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    The Third Act

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    Chapter 3
    Previous Chapter
    SCENE:- A room in the Town Hall, Poplar. A high, bare, cold room, unfurnished except for cane-bottomed chairs ranged against the walls. French windows right give on to a balcony overlooking the street. Door in back opens upon a stone passage. A larger door opens into another room, through which one passes to reach the room in which the counting of the votes is taking place. A fire burns-- or rather tries to burn. The room is lighted from the centre of the ceiling by an electric sun. A row of hat-pegs is on the wall between the two doors. The time is about 9 p.m.

    [People entering from the street wear coats or cloaks, &c., the season being early spring. If passing through or staying in the room, they take off their outdoor things and hang them up, putting them on again before going out.]

    [JAWBONES is coaxing the reluctant fire by using a newspaper as a blower. He curses steadily under his breath. The door opens. GINGER enters; she is dressed in cheap furs.]

    JAWBONES Shut the door, can't yer!

    GINGER Don't yer want a draught?

    JAWBONES No, I don't. Not any more than I've got.

    GINGER [She shuts the door.] 'Ave they begun counting the votes?

    JAWBONES Been at it for the last three-quarters of an hour.

    GINGER Who's going to win?

    JAWBONES One of 'em.

    [LADY MOGTON has entered. She has come from the room where they are counting the votes.]

    Shut that door! [He glances over his shoulder, sees his mistake.] Beg pardon! [To himself.] Thought 'twas the other fool!

    LADY MOGTON [She shuts the door. To GINGER.] Have you seen Mrs. Chilvers?

    GINGER Not since the afternoon, your ladyship.

    LADY MOGTON She is coming, I suppose?

    GINGER I think so, your ladyship.

    LADY MOGTON It's very cold in here, Gordon.

    JAWBONES Yes, my lady. Not what I call a cosy room.

    LADY MOGTON [To GINGER.] Jump into a cab. See if you can find her. Perhaps she has been detained at one of the committee-rooms. Tell her she ought to be here.

    GINGER Yes, your ladyship. [She crosses, opens door.]

    JAWBONES Shut the door.

    GINGER Oh, shut -

    [She finds herself face to face with a MESSENGER carrying a ballot- box.]

    I beg yer pardon! [She goes out, closes door.]

    LADY MOGTON [To the MESSENGER.] Is that the last?

    MESSENGER Generally is. Isle of Dogs!

    [He goes into the other room.]

    LADY MOGTON [To JAWBONES.] Do you know where Mr. Chilvers is?

    [There comes a bloodthirsty yell from the crowd outside.]

    JAWBONES Not unless that's 'im. [He finishes for the time being with the fire. Rises.]

    [JANET enters.]

    LADY MOGTON Was that you they were yelling at?

    JANET No, it's Mr. Sigsby.

    [Another yell is heard. Out of it a shrill female voice--"Mind 'is fice; yer spoiling it!"]

    The Woman's Laundry Union have taken such a strong dislike to him.

    [A final yell. Then a voice: "That's taken some of the starch out of him!" followed by a shriek of laughter.]

    JAWBONES 'E only suggested as 'ow there was enough old washerwomen in Parliament as it was.

    LADY MOGTON A most unnecessary remark. It will teach him -

    [SIGSBY enters, damaged. His appearance is comic. LADY MOGTON makes no effort to repress a grim smile.]

    SIGSBY Funny, ain't it?

    LADY MOGTON I am sorry.

    SIGSBY [He snarls.] "The Mother's Hand shall Help Us!" One of your posters, I think.

    LADY MOGTON You shouldn't have insulted them--calling them old washerwomen!

    SIGSBY Insult! Can't one indulge in a harmless jeu d'esprit--[he pronounces it according to his own ideas]--without having one's clothes torn off one's back? [Fiercely.] What do you mean by it-- disgracing your sex?

    LADY MOGTON Are you addressing me?

    SIGSBY All of you. Upsetting the foundations upon which society has been reared--the natural and lawful subjection of the woman to the man. Why don't you read St. Paul?

    LADY MOGTON St. Paul was addressing Christians. When men behave like Christians there will be no need of Votes for Women. You read St. Paul on men. [To JANET.] I shall want you!

    [She goes out, followed by JANET.]

    [SIGSBY gives vent to a gesture.]

