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- The Philanderer - 4/18 -


wanted me to go.

JULIA (at the door). You shall not leave me here alone.

CHARTERIS. Then come with me.

JULIA. Not until you have sworn to me to give up that woman.

CHARTERIS. My dear, I will swear anything if you will only come away and put an end to this.

JULIA (perplexed--doubting him). You will swear?

CHARTERIS. Solemnly. Propose the oath. I have been on the point of swearing for the last half hour.

JULIA (despairingly). You are only making fun of me. I want no oaths. I want your promise--your sacred word of honour.

CHARTERIS. Certainly--anything you demand, on condition that you come away immediately. On my sacred word of honour as a gentleman--as an Englishman--as anything you like--I will never see her again, never speak to her, never think of her. Now come.

JULIA. But are you in earnest? Will you keep your word?

CHARTERIS (smiling subtly). Now you are getting unreasonable. Do come along without any more nonsense. At any rate, I am going. I am not strong enough to carry you home; but I am strong enough to make my way through that door in spite of you. You will then have a new grievance against me for my brutal violence. (He takes a step towards the door.)

JULIA (solemnly). If you do, I swear I will throw myself from that window, Leonard, as you pass out.

CHARTERIS (unimpressed). That window is at the back of the building. I shall pass out at the front; so you will not hurt me. Good night. (He approaches the door.)

JULIA. Leonard: have you no pity?

CHARTERIS. Not in the least. When you condescend to these antics you force me to despise you. How can a woman who behaves like a spoiled child and talks like a sentimental novel have the audacity to dream of being a companion for a man of any sort of sense or character? (She gives an inarticulate cry and throws herself sobbing on his breast.) Come, don't cry, my dear Julia: you don't look half so beautiful as when you're happy; and it takes all the starch out of my shirt front. Come along.

JULIA (affectionately). I'll come, dear, if you wish it. Give me one kiss.

CHARTERIS (exasperated). This is too much. No: I'm dashed if I will. Here, let me go, Julia. (She clings to him.) Will you come without another word if I give you a kiss?

JULIA. I will do anything you wish, darling.

CHARTERIS. Well, here. (He takes her in his arms and gives her an unceremonious kiss.) Now remember your promise. Come along.

JULIA. That was not a nice kiss, dearest. I want one of our old real kisses.

CHARTERIS (furious). Oh, go to the deuce. (He disengages himself impulsively; and she, as if he had flung her down, falls pathetically with a stifled moan. With an angry look at her, he strides out and slams the door. She raises herself on one hand, listening to his retreating footsteps. They stop. Her face lights up with eager, triumphant cunning. The steps return hastily. She throws herself down again as before. Charteris reappears, in the utmost dismay, exclaiming) Julia: we're done. Cuthbertson's coming upstairs with your father--(she sits up quickly) do you hear?--the two fathers.

JULIA (sitting on the floor). Impossible. They don't know one another.

CHARTERIS (desperately). I tell you they are coming up together like brothers. What on earth are we to do?

JULIA (scrambling up with the help of his hand). Quick, the lift: we can go down in that. (She rushes to the table for her bonnet.)

CHARTERIS. No, the man's gone home; and the lift's locked.

JULIA (putting on bonnet at express speed). Let's go up to the next floor.

CHARTERIS. There's no next floor. We're at the top of the house. No, no, you must invent some thumping lie. I can't think of one: you can, Julia. Exercise all your genius. I'll back you up.

JULIA. But------

CHARTERIS. Sh-sh! Here they are. Sit down and look at home. (Julia tears off her bonnet and mantle; throws them on the table; and darts to the piano at which she seats herself.)

JULIA. Come and sing. (She plays the symphony to "When other lips." He stands at the piano, as if about to sing. Two elderly gentlemen enter. Julia stops playing.)

The elder of the two gentlemen, Colonel Daniel Craven, affects the bluff, simple veteran, and carries it off pleasantly and well, having a fine upright figure, and being, in fact, a goodnaturedly impulsive, credulous person who, after an entirely thoughtless career as an officer and a gentleman, is now being startled into some sort of self-education by the surprising proceedings of his children.

His companion, Mr. Joseph Cuthbertson, Grace's father, has none of the Colonel's boyishness. He is a man of fervent idealistic sentiment, so frequently outraged by the facts of life, that he has acquired an habitually indignant manner, which unexpectedly becomes enthusiastic or affectionate when he speaks.

The two men differ greatly in expression. The Colonel's face is lined with weather, with age, with eating and drinking, and with the cumulative effects of many petty vexations, but not with thought: he is still fresh, and he has by no means full expectations of pleasure and novelty. Cuthbertson has the lines of sedentary London brain work, with its chronic fatigue and longing for rest and recreative emotion, and its disillusioned indifference to adventure and enjoyment, except as a means of recuperation.

They are both in evening dress; and Cuthbertson wears his fur collared overcoat, which, with his vigilant, irascible eye, piled up hair, and the honorable earnestness with which he takes himself, gives him an air of considerable consequence.

CUTHBERTSON (with a hospitable show of delight at finding visitors). Don't stop, Miss Craven. Go on, Charteris. (He comes down behind the sofa, and hangs his overcoat on it, after taking an opera glass and a theatre programme from the pockets, and putting them down on the piano. Craven meanwhile goes to the fire-place and stands on the hearthrug.)

CHARTERIS. No, thank you. Miss Craven has just been taking me through an old song; and I've had enough of it. (He takes the song off the piano desk and lays it aside; then closes the lid over the keyboard.)

JULIA (passing between the sofa and piano to shake hands with Cuthbertson). Why, you've brought Daddy! What a surprise! (Looking across to Craven.) So glad you've come, Dad. (She takes a chair near the window, and sits there.)

CUTHBERTSON. Craven: let me introduce you to Mr. Leonard Charteris, the famous Ibsenist philosopher.

CRAVEN. Oh, we know one another already. Charteris is quite at home at our house, Jo.

CUTHBERTSON. I beg both your pardons. (Charteris sits down on the piano stool.) He's quite at home here too. By the bye, where's Grace?

JULIA and CHARTERIS. Er-- (They stop and look at one another.)

JULIA (politely). I beg your pardon, Mr. Charteris: I interrupted you.

CHARTERIS. Not at all, Miss Craven. (An awkward pause.)

CUTHBERTSON (to help them out). You were going to tell about Grace, Charteris.

CHARTERIS. I was only going to say that I didn't know that you and Craven were acquainted.

CRAVEN. Why, _I_ didn't know it until to-night. It's a most extraordinary thing. We met by chance at the theatre; and he turns out to be my oldest friend.

CUTHBERTSON (energetically). Yes, Craven; and do you see how this proves what I was saying to you about the breaking up of family life? Here are all our young people--Grace and Miss Julia and the rest--bosom friends, inseparables; and yet we two, who knew each other before they were born, might never have met again if you hadn't popped into the stall next to mine to-night by pure chance. Come, sit down (bustling over to him affectionately and pushing him into the arm chair above the fire): there's your place, by my fireside, whenever you choose to fill it. (He posts himself at the right end of the sofa, leaning against it and admiring Craven.) Just imagine your being Dan Craven!

CRAVEN. Just imagine your being Jo Cuthbertson, though! That's a far more extraordinary coincidence, because I'd got it into my head that your name was Tranfield.

CUTHBERTSON. Oh, that's my daughter's name. She's a widow, you know. How uncommonly well you look, Dan! The years haven't hurt you much.

CRAVEN (suddenly becoming unnaturally gloomy). I look well. I even feel well. But my days are numbered.

CUTHBERTSON (alarmed). Oh don't say that, my dear fellow. I hope not.


The Philanderer - 4/18

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