Mat. When was it you saw him, Bill?
Bill. Yesterday, Mattie—jest arter you give me the tart. I sawr him again this mornin', but he wouldn't place no confidence in me.
Mat. Oh dear! Why didn't you come straight to me, Bill?
Bill. If I'd only ha' known as you wanted him! But that was sech a unlikely thing! It's werry perwokin'! I uses my judgment, an' puts my hoof in it! I am sorry, Mattie. But I didn't know no better (crying).
Mat. Don't cry, Bill. You'll find him for me yet—won't you?
Bill. I'm off this indentical minute. But you see—
Sus. There! there!—now you mizzle. I don't want no fathers here—goodness knows; but the poor girl's took a fancy to hers, and she'll die if she don't get him. Run now—there's a good boy! (Exit BILL.) You 'ain't forgotten who's a comin', Mattie?
Mat. No, indeed.
Sus. Well, I hope she'll be civil, or I'll just give her a bit of my mind.
Mat. Not enough to change hers, I'm afraid. That sort of thing never does any good.
Sus. And am I to go a twiddlin' of my thumbs, and sayin' yes, ma'am, an' no, ma'am? Not if I knows it, Matilda!
Mat. You will only make her the more positive in her ill opinion of us.
Sus. An' what's that to me?
Mat. Well, I don't like to be thought a thief. Besides, Mrs. Clifford has been kind to us.
Sus. She's paid us for work done; so has old Nathan.
Mat. Did old Nathan ever give you a glass of wine when you took home his slops?
Sus. Oh! that don't cost much; and besides, she takes it out in kingdom-come.
Mat. You're unfair, Susan.
Sus. Well, it's little fairness I get.
Mat. And to set that right you're unfair yourself! What you call speaking your mind, is as cheap, and as nasty, as the worst shoddy old Nathan ever got gobble-stitched into coats and trousers.
Sus. Very well, Miss Matilda! (rising and snatching her bonnet). The sooner we part the better! You stick by your fine friends! I don't care that for them! (snapping her fingers)—and you may tell 'em so! I can make a livin' without them or you either. Goodness gracious knows it ain't much of a livin' I've made sin' I come across you, Miss! Exit.
_Mat (_trying to rise_). Susan! Susan! (_Lays her head on the table_).
A tap at the door, and enter MRS. CLIFFORD, with JAMES behind. MATTIE rises.
Mrs. C. Wait on the landing, James.
James. Yes, ma'am.
Exit JAMES, leaving the door a little ajar.
Mrs. C. Well, Miss Pearson! (Mattie offers a chair.) No, thank you. That person is still with you, I see!
Mat. Indeed, ma'am, she's an honest girl.
Mrs. C. She is a low creature, and capable of anything. I advise you to get rid of her.
Mat. Was she rude on the stair, ma'am?
Mrs. C. Rude! Vulgar—quite vulgar! Insulting!
Mat. I am very sorry. But, believe me, ma'am, she is an honest girl, and never pawned that work. It was done—every stitch of it; and the loss of the money is hard upon us too. Indeed, ma'am, she did lose the parcel.
Mrs. C. You have only her word for it. If you don't give her up, I give you up.
Mat. I can't, ma'am. She might go into bad ways if I did.
Mrs. C. She can't well get into worse. Her language! You would do ever so much better without her.
Mat. I daren't, ma'am. I should never get it off my conscience.
Mrs. C. Your conscience indeed! (rising). I wish you a good morning, Miss Pearson.—(Sound of a blow, followed by scuffling.)—What is that? I fear I have got into an improper place.
SUSAN bursts in.
Sus. Yes, ma'am, and that you have! It's a wery improper place for the likes o' you, ma'am—as believes all sorts o' wicked things of people as is poor. Who are you to bring your low flunkies a-listenin' at honest girls' doors! (Turning to James in the doorway.) Get out, will you? Let me catch you here again, and I'll mark you that the devil wouldn't know his own! You dirty Paul Pry—you! (Falls on her knees to Mattie.) Mattie, you angel!
Mat. (trying to make her get up) Never mind. It's all right between you and me, Susan.
Mrs. C. I see! I thought as much!
Sus. (starting up) As much as what, then, my lady? Oh, I know you and your sort—well enough! We're the dirt under your feet—lucky if we stick to your shoes! But this room's mine.
Mrs. C. That linen was mine, young woman, I believe.
Sus. An' it's for that miserable parcel you come a-talkin', an' abusin' as no lady ought to! How dare you look that angel in the face there an' say she stole it—which you're not fit to lace her boots for her! There!
Mat. Susan! Susan! do be quiet.
Sus. It's all very well for the likes o' me (courtesying spitefully)—which I'm no better'n I should be, and a great deal worse, if I'm on my oath to your ladyship—that's neither here nor there!—but she's better'n a van-load o' sich ladies as you, pryin' into other people's houses, with yer bibles, an' yer religion, an' yer flunkies! I know ye! I do!
Mat. Don't, Susan.
Sus. Why don't ye go an' pay twopence a week to somebody to learn ye good manners? I been better brought up myself.
Mrs. C. I see I was wrong: I ought at once to have handed the matter over to the police.
Sus. The perlice, indeed!—You get out of this, ma'am, or I'll make you!—you and your cowardly man-pup there, as is afraid to look me in the face through the crack o' the door! Get out, I say, with your—insolence—that's your word!
Exit MRS. CLIFFORD.
Mat. Susan! Susan! what is to become of us?
Sus. She daren't do it—the old scrooge! But just let her try it on! See if I don't show her up afore the magistrate! Mattie! I'll work ray fingers to the bone for you. I would do worse, only you won't let me. I'll go to the court, and tell the magistrate you're a-dyin' of hunger, which it's as true as gospel.
Mat. They'd send me to the workhouse, Sukey.
Sus. There must be some good people somewheres, Mattie.
Mat. Yes; if we could get at them. But we can live till we die, Sukey.
Sus. I'll go and list for a soldier, I will. Women ha' done it afore. It's quite respectable, so long as they don't find you out—and they shouldn't me. There's ne'er a one o' the redcoats 'ill cut up rougher 'n I shall—barrin' the beard, and that don't go for much now-a-days.
Mat. And what should I do without you, Susan?
Sus. Do you care to have me, then?
Mat. That I do, indeed. But you shouldn't have talked like that to Mrs. Clifford. Ladies ain't used to such words. They sound worse than they are—quite dreadful, to them. She don't know your kind heart as I do. Besides, the look of things is against us. Ain't it now? Say yourself.
Sus. (starting up) I'll go and beg her pardon. I'll go direckly—I will. I swear I will. I can't abear her, but I'll do it. I believe hunger has nigh drove me mad.