    JAWBONES Getting saucy, ain't they?

    SIGSBY Over-indulgence. That's what the modern woman is suffering from. Gets an idea on Monday that she'd like the whole world altered; if it isn't done by Saturday, raises hell! Where's the guv'nor?

    JAWBONES Hasn't been here.

    SIGSBY [Hands JAWBONES his damaged hat.] See if they can do anything to that. If not, get me a new one. [He forks out a sovereign.] Sure to be some shops open in the High Street. [LAMB and ST. HERBERT enter.]

    LAMB Hallo! have they been mauling you?

    SIGSBY [He snatches the damaged hat from JAWBONES, to hand it back the next moment; holds it out.] Woman's contribution to politics. Get me a collar at the same time--sixteen and a half.

    [JAWBONES takes his cap and goes out. The men hang up their overcoats.]

    SIGSBY Where's it all going to end? That's what I want to know!

    ST. HERBERT Where most things end. In the millennium, according to its advocates. In the ruin of the country, according to its opponents. In mild surprise on the part of the next generation that ever there was any fuss about it.

    SIGSBY In amazement, you mean, that their fathers were so blind as not to see where it was leading. My boy, this is going to alter the whole relationship between the sexes!

    ST. HERBERT Is it so perfect as it is?

    [A silence.]

    Might it not be established on a more workable, a more enduring basis if woman were allowed a share in the shaping of it?

    [Some woman in the crowd starts the refrain, "We'll hang old Asquith on a sour apple tree." It is taken up with quiet earnestness by others.]

    SIGSBY Shaping it! Nice sort of shape it will be by the time that lot [with a gesture, including the crowd, LADY MOGTON & Co.] have done knocking it about. Wouldn't be any next generation to be surprised at anything if some of them had their way.

    ST. HERBERT The housebreakers come first--not a class of work demanding much intelligence; the builders come later. Have you seen Chilvers?

    LAMB I left him at the House. He couldn't get away.

    SIGSBY There's your object-lesson for you. We don't need to go far. A man's whole career ruined by the wife he nourishes.

    ST. HERBERT How do you mean, "ruined?"

    SIGSBY So it is. If she wins the election and claims the seat. Do you think the Cabinet will want him? Their latest addition compelled to appeal to the House of Commons to fight for him against his own womenfolk. [Grunts.] He'll be the laughing-stock of the whole country.

    ST. HERBERT Do you know for certain that they mean to claim the seat?

    SIGSBY "Wait and see" is their answer.

    LAMB Hasn't Chilvers any idea?

    SIGSBY Can't get him to talk. Don't think he's seen her since that shindy over the Deputation.

    LAMB Humph!

    SIGSBY Even if she herself wished to draw back, the others would overrule her.

    LAMB I'm not so sure of that. She's got a way of shutting her mouth that reminds me of my old woman.

    SIGSBY The arrangement, as he explained it to me, was that the whole thing was to end with the polling. It was to have been a mere joke, a mere ballon d'essai. The mistake he made was thinking he could depend on her.

    LAMB Guess she made the same mistake. You can fight and shake hands afterwards; it doesn't go with kissing.

    SIGSBY Man and woman were not made to fight. It was never intended.

    [The woman's "Marseillaise" has been taken up by the crowd. The chorus has been reached.]

    Oh, damn your row! [He slams to the window; it was ajar.]

    [JAWBONES has entered, with his purchases.]

    [Turning from window he sees JAWBONES, goes to meet him.] Couldn't they do anything?

    JAWBONES [He has bought a new hat; has also brought back the remains. He shakes his head.] No good for anything else but a memento.

    SIGSBY [With a grunt he snatches the thing and flings it into a corner. Tries on the new one.]

    JAWBONES 'Ow's it feel?

    [SIGSBY, with the help of JAWBONES, attends to his appearance.]

    LAMB [To ST. HERBERT.] No use talking to her, I suppose?

    ST. HERBERT [Shrugs his shoulders.] She'll do what she imagines to be her duty. Women are so uncivilised.

    [A burst of cheering is heard. A shrill male voice: "Three cheers for Winston Churchill!" It is followed by an explosion of yells.]

    ST. HERBERT Who's that?

    LAMB [He has opened the window.] Phoebe Mogton!

    SIGSBY What a family!

    [JANET has entered.]

