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Contents   Prologue   I   II   III  Epilogue


ACT THREE

SCENESame as Act Two—a month later. It is about seven o'clock in the evening. TOM and LEONORA are discovered. TOM is sitting by the table, frowning, his mind evidently troubled about something. He is making a polite but ineffectual attempt to appear interested in LEONORA's effervescent chatter. She is never still for a moment but flits from chair to chair, sitting on the arms, perching on the edge of the table, picking up books and throwing them down again, going to look out of the windows, etc.

  LEONORA—(coming over to TOM and looking at him with a quizzical smile) Now I ask you, what are you so gloomy about? (TOM attempts a smile.) Heavens, what a movie-actor smile! Don't do it again. You needn't be polite with me, you know. I love to talk to myself, and your replies are no good anyway. A second ago you said "no" when any perfect gentleman should have said "yes" and agreed with me.

  TOM—(a bit confused) I guess I'm a little off color tonight.

  LEONORA—(sitting on the edge of the table) Indigestion. I ate too much myself. We all do out here. (TOM looks at her impatiently.) But it's jolly to be a glutton for once in a way after a starve-and-grow-thin studio diet. (with a chuckle) How Gab gorges himself! He's losing his spiritual waist line since he began coming out here. Have you noticed?

  TOM—(explosively) No!

  LEONORA—Yes, he's gradually assuming the blubber of prosperity—given up free verse for free food. He hasn't written a poem since my last Welch rabbit.

  TOM—(bitingly) Thank God the situation has some redeeming features.

  LEONORA—Oh, he does real stuff every now and then, when he forgets himself for a moment. (She goes over to the window and looks out at the garden.) Where's mother? I haven't seen her since dinner.

  TOM—Mother?

  LEONORA—Your mother-in-law—Mrs. Ashleigh.

  TOM—(sarcastically) Oh!

  LEONORA—She told me I could call her that. She's a dear. Where is she, I wonder?

  TOM—(grumpily) I don't know.

  LEONORA—Probably chaperoning those two. (TOM winces. She comes back to the table and commences to roll a cigarette.) How bored they must be with each other! It's too dark for Gab to read his poems, and without the sound of his own voice to spur him on, he's a stick. (She fixes the cigarette in her holder and lights it.) I'll bet they're holding hands and saying: "Ain't nature grand!"

  TOM—Damn! (He gets up and strides up and down the room.)

  LEONORA—(sitting on the edge of the table and smoking—calmly) You're not jealous of Gab, are you?

  TOM—(trying to appear scornful) Jealous? Do you think I'm crazy?

  LEONORA—I don't know. You would be if you were. I assure you Gab's entirely harmless. He's in love with himself and there's not a rival in sight. (looking at him keenly) Do sit down! (He does so.) There's something wrong with you. What is it? Tell me. (doubtfully) You're not falling in love with me, are you?

  TOM—(decidedly) I am not.

  LEONORA—You needn't be so unflatteringly emphatic about it. But it's just as well. You have a certain physical appeal, as I've often said, but I've given up sex for good. I've been through it all, and there's nothing in it for anyone who wants to accomplish something real.

  TOM—(forced to smile) I'll take your word for it, Miss. Barnes.

  LEONORA—The next time you call me that I hope you choke. What's the matter with Leo? Of course, it isn't my real name. I'll bet you can't guess the horrible title my silly parents wished on me.

  TOM—What was it?

  LEONORA—Pearl! Imagine, Pearl! I simply couldn't put up with Pearl. We once had a colored cook who was called Leonora—she was named after a race horse, she said—and I liked the sound and swiped it. So Leonora I've been ever since. (She sees that TOM is staring grumpily before him and not paying any attention to her.) What ho! (TOM comes to with a start.) There is something wrong. Don't you feel well?

  TOM—Oh, it's nothing.

  LEONORA—Is it business worries, then?

  TOM—(grasping eagerly at this excuse) Yes—sort of.

  LEONORA—(interestedly) You haven't been dabbling in Wall street and robbing the till, have you? (clapping her hands) I say! That would give me a moment—seeing a movie crook in real life.

  TOM—(dryly) I'm sorry, but I'll have to disappoint you.

  LEONORA—(putting out her cigarette) I suppose it's the price of paper or some other dull thing that's bothering you. (She jumps to the floor and stretches, yawning.) This is a bore! (LUCY, MRS. ASHLEIGH and GABRIEL enter from the french windows in the rear.) Hello, hello, hello! Here you are at last. (LUCY looks at her coldly, MRS. ASHLEIGH smiles, while GABRIEL appears furious at finding LEONORA and TOM together.)

