English Literature

The Man from Home by Booth Tarkington

The Man from Home by Booth Tarkington

THE FIRST ACT

SCENE: The terrace of the Hotel Regina Margherita, on the cliff at Sorrento, overlooking the Bay of Naples.

There is a view of the bay and its semi-circular coast-line, dotted with villages; Vesuvius gray in the distance. Across the stage at the rear runs a marble balustrade about three feet high, guarding the edge of the cliff. Upon the left is seen part of one wing of the hotel, entrance to which is afforded by wide-open double doors approached by four or five marble steps with a railing and small stoop. The hotel is of pink and white stucco, and striped awnings shield the windows. Upon the right is a lemon grove and shrubberies. There are two or three small white wicker tea-tables and a number of wicker chairs upon the left, and a square table laid with white cloth on the right.

As the curtain rises mandolins and guitars are heard, and the “Fisherman’s Song,” the time very rapid and gay, the musicians being unseen.[pg 014]

MARIANO, maître d’hôtel, is discovered laying the table down R.C. with eggs, coffee, and rolls for two. He is a pleasant-faced, elderly man, stout, swarthy, clean shaven; wears dress-clothes, white waist-coat, and black tie. He is annoyed by the music.

MARIANO

[calling to the unseen musicians crossly]

Silenzio!

[MICHELE enters from the hotel. He is young, clean-shaven except for a dark mustache, wears a white tie, a blue coat, cut like dress-coat, blue trousers with red side stripes, brass buttons; his waistcoat is of striped red and blue.]

MICHELE

[speaking over his shoulder]

Par ici, Monsieur Ribiere, pour le maître d’hôtel.

[RIBIERE enters from the hotel.]

[MICHELE immediately withdraws.]

[RIBIERE is a trim, business-like young Frenchman of some distinction of appearance. He wears a well-made English dark “cutaway” walking-suit, a derby hat, and carries a handsome leather writing-case under his arm.][pg 015]

RIBIERE

[as he enters]

Ah, Mariano!

MARIANO

[bowing and greeting him gayly]

Monsieur Ribiere! J’espère que vous êtes—

[He breaks off, turns on his heel toward the invisible musicians, and shouts.]

Silenzio!

[He turns again quickly to RIBIERE.]

RIBIERE

[with a warning glance toward hotel]

Let us speak English. There are not so many who understand.

MARIANO

[politely]

I hope Monsieur still occupy the exalt’ position of secretar’ to Monseigneur the Grand-Duke.

RIBIERE

[sits and opens writing-case, answers gravely]

We will not mention the name or rank of my employer.

MARIANO

[with gesture and accent of despair]

Again incognito! Every year he come to our hotel for two, three day, but always incognito.

[He finishes setting the table.]

We lose the honor to have it known.

RIBIERE

[looking at his watch]

He comes in his automobile from Naples. Everything is to be as on my employer’s former visits—strictly incognito. It [pg 016]is understood every one shall address him as Herr von Gröllerhagen—

MARIANO

[repeating the name carefully]

Herr von Gröllerhagen—

RIBIERE

He wishes to be thought a German.

[Takes a note-book from case.]

MARIANO

Such a man! of caprice? Excentrique? Ha!

RIBIERE

You have said it. Last night he talked by chance to a singular North American in the hotel at Napoli. To-day he has that stranger for companion in the automobile. I remonstrate. What use? He laugh for half an hour!

MARIANO

He is not like those cousin of his at St. Petersburg an’ Moscowa. An’ yet though Monseigneur is so good an’ generoso, will not the anarchist strike against the name of royalty himself? You have not the fear?

RIBIERE

[opening his note-book]

I have. He has not. I take what precaution I can secretly from him. You have few guests?

MARIANO

[smiling]

It is so early in the season. Those poor musician’

[nodding off right]

they wait always at every gate, to play when they see any one coming. There is only seex peoples in the ‘ole house! All of one party.[pg 017]

RIBIERE

Good! Who are they?

MARIANO

There is Milor’, an English Excellency—the Earl of Hawcastle; there is his son, the Excellency Honorabile Almeric St. Aubyn; there is Miladi Creeshe, an English Miladi who is sister-in-law to Milor’ Hawcastle.

RIBIERE

[taking notes]

Three English.

MARIANO

There is an American Signorina, Mees Granger-Seempsone. Miladi Creeshe travel with her to be chaperone.

[Enthusiastically.]

She is young, generosa, she give money to every one, she is multa bella, so pretty, weeth charm—

RIBIERE

[puzzled]

You speak now of Lady Creeshe?

MARIANO

[taken aback]

Oh no, no, no! Miladi Creeshe is ol’ lady

[tapping his ears]

Not hear well. Deaf. No pourboires. Nothing. I speak of the young American lady, Mees Granger-Seempsone who the English Honorabile son of Milor’ Hawcastle wish to espouse, I think.

RIBIERE

Who else is there?

MARIANO

There is the brother of Mees Granger-Seempsone, a young gentleman of North America. He make the eyes

[laughing]

all day at another lady who is of the party, a French lady, Comtesse de Champigny. Ha, ha! That amuse’ me![pg 018]

RIBIERE

Why?

MARIANO

Beckoss I think Comtesse de Champigny is a such good friend of the ol’ English Milor’ Hawcastle. A maître d’hôtel see many things, an’ I think Milor’ Hawcastle and Madame de Champigny have know each other from long, perhaps. This déjeuner is for them.

RIBIERE

And who else?

MARIANO

It is all.

RIBIERE

Good! no Russians?

MARIANO

I think Milor’ Hawcastle and Madame de Champigny have been in Russia sometime.

RIBIERE

[putting his note-book in his pocket]

Why?

MARIANO

Beckoss once I have hear them spik Russian togezzer.

RIBIERE

I think there is small chance that they recognize my employer. His portrait is little known.

MARIANO

And this North American who come in the automobile—does he know who he travel wiz? Does he know his Highness?

RIBIERE

No more than the baby which is not borned.

MARIANO

[lifting his eyes to heaven]

Ah!

RIBIERE

[looking at his watch]

Set déjeuner on [pg 019]the terrace instantly when he arrive: a perch, petit pois, iced figs, tea. I will send his own caviar and vodka from the supplies I carry.

MARIANO

I set for one?

RIBIERE

For two. He desires that the North American breakfast with him. Do not forget that the incognito is to be absolute.

[Exit into hotel.]

MARIANO

Va bene, Signore!

[Puts finishing-touches to the table.]

[Enter from the grove, LORD HAWCASTLE. He is a well-preserved man of fifty-six with close-clipped gray mustache and gray hair; his eyes are quick and shrewd; his face shows some slight traces of high living; he carries himself well and his general air is distinguished and high-bred. He wears a suit of thinly striped white flannel and white shoes, a four-in-hand tie of pale old-rose crape, a Panama hat with broad ribbon striped with white and old-rose of the same shade as his tie. His accent is that of a man of the world, and quite without affectation. [pg 020]He comes at once upon his entrance to a chair at the table.]

[MICHELE enters at same time up left, with a folded newspaper.]

HAWCASTLE

[as he enters]

Good-morning, Mariano!