    JANET Is that Mrs. Chilvers? [To LAMB and ST. HERBERT.] Good evening.

    ST. HERBERT Good evening.

    LAMB No; it's her sister.

    JANET I wonder she doesn't come.

    SIGSBY What are the latest figures? Do you know?

    [PHOEBE enters.]

    JANET I forget the numbers. Mrs. Chilvers is forty ahead.

    PHOEBE Forty ahead! [To JANET.] Did you order the band?

    LAMB [To SIGSBY.] The Dock division was against him to a man; that Shipping Bill has upset them.

    JANET No. I didn't think we should want the band.

    PHOEBE Not want it! My dear girl -

    JANET Perhaps Lady Mogton has ordered it, I'll ask her. [She goes out.]

    SIGSBY Hadn't you better "Wait and see"? It isn't over yet.

    PHOEBE We may as well have it! It can play the Dead March in "Saul" if you win. [She laughs.]

    SIGSBY [Grunts. To LAMB.] Are you coming?

    [He goes out.]

    LAMB Yes. [To ST. HERBERT.] Are you coming?

    ST. HERBERT Hardly worth while; nearly over, isn't it?

    LAMB It generally takes an hour and a half. [He looks at his watch.] Another forty minutes. Perhaps less. [He goes out.]

    PHOEBE I do love to make him ratty. Wish it wasn't poor old Geoff we were fighting.

    ST. HERBERT When I marry, it will be the womanly woman.

    PHOEBE No chance for me then?

    ST. HERBERT I don't say that. I can see you taking your political opinions from your husband, and thinking them your own.

    PHOEBE Good heavens!

    ST. HERBERT The brainy woman will think for herself. And then I foresee some lively breakfast tables.

    PHOEBE Humph! No fear, I suppose, of a man taking his views from his wife and thinking them his own?

    ST. HERBERT That may be the solution. The brainy woman will have to marry the manly man.

    [GINGER enters.]

    JAWBONES [He is on his knees blowing the fire. In a low growl.] Shut the door!

    GINGER Can't till I'm inside, can I? [Shuts it.] Where's Lady Mogton?

    JAWBONES I don't know.

    PHOEBE What do you want her for?

    GINGER Only to tell her that I can't find Chilvers.

    PHOEBE Isn't she here?

    GINGER Not unless she's come while I've been out.

    [JANET enters.]

    JANET Oh, Lady Mogton -

    PHOEBE [Interrupting her.] Isn't Annys here?

    JANET No. [To GINGER.] Haven't you found her?

    GINGER [Shakes her head.] Been everywhere I could think of.

    PHOEBE [To herself.] She couldn't have gone home? Is there a telephone here?

    JANET The room's locked up.

    JAWBONES There's one at 118, High Street. Shall I go, miss?

    PHOEBE No, thanks. I'll go myself. Oh, what about the band?

    JANET Lady Mogton says she'd like it. If it isn't too tired.

    GINGER It's at Sell's Coffee-'ouse in Piggott Street. I 'eard them practising.

    PHOEBE Good. I shan't be more than a few minutes.

    ST. HERBERT I'll come with you, if I may? I've got some news that may be of use to you.

    PHOEBE Do. [To GINGER.] Stop here, I may want you.

    [PHOEBE and ST. HERBERT go out.]

    JANET How was Mrs. Chilvers seeming this afternoon?

    GINGER Never 'eard 'er speak better, miss.

    JANET Did you stop to the end?

    GINGER Not quite. Mrs. Spender wanted some shopping done.

    [JANET goes out.]

    GINGER Can I 'elp yer?

    JAWBONES Yer might hold the piper while I blow.

    [The fire begins to burn.]

    GINGER It's getting brighter.

    JAWBONES That's caught it.

    GINGER Wonderful what a little coaxing will do.

    JAWBONES [He is still squatting on his heels, folding up the paper. He looks up.] Ain't yer ever thought of that, instead of worrying about the vote?

    GINGER [She moves away.] You don't understand us wimmin.

    JAWBONES [He has risen. He pauses in his folding of the paper.] Don't say that.

    GINGER Why should we coax yer--for our rights?

    JAWBONES Because it's the easiest way of getting 'em.

    GINGER [She has become oratorical.] Our appeal is not to man [with upraised hand] but to Justice!

