Meet us on:
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "The day is for honest men, the night for thieves."

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Act II

    • Rate it:
    • Average Rating: 2.5 out of 5 based on 1 rating
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 3
    Previous Chapter
    SCENE: Evening of the same day. Drawing-room at Lilly Close. MR.

    MR. BARLOW. And you are quite a stranger in these parts, Miss Wrath?

    ANABEL. Practically. But I was born at Derby.

    MR. BARLOW. I was born in this house--but it was a different affair
    then: my father was a farmer, you know. The coal has brought us what
    moderate wealth we have. Of course, we were never poor or needy--
    farmers, substantial farmers. And I think we were happier so--yes.--
    Winnie, dear, hand Miss Wrath the sweets. I hope they're good. I
    ordered them from London for you.--Oliver, my boy, have you everything
    you like? That's right.--It gives me such pleasure to see a little
    festive gathering in this room again. I wish Bertie and Elinor might
    be here. What time is it, Gerald?

    GERALD. A quarter to nine, father.

    MR. BARLOW. Not late yet. I can sit with you another half-hour. I
    am feeling better to-day. Winifred, sing something for us.

    WINIFRED. Something jolly, father?

    MR. BARLOW. Very jolly, darling.

    WINIFRED. I'll sing "The Lincolnshire Poacher," shall I?

    MR. BARLOW. Do, darling, and we'll all join in the chorus.--Will you
    join in the chorus, Miss Wrath?

    ANABEL. I will. It is a good song.

    MR. BARLOW. Yes, isn't it!

    WINIFRED. All dance for the chorus, as well as singing.

    (They sing; some pirouette a little for the chorus.)

    MR. BARLOW. Ah, splendid! Splendid! There is nothing like gaiety.

    WINIFRED. I do love to dance about. I know: let us do a little
    ballet--four of us--oh, do!

    GERALD. What ballet, Winifred?

    WINIFRED. Any. Eva can play for us. She plays well.

    MR. BARLOW. You won't disturb your mother? Don't disturb Eva if
    she is busy with your mother. (Exit WINIFRED.) If only I can see
    Winifred happy, my heart is at rest: if only I can hope for her to
    be happy in her life.

    GERALD. Oh, Winnie's all right, father--especially now she has Miss
    Wrath to initiate her into the mysteries of life and labour.

    ANABEL. Why are you ironical?

    MR. BARLOW. Oh, Miss Wrath, believe me, we all feel that--it is the
    greatest possible pleasure to me that you have come.

    GERALD. I wasn't ironical, I assure you.

    MR. BARLOW. No, indeed--no, indeed! We have every belief in you.

    ANABEL. But why should you have?

    MR. BARLOW. Ah, my dear child, allow us the credit of our own
    discernment. And don't take offence at my familiarity. I am
    afraid I am spoilt since I am an invalid.

    (Re-enter WINIFRED, with EVA.)

    MR. BARLOW. Come, Eva, you will excuse us for upsetting your evening.
    Will you be so good as to play something for us to dance to?

    EVA. Yes, sir. What shall I play?

    WINIFRED. Mozart--I'll find you the piece. Mozart's the saddest
    musician in the world--but he's the best to dance to.

    MR. BARLOW. Why, how is it you are such a connoisseur in sadness,

    GERALD. She isn't. She's a flagrant amateur.

    (EVA plays; they dance a little ballet.)

    MR. BARLOW. Charming--charming, Miss Wrath:--will you allow me to
    say _Anabel_, we shall all feel so much more at home? Yes--thank you
    --er--you enter into the spirit of it wonderfully, Anabel, dear. The
    others are accustomed to play together. But it is not so easy to
    come in on occasion as you do.

    GERALD. Oh, Anabel's a genius!--I beg your pardon, Miss Wrath--
    familiarity is catching.

    MR. BARLOW. Gerald, my boy, don't forget that you are virtually host

    EVA. Did you want any more music, sir?

    GERALD. No, don't stay, Eva. We mustn't tire father. (Exit EVA.)

    MR. BARLOW. I am afraid, Anabel, you will have a great deal to
    excuse in us, in the way of manners. We have never been a formal
    household. But you have lived in the world of artists: you will
    understand, I hope.

    ANABEL. Oh, surely---

    MR. BARLOW. Yes, I know. We have been a turbulent family, and we
    have had our share of sorrow, even more, perhaps, than of joys. And
    sorrow makes one indifferent to the conventionalities of life.

    GERALD. Excuse me, father: do you mind if I go and write a letter I
    have on my conscience?

    MR. BARLOW. No, my boy. (Exit GERALD.) We have had our share of
    sorrow and of conflict, Miss Wrath, as you may have gathered.

    ANABEL. Yes--a little.

    MR. BARLOW. The mines were opened when my father was a boy--the
    first--and I was born late, when he was nearly fifty. So that all
    my life has been involved with coal and colliers. As a young man, I
    was gay and thoughtless. But I married young, and we lost our first
    child through a terrible accident. Two children we have lost through
    sudden and violent death. (WINIFRED goes out unnoticed.) It made me
    reflect. And when I came to reflect, Anabel, I could not justify my
    position in life. If I believed in the teachings of the New
    Testament--which I did, and do--how could I keep two or three
    thousand men employed and underground in the mines, at a wage, let us
    say, of two pounds a week, whilst I lived in this comfortable house,
    and took something like two thousand pounds a year--let us name any

    ANABEL. Yes, of course. But is it money that really matters, Mr.