  TOM—(getting up from his chair, and adopting a pose of smiling joviality) Hello! We didn't expect you back from your walk so soon. (LUCY and GABRIEL sit down on right. MRS. ASHLEIGH takes the chair in the middle. LEONORA hops to the edge of the table again.)

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—It was becoming chilly outside so we thought we'd better come back. (There is an uncomfortable silence following this. Each one appears to be trying desperately to find something to say.)

  LEONORA—(bursting out impulsively) I say! This is a bore! You're all as glum as a tree full of owls. Let's do something, anything!

  TOM—(forcing a smile) I'm game. What do you suggest?

  LEONORA—Lets all motor down and take in some theatre.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—That's a good idea, Leo. What do you think, Lucy?

  LUCY—(with a wan smile) I don't care, Mother.

  LEONORA—Isn't there some perfectly shocking burlesque we can see? (clapping her hands) That would be a lark!

  GABRIEL—What silly nonsense!

  LEONORA—(airily) Speak when you're spoken to, Gab, my dear. (to TOM) Isn't there one?

  TOM—(with a smile) I'm hardly posted on that subject.

  LUCY—(coldly) Of course, Leo is only joking. She knows Mother wouldn't go.

  LEONORA—I'll bet she would. She's more of a sport than any of us. Now I ask you, wouldn't you, Mother? (LUCY shows her indignation at this familiarity and turns to GABRIEL who is biting his lips and glowering at LEONORA.)

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(gently) It's so long since I've been to one, my dear, I'm afraid I'm not young enough to enjoy them any more. (LUCY looks at her mother in shocked surprise.) However I suggest that we eliminate all serious plays for tonight. I'd like something cheerful—something with jokes and music—say, a good musical comedy.

  GABRIEL—You won't find that, Mrs. Ashleigh, in a country where vulgarity is mistaken for humour.

  TOM—(sarcastically) They do it differently in Jersey City, eh, Gabriel?

  LEONORA—Don't mind Gab. He's only posing. He went with me to see "Oh, You Cutey!" last winter—the press agent gave us passes, you know—and nearly went into hysterics laughing. And then the papers came out next day and called it the most vulgar exhibition that had ever disgraced a New York theatre.

  GABRIEL—(jumping from his chair—furiously) I was not myself that night—and you know it!

  LEONORA—You were squiffy, you mean? All the rest of the audience knew that, too. But that's no excuse. In vino veritas, you know, and all the rest of it.

  TOM—(who has been glancing over the paper) This looks good—the new show at the Casino. (getting up) I'll phone for the tickets and order the car.

  GABRIEL—I'm afraid—Thank you just the same, Drayton, but—the fact is I've just remembered an engagement—

  LEONORA—Liar!

  GABRIEL—(raging) Will you hold your tongue, you little—(He controls himself by a violent effort. LEONORA laughs and makes a face at him.)

  TOM—(perfunctorily) Sorry you can't come. That'll make it four. (He starts for the door.)

  LUCY—(languidly) I don't think I care much for that type of amusement either.

  LEONORA—Oh I say, here's our party breaking up already.

  TOM—(frowning) Then you won't come?

  LUCY—(coldly) I think not.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(coaxingly) Do come, dear! I'm sure you'll enjoy a little foolishness for a change.

  LUCY—(wearily) No, I've a headache, Mother. I think I'll stay home.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—Then perhaps we'd all better stay.

  LUCY—No. You three go. (looking at TOM defiantly) I'm sure Gabriel will keep me company, part of the time at least—(she turns to GABRIEL, questioningly) if his engagement—?

  GABRIEL—(looking at LEONORA with malicious satisfaction) Oh, that was nothing of any importance. I can phone. I'll be delighted to remain, Mrs. Drayton.

  LEONORA—(breezily) Then that's settled. (She flits up to TOM who is standing uncertainly, glaring at GABRIEL, and gives him a push.) Hurry on now, and phone. They may be sold out.

  TOM—(gloomily) That'll be three. (He goes out left.)

  LEONORA—I do hope there'll be acrobats in it! I adore acrobats! They're so decorative in their tights and spangles. I'd just love to paint them.

  GABRIEL—(sneeringly) I'm sure the acrobats would recognize you as a fellow-craftsman if they ever saw your work.

