English Literature

Dandy Dick by Arthur W. Pinero

Dandy Dick by Arthur W. Pinero

THE FIRST ACT.

The morning-room in the Deanery of St. Marvells, with a large arched opening leading to the library on the right, and a deeply-recessed window opening out to the garden on the left. It is a bright spring morning, and an air of comfort and serenity pervades the place.

Salome, a tall, handsome, dark girl, of about three-and-twenty, is sitting with her elbows resting on her knees, staring wildly into vacancy. Sheba,a fair little girl of about seventeen, wearing short petticoats, shares her despondency, and lies prostrate upon the settee.

Salome.

Oh! oh my! oh my! oh my!

Sheba.

[Sitting upright.] Oh, my gracious goodness, goodness gracious me!

[They both walk about excitedly.

Salome.

There’s only one terrible word for it—it’s a fix!

Sheba.

It’s worse than that! It’s a scrape! How did you ever get led into it?[Pg 12]

Salome.

How did we get led into it? Halves, Sheba, please.

Sheba.

It was Major Tarver’s proposal, and I believe, Salome, that it is to you Major Tarver is paying attention.

Salome.

The Fancy Dress Masked Ball at Durnstone is promoted by the Officers of the Hussars. I believe that the young gentleman you have impressed calls himself an officer, though he is merely a lieutenant.

Sheba.

[Indignantly.] Mr. Darbey is certainly an officer—a small officer. How dare you gird at me, Salome?

Salome.

Very well, then. When to-night we appear at the Durnstone Athenæum, unknown to dear Papa, on the arms of Major Tarver and Mr. Darbey, I consider that we shall be equally wicked. Oh, how can we be so wrong?

Sheba.

Well, we’re not wrong yet. We’re only going to be wrong; that’s a very different matter.

Salome.

That’s true. Besides, there’s this to remember—we’re inexperienced girls and have only dear Papa. But oh, now that the Ball is to-night, I repent, Sheba, I repent!

Sheba.

I sha’n’t do that till to-morrow. But oh, how I shall repent to-morrow![Pg 13]

Salome.

[Taking an envelope from her pocket, and almost crying.] You’d repent now if you had seen the account for the fancy dresses.

Sheba.

Has it come in?

Salome.

Yes, the Major enclosed it to me this morning. You know, Sheba, Major Tarver promised to get the dresses made in London, so I gave him our brown paper patterns to send to the costumier.

Sheba.

[Shocked.] Oh, Salome, do you think he quizzed them?

Salome.

No; I sealed them up and marked outside “To be opened only by a lady.”

Sheba.

That’s all right. I hate the plan of myself in brown paper.

Salome.

Well, of course Major Tarver begged to be allowed to pay for the dresses, and I said I couldn’t dream of permitting it, and then he said he should be most unhappy if he didn’t, and, just as I thought he was going to have his own way, [bursting into tears] he cheered up and said he’d yield to a lady. [Taking a large account from the envelope.] And oh! he’s yielded.

Sheba.

Read it! Don’t spare me![Pg 14]

Salome.

[Reading.] “Debtor to Lewis Isaacs, Costumier to the Queen, Bow Street. One gown—period French Revolution, 1798—Fifteen guineas!”

Sheba.

[Sinking on her knees, clutching the table.] Oh!

Salome.

“Trimmings, linings, buttons, frillings—Seven guineas!”

Sheba.

[Hysterically.] Yah!

Salome.

That’s mine!

Sheba.

[Putting her fingers into her ears.] Now for mine, oooh!

Salome.

[Reading.] “One skirt and bodice—flower girl—period uncertain—Ten guineas.”

Sheba.

Less than yours! What a shame!

Salome.

“Trimmings, linings, buttons, frillings—Five guineas! Extras, Two guineas. Total, Forty pounds, nineteen. Ladies’ own brown paper patterns mislaid. Terms, Cash!”

[They throw themselves into each other’s arms.

Salome.

Oh, Sheba![Pg 15]

Sheba.

Salome! Are there forty pounds in the wide world?

Salome.

My heart weighs twenty. What shall we do?

Sheba.

If we were only a few years older I should suggest that we wrote nice notes to Papa and committed suicide.

Salome.

Brought up as we have been, that’s out of the question!

Sheba.

Then let us be brave women and wear the dresses!

Salome.

Of course we’ll do that, but—the bill!

Sheba.

We must get dear Papa in a good humor and coax him to make us a present of money. He knows we haven’t been charitable in the town for ever so long.

Salome.

Poor dear Papa! He hasn’t paid our proper dressmaker’s bill yet, and I’m sure he’s pressed for money.

Sheba.

But we can’t help that when we’re pressed for money—poor dear Papa!

Salome.

Suppose poor Papa refuses to give us a present?[Pg 16]

Sheba.

Then we must play the piano when he’s at work on his Concordance—poor dear Papa!

Salome.

However, don’t let us wrong poor Papa in advance. Let us try to think how nice we shall look.

Sheba.

Oh yes—sha’n’t I!

Salome.

Oh, I shall! And as for stealing out of the house with Major Tarver when poor dear Papa has gone to bed, why, Gerald Tarver would die for me!