    MR. BARLOW. My dear, if you are a working man, it matters. When I
    went into the homes of my poor fellows, when they were ill or had had
    accidents--then I knew it mattered. I knew that the great disparity
    was wrong--even as we are taught that it is wrong.

    ANABEL. Yes, I believe that the great disparity is a mistake. But
    take their lives, Mr. Barlow. Do you thing they would LIVE more, if
    they had more money? Do you think the poor live less than the rich?
    --is their life emptier?

    MR. BARLOW. Surely their lives would be better, Anabel.

    OLIVER. All our lives would be better, if we hadn't to hang on in the
    perpetual tug-of-war, like two donkeys pulling at one carrot. The
    ghastly tension of possessions, and struggling for possession, spoils
    life for everybody.

    MR. BARLOW. Yes, I know now, as I knew then, that it was wrong. But
    how to avoid the wrong? If I gave away the whole of my income, it
    would merely be an arbitrary dispensation of charity. The money would
    still be mine to give, and those that received it would probably only
    be weakened instead of strengthened. And then my wife was accustomed
    to a certain way of living, a certain establishment. Had I any right
    to sacrifice her, without her consent?

    ANABEL. Why, no!

    MR. BARLOW. Again, if I withdrew from the Company, if I retired on
    a small income, I knew that another man would automatically take my
    place, and make it probably harder for the men.

    ANABEL. Of course--while the system stands, if one makes self-
    sacrifice one only panders to the system, makes it fatter.

    MR. BARLOW. One panders to the system--one panders to the system.
    And so, you see, the problem is too much. One man cannot alter or
    affect the system; he can only sacrifice himself to it. Which is
    the worst thing probably that he can do.

    OLIVER. Quite. But why feel guilty for the system?--everybody
    supports it, the poor as much as the rich. If every rich man
    withdrew from the system, the working class and socialists would
    keep it going, every man in the hope of getting rich himself at
    last. It's the people that are wrong. They want the system much
    more than the rich do--because they are much more anxious to be
    rich--never having been rich, poor devils.

    MR. BARLOW. Just the system. So I decided at last that the best way
    was to give every private help that lay in my power. I would help my
    men individually and personally, wherever I could. Not one of them
    came to me and went away unheard; and there was no distress which
    could be alleviated that I did not try to alleviate. Yet I am afraid
    that the greatest distress I never heard of , the most distressed
    never came to me. They hid their trouble.

    ANABEL. Yes, the decent ones.

    MR. BARLOW. But I wished to help--it was my duty. Still, I think
    that, on the whole, we were a comfortable and happy community.
    Barlow & Walsall's men were not unhappy in those days, I believe.
    We were liberal; the men lived.

    OLIVER. Yes, that is true. Even twenty years ago the place was
    still jolly.

    MR. BARLOW. And then, when Gerald was a lad of thirteen, came the
    great lock-out. We belonged to the Masters' Federation--I was but
    one man on the Board. We had to abide by the decision. The mines
    were closed till the men would accept the reduction.--Well, that cut
    my life across. We were shutting the men out from work, starving
    their families, in order to force them to accept a reduction. It may
    be the condition of trade made it imperative. But, for myself, I
    would rather have lost everything.--Of course, we did what we could.
    Food was very cheap--practically given away. We had open kitchen
    here. And it was mercifully warm summer-time. Nevertheless, there
    was privation and suffering, and trouble and bitterness. We had the
    redcoats down--even to guard this house. And from this window I saw
    Whatmore head-stocks ablaze, and before I could get to the spot the
    soldiers had shot two poor fellows. They were not killed, thank

    OLIVER. Ah, but they enjoyed it--they enjoyed it immensely. I
    remember what grand old sporting weeks they were. It was like a
    fox-hunt, so lively and gay--bands and tea-parties and excitement
    everywhere, pit-ponies loose, men all over the country-side---

    MR. BARLOW. There was a great deal of suffering, which you were
    too young to appreciate. However, since that year I have had to
    acknowledge a new situation--a radical if unspoken opposition
    between masters and men. Since that year we have been split into
    opposite camps. Whatever I might privately feel, I was one of the
    owners, one of the masters, and therefore in the opposite camp. To
    my men I was an oppressor, a representative of injustice and greed.
    Privately, I like to think that even to this day they bear me no
    malice, that they have some lingering regard for me. But the master
    stands before the human being, and the condition of war overrides
    individuals--they hate the master, even whilst, as a human being, he
    would be their friend. I recognise the inevitable justice. It is
    the price one has to pay.

    ANABEL. Yes, it is difficult--very.

    MR. BARLOW. Perhaps I weary you?

    ANABEL. Oh, no--no.

