! novelty! They are badly wanted in this house. I am excessively old. Hesione is only moderately young. Her children are not youthful.
LADY UTTERWORD. How can children be expected to be youthful in this house? Almost before we could speak we were filled with notions that might have been all very well for pagan philosophers of fifty, but were certainly quite unfit for respectable people of any age.
NURSE. You were always for respectability, Miss Addy.
LADY UTTERWORD. Nurse, will you please remember that I am Lady Utterword, and not Miss Addy, nor lovey, nor darling, nor doty? Do you hear?
NURSE. Yes, ducky: all right. I'll tell them all they must call you My Lady. [She takes her tray out with undisturbed placidity].
LADY UTTERWORD. What comfort? what sense is there in having servants with no manners?
ELLIE [rising and coming to the table to put down her empty cup]. Lady Utterword, do you think Mrs Hushabye really expects me?
LADY UTTERWORD. Oh, don't ask me. You can see for yourself that I've just arrived; her only sister, after twenty-three years' absence! and it seems that I am not expected.
THE CAPTAIN. What does it matter whether the young lady is expected or not? She is welcome. There are beds: there is food. I'll find a room for her myself [he makes for the door].
ELLIE [following him to stop him]. Oh, please--[He goes out]. Lady Utterword, I don't know what to do. Your father persists in believing that my father is some sailor who robbed him.
LADY UTTERWORD. You had better pretend not to notice it. My father is a very clever man; but he always forgot things; and now that he is old, of course he is worse. And I must warn you that it is sometimes very hard to feel quite sure that he really forgets.
Mrs Hushabye bursts into the room tempestuously and embraces Ellie. She is a couple of years older than Lady Utterword, and even better looking. She has magnificent black hair, eyes like the fishpools of Heshbon, and a nobly modelled neck, short at the back and low between her shoulders in front. Unlike her sister she is uncorseted and dressed anyhow in a rich robe of black pile that shows off her white skin and statuesque contour.
MRS HUSHABYE. Ellie, my darling, my pettikins [kissing her], how long have you been here? I've been at home all the time: I was putting flowers and things in your room; and when I just sat down for a moment to try how comfortable the armchair was I went off to sleep. Papa woke me and told me you were here. Fancy your finding no one, and being neglected and abandoned. [Kissing her again]. My poor love! [She deposits Ellie on the sofa. Meanwhile Ariadne has left the table and come over to claim her share of attention]. Oh! you've brought someone with you. Introduce me.
LADY UTTERWORD. Hesione, is it possible that you don't know me?
MRS HUSHABYE [conventionally]. Of course I remember your face quite well. Where have we met?
LADY UTTERWORD. Didn't Papa tell you I was here? Oh! this is really too much. [She throws herself sulkily into the big chair].
MRS HUSHABYE. Papa!
LADY UTTERWORD. Yes, Papa. Our papa, you unfeeling wretch! [Rising angrily]. I'll go straight to a hotel.
MRS HUSHABYE [seizing her by the shoulders]. My goodness gracious goodness, you don't mean to say that you're Addy!
LADY UTTERWORD. I certainly am Addy; and I don't think I can be so changed that you would not have recognized me if you had any real affection for me. And Papa didn't think me even worth mentioning!
MRS HUSHABYE. What a lark! Sit down [she pushes her back into the chair instead of kissing her, and posts herself behind it]. You DO look a swell. You're much handsomer than you used to be. You've made the acquaintance of Ellie, of course. She is going to marry a perfect hog of a millionaire for the sake of her father, who is as poor as a church mouse; and you must help me to stop her.
ELLIE. Oh, please, Hesione!
MRS HUSHABYE. My pettikins, the man's coming here today with your father to begin persecuting you; and everybody will see the state of the case in ten minutes; so what's the use of making a secret of it?
ELLIE. He is not a hog, Hesione. You don't know how wonderfully good he was to my father, and how deeply grateful I am to him.
MRS HUSHABYE [to Lady Utterword]. Her father is a very remarkable man, Addy. His name is Mazzini Dunn. Mazzini was a celebrity of some kind who knew Ellie's grandparents. They were both poets, like the Brownings; and when her father came into the world Mazzini said, "Another soldier born for freedom!" So they christened him Mazzini; and he has been fighting for freedom in his quiet way ever since. That's why he is so poor.
ELLIE. I am proud of his poverty.
MRS HUSHABYE. Of course you are, pettikins. Why not leave him in it, and marry someone you love?
LADY UTTERWORD [rising suddenly and explosively]. Hesione, are you going to kiss me or are you not?
MRS HUSHABYE. What do you want to be kissed for?
LADY UTTERWORD. I DON'T want to be kissed; but I do want you to behave properly and decently. We are sisters. We have been separated for twenty-three years. You OUGHT to kiss me.
MRS HUSHABYE. To-morrow morning, dear, before you make up. I hate the smell of powder.
LADY UTTERWORD. Oh! you unfeeling--[she is interrupted by the return of the captain].
THE CAPTAIN [to Ellie]. Your room is ready. [Ellie rises]. The sheets were damp; but I have changed them [he makes for the garden door on the port side].
LADY UTTERWORD. Oh! What about my sheets?
THE CAPTAIN [halting at the door]. Take my advice: air them: or take them off and sleep in blankets. You shall sleep in Ariadne's old room.
LADY UTTERWORD. Indeed I shall do nothing of the sort. That little hole! I am entitled to the best spare room.
THE CAPTAIN [continuing unmoved]. She married a numskull. She told me she would marry anyone to get away from home.
LADT UTTERWORD. You are pretending not to know me on purpose. I will leave the house.
Mazzini Dunn enters from the hall. He is a little elderly man with bulging credulous eyes and earnest manners. He is dressed in a blue serge jacket suit with an unbuttoned mackintosh over it, and carries a soft black hat of clerical cut.
ELLIE. At last! Captain Shotover, here is my father.
THE CAPTAIN. This! Nonsense! not a bit like him [he goes away through the garden, shutting the door sharply behind him].
LADY UTTERWORD. I will not be ignored and pretended to be somebody else. I will have it out with Papa now, this instant. [To Mazzini]. Excuse me. [She follows the captain out, making a hasty bow to Mazzini, who returns it].
MRS HUSHABYE [hospitably shaking hands]. How good of you to come, Mr Dunn! You don't mind Papa, do you? He is as mad as a hatter, you know, but quite harmless and extremely clever. You will have some delightful talks with him.
MAZZINI. I hope so. [To Ellie]. So here you are, Ellie, dear. [He draws her arm affectionately through his]. I must thank you, Mrs
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