I'll Leave It To You - A Light Comedy In Three Acts
by Noel Coward
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(MRS. CROMBIE shows boredom during speech.)

MRS. CROMBIE. Oh, is she?

DANIEL. Because he is a fine boy, so is Oliver, so are they all splendid—and she should be proud to know them.

MRS. CROMBIE. It really is very lucky that you are so contented with your lot. Personally, I'm not so ecstatic. Admitting for a moment that your nephew has such a marvellously fine character—which I doubt—he should not have made love to my daughter without being certain of his prospects.

DANIEL. I will speak to him, Mrs. Crombie.

MRS. CROMBIE. I should be very grateful if you would. (Rises and moves up to him.) And please understand that nothing—nothing is to be settled without my consent.

DANIEL. I quite understand that.

MRS. CROMBIE. Thank you so much—I think I'll rejoin the others in the garden now.

DANIEL. I'm sure they'd be charmed.

(Exit MRS. CROMBIE into garden. DANIEL, left alone, lights another cigarette.)

DANIEL (feelingly). Whew! What a woman! (Falls on Chesterfield.)

(EVANGELINE peeps downstairs.)

EVANGELINE. Has she gone?

DANIEL. Yes, thank Heaven. I say, Vangy, she is a very objectionable woman.

EVANGELINE (coming down). I know—we all loathe her. Now at last I can talk to you alone. (Sits beside him.)

DANIEL. Look here, Evangeline, I know exactly what you are going to say, and I settle it all on Griggs, if you like. He'll take it, he's a Scotsman.

EVANGELINE. How did you know?

DANIEL. Instinct, my dear, pure instinct.

EVANGELINE (rises). Let's talk it all over.

DANIEL (rises and goes L.). No, not now, I must go up to my room.

EVANGELINE. Oh, just a little talk!

DANIEL. I have some letters to write. Also I'm tired and I feel my illness coming on again. Also I must wash before tea. Also——

EVANGELINE (laughing). It's quite obvious that you don't want to, so I'll leave you alone. Cheerio for the present.

DANIEL. They all say that. Cheerio! I'm sure it portends something....

(He goes off upstairs.)

(Enter JOYCE from garden dragging FAITH after her.)

JOYCE. Now you've just got to tell the others that.

FAITH (flustered). But I promised Bobbie I wouldn't say a word....

JOYCE. Well, you've broken your word once, so you can do it again. Vangy! Vangy! (She goes to window, still dragging FAITH.) Sylvia! Oliver! Bobbie!

EVANGELINE. What on earth is the matter?

JOYCE. Faith will tell you when the others come. (Dragging FAITH back to C.)

FAITH. Look here, this isn't a bit fair of you. Bobbie will never forgive me....

JOYCE. I can't help Bobbie's troubles—you should have thought of that before.

(Enter SYLVIA and OLIVER from garden.)

OLIVER. What's up?

JOYCE. The moment Bobbie comes, you shall know—yell for him, Oliver....

(FAITH attempts to escape, SYLVIA stops her.)

OLIVER (goes to window and yells). Bobb-ie! Hurry up, we want you.

BOBBIE (off). All right—coming....

(They wait in silence—JOYCE still holds firmly on to FAITH'S arm. Enter BOBBIE from garden—rather breathless. The positions are as follows:—EVANGELINE down R. SYLVIA R.C. above Chesterfield. BOBBIE a little above SYLVIA slightly on her L. FAITH C. JOYCE on FAITH'S L. OLIVER up L.)

BOBBIE. What's the bother?

JOYCE. Now, Faith, tell them.

FAITH. I won't.

JOYCE. Very well, I will—it's most important—listen, all of you—Bobbie was flirting with Faith this afternoon, and he told her that Uncle had singled him out from us all to leave his money to....

BOBBIE. Oh, Faith, how could you. (FAITH crosses to window L.)

SYLVIA (judiciously). Is this true, Bobbie?

BOBBIE (miserably). Yes, but I couldn't help it....

SYLVIA. Of course you couldn't. Don't be silly—now I'll tell you something. Uncle said exactly the same thing to me.


OLIVER. So he did to me, the dirty dog.

JOYCE. Yes, I guessed as much when Faith told me—he promised his whole fortune to me if I won prizes and things at school.

EVANGELINE. Well, I needn't tell you that he said the same to me.

BOBBIE. What's his game?

SYLVIA. Hadn't we better ask him?

OLIVER. Yes, where is he?

EVANGELINE. Upstairs writing letters, washing and being ill.

SYLVIA. Run up and fetch him, Bobbie.

BOBBIE. All right.

(Exit upstairs two at a time.)

OLIVER. I'd love to know what he's up to.

JOYCE. You will in a minute.

EVANGELINE. I shouldn't be too sure, if he's deceived us once, he'll probably try to do it again. I don't feel that I can trust him at all now.

JOYCE. Look here, when he comes down, what are we to say to him—Oliver'd better do it all, he's the eldest.

OLIVER (comes down to table). I'm hanged if I will.

SYLVIA. All right, dear, don't get crusty before the time; I expect you'll have full opportunities for that later. I'll be spokesman.

EVANGELINE. All right.

(Re-enter DANIEL, followed by BOBBIE, wiping his hands on a towel. BOBBIE goes R.)

DANIEL (C.). I feel a little like Lady Macbeth, but Bobbie wouldn't let me dry properly. What on earth's the matter?

{ We want to know. EVERY ONE. { Look here, Uncle Daniel.... { We want an explanation, Uncle Daniel.

DANIEL. You all appear to be perturbed about something.

BOBBIE. We are.

SYLVIA. Shut up, Bobbie, I'm spokesman.

DANIEL (weakly). Couldn't it be some one else? Sylvia's so firm with me.

SYLVIA. I think, uncle, that you occasionally need firmness. (Coming down R. by Chesterfield.)

DANIEL. We all do, it's a weakness of the human race—lack of stamina—I have it at the moment. Please may I sit down?


DANIEL (sinking into arm-chair). Thank you so much. (Weakly.) I begin to feel sleepy. May I have perhaps—a small glass of water?

BOBBIE. All right—I'll get it. (He goes to sideboard.)

DANIEL. With perhaps the teeniest, weeniest little drop of whisky?

SYLVIA. This is all useless prevarication, you know—we have some very important questions to ask you.