    JAWBONES Oh! And what does the lidy say?

    GINGER [Descending.] 'Ow do yer mean?

    JAWBONES To your appeal. Is she goin' to give 'em to yer ? You tike my tip: if yer in a 'urry, you get a bit on account--from Man. 'Ere. [He dives into his pocket, produces, wrapped up in tissue paper, a ring, which he exhibits to her.] That's a bit more in your line.

    GINGER [Her eyes sparkle. She takes the ring in her hand. Then problems come to her.] Why do yer want me, William?

    JAWBONES Because, in spite of all, I love yer.

    GINGER [She looks into the future.] What will I be? A general servant, without wages.

    JAWBONES The question, as it seems to me, is, which of us two is the biggest fool? Instead of thirty bob a week in my pocket to spend as I like--guess I'll 'ave to be content with three 'alf- crowns.

    GINGER Seven an' six! Rather a lot, Bill, out o' thirty bob. Don't leave much for me an' the children.

    JAWBONES I shall 'ave to get my dinners.

    GINGER I could mike yer somethin' tasty to tike with yer. Then with, say--three shillings -

    JAWBONES 'Ere--[He is on the point of snatching back the ring. He encounters her eyes. There is a moment's battle. The Eternal Feminine conquers.] Will yer always look as sweet as yer do now?

    GINGER Always, Bill. So long as yer good to me!

    [She slips the ring over her finger, still with her eyes drawing him. He catches her to him in fierce passion, kisses her.]

    [A loud shrill female cheer comes from the crowd. The cheer is renewed and renewed.]

    JAWBONES [He breaks away and goes to the window.] 'Ullo! What are they shoutin' about now? [He looks out.] It's the Donah!

    GINGER Mrs. Chilvers?

    JAWBONES Yus. Better not get wearin' it--may shock their feelings.

    GINGER [She gazes rapturously at the ring as she draws it off.] It is a beauty! I do love yer, Bill.

    [There enter ANNYS and ELIZABETH. ANNYS is excited; she is laughing and talking.]

    ANNYS [Laughing while she rearranges her hat and hair.] A little embarrassing. That red-haired girl--she carried me right up the steps. I was afraid she would -

    [JAWBONES has been quick enough to swing a chair into place just in time to receive her.]

    [She recovers herself.] Thank you.

    ELIZABETH [She hands ANNYS a smelling-bottle. To JAWBONES.] Open the window a few inches.

    [He does so. Some woman, much interrupted, is making a speech.]

    [JANET opens the door a little way and looks in.]

    JANET Oh, it is you! I am glad!

    [She goes out again.]

    ELIZABETH Are the others all here?

    GINGER 'Er ladyship is watching the counting. Miss Phoebe 'as just gone out -

    [PHOEBE enters.]

    Oh, 'ere she is.

    PHOEBE Hullo! [She is taking off her things.] Wherever have you been? We've been scouring the neighbourhood -

    [LADY MOGTON enters, followed by JANET.]

    I say, you're looking jolly chippy.

    ELIZABETH We had an extra enthusiastic meeting. She spoke for rather a long time. I made her come home with me and lie down. I think she is all right now.

    LADY MOGTON Would you like to see a doctor?

    PHOEBE There is a very good man close here. [She turns to JAWBONES, who is still near the window.] Gordon -

    ANNYS [Interrupting.] No. Please don't. I am quite all right. I hate strange doctors.

    PHOEBE Well, let me send for Whitby; he could be here in twenty minutes.

    ANNYS I wish you would all leave me alone. There's absolutely nothing to fuss about whatever. We pampered women--we can't breathe the same air that ordinary mortals have to. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves.

    PHOEBE [To herself.] Obstinate pig.

    [She catches JAWBONES' eye; unnoticed by the others, she takes him aside. They whisper.]

    ANNYS How is it going?

    LADY MOGTON You must be prepared for winning. [She puts again the question that ANNYS has frequently been asked to answer during the last few days.] What are you going to do?

    [MRS. MOUNTCALM-VILLIERS enters, as usual in a flutter of excitement.]

    MRS. MOUNTCALM-VILLIERS Am I late?

    [They brush her back into silence. ELIZABETH takes charge of her.]

    ANNYS [She has risen.] You think it wise tactics, to make it impossible for Geoffrey to be anything else in the future but our enemy?