  LEONORA—I could say something of your trapeze stunts in free verse but I won't. You can't pick a fight with me tonight, Gab. I ate too much dinner.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(hastily—as GABRIEL is framing some biting retort) When does it start, I wonder? Look in the paper, Leonora, will you? (LEONORA picks up the paper and commences glancing through it.)

  LUCY—(boredly) You won't miss anything if you're late, Mother. Those productions were concocted with an eye for the comfort of the Tired Business Man.

  GABRIEL—Exactly!

  LEONORA—Well, we'll have one with us—Tom; so he ought to enjoy it. (She turns over the paper angrily.) I never could find anything in the beastly papers. (TOM enters from the left.)

  TOM—They had nothing left but a stage box. I told them to save that for us.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—A box! Good heavens, look at me. I can't go in a box.

  LEONORA—Why? You're all right.

  TOM—Why yes, Mother.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(giving TOM a significant look in the direction of LUCY and GABRIEL) No, really, I couldn't go looking like this. Besides, I've been thinking while you were gone that perhaps, after all, I better not go.

  LEONORA—Oh, do come along.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—I'm sure Mr. Ashleigh will expect me home early after my staying out here for the past two nights. So I really don't think I'd better go. You take Leo, Tom, and send the car back for me.

  TOM—(reluctantly) All right, Mother, if you think it's best. (LUCY and GABRIEL show very evident disapproval of this plan.)

  GABRIEL—Why not call it all off for tonight?

  LEONORA—Well, I guess not! I must have my acrobats tonight or die. (She looks ruefully at her smock.) But what am I going to wear, I ask you? If I go this way they'll think I'm one of the performers.

  TOM—(boldly) Lucy can let you have something, I'm sure.

  LUCY—(starting to her feet—her eyes blazing) I—I'd be glad to, but you seem to forget Leo is much smaller than me.

  LEONORA—(delighted) Oh, I can fix that all right. I've worn too many hired costumes to masquerades not to know how to make things look a fit. With a few pins—You can let your maid help me. I'll be ready in no time. I can wear your fur coat till we get in the box and then sit in back. Noone'll know the difference. Lucy, you're a dear!

  TOM—(looking at his watch) We'll have to hurry. The car'll be here at quarter of.

  LEONORA—Don't worry, ole love. I'll be in my soup and fish as soon as you will. Show me what I can wear, Lucy. I promise not to tear it.

  LUCY—(her voice trembling a little) Very wellif you don't mind. (She walks toward doorway on left, biting her lips.)

  LEONORA—Mind? I think it's no end of a lark. You must come up too, Mother, and help tuck me in. Will you?

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(with an uneasy glance at LUCYuncertainly) Of course, my dear. (They all go out left leaving GABRIEL alone.)

  GABRIEL—(sitting for a moment in silent rage) Of all the damned cheek! (He gets up and strides furiously up and down the room, running his hands through his hair. Suddenly he utters a loud "damn" and picks a book from the table as if he were going to hurl it at someone. He still has the book held high in the air when LUCY returns. He puts it back on the table sheepishly.)

  LUCY—(her face still flushed with anger—irritably) What in the world are you doing with that book?

  GABRIEL—(following her and sitting down on a chair close to the lounge on which she throws herself) Er—to tell you the truth I was about to give way to a stupid fit of rage.

  LUCY—(coldly) About what?

  GABRIEL—Why the way Leo jumped at wearing your gown. It was so nervy of her, so ill-mannered, so—

  LUCY—I'm sure she's perfectly welcome to it if she thinks she can make it fit.

  GABRIEL—I was never so ashamed of anything in my life.

  LUCY—I wouldn't take it so seriously if I were you.

  GABRIEL—Leo is too preposterous at times.

  LUCY—(irritably) Please! Let's drop the subject.

  GABRIEL—(with an ill grace) I beg your pardon. (There is an uncomfortable silence. LUCY stares straight in front of her, now and then casting a side glance of irritation at GABRIEL who is fidgeting nervously in his chair, and biting his nails fiercely.)

  LUCY—(endeavoring to make talk) Do you know anything good for a headache?

  GABRIEL—Why—bromo-seltzer, isn't it?

  LUCY—It never brought me any relief.

  GABRIEL—It's supposed to be good.

  LUCY—It isn't. (The talk abruptly ceases.)

  GABRIEL—(after an unpleasant pause—desperately) Is it very bad?

  LUCY—What?

  GABRIEL—Your toothache.

  LUCY—(icily) My toothache? I haven't—

  GABRIEL—(hastily) I mean your headache.

  LUCY—Splitting.