MARIANO

[bowing]

Milor’ Hawcastle is serve.

[Takes HAWCASTLE’S hat and places it upon a stool behind table.]

MICHELE

[hands HAWCASTLE newspaper from under his arm]

Il Mattino, the morning journal from Napoli, Milor’.

HAWCASTLE

[accepting paper and unfolding it]

No English papers?

MICHELE

Milor’, the mail is late.

[Exit up left.]

HAWCASTLE

[sitting]

And Madame de Champigny?

[MARIANO serves coffee, etc.]

[As HAWCASTLE speaks the COMTESSE DE CHAMPIGNY enters from hotel. She is a pretty Frenchwoman of thirty-two. She wears a fashionable summer Parisian morning dress, light and gay in color, a short-sleeved little Empire jacket, and long [pg 021]gloves. She carries a parasol. Her elaborately dressed hair is surmounted by a jaunty Parisian toque.]

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[lifting her hand gayly as she enters, and striking a little attitude before she descends the steps]

Me voici!

HAWCASTLE

[half rising and bowing]

My esteemed relative is still asleep?

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[speaking gayly, with a very slight accent, as she crosses to a chair at the table]

I trust your beautiful son has found much better employment—as our hearts would wish him to.

HAWCASTLE

He has. He’s off on a canter with the little American, thank God!

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[interjecting the word]

Bravo!

[She turns the hands of her gloves back and sips coffee, MARIANO serving.]

HAWCASTLE

[continuing]

But I didn’t mean Almeric. I meant my august sister-in-law.

[He reads the paper.]

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[smiling]

The amiable Lady Victoria Hermione Trevelyan Creech has déjeuner in her apartment. What you find to read?

HAWCASTLE

I’m such a duffer at Italian, but [pg 022]apparently the people along the coast are having a scare over an escaped convict—a Russian.

MARIANO

[starting slightly, drops a spoon noisily upon a plate on the table]

Pardon, Milor’!

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[setting down her coffee abruptly]

A Russian?

HAWCASTLE

[translating with difficulty]

“An escaped Russian bandit has been traced to Castellamare—”

[Pauses.]

MARIANO

[awe-struck]

Castellamare—not twelve kilometres from here!

HAWCASTLE

[continuing]

“—and a confidential agent”—

[looking up]

—secret-service man, I dare say—”has requested his arrest. But the brigand tore himself”—

[repeating slowly]

—”tore himself”—What the deuce does that mean?

MARIANO

[bowing]

Pardon, Milor’—if I might—

HAWCASTLE

Quite right, Mariano!

[Handing him the paper.]

Translate for us.

MARIANO

[reading rapidly, but with growing agitation which he tries to conceal]

“The brigan’ tore himself from the hands of the carabiniere and without the doubts he conceal himself in some of those grotto near Sorrento and searchment is being execute’. [pg 023]The agent of the Russian embassy have inform’ the bureau that this escaped one is a mos’ in-fay-mose robber and danger brigand.”

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[quickly]

What name does the journal say he has?

MARIANO

[hurriedly]

It has not to say. That is all. Will Milor’ and Madame la Comtesse excuse me? And may I take the journal? There is one who should see it.

HAWCASTLE

[indifferently]

Very well.

MARIANO

Thank you, Milor’!

[Bows hastily and hurries out up left.]

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[gravely, drawing back from the table.]

I should like much to know his name.

HAWCASTLE

[smiling, and eating composedly]

You may be sure it isn’t Ivanoff.

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[not changing her attitude]

How can one know it is not

[pauses and speaks the name very gravely]

Ivanoff?

HAWCASTLE

[laughing]

He wouldn’t be called an infamous brigand.

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[very gravely]

That, my friend, may be only Italian journalism.

HAWCASTLE

Pooh! This means a highwayman—

[finishes [pg 024]his coffee coolly]

—not—not an embezzler, Hélène.

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[taking a deep breath and sinking back in her chair with a fixed gaze]

I am glad to believe it, but I care for no more to eat. I have some foolish feeling of unsafety. It is now two nights that I dream of him—of Ivanoff—bad dreams for us both, my friend.

HAWCASTLE

[laughing]

What rot! It takes more than a dream to bring a man back from Siberia.

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

Then I pray there has been no more than dreams.

[Music of mandolins and guitars heard off to the right with song—”The Fisherman’s Song.”]

[Enter ETHEL gayly and quickly from the grove, her face radiant. She is a very pretty American girl of twenty. She wears a light-brown linen skirted coat, fitting closely, and a country riding-skirt of the same material and color, with boots, a shirt-waist, collar and tie, and three-cornered hat. She carries a riding-crop. She is followed by three musicians (two mandolins and [pg 025]a guitar), who laughingly continue the song. They are shabby fellows, two of them barefooted, wearing shabby, patched velveteen trousers and blue flannel shirts open at the throat, with big black hats, old and shapeless. One makes a low and sweeping bow before ETHEL; she takes money from her glove and gives it to him, the other two not discontinuing the song; the three immediately ’bout face and go out gleefully, capering and still singing.]

HAWCASTLE

[who has risen]

The divine Miss Granger-Simpson!

ETHEL

[with a pronounced “English accent”]

The divinely happy Miss Granger-Simpson!

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[rising, running to her, and kissing her]

Oh, I hope you mean—

HAWCASTLE

[with some excitement in his voice]

You mean you have made my son divinely happy?

[ETHEL, as he speaks, extricates herself laughingly from MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY.]

ETHEL

Is not every one happy in Sorrento—

[with a wave of her riding-crop]

—even your son?[pg 026]

[Exit laughingly and hurriedly into the hotel.]

[MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY goes to stool behind table and gets her parasol, as HAWCASTLE resumes his seat.]

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

Ah! that is good. Listen!

[A piano sounds from the room ETHEL has just entered, breaking loudly and gayly into Chaminade’s “Elevation.” ETHEL’S voice is heard for a moment, also, singing.]

She has flown to her piano. It looks well, indeed—our little enterprise.

HAWCASTLE

[grimly]

It’s time. If Almeric had been anything but a clumsy oof he’d have made her settle it weeks ago!

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[quickly]

You are invidious, mon ami! My affair is not settled—am I a clumsy oof?

HAWCASTLE

[leaning toward her across the table and speaking sharply and earnestly]

No, Hélène. Your little American, brother Horace, is so in love with you, if you asked him suddenly, “Is this day or night?” he would answer, “It’s Hélène.” But [pg 027]he’s too shy to speak. You’re a woman—you can’t press matters; but Almeric’s a man—he can. He can urge an immediate marriage, which means an immediate settlement, and a direct one.

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[seriously, quickly]

It will not be small, that settlement?

[He shakes his head grimly, leaning back to look at her. She continues eagerly.]

You have decide’ what sum?

[He nods decidedly.]

What?

HAWCASTLE

[sharply, with determination, yet quietly]

A hundred and fifty thousand pounds!

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[excited and breathless]

My friend! Will she?

[Turns and stares toward ETHEL’S room, where the piano is still heard softly playing.]