Mat. It takes all the madness out of me.—No, Susan; we must bear it now. Come along. We can be miserable just as well working. There's your sleeve. I'll thread your needle for you. Don't cry—there's a dear!
Sus. I will cry. It's all I ever could do to my own mind, and it's all as is left me. But if I could get my claws on that lovyer o' yours, I wouldn't cry then. He's at the bottom of it! I don't see myself what's the use of fallin' in love. One man's as much of a fool as another to me. But you must go to bed. You ain't fit. You'll be easier when you've got your frock off. There! Why, child, you're all of a tremble!—And no wonder, wi' nothing on her blessed body but her frock and her shimmy!
Mat. Don't take off my frock, Sue. I must get on with my work.
Sus. Lie down a bit, anyhow. I'll lie at your back, and you'll soon be as warm's a toast. (MAT. lies down.) O Lord! she's dead! Her heart's stopped beatin'. (Runs out of the room.)
A moment of silence. A tap at the door.
CONSTANCE peeps in, then enters, with a basket.
Con. Miss Pearson!—She's asleep. (Goes near.) Good heavens! (Lays her hand on her.) No. (Takes a bottle from her basket, finds a cup, and pours into it.) Take this, Miss Pearson; it will do you good. There now! You'll find something else in the basket.
Mat. I don't want anything. I had so nearly got away! Why did you bring me back?
Con. Life is good!
Mat. It is not good. How dare you do it? Why keep a miserable creature alive? Life ain't to us what it is to you. The grave is the only place we have any right to.
Con. If I could make your life worth something to you—
Mat. You make my life worth to me! You don't know what you're saying, miss. (Sitting up.)
Con. I think I do.
Mat. I will not owe my life to you. I could love you, though—your hands are so white, and your look so brave. That's what comes of being born a lady. We never have a chance.
Con. Miss Pearson—Mattie, I would call you, if you wouldn't be offended—
Mat. Me offended, miss!—I've not got life enough for it. I only want my father and my mother, and a long sleep.—If I had been born rich—
Con. You might have been miserable all the same. Listen, Mattie. I will tell you my story—I was once as badly off as you—worse in some ways—ran about the streets without shoes to my feet, and hardly a frock to cover me.
Mat. La, miss! you don't say so! It's not possible! Look at you!
Con. Indeed, I tell you the truth. I know what hunger is too—well enough. My father was a silkweaver in Spitalfields. When he died, I didn't know where to go. But a gentleman—
Mat. Oh! a gentleman!—(Fiercely.) Why couldn't you be content with one, then?
Con. I don't understand you.
Mat. I dare say not! There! take your basket. I'll die afore a morsel passes my lips. There! Go away, miss.
Con. (aside). Poor girl! she is delirious. I must ask William to fetch a doctor. Exit.
Mat. I wish my hands were as white as hers.
Enter SUSAN, followed by COL. G. CONSTANCE behind.
Sus. Mattie! dear Mattie! this gentleman—don't be vexed—I couldn't help him bein' a gentleman; I was cryin' that bad, and I didn't see no one come up to me, and when he spoke to me, it made me jump, and I couldn't help answerin' of him—he spoke so civil and soft like, and me nigh mad! I thought you was dead, Mattie. He says he'll see us righted, Mattie.
Col. G. I'll do what I can, if you will tell me what's amiss.
Sus. Oh, everything's amiss—everything!—Who was that went out, Mattie—this minute—as we come in?
Mat. Miss Lacordere.
Sus. Her imperence! Well! I should die of shame if I was her.
Mat. She's an angel, Susan. There's her basket. I told her to take it away, but she would leave it.
Sus. (peeping into the basket). Oh, my! Ain't this nice? You must have a bit, Mattie.
Mat. Not one mouthful. You wouldn't have me, Susan!
Sus. I ain't so peticlar (eating a great mouthful). You really must, Mattie. (Goes on eating.)
Col. G. Don't tease her. We'll get something for her presently. And don't you eat too much—all at once.
Sus. I think she'd like a chop, sir.—There's that boy, Bill, again!—Always when he ain't wanted!
Bill (aside to Susan). What's the row? What's that 'ere gent up to? I've been an' had enough o' gents. They're a bad lot. I been too much for one on 'em, though. I ha' run him down.—And, Mattie, I've found the old gen'leman.
Mat. My father, Bill?
Bill. That's it percisely! Right as a trivet—he is!
Mat. Susan! take hold of me. My heart's going again.
Bill. Lord! what's up wi' Mattie? She do look dreadful.
Sus. You been an' upset her, you clumsy boy! Here—run and fetch a sausage or two, and a—
Col. G. No, no! That will never do.
Sus. Them's for Bill and me, sir. I was a goin' on, sir.—And, Bill, a chop—a nice chop. But Lord! how are we to cook it, with never a fryin'-pan, or a bit o' fire to set it on!
Col. G. You'd never think of doing a chop for an invalid in the frying-pan?
Sus. Certainly not, sir—we 'ain't got one. Everything's up the spout an' over the top. Run, Bill. A bit of cold chicken, and two pints o' bottled stout. There's the money the gen'leman give me.—'T 'ain't no Miss Lackodare's, Mattie.
Bill. I'll trouble no gen'leman to perwide for my family—obleeged all the same, sir. Mattie never wos a dub at dewourin', but I'll get her some'at toothsome. I favours grub myself.
Col. G. I'll go with you, Bill. I want to talk to you.
Bill. Well, I 'ain't no objection—so be you wants to talk friendly, sir.
Col. G. Good night. I'll come and see you to-morrow.
Sus. God bless you, sir. You've saved both on our lives. I was a goin' to drown myself, Mattie—I really was this time. Wasn't I, sir?
Col. G. Well, you looked like it—that is all I can say. You shall do it next time—so far as I'm concerned.
Sus. I won't never no more again, sir—not if Mattie don't drive me to it.
Con. (to COL. G.). Come back for me in a little while.
Col. G. Yes, miss. Come, Bill. Exit.
Bill. All right, sir. I'm a follerin', as the cat said to the pigeon. Exit.
Sus. I'll just go and get you a cup o' tea. Mrs. Jones's kettle's sure to be a bilin'. That's what you would like.
_Exit_. Constance steps aside, and Susan passes without seeing her_.
Mat. Oh! to be a baby again in my mother's arms! But it'll soon be over now.
CONSTANCE comes forward.
Con. I hope you're a little better now?
Mat. You're very kind, miss; and I beg your pardon for speaking to you as I did.
Con. Don't say a word about it. You didn't quite know what you were saying. I'm in trouble myself. I don't know how soon I may be worse off than you.