  GABRIEL—(perfunctorily) I'm so sorry. Isn't there anything I can do?

  LUCY—No, thank you, I think not. (Another long silence. GABRIEL becomes more nervous than ever. He is evidently restraining an outburst of rage only by a mighty effort. LUCY's lips are compressed and she glares at him angrily.)

  GABRIEL—(in an exasperated tone) How shall we spend the evening? Can't we—? (He can find nothing to suggest.)

  LUCY—Yes?

  GABRIEL—What do you say to a walk?

  LUCY—We've just come from one; and besides, it's too chilly.

  GABRIEL—(jumping up from his chair) There must be something we can do. We can't sit here all night like a couple of—(he hesitates, then blurts it out) of mummies. It's ridiculous!

  LUCY—(her eyebrows raised) If you would rather go home—

  GABRIEL—(quickly takes her hand in both of his, much against her will) You know I didn't mean that, Lucy. I'm terribly out of key. Don't be cruel to me. I only want—I love you so much I can't bear to have anyone—Forgive me, Lucy! (He raises her hand and kisses it.)

  LUCY—(snatching her hand away—pettishly) Don't be silly!

  GABRIEL—(in accents of wounded pride) Silly!

  LUCY—Someone is liable to come in any moment.

  GABRIEL—(relieved) Oh! Yes, of course, you're right. I'm too impulsive. I forget—these infernally stupid conditions. (LUCY tries to wither him with a look but he does not see it. He sits down again and leans his chin on his hands and stares soulfully into space. LUCY taps her foot nervously on the floor. There is a long pause.)

  GABRIEL—(suddenly) What are they doing all this time?

  LUCY—(coldly) They haven't been gone five minutes.

  GABRIEL—(rudely) It seems five years. (LUCY stiffens at this remark.) You wouldn't care to have me read to you, would you? (He reaches into his pocket with a complacent smile and takes out some manuscript.) I've a couple of new poems here I'm sure you haven't heard. I think they're some of the best things I've done—and it was your inspiration which gave birth to them all. Shall I read them?

  LUCY—(harshly) No, please, not now! (GABRIEL is dumbfounded. LUCY attempts a feeble smile.) I've such a headache I'm afraid I couldn't appreciate them tonight.

  GABRIEL—(crestfallen—stuffs the poems back in his pocket—in hurt tones) I'm afraid my poems are commencing to bore you. (He waits for LUCY to deny this, but as she does not, he continues huffily) In fact, I'm quite sure they bore you.

  LUCY—(with weary vexation) Please don't misunderstand me. I meant nothing of the kind.

  GABRIEL—But there was something in your voice which—(with hurt dignity) I promise I won't bore you with them in the future.

  LUCY—(coldly) One doesn't feel in the mood for poetry all the time. We can't all be poets.

  GABRIEL—(with a superior air) Decidedly not.

  LUCY—(meanly) And some of your poems are—well—rather difficult to understand.

  GABRIEL—(stung) One must possess a fine soul to really appreciate any true poetry.

  LUCY—(indignantly) By which you mean I haven't?

  GABRIEL—(fuming) I don't mean anything. I wasn't thinking of what I was saying. What difference does it make what I meant? My mind is on something else. What time is it, I wonder? They'll be late. What can be keeping them up there so long? (LUCY makes no reply but sighs wearily. GABRIEL walks up and down, frowning, muttering to himself, on the verge of an outburst.)

  LUCY—(a trace of contempt in her voice) You're in a fine temper tonight.

  GABRIEL—(roughly) And why shouldn't I be?

  LUCY—Why should you be?

  GABRIEL—(drawing a deep breath) Because—(bursting forth) I tell you I won't endure it any longer! (He bangs his fist on the table.)

  LUCY—(contemptuously) I don't know what you're talking about.

  GABRIEL—Oh yes, you do! You aren't blind. You can see what's in front of your eyes, can't you? (raging) I'll tell you what I mean. I mean this shameless affair between your husband and Leo which is going on openly right here, right in your own house. And if you don't put a stop to it, I will!

  LUCY(freezingly) I refuse to discuss the matter with you.

  GABRIEL—(miserably) Please don't be angry with me, Lucy. Don't take that attitude. Why shouldn't we discuss it with each other? No one else cares. (flying off again) It's an insult to our intelligence—the way they flaunt it before us. It's—it's revolting! We've got to put a stop to it, that's all!

  LUCY—Speak for yourself (her voice trembling) For my part, Tom is free to do as he chooses.

  GABRIEL—Ha! Just you try and see how far you're free to do as you choose. You'll soon have your eyes opened.