    MR. BARLOW. Well--then the mines began to pay badly. The seams ran
    thin and unprofitable, work was short. Either we must close down
    or introduce a new system, American methods, which I dislike so
    extremely. Now it really became a case of men working against
    machines, flesh and blood working against iron, for a livelihood.
    Still, it had to be done--the whole system revolutionised. Gerald
    took it in hand--and now I hardly know my own pits, with the great
    electric plants and strange machinery, and the new coal-cutters--
    iron men, as the colliers call them--everything running at top speed,
    utterly dehumanised, inhuman. Well, it had to be done; it was the
    only alternative to closing down and throwing three thousand men out
    of work. And Gerald has done it. But I can't bear to see it. The
    men of this generation are not like my men. They are worn and gloomy;
    they have a hollow look that I can't bear to see. They are a great
    grief to me. I remember men even twenty years ago--a noisy, lively,
    careless set, who kept the place ringing. I feel it is unnatural; I
    feel afraid of it. And I cannot help feeling guilty.

    ANABEL. Yes--I understand. It terrifies me.

    MR. BARLOW. Does it?--does it?--Yes.--And as my wife says, I leave
    it all to Gerald--this terrible situation. But I appeal to God, if
    anything in my power could have averted it, I would have averted it.
    I would have made any sacrifice. For it is a great and bitter
    trouble to me.

    ANABEL. Ah, well, in death there is no industrial situation.
    Something must be different there.

    MR. BARLOW. Yes--yes.

    OLIVER. And you see sacrifice isn't the slightest use. If only
    people would be sane and decent.

    MR. BARLOW. Yes, indeed.--Would you be so good as to ring, Oliver?
    I think I must go to bed.

    ANABEL. Ah, you have over-tired yourself.

    MR. BARLOW. No, my dear--not over-tired. Excuse me if I have
    burdened you with all this. I relieves me to speak of it.

    ANABEL. I realise HOW terrible it is, Mr. Barlow--and how helpless
    one is.

    MR. BARLOW. Thank you, my dear, for your sympathy.

    OLIVER. If the people for one minute pulled themselves up and
    conquered their mania for money and machine excitement, the whole
    thing would be solved.--Would you like me to find Winnie and tell
    her to say good night to you?

    MR. BARLOW. If you would be so kind. (Exit OLIVER.) Can't you find
    a sweet that you would like, my dear? Won't you take a little cherry

    (Enter BUTLER.)

    ANABEL. Thank you.

    WILLIAM. You will go up, sir?

    MR. BARLOW. Yes, William.

    WILLIAM. You are tired to-night, sir.

    MR. BARLOW. It has come over me just now.

    WILLIAM. I wish you went up before you became so over-tired, sir.
    Would you like nurse?

    MR. BARLOW. No, I'll go with you, William. Good night, my dear.

    ANABEL. Good night, Mr. Barlow. I am so sorry if you are over-tired.
    (Exit BUTLER and MR. BARLOW. ANABEL takes a drink and goes to
    the fire.)

    (Enter GERALD.)

    GERALD. Father gone up?

    ANABEL. Yes.

    GERALD. I thought I heard him. Has he been talking too much?--Poor
    father, he will take things to heart.

    ANABEL. Tragic, really.

    GERALD. Yes, I suppose it is. But one can get beyond tragedy--
    beyond the state of feeling tragical, I mean. Father himself is
    tragical. One feels he is mistaken--and yet he wouldn't be any
    different, and be himself, I suppose. He's sort of crucified on
    an idea of the working people. It's rather horrible when he's
    one's father.--However, apart from tragedy, how do you like being
    here, in this house?

    ANABEL. I like the house. It's rather too comfortable.

    GERALD. Yes. But how do you like being here?

    ANABEL. How do you like my being in your home?

    GERALD. Oh, I think you're very decorative.

    ANABEL. More decorative than comfortable?

    GERALD. Perhaps. But perhaps you give the necessary finish to the

    ANABEL. Like the correct window-curtains?

    GERALD. Yes, something like that. I say, why did you come, Anabel?
    Why did you come slap-bang into the middle of us?--It's not
    expostulation--I want to know.

    ANABEL. You mean you want to be told?

    GERALD. Yes, I want to be told.

    ANABEL. That's rather mean of you. You should savvy, and let it go
    without saying.

    GERALD. Yes, but I don't savvy.

    ANABEL. Then wait till you do.

    GERALD. No, I want to be told. There's a difference in you, Anabel,
    that puts me out, rather. You're sort of softer and sweeter--I'm not
    sure whether it isn't a touch of father in you. There's a little
    sanctified smudge on your face. Are you really a bit sanctified?

    ANABEL. No, not sanctified. It's true I feel different. I feel I
    want a new way of life--something more dignified, more religious, if
    you like--anyhow, something POSITIVE.

    GERALD. Is it the change of heart, Anabel?

    ANABEL. Perhaps it is, Gerald.

    GERALD. I'm not sure that I like it. Isn't it like a berry that
    decides to get very sweet, and goes soft?

    ANABEL. I don't think so.

    GERALD. Slightly sanctimonious. I think I liked you better before.
    I don't think I like you with this touch of aureole. People seem to
    me so horribly self-satisfied when they get a change of heart--they
    take such a fearful lot of credit to themselves on the strength of it.