    LADY MOGTON [Contemptuously.] You are thinking of him, and not of the cause.

    ANNYS And if I were! Haven't I made sacrifice enough?--more than any of you will ever know. Ay--and would make more, if I felt it was demanded of me. I don't! [Her burst of anger is finished. She turns, smiling.] I'm much more cunning than you think. There will be other elections we shall want to fight. With the Under- Secretary for Home Affairs in sympathy with us, the Government will find it difficult to interfere. Don't you see how clever I am?

    [JAWBONES, having received his instructions from PHOEBE, has slipped out unobserved. He has beckoned to GINGER; she has followed him. PHOEBE has joined the group.]

    MRS. MOUNTCALM-VILLIERS. There's something in that.

    JANET Is Mr. Chilvers still in sympathy with us?

    PHOEBE Of course he is. A bit rubbed up the wrong way just at present; that's our fault. When Annys goes down, early next mouth, to fight the Exchange Division of Manchester, we shall have him with us.

    [A moment.]

    LADY MOGTON Where do you get that from?

    PHOEBE From St. Herbert. The present member is his cousin. They say he can't live more than a week.

    MRS. MOUNTCALM-VILLIERS It really seems like Providence.

    ANNYS [Has taken the opportunity of giving PHOEBE a grateful squeeze of the hand.].

    LADY MOGTON You will fight Manchester?

    ANNYS Yes. [Laughs.] And make myself a public nuisance if I win.

    LADY MOGTON Well, must be content with that, I suppose. Better not come in; the room's rather crowded. I'll keep you informed how things are going.

    [She goes out, followed by JANET.]

    MRS. MOUNTCALM-VILLIERS I'll stay with you, dear.

    PHOEBE I want you to come and be photographed for the Daily Mirror. The man's waiting downstairs.

    ELIZABETH I'll stop with Annys.

    MRS. MOUNTCALM-VILLIERS I'm not quite sure, you know, that I take well by flashlight.

    PHOEBE You wait till you've seen mamma! We must have you. They want you for the centre of the page.

    MRS. MOUNTCALM-VILLIERS Well, if it's really -

    PHOEBE [To the others.] Shall see you again. [She winks. Then to MRS. MOUNTCALM-VILLIERS.] We mustn't keep them waiting. They are giving us a whole page.

    [PHOEBE takes MRS. MOUNTCALM-VILLIERS out. ELIZABETH has followed to the door; she closes it. ANNYS has reseated herself, facing the fire.]

    ELIZABETH When did you see your husband last?

    ANNYS Not since--Tuesday, wasn't it, that we went round to his rooms. Why?

    ELIZABETH I'm thinking about Manchester. What was it he said to you?

    ANNYS Oh, we were, both of us, a little over-excited, I suppose. He has--[she hesitates, finally answers]--he has always been so eager for children.

    ELIZABETH Yes. So many men are; not having to bear the pain and inconvenience themselves.

    ANNYS Oh, well, they have to provide for them when they do come. That's fair enough division, I su- [Suddenly she turns fiercely.] Why do you talk like that? As if we women were cowards. Do you think if God sent me a child I should grudge Him the price!

    ELIZABETH Do you want Him to?

    ANNYS I don't know; prayed Him to, once.

    ELIZABETH [She lays her hand upon her.] It isn't a few more mothers that the world has need of. It is the women whom God has appointed--to whom He has given freedom, that they may champion the cause of the mothers, helpless by reason of their motherhood.

    [A moment. GEOFFREY enters.]

    GEOFFREY Good evening.

    ANNYS [Rises; a smile struggles for possession. But he only shakes hands, and it dies away.]

    ELIZABETH Good evening.

    [They shake hands.]

    GEOFFREY You are not interested in the counting?

    ANNYS The room is rather crowded. Mamma thought I would be better out here. How have you been?

    GEOFFREY Oh, all right. It's going to be a very near thing, they tell me.

    ANNYS Yes, I shall be glad when it's over.

    GEOFFREY It's always a trying time. What are you going to do, if you win?

    [LADY MOGTON looks in.]

    LADY MOGTON [Seeing GEOFFREY.] Oh, good evening.

    GEOFFREY Good evening.

    LADY MOGTON Chilvers, 2,960--Annys Chilvers, 2,874.

    [She disappears--closes door.]