  LUCY—You're mistaken. We are both equally free. We signed a mutual agreement to that effect the night before we were married.

  GABRIEL—(scornfully) Pooh! A lot of attention he'd pay to that if you ever dared go as far as he has.

  LUCY—(growing pale) I don't understand you.

  GABRIEL—You mean you won't understand me. It seems you prefer to be blind.

  LUCY—(indignantly) I see a purely harmless flirtation, if that's what you're driving at.

  GABRIEL—(with a sneer) Purely harmless? Flirtation? Well, you are a little innocent—if this isn't a pose of yours.

  LUCY—It isn't a pose! It's what I believe in spite of all your nasty insinuations. (her eyes filling) I know Tom would tell me if—(She catches herself in time to choke back a sob.)

  GABRIEL—(vehemently) It's a shame, a beastly shame, for him to treat you this way. And Leo—she's a little fool. But you must face the truth. It's decidedly serious, this affair of theirs, when you come to know the facts.

  LUCY—(stubbornly) You must be mad. You've no proof of what you're saying.

  GABRIEL—(cunningly) Haven't I? How do you know? You've heard Leo rave about him as her cursed Great Blond Beast, haven't you? Have you read Nietzsche? Do you think Leo has any moral scruples about anything? Well, I don't. And where have they gone on all these motor trips?

  LUCY—They always told us where they went.

  GABRIEL—And do you think they told us the truth? Well, I am hardly as naive as that.

  LUCY—Do you mean they lied? Why do you say such a thing?

  GABRIEL—I know—and that's enough. And how about all those teas alone together at the studio? Do you think—Oh, but what's the use? If you won't see—

  LUCY—(hysterically) It's a lie! I won't listen to you!

  GABRIEL—(becoming more and more excited) It's the truth! And you've got to realize it. Things can't go on in this way. I won't stand for it. It's too humiliating!

  LUCY—(trying to calm herself) You won't stand for it. How about me?

  GABRIEL—It's a thousand times easier for you. If he goes away you can always get a million more just like him; while I—I can't live with any woman but Leo. She's the only one who understands me, who can protect me from the others—and from myself. I tell you she's necessary to me and I won't give her up to any Philistine like him.

  LUCY—(scornfully) So this is your free comradship! Hasn't she a right to her own soul?

  GABRIEL—No! She's a fool!

  LUCY—And if she loves someone else?

  GABRIEL—She doesn't. She only thinks she does. She's a fool, I tell you! (after a pause) You must break up this shameless intrigue.

  LUCY—I must?

  GABRIEL—Yes, you must. Tell him I won't permit it. Tell him he mustn't see Leo any more.

  LUCY—This is absurd. Can you possibly think I'd degrade my pride to that extent?

  GABRIEL—(imploringly) But you must save me! I implore you, Lucy—for my sake! I'd be lost without her, the fool! I couldn't even find my toothbrush. I wouldn't even know when to get up. Besides, it's nothing to you but your hurt pride because he's your husband. You don't really care anything about him.

  LUCY—(her eyes flashing) How dare you say that!

  GABRIEL—(staring at her in amazement) But—you love me, don't you?

  LUCY—(with supreme contempt) Love you? Do you think I've lost my mind, you stupid little egotist?

  GABRIEL—(stands stunned for a moment) But—your actions—the things you've said—the things you've let me believe—

  LUCY—It was you who said you loved me.

  GABRIEL—But I say that to every woman. They know I'm a poet and they expect it.

  LUCY—And does your conceit make you think I took you seriously—had fallen in love with you? Oh, this is too disgusting!

  GABRIEL—Think of the confessions you made about your unhappy home life. You can't deny them. (LUCY covers her face with her hands.) What was I to believe, in heaven's name? (She doesn't answer or look up at him.) But you'll persuade him not to run away with Leo, won't you? All the more reason to do so if you love him and don't want to lose him. They're liable to fly off tonight, I tell you. You have no idea what a fool Leo is.

  LUCY—(angrily) Why don't you speak to her?

  GABRIEL—She's such a fool! She wouldn't listen to me. You're the only hope I've got.

  LUCY—(furiously) And you ask me—to do this!

  GABRIEL—You must! There's no other way.

  LUCY—(choking back her tears of rage) And you can dare to continue to insult me by suggesting such a thing?

  GABRIEL—(horrified) Then you won't?

  LUCY—(tearfully) No! No! Let him go if he wants to. After what you've told me I never want to see him again. And Leo has a right to go. She isn't married to you.