Mat. Why, miss, I thought you were going to be married!
Con. No, I am not.
Mat. Why, miss, what's happened. He's never going to play you false—is he?
Con. I don't mean ever to speak to him again?
Mat. What has he done to offend you, miss?
Con. Nothing. Only I know now I don't like him. To tell you the truth, Mattie, he's not a gentleman.
Mat. Not a gentleman, miss! How dare you say so?
Con. Do you know anything about him? Did you ever see him?
Mat. Once at your house.
Con. Oh! I remember—that time! I begin to—It couldn't be at the sight of him you fainted, Mattie?—You knew him? Tell me! tell me! Make me sure of it.
Mat. To give you your revenge! No. It's a mean spite to say he ain't a gentleman.
Con. Perhaps you and I have different ideas of what goes to make a gentleman.
Mat. Very likely.
Con. Oh! don't be vexed, Mattie. I didn't mean to hurt you.
Mat. Oh! I dare say!
Con. If you talk to me like that, I must go.
Mat. I never asked you to come.
Con. Well, I did want to be friendly with you. I wouldn't hurt you for the world.
Mat. (bursting into tears) I beg your pardon, miss. I'm behaving like a brute. But you must forgive me; my heart is breaking.
Con. Poor dear! (kissing her) So is mine almost. Let us be friends. Where's Susan gone?
Mat. To fetch me a cup of tea. She'll be back directly.
Con. Don't let her say bad words: I can't bear them. I think it's because I was so used to them once—in the streets, I mean—not at home—never at home.
Mat. She don't often, miss. She's a good-hearted creature. It's only when hunger makes her cross. She don't like to be hungry.
Con. I should think not, poor girl!
Mat. Don't mind what she says, please. If you say nothing, she'll come all right. When she's spoken her mind, she feels better. Here she comes!
Re-enter SUSAN. It begins to grow dark.
Sus. Well, and who have we got here?
Mat. Miss Lacordere, Sukey.
Sus. There's no lack o' dare about her, to come here!
Mat. It's very kind of her to come, Susan.
Sus. I tell you what, miss: that parcel was stole. It was stole, miss!—stole from me—an' that angel there a dyin' in the street!
Con. I'm quite sure of it, Susan. I never thought anything else.
Sus. Not but I allow it was a pity, miss!—I'm very sorry. But, bless you! (lighting a candle)—with all your fine clothes—! My! you look like a theayter-queen—you do, miss! If you was to send them up the spout now!—My! what a lot they'd let you have on that silk!
Con. The shawl is worth a good deal, I believe. It's an Indian one—all needlework.
Sus. And the bee-utiful silk! Laws, miss! just shouldn't I like to wear a frock like that! I should be hard up before I pledged that! But the shawl! If I was you, miss, I would send 'most everything up before that!—things inside, you know, miss—where it don't matter so much.
Con. (laughing) The shawl would be the first thing I should part with. I would rather be nice inside than out.
Sus. Lawk, miss! I shouldn't wonder if that was one of the differs now! Well, I never! It ain't seen! It must be one o' the differs!
Con. What differs? I don't understand you.
Sus. The differs 'tween girls an' ladies—girls like me an' real ladies like you.
Con. Oh, I see! But how dark it has got! What can be keeping William? I must go at once, or what will my aunt say! Would you mind going with me a little bit, Susan?
Sus. I'll go with pleasure, miss.
Con. Just a little way, I mean, till we get to the wide streets. You couldn't lend me an old cloak, could you?
Sus. I 'ain't got one stitch, miss, but what I stand up in—'cep' it be a hodd glove an' 'alf a pocket-'an'kercher. Nobody 'ill know you.
Con. But I oughtn't to be out dressed like this.
Sus. You've only got to turn up your skirt over your head, miss.
Con. (drawing up her skirt) I never thought of that!
Sus. Well, I never!
Con. What's the matter?
Sus. Only the whiteness o' the linin' as took my breath away, miss. It ain't no use turnin' of it up: you'll look like a lady whatever you do to hide it. But never mind: that ain't no disgrace so long as you don't look down on the rest of us. There, miss! There you are—fit for a play! Come along; I'll take care of you. Lawks! I'm as good as a man—I am!
Con. Good-bye then, Mattie.
Mat. Good-bye, miss. God bless you.
END OF ACT III.
Enter COL. G. Walks about restless and eager.
Col. G. Thank heaven! If Bill has found Mr. Warren now,—Exit.
War. What can the fellow be up to? There's something odd about him—something I don't like—but it can't mean mischief when he sends for me. Where could Gervaise have picked him up?—Nobody here?
Re-enter COL. G. and hurries to him with outstretched hand.
Col. G. My dear sir! I am greatly obliged to you. This is very kind.
War. (stepping back) Excuse me.—I do not understand.
Col. G. I beg your pardon. I ought to have explained.
War. I believe something of the sort is necessary.
Col. G. You are my master's friend.
War. I should be proud of the honour. Can I be of any service to him?
Col. G. I believe I can trust you. I will trust you—I am his father.
War. Whose father? Belzebub's?
Col. G. Arthur's—your friend Gervaise's. I am Sir Walter Gervaise. You must help me to help him.
WARREN regards him for a moment.
War. (stiffly) Sir Walter, I owe your son much—you nothing yet. I am his friend.
Col. G. There is not a moment to lose. Listen. An old man came about the place a few weeks ago, looking for his daughter. He has been got out of the way, but I have learned where he is: I want you to bring him.
War. I would serve your son blindfold: you must excuse me if I wish to understand first.
Col. G. Arthur is in trouble. He has a secret.—God forgive me!—I feared it was a bad one.
War. You don't know him as I do!
Col. G. I know him now—and can help him. Only I can't prove anything yet. I must have the old man. I've found his daughter, and suspect the villain: if I can bring the three together, all will come out, sure enough. The boy I sent for you will take you to the father. He will trust you, and come. (Bell rings.) I must go to Arthur now. Exit.
War. What a strange old fellow! An officer—and disguise himself!
Bill. Here you are, sir!
War. No vast amount of information in that statement, my boy!
Bill. Well, sir—here I are, sir.
War. That is a trifle more to the point, though scarcely requiring mention.
Bill. Then, here we are, sir.
War. That'll do—if you know what comes next?
Bill. I do, sir.
War. Go on, then.
Bill. Here goes! Come along, sir. You'll have to take a bobby, though.
War. We'll see about that. You go on.
Enter GERVAISE, followed by COL. G.
Ger. What a time you have been, William!
Col. G. I'm sorry, sir. Did you want anything?
Ger. No. But I don't like to be left. You are the only friend I have.
Col. G. Thank you, sir. A man must do his duty, but it's a comfort when his colonel takes notice of it.
Ger. Is it all from duty, William? Yet why should I look for more? There was a little girl I tried to do my duty by once—My head's rather queer still, William.
Col. G. Is there nothing to be done, sir?
Ger. No; it's here—(putting his hand to his head)—inside.
Col. G. I meant about the little girl, sir.—I can keep dark as well as another.—When there's anything on a man's mind, sir—good or bad—it's a relief to mention it. If you could trust me—(A pause.) Men have trusted their servants and not repented it.
Ger. No doubt—no doubt. But there is no help for me.
Col. G. You cannot be sure of that, sir.
Ger. You would help me if you could, I believe.
Col. G. God knows I would, sir—to the last drop of my blood.
Ger. That's saying much, William. A son couldn't say more—no, nor a father either.
Col. G. Oh! yes, he could, sir.
Ger. And mean it?
Col. G. Yes.
Ger. If I had a father, William, I would tell him all about it. I was but two years old when he left me.
Col. G. Then you don't remember him, sir?
Ger. I often dream about him, and then I seem to remember him.
Col. G. What is he like, sir?—in your dreams, I mean.
Ger. I never see him distinctly: I try hard sometimes, but it's no use. If he would but come home! I feel as if I could bear anything then.—But I'm talking like a girl!
Col. G. Where is your father, sir?
Ger. In India.
Col. G. A soldier, sir?
Ger. Yes. Colonel Gervaise—you must have heard of him. Sir Walter he is now.
Col. G. I've heard of him, sir—away in the north parts he's been, mostly.
Ger. Yes. How I wish he would come home! I would do everything to please him. I have it, William! I'll go to India. I did think of going to Garibaldi—but I won't—I'll go to India. I must find my father. Will you go with me?
Col. G. Willingly, sir.
Ger. Is there any fighting there now?
Col. G. Not at present, I believe.
Ger. That's a pity. I would have listed in my father's regiment, and then—that is, by the time he found me out—he wouldn't be ashamed of me. I've done nothing yet. I'm nobody yet, and what could he do with a son that was nobody—a great man like him! A fine son I should be! A son ought to be worthy of his father. Don't you think so, William?
Col. G. That wouldn't be difficult, sir!—I mean with most fathers.
Ger. Ah! but mine, you know, William!—Are you good at the cut and thrust?
Col G. Pretty good, sir, I believe.
Ger. Then we'll have a bout or two. I've got rusty.—Have I said anything odd—or—or—I mean since I've been ill?
Col. G. Nothing you need mind, sir.
Ger. I'm glad of that.—I feel as if—(putting his hand to his head). William! what could you do for a man—if he was your friend?—no, I mean, if he was your enemy?
Col. G. I daren't say, sir.
Ger. Is the sun shining?
Col. G. Yes, sir. It's a lovely day.
Ger. What a desert the sky is!—so dreary and wide and waste!—Ah! if I might but creep into a hole in a tree, and feel it closing about me! How comfortable those toads must feel!
Col. G. (aside). He's getting light-headed again! I must send for the doctor. Exit.
Ger. But the tree would rot, and the walls grow thin, and the light come through. It is crumbling now! And I shall have to meet her! And then the wedding! Oh my God! (Starts up and paces about the room.)—It is the only way! My pistols, I think—yes.—(Goes to a table, finds his keys, and unlocks a case.)—There they are! I may as well have a passport at hand! (Loading one.)—The delicate thunder-tube! (Turns it over lovingly.) Solitude and silence! One roar and then rest! No—no rest!—still the demon to fight! But no eyes to meet and brave!—Who is that in the street?—She is at the door—with him!
Enter COL. G. and seizes his arm.
Ger. (with a cry). You've killed my Psyche! (Goes to the clay, and lifts the cloth.) There's the bullet-hole through her heart!
Col. G. It might have been worse, sir.
Ger. Worse! I've killed her! See where she flies! She's gone! She's gone! (Bursts into tears. COL. G. leads him to the couch.) Thank you, William. I couldn't help it. That man was with her. I meant it for myself.
Col. G. Who did you say was with her?
Ger. You mustn't heed what I say. I am mad. (A knock. He starts up.) Don't let them in, William. I shall rave if you do.
COL. G. catches up the pistols and exit hurriedly. GER. throws himself on the couch.
Re-enter COL. G.
Col. G. (aside). He is in love with her! Everything proves it. My boy! My boy!
Ger. Father! father!—Oh, William! I was dreaming, and took you for my father! I must die, William—somehow. There must be some way out of this! The doors can't all be locked.
Col. G. There's generally a chance to be had, sir. There's always a right and a wrong fighting it out somewhere. There's Garibaldi in the field again! Die by the hand of an enemy—if you will die, sir.
Ger. (smiling) That I couldn't, William: the man that killed me would be my best friend.—Yes—Garibaldi!—I don't deserve it, though: he fights for his country; I should fight but for death. Only a man doesn't stop when he dies—does he, William?
Col. G. I trust not, sir. But he may hope to be quieter—that is, if he dies honestly. It's grand for a soldier! He sweeps on the roaring billows of war into a soundless haven! Think of that, sir!
Ger. Why, William! how you talk!—Yes! it would be grand! On the crest of the war-cataract—heading a cavalry charge!—Tomorrow, William. I shall be getting stronger all the way. We'll start to-morrow.
Col. G. Where for, sir?
Ger. For Italy—for Garibaldi. You'll go with me?
Col. G. To the death, sir.
Ger. Yes; that's it—that's where I'm going. But not to-day. Look at my arm: it wouldn't kill a rat!—You saved my life, but I'm not grateful. If I was dead, I might be watching her—out of the lovely silence!—My poor Psyche!
Col. G. She's none the worse, sir. The pistol didn't go off.
Ger. Ah!—She ought to have fallen to pieces—long ago! You've been seeking to keep her shroud wet. But it's no matter. Let her go. Earth to earth, and dust to dust!—the law of Nature—and Art too.
Exit into the house.
Col. G. (following him) I mustn't lose sight of him.—Here he comes again, thank God!
Catches up a coat, and begins brushing it.
Ger. I don't like to see you doing that.
Col. G. Why shouldn't I serve my own—superior, sir? Anything's better than serving yourself. And that's what every one does who won't serve other people.
Ger. You are right. And it's so cheap.
Col. G. And so nasty!
Ger. Right again, William!—Right indeed!—You're a gentleman! If there's anything I could help you in—anything gone wrong,—any friends offended—I'm not altogether without influence.
Col. G. (aside) He will vanquish me with my own weapons!
Ger. But you will go to Garibaldi with me?
Col. G. I will, sir.
Ger. And ride by my side?
Col. G. Of course.
Ger. If you ride by me, you will have to ride far.
Col. G. I know, sir. But if you would be fit for fighting, you must come and have something to eat and drink.
Ger. All right. A soldier must obey: I shall begin by obeying you. Only mind you keep up with me. Exit, leaning on COL. G.
Tho. Th' dule a mon be yere! Aw're main troubled to get shut ov they reyvers! Aw'm olez i' trouble! Mine's a gradely yed! it be!—Hoy!—Nobory yere! 'T seems to me, honest men be scarce i' Lonnon. Aw'm beawn to believe nobory but mo own heighes, and mo own oud lass. Exit.
Re-enter GERVAISE, followed by COL. G.
Ger. No, William; I won't lie down. I feel much better. Let's have a bout with the foils.
Col. G. Very well, sir. (Aside.) A little of that will go far, I know. (Gets down the foils.)
Ger. And, William, you must set a block up here. I shall have a cut or two at it to-morrow. There's a good cavalry weapon up there—next that cast of Davis's arm.
Col. G. Suppose your father were to arrive just after you had started!
Ger. I shouldn't mind. I don't want to see him yet. I'm such a poor creature! The heart seems to have gone out of me. You see, William—
Enter MRS. CLIFFORD.
Ger. Ah! How do you do, aunt?
Mrs. C. What's this nonsense about Garibaldi, Arthur?
Ger. Who told you?
Mrs. C. You don't mean it's true?
Ger. Quite true, aunt.
Mrs. C. Really, Arthur, you are more of a scatterbrain than I took you for!
Ger. Don't say that, aunt. I only take after my father.
Mrs. C. Don't talk to me of your father! I have no patience with him. A careless hard-hearted fellow—not worthy the name of a father! (She glares at SIR WALTER.)
Ger. You may go, William. (COL. G. retires slowly.)
Ger. Aunt, you have been a mother to me; but were you really my mother, I must not listen to such words of my father. He has good reasons for what he does, though I admit there is something in it we don't understand. (Aside.) If I could but understand how Constance—
Mrs. C. What do you say? What was that about Constance?
Ger. Oh, nothing, aunt. I was only thinking how difficult it is to understand people.
Mrs. C. If you mean Constance, I agree with you. She is a most provoking girl.
Ger. (smiling) I am sorry to hear that, aunt.
Mrs. C. I'm very glad you were never so silly as take a fancy to the girl. She would have led you a pretty dance! If you saw how she treats that unfortunate Waterfield! But what's bred in the bone won't out of the flesh.
Ger. There's nothing bred in her I would have out, aunt.
Mrs. C. Perhaps she originated her vulgarity. That is a shade worse.
Ger. Vulgarity, aunt! I cannot remember the meaning of the word when I think of her.
Mrs. C. If you choose to insult me, Arthur—
Ger. It is high time I were gone! If I should be called in now to settle matters between—William! William!—William!
Enter COL. G.
Ger. To-morrow, William. Not a word. If you will go with me, I shall be glad. If you will not, I shall go without you.
Col. G. Yes, sir.—I wish Warren were here with the old man. I don't know what to do till he comes.
Con. I thought my aunt was here, William.
Col. G. No, miss. She was here, but she's gone again.
Con. Could I see Mr. Gervaise for a moment?
Col. G. Certainly, miss. I'll tell him.
Con. Is he still determined on going, William?
Col. G. Yes, miss;—to-morrow, he says.
Col. G. Yes, miss. I think he means to start for Dover in the morning.
Con. What am I to do?
Col. G. What's the matter, miss?
Con. What can I do? I know he is angry with me. I don't quite know why. I wish I had never—I can't help it now. My heart will break. (Weeps.)
Col. G. Don't let him go to Dover to-morrow, miss.
Con. He would have listened to me once. He won't now. It's all so different! Everything has gone wrong somehow.
Col. G. Do try to keep him from going, miss.
Con. He would but think me forward. I could bear anything better than have him think ill of me.
Col. G. No fear of that, miss. The danger is all the other way.
Con. What other way, William?
Col. G. He thinks you don't care a bit about him.
Exit. CONSTANCE drops on the dais, nearly under the veiled Psyche.
Enter GER. and stands a moment regarding her.
Con. (starting up, and flying to him with her hands clasped) Arthur! Arthur! don't go. I can't bear you to go. It's all my fault, but do forgive me! Oh, do, do—dear Arthur! Don't go to-morrow. I shall be miserable if you do.
Ger. But why, my—why, Constance?
Con. I was your Constance once.
Ger. But why should I not go? Nobody wants me here.
Con. Oh, Arthur! how can you be so cruel? Can it be that—? Do say something. If you won't say anything, how can I know what you are thinking—what you wish? Perhaps you don't like—I would—I have—I won't—Oh, Arthur! do say something.
Ger. I have nothing to say, Constance.
Con. Then I have lost you—altogether! I dare say I deserve it. I hardly know. God help me! What can I have done so very wicked? Oh! why did you take me out of the streets? I should have been used to them by this time! They are terrible to me now. No, no, Arthur! I thank you—thank you—with my very soul! What might I not have been by this time! But I used to lie in that corner, and I daren't now!
Enter COL. G. behind.
It was a happy time, for I had not offended you then. Good-bye. Won't you say one word to me?—You will never see me again.
She pauses a moment; then exit weeping—by the back door, behind the Psyche. COL. G. follows her.
Ger. How could she love that fellow? (Looking up.) Gone? gone! My Constance! My Psyche! I've driven her into the wild street! O my God! William! William! Constance! Which door? I won't go, Constance—I won't. I will do anything you ask me. What was that she said?—Good-bye! God in heaven!—William! you idiot! where are you? William!
He rushes out by the front door. Re-enter COL. G. by the back door.
Col. G. It was lucky I met Bill! He's after her like the wind. That message will bring her back, I think. I could trust that boy with anything! But where is he? (Enter THOMAS.) What, friend! here at last! Thank God! Just sit down a moment, will you? (Peeps into the room off the study.) He's not there! I heard him calling this moment! Perhaps he's in the house.—Did you leave the door open, sir?
Tho. Nay. Th' dur wur oppen. Aw seigh sombory run eawt as aw coom oop.
Col. G. My boy! my boy! It will kill him!—Stop here till I come back. (Rushes out.)
Tho. Aw connot stop. Aw'm tired enough, God knows, to stop anywheeres; mo yed goes reawnd and reawnd, an' aw'd fain lie mo deawn. But aw mun be gooin'. Nobory can tell what may be coomin to mo Mattie. Aw mun go look, go look! Ha! ha! they couldn't keep mo, owd mon as aw wur! But aw wish aw hed a word wi' th' mon first.