DANIEL (rising). Perhaps I'd better stand up then, it's more imposing. (He takes water from Bobbie.) Thank you a thousand times. Cheerio!!

(They all make a movement of annoyance.)

SYLVIA. Now then, uncle, we've discovered that you have been deceiving us....

DANIEL (amazed). I—deceive you? I'm pained! I'm hurt! You've wounded me to the quick.

BOBBIE. I don't believe you've got a quick.

SYLVIA. Shut up, Bobbie!

(FAITH is by window L.)

SYLVIA. Yes, through the agency of Miss Crombie here.

DANIEL. Ah, Miss Crombie, I've just been chatting to your mother. (Goes to table and puts glass on it.)

SYLVIA (ignoring his interruption.) Your dastardly trick has been exposed, is it or is it not true that you took each of us aside in turn a year and a half ago and filled us up with confidential lies about your will?

DANIEL (bravely). It's absolutely true.

(Move from all.)

SYLVIA. Why did you do it?

DANIEL (laughing with forced roguishness). Ah!...

SYLVIA (firmly—with emphasis on each word). Why did you do it?

DANIEL. Do you really want to know?

EVANGELINE (below form). Of course we do.

DANIEL. Very well, then I'll tell you. The reason was this. You were a set of idle young bounders. (A move from all.) You'd never done a stroke of work in your lives—neither have I, but I didn't see why you shouldn't. There was your poor mother left comparatively hard up—you would have to have left this house which would have made her perfectly miserable, so I determined to spur you on to do something (breaking into a smile.) I say, you must admit I've succeeded!

SYLVIA. Never mind, that—go on.

DANIEL (still smiling). Well, not having a penny in the world with which to help you myself——

EVERYONE. What!!!!!

DANIEL. I repeat—not having a penny——

OLIVER (below table). Do you mean to say you haven't any money at all?

DANIEL (cheerfully). Not a bob! Except on the all too rare occasions when I win a bit. (Laughing.) If it were not for the darling little horses, I shouldn't be able to get across to England at all.

EVANGELINE. What about the mine you told us of?

(JOYCE is R. of table.)

DANIEL. I never told you of a mine.

EVANGELINE. Oh, uncle, you are a fibber!

DANIEL. You said I had a mine. As a matter of fact I am part owner in one. Unfortunately it was long ago proved to be absolutely worthless. But please don't worry yourselves over me. I shall be all right.

SYLVIA (R.C.). We weren't.

DANIEL (C). I didn't say you were, I said don't. I also told you, now that I come to think of it, that I had only three years to live. That was put in as a bit of local colour. I hope to live to eighty-two or even eighty-three.

BOBBIE (above Chesterfield). Well, all I can say is—it's the rottenest trick I ever heard.

JOYCE. Uncle, how could you? (She sniffs.)

BOBBIE. How dare you come here and stuff us up with promises that you can never keep. I'm jolly well fed up. I thought you were such a sport and—oh, what's the use of talking. You don't give a damn. Come away, Faith.

FAITH (tossing her head). Very well.

(Exit BOBBIE and FAITH into garden.)

EVANGELINE (coming forward, moves between Chesterfield and arm-chair—contemptuously). It strikes me as being a singularly pointless practical joke—I'm very disappointed in you, Uncle Daniel.

(Exit R.)

OLIVER (coming in front of JOYCE). So am I—damned disappointed. I thought you were too decent to do a thing like that.

(Exit R.)

JOYCE. I think you're horrid, it'll get all over the school now. (She bursts into tears and exits R.)

(SYLVIA turns and looks at UNCLE DANIEL.)

DANIEL. They've all had a go at me. Haven't you anything to say too, Sylvia?

SYLVIA. No, I haven't anything to say at all.

UNCLE DANIEL. Oh! (Sits in armchair.)

SYLVIA. You see I knew all the time. (Goes to above him.)

DANIEL (incredulously). You knew?

SYLVIA. Well, I guessed from the first and found out afterwards.

DANIEL. But how?

SYLVIA. Well, uncle darling, I knew that no one with a smile like yours could ever have a bob!

(Kisses him, goes off laughing. UNCLE DANIEL settles himself in armchair, smiling.)



SCENE.—The scene is the same as the preceding acts. Alterations in the furniture are noted at the end of the play. It is seven-thirty on the morning following the events of ACT II. When the CURTAIN rises, the sun is streaming in through the open window L.C. BOBBIE can be seen standing just outside looking up apparently at an upper window.

BOBBIE (calling softly). Faith! Faith!

FAITH (heard off). What is it?

BOBBIE. Come down and talk to me.

FAITH. Don't be silly—

BOBBIE. Please do—I've got lots to tell you.

FAITH. Oh, all right—wait a minute.

(BOBBIE comes mooching into the hall through the window. Enter FAITH downstairs.)

FAITH. Good morning, Mr. Dermott. (Offers hand coldly.)

BOBBIE (L.C.). I say—you have been quick.

FAITH (C., coldly). I've been up for hours—what is it you want?

BOBBIE. I've had a perfectly miserable night—I couldn't sleep a wink. I want to know if you really meant what you said last night.

FAITH. Of course I really meant it, how silly you are.

BOBBIE. I'm not silly—I thought maybe it was only the heat of the moment that made you so utterly beastly.

FAITH. If you're going to be rude I shall go away. (She sits down in chair by Chesterfield.)

BOBBIE. Do you really care for me so little that you can give me up at a moment's notice like that?

FAITH. You will not understand Bobbie—I had to.


FAITH. Because mother made me promise.

BOBBIE (up to her). What did she make you promise?

FAITH. She made me promise that—that——


FAITH. Well, you see I'm an only child, and mother wants me to be happy above all things and——

BOBBIE. I could make you happy—wonderfully happy.

FAITH. Mother doesn't think so. You see I've always been used to having money and comforts and things.

BOBBIE. Do you imagine that I shouldn't have been able to give you all the comforts you wanted whether I had uncle's money or not? Why, in a year or so I shall be making hundreds and hundreds. I mean to be successful—nothing will stop me.

FAITH. Well, Bobbie, if you come to me again then, perhaps mother would——

BOBBIE. You mean that I'm to go on working for my happiness on the off chance of your being free to accept me? Neither you nor your mother have enough trust in me to believe that I shall make a big name for myself. Good God, it was a pretty thought of your parents to call you "Faith." I suppose if you had a couple of sisters you'd call them Hope and Charity.