HAWCASTLE

Not for Almeric, but to be the future Countess of Hawcastle. My sister-in-law hasn’t been her chaperone for a year for nothing. And, by Jove, she hasn’t done it for nothing, either!

[He laughs grimly, moving back from the table.]

But she’s deserved all I shall allow her.[pg 028]

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[coldly]

Why?

HAWCASTLE

[rising]

It was she who found these people. Indeed, we might say that both you and I owe her something also.

[Comes around behind table to MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY.]

Even a less captious respectability than Lady Creech’s might have looked askance at the long friendship

[kisses her hand]

which has existed between us. Yet she has always countenanced us, though she must have guessed—a great many things. And she will help us to urge an immediate marriage. You know as well as I do that unless it is immediate, there’ll be the devil to pay. Don’t miss that essential: something must be done at once. We’re at the breaking-point—if you like the words—a most damnable insolvency.

[Enter ALMERIC from the grove. He is a fair, fresh-colored Englishman of twenty-five, handsome in a rather vacuous way. He wears white duck riding-breeches, light-tan leather riding-gaiters and shoes, a riding-coat of white duck, a waistcoat light tan in shade, and a high riding-stock, the collar of which is white, the “puffed” tie pink; a Panama hat [pg 029]with a fold of light tan and white silk round the crown. Carries a riding-crop.]

ALMERIC

[as he enters]

Hello, Governor!

[His voice is habitually loud and his accent somewhat foppish, having a little of the “Guardsman” affectation of languor and indifference.]

Howdy, Countess!

[He drops into a chair at the breakfast-table with a slight effect of sprawling.]

HAWCASTLE

[sharply]

Almeric!

ALMERIC

Out riding a bit ago, you know, with Miss Granger-Simpson. Rippin’ girl, isn’t she?

HAWCASTLE

[leaning across the table toward him, anxiously]

Go on!

ALMERIC

[continuing, slapping his gaiters carelessly with his crop]

Didn’t stop with her, though.

HAWCASTLE

[angrily]

Why not?

ALMERIC

A sort of man in the village got me to go look at a bull-terrier pup. Wonderful little beast for points. Jolly luck—wasn’t it? He’s got a head on him—

HAWCASTLE

[bitterly]

We’ll concede his tremendous advantage over you in that respect.[pg 030]

[Throws his cigar disgustedly into one of the coffee-cups on the table.]

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[eagerly]

Is that all you have to tell us?

ALMERIC

Oh no! She accepted me.

[HAWCASTLE drops into a chair with a long breath of relief.]

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[waving her parasol]

Enfin! Bravo! And will she let it be soon?

ALMERIC

[sincerely]

I dare say there’ll be no row about that; I’ve made her aw’fly happy.

HAWCASTLE

On my soul, I believe you’re right—and thank God you are!

[Rises as he speaks and walks up centre. Breaks off short as he sees HORACE.]

Here’s the brother—attention now!

[HORACE enters the hotel. He is a boyish-looking American of twenty-two, smooth-shaven. He wears white flannels, the coat double-breasted and buttoned, the tie is light blue “puffing” fastened with a large pearl. He wears light-yellow chamois gloves, white shoes, a small, stiff English straw hat with blue-and-white [pg 031]ribbon. When he speaks it is with a strong “English accent,” which he sometimes forgets. At present he is flushed and almost overcome with happy emotion. As he comes down the steps MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY rushes toward him, taking both his hands.]

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[excitedly]

Ah, my dear Horace Granger-Simpson! Has your sister told you?

HORACE

[radiant, but almost tearful]

She has, indeed. I assure you I’m quite overcome.

[MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY, dropping his hands, laughs deprecatingly, and steps back from him.]

Really, I assure you.

HAWCASTLE

[shaking hands with him very heartily]

My dear young friend, not at all, not at all.

HORACE

[fanning himself with his hat and wiping his brow]

I assure you I am, I assure you I am—it’s quite overpowering—isn’t it?

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

Ah, poor Monsieur Horace!

ALMERIC

I say, don’t take it that way, you know. She’s very happy.[pg 032]

HORACE

[crossing and grasping his hand]

She’s worthy of it—she’s worthy of it. I know she is. And when will it be?

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

Enchanting.

HAWCASTLE

Oh, the date? I dare say within a year—two years—

[COMTESSE starts to exclaim, but HAWCASTLE checks her.]

HORACE

Oh, but I say, you know! Isn’t that putting it jolly far off? The thing’s settled, isn’t it? Why not say a month instead of a year?

HAWCASTLE

Oh, if you like, I don’t know that there is any real objection.

HORACE

I do like, indeed. Why not let them marry here in Italy?

HAWCASTLE

Ah, the dashing methods of you Americans! Next you’ll be saying, “Why not here at Sorrento?”

HORACE

Well, and why not, indeed?

HAWCASTLE

And then it will be, “Why not within a fortnight?”

HORACE

And why should it not be in a fortnight?

HAWCASTLE

Ah, you wonderful people, you are whirlwinds, yet I see no reason why it should not be in a fortnight.[pg 033]

ALMERIC

[passively]

Just as you like, Governor, just as you like.

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

Enchanting.

HAWCASTLE

My son is all impatience!

ALMERIC

[genially]

Quite so!

HAWCASTLE

[gayly]

Shall we dispose at once of the necessary little details, the various minor arrangements, the—the settlement?

[Interrupts himself with a friendly laugh.]

Of course, as a man of the world, of our world, you understand there are formalities in the nature of a settlement.

HORACE

[interrupting eagerly and pleasantly, laughing also]

Quite so, of course, I know, certainly, perfectly!

HAWCASTLE

[heartily]

We’ll have no difficulty about that, my boy. I’ll wire my solicitor immediately, and he’ll be here within two days. If you wish to consult your own solicitor you can cable him.

HORACE

[with some embarrassment]

Fact is, I’ve a notion our solicitor—Ethel’s man of business, that is—from Kokomo, Indiana, where our Governor lived—in fact, a sort of guardian of hers—may be here almost any time.[pg 034]

HAWCASTLE

[taken aback]

A sort of guardian—what sort?

HORACE

[apologetically]

I really can’t say. Never saw him that I know of. You see, we’ve been on this side so many years, and there’s been no occasion for this fellow to look us up, but he’s never opposed anything Ethel wrote for; he seems to be an easygoing old chap.

HAWCASTLE

[anxiously]

But would his consent to your sister’s marriage—or the matter of a settlement—be a necessity?

HORACE

[easily]

Oh, I dare say; but if he has the slightest sense of duty toward my sister, he’ll be the first to welcome the alliance, won’t he?

HAWCASTLE

[reassured]

Then when my solicitor comes, he and your man can have an evening over a lot of musty papers and the thing will be done. Again, my boy,

[taking HORACE’S hand]

I welcome you to our family. God bless you!

HORACE

I’m overpowered, you know—really overpowered.

[Fans himself again and wipes his forehead.]

HAWCASTLE

Come, Almeric.

[Aside to MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY, whom he joins for a moment.][pg 035]

Let him know it’s a hundred and fifty thousand pounds.

[Exit into hotel, followed immediately by ALMERIC.]