War. (aside) This must be the old fellow himself! Here he is after all! (Peeps into the room.)
Tho. Theer be nobory theer, sir. Th' maister's run eawt, and th' mon after him.
War. Run out!
Tho. Aw niver says what aw donnot mane. An' aw'm glad yo're theer, sir; for William he towd mo to stay till he coom back; but aw've not geet so mich time to spare; and so be's yo're a friend ov th' maister's, yo'll mebbe mind th' shop a smo' bit. Aw mun goo (going).
War. I say, old man—your name's Thomas Pearson—ain't it?
Tho. Yigh. Aw yer. But hea cooms to to knaw mo name?
War. I know all about you.
Tho. Ivvery body knaws ivvery body yere! Aw connot stur a fut fur folks as knaws mo, and knaws mo name, and knaws what aw be after. Lonnon is a dreedfu' plaze. Aw mun geet mo lass to whoam. Yo'll mind th' shop till th' maister cooms back. Good neet (going).
War. (stopping him) They want you here a bit. You'd better stop. The man will be back directly. You're too suspicious.
Tho. Nea, maister, thae'rt wrung theer. Aw've trusted too mich—a theawsand times too mich.
War. You trusted the wrong people, then.
Tho. It taks no mak o' a warlock to tell mo that, maister. It's smo' comfort, noather.
War. Well now, you give me a turn, and hear what I've got to say.
Tho. Yo're o' tarred wi' th' same stick. Ivvery body maks gam ov th' poor owd mon! Let me goo, maister. Aw want mo chylt, mo Mattie!
War. You must wait till Mr. Gervaise's man comes back.
Tho. (despairingly) O Lord. Th' peack ov sunbrunt lies they ha' been tellin' me sin' aw coom yere!—childer an o'!
War. Have patience, man. You won't repent it.
Tho. What mun be, mun. Aw connot ha' patience, but aw con stop. Aw'd rayther goo, though. Aw'm noan sorry to rest noather. (Sits down on the dais.)
War. Here, boy! Don't let the old man go till some one comes. Exit.
Bill. All right, sir! Hillo, daddy! There you are! Thank God!
Tho. What fur, boy? Wull he gie mo mo Mattie again—dosto think?
Bill. That he will, daddy! You come along, an' you'll know a honest boy next time.—I can't till I see Mr. William, though.
Tho. Iv thae manes th' maister's mon yere, he's run eawt. An' aw connot goo witho. Aw'm keepin' th' shop till he coom back. An' aw dunnot mich care to goo witho. Aw dunnot mich trust tho. Th' Lord have a care ov mo! Aw dimnot knaw which to trust, and which not to trust. But aw mun wait for maister William, as yo co' him.
Bill. All right, daddy!—Don't you stir from here till I come back—not for nobody—no, not for Joseph!
Tho. Aw dunnot knaw no Joseph.
Bill. I'll soon let you see I'm a honest boy! As you can't go to Mattie, I'll bring Mattie to you: see if I don't! An' if she ain't the right un, I'll take her back, and charge ye nuffin for carriage. Can't say fairer than that, daddy!
Tho. Bless tho, mo boy! Dosto mane it true?
Bill. Yes—an' that you'll see, afore you're an 'alf an hour older, daddy. When Mr. William comes, you say to him, "Bill's been.—All right."
Tho. Aw dunnot like secrets, lad. What don yo mane? Ivvery body seems to mane something, and nobory to say it.
Bill. Never you mind, daddy! "Bill's been.—All right." That's your ticket. I'm off. Exit.
THOMAS gets up, and walks about, murmuring to himself. A knock at the door.
Tho. Somebory after mo again! Aw'll geet eawt ov th' way. (Goes behind the Psyche.)
Wat. Nobody here! I am unlucky. "Not at home," said the rascal,—and grinned, by Jove! I'll be at the bottom of this. There's no harm in Gervaise. He's a decent fellow. (Knocks at the door of GER.'S room.) I won't leave the place till I've set things right—not if I've got to give him a post-obit for five thousand—I won't!—Nobody there? (Looks in.) No. Then I'll go in and wait. Exit.
Tho. (peeping from behind the Psyche). That's the villain! Lord o' mercy! that's the villain! If aw're as strung as aw'm owd, aw'd scrunch his yed—aw would! Aw'm sure it's th' mon. He kep eawt ov mo way—but aw seigh him once. O Lord, keep mo hands off ov him. Aw met kill him. Aw'm sartin sure ov him when aw see him. Aw'll not goo nigh him till somebory cooms—cep' he roons away. Aw'm noan fleyed ov him, but aw met not be able to keep mo howd ov him. Oh, mo Mattie! mo Mattie! to leave thi owd faither for sich a mak ov a mon as yon! But yere cooms somebory moor. (Goes behind the Psyche.)
Enter MRS. CLIFFORD.
Mrs. C. No one here? She can never be in his room with him! (Opens the door.) Oh! Mr. Waterfield! You're here—are you?
Wat. (coming to the door). Mrs. Clifford! This is indeed an unexpected pleasure!
Mrs. C. Have you got Constance with you there?
Wat. I've no such good fortune.
Mrs. C. Where is she, then?
Wat. At home, I presume.
Mrs. C. Indeed she is not. I must speak to Arthur.
Wat. He's not here.
Mrs. C. Where's my—his man, then?
Wat. Taken himself off to the public-house, I suppose. There's nobody about. Odd—ain't it?
Mrs. C. I'll go and see. Exit into the house.
Wat. What can be the row! there is some row. Exit into the room.
Enter GER., supported by COL. G.
Col. G. Thank God! Thank God!
Ger. But where is she? I shall go mad if you've told me a lie.
Col. G. I saw her, and sent a messenger after her. We shall have news of her presently. Do have a little patience, sir.
Get. How can I have patience? I'm a brute—a mean, selfish devil! If that fellow Waterfield was to horse-whip me—I should let him.
Tho. (coming forward). Theer wur that yung chap yere a while agoo, and he said aw wur to say to Maister William—what wur it aw're to say?—Yigh—it wur—"Bill's been. O'reet."
Col. G. There, sir! I told you so. Do sit down. I'll go after her.
Ger. I will. I will. Only make haste. (Stands staring at the Psyche.)
Tho. Th' boy said he'd be yere direckly.
Col. G. You sit down. I'll be with you presently.
Tho. (retiring behind the Psyche). Aw're noan likely to goo, maister.
Enter MRS. C. Crosses to room door. Enter WATERFIELD. They talk.