FAITH. It's no use being angry and beastly about it. One must use a little common sense.

BOBBIE. It isn't a question of common sense, but common decency.

FAITH. How dare you say that. (She pulls him round by the leg of his trousers. He brushes her hand away. She repeats this business.) Why can't we just be friends?

BOBBIE. You know I'm much too fond of you to be just friends. Men can't switch their feelings on and off like bath-taps. If they mean a thing they mean it, and there's an end of it.

FAITH. I wish I'd never come down at all if all you mean to do is grumble at me.

BOBBIE. It's more than grumbling—it's genuine unhappiness. (Sits on form below table.) I quite realize now that you never really cared for me a bit, in spite of what you said; but still I want to find out why—why you've changed so suddenly, why need you have hurt me so much. If you'd written breaking it off, it would have been different, but you've been so—so unnecessarily brutal.

FAITH. It was mother's fault.

BOBBIE. Is everything you do your mother's affair? Does she count every breath you take? Why, your life simply can't be worth living!

FAITH. I wish I could make you see....

BOBBIE (in a lower register). I'm afraid you've made me see too much. I didn't know people could be so callous and cruel....

FAITH (quickly). I'm not callous and cruel.

BOBBIE. Oh yes, you are, and you've made me determine one thing, and that is that henceforth I honestly mean to cut women out of my life for ever. (A move from FAITH.) I know it's a hackneyed thing to say, but I mean it. I ought to have taken a lesson from other fellows' experiences, but of course I didn't.

FAITH. I think you're very silly and childish to be so bitter.

BOBBIE. Bitter! (Laughs satirically.) What else could I be? The one girl whom I cared for and trusted has gaily thrown me over the first moment she hears that I am not going to have as much money as she thought. I'm losing my temper now, and I'm glad of it. I shall probably repent every word I say afterwards, but that won't stop me telling you exactly what I think of you. I don't suppose you've ever been in love at all—except to the extent of having signed photographs of Owen Nares and Henry Ainley stuck all over your bedroom, but when you do, I hope you get it really badly, you deserve to be absolutely utterly wretched, as wretched as you've made me, and I hope when you do marry that you get a rotten old Scotch marmalade maker who says "Hoots!" and spills haggis all down his waistcoat.

FAITH (bursting into tears). Oh, Bobbie, how dare you....

(goes to her and goes down on his knees)

BOBBIE. Oh, Faith darling, forgive me, I didn't mean a word of it—I swear I didn't....

FAITH (they both rise). Whether you meant it or not I hate you. (Pushes him away.) You're blatant and beastly, and I never wish to see you again. (She walks upstairs and pauses.) I shall have breakfast in my room. (Exit.)

(BOBBIE stamps out and collides with SYLVIA, who is coming in with a bunch of freshly picked flowers.)

BOBBIE. Why can't you look where you're going?

(He stamps out of sight.)

SYLVIA. Nice sweet-tempered little fellow. (Moves to above table; puts roses in bowl. Takes "Daily Mirror" from window-seat, goes down to Chesterfield and reads it.)

(Enter DANIEL downstairs with bag. He comes very quietly and doesn't see SYLVIA. He stumbles and SYLVIA watches him.)

SYLVIA (suddenly). Excuse me! Have you been stealing any thing.

DANIEL (putting down bag). Damn! I didn't want any one to see me.

SYLVIA. Where were you going?

DANIEL(coming R.C.). To the Green Hart. I couldn't face another meal like dinner last night.

SYLVIA. I know it was pretty awful, but you can't go out of the house like this. Mother'd be furious.

DANIEL. One more wouldn't matter—everybody else is. (Coming L.C.)

SYLVIA. I'm not a bit.

DANIEL. I know, I was just going to except you; you've been charming, but really it was terrible. I can't stay. Oliver has such a lowering expression, and if Joyce gives me one more "dumb animal in pain" look, I shall scream.

SYLVIA. I can't understand why they're all being so silly—I gave them credit for more sense of humour.

DANIEL. And Bobbie—Bobbie was the worst of the lot.

SYLVIA. Well, one can forgive him a little more because of Faith.

DANIEL. Why? What about Faith?

SYLVIA (rising, going to him). Oh, the little beast chucked him last night, the moment she heard you weren't going to leave him a fortune.

DANIEL. Did she, by Jove!

SYLVIA (returning R.C.). Personally I'm delighted. I always distrusted her, and this proves what I've said all along. But that doesn't make Bobbie any better tempered about it.

DANIEL (L.C.). Poor old Bobbie, I bet he hates me.

SYLVIA. If he does he's a fool.

DANIEL. After all you can't blame him, it's only natural.

SYLVIA. He ought to be jolly grateful to you for being the means of showing her up.

DANIEL. Perhaps—but he won't be. I know what it feels like; we all go through it sometime or another. I'd love to wring that girl's neck though.

SYLVIA. You like Bobbie best of us all, don't you?

DANIEL. With the exception of you—yes. I think it's because he's the most like me. He is, you know. If he'd lived my life he'd have done exactly the same things.

SYLVIA. I wonder. (Sits L. of Chesterfield.)

DANIEL (smiling). I know. (He sits on chair, head of table.) He's got just the same regard for the truth, the same sublime contempt of the world, and the same amount of bombast and good opinion of himself that I started with, I only hope he'll make better use of his chances, and carve out a better career for himself.

SYLVIA. If he does, he'll owe it all to you—first for rousing him up and making him work, and secondly for getting rid of Faith for him. Had he married her, she'd have been a millstone round his neck. He doesn't realize it now, but yesterday was one of the luckiest days of his life.

DANIEL. D'you really think so?

SYLVIA. I'm sure of it.

DANIEL. That's simply splendid. You've bucked me up tremendously. I shan't mind the Green Hart nearly so much now. (Rising.)

SYLVIA (putting him back on seat). Uncle, you're not to go to the Green Hart at all, I won't have it.

DANIEL. I must. When they all sit round looking reproachfully at me, it makes me feel as if I could sink under the table.

SYLVIA (patting him and kneeling by him). But they won't—they'll have got over it.

DANIEL. They're all much too young to get over being made fools of as quickly as that.