[HORACE turns toward MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY; she gives him both hands.]

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[smiling]

My friend, I am happy for you.

HORACE

[joyously]

Think of it, at the most a fortnight, and dear old Ethel will be the Honorable Mrs. St. Aubyn, future Countess of Hawcastle!

[MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY, lightly, at the same time withdrawing her hands and picking up her parasol from the chair where she has left it.]

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

Yes, there is but those little arrangement over the settlement paper between your advocate and Lord Hawcastle’s; but you Americans—you laugh at such things. You are big, so big, like your country!

HORACE

Ah, believe me, the great world, the world of yourself, Countess, has thoroughly alienated me.

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[coming close to him, looking at him admiringly]

Ah, you retain one [pg 036]quality! You are big, you are careless, you are free.

[She lays her right hand on his left arm. He takes her hand with his right hand. They stand facing each other.]

HORACE

[smiling]

Well, perhaps, in those things I am American, but in others I fancy I should be thought something else, shouldn’t I?

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[earnestly]

You are a debonair man of the great world; and yet you are still American, in that you are ab-om-i-nab-ly rich.

[She laughs sweetly.]

The settlement—Such matter as that, over which a Frenchman, an Italian, an Englishman might hesitate, you laugh! Such matter as one-hundred-fifty thousand pounds—you set it aside; you laugh! You say, “Oh yes—take it!”

HORACE

[his eyes wide with surprise]

A hundred and fifty thousand pounds! Why, that’s seven hundred and fifty thous—

[He pauses, then finishes decidedly.]

She couldn’t use the money to better advantage.

[Enter ETHEL from the hotel. She has one thick book under her arm, another in her hand.][pg 037]

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[to HORACE, with deep admiration]

My friend, how wise you are!

[She perceives ETHEL’S entrance over HORACE’S shoulder, and at once runs to her, embraces her, and kisses her, crying.]

Largesse, sweet Countess of Hawcastle! Largesse! and au revoir! Adieu! I leave you with your dear brother. A rivederci.

[She runs gayly out, waving her parasol to them as she goes.]

HORACE

[going to ETHEL]

Dear old sis, dear old pal!

[Affectionately gives her hand a squeeze and drops it.]

ETHEL

[radiant]

Isn’t it glorious, Hoddy!

HORACE

The others are almost as pleased as we are.

[He leans back in chair, knees crossed, hands clasped over knees, and regards her proudly.]

ETHEL

[opens the books she carries, laying them on one of the tea-tables]

This is Burke’s Peerage, and this is Froissart’s Chronicles. I’ve been reading it all over again—the St. Aubyns at Crecy and Agincourt,

[with an exalted expression]

and St. Aubyn will be my name![pg 038]

HORACE

[smiling]

They want it to be your name soon, sis.

ETHEL

[suddenly thoughtful, speaks appealingly]

You’re fond of Almeric, aren’t you, Hoddy—you admire him, don’t you?

HORACE

Certainly. Think of all he represents.

ETHEL

[enthusiastically]

Ah, yes! Crusader’s blood flows in his veins. It is to the nobility that must be within him that I have plighted my troth. I am ready to marry him when they wish.

HORACE

Then as soon as the settlement is arranged. It’ll take about all your share of the estate, sis, but it’s worth it—a hundred and fifty thousand pounds.

ETHEL

[earnestly]

What better use could be made of a fortune than to maintain the state and high condition of so ancient a house?

HORACE

Doesn’t it seem impossible that we were born in Indiana!

[He speaks seriously, as if the thing were incredible.]

ETHEL

[smiling]

But isn’t it good that the pater “made his pile,” as the Americans say, and let us come over here when we were young to find the nobler things, Hoddy—the nobler things!

HORACE

The nobler things—the nobler things, [pg 039]sis. When old Hawcastle dies I’ll be saying, quite off-hand, you know, “My sister, the Countess of Hawcastle—”

ETHEL

[thoughtfully]

You don’t suppose that father’s friend, my guardian, this old Mr. Pike, will be—will be QUEER, do you?

HORACE

Well, the governor himself was rather raw, you know. This is probably a harmless enough old chap—easy to handle—

ETHEL

I wish I knew. I shouldn’t like Almeric’s family to think we had queer connections of any sort—and he might turn out to be quite shockingly American

[with genuine pathos]

I—I couldn’t bear it, Hoddy.

HORACE

Then keep him out of the way. That’s simple enough. None of them, except the solicitor, need see him.

[Instantly upon this there is a tremendous though distant commotion beyond the hotel—wild laughter and cheers, the tarantella played by mandolins and guitars, also sung, shouts of “Bravo Americano!” and “Yanka Dooda!” The noise continues and increases gradually.]

ETHEL

[as the uproar begins]

What is that?[pg 040]

HORACE

Must be a mob.

[LADY CREECH, flustered and hot, enters from the hotel. She is a haughty, cross-looking woman in the sixties.]

ETHEL

[going to LADY CREECH, speaks close to her ear and loudly]

Lady Creech—dear Lady Creech—what is the trouble?

LADY CREECH

Some horrible people coming to this hotel! They’ve made a riot in the village.

[The noise becomes suddenly louder. MARIANO, immediately upon LADY CREECH’S entrance, appears in hotel doors, makes a quick gesture toward breakfast-table, and withdraws.]

[MICHELE, laughing, immediately enters by same doors, goes rapidly to the breakfast-table and clears it. The others pay no attention to this.]

HORACE

[at steps up left]

It’s not a riot—it’s a revolution.

LADY CREECH

[sinking into a chair, angrily]

One of your horrid fellow-countrymen, my dear. Your Americans are really too—

ETHEL

[proudly]

Not my Americans, Lady Creech![pg 041]

HORACE

Not ours, you know. One could hardly say that, could one?

ALMERIC

[heard outside laughing]

Oh, I say, what a go!

[Enters from the hotel, laughing.]

Motor-car breaks down on the way here; one of the Johnnies in it, a German, discharges the chauffeur; and the other Johnny,

[he throws himself sprawling into a chair]

one of your Yankee chaps, Ethel, hires two silly little donkeys, like rabbits, you know, to pull the machine the rest of the way here. Then as they can’t make it, by Jove, you know, he puts himself in the straps with the donkeys, and proceeds, attended by the populace. Ha, ha! I say!

[HORACE, gloomy, comes down and sits at tea-table.]

LADY CREECH

[angrily, to ALMERIC]

Don’t mumble your words, Almeric. I never understand people when they mumble their words.

[RIBIERE, who looks anxious, appears in the hotel doorway, then stands aside on the stoop for MARIANO and MICHELE; they enter and pass him with trays, fresh cloth, etc., for table down right, which they rapidly proceed to set. A valet de chambre enters up left, following them immediately. [pg 042]He carries a tray with a silver dish of caviar and a bottle of vodka. As he enters he hesitates for one moment, looking inquiringly at RIBIERE, who motions him quickly toward MARIANO and MICHELE, and withdraws. Valet rapidly crosses right to table, sets caviar and vodka on the table, and exits up left. The others pay no attention to any of this.]