Ger. William! I don't want them. (Retreats towards the Psyche.)
Col. G. Sit here one moment, sir. (Leads him to the dais. Advances to MRS. C.)
Mrs. C. (trying to pass him). Arthur, what can—?
Col. G. (intercepting her). Let him rest a bit, ma'am, if you please. He's been out for the first time.
Mrs. C. At night! and in a fog! A pretty nurse you are! Poor boy!
Col. G. Mr. Waterfield, sir, would you mind stepping into the room again for a moment? (Exit WAT.) Mrs. Clifford, ma'am, would you please get a glass of wine for master? Exit MRS. C. into the house.
Ger. William! William!
Col. G. Yes, sir.
Ger. Send him away. Don't let him stop there. I have nothing to say to him.
Col. G. He shan't trouble you, sir. I'll take care of that. (Goes behind the Psyche to THOMAS, but keeps watching the door of the room.)—Did you see the man that went in there just now?
Tho. (with anxiety). He winnot joomp eawt ov th' window, dosto thenk, lad?
Re-enter MRS. C. with wine. GER. drinks.
Col. G. Why should he do that? Do you know anything about him?
Tho. Aw do.
Col. G. Has he seen you here?
Tho. No. Aw're afeard he'd roon away, and aw keepet snoog.
Col. G. I needn't ask who it is, then?
Tho. Yo needn't, lad.
Tho. Mo conscience! he'll pike eawt afoor aw geet howd on him! (Rushes out and seizes WAT.)
Enter MATTIE and BILL.
Tho. Thae'rt a domned villain! Wheer's mo Mattie?
WATERFIELD knocks THOMAS down.
Bill. O Lord! the swell's murdered old daddy!
All but GER. rush together. COLONEL GERVAISE seizes WATERFIELD. MATTIE throws herself on her knees beside THOMAS and lifts his head.
Mat. Father! father! Look at me! It's Mattie!—your own wicked Mattie! Look at her once, lather dear! (Lays down his head in despair, and rises.) Who struck the good old man?
Bill. He did—the swell as give me the gold sov.
Mat. Mr. Watkins!—
Wat. I haven't the honour of the gentleman's acquaintance. I'm not Mr. Watkins. Am I now? (to COL. G.). Ha! ha!—Let go, I say. I'm not the man. It's all a mistake, you see.
Col. G. In good time. I might make a worse. Watkins mayn't be your name, but Watkins is your nature.
Wat. Damn your insolence! Let rue go, I tell you! (Struggles threatening.)
Col. G. Gently, gently, young man!—If I give your neckcloth a twist now—!
Mat. Yes, there is a mistake—and a sad one for me! A wretch that would strike an old man! Indeed you are not what I took you for.
Wat. You hear the young woman! She says it's all a mistake.—My good girl, I'm sorry for the old gentleman; but he oughtn't to behave like a ruffian. Really, now, you know, a fellow can't stand that sort of thing! A downright assault! I'm sorry I struck him, though—devilish sorry! I'll pay the damage with pleasure. (Puts his hand in his pocket.)
Mat. (turning away) And not a gentleman! (Kneels by THOMAS and weeps.)
Tho. (feebly.) Dunnot greight, Mattie, mo chylt. Aw'm o' reet. Let th' mon goo. What's he to tho or mo?—By th' mass! aw'm strung enough to lick him yet (trying to rise, but falling back). Eigh! eigh! mo owd boans 'ud rayther not. It's noan blame sure to an owd mon to fo' tired o' feightin!
Mat. (taking' his head on her lap). Father! father! forgive me! I'm all yours.—I'll go home with you, and work for you till I drop. O father! how could I leave you for him? I don't care one bit for him now—I don't indeed. You'll forgive me—won't you, father? (Sobs.)
Tho. Aw wull, aw do, mo Mattie. Coom whoam—coom whoam.
Mat. Will mother forgive me, father?
Tho. Thi mother, chylt? Hoo's forgiven tho lung afoor—ivver so lung agoo, chylt! Thi mother may talk leawd, but her heart is as soft as parritch.—Thae knows it, Mattie.
Wat. All this is very interesting,—only you see it's the wrong man, and I can't say he enjoys it. Take your hand off my collar—will you? I'm not the man, I tell you!
Bill. All I says is—it's the same swell as guv me the skid to find her. I'll kiss the book on that!
Ger. (coming forward). Mr. Waterfield, on your honour, do you know this girl?
Wat. Come! you ain't goin' to put me to my catechism!
Ger. You must allow appearances are against you.
Wat. Damn your appearances! What do I care?
Ger. If you will not answer my question, I must beg you to leave the place.
Wat. My own desire! Will you oblige me by ordering this bull-dog of yours to take his paws off me? What the devil is he keeping me here for?
Col. G. I've a great mind to give you in charge.
Wat. The old codger assaulted me first.
Col. G. True; but the whole affair would come to light. That's what I would have. Miss Pearson, what am I to do with this man?
Enter SUSAN at the back door. Behind her, CONSTANCE peeps in.
Mat. Let him go.—Father! Father! (Kisses him.)
Sus. That can never be Mattie's gentleman, sure-ly! Hm! I don't think much of him. I knew he had ugly eyes! I told you so, Mattie! I wouldn't break my heart for him—no, nor for twenty of him—I wouldn't! He looks like a drowned cat.
Wat. What the devil have you got to do with it?
Sus. Nothing. You shut up.
Wat. Well, I'm damned if I know whether I'm on my head or my heels.
Sus. 'Tain't no count which.
Bill (aside to COL. G.). She's at the back door, Mr. William.
Col. G. Who is, Bill? Miss Lacordere?
Bill. Right you air!
COL. G. hastens to the door. CON. peeps in and draws lack. COL. G. follows her. WATERFIELD approaches MATTIE.
Wat. Miss Pearson, if that's—
Mat. I don't know you—don't even know your name.
Wat. (looking round). You hear her say it! She don't know me!
_Mat_. Could_ you try and rise, father? I want to get out of this. There's a lady here says I'm a thief!
Tho. Nea, that she connot say, Mattie! Thae cooms ov honest folk. Aw'll geet oop direckly. (Attempts to rise.) Eigh! eigh! aw connot! aw connot!
Mrs. C. If I have been unjust to you, Miss Pearson, I shall not fail to make amends.
Sus. It's time you did then, ma'am. You've murdered her, and all but murdered me. That's how your little bill stands.
Ger. (to WAT.) Leave the place, Mr. Waterfield.
Wat. You shall answer for this, Gervaise.
Ger. Leave the study at once.
Wat. Tut! tut! I'll make it up to them. A bank note's a good plaster.