SYLVIA. But, uncle——

DANIEL. It's no use—I'm firm. I won't come back until they want me. As a matter of fact I realise I've been very foolish. I shouldn't have let things go so far. Naturally they were terribly disappointed at my wanting to live till eighty-two or eighty-three, and not having any money to leave them.

SYLVIA. They're not really disappointed so much as outraged. They feel you've been laughing up your sleeve at them, as of course you have.

DANIEL. No, I haven't—you're wrong there—I haven't. I couldn't help you financially. I'd borrowed the money to come over and the cheque I'd sent before. I'd just won, so I thought that the only way to assist at all was to use mental persuasion on all of you. There's always something fascinating in the idea of having money left one. It seems such an easy way of getting it. Of course it answered better than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams.

SYLVIA. It was a little unnecessary to take each of us aside like you did and stuff us up with hope.

DANIEL. That and a bunch of keys was all I had. It was such a wonderful situation. I—never having had a penny in the wide, (gaily), arranging to leave you my entire fortune. (He starts to laugh.) You must confess it was very, very funny.

SYLVIA (also laughing). Yes, it was.... (They both laugh heartily).

DANIEL (still laughing). And when I said I had sleeping sickness!...

SYLVIA (weak with laughter). Oh, uncle, how could you.

DANIEL (wiping his eyes). Oh dear, oh dear!

SYLVIA. Poor mother getting more mystified every minute, and bothered poor Tibbets till he doesn't know if he is on his head or his heels.

DANIEL (rising suddenly). But look here, they'll all be down in a minute. (SYLVIA stands up.) They mustn't find me here, poised for flight. I must go at once. (Going behind Chesterfield and picking up bag.)

SYLVIA (L. of him). Yes, but will you promise on your word of honour to come back the moment I send for you?

DANIEL. If you give me your word of honour not to send for me until everything's quite all right and everyone is perfectly amiable towards me. I couldn't bear any more rebuffs. I should burst into tears if anybody even gave me a look!

SYLVIA. Yes, I'll promise.

DANIEL. I trust you because, after all, you spotted from the first.

SYLVIA. That wasn't very difficult. I've always had a good eye for hypocrites. (DANIEL slaps her.) Mind you don't go any further afield than the Green Hart!

DANIEL. You bet I shan't!

(Exit DANIEL through window.)

SYLVIA (looking out of window after him). Bye-bye! (Coming down stage.) Bless his heart!

(Enter GRIGGS from R. with breakfast dishes which he places on sideboard.)

GRIGGS. Will you do the coffee as usual, miss?

SYLVIA. Yes, Griggs. By the way, get me a bigger bowl for those roses when you have time.

GRIGGS. Yes, miss.

(He bangs loudly on a big gong, and exits R. Enter MRS. DERMOTT downstairs.)

SYLVIA. Hello, mother. (Kiss across L. banisters.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Good morning, darling. Are there any letters?

SYLVIA. Only one for you, I think.

MRS. DERMOTT (taking letter from table). From Tibbets, I expect. (Sniffs at it.) No! From Isobel Harris. (Sits at the head of the table.) I do hope she doesn't want to come and stay—I couldn't bear that. (Opens it.) Oh no, it's only to say that Fanny's engaged to an officer in the Coldstream Guards. How splendid for her.

SYLVIA. Poor Fanny—I'm glad. (Sits in chair on her mother's left.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Why do you say poor Fanny, dear? I'm sure she's very fortunate. Now-a-days when nice men are so scarce. I was only saying——

SYLVIA. She didn't say he was a nice man—only that he was in the Coldstream Guards. I said poor because I can just imagine all her awful relations as bridesmaids, and her father and mother shoving her up the altar steps in their efforts to get her safely married.

MRS. DERMOTT. Isobel means well, although she's a little trying. But I've never liked Charlie—no man with such a long, droopy moustache could ever be really trusted. Besides, they're so insanitary. Sound the gong again, dear. I do wish they'd all learn to be a little more punctual.

(SYLVIA does so, and returns to sideboard. Enter JOYCE downstairs followed by OLIVER; they are both obviously suffering from temper. They both kiss mother.)

JOYCE (disagreeably, as she comes downstairs). All right! All right!—we're coming. What's the fuss? (Sits on form.)

(OLIVER crosses to Chesterfield, picks up SYLVIA'S paper and reads, pacing up and down.)

MRS. DERMOTT. There's no fuss, darling, but it's stupid to let the breakfast get cold. I've got mushrooms this morning, specially because Uncle Daniel likes them.

(Enter BOBBIE from garden profoundly gloomy. Kisses mother.)

BOBBIE. You could hear that beastly gong a mile off.

(SYLVIA crosses to table with coffee and milk.)

MRS. DERMOTT. I'm so glad, dear. It shows it's a good gong. Ring the bell, will you, Oliver? (OLIVER does so.) Where's Evangeline? She's generally quite an early bird.

(Enter EVANGELINE downstairs. She is distinctly depressed.)

EVANGELINE (on the stairs). Here I am, mother (kisses MRS. DERMOTT). (With sarcasm.) What a pity it is that the bath water isn't a little hotter. I hate tepidity in anything. (Sits on SYLVIA'S left.)

(BOBBIE serves bacon, sitting at the foot of the table, facing MRS. DERMOTT.)

OLIVER. If Joyce didn't bounce in and take it all it would be hotter.

JOYCE. I didn't have a bath at all this morning, so there.

OLIVER. Well, you're a dirty little pig then.

MRS. DERMOTT. There's probably something wrong with the boiler. I'll see about it after breakfast.

(Enter GRIGGS, comes below MRS. DERMOTT.)

Oh, Griggs, just tap on Miss Crombie's door, will you, and tell her that breakfast is ready.

GRIGGS. Miss Crombie wished me to say that she is taking breakfast in her bedroom, madam. I'm sending up a tray.

MRS. DERMOTT. Quite right, Griggs. I wonder if she's feeling ill or anything. I'll go up presently. Oh, and will you find out if Mr. Davis is coming down soon?

GRIGGS. Mr. Davis is not in his room, madam.

MRS. DERMOTT. Not? How very strange—he's probably in the garden somewhere. That'll do, Griggs?

(Exit GRIGGS, R.)

Perhaps you'd better sound the gong again, Bobbie, he might not have heard it.

(BOBBIE crossing in front of table goes to the gong and bangs savagely on it. Every one stops up their ears.)