    ANNYS Perhaps I'm not going to win. [She goes to him, smiling.] I hope you'll win. I would so much rather you won.

    GEOFFREY Very kind of you. I'm afraid that won't make it a certainty.

    ANNYS [His answer has hardened her again.] How can I? It would not be fair. Without your consent I should never have entered upon it. It was understood that the seat, in any case, would be yours.

    GEOFFREY I would rather you considered yourself quite free. In warfare it doesn't pay to be "fair" to one's enemy.

    ANNYS [Still hardening.] Besides, there is no need. There will be other opportunities. I can contest some other constituency. If I win, claim the seat for that.

    [A moment.]

    GEOFFREY So this is only the beginning? You have decided to devote yourself to a political career?

    ANNYS Why not?

    GEOFFREY If I were to ask you to abandon it, to come back to your place at my side--helping me, strengthening me?

    ANNYS You mean you would have me abandon my own task--merge myself in you?

    GEOFFREY Be my wife.

    ANNYS It would not be right. I, too, have my work.

    GEOFFREY If it takes you away from me?

    ANNYS Why need it take me away from you? Why cannot we work together for common ends, each in our own way?

    GEOFFREY We talked like that before we tried it. Marriage is not a partnership; it is a leadership.

    ANNYS [She looks at him.] You mean--an ownership.

    GEOFFREY Perhaps you're right. I didn't make it. I'm only-- beginning to understand it.

    ANNYS And I too. It is not what I want.

    GEOFFREY You mean its duties have become irksome to you.

    ANNYS I mean I want to be the judge myself of what are my duties.

    GEOFFREY I no longer count. You will go your way without me?

    ANNYS I must go the way I think right.

    GEOFFREY [He flings away.] If you win to-night you will do well to make the most of it. Take my advice and claim the seat.

    ANNYS [Looks at him puzzled.]

    ELIZABETH Why?

    GEOFFREY Because [with a short, ugly laugh] the Lord only knows when you'll get another opportunity.

    ELIZABETH You are going to stop us?

    GEOFFREY To stop women from going to the poll. The Bill will be introduced on Monday. Carried through all its stages the same week.

    ELIZABETH You think it will pass?

    GEOFFREY The Whips assure me that it will.

    ANNYS But they cannot, they dare not, without your assent. The-- [The light breaks in upon her.] Who is bringing it in?

    GEOFFREY I am.

    ANNYS [Is going to speak.]

    GEOFFREY [He stops her.] Oh, I'm prepared for all that--ridicule, abuse. "Chilvers's Bill for the Better Regulation of Mrs. Chilvers," they'll call it. I can hear their laughter. Yours won't be among it.

    ANNYS But, Geoffrey! What is the meaning? Merely to spite me, are you going to betray a cause that you have professed belief in-- that you have fought for?

    GEOFFREY Yes--if it is going to take you away from me. I want you. No, I don't want a friend--"a fellow-worker"--some interesting rival in well doing. I can get all that outside my home. I want a wife. I want the woman I love to belong to me--to be mine. I am not troubling about being up to date; I'm talking what I feel--what every male creature must have felt since the protoplasmic cell developed instincts. I want a woman to love--a woman to work for--a woman to fight for--a woman to be a slave to. But mine--mine, and nothing else. All the rest [he makes a gesture] is talk.

    [He closes the window, shutting out the hubbub of the crowd.]

    ANNYS [A strange, new light has stolen in. She is bewildered, groping.] But--all this is new between us. You have not talked like this for--not since-- We were just good friends--comrades.

    GEOFFREY And might have remained so, God knows! I suppose we're made like that. So long as there was no danger passion slept. I cannot explain it. I only know that now, beside the thought of losing you, all else in the world seems meaningless. The Woman's Movement! [He makes a gesture of contempt.] Men have wrecked kingdoms for a woman before now--and will again. I want you! [He comes to her.] Won't you come back to me, that we may build up the home we used to dream of? Wasn't the old love good? What has this new love to give you? Work that man can do better. The cause of the women--the children! Has woman loved woman better than man? Will the world be better for the children, man and woman contending? Come back to me. Help me. Help me to fight for all good women. Teach me how I may make the world better--for our children.

    ANNYS [The light is in her eyes. She stands a moment. Her hands are going out to him.]