Sheba.

So would Nugent Darbey for me; besides I’m not old enough to know better.

Salome.

You’re not so very much younger than I, Sheba!

Sheba.

Indeed, Salome! Then why do you keep me in short skirts?

Salome.

Why! you cruel girl! You know I can’t lengthen you till I’m married!

[Blore, the butler, a venerable-looking person, with rather a clerical suggestion about his dress, enters by the window.

Blore.

[Benignly.] The two soldier gentlemen have just rode hup, Miss Salome.

[The girls clutch each other’s hands.

Salome.

You mean Major Tarver?[Pg 17]

Sheba.

And Mr. Darbey. They have called to inquire after poor Papa.

Salome.

Poor Papa!

Blore.

Shall I show them hin, Miss Sheba?

Sheba.

Yes, Blore, dear, and hang your h’s on the hat-stand.

[Blore laughs sweetly at Sheba and shakes his fingers at her playfully.

Blore.

[Vindictively, behind their backs.] ’Ussies!

[He goes out.

Salome.

Am I all right, Sheba?

Sheba.

Yes. Am I?

Salome.

Yes. [Looking out at window.] Here they are! How well Gerald Tarver dismounts! Oh!

Sheba.

He left his liver in India, didn’t he?

Salome.

No—only part of it.[Pg 18]

Sheba.

Well—part of it.

Salome.

And that he gave to his Queen, brave fellow!

Sheba.

[Seating herself in an artificial attitude.] Where shall we be—here?

Salome.

[Running to the piano.] All right; you be admiring my voice!

Sheba.

Oh, I dare say!

Salome.

Here they are, and we’re doing nothing!

Sheba.

Let’s run away and then come in unconsciously.

Salome.

Yes—unconsciously.

[They run off through the Library. Blore shows in Major Tarver and Mr. Darbey, who are both in regimentals. Major Tarver is a middle-aged, tall, angular officer, with a thin face, yellow complexion, and red eyes. He is alternately in a state of great excitement and depression. Mr. Darbeyis a mere boy, but with a pompous, patronizing manner.

Darbey.

The Dean’s out of the way, eh![Pg 19]

Blore.

Yes, sir, he his.

Tarver.

Eh? How is the Dean? Never mind—perhaps Miss Jedd is at home?

Blore.

Yes, sir, she his.

Tarver.

It would be discourteous to run away without asking Miss Jedd after her father.

Darbey.

[Throwing himself on the settee.] Deuced bad form!

Blore.

The ladies were ’ere a minute ago.

[Salome and Sheba walk in together. Salome has her arm round her sister’s waist and looks up to her with a sweet, trusting smile. They start in confusion on seeing Tarver and Darbey.

Salome.

Major Tarver.

Sheba.

Mr. Darbey.

Tarver.

[Taking Salome’s hand eagerly.] My dear Miss Jedd!

Darbey.

[Rising and putting a glass to his eye.] Hah yah! Hah yah![Pg 20]

Salome.

[With her hand on her heart.] You quite startled us.

Tarver.

[In an agony of contrition.] Oh, did we?

Darbey.

Awfully cut up to hear it.

Sheba.

We never dreamt of finding two visitors for Papa.

Blore.

Why, you told me to show the gentlemen hin, Miss Sheba!

[The two girls start guiltily and glare at Blore.

Salome.

[With suppressed rage.] You needn’t wait, Blore!

Blore.

[To himself.] Let ’em ’ang that on the ’atstand!

[Blore goes out. Darbey and Sheba stroll together into the Library.

Tarver.

[To Salome.] We thought we’d ride over directly after parade to make the final arrangements for tonight. Have the costumes arrived?

Salome.

Yes, they came yesterday in a hamper labeled “Miss Jedd, Secretary, Cast-off Clothing Distribution League.”[Pg 21]

Tarver.

That was my idea—came to me in the middle of the night.

Salome.

Dear Major Tarver, surely this terrible strain on your nerves is very, very bad for you with your—your——

Tarver.

My liver—say the word, Miss Jedd.

Salome.

[Drooping her head.] Oh, Major Tarver!

Tarver.

It is frightfully injurious. Of course I’m excited now, and you see me at my best, but the alternating fits of hopeless despondency are shocking to witness and to endure!

Salome.

Oh!

Tarver.

It’s all that damned India! Oh! what have I said! You will never forgive me.

Salome.

Indeed, indeed I will!

Tarver.

Never. Oh, Miss Jedd, my forgetfulness has brought me—one of my—terrible attacks—of depression!

Salome.

Major Tarver!

[She leads him to a chair into which he sinks in a ghastly state. Darbey strolls in from the Library with Sheba.

Darbey.

[To Sheba.] Your remarks about the army are extremely complimentary. On behalf of the army I thank you. We fellows are not a bad sort, take us all round.[Pg 22]

Sheba.

There’s a grand future before you, isn’t there?

Darbey.

Well, I suppose there is if I go on as I’m going now.

Tarver.

[To Salome.] Thanks, the attack has passed. Now about to-night; at what time is the house entirely quiet?

Salome.

Poor dear Papa goes round with Blore at half-past nine—after that all is rest and peacefulness.