  GABRIEL—(frenziedly) Did she tell you that? It's a lie! It's cowardly of her to deny it.

  LUCY—(looking at him in amazement) You mean to say you are married?

  GABRIEL—Of course we are! We've been married for two years. (LUCY suddenly commences to laugh hysterically. GABRIEL is irritated.) What are you laughing at? It's the truth.

  LUCY—(wildly) Nothing! Nothing! (She continues to laugh.)

  GABRIEL—The only reason we concealed it was because we were taking a studio in Greenwich Village together when we moved to New York and we were afraid they'd consider us provincial down there if they knew. (angrily) Why, in God's name, do you laugh like that?

  LUCY—(hysterically—between laughter and tears) Go! Go away! I can't bear the sight of you. Please go! I want to be alone. (She makes a motion as if she were pushing him out of the room.)

  GABRIEL—(stands looking down at her for a moment—angrily) Well—Oh, I'll go crazy if you don't stop that racket! I must get out of this rabbit hutch. (dramatically) I must go out under the stars—to think! I must have clean air to breathe! (He rushes out of the french windows in the rear to the garden. LUCY stops laughing and hides her face in her hands and sobs violently. After a moment MRS. ASHLEIGH enters from the hallway. She comes quickly over to LUCY with an anxious expression.)

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(putting her hand on LUCY's shoulder) Lucy! Lucy! What's the matter? (LUCY doesn't answer but sobs more violently than ever. MRS. ASHLEIGH sits down beside her on the lounge and puts her arm around her—soothingly.) There, there, dear. Have a good cry and get it over with. (LUCY gradually grows calmer and finally lifts her tear-stained face to her mother's. MRS. ASHLEIGH kisses her and smiles.) And now tell me the cause of this breakdown.

  LUCY—(rising from the lounge—a bit wildly) It's nothing, Mother. I'm tired and my nerves are worn out, I suppose. I haven't slept much the past week.

  MRS. ASHLEIGHYou poor child!

  LUCY—And I've a splitting headache; and, oh, I'm so sick of everything and everybody—I wish I were dead—or away off someplace alone!

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(rebukingly) Now, dear, you mustn't begin again in that foolish morbid strain.

  LUCY—(wildly) Leave me alone! I'll be what I want to be in spite of all of you!

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—Lucy!

  LUCY—Oh, I didn't mean that, Mother. I don't know what I'm saying or doing any more. Just let me alone.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—But what happened? Please tell me. Did Gabriel—

  LUCY—(irritably) No! No! What has he to do with me?

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—It seems to me, my dear, he's had a lot too much to do with you during the last month.

  LUCY—Then all I can say is you must all have evil minds if you're so suspicious of everything.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(indignantly) Why, Lucy! Do you realize what you're saying?

  LUCY—He's nothing to me, less than nothing. I don't care if he lives or dies. He was amusing, that was all.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(insinuatingly) Even his love-making, Lucy? Was that amusing?

  LUCY—He's a poet and he makes love to every woman. He told me so himself. I never took him seriously.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—There's one person who was made very unhappy by it—someone who loves you very much.

  LUCY—(skeptically) Who? You, Mother?

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—Indeed not. I gave you credit for too much good sense. Gabriel didn't bother me in the least.

  LUCY—(a trace of defiance in her tone) It couldn't have been anyone else.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(gently) I was speaking of—Tom.

  LUCY—(with a bitter laugh) Tom!

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—Why do you adopt that tone? Don't you believe me? Do you imagine it's been pleasant for him to see you always with that crack-brained piece of conceit?

  LUCY—(sarcastically) He's had plenty of consolation.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(with a smile) You mean little Leo? Don't be silly, child.

  LUCY—(indignantly) Silly! If you knew—

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(interrupting her—calmly) I do know all about it, and it's your own fault. What could you expect? When you and Gabriel were eternally mooning around together, did you think Leo and Tom would mope in separate corners until you were through amusing yourselves? Remember the contract you drew up yourself—equal liberty of action. You've no reason to complain, my dear. It serves you right.

  LUCY—(tensely) And you can taunt me with it in this manner?

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—Yes, I can. You deserve it.

  LUCY—This shameless, disgusting liaison!

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(with smiling reproof) Those are strong words. I didn't think they were used any more outside of cheap melodrama.

  LUCY—There are no words vile enough to describe what I feel.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(a trifle impatiently) Come, Lucy! Don't overact your part of the abused wife. Vile? Shameless, disgusting liaