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?