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- Hobson's Choice - 20/23 -

Go round to Oldfield Road and ask my husband to come here and get this made up at Hallow's on your way back.

TUBBY. Yes, Miss--Mrs. Mossop.

MAGGIE. Tell Mr. Mossop that I want him quick.

(TUBBY _nods and goes_. MAGGIE _goes_ R.)

HOBSON. Maggie, you know I can't be an abstainer. A man of my habits. At my time of life.

MAGGIE. You can if I come here to make you.

HOBSON. Are you coming?

MAGGIE. I don't know yet. I haven't asked my husband.

HOBSON. You ask Will Mossop! Maggie, I'd better thoughts of you. Making an excuse like that to me. If you want to come you'll come so what Will Mossop says and well you know it.

MAGGIE. I don't want to come, father. I expect no holiday existence here with you to keep in health. But if Will tells me it's my duty I shall come. (_Sits_ R. _of table_.)

HOBSON. You know as well as I do asking Will's a matter of form.

MAGGIE. Matter of form! (_Rises and moves_ R.) My husband a matter of form! He's the--

HOBSON. I dare say, but he is not the man that wears the breeches at your house.

MAGGIE. My husband's my husband, father, so whatever else he is. And my home's my home, and all and what you said of it now to Doctor MacFarlane's a thing you'll pay for. It's no gift to a married woman to come back to the home she's shut of. (_Moves back_ R. C.)

HOBSON. Look here, Maggie, you're talking straight and I'll talk straight and all. When I'm set I'm set. You're coming here. I didn't want you when that doctor said it, but, by gum, I want you now. It's been my daughters' hobby crossing me. Now you'll come and look after me.

MAGGIE. All of us?

HOBSON. No. Not all of you. You're eldest.

MAGGIE. There's another man with claims on me.

HOBSON. I'll give him claims. Aren't I your father?

(ALICE _enters_ L. _She is rather elaborately dressed for so early in the day, and languidly haughty_.)

MAGGIE. And I'm not your only daughter.

ALICE. You been here long, Maggie?

MAGGIE. A while.

ALICE (L.C.). Ah, well, a fashionable solicitor's wife doesn't rise so early as the wife of a working cobbler. You'd be up when Tubby came.

MAGGIE. A couple of hours earlier. (_Moves up_ R.)

ALICE (_going to_ HOBSON). You're looking all right, father. You've quite a colour.

HOBSON. I'm very ill.

MAGGIE (_sitting_ R. _of table_). He's not so well, Alice. The doctor says one of us must come and live here to look after him.

ALICE. I live in the Crescent myself.

MAGGIE. I've heard it was that way on. Somebody's home will have to go.

ALICE. I don't think I can be expected to come back to this after what I've been used to lately.

HOBSON. Alice!

ALICE. Well, I say it ought to be Maggie, father. She's the eldest. (_Moves to above table_.)

HOBSON. And I say you're--

(_What she is we don't learn, as_ VICKEY _enters effectively and goes effusively to_ HOBSON, R. ALICE _moves round to_ L.)

VICKEY. Father, you're ill! (_Embracing him_.)

HOBSON. Vickey! My baby! At last I find a daughter who cares for me.

VICKEY. Of course I care. Don't the others? (_Releasing herself from his grasp_.)

HOBSON. You will live with me, Vickey, won't you?

VICKEY. What? (_She stands away from him_.)

MAGGIE. One of us is needed to look after him.

VICKEY. Oh, but it can't be me. In my circumstances, Maggie!

MAGGIE. What circumstances?

ALICE. Don't you know?


(VICKEY _whispers to_ MAGGIE.)

HOBSON. What's the matter? What are you all whispering about?

MAGGIE. Father, don't you think you ought to put a collar on before Will comes? (_Goes to him_, R.)

HOBSON. Put a collar on for Will Mossop? There's something wrong with your sense of proportion, my girl.

VICKEY (_moving_ C.). You're always pretending to folk about your husband, Maggie, but you needn't keep it up with us. We know Will here.

MAGGIE. Father, either I can go home or you can go and put a collar on for Will. I'll have him treated with respect. (_Going up to window_.)

ALICE. I expect you'd put a collar on in any case, father.

HOBSON (_rising_). Of course I should. I'm going to put a collar on. But understand me, Maggie, it's not for the sake of Will Mossop. It's because my neck is cold.

(_Exit_ HOBSON R.)

MAGGIE (_coming down_). Now, then, which of us is it to be?

VICKEY. It's no use looking at me like that, Maggie. I've told you I'm expecting.

MAGGIE. I don't see that that rules you out. It might happen to any of us.

ALICE. Maggie!

MAGGIE. What's the matter? Children do happen to married women, and we're all married.

ALICE. Well, I'm not going to break my home up and that's flat.

VICKEY. My child comes first with me.

MAGGIE. I see. You've got a house of furniture, and you've got a child coming, so father can drink himself to death for you.

ALICE. That's not fair speaking. I'd come if there were no one else. You know very well it's your duty, Maggie.

VICKEY. Duty? I should think it 'ud be a pleasure to live here after a year of two cellars.

MAGGIE. I've had thirty years of the pleasure of living with father, thanks. (_Going to chair_ R. _of table and sitting_.)

ALICE. Do you mean to say you won't come?

MAGGIE. It isn't for me to say at all. It's for my husband.

VICKEY. Oh, do stop talking about your husband. If Alice and I don't need to ask our husbands, I'm sure you never need ask yours. Will Mossop hasn't the spirit of a louse and we know it as well as you do. (_Crosses to fire-place_.)

MAGGIE. Maybe Will's come on since you saw him, Vickey. It's getting a while ago. There he is now in the shop. I'll go and put it to him.

(_Rises and exits_ MAGGIE L.)

VICKEY. Stop her! (_Going to door_.)

ALICE (_detaining her_). Let her do it in her own way. I'm not coming back here.

VICKEY (R. _of_ ALICE). Nor me.

ALICE. There's only Maggie for it.

VICKEY. Yes. But we've got to be careful, Alice. She mustn't have

Hobson's Choice - 20/23

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