ALMERIC

I went up to this Yankee chap, I mean to say—he was pullin’ and tuggin’ along, you see, don’t you?—and I said, “There you are, three of you all in a row, aren’t you?”—meanin’ him and the two donkeys, Ethel, you see.

LADY CREECH

[who has been leaning close to ALMERIC to listen]

Dreadful person!

ALMERIC

[continuing]

All he could answer was that he’d picked the best company in sight.

ETHEL

[annoyed, half under her breath]

Impertinent!

ALMERIC

No meanin’ to it. I had him, you know, I rather think, didn’t I?

[HAWCASTLE enters with MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY, a number of folded [pg 043]newspapers under his arm. Simultaneously loud cheers are heard from the village and a general renewal of the commotion.]

HAWCASTLE

Disgusting uproar!

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

[to ETHEL]

But we know that such Americans are not of your class, cherie.

ETHEL

A dreadful person, I quite fear.

HAWCASTLE

The English papers.

[Lays papers on one of the tea-tables.]

ALMERIC

I’ll take the Pink ‘Un, Governor. I’m off.

[Starts to go, the Pink ‘Un under his arm.]

ETHEL

[rather shyly]

For a stroll, Almeric? Would you like me to go with you?

ALMERIC

[somewhat embarrassed]

Well, I rather thought I’d have a quiet bit of readin’, you know.

ETHEL

[coldly]

Oh!

[Exit ALMERIC rapidly up left.]

LADY CREECH

[in a deep and gloomy voice]

The Church Register!

[HAWCASTLE gives her a paper.]

[HORACE takes the London Mail.]

[HAWCASTLE takes the Times.][pg 044]

[ETHEL and MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY walk back to the terrace railing, chatting. The others seat themselves about the tea-tables to read.]

HORACE

[unfolding his paper, speaks crossly to MARIANO]

Mariano, how long is this noise to continue?

MARIANO

[distractedly]

How can I know? We can do nothing.

MICHELE

[smilingly, looking up from table where he has continued to work]

The people outside will not go while they think there is once more a chance to see the North American who pull the automobile with those donkeys.

MARIANO

He have confuse’ me; he have confuse’ everybody. He will not be content with the déjeuner till he have the ham and the eggs. And he will have the eggs cooked only on one side, and how in the name of heaven can we tell which side?

RIBIERE

[appearing in the hotel doorway, speaks sharply but not loudly]

Garçon!

[MICHELE and MARIANO instantly step back from table and stand at attention, facing front, like soldiers. RIBIERE exits quickly again into hotel.][pg 045]

HAWCASTLE

[looking up from paper]

Upon my soul, who’s all this?

MARIANO

[not turning his head, replies in an awed undertone]

It is Herr von Gröllerhagen, a German gentleman, Milor’.

HAWCASTLE

[amused, to HORACE]

Man that owned the automobile. Probably made a fortune in sausages.

VASILI

[heard within the hotel, approaching]

Nein, nein, Ribiere! ‘S macht nichts!

[He enters from the hotel. He is a portly man of forty-five, but rather soldierly than fat. His hair, pompadour, is reddish blond, beginning to turn gray, like his mustache and large full beard; the latter somewhat “Henry IV.” and slightly forked at bottom. His dress produces the effect rather of carelessness than of extreme fashion. He wears a travelling-suit of gray, neat enough but not freshly pressed, the trousers showing no crease, the coat cut in “walking-coat style,” with big, slanting pockets, in which he carries his gloves, handkerchief, matches, [pg 046]and a silver cigarette-case full of Russian cigarettes. On his head is a tan-colored automobile cap with buttoned flaps. He is followed by RIBIERE, who, anxious and perturbed, wishes to call his attention to the item in the Neapolitan morning paper.]

VASILI

[waving both RIBIERE and the paper aside, in high good-humor]

Las’ mich, las’ mich! Geh’n sie weg!

[RIBIERE bows submissively, though with a gesture of protest, and exit into the hotel. The group about the tea-table watch VASILI with hostility.]

LADY CREECH

What a dreadful person!

[VASILI crosses to his seat at the breakfast-table in front of MARIANO and MICHELE, who bows profoundly as he passes.]

VASILI

[lifting his hand in curt, semi-military salute, to acknowledge the waiters’ bows]

See to my American friend.

[MICHELE immediately hastens into the hotel. VASILI sits, and MARIANO serves him.][pg 047]

HAWCASTLE

[to LADY CREECH, in her ear]

Quite right; but take care, he speaks English.

LADY CREECH

[glaring at VASILI]

Many thoroughly objectionable persons do!

VASILI

[apparently oblivious to her remark, to MARIANO]

My American friend wishes his own national dish.

MARIANO

[deferentially, and serving VASILI to caviar]

Yes, Herr von Gröllerhagen, he will have the eggs on but one of both sides and the hams fried. So he go to cook it himself.

[Loud shouts and wild laughter from the street. HORACE, ALMERIC, and LADY CREECH set their papers down in their laps and turn toward the door.]

MARIANO

Ha! He return from the kitchen with those national dish.

ETHEL

[glancing in the doorway]

How horrid!

[MICHELE backs out on the stoop from the doorway laughing, carrying a platter of ham and eggs.]

MICHELE

He have gone to wash himself at the street fountain.

[Tumult outside reaches its height, the shouts of “Yanka Dooda!” predominating.][pg 048]

VASILI

[laughing, clapping his hands]

Bravo! Bravo!

ETHEL

Horrible!

[PIKE enters from the hotel. He is a youthful-looking American of about thirty-five, good-natured, shrewd, humorous, and kindly. His voice has the homely quality of the Central States, clear, quiet, and strong, with a very slight drawl at times when the situation strikes him as humorous, often exhibiting an apologetic character. He does not speak a dialect. His English is the United States language as spoken by the average citizen to be met on a daycoach anywhere in the Central States. He is clean-shaven, and his hair, which shows a slight tendency to gray, is neatly parted on the left side. His light straw hat is edged with a strip of ribbon. The hat, like the rest of his apparel, is neither new nor old. His shirt, “lay-down” collar, and cuffs are of white, well-laundered linen. He wears a [pg 049]loosely knotted tie. A linen motor-duster extends to his knees. His waistcoat is of a gray mixture, neither dark nor light. His trousers are of the same material and not fashionably cut, yet they fit him well and are neither baggy at the knees nor “high-water.” His shoes are plain black Congress gaiters and show a “good shine.” In brief, he is just the average well-to-do but untravelled citizen that you might meet on an accommodation train between Logansport and Kokomo, Indiana. As he enters he is wiping his face, after his ablutions, with a large towel, his hat pushed far back on his head. The sleeves of his duster are turned back, and his detachable cuffs are in his pocket. He comes through the doors rubbing his face with the towel, but, pausing for a moment on the stoop, drops the towel from his face to dry his hands. All except VASILI and the waiters stare at him with frowns of annoyance.][pg 050]

PIKE

[beamingly unconscious of this, surprised, and in a tone of cheerful apology, believing all the world to be as good-natured and sensible as Kokomo would be under the circumstances]

Law! I didn’t know there was folks here. I reckon you’ll have to excuse me.