    ANABEL. I don't think I do.--Do you feel no different, Gerald?

    GERALD. Radically, I can't say I do. I feel very much more

    ANABEL. What to?

    GERALD. Everything.

    ANABEL. You're still angry--that's what it is.

    GERALD. Oh, yes, I'm angry. But that is part of my normal state.

    ANABEL. Why are you angry?

    GERALD. Is there any reason why I shouldn't be angry? I'm angry
    because you treated me--well, so impudently, really--clearing out
    and leaving one to whistle to the empty walls.

    ANABEL. Don't you think it was time I cleared out, when you became
    so violent, and really dangerous, really like a madman?

    GERALD. Time or not time, you went--you disappeared and left us
    high and dry--and I am still angry.--But I'm not only angry about
    that. I'm angry with the colliers, with Labour for its low-down
    impudence--and I'm angry with father for being so ill--and I'm angry
    with mother for looking such a hopeless thing--and I'm angry with
    Oliver because he thinks so much---

    ANABEL. And what are you angry with yourself for?

    GERALD. I'm angry with myself for being myself--I always was that.
    I was always a curse to myself.

    ANABEL. And that's why you curse others so much?

    GERALD. You talk as if butter wouldn't melt in your mouth.

    ANABEL. You see, Gerald, there has to be a change. You'll have to

    GERALD. Change of heart?--Well, it won't be to get softer, Anabel.

    ANABEL. You needn't be softer. But you can be quieter, more sane
    even. There ought to be some part of you that can be quiet and apart
    from the world, some part that can be happy and gentle.

    GERALD. Well, there isn't. I don't pretend to be able to extricate
    a soft sort of John Halifax, Gentleman, out of the machine I'm mixed
    up in, and keep him to gladden the connubial hearth. I'm angry, and
    I'm angry right through, and I'm not going to play bo-peep with
    myself, pretending not to be.

    ANABEL. Nobody asks you to. But is there no part of you that can be
    a bit gentle and peaceful and happy with a woman?

    GERALD. No, there isn't.--I'm not going to smug with you--no, not I.
    You're smug in your coming back. You feel virtuous, and expect me to
    rise to it. I won't.

    ANABEL. Then I'd better have stayed away.

    GERALD. If you want me to virtuise and smug with you, you had.

    ANABEL. What DO you want, then?

    GERALD. I don't know. I know I don't want THAT.

    ANABEL. Oh, very well. (Goes to the piano; begins to play.)

    (Enter MRS. BARLOW.)

    GERALD. Hello, mother! Father HAS gone to bed.

    MRS. BARLOW. Oh, I thought he was down here talking. You two alone?

    GERALD. With the piano for chaperone, mother.

    MRS. BARLOW. That's more than I gave you credit for. I haven't come
    to chaperone you either, Gerald.

    GERALD. Chaperone ME, mother! Do you think I need it?

    MRS. BARLOW. If you do, you won't get it. I've come too late to be
    of any use in that way, as far as I hear.

    GERALD. What have you heard, mother?

    MRS. BARLOW. I heard Oliver and this young woman talking.

    GERALD. Oh, did you? When? What did they say?

    MRS. BARLOW. Something about married in the sight of heaven, but
    couldn't keep it up on earth.

    GERALD. I don't understand.

    MRS. BARLOW. That you and this young woman were married in the sight
    of heaven, or through eternity, or something similar, but that you
    couldn't make up your minds to it on earth.

    GERALD. Really! That's very curious, mother.

    MRS. BARLOW. Very common occurrence, I believe.

    GERALD. Yes, so it is. But I don't think you heard quite right,
    dear. There seems to be some lingering uneasiness in heaven, as a
    matter of fact. We'd quite made up our minds to live apart on earth.
    But where did you hear this, mother?

    MRS. BARLOW. I heard it outside the studio door this morning.

    GERALD. You mean you happened to be on one side of the door while
    Oliver and Anabel were talking on the other?

    MRS. BARLOW. You'd make a detective, Gerald--you're so good at
    putting two and two together. I listened till I'd heard as much
    as I wanted. I'm not sure I didn't come down here hoping to hear
    another conversation going on.

    GERALD. Listen outside the door, darling?

    MRS. BARLOW. There'd be nothing to listen to if I were inside.

    GERALD. It isn't usually done, you know.

    MRS. BARLOW. I listen outside doors when I have occasion to be
    interested--which isn't often, unfortunately for me.

    GERALD. But I've a queer feeling that you have a permanent occasion
    to be interested in me. I only half like it.

    MRS. BARLOW. It's surprising how uninteresting you are, Gerald, for a
    man of your years. I have not had occasion to listen outside a door,
    for you, no, not for a great while, believe me.

    GERALD. I believe you implicitly, darling. But do you happen to
    know me through and through, and in and out, all my past and present
    doings, mother? Have you a secret access to my room, and a spy-hole,
    and all those things? This is uncomfortably thrilling. You take on
    a new lustre.

    MRS. BARLOW. Your memoirs wouldn't make you famous, my son.

    GERALD. Infamous, dear?

    MRS. BARLOW. Good heavens, no! What a lot you expect from your very
    mild sins! You and this young woman have lived together, then?

    GERALD. Don't say "this young woman," mother dear--it's slightly
    vulgar. It isn't for me to compromise Anabel by admitting such a
    thing, you know.

    MRS. BARLOW. Do you ask me to call her Anabel? I won't.

    GERALD. Then say "this person," mother. It's more becoming.

    MRS. BARLOW. I didn't come to speak to you, Gerald. I know you. I
    came to speak to this young woman.

    GERALD. "Person," mother.--Will you curtsey, Anabel? And I'll twist
    my handkerchief. We shall make a Cruikshank drawing, if mother makes
    her hair a little more slovenly.

    MRS. BARLOW. You and Gerald were together for some time?

    GERALD. Three years, off and on, mother.

    MRS. BARLOW. And then you suddenly dropped my son, and went away?

    GERALD. To Norway, mother--so I have gathered.

    MRS. BARLOW. And now you have come back because that last one died?

    GERALD. Is he dead, Anabel? How did he die?

    ANABEL. He was killed on the ice.

    GERALD. Oh, God!

    MRS. BARLOW. Now, having had your fill of tragedy, you have come back
    to be demure and to marry Gerald. Does he thank you?

    GERALD. You must listen outside the door, mother, to find that out.

    MRS. BARLOW. Well, it's your own affair.

    GERALD. What a lame summing up, mother!--quite unworthy of you.

    ANABEL. What did you wish to say to me, Mrs. Barlow? Please say it.

    MRS. BARLOW. What did I wish to say! Ay, what did I wish to say!
    What is the use of my saying anything? What am I but a buffoon and
    a slovenly caricature in the family?

    GERALD. No, mother dear, don't climb down--please don't. Tell Anabel
    what you wanted to say.

    MRS. BARLOW. Yes--yes--yes. I came to say--don't be good to my son--
    don't be too good to him.

    GERALD. Sounds weak, dear--mere contrariness.

    MRS. BARLOW. Don't presume to be good to my son, young woman. I
    won't have it, even if he will. You hear me?

    ANABEL. Yes. I won't presume, then.

    GERALD. May she presume to be bad to me, mother?

    MRS. BARLOW. For that you may look after yourself.--But a woman who
    was good to him would ruin him in six months, take the manhood out of
    him. He has a tendency, a secret hankering, to make a gift of himself
    to somebody. He sha'n't do it. I warn you. I am not a woman to be

    ANABEL. No--I understand.

    MRS. BARLOW. Only one other thing I ask. If he must fight--and
    fight he must--let him alone: don't you try to shield him or save
    him. DON'T INTERFERE--do you hear?

    ANABEL. Not till I must.

    MRS. BARLOW. NEVER. Learn your place, and keep it. Keep away from
    him, if you are going to be a wife to him. Don't go too near. And
    don't let him come too near. Beat him off if he tries. Keep a
    solitude in your heart even when you love him best. Keep it. If you
    lose it, you lose everything.

    GERALD. But that isn't love, mother.

    MRS. BARLOW. What?

    GERALD. That isn't love.

    MRS. BARLOW. WHAT? What do you know of love, you ninny? You only
    know the feeding-bottle. It's what you want, all of you--to be
    brought up by hand, and mew about love. Ah, God!--Ah, God!--that
    you should none of you know the only thing which would make you worth

    GERALD. I don't believe in your only thing, mother. But what is it?

    MRS. BARLOW. What you haven't got--the power to be alone.

    GERALD. Sort of megalomania, you mean?

    MRS. BARLOW. What? Megalomania! What is your LOVE but a
    megalomania, flowing over everybody and everything like
    spilt water? Megalomania! I hate you, you softy! I would BEAT
    you (suddenly advancing on him and beating him fiercely)--beat you
    into some manhood--beat you---

    GERALD. Stop, mother--keep off.

    MRS. BARLOW. It's the men who need beating nowadays, not the
    children. Beat the softness out of him, young woman. It's the
    only way, if you love him enough--if you love him enough.

    GERALD. You hear, Anabel?

    Speak roughly to your little boy,
    And beat him when he sneezes.

    MRS. BARLOW (catching up a large old fan, and smashing it about his
    head). You softy--you piffler--you will never have had enough! Ah,
    you should be thrust in the fire, you should, to have the softness
    and the brittleness burnt out of you!

    (The door opens--OLIVER TURTON enters, followed by JOB ARTHUR FREER.
    MRS. BARLOW is still attacking GERALD. She turns, infuriated.)

    Go out! Go out! What do you mean by coming in unannounced? Take
    him upstairs--take that fellow into the library, Oliver Turton.

    GERALD. Mother, you improve our already pretty reputation. Already
    they say you are mad.

    MRS. BARLOW (ringing violently). Let me be mad then. I am mad--
    driven mad. One day I shall kill you, Gerald.

    GERALD. You won't, mother because I sha'n't let you.

    MRS. BARLOW. Let me!--let me! As if I should wait for you to let me!

    GERALD. I am a match for you even in violence, come to that.

    MRS. BARLOW. A match! A damp match. A wet match.

    (Enter BUTLER.)

    WILLIAM. You rang, madam?

    MRS. BARLOW. Clear up those bits.--Where are you going to see that
    white-faced fellow? Here?

    GERALD. I think so.

    MRS. BARLOW. You will STILL have them coming to the house, will you?
    You will still let them trample in our private rooms, will you? Bah!
    I ought to leave you to your own devices. (Exit.)

    GERALD. When you've done that, William, ask Mr. Freer to come down

    WILLIAM. Yes, sir. (A pause. Exit WILLIAM.)

    GERALD. So-o-o. You've had another glimpse of the family life.

    ANABEL. Yes. Rather--disturbing.

    GERALD. Not at all, when you're used to it. Mother isn't as mad as
    she pretends to be.

    ANABEL. I don't think she's mad at all. I think she has most
    desperate courage.

    GERALD. "Courage" is good. That's a new term for it.

    ANABEL. Yes, courage. When a man says "courage" he means the
    courage to die. A woman means the courage to live. That's what
    women hate men most for, that they haven't the courage to live.

    GERALD. Mother takes her courage in both hands rather late.

    ANABEL. We're a little late ourselves.

    GERALD. We are, rather. By the way, you seem to have had plenty of
    the courage of death--you've played a pretty deathly game, it seems to
    me--both when I knew you and afterwards, you've had your finger pretty
    deep in the death-pie.

    ANABEL. That's why I want a change of--of---

    GERALD. Of heart?--Better take mother's tip, and try the poker.

    ANABEL. I will.

    GERALD. Ha--corraggio!

    ANABEL. Yes--corraggio!

    GERALD. Corraggiaccio!

    ANABEL. Corraggione!

    GERALD. Cock-a-doodle-doo!

    (Enter OLIVER and FREER.)

    Oh, come in. Don't be afraid; it's a charade. (ANABEL rises.) No,
    don't go, Anabel. Corraggio! Take a seat, Mr. Freer.

    JOB ARTHUR. Sounds like a sneezing game, doesn't it?

    GERALD. It is. Do you know the famous rhyme:

    Speak roughly to your little boy,
    And beat him when he sneezes?

    JOB ARTHUR. No, I can't say I do.

    GERALD. My mother does. Will you have anything to drink? Will you
    help yourself?

    JOB ARTHUR. Well--no--I don't think I'll have anything, thanks.

    GERALD. A cherry brandy?--Yes?--Anabel, what's yours?

    ANABEL. Did I see Kummel?

    GERALD. You did. (They all take drinks.) What's the latest, Mr.

    JOB ARTHUR. The latest? Well, I don't know, I'm sure---

    GERALD. Oh, yes. Trot it out. We're quite private.

    JOB ARTHUR. Well--I don't know. There's several things.

    GERALD. The more the merrier.

    JOB ARTHUR. I'm not so sure. The men are in a very funny temper, Mr.
    Barlow--very funny.

    GERALD. Coincidence--so am I. Not surprising, is it?

    JOB ARTHUR. The men, perhaps not.

    GERALD. What else, Job Arthur?

    JOB ARTHUR. You know the men have decided to stand by the office men?

    GERALD. Yes.

    JOB ARTHUR. They've agreed to come out next Monday.

    GERALD. Have they?

    JOB ARTHUR. Yes; there was no stopping them. They decided for it
    like one man.

    GERALD. How was that?

    JOB ARTHUR. That's what surprises me. They're a jolly sight more
    certain over this than they've ever been over their own interests.

    GERALD. All their love for the office clerks coming out in a rush?

    JOB ARTHUR. Well, I don't know about love; but that's how it is.

    GERALD. What is it, if it isn't love?

    JOB ARTHUR. I can't say. They're in a funny temper. It's hard to
    make out.

    GERALD. A funny temper, are they? Then I suppose we ought to laugh.

    JOB ARTHUR. No, I don't think it's a laughing matter. They're coming
    out on Monday for certain.

    GERALD. Yes--so are the daffodils.

    JOB ARTHUR. Beg pardon?

    GERALD. Daffodils.

    JOB ARTHUR. No, I don't follow what you mean.

    GERALD. Don't you? But I thought Alfred Breffitt and William Straw
    were not very popular.

    JOB ARTHUR. No, they aren't--not in themselves. But it's the
    principle of the thing--so it seems.

    GERALD. What principle?

    JOB ARTHUR. Why, all sticking together, for one thing--all Barlow &
    Walsall's men holding by one another.

    GERALD. United we stand?

    JOB ARTHUR. That's it. And then it's the strong defending the weak
    as well. There's three thousand colliers standing up for thirty-odd
    office men. I must say I think it's sporting myself.

    GERALD. You do, do you? United we stand, divided we fall. What do
    they stand for really? What is it?

    JOB ARTHUR. Well--for their right to a living wage. That's how I see

    GERALD. For their right to a living wage! Just that?

    JOB ARTHUR. Yes, sir--that's how I see it.

    GERALD. Well, that doesn't seem so preposterously difficult does it?

    JOB ARTHUR. Why, that's what I think myself, Mr. Gerald. It's such
    a little thing.

    GERALD. Quite. I suppose the men themselves are to judge what is a
    living wage?

    JOB ARTHUR. Oh, I think they're quite reasonable, you know.

    GERALD. Oh, yes, eminently reasonable. Reason's their strong point.
    --And if they get their increase they'll be quite contented?

    JOB ARTHUR. Yes, as far as I know, they will.

    GERALD. As far as you know? Why, is there something you don't know?
    --something you're not sure about?

    JOB ARTHUR. No--I don't think so. I think they'll be quite satisfied
    this time.

    GERALD. Why this time? Is there going to be a next time--every-day-
    has-its-to-morrow kind of thing?

    JOB ARTHUR. I don't know about that. It's a funny world, Mr. Barlow.

    GERALD. Yes, I quite believe it. How do you see it so funny?

    JOB ARTHUR. Oh, I don't know. Everything's in a funny state.

    GERALD. What do you mean by everything?

    JOB ARTHUR. Well--I mean things in general--Labour, for example.

    GERALD. You think Labour's in a funny state, do you? What do you
    think it wants? What do you think, personally?

    JOB ARTHUR. Well, in my own mind, I think it wants a bit of its own

    GERALD. And how does it mean to get it?

    JOB ARTHUR. Ha! that's not so easy to say. But it means to have it,
    in the long run.

    GERALD. You mean by increasing demands for higher wages?

    JOB ARTHUR. Yes, perhaps that's one road.

    GERALD. Do you see any other?

    JOB ARTHUR. Not just for the present.

    GERALD. But later on?

    JOB ARTHUR. I can't say about that. The men will be quiet enough
    for a bit, if it's all right about the office men, you know.

    GERALD. Probably. But have Barlow & Walsall's men any special
    grievance apart from the rest of the miners?

    JOB ARTHUR. I don't know. They've no liking for you, you know, sir.

    GERALD. Why?

    JOB ARTHUR. They think you've got a down on them.

    GERALD. Why should they?

    JOB ARTHUR. I don't know, sir; but they do.

    GERALD. So they have a personal feeling against me? You don't think
    all the colliers are the same, all over the country?

    JOB ARTHUR. I think there's a good deal of feeling---

    GERALD. Of wanting their own back?

    JOB ARTHUR. That's it.

    GERALD. But what can they do? I don't see what they can do. They
    can go out on strike--but they've done that before, and the owners,
    at a pinch, can stand it better than they can. As for the ruin of
    the industry, if they do ruin it, it falls heaviest on them. In
    fact, it leaves them destitute. There's nothing they can do, you
    know, that doesn't hit them worse than it hits us.

    JOB ARTHUR. I know there's something in that. But if they had a
    strong man to lead them, you see---

    GERALD. Yes, I've heard a lot about that strong man--but I've never
    come across any signs of him, you know. I don't believe in one strong
    man appearing out of so many little men. All men are pretty big in an
    age, or in a movement, which produces a really big man. And Labour is
    a great swarm of hopelessly little men. That's how I see it.

    JOB ARTHUR. I'm not so sure about that.

    GERALD. I am. Labour is a thing that can't have a head. It's a
    sort of unwieldy monster that's bound to run its skull against the
    wall sooner or later, and knock out what bit of brain it's got. You
    see, you need wit and courage and real understanding if you're going
    to do anything positive. And Labour has none of these things--
    certainly it shows no signs of them.

    JOB ARTHUR. Yes, when it has a chance, I think you'll see plenty of
    courage and plenty of understanding.

    GERALD. It always had a chance. And where one sees a bit of courage,
    there's no understanding; and where there's some understanding,
    there's absolutely no courage. It's hopeless, you know--it would be
    far best if they'd all give it up, and try a new line.

    JOB ARTHUR. I don't think they will.

    GERALD. No, I don't, either. They'll make a mess and when they've
    made it, they'll never get out of it. They can't--they're too stupid,

    JOB ARTHUR. They've never had a try yet.

    GERALD. They're trying every day. They just simply couldn't control
    modern industry--they haven't the intelligence. They've no LIFE
    intelligence. The owners may have little enough, but Labour has
    none. They're just mechanical little things that can make one or
    two motions, and they're done. They've no more idea of life than
    a lawn-mower has.

    JOB ARTHUR. It remains to be seen.

    GERALD. No, it doesn't. It's perfectly obvious--there's nothing
    remains to be seen. All that Labour is capable of, is smashing
    things up. And even for that I don't believe it has either the
    energy or the courage or the bit of necessary passion, or slap-dash--
    call it whatever you will. However, we'll see.

    JOB ARTHUR. Yes, sir. Perhaps you see now why you're not so very
    popular, Mr. Gerald.

    GERALD. We can't all be popular, Job Arthur. You're very high up in
    popularity, I believe.

    JOB ARTHUR. Not so very. They listen to me a bit. But you never
    know when they'll let you down. I know they'll let me down one day--
    so it won't be a surprise.

    GERALD. I should think not.

    JOB ARTHUR. But about the office men, Mr. Gerald. You think it'll
    be all right?

    GERALD. Oh, yes, that'll be all right.

    JOB ARTHUR. Easiest for this time, anyhow, sir. We don't want
    bloodshed, do we?

    GERALD. I shouldn't mind at all. It might clear the way to something.
    But I have absolutely no belief in the power of Labour even to bring
    about anything so positive as bloodshed.

    JOB ARTHUR. I don't know about that--I don't know. Well.

    GERALD. Have another drink before you go.--Yes, do. Help yourself.

    JOB ARTHUR. Well--if you're so pressing. (Helps himself.) Here's
    luck, all!

    ALL. Thanks.

    GERALD. Take a cigar--there's the box. Go on--take a handful--fill
    your case.

    JOB ARTHUR. They're a great luxury nowadays, aren't they? Almost
    beyond a man like me.

    GERALD. Yes, that's the worst of not being a bloated capitalist.
    Never mind, you'll be a Cabinet Minister some day.--Oh, all right--
    I'll open the door for you.

    JOB ARTHUR. Oh, don't trouble. Good night--good night. (Exeunt.)

    OLIVER. Oh, God, what a world to live in!

    ANABEL. I rather liked him. What is he?

    OLIVER. Checkweighman--local secretary for the Miner's Federation--
    plays the violin well, although he was a collier, and it spoilt his
    hands. They're a musical family.

    ANABEL. But isn't he rather nice?

    OLIVER. I don't like him. But I confess he's a study. He's the
    modern Judas.

    ANABEL. Don't you think he likes Gerald?

    OLIVER. I'm sure he does. The way he suns himself here--like a cat
    purring in his luxuriation.

    ANABEL. Yes--I don't mind it. It shows a certain sensitiveness and
    a certain taste.

    OLIVER. Yes, he has both--touch of the artist, as Mrs. Barlow says.
    He loves refinement, culture, breeding, all those things--loves them--
    and a presence, a fine free manner.

    ANABEL. But that is nice in him.

    OLIVER. Quite. But what he loves, and what he admires, and what he
    aspires to, he MUST betray. It's his fatality. He lives for the
    moment when he can kiss Gerald in the Garden of Olives, or wherever
    it was.

    ANABEL. But Gerald shouldn't be kissed.

    OLIVER. That's what I say.

    ANABEL. And that's what his mother means as well, I suppose.

    (Enter GERALD.)

    GERALD. Well--you've heard the voice of the people.

    ANABEL. He isn't the people.

    GERALD. I think he is, myself--the epitome.

    OLIVER. No, he's a special type.

    GERALD. Ineffectual, don't you think?

    ANABEL. How pleased you are, Gerald! How pleased you are with
    yourself! You love the turn with him.

    GERALD. It's rather stimulating, you know.

    ANABEL. It oughtn't to be, then.

    OLIVER. He's you Judas, and you love him.

    GERALD. Nothing so deep. He's just a sort of AEolian harp that
    sings to the temper of the wind. I find him amusing.

    ANABEL. I think it's boring.

    OLIVER. And I think it's nasty.

    GERALD. I believe you're both jealous of him. What do you think of
    the working man, Oliver?

    OLIVER. It seems to me he's in nearly as bad a way as the British
    employer: he's nearly as much beside the point.

    GERALD. What point?

    OLIVER. Oh, just life.

    GERALD. That's too vague, my boy. Do you think they'll ever make a

    OLIVER. I can't tell. I don't see any good in it, if they do.

    GERALD. It might clear the way--and it might block the way for ever:
    depends what comes through. But, sincerely, I don't think they've
    got it in them.

    ANABEL. They may have something better.

    GERALD. That suggestion doesn't interest me, Anabel. Ah, well, we
    shall see what we shall see. Have a whisky and soda with me, Oliver,
    and let the troubled course of this evening run to a smooth close.
    It's quite like old times. Aren't you smoking, Anabel?

    ANABEL. No, thanks.

    GERALD. I believe you're a reformed character. So it won't be like
    old times, after all.

    ANABEL. I don't want old times. I want new ones.

    GERALD. Wait till Job Arthur has risen like Anti-christ, and
    proclaimed the resurrection of the gods.--Do you see Job Arthur
    proclaiming Dionysos and Aphrodite?

    ANABEL. It bores me. I don't like your mood. Good night.

    GERALD. Oh, don't go.

    ANABEL. Yes, good night. (Exit.)

    OLIVER. She's NOT reformed, Gerald. She's the same old moral
    character--moral to the last bit of her, really--as she always was.

    GERALD. Is that what it is?--But one must be moral.

    OLIVER. Oh, yes. Oliver Cromwell wasn't as moral as Anabel is--nor
    such an iconoclast.

    GERALD. Poor old Anabel!

    OLIVER. How she hates the dark gods!

    GERALD. And yet they cast a spell over her. Poor old Anabel! Well,
    Oliver, is Bacchus the father of whisky?

    OLIVER. I don't know.--I don't like you either. You seem to smile
    all over yourself. It's objectionable. Good night.

    GERALD. Oh, look here, this is censorious.

    OLIVER. You smile to yourself. (Exit.)

    Next Chapter
    Chapter 3
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a D.H. Lawrence essay and need some advice, post your D.H. Lawrence essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Want to read

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?