    ELIZABETH [She comes between them.] Yes, go to him. He will be very good to you. Good men are kind to women, kind even to their dogs. You will be among the pampered few! You will be happy. And the others! What does it matter?

    [They draw apart. She stands between them, the incarnation of the spirit of sex war.]

    The women that have not kind owners--the dogs that have not kind masters--the dumb women, chained to their endless, unpaid drudgery! Let them be content. What are they but man's chattel? To be honoured if it pleases him, or to be cast into the dust. Man's pauper! Bound by his laws, subject to his whim; her every hope, her every aspiration, owed to his charity. She toils for him without ceasing: it should be her "pleasure." She bears him children, when he chooses to desire them. They are his to do as he will by. Why seek to change it? Our man is kind. What have they to do with us: the women beaten, driven, overtasked--the women without hope or joy, the livers of grey lives that men may laugh and spend--the women degraded lower than the beasts to pander to the beast in man--the women outraged and abandoned, bearing to the grave the burden of man's lust? Let them go their way. They are but our sisters of sorrow. And we who could help them--we to whom God has given the weapons: the brain, and the courage--we make answer: "I have married a husband, and I cannot come."

    [A silence.]

    GEOFFREY Well, you have heard. [He makes a gesture.] What is your answer?

    ANNYS [She comes to him.] Don't you love me enough to humour me a little--to put up with my vexing ways? I so want to help, to feel I am doing just a little, to make the world kinder. I know you can do it better, but I want so to be "in it." [She laughs.] Let us forget all this. Wake up to-morrow morning with fresh hearts. You will be Member for East Poplar. And then you shall help me to win Manchester. [She puts her hands upon his breast: she would have him take her in his arms.] I am not strong enough to fight alone.

    GEOFFREY I want you. Let Manchester find some one else.

    ANNYS [She draws away from him.] And if I cannot--will not?

    GEOFFREY I bring in my Bill on Monday. We'll be quite frank about it. That is my price--you. I want you!

    ANNYS You mean it comes to that: a whole cause dependent on a man and a woman!

    GEOFFREY Yes, that is how the world is built. On each man and woman. "How does it shape my life, my hopes?" So will each make answer.

    [LADY MOGTON enters. She stands silent.]

    ELIZABETH Is it over?

    LADY MOGTON Annys Chilvers, 3,604--Geoffrey Chilvers, 3,590.

    [JANET enters.]

    JANET [She rushes to ANNYS, embraces her.] You've won, you've won! [She flies to the window, opens it, and goes out on to the balcony.]

    [PHOEBE enters, followed by MRS. MOUNTCALM-VILLIERS.]

    PHOEBE Is it true?

    LADY MOGTON Pretty close. Majority of 14.

    MRS. MOUNTCALM-VILLIERS For us?

    LADY MOGTON For us.

    [JANET by this time has announced the figures. There is heard a great burst of cheering, renewed again and again.]

    JANET [Re-entering.] They want you! They want you!

    [Mingled with the cheering come cries of "Speech! Speech!"]

    LADY MOGTON You must say something.

    [The band strikes up "The Conquering Hero." The women crowd round ANNYS, congratulating her. GEOFFREY stands apart.]

    PHOEBE [Screaming above the din.] Put on your cloak.

    JANET [Rushes and gets it.]

    [They wrap it round her.]

    [ANNYS goes out on to the balcony, followed by the other women. ELIZABETH, going last, fires a parting smile of triumph at GEOFFREY.]

    [A renewed burst of cheering announces their arrival on the balcony. The crowd bursts into "For She's a Jolly Good Fellow"-- the band, making a quick change, joins in. GEOFFREY remains centre.]

    [JAWBONES enters unobserved. The singing ends with three cheers. ANNYS is speaking. GEOFFREY turns and sees JAWBONES.]

    GEOFFREY [With a smile.] Give me down my coat, will you?

    JAWBONES [He is sympathetic. He helps him on with it.] Shall I get you a cab, sir?

    GEOFFREY No, thanks. I'll pick one up. [He goes towards the door, then stops.] Is there any other way out--not through the main entrance?

    JAWBONES Yes, sir. There's a side door opening on Woodstock Road. I'll show it you.

    GEOFFREY Thanks. [He follows JAWBONES out.]

    [A burst of cheering comes from the crowd.]

    CURTAIN.
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