[As he speaks he dries his hands quickly.]

Here, son!

[He hands the towel to MICHELE. PIKE rapidly descends the steps, goes to the breakfast-table, joining VASILI and taking the seat opposite him.]

VASILI

[gayly]

You’re a true patriot, my friend. You allow no profane hand to cook your national dish. I trust you will be as successful with that wicked motor of mine.

PIKE

[chuckling]

Lord bless your soul, I’ve put a self-binder together after a pony-engine had butted it half-way through a brick deepoe!

[Tucks his napkin in collar of his waistcoat and applies himself to the meal.]

[HORACE and HAWCASTLE read their papers, now and then casting glances of great annoyance at PIKE.][pg 051]

[LADY CREECH lets her periodical rest in her lap, and without any abating or concealment, fixes PIKE with a basilisk glare which continues. He is unconscious of all this, his back being three-quarters to their group.]

VASILI

[no pause]

You have studied mechanics at the University?

PIKE

[smiling]

University? Law, no! On the old man’s farm.

[VASILI nods gravely.]

HAWCASTLE

[blandly, to HORACE]

Without any disrespect to you, my dear fellow, what terrific bounders most of your fellow-countrymen are!

HORACE

[greatly irritated]

Do you wonder sis and I have emancipated ourselves?

HAWCASTLE

Not at all, my dear lad.

VASILI

[to PIKE]

Can I persuade you to accept a little of one of my own national dishes—caviar?

PIKE

Caviar? I’ve heard of it. I thought it was Rooshian.

VASILI

[disturbed, but instantly recovering, himself]

It is German, also. Will you not?

[He motions MARIANO to serve PIKE. MARIANO places a spoonful of caviar on a silver dish at PIKE’S right.][pg 052]

PIKE

I expect I’d never get to the legislature again if the boys heard about it. Still, I reckon I’m far enough from home to take a few risks.

[He loads a fork with caviar, and with a smile places it in his mouth. The smile slowly fades, his face becomes thoughtful, then grave; he slowly sets the fork upon his plate, his eyes turn toward VASILI with a look both puzzled and plaintive, his mouth firmly closed, his jaw moving slightly.]

VASILI

I fear you do not like it. A few swallows of vodka will take away the taste.

[Gives him a glass, which PIKE accepts, drinking a mouthful in haste, VASILI watching him, sincerely concerned and troubled. PIKE swallows the vodka, quietly sets the glass down on the table, his eyelids begin to flutter, he bends a look of suffering and distrust upon VASILI, slowly rises and closes his eyes, then slowly sits and opens them. Gradually a faint, distrustful smile appears on his face.][pg 053]

PIKE

[in the voice of a convalescent]

I never had any business to leave Indiana!

VASILI

I am sorry, my friend.

[PIKE takes another large forkful of caviar.]

VASILI

[observing this]

But I thought you did not like the caviar?

PIKE

It’s to take away the taste of the vodka.

VASILI

[laughing]

I lift my hat to you.

PIKE

You never worked on a farm in your own country, Doc?

VASILI

That has been denied me.

PIKE

I expect so. Talk about things to drink! Harvest-time, and the women folks coming out from the house with a two-gallon jug of ice-cold buttermilk!

[Sets down the glass and whistles softly with delight.]

[HORACE shows increasing signs of annoyance.]

VASILI

You still enjoy those delights?

PIKE

Not since I moved up to our county-seat ten years ago and began to practice law. Things don’t taste the same in the city.

VASILI

You do not like your city?

PIKE

[not with braggadocio, but earnestly, almost [pg 054]pathetically]

Like it? Well, sir, for public buildings and architecture, I wouldn’t trade our State insane asylum for the worst-ruined ruin in Europe—not for hygiene and real comfort.

VASILI

And your people?

PIKE

The best on earth. Out my way folks are neighbors.

[HORACE snaps his paper sharply.]

VASILI

But you have no leisure class.

[VASILI is looking keenly at HAWCASTLE and HORACE as he speaks.]

PIKE

Got a pretty good-sized colored population.

VASILI

I mean no aristocracy—no great old families such as we have, that go back and back to the Middle Ages.

PIKE

[genially]

Well, I expect if they go back that far they might just as well set down and stay there. No, sir, the poor in my country don’t have to pay taxes for a lot of useless kings and earls and first grooms of the bedchamber and second ladies in waiting, and I don’t know what all. If anybody wants our money for nothin’ he has to show energy enough to steal it. I wonder a man like you doesn’t emigrate.

VASILI

Bravo!

HAWCASTLE

[to HORACE]

Your countryman seems to be rather down on us![pg 055]

HORACE

This fellow is distinctly of the lower orders. We should cut him as completely in the States as here.

VASILI

I wonder you make this long journey, my friend, instead of to spend your holiday at home.

PIKE

Holiday! Why, I never had time even to go to Niagara Falls!

VASILI

[to MARIANO]

Finito!

[Sets his napkin carelessly on table and lights a Russian cigarette.]

MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY

What is it he does with his serviette?

PIKE

[moving his chair back from the table slightly, and folding his napkin]

No, sir, you wouldn’t catch me puttin’ in any time in these old kingdoms unless I had to.

LADY CREECH

[loudly, to HAWCASTLE]

Hawcastle, can you tell me how much longer these persons intend to remain here listening to our conversation?

[PIKE half turns to LADY CREECH, innocently puzzled.]

HAWCASTLE

Oh, it isn’t that; but it’s somewhat annoying not to be allowed to read one’s paper in peace.

HORACE

Quite beastly annoying!

LADY CREECH

I had a distinct impression that [pg 056]the management had reserved this terrace for our party.

VASILI

[quietly]

I fear we have disturbed these good people.

PIKE

[in wonder]

Do you think they’re hinting at us?

VASILI

I fear so.

PIKE

[gently and with sincere amazement]

Why, we haven’t done anything to ’em.

VASILI

No, my friend.

PIKE

[smiling]

Well, I guess there ain’t any bones broken.

HORACE

[throws down paper angrily on tea-table]

I can’t stand this. I shall go for a stroll.

PIKE

[rising]

I expect it’s about time for me to go and find the two young folks I’ve come to look after.

VASILI

You are here for a duty, then?

PIKE

[with gravity, yet smiling faintly]

I shouldn’t be surprised if that was the name for it. Yes, sir, all the way from Indiana.

[ETHEL utters a low cry of fear.]

[HORACE, having secured his hat, is just rising to go, drops back into his chair with a stifled exclamation of dismay.]

[HAWCASTLE lays his paper flat on table. All this instantaneous.][pg 057]

HAWCASTLE

By Jove!

[They all stare at PIKE.]

PIKE

[continuing]

I expect, prob’ly, Doc, I won’t be able to eat with you this evening. You see—

[he pauses, somewhat embarrassed]

—you see, I’ve come a mighty long ways to look after her, and she, prob’ly—that is, they’ll prob’ly want me to have supper with them.

[The latter part of this speech is spoken rather breathlessly, though not rapidly, and almost tremulously, and with a growing smile that is like a confession.]

VASILI

Do not trouble for me. Your young people, they have a villa?

PIKE

No; they’re right here in this hotel.

HORACE

I must get away!

[He says this huskily, almost in a whisper, as if to himself. His face is tense with anxiety.]

VASILI

[with a gesture of dismissal, though graciously]

Seek them. I finish my cigarette.

PIKE

Guess I better ask.

[HORACE is crossing, meaning to get away through the grove.]

PIKE

[addressing him]

Hey, there! Can you—[pg 058]

[HORACE, proceeding, pays no attention.]

PIKE

[lifting his voice]

Excuse me, son, ain’t you an American?

[More decidedly, to MARIANO.]

Waiter, tell that gentleman I’m speaking to him.

MARIANO

[to HORACE]

M’sieu’, that gentleman speak with you.

HORACE

[agitated and angry]

What gentleman?

[MARIANO bows toward PIKE.]

PIKE

[at same time genially]

I thought from your looks you must be an American.

HORACE

[turning haughtily]

Are you speaking to me?

PIKE

[good-humoredly]

Well, I shouldn’t be surprised. Ain’t you an American?

HORACE

I happen to have been born in the States.

PIKE

[amiably]

Well, that was luck!

HORACE

[turning as if to go]

Will you kindly excuse me?

PIKE

Hold on a minute! I’m looking for some Americans here, and I expect you know ’em—boy and girl named Simpson.

HORACE

Is there any possibility that you mean Granger-Simpson?[pg 059]

[His tone is both alarmed and truculent.]

PIKE

[much pleased]

No, sir; just plain Simpson. Granger’s their middle name. That’s for old Jed Granger, grandfather on their ma’s side.

[He pronounces “ma” with the broad Hoosier accent—”maw.”]

I want to see ’em both, but it’s the girl I’m rilly looking for.

HORACE

[trembling, but speaking even more haughtily]

Will you be good enough to state any possible reason why Miss Granger-Simpson should see you?

PIKE

[in profound surprise, yet mildly]

Reason—why, yes—I’m her guardian.

[ETHEL lifts her hand to her forehead as if dizzy. MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY puts an arm around her. ETHEL recovers herself and stands rigidly, staring at PIKE.]

HORACE

[staggered]

What!

PIKE

[smiling]

Yes, sir, Daniel Voorhees Pike, attorney at law, Kokomo, Indiana.

[HORACE falls back from him in horror.]

[HAWCASTLE, excited but cool, makes [pg 060]a quick, imperative gesture to LADY CREECH, who majestically sweeps up to ETHEL, kisses her on the forehead in lofty pity, and sweeps out.]

[MADAME DE CHAMPIGNY kisses ETHEL compassionately on cheek and follows LADY CREECH off.]

[MARIANO and MICHELE, having cleared the table, exeunt.]

HORACE

[hoarse with shame, to PIKE; slight pause after PIKE’S last speech.]

I shall ask her if she will consent to an interview.

PIKE

[at same time, astounded]

“Consent to an interview”? Why, I want to talk to her!

HAWCASTLE

[quickly and earnestly to ETHEL]

This shall make no difference to us, my child. Speak to him at once.

[Exit into the hotel.]

PIKE

[to HORACE]

Don’t you understand? I’m her guardian.

HORACE

[with a desperate gesture]

I shall never hold up my head again!

[Rushes off.]

VASILI

[gravely, to PIKE]

When you have finished your affairs, my friend, remember my poor car yonder.

PIKE

[with a melancholy smile]

All right, Doc, I’m kind of confused just now, but I reckon I can still put a plug back in a gear-box.

VASILI

[at same time]

Then au revoir, my friend.

[Strolls off through the grove.]

PIKE

[watching him go, thoughtfully]

Yes, sir!

ETHEL

[haughtily, yet with the air of confessing a humiliating truth, her eyes cast down]

I am Miss Granger-Simpson.

[As she speaks he turns and lifts his hand toward her as if suddenly startled. He has not seen her until now. He stands for a moment in silence, looking at her with great tenderness and pride.]

PIKE

[with both wonder and pathos in his voice]

Why, I knew your pa from the time I was a little boy till he died, and I looked up to him more’n I ever looked up to anybody in my life, but I never thought he’d have a girl like you!

[She turns from him; he takes a short step nearer her.]

He’d ‘a’ been mighty proud if he could see you now.

ETHEL

[quickly, and with controlled agitation]

Perhaps it will be as well if we avoid personal allusions.[pg 062]

PIKE

[mildly]

I don’t see how that’s possible.

ETHEL

[sitting]

Will you please sit down?

PIKE

Yes, ma’am!

[ETHEL shivers at the “ma’am.”]

[He sits in the chair which HORACE has occupied, still holding his hat in his hand.]

ETHEL

[tremulously, her eyes cast down]

As you know, I—I—

[She stops, as if afraid of breaking down; then, turning toward him, cries sharply.]

Oh, are you really my guardian?

PIKE

[smiling]

Well, I’ve got the papers in my grip. I expect—

ETHEL

Oh, I KNOW it! It is only that we didn’t fancy, we didn’t expect—

PIKE

I expect you thought I’d be considerable older.

ETHEL

Not only that

PIKE

[interrupting gently]

I expect you thought I’d neglected you a good deal,

[remorsefully]

and it did LOOK like it—never comin’ to see you; but I couldn’t hardly manage the time to get away. You see, bein’ trustee of your share of the estate, I don’t hardly have a fair show at my law practice. But [pg 063]when I got your letter, eleven days ago, I says to myself: “Here, Daniel Voorhees Pike, you old shellback, you’ve just got to take time. John Simpson trusted you with his property, and he’s done more

[his voice rises, but his tone is affectionate and shows deep feeling]

—he’s trusted you to look out for her, and now she’s come to a kind of jumpin’-off place in her life—she’s thinking of gettin’ married; and you just pack your grip-sack and hike out over there and stand by her!”

ETHEL

[frigidly]

I quite fail to understand your point of view. Perhaps I had best make it at once clear to you that I am no longer thinking of marrying.

PIKE

[leaning back in his chair and smiling on her]

Well, Lord-a-Mercy!

ETHEL

I mean I have decided upon it. The ceremony is to take place within a fortnight.

PIKE

Well, I declare!

ETHEL

We shall dispense with all delays.

PIKE

[slowly and a little sadly]

Well, I don’t know as I could rightly say anything against that. He must be a mighty nice fellow, and you must think a heap of him!

[With a suppressed sigh.]

That’s the way it should be.[pg 064]

[He smiles again and leans toward her in a friendly way.]

And you’re happy, are you?

ETHEL

[with cold emphasis, sitting very straight in her chair]

Distinctly!

[PIKE’S expression becomes puzzled, he passes his hand over his chin, looks at her keenly. Then his eyes turn to the spot where HORACE stood during their interview, and he starts, as though shocked at a sudden thought.]

PIKE

It ain’t that fellow I was talkin’ to yonder?

ETHEL

[indignantly]

That was my brother!

PIKE

[relieved, but somewhat embarrassed]

Lord-a-Mercy!

[Recovering himself immediately and smiling.]

But, naturally, I wouldn’t remember him. He couldn’t have been more than twelve years old last time you were home. Of course, I’d ‘a’ known you

ETHEL

How? You couldn’t have seen me since I was a child.

PIKE

From your picture. Though now I see—it ain’t so much like you.

ETHEL

You have a photograph of me?[pg 065]

PIKE

[very gently]

The last time I saw your father alive he gave me one.

ETHEL

[frowning]

Gave it to you?

PIKE

Gave it to me to look at.

ETHEL

And you remembered—

PIKE

[apologetically]

Yes, ma’am!

ETHEL

[incredulously]

Remembered well enough to know me?

PIKE

Yes, ma’am!

ETHEL

It does not strike me as possible. We may dismiss the subject.

PIKE

Well, if you’d like to introduce me to your

[laughing feebly and tentatively, hesitates]

—to your—

ETHEL

To my brother?

PIKE

No, ma’am; I mean to your—to the young man.

ETHEL

To Mr. St. Aubyn? I think it quite unnecessary.

PIKE

I’m afraid I can’t see it just that way

[with an apologetic laugh]

I’ll have to have a couple of talks with him—sort of look him over, so to speak. I won’t stay around here spoilin’ your fun any longer than I can help. Only just for that, and to get a letter I’m expectin’ here from England. Don’t you be afraid.[pg 066]

ETHEL

I do not see that you need have come at all.

[Her lip begins to tremble.]

We could have been spared this mortification.

PIKE

[sadly]

You mean I mortify you? Why, I—I can’t see how.

ETHEL

In a hundred ways—every way. That common person who is with you—

PIKE

[gently]

He ain’t common. You only think so because he’s with me.

ETHEL

[sharply]

Who is he?

PIKE

He told me his name, but I can’t remember it. I call him “Doc.”

ETHEL

It doesn’t matter! What does matter is that you needn’t have come. You could have written your consent.

PIKE

[mildly]

Not without seeing the young man.

ETHEL

And you could have arranged the settlement in the same way.

PIKE

[smiling]

Settlement? You seem to have settled it pretty well without me.

ETHEL

You do not understand. An alliance of this sort always entails a certain settlement.

PIKE

Yes, ma’am—when folks get married they generally settle down considerable.

ETHEL

[impatiently]

Please listen. If you were at all a man of the world, I should not have to explain [pg 067]that in marrying into a noble house I bring my dot, my dowry—

PIKE

[puzzled]

Money, you mean?

ETHEL

If you choose to put it that way.

PIKE

You mean you want to put aside something of your own to buy a lot and fix up a place to start housekeeping—

ETHEL

No, no! I mean a settlement upon Mr. St. Aubyn directly.

PIKE

You mean you want to give it to him?

ETHEL

If that’s the only way to make you understand—yes!

PIKE

[amused]

How much do you want to give him?

ETHEL

[coldly]

A hundred and fifty thousand pounds.

PIKE

[incredulously]

Seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars!

ETHEL

Precisely that!

PIKE

[amazed]

Well, he has made you care for him! I guess he must be the Prince of the World, honey! He must be a great man. I expect you’re right about me not meetin’ him! I prob’ly wouldn’t stack up very high alongside of a man that’s big enough for you to think as much of as you do of him.

[Smiling.]

Why, I’d have to squeeze every bit of property your pa left you.[pg 068]

ETHEL

Is it your property?

PIKE

[gently]

I’ve worked pretty hard to take care of it for you.

ETHEL

[rising impulsively and coming to him]

Forgive me for saying that.

PIKE

[smiling]

Pshaw!

ETHEL

It was unworthy of me, unworthy of the higher and nobler things that life calls me to live up to

[proudly]

—that I shall live up to. The money means nothing to me—I am not thinking of that. It is merely a necessary form.

PIKE

Have you talked with Mr. St. Aubyn about this settlement—this present you want to make him?

ETHEL

Not with him.

PIKE

[amused]

I thought not! You’ll see—he wouldn’t take it if I’d let you give it to him. A fine man like that wants to make his own way, of course. Mighty few men like to have fun poked at ’em about livin’ on their wife’s money.

ETHEL

[despairingly]

Oh, I can’t make you understand! A settlement isn’t a gift.

PIKE

[as if humoring her]

How’d you happen to decide that just a hundred and fifty thousand pounds was what you wanted to give him?

ETHEL

It was Mr. St. Aubyn’s father who fixed the amount.[pg 069]

PIKE

His father? What’s he got to do with it?

ETHEL

He is the Earl of Hawcastle, the head of the ancient house.

PIKE

And he asks you for your property—asks you for it in so many words?

ETHEL

As a settlement!

PIKE

[aghast]

And your young man knows it?

ETHEL

I tell you I have not discussed it with Mr. St. Aubyn.

PIKE

[emphatically]

I reckon not! Well, sir, do you know what’s the first thing Mr. St. Aubyn will do when he hears his father’s made such a proposition to you? He’ll take the old man out in the back lot and give him a thrashing he won’t forget to the day of his death!

[The roll of drums is heard, distant, as if sounding below the cliff; bugle sounds at the same time.]

[MARIANO and MICHELE run hurriedly from the hotel and lean over balustrade at back, as if watching something below the cliff.]

[RIBIERE enters quickly with them, takes one quick glance in same direction, and hurries off.][pg 070]

[PIKE and ETHEL, surprised, turn to look.]

MARIANO

[calling to ETHEL as he enters]

A bandit of Russia, Mademoiselle! The soldiers think he hide in a grotto under the cliff!

[ALMERIC comes on rapidly from the hotel, carrying a shot-gun.]

ALMERIC

[enthusiastically, as he enters]

Oh, I say, fair sport, by Jove! Fair sport!

PIKE

[to ETHEL, indicating ALMERIC, chuckling]

I saw him on the road here—what’s he meant for?

ALMERIC

Think I’ll have a chance to pot the beggar, Michele?

[He joins MICHELE at balustrade.]

MICHELE

No, Signore, there are two companies of carabiniere.

[PIKE, delighted, chuckles aloud.]

ETHEL

[angry, calling]

Almeric!

ALMERIC

[turning]

Hallo!

ETHEL

[frigidly]

I wish to present my guardian to you.

[To PIKE.]

This is Mr. St. Aubyn.

ALMERIC

[coming down]

Hallo, though! It’s the donkey man, isn’t it? How very odd! You’ll have to see the Governor and our solicitor about the settlement. I’ve some important business here. The police are chasing a bally convict chap under the [pg 071]cliffs over yonder, so you’ll have to excuse me. I’ll have to be toddling.

[Goes up to terrace wall overlooking cliffs.]

You know there’s nothing like a little convict shooting to break the blooming monotony—what?

[The bugle sounds. ALMERIC turns and rushes off.]

Wait for me, you fellows! Don’t hurt him till I get there!

[His voice dies away in the distance.]

PIKE

[turning to ETHEL with slow horror]

Seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars for—How much do they charge over here for a real man?

[She is unable to meet his eye. She turns, with flaming cheeks, and runs into the hotel. He stands staring after her, incredulous, dumfounded, in a frozen attitude.]

END OF THE FIRST ACT

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s