Bill. Pleasir, shall I run and fetch a bobby? I likes to see a swell wanted.
Ger. You hold your tongue. (Retires to the dais and sits down. MRS. C. follows him.)
Wat. (taking out his pocket-book, and approaching MATTIE). I didn't think you'd have served me so, Mattie! Indeed I didn't! It's not kind after what's been between you and me. (MATTIE rises and stands staring at him.) You've ruined my prospects—you have! But I don't want to bear malice: take that.—Old times, you know!—Take it. You're welcome. (Forces the note on her. She steps back. It drops.)
Mat. This is a humiliation! Will nobody take him away?
Sus. (rushing at him). You be off! An' them goggle eyes o' yours, or I'll goggle 'em! I can't bear the sight on 'em. I should never ha' taken you for a gentleman. You don't look it. You slope, I say! (Hustles him.)
WATERFIELD picks up the note, and exit.
Mat. (bursting into tears) Father! father! don't hate me; don't despise me.
THOMAS tries to get up, but falls back.
Bill. Don't be in no hurry, Daddy. There's none but friends here now—'cep' the old lady;—she do look glum.
Sus. I'll soon settle her hash!
Mat. Susie! Susie! Don't—there's a dear!
Sus. What business has she here then! She's not a doin' of nothink.
Mat. Don't you see she's looking after the poor gentleman there?
Ger. William!—William!—Gone again! What a fellow he is! The best servant in the world, but always vanishing! Call your James—will you, aunt? We must have the old man put to bed. But the poor girl looks the worse of the two! She can have the spare room, and William can sleep on the sofa in mine.
Mrs. C. I'll see to it.
Exit. GER. goes towards THOMAS.
Tho. Coom whoam—coom whoam, Mattie! Thi mother, hoo's cryin' her eighes eawt to whoam.
Mat. I'll run for a doctor first, father.
Tho. No, no, chylt! Aw're only a bit stonned, like. Aw'll be o' reet in a smo' bit. Aw dunnot want no doctor. Aw'm a coomin' reawnd.
Ger. Neither of you shall stir to-night. Your rooms will be ready in a few minutes.
Mat. Thank you, sir! I don't know what I should have done with him.—Susan, you wouldn't mind going home without me? You know Miss Lacordere—
Ger. Miss Lacordere! What do you know of her?
Mat. Oh, dear! Oh, dear! I oughtn't to have mentioned her. But my poor head!—
Ger. What of Miss Lacordere? For God's sake, tell me.
Enter MRS. C. with JAMES.
Sus. Oh, nothing, sir! nothing at all! Only Miss Lacordere has been good to us—which it's more than can be said for everybody! (Scowls at MRS. C. JAMES proceeds to lift THOMAS. She flies at him.) Put the old gentleman down, you sneakin' reptile! How many doors have you been a hearkenin' at since mornin'—eh, putty-lump? You touch the old man again, and I'll mark you! Here, Bill! I'll take his head—you take his feet. We'll carry him between us like a feather.
Mat. O Susan! do hold your tongue.
Sus. It's my only weapon, my dear. If I was a man—see if I'd talk then.
James. It's a providence you ain't a man, young woman!
Sus. Right you are! Them's my werry motives. I ain't a makin' of no complaint on that score, young Plush! I wouldn't be a man for—no, not for—not even for sich a pair o' calves as yourn!
SUS. and BILL carry THO. out. MAT. follows. GER. is going after them.
Mrs. C. Don't you go, Arthur. They can manage quite well. I will go if you like.
Ger. They know something about Constance.
Mrs. C. Pray give yourself no anxiety about her.
Ger. What do you mean, aunt?
Mrs. C. I will be responsible for her.
Ger. Where is she then? (Exit MRS. C.) William!—If he doesn't come in one minute more, I'll go after her myself. Those girls know where she is. I am as strong as a giant.—O God! All but married to that infamous fellow!—That he should ever have touched the tip of one of her fingers! What a sunrise of hope! Psyche may yet fold her wings to my prayer! William! William!—Where can the fellow be?
Enter COL. G. in uniform and star, leading CONSTANCE.
Ger. (hurrying to meet them). Constance! Constance! forgive me. Oh my God! You will when you know all.
Col. G. She knows enough for that already, my boy, or she wouldn't be here. Take her—and me for her sake.
Ger. What! who—? Constance!—What does it all mean?—It must be—can it be—my father?—William—It is William!—William my father!—O father! father! (throwing his arms about him) it was you all the time then!
Col. G. My boy! my boy! There!—take Constance, and let me go. I did want to do something for you—but—There! I'm too much ashamed to look at you in my own person.
Ger. (kneeling). Father! father! don't talk like that! O father! my father!
Col. G. (raising him). My boy! my boy! I wanted to do something for you—tried hard—and was foiled.—I doubly deserved it. I doubted as well as neglected you. But God is good. He has shamed me, and saved you.
Ger. By your hand, father.
Col. G. No—by his own. It would all have come right without me. I was unworthy of the honour, my boy. But I was allowed to try; and for that I am grateful.—Arthur, I come to you empty-handed—a beggar for your love.
Ger. How dare you say that, father?—Empty-handed—bringing me her and your-self—all I ever longed for!—my father and my Psyche! Father, thank you. The poor word must do its best. I thank you with my very soul.—How shall I bear my happiness!—Constance, it was my father all the time! Did you know it? Serving me like a slave!—humouring all my whims!—watching me night and day!—and then bringing me—
Con. Your own little girl, Arthur. But why did you not tell me?
Ger. Tell you what, darling?
Con. That—that—that you—Oh! you know what, Arthur!
Ger. How could I, my child, with that—!—Shall I tell you now?
Con. No, no! I am too happy to listen—even to you, Arthur! But he should never have—I did find him out at last. If I had but known you did not like him! (hiding her face.)
Ger. (embracing his father) Father! father! I cannot hold my happiness! And it is all your doing!
Col. G. No, I tell you, my boy! I was but a straw on the tide of things. I will serve you yet though. I will be your father yet.
Bill (aside). Fathers ain't all bad coves! Here's two on 'em—good sort of old Jacobs—both on 'em. Shouldn't mind much if I had a father o' my own arter all!
GERVAISE turns to CONSTANCE—then glances at the Psyche. COL. GERVAISE removes the sheet. GERVAISE leads CONSTANCE to the chair on the dais—turns from her to the Psyche, and begins to work on the clay, glancing from the one to the other—the next moment leaves the Psyche, and seats himself on the dais at CONSTANCE'S feet, looking up in her face. COL. GERVAISE stands regarding them fixedly. Slow distant music. BILL is stealing away.