MRS. DERMOTT. You seem to have taken a dislike to that gong, darling. We must start without him, that's all. Do sit down, Oliver, you're much too big to pace backwards and forwards like that. Pour out the coffee, Sylvia dear, if it's ready.

(OLIVER sits on EVANGELINE'S left. BOBBIE sits again at the foot of the table. JOYCE drops her fork with a loud clatter—every one jumps. SYLVIA pours out coffee.)

EVANGELINE. If you'd endeavour to cultivate a little more repose, Joyce dear, it would be an advantage.

JOYCE (truculently). I couldn't help it.

MRS. DERMOTT (brightly). Fancy—Fanny Harris is engaged.

BOBBIE (gloomily). What fun.

MRS. DERMOTT. It may not be fun to you, but it will be most amusing to Mrs. Harris. I do wish Daniel would come in. Where can he be?

BOBBIE. No one cares, anyhow.

MRS. DERMOTT. How can you be so horrid, Bobbie—I did think you'd have recovered from your silly temper before this. Fancy not being able to take a joke.

OLIVER. It wasn't a joke, it was true.

MRS. DERMOTT. You really are utterly absurd. Pass me the toast. I wouldn't have believed you could all have been so silly. I expect Uncle Daniel is just laughing at you.

OLIVER. Yes, that's just what he is doing.

MRS. DERMOTT. I really think, Oliver, that you, as the eldest, ought to set a little better example. And the marmalade—thank you. After all, considering how good he's been to us, we might allow him to have a little joke without becoming disagreeable—even if it doesn't amuse us very much. Why, I——

JOYCE. But, mother, I tell you it isn't a joke—it's the gospel truth.

MRS. DERMOTT. I've never known such a set of maddening children. Pass me the paper, will you, Sylvia? I wish to read it.

(SYLVIA hands her newspaper from window seat and she opens it out and reads it, ignoring the family altogether. Telegraph—with extra pages inserted.)

OLIVER (breaking the silence). Has any one seen my tennis racquet?

JOYCE. Bobbie had it yesterday.

BOBBIE. No, I didn't.

JOYCE. Yes, you did, you and Faith—I saw you.

OLIVER. Well, where is it now?

SYLVIA (ruminatively). I did see a racquet behind the summer house this morning. Would that be it?

OLIVER (furiously). Look here, Bobbie, if you go leaving my racquet out all night again I'll punch your head....

BOBBIE (rising, flaring up). I tell you I never touched your damned racquet—I've got one of my own. (Knocks his chair over.)

JOYCE. A jolly rotten one, though.

BOBBIE. Shut up, Joyce, and mind your own business.

EVANGELINE. Don't speak to Joyce like that, Bobbie. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

BOBBIE. I'll speak how I like.

OLIVER (rising). Not while I'm here, you won't.

BOBBIE (jeeringly). Come on, oh strong and silent elder brother, let's be manly and knock one another about.

OLIVER. A little more of that would do you a lot of good.

BOBBIE. Well, you'd better not try it.

(OLIVER knocks a plate on to the floor, breaking it.)

There, that's what happens when you let elephants loose in the house. (Picks up his chair.)

(During this, MRS. DERMOTT does comic business with newspaper, repeatedly dropping sheets and attempting to fold the paper.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Oliver, if you and Bobbie can't stop quarrelling you'd better both leave the table. I can't think what's the matter with you all. Just because Uncle Daniel chose to have a little fun with you, you all behave like bears with sore heads.

(BOBBIE and OLIVER re-sit and continue eating.)

EVANGELINE. Uncle Daniel meant every word he said, mother. He hasn't got a penny in the world.

MRS. DERMOTT. Nonsense, Evangeline. How do you suppose he could get backwards and forwards to America and send me large cheques and things?

JOYCE. He wins a little from time to time by horse-racing.

MRS. DERMOTT. Rubbish. No one can ever win at horse-racing. I never did. The bookies and jockeys and people don't let you.

EVANGELINE. Mother dear, how can you be so obstinate. I tell you he told us all about it in here yesterday afternoon—gave us his solemn word——

MRS. DERMOTT. But only in fun, darling, only in fun—he's obviously a very rich man.


MRS. DERMOTT. By the by, I wish one of you would just go into the garden and find him. The mushrooms will be ruined.

SYLVIA. He isn't in the garden at all, mother, he's gone to the Green Hart.

(All look surprised.)

MRS. DERMOTT. What do you mean, Sylvia? Why has he gone to the Green Hart?

SYLVIA. Because every one here had been so beastly to him.

(They all continue breakfast hurriedly.)

MRS. DERMOTT. You mean that he——! Oh, Sylvia! (She bursts into tears.)

SYLVIA. Mother darling, don't cry.... (Rises and kisses her.)

MRS. DERMOTT (weeping bitterly). Darling Danny. My only brother. And you've driven him away—after all his kindness and everything. Oh, how could you? How could you? He must be sent for at once. (She rises and rings the bell, dropping bits of newspaper en route.) You're wicked, wicked children, and you don't deserve any one to be kind to you ever again.

(Enter GRIGGS, R.)

Oh, Griggs, send the car down to the Green Hart at once to fetch Mr. Davis.

GRIGGS. Yes, madam.

(Exit GRIGGS, R.)

MRS. DERMOTT (C.). How dare you behave like you have done. I shall never, never forgive you—you're cruel and horrid and——

OLIVER. It's all very fine, mother, but he made fools of us.

MRS. DERMOTT. He didn't do anything of the sort—he only meant it kindly—going to all that trouble, too (she weeps again), with one foot in the grave.

BOBBIE. And the other in the Green Hart.

JOYCE. He's not going to die. He said he meant to live to eighty-two.

MRS. DERMOTT. Eighty-three, I think, was the age, dear, but that's just another instance of his dear unselfishness—so that you wouldn't worry over him. I know! I'm going up to my room—you've upset me for the rest of the day. Call me the very moment he comes. Oh, how could you? How could you be so unkind? Oh, just look at my nose, it's all red and shiny.

(Exit upstairs. SYLVIA follows, standing at the foot of the stairs, looking after her. There is silence for a moment.)

BOBBIE. That's torn it.

JOYCE. Now what are we to do?

SYLVIA (moving down). I know. (At head of table.)

OLIVER. What, then?

SYLVIA. Apologise to Uncle Dan, every one of you, for being such utter beasts.

OLIVER. Well, I'm hanged!

(During the following speech, the others continue their breakfasts.)

SYLVIA. So you jolly well ought to be. Who do you owe your position in the motor works to, Oliver? Uncle Dan. Who do you owe your song successes to, Bobbie? Uncle Dan. And you, Joyce, d'you think you'd have won a single thing if it hadn't been for him? Do you imagine Evangeline would have had the vim to have stuck to her novel if it hadn't been for Uncle Dan's faith in her? I know I should never have done a thing, either. And all we did it for apparently, was that he could die off conveniently and leave us his money—the moment he'd done that I suppose we should have stopped working. What charming characters! Waiting for a man to die, and then getting disagreeable because he says he doesn't want to. Do you think any one of you would stop work now for anything? Of course you wouldn't. I know that. Don't you see that Uncle Dan chose the one and only way of really helping us? He's worked wonders and we ought to be thankful to him until our dying day....

BOBBIE (marmalade on toast in hand). It's all very fine for you—he hasn't come between you and the only person you've ever loved....

SYLVIA. And that's one of the best things of all—he's been the means of showing Faith up in her true colours. Bobbie, you must realise now in your heart of hearts what a rotter she is?

BOBBIE. She wouldn't have been if it wasn't for her beastly mother. Just because you found him out before us, by a fluke, you think you can preach to us about being rude to him. Well, you'd have been just as bad under the same circumstances, if not worse. The fact of you having spotted his game doesn't make it any the less disgusting. He's behaved atrociously and you know it, making fools of us all. What do you think my friends will say? Joyce's school girls? Vangy's literary nuts?

SYLVIA (coming down R. to below Chesterfield). It's your own silly faults. You shouldn't have told them.

EVANGELINE (rising). Don't be so superior. Of course we only did in confidence. (Going up R., followed by JOYCE.)

SYLVIA. Well, that's not Uncle Dan's fault, he only did it for the best....

BOBBIE. Best be damned!

SYLVIA. If you can't curb your language I should think you'd better go outside.

BOBBIE (rising, knife in hand). I shall do exactly as I like. I'm fed up with you, Sylvia, you're as bad as he is. (Throws knife on table.) And if you think you can get round us by making excuses for him you're jolly well mistaken. I suppose all this is a put-up job! (Moves to L.C.)

SYLVIA (R.C.). How dare you, Bobbie! It's nothing of the sort. Only luckily I have a little discrimination, I can see the difference between good and bad, and Uncle Dan's good, good all through. He wouldn't do harm to any one or anything in the world. He did all this out of genuine kindness. He couldn't help us in any other way, so he made us work, hoping it would improve us. And I should think he'd go back to America sick and wretched inside with disappointment having discovered that we, his only relatives, have only liked him and been nice to him because of his money—waiting for him to die like beastly treacherous ghouls.

(EVANGELINE attempts to speak.)

That's what you are, ghouls! (Turning on EVANGELINE.) And selfish pigs, and if you don't apologise to him I shall never speak to any of you again.

OLIVER. Hah! (Throws down serviette and exits R.)

SYLVIA. Oh, you're very dignified walking out like that without saying anything. I hate you! I hate you all! Poor Uncle Daniel—it's rotten. (She bursts out crying, and subsides on Chesterfield.)

(Towards the end of her speech, the rest have risen and walked out with their heads in the air, R. BOBBIE kicks violently at paper on floor and goes upstairs. There is a moment's pause, then enter DANIEL from garden.)

DANIEL (coming C.). I left the car down the drive, hoping to make a sweet lovable entrance with perhaps a few rose leaves on my coat. Where is everybody?

SYLVIA (sniffing on Chesterfield). It's no use, they're still being beastly. Mother sent for you. She's frightfully upset at your going to the Green Hart.

DANIEL. If they're keeping it up, I think I'd better go back. (Moving towards entrance.)

SYLVIA (rising). No, you're not to do anything of the sort, you're to stay here. (Firmly.) They can be as disagreeable as they like, we'll go about together; you can come to the studio with me to-morrow morning.

DANIEL (up to her). You, Sylvia, are what is described as a sympathetic character. You've been very nice to me all along. Can I leave you anything?

SYLVIA. Don't joke about it, uncle, it's all so horrid.

DANIEL. If I don't joke I shall burst into storms of passionate sobbing. (Moves down C.)

SYLVIA. That would be rather awful. Here comes mother....

(Enter MRS. DERMOTT downstairs.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Danny darling, why were you so silly as to take any notice of the children? They're unkind and heartless, and I ordered the mushrooms specially for you this morning. Sit down and have them now. They'll be quite hot still. (She pushes him into chair.) Sylvia, get them, if you please. I can't think why they're all behaving like this, I shall never forgive them, Danny dear. You won't let them upset you, will you?

(She kisses him. MRS. DERMOTT sits in SYLVIA'S chair, DANIEL in MRS. DERMOTT'S.)

DANIEL. Well, they seem to have upset everything else.

(Enter GRIGGS, R.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Bring some more toast and coffee, Griggs. Or would you rather have tea?

DANIEL. Tea, please.

MRS. DERMOTT. Tea then, Griggs.

GRIGGS. Very good, madam. (Picks up remains of paper above Chesterfield and exit R.)

SYLVIA (handing him plate of mushrooms and bacon). Here you are, uncle dear—I'm going upstairs. Call me if you want anything.

(Exit SYLVIA upstairs.)

DANIEL. I will.

MRS. DERMOTT. I'm sure he won't.

DANIEL. Now look here, Anne, you're not to include Sylvia in your fury against the family. She has been perfectly sweet.

MRS. DERMOTT. So she ought to be—and the others as well. Such nonsense, I never heard of such a thing. Not being able to take a joke better than that. I don't know what's happened to them, they were such dear good-natured children. They used to make booby traps and apple-pie beds for one another and not mind a bit.

(MRS. DERMOTT keeps buttering toast for him, arranging it round his plate.)

DANIEL. But you see, Anne, this perhaps has irritated them more than an apple-pie bed.

MRS. DERMOTT. I don't see why, it's just as harmless, and much less trouble.

DANIEL. If I had known they were going to take it so badly I should have thought of something else. I have lots of ideas. But even now, when I come to look back over everything, I don't see what else I could have done.

MRS. DERMOTT. You're just the kindest old darling in the world and everything, every single thing you have done for us, has been perfect.

DANIEL. Dear Anne, don't be absurd. It was nothing, worse than nothing, but I'd given it a lot of thought, and after all it has bucked them up and made them work. They're looking much better in health, too.

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, Danny, I only wish you were better in health. The shadow of your illness just hangs over me like a nightmare. I can't pass a flower shop without thinking of you.

DANIEL (puts down knife and fork). But I'm not ill at all. I've no intention of dying until I'm eighty-three or even eighty-four.

MRS. DERMOTT. Dear old boy, you're only saying that so that I shan't worry. (She dabs her eyes.) But it's no use, you can't deceive me, you know.

DANIEL. But, Anne, I swear.—

MRS. DERMOTT. There, there, we'll say no more about it. It only upsets me and here's your tea.

(She takes tea from GRIGGS, who has entered with tea and toast. He goes off again.)

Have you seen your doctor lately?

DANIEL (resignedly). Yes, I saw him the other day.

MRS. DERMOTT (pouring out tea). And what did he say?

DANIEL (confused). Well—er—I don't know—he sounded me.

MRS. DERMOTT. Yes, they always do that. I wonder why. Your illness has nothing to do with your heart has it?

DANIEL (firmly). My dear Anne, I haven't got an illness.

MRS. DERMOTT. I'm sure I hope not, dear, but if he said that, I should really get another more expert opinion if I were you. A man like that can't be really reliable. I don't believe in doctors ever since poor Millicent Jenkins died.

DANIEL. Look here, Anne, I really do want to make you understand that what I told the children is perfectly true. I haven't any money.

MRS. DERMOTT. Nonsense, dear, you can't pull my leg as easily as that. How were you able to send that cheque when I most needed it, and those lovely Christmas presents, and the fares backwards and forwards to America—I believe you've got some big surprise for us all later on and you're afraid that we'll guess it.

DANIEL. Yes, I have.

MRS. DERMOTT (rising). Now look here, dear, I must leave you for a little while. Saturday is the busiest morning in the whole week. Finish off your breakfast and smoke a pipe—or a cigar or something; if any of the children come near you, just ignore them or pretend to be frightfully angry with them. That will bring them round.

(Enter GRIGGS hurriedly, R.)

GRIGGS. If you please, madam, the boiler is making the most peculiar noises. Shall I send for Brown to come and look at it?

MRS. DERMOTT. I don't think that will do it any good, but still perhaps you'd better. I'll come myself in a minute.

(Exit GRIGGS, R.)

MRS. DERMOTT (C.). Really, everything is going wrong this morning, first you, Danny, then the boiler; sometimes life isn't worth living—I do hope it won't burst.

(Exit MRS. DERMOTT, R. DANIEL sits thoughtful for a moment and then resumes his breakfast. Enter JOYCE from garden. She sees UNCLE DANIEL and comes rather sheepishly up to him.)

JOYCE. Uncle, I——

DANIEL (gruffly). Good morning.

JOYCE (feebly). Good morning. (There is a long pause.) Uncle Daniel—we've—er—we've all been talking——

DANIEL. That's quite a natural and healthy occupation.

JOYCE. We—we were talking about you.

DANIEL. That makes it none the less natural or healthy.

JOYCE. Of course it didn't. You see—I mean to say—we—well, they sent me in to tell you that——

DANIEL. Perhaps you'd better tell me another time when you are more in the mood. Have you seen the papers anywhere?

JOYCE. They ought to be over there. (She points to window seat R., and goes down to BOBBIE'S chair.)

DANIEL (rising and moving quickly to R.). Thanks. Don't you bother—I can get my own paper. (Gets newspaper and returns to his seat at the head of the table.)

(There is a long silence, DANIEL reads the paper. JOYCE shakes her head as OLIVER strolls in from the garden and looks at JOYCE for news.)

OLIVER. Have you had your breakfast, uncle?

DANIEL. Yes, thank you, and I slept beautifully.

OLIVER. It's a jolly nice morning.

DANIEL. That remark makes up in truth for what it lacks in originality.

OLIVER. Oh. (Moves to window, L.C., turns, catches DANIEL'S eye and turns quickly back.)

(JOYCE continues to fidget at the foot of the table. Enter BOBBIE downstairs and EVANGELINE, R. They look meaningly at JOYCE, who shakes her head vigorously.)

DANIEL. Have you a headache, Joyce, you keep wagging it about.

JOYCE (very politely). No, thank you, uncle, I——

DANIEL. Splendid, then I shan't have to offer you an aspirin.

EVANGELINE and BOBBIE (together, coming forward hand-in-hand down R.C.). Uncle, we've all been——SPACELEFT(They stop.)


(There is business of each of them wishing the other to speak to DANIEL.)

Tell me one thing, if any of you are capable of uttering a word, is this a game? Have I got to guess whether something's a vegetable or a mineral or something?

EVANGELINE. No, uncle, it's a much harder game than that—for us, anyhow. We've come to apologise.

DANIEL (lowering the paper). Oh, have you? (Turns to them.)

EVANGELINE. Oh, won't you please be nice and make it easier for us?

DANIEL. You none of you made things in the least easy for me.

EVANGELINE. I know we didn't, but we're all sorry—frightfully sorry—we've talked it all over. Sylvia said we were beasts and ghouls and we wouldn't admit it then, but we do now. We are terribly ashamed of the way we've behaved. Please, please say you forgive us. (Kneels to him.)

BOBBIE (placing chair behind Chesterfield). And it doesn't matter about Faith, uncle, I'm glad you were the means of showing her up. I don't love her a bit now. I hate her, and we all want you to understand that we'd rather have you alive and with us than all the beastly money in the world.

JOYCE (leaning forward over table). And we'll do anything you like to atone for it. We'll abase ourselves like they used to in the olden days to show they repented.

OLIVER. Will you let it go at that, uncle? (He comes forward to L. of DANIEL.)

DANIEL (softly). I should just think I will. (Kisses EVANGELINE.)

(JOYCE comes round and kisses him. OLIVER moves down L. EVANGELINE moves behind table.)

JOYCE (running to R.). Sylvia! Sylvia! Mother, come here! It's all right!

(Enter MRS. DERMOTT from R.)

MRS. DERMOTT. I've just come out of the boiler. What on earth is all this noise?

JOYCE. We've all made it up with Uncle Daniel and he's forgiven us.

MRS. DERMOTT. I'm sure I'm very glad, darlings, and I hope you're none of you too old to take a lesson from it. (Comes to DANIEL'S R.)

(Enter SYLVIA downstairs.)

SYLVIA. Is everything forgiven and forgotten?

DANIEL. Everything. (Rising.)

(Enter GRIGGS, R., with cablegram.)

GRIGGS (handing it to UNCLE DANIEL). For you, sir.

DANIEL. Excuse me. (Takes it, opens it in silence and reads it.) My God!

MRS. DERMOTT. What is it, dear, what is it?

DANIEL. It's not true! After all these years, I can't believe it!

SYLVIA. What is it, Uncle, tell us, tell us, quick.

DANIEL. It's from my agent. Listen! (Reads.) "Struck big vein, Santa Lyta mine—come at once!" I'm worth thousands, thousands. (Going down R. gives MRS. DERMOTT telegram as he passes her. The others, except SYLVIA, crowd round her C., excited at the news.)

MRS. DERMOTT. There now.... I told you so.

SYLVIA (coming L. of him). Uncle! Did you send that telegram to yourself?

UNCLE. Yes!!!



1. Club fender.

2. Small sideboard.

3. Chesterfield.

4. Jacobean form.

5. Armchair.

6. Small sideboard.

7. Chair.

8. Armchair.

9. Chair.

10. Small table.

11. Expanding table. If difficulty is experienced in obtaining an expanding table, a small table can be used for the first two acts and a table of sufficient size to seat three people on one side substituted for the last act.

12, 13 and 14. Chairs.

15, 16 and 17. Cushions.

18. Gong.

19. Hall stand and hats.

20. Chair.

21. Small table.

22. Mirror.

23. Electric light switch.


Open out all curtains in windows.

Open window up L.C.

Remove 2 and 7.

Substitute in their places a Baby Grand piano and a piano stool.

Bring 9 and 10 down to above table (11)—the chair facing window L.

Change cushions.

Place model of motor on piano.

Place typewriter on 10, cover beside it.

Change flowers.

Place papers on window seats, Chesterfield, table and form.

Flowers in grate.

Ash tray on club fender.

Matches on mantel.

Syphon and glasses on sideboard.

Writing materials and music paper on 11.


Put back 10 to original position.

Change 12 and 5.

Put 4 by table, side nearest the audience.

Place 7, 9, 14 on opposite side.

13 at foot of table, nearest window L.

Lay breakfast for eight on table, consisting of rose bowl in centre, toast rack, marmalade, entree dish, plate of bread, butter, tray of teacups, etc., sugar, pile of plates, and for each person a bread plate, a serviette, a fork, two knives.

Remove racquet and models.

Close piano.

Put cover on typewriter.

Remove most papers, ash trays, etc.

Remove everything from sideboard.

Place daily papers on window seat L.

Letter on table.






2 sideboards (Jacobean).

Club fender.

Low form (Jacobean).

Oblong table (Jacobean) to seat 8.

Typewriter table.


6 small chairs: Jacobean.

2 armchairs: Jacobean.

2 pairs window curtains.

Cushions on window seats.

Pictures (hunting prints).

Book (Evangeline) off R.

Telegram (Griggs) off R. on salver.

Door bell effect off R.

Books and periodicals on table.

Crepe-de-chine "undies."

Fire-irons, etc.

Winter flowers in vases.

Salver (off R.).


Coats, hats, etc.

Mirror on stairs.


Typewriter with cover.

Miscellaneous papers.

Model of motor engine on board on piano.

Manuscript music paper on table.

Writing materials on table.

Pencil (Bobbie).

Baby Grand piano and stool.

Quantity of sheet music.

Door knock effect off R.

Knitting (Evangeline) off R.

Illustrated papers.

Motor horn effect off R.

Matches on mantel.

Tantalus on sideboard R.

Syphon of soda.

2 glasses (whisky).

Cigarette case (Daniel).

Cigarette case (Mrs. Crombie).

Glass jug of water.

Telegram (Mrs. Dermott off L.).

Tennis Racquet off R.


Ash tray on club fender.

Waste-paper basket.

Bank of flowers in fireplace.


5 morning papers on window seat L.C.

Bunch of roses (Sylvia) off R.

Suit case (Daniel) off R.C.

Gong and beater off R.

Flower bowl.

Letter on table.

Teapot off R. with tea for one.

Cablegram off R.

Plate, fork and spoon on sideboard.

Paper on Chesterfield.

Breakfast for 8 people as follows:—

Large silver tray for teacups.

Small silver tray off R.


Table centre.

8 medium plates.

8 small plates.

16 knives (small).

8 forks (small).

8 breakfast cups and saucers on silver tray.

8 spoons.

8 serviettes.


2 toast racks and toast.

1 toast rack and toast off R.

Marmalade dish and marmalade.

Butter dish and "butter."

Sugar bowl and sugar.

Spoons for sugar and marmalade.

Entree dish with "bacon."

Entree dish with mushrooms off R.

2 large spoons and forks.

Cut bread on plate.

Coffee urn and coffee off R. (for five).

Milk jug and hot milk off R.

Bread fork.

Sugar tongs.


Butter knife.



Table lamp on table L.C. } connected by practical switch R. side of Hanging lamp on stairs. } Bannisters out to open.

2 wall brackets.

Bell push above fireplace.

Fire (alight).

Red lime in fireplace.

Floats. C. and O.P. sections, white, slightly down on resistance to open.

No. 1 batten. C. section only. White.

P. perches. Dark amber to open.

O.P. perches. 1 red, 1 dark amber.

Light amber on garden backings.

Lengths in corridor and stairway.

At Cue. "Thank God I've got you." Slowly check floats, batten, and backing limes (garden).

At Cue. "Do let's hurry." Bring up floats and No. 1 batten as BOBBIE switches on lamps. Change P. perches to light amber and O.P. red to dark amber.

At Cue. Sylvia drawing curtains, slowly check backing limes out.


Same sections of floats and batten as Act I.

Full up, white.

O.P. perches, light amber.

P. perches, flood white.

Garden backings flood white, and into room fire off. Lamps and brackets off.




ISBN 0 573 01199 0


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