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Stephen Archer

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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.

Curtain falls.

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