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- The Philanderer - 2/18 -
end of the keyboard. Grace puts her fingers in her ears. He rises and moves away from the piano, saying) No, my dear: I've been kind; I've been frank; I've been everything that a goodnatured man could be: she only takes it as the making up of a lover's quarrel. (Grace winces.) Frankness and kindness: one is as the other--especially frankness. I've tried both. (He crosses to the fireplace, and stands facing the fire, looking at the ornaments on the mantelpiece and warming his hands.)
GRACE (Her voice a little strained). What are you going to try now?
CHARTERIS (on the hearthrug, turning to face her). Action, my dear! Marriage!! In that she must believe. She won't be convinced by anything short of it, because, you see, I have had some tremendous philanderings before and have gone back to her after them.
GRACE. And so that is why you want to marry me?
CHARTERIS. I cannot deny it, my love. Yes: it is your mission to rescue me from Julia.
GRACE (rising). Then, if you please, I decline to be made use of for any such purpose. I will not steal you from another woman. (She begins to walk up and down the room with ominous disquiet.)
CHARTERIS. Steal me! (Comes towards her.) Grace: I have a question to put to you as an advanced woman. Mind! as an advanced woman. Does Julia belong to me? Am I her owner--her master?
GRACE. Certainly not. No woman is the property of a man. A woman belongs to herself and to nobody else.
CHARTERIS. Quite right. Ibsen for ever! That's exactly my opinion. Now tell me, do I belong to Julia; or have I a right to belong to myself?
GRACE (puzzled). Of course you have; but--
CHARTERIS (interrupting her triumphantly). Then how can you steal me from Julia if I don't belong to her? (Catching her by the shoulders and holding her out at arm's length in front of him.) Eh, little philosopher? No, my dear: if Ibsen sauce is good for the goose, it's good for the gander as well. Besides (coaxing her) it was nothing but a philander with Julia--nothing else in the world, I assure you.
GRACE (breaking away from him). So much the worse! I hate your philanderings: they make me ashamed of you and of myself. (Goes to the sofa and sits in the right hand corner of it, leaning gloomily on her elbow with her face averted.)
CHARTERIS. Grace: you utterly misunderstand the origin of my philanderings. (Sits down beside her.) Listen to me: am I a particularly handsome man?
GRACE (turning to him as if astonished at his conceit). No!
CHARTERIS (triumphantly). You admit it. Am I a well dressed man?
GRACE. Not particularly.
CHARTERIS. Of course not. Have I a romantic mysterious charm about me?--do I look as if a secret sorrow preyed on me?--am I gallant to women?
GRACE. Not in the least.
CHARTERIS. Certainly not. No one can accuse me of it. Then whose fault is it that half the women I speak to fall in love with me? Not mine: I hate it: it bores me to distraction. At first it flattered me--delighted me--that was how Julia got me, because she was the first woman who had the pluck to make me a declaration. But I soon had enough of it; and at no time have I taken the initiative and persecuted women with my advances as women have persecuted me. Never. Except, of course, in your case.
GRACE. Oh, you need not make any exception. I had a good deal of trouble to induce you to come and see us. You were very coy.
CHARTERIS (fondly, taking her hand). With you, dearest, the coyness was sheer coquetry. I loved you from the first, and fled only that you might pursue. But come! let us talk about something really interesting. (Takes her in his arms.) Do you love me better than anyone else in the world?
GRACE. I don't think you like to be loved too much.
CHARTERIS. That depends on who the person is. You (pressing her to his heart) cannot love me too much: you cannot love me half enough. I reproach you every day for your coldness--your-- (Violent double knock heard without. They start and listen, still in one another's arms, hardly daring to breathe.) Who the deuce is calling at this hour?
GRACE. I can't imagine. (They listen guiltily. The door of the flat is opened without. They hastily get away from one another.)
A WOMAN'S VOICE OUTSIDE. Is Mr. Charteris here?
CHARTERIS (springing up). Julia! The devil! (Stands at the left of the sofa with his hands on it, bending forward with his eyes fixed on the door.)
GRACE (rising also). What can she want?
THE VOICE. Never mind: I will announce myself. (A beautiful, dark, tragic looking woman, in mantle and bonnet, appears at the door, raging furiously.) Oh, this is charming. I have interrupted a pretty tete-a-tete. Oh, you villain! (She comes straight at Grace. Charteris runs across behind the sofa and stops her. She struggles furiously with him. Grace preserves her self possession, but retreats quietly to the piano. Julia, finding Charteris too strong for her, gives up her attempt to get at Grace, but strikes him in the face as she frees herself.)
CHARTERIS (shocked). Oh, Julia, Julia! This is too bad.
JULIA. Is it, indeed, too bad? What are you doing up here with that woman? You scoundrel! But now listen to me; Leonard: you have driven me to desperation; and I don't care what I do, or who hears me. I'll not bear it. She shall not have my place with you--
JULIA. No, no: I don't care: I will expose her true character before everybody. You belong to me: you have no right to be here; and she knows it.
CHARTERIS. I think you had better let me take you home, Julia.
JULIA. I will not. I am not going home: I am going to stay here--here--until I have made you give her up.
CHARTERIS. My dear, you must be reasonable. You really cannot stay in Mrs. Tranfield's house if she objects. She can ring the bell and have us both put out.
JULIA. Let her do it then. Let her ring the bell if she dares. Let us see how this pure virtuous creature will face the scandal of what I will declare about her. Let us see how you will face it. I have nothing to lose. Everybody knows how you have treated me: you have boasted of your conquests, you poor pitiful, vain creature--I am the common talk of your acquaintances and hers. Oh, I have calculated my advantage (tearing off her mantle): I am a most unhappy and injured woman; but I am not the fool you take me to be. I am going to stay--see! (She flings the mantle on the round table; puts her bonnet on it, and sits down.) Now, Mrs. Tranfield: there is the bell: (pointing to the button beside the fireplace) why don't you ring? (Grace, looking attentively at Charteris, does not move.) Ha! ha! I thought so.
CHARTERIS (quietly, without relaxing his watch on Julia). Mrs. Tranfield: I think you had better go into another room. (Grace makes a movement towards the door, but stops and looks inquiringly at Charteris as Julia springs up. He advances a step so as to prevent her from getting to the door.)
JULIA. She shall not. She shall stay here. She shall know what you are, and how you have been in love with me--how it is not two days since you kissed me and told me that the future would be as happy as the past. (Screaming at him) You did: deny it if you dare.
CHARTERIS (to Grace in a low voice). Go!
GRACE (with nonchalant disgust--going). Get her away as soon as you can, Leonard.
(Julia, with a stifled cry of rage, rushes at Grace, who is crossing behind the sofa towards door. Charteris seizes her and prevents her from getting past the sofa. Grace goes out. Charteris, holding Julia fast, looks around to the door to see whether Grace is safely out of the room.)
JULIA (suddenly ceasing to struggle and speaking with the most pathetic dignity). Oh, there is no need to be violent. (He passes her across to the left end of the sofa, and leans against the right end, panting and mopping his forehead). That is worthy of you!--to use brute force--to humiliate me before her! (She breaks down and bursts into tears.)
CHARTERIS (to himself with melancholy conviction). This is going to be a cheerful evening. Now patience, patience, patience! (Sits on a chair near the round table.)
JULIA (in anguish). Leonard, have you no feeling for me?
CHARTERIS. Only an intense desire to get you safely out of this.
JULIA (fiercely). I am not going to stir.
CHARTERIS (wearily). Well, well. (Heaves a long sigh. They sit silent for awhile, Julia struggling, not to regain her self control, but to maintain her rage at boiling point.)
JULIA (rising suddenly). I am going to speak to that woman.
CHARTERIS (jumping up). No, no. Hang it, Julia, don't let's have another wrestling match. I have the strength, but not the wind: you're too young for me. Sit down or else let me take you home. Suppose her father comes in.
JULIA. I don't care. It rests with you. I am ready to go if she will give you up: until then I stay. Those are my terms: you owe me that,
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