Tarver.

Then if we’re here with the closed carriage at ten—!

[They go together into the library.

Darbey.

[To Sheba.] Some of us army men can slave too. Tarver’s queer livah has thrown all the arrangements for the Fancy Ball on my shoulders. [Salome and Tarver re-enter.] Look at him—that’s when he’s enjoying life!

Tarver.

[Laughing convulsively.] Ha! ha! ha! ho! he! he! Good, eh, Miss Jedd?

Salome.

But suppose dear Papa should hear us crunching down the gravel path![Pg 23]

Tarver.

Oh!

[He sinks on to the settee with a vacant stare, his arms hanging helplessly.

Darbey.

[To Sheba.] There—now his career is a burden to him!

Sheba.

Oh!

Salome.

Would you like a glass of water, Major Tarver?

Tarver.

[Taking Salome’s hand.] Thank you, dear Miss Jedd, with the least suggestion of cayenne pepper in it.

Sheba.

[Looking out at window.] Oh, Salome! Papa! Papa!

Tarver.

The Dean?

Darbey.

The Dean!

[They all collect themselves in a fluster. The two girls go to meet their father, who enters at the window with his head bowed and his hands behind his back, in deep thought. The Dean is a portly man of about fifty, with a dignified demeanor, a suave voice and persuasive manner, and a noble brow surmounted by silver-gray hair. Blore follows The Dean, carrying some books, a small bunch of flowers, and an umbrella.

Salome.

[Tenderly.] Papa![Pg 24]

Sheba.

Papsey!

[The Dean rouses himself, discovers his children and removes his hat.

The Dean.

[To Salome.] Salome! [To Sheba.] My toy-child! [He draws the girls to him and embraces them, then sees Tarver and Darbey.] Dear me! Strangers!

Tarver and Darbey.

[Coughing uncomfortably.] H’m!

Salome.

[Reproachfully, taking his hat from him.] Papa! Major Tarver and Mr. Darbey have ridden over from Durnstone to ask how your cold is.

[Sheba takes the gold-rimmed pince-nez which hangs upon The Dean’s waistcoat and places it before his eyes.

The Dean.

Dear me! Major! Mr. Garvey.

Sheba.

Mr. Darbey!

The Dean.

Darbey! How good of you! [With his girls still embracing him he extends a hand to each of the men.] My cold is better. [Blore goes out through the Library.] Major—Mr. Garvey—these inquiries strike me as being so kind that I insist—no, no, I beg that you will share our simple dinner with us to-night at six o’clock![Pg 25]

Tarver.

[Disconcerted.] Oh!

Darbey.

H’m!

The Dean.

Let me see—Tuesday night is——

Salome.

Leg of mutton, Papa!

The Dean.

Thank you. Mutton, hot.

Sheba.

And custards, Papsey.

The Dean.

Thank you, toy-child—custards, cold. And a welcome—warm.

Tarver.

[Looking to Salome.] Well, I—ah—[Salome nods her head to him violently.] That is, certainly, Dean, certainly.

Darbey.

Delighted, my dear Dean—delighted!

[The Dean gives Darbey a severe look, and with an important cough walks into the Library. The men and the girls speak in undertones.

Tarver.

[Depressed.] Now, what will happen to-night?[Pg 26]

Salome.

Why, don’t you see, as you will have to drive over to dine, you will both be here, on the spot, ready to take us back to Durnstone?

[The Dean sits at his desk in the Library.

Darbey.

Of course; when we’re turned out we can hang about in the lane till you’re ready.

Tarver.

Yes, but when are we to make our preparations? It’ll take me a long time to look like Charles the First!

Sheba.

We can drive about Durnstone while you dress.

Salome.

[To Tarver, admiringly.] Charles the First! Oh, Major!

Darbey.

That was my idea—Charles the Martyr, you know. Tarver’s a martyr to his liver—see?

Sheba.

Oh! sha’n’t we all look magnificent?

Salome.

Oh!

Tarver.

Grand idea—the whole thing!

Darbey.

Regular army notion![Pg 27]

[They are all in a state of great excitement when The Dean re-enters, with an anxious look, carrying a bundle of papers.

Salome.

Here is Papa!

[They rush to various seats, all in constrained attitudes.

Tarver.

[To The Dean.] We waited to say—good-morning.

The Dean.

[Taking his hand, abstractedly.] How kind! Good-morning!

Darbey.

Six o’clock sharp, Dean?

The Dean.

At six, punctually. Salome, represent me by escorting these gentlemen to the gate. [Salome, Tarver, and Darbey go out. Sheba is following slyly when The Dean looks up from his papers.] Sheba!

Sheba.

Papsey!

The Dean.

Check me in a growing tendency to dislike Mr. Garvey. At dinner, Sheba, watch that I carve for him fairly.

Sheba.

Yes, Papsey!

[The Dean turns away and sits on the settee. Sheba, with her head down and her hands folded, walks towards the door, and then bounds out.

The Dean.

[Turning the papers over in his hand, solemnly.] Bills! [He rises, walks thoughtfully to a chair, sits[Pg 28] and examines papers again.] Bills! [He rises again, walks to another chair, and sinks into it with a groan.] Bills!

Salome and Sheba re-enter.

Salome.

[To Sheba, in a whisper.] Papa’s alone!

Sheba.

A beautiful opportunity to ask for that little present of money. Poor dear Papa!

Salome and Sheba.

Poor dear Papa!

[They link their hands together and walk as if going out through the Library.

The Dean.

[Looking up.] Don’t go, children!

[He rises, the girls rush to him, and laughing with joy they turn him like a top, dancing round him.

[Panting.] Stop, children!

Sheba.

Papsey’s in a good humor!

Salome.

[Pinching his chin.] He always is!

Sheba.

Papsey will listen to our little wants!

[They force him into a chair. Salome sits on the ground embracing his legs, Sheba lies on the top of the table.

The Dean.

Oh dear, oh dear! Your wants are very little ones. What are they, Salome? What are they, toy-child?[Pg 29]

Salome.

Papa! Have you any spare cash?

The Dean.

Spare cash! Playful Salome!

Sheba.

£—s—d, Papsey, or £—s, Papsey, and never mind the—d.

The Dean.

Ha! ha! I am glad, really glad, children, that you have broken through a reserve which has existed on this point for at least a fortnight—and babbled for money.

Sheba and Salome.

[Laughing with delight.] Ha! ha!

The Dean.

It gives me the opportunity of meeting your demands with candor. Children, I have love for you, solicitude for you, but—I have no spare cash for anybody.

[He rises and walks gloomily across to the piano, on the top of which he commences to arrange his bills. In horror Salome scrambles up from the floor, and Sheba wriggles off the table. Simultaneously they drop on to the same chair and huddle together.

Salome.

[To herself.] Lost![Pg 30]

Sheba.

[To herself.] Done for!

The Dean.

And now you have so cheerily opened the subject, let me tell you with equal good humor [emphatically flourishing the bills] that this sort of thing must be put a stop to. Your dressmaker’s bill is shocking; your milliner gives an analytical record of the feverish beatings of the hot pulse of fashion; your general draper blows a rancorous blast which would bring dismay to the stoutest heart. Let me for once peal out a deep paternal bass to your childish treble and say emphatically—I’ve had enough of it!

[He paces up and down. The two girls utter a loud yell of grief.

Sheba.

[Through her tears.] We’ve been brought up as young ladies—that can’t be done for nothing!

Salome.

Sheba’s small, but she cuts into a lot of material.

The Dean.

My girls, it is such unbosomings as this which preserve the domestic unison of a family. Weep, howl, but listen. The total of these weeds which spring up in the beautiful garden of paternity is a hundred and fifty-six, eighteen, three. Now, all the money I can immediately command is considerably under five hundred pounds.

Salome.

Oh, Papa![Pg 31]

Sheba.

Oh! what a lot!

The Dean.

Hush! But read, Salome, read aloud this paragraph in “The Times” of yesterday. There, my child.

[He hands a copy of “The Times” to Salome with his finger upon a paragraph.

Salome.

[Reading.] “A Munificent Offer. Dr. Jedd, the Dean of St. Marvells, whose anxiety for the preservation of the Minister Spire threatens to undermine his health, has subscribed the munificent sum of one thousand pounds to the Restoration Fund.” [Indignantly.] Oh!

Sheba.

Oh! and we gasping for clothing!

The Dean.

Read on, my child.

Salome.

[Reading.] “On condition that seven other donors come forward, each with the like sum.”

Salome.

And will they?

The Dean.

[Anxiously.] My darling, times are bad, but one never knows.

Sheba.

If they don’t![Pg 32]

The Dean.

Then you will have your new summer dresses as usual.

Salome.

[Hoarsely.] But if they do! Speak, Father!

The Dean.

[Gloomily.] Then we will all rejoice!

Sheba and Salome.

Rejoice!

The Dean.

And retrench. Two R’s, little ones. Retrench and Rejoice.

[The two girls cling to each other as Blore comes from the Library with two letters on a salver.

Blore.

The second post, sir—just hin.

The Dean.

[Blandly.] Thank you.

Blore.

[Hearing Salome and Sheba crying.] They’ve ’ad a scolding, ’ussies. Let ’em ’ang that on the ’atstand!

[He is going out.

The Dean.

[Opening letters.] Oh, Blore! This note from Mr. Hodder, the Secretary of “The Sport and Relaxation Repression Guild,” reminds me that to-morrow is the first day of the Races—the St. Marvells Spring Meeting, as it is called.[Pg 33]

Blore.

Hindeed, sir—fancy that! And I not know it!

The Dean.

All our servants may not resemble you, Blore. Pray remind them in the kitchen and the stable of the rule of the house——

Blore.

No servant allowed to leave the Deanery, on hany pretence, while the Races is on.

The Dean.

[Kindly.] While the races are on—thank you, Blore.

[Opens his second letter.

Blore.

Thank you, sir. [To himself.] Oh, if the Dean only knew the good thing I could put him on to for the Durnstone Handicap!

[He goes out.

The Dean.

Children! Salome! Sheba! Here is good news!

Salome.

[Running to him.] Good news!

Sheba.

What is it?

The Dean.

Your Aunt!

Sheba.

Left us some money?

The Dean.

Your Aunt is coming to live with us.[Pg 34]

Sheba.

To what?

Salome.

To live with us! What Aunt?

The Dean.

My dear widowed sister, Georgiana Tidman.

Salome.

What’s she like?

Sheba.

We don’t want her.

The Dean.

Good gracious! Georgiana and I reconciled after all these years! She will help us to keep the expenses down.

Salome.

Keep the expenses down!

The Dean.

[Embracing his daughters.] A second mother to my girls. She will implant the precepts of retrenchment if their father cannot!

Salome.

But, Papa, who is Aunt what’s-her-name?

Sheba.

Who is she?

The Dean.

My dears—a mournful, miserable history! [With his head bent he walks to a chair, and holds out his hands to the girls, who go to him and kneel at his feet.] When you were infants your Aunt Georgiana married an individual whose existence I felt it my sad duty never to recognize.[Pg 35]

Salome.

A bad man?

The Dean.

He died ten years ago, and, therefore, we will say a misguided man. He was a person who bred horses to run in races for amusement combined with profit. He was also what is called a Gentleman Jockey, and it was your aunt’s wifely boast that if ever he vexed her she could take a stone off his weight in half an hour. In due course his neck was dislocated.

Sheba.

By Aunt?

The Dean.

Hush, child, no! You will be little wiser when I tell you he came a cropper!

Salome.

How awful it all sounds!

The Dean.

Left a widow, you would think it natural that Georgiana Tidman would have flown to her brother, himself a widower. Not at all. Maddened, I hope, by grief, she continued the career of her misguided husband, and for years, to use her own terrible words, she was “the Daisy of the Turf.”

Sheba.

What’s that?

The Dean.

I don’t know, toy-child. But at length retribution came. Ill luck fell upon her—her horses, stock, everything, came to the hammer. That was my hour. “Come to me,” I wrote, “my children yearn for you.”[Pg 36]

Sheba and Salome.

[With wry faces.] Oh!

The Dean.

“At the Deanery of St. Marvells, with the cares of a household, and a stable which contains only a thirteen-year-old pony, you may obtain rest and forgetfulness.” And she is coming!

Sheba and Salome.

When? Oh! when?

The Dean.

She merely says, “Soon.”

Sheba and Salome.

[Stamping with vexation.] Ugh!

The Dean.

Salome, Sheba, you will, I fear, find her a sad broken creature, a weary fragment, a wave-tossed derelict. Let it be your patient endeavor to win back a flickering smile to the wan features of this chastened widow.

Blore enters with a telegram.

Blore.

A telegram, sir!

[The Dean opens telegram.

Sheba.

No Aunt Tidman flickers a smile at me!

Salome.

I wouldn’t be in her shoes for something!

Sheba.

Salt in her bed, Salome![Pg 37]

Salome.

Yes, and the peg out of the rattling window!

[They grip hands earnestly.

The Dean.

Good gracious! Bless me! Girls, your Aunt Georgiana slept at the “Wheatsheaf,” at Durnstone, last night, and is coming on this morning!

Salome and Sheba.

To-day!

The Dean.

Blore, tell Willis to get the chaise out.

[Blore hurries out.

The Dean.

Salome, child, you and I will drive into Durnstone—we may be in time to bring your Aunt over. My hat, Sheba! Quick! [The clang of the gate bell is heard in the distance.] The bell! [Looking out of window.] No—yes—it can’t be! [Speaking in an altered voice.] Children! I wonder if this is your Aunt Georgiana?

[Blore appears with a half-frightened, surprised look.

Blore.

Mrs. Tidman.

Georgiana Tidman enters. She is a jovial, noisy woman, very “horsey” in manners and appearance, and dressed in pronounced masculine style, with billy cock hat and coaching coat. The girls cling to each other; The Dean recoils.

Georgiana.

Well, Gus, my boy, how are you?[Pg 38]

The Dean.

[Shocked.] Georgiana!

Georgiana.

[Patting The Dean’s cheeks.] You’re putting on too much flesh, Augustin; they should give you a ten-miler daily in a blanket.

The Dean.

[With dignity.] My dear sister!

Georgiana.

Are these your two-year-olds? [To Salome.] Kiss your Aunt! [She kisses Salome with a good hearty smack.] [To Sheba.] Kiss your Aunt! [She embraces Sheba, then stands between the two girls and surveys them critically, touching them alternately with the end of her cane.] Lord bless you both! What names do you run under?

Salome.

I—I am Salome.

Sheba.

I am Sheba.

Georgiana.

[Looking at Sheba.] Why, little ’un, your stable companion could give you a stone and then get her nose in front!

The Dean.

[Who has been impatiently fuming.] Georgiana, I fear these poor innocents don’t follow your well-intentioned but inappropriate illustrations.

Georgiana.

Oh, we’ll soon wake ’em up. Well, Augustin, my[Pg 39] boy, it’s nearly twenty years since you and I munched our corn together.

The Dean.

Our estrangement has been painfully prolonged.

Georgiana.

Since then we’ve both run many races, though we’ve never met in the same events. The world has ridden us both pretty hard at times, Gus, hasn’t it? We’ve been punished and pulled and led down pretty often, but here we are [tapping him sharply in the chest with her cane] sound in the wind yet. You’re doing well, Gus, and they say you’re going up the hill neck-and-neck with your Bishop. I’ve dropped out of it—the mares don’t last, Gus—and it’s good and kind of you to give me a dry stable and a clean litter, and to keep me out of the shafts of a “Shrewsbury and Talbot.”

Sheba.

[In a whisper to Salome.] Salome, I don’t quite understand her—but I like Aunt.

Salome.

So do I. But she’s not my idea of a weary fragment or a chastened widow.

The Dean.

My dear Georgiana, I rejoice that you meet me in this affectionate spirit, and when—pardon me—when you have a little caught the tone of the Deanery——

Georgiana.

Oh, I’ll catch it; if I don’t the Deanery will a little catch my tone—the same thing.

[Sheba laughs.

The Dean.

[Reprovingly.] Toy-child![Pg 40]

Georgiana.

Trust George Tidd for setting things quite square in a palace or a puddle.

The Dean.

George Tidd! Who is George Tidd?

Georgiana.

I am George Tidd—that was my racing name. Ask after George Tidd at Newmarket—they’ll tell you all about me. My colors were crimson and black diamonds. There you are.

[Producing her pocket-handkerchief, which is crimson and black.

The Dean.

Dear me! Very interesting! Georgiana, my dear. One moment, children.

[The girls go into the Library.

The Dean.

[Tapping the handkerchief.] I understand distinctly from your letter that all this is finally abandoned?

Georgiana.

Worse luck! They’ll never see my colors at the post again!

The Dean.

And the contemplation of sport generally as a mental distraction——?[Pg 41]

Georgiana.

Oh, yes—I dare say you’ll manage to wean me from that, too, in time.

The Dean.

In time! Well, but—Georgiana!

[The gate bell is heard again, the girls re-enter.

Georgiana.

There’s a visitor. I’ll tootle upstairs and have a groom down. [To Salome and Sheba.] Make the running, girls. At what time do we feed, Augustin?

The Dean.

There is luncheon at one o’clock.

Georgiana.

Right. The air here is so fresh I sha’n’t be sorry to get my nose-bag on.

[She stalks out, accompanied by the girls.

The Dean.

My sister, Georgiana—my widowed sister, Georgiana. Dear me, I am quite disturbed. Surely, surely the serene atmosphere of the Deanery will work a change. It must! It must! If not, what a grave mistake I have made. Good gracious! No, no, I won’t think of it! Still, it is a little unfortunate that poor Georgiana should arrive here on the very eve of these terrible races at St. Marvells.

Blore enters with a card.

The Dean.

Who is it, Blore? [Reading the card.] “Sir Tristram Mardon.” Dear, dear! Certainly, Blore,[Pg 42] certainly. [Blore goes out.] Mardon—why, Mardon and I haven’t met since Oxford.

[Blore re-enters, showing in Sir Tristram Mardon, a well-preserved man of about fifty, with a ruddy face and jovial manner, the type of the thorough English sporting gentleman. Blore goes out.

Sir Tristram.

Hullo, Jedd, how are you?

The Dean.

My dear Mardon—are we boys again?

Sir Tristram.

[Boisterously.] Of course we are! Boys again!

[He hits The Dean violently in the chest.

The Dean.

[Breathing heavily—to himself.] I quite forgot how rough Mardon used to be. How it all comes back to me!

Sir Tristram.

Think I’m changed?

The Dean.

Only in appearance!

Sir Tristram.

I’m still a bachelor—got terribly jilted by a woman years ago and have run in blinkers ever since. Can’t be helped, can it? You’re married, aren’t you?

The Dean.

[With dignity.] I have been a widower for fifteen years.[Pg 43]

Sir Tristram.

Oh lor’! awfully sorry—can’t be helped though, can it? [Seizing The Dean’s hand and squeezing it.] Forgive me, old chap.

The Dean.

[Withdrawing his hand with pain.] O-o-oh!

Sir Tristram.

I’ve re-opened an old wound—damned stupid of me!

The Dean.

Hush, Mardon! Please!

Sir Tristram.

All right. What do you think I’m down here for?

The Dean.

For the benefit of your health, Mardon?

Sir Tristram.

Ha! ha! Never had an ache in my life; sha’n’t come and hear you preach next Sunday, Gus.

The Dean.

I do not preach next Sunday!

Sir Tristram.

You’d better not! No, I’m here for the races.

The Dean.

The races! Hush, my dear Mardon, my girls——

Sir Tristram.

Girls! May I trot ’em into the paddock to-morrow?[Pg 44]

The Dean.

Thank you, no.

Sir Tristram.

Think it over. You’ve seen the list of Starters for the Durnstone Handicap——?

The Dean.

No, I haven’t.

Sir Tristram.

Not! Look here! Sir Tristram Mardon’s Dandy Dick, nine stone two, Tom Gallawood up! What do you think of that?

The Dean.

I don’t think of anything like that!

Sir Tristram.

[Digging The Dean in the ribs.] Look out for my colors—black and white, and a pink cap—first past the post to-morrow.

The Dean.

Really, my dear Mardon——

Sir Tristram.

Good heavens! Jedd, they talk about Bonny Betsy.

The Dean.

I grieve to hear it. The tongue of scandal——

Sir Tristram.

[Taking The Dean’s arm and walking him about.] Do you imagine, sir, for one moment, that Bonny Betsy, with a boy on her back, can get down that bill with those legs of hers?[Pg 45]

The Dean.

Another horse, I presume?

Sir Tristram.

No, a bay mare. George Tidd knew what she was about when she stuck to Dandy Dick to the very last.

The Dean.

[Aghast.] George—Tidd?

Sir Tristram.

Georgiana Tidman. Dandy came out of her stable after she smashed.

The Dean.

Bless me!

Sir Tristram.

Poor old George! I wonder what’s become of her.

The Dean.

My dear Mardon, I am of course heartily pleased to revive in this way our old acquaintance. I wish it were in my power to offer you the hospitality of the Deanery—but——

Sir Tristram.

Don’t name it. My horse and I are over the way at “The Swan.” Come and look at Dandy Dick!

The Dean.

Mardon, you don’t understand. My position in St. Marvells——

Sir Tristram.

Oh, I see, Jedd. I beg your pardon. You mean that the colors you ride in don’t show up well on the hill yonder or in the stable of the “Swan” Inn.[Pg 46]

The Dean.

You must remember——

Sir Tristram.

I remember that in your young days you made the heaviest book on the Derby of any of our fellows.

The Dean.

I always lost, Mardon; indeed, I always lost!

Sir Tristram.

I remember that you once matched a mare of your own against another of Lord Beckslade’s for fifty pounds!

The Dean.

Yes, but she wasn’t in it, Mardon—I mean she was dreadfully beaten.

Sir Tristram.

[Shaking his head sorrowfully.] Oh Jedd, Jedd—other times, other manners. Good-bye, old boy.

The Dean.

You’re not—you’re not offended, Mardon?

Sir Tristram.

[Taking The Dean’s hand.] Offended! No—only sorry, Dean, damned sorry, to see a promising lad come to an end like this. [Georgianaenters with Salome on one side of her and Sheba on the other—all three laughing and chatting, apparently the best of friends.] By Jove! No! what—Tidd?

Georgiana.

Hullo, Mardon!

[They shake hands warmly.

Sir Tristram.

Of all places in the world, to find “Mr. Tidd!” [Roaring with laughter.] Ho! ho! ho![Pg 47]

Georgiana.

[Laughing.] Ha! ha!

Sir Tristram.

Why, Dean, you’ve been chaffing me, have you?

The Dean.

No!

Sir Tristram.

Yes, you have—you’ve been roasting your old friend!

The Dean.

[With dignity.] Mardon!

Sir Tristram.

Tidd is a pal of yours, eh? Ho! ho!

Georgiana.

Ha! ha!

The Dean.

Sir Tristram Mardon, Mrs. Tidman is my sister.

Sir Tristram.

Your sister?

Georgiana.

Yes, I’ve been running a bit dark, Mardon, but that stout, well-seasoned animal over there and this skittish creature come of the same stock and were foaled in the same stable. [Pointing to Salome and Sheba.] There are a couple of yearlings here, you don’t know. My nieces—Salome and Sheba.[Pg 48]

Sir Tristram.

[Bowing.] How do you do? [Heartily taking Georgiana’s hand again.] Well, I don’t care whose sister you are, but I’m jolly glad to see you, George, my boy.

Georgiana.

Gracious, Tris, don’t squeeze my hand so!

The Dean.

[In horror.] Salome, Sheba, children! I must speak to you. Excuse me, Mardon. [To himself.] Oh, what shall I do with my widowed sister?

[He goes into the garden.

Sheba.

[To Salome.] That’s like pa, just as we were getting interested.

Salome.

We’ll come back in a minute.

[They go out by the window.

Sir Tristram.

Lord! How odd! You know your brother and I were at Oxford together, George?

Georgiana.

Were you, Tris! Then are you putting up here?

Sir Tristram.

He won’t have me.

Georgiana.

Won’t have you!

Sir Tristram.

Because I’m down here racing. You see, he’s a Dean.[Pg 49]

Georgiana.

Is he? Well, then, you just lay a thousand sovereigns to a gooseberry that in this house I’m a Dean, too!

Sir Tristram.

I suppose he’s thinking of the Canons—and the Bishop—and those chaps.

Georgiana.

Lord bless your heart, they’re all right when you cheer them up a bit! If I’m here till the autumn meeting you’ll find me lunching on the hill, with the Canons marking my card and the dear old Bishop mixing the salad. So say the word, Tris—I’ll make it all right with Augustin.

Sir Tristram.

No, thanks, old fellow. The fact is I’m fixed at the “Swan” with—what do you think, George?—with Dandy Dick.

Georgiana.

Oh! my old Dandy!

Sir Tristram.

I brought him down with me in lavender. You know he runs for the Durnstone Handicap to-morrow.

Georgiana.

Know! There’s precious little that horse does that I don’t know, and what I don’t know I dream. Is he fit?

Sir Tristram.

As a fiddle—shines like a mirror—not an ounce too much or too little. He’ll romp in![Pg 50]

Georgiana.

He’ll dance in! Tris Mardon!

Sir Tristram.

Eh?

Georgiana.

[Mysteriously.] Tris, Dandy Dick doesn’t belong to you—not all of him.

Sir Tristram.

No—I’ve only a half share. At your sale he was knocked down to John Fielder the trainer. The other half belongs to John.

Georgiana.

No, it doesn’t, it belongs to me!

Sir Tristram.

George!

Georgiana.

Yes, directly I saw Dandy Dick marched out before the auctioneer I asked John Fielder to help me, and he did, like a Briton. For I can’t live without horseflesh, if it’s only a piece of cat’s meat on a skewer. But when I condescended to keep company with the Canons and the Bishop here I promised Augustin that I wouldn’t own anything on four legs, so John sold you half of Dick, and I can swear I don’t own a horse—and I don’t—not a whole one. But half a horse is better than no bread, Tris—and we’re partners.

Sir Tristram.

[Roaring with laughter.] Ho! ho! ha! ha! ha!

Georgiana.

What are you laughing at, man?[Pg 51]

Sir Tristram.

Oh, the Dean! the Dean!

Salome and Sheba enter unperceived.

Sir Tristram.

[Still laughing.] I—ho! ho!—I beg your pardon, George—ha! ha! Well, now you know he’s fit, of course, you’re going to back Dandy Dick for the Durnstone Handicap.

Georgiana.

Back him! For every penny I’ve got in the world. That isn’t much, but if I’m not a richer woman by a thousand pounds to-morrow night I shall have had a bad day.

Salome.

Oh, Sheba!

[The girls come towards the Library.

Georgiana.

[Discovering them.] Hush! [To the girls.] Hallo!

Sheba.

It’s only us, Aunt.

[The girls go into the Library.

Sir Tristram.

I’ll be off.

Georgiana.

Keep your eye on the old horse, Tristram.

Sir Tristram.

Don’t fear. Good-morning, George![Pg 52]

Georgiana.

Good-morning, partner! [Sir Tristram bursts out laughing again, she joining in the laughter.] Oh, do be quiet!

Sir Tristram.

Ho! ho! ho! Ha! ha! Oh, say good-bye for me to the Dean! [She gives him a push and he goes out.

Sheba and Salome immediately re-enter from the Library.

Sheba.

Aunt—dear Aunt——

Georgiana.

Well, girls?

Sheba.

Aunt—Salome has something to say to you.

Salome.

No, it’s Sheba.

Georgiana.

Why, you’re shivering all over. [Catching hold of Sheba.] Hallo, little ’un!

Sheba.

Aunt—dear Aunt Georgiana—we heard you say something about a thousand pounds.

Georgiana.

You’ve been listening?

Sheba.

No—we only merely heard. And, oh, Aunt, a thousand pounds is such a lot, and we poor girls want such a little.[Pg 53]

Georgiana.

Money?

Sheba.

Yes. Salome has rather got into debt.

Georgiana.

My gracious!

Salome.

I haven’t, any more than you have, Sheba.

Sheba.

Well, I’m in debt too, but I only meant to beg for Salome; but now I ask for both of us. Oh, Aunt Tidman, papa has told us that you have known troubles.

Georgiana.

So I have—heaps of them.

Sheba.

Oh, I’m so glad. Because Salome and I are weary fragments too—we’re everything awful but chastened widows. We owe forty pounds unknown to Pa!

Salome.

Forty pounds, nineteen.

Georgiana.

Why, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves, you girls!

Sheba.

We are!

Salome.

We are![Pg 54]

Georgiana.

To cry and go on like this about forty pounds!

Sheba.

But we’ve only got fifteen and threepence of our own in the world! And, oh, Aunt, you know something about the Races, don’t you?

Georgiana.

Eh?

Sheba.

If you do, help two poor creatures to win forty pounds, nineteen. Aunt Georgiana, what’s “Dandy Dick” you were talking to that gentleman about?

Georgiana.

Child! Dandy Dick’s a horse.

Sheba.

We thought so. Then let Dandy Dick win us some money.

Georgiana.

No, no! I won’t hear of it!

Sheba.

Oh, do, do!

Salome.

Oh, do, do, do!

Georgiana.

Go away—I won’t. I say decidedly, I will not!

Sheba.

Oh, do, do![Pg 55]

Salome.

Do! Do, and we’ll love you for ever and ever, Aunt Georgiana.

Georgiana.

You will! [She embraces them heartily.] Bless your little innocent faces! Do you want to win forty pounds?

Salome and Sheba.

Yes, yes!

Georgiana.

Do you want to win fifty pounds?

Sheba and Salome.

Oh, yes, yes!

Georgiana.

[Taking her betting book from her pocket.] Very well, then, put your very petticoats on Dandy Dick!

[The girls stand clutching their skirts, frightened.

Salome.

Oh!

Sheba.

Oh!

END OF THE FIRST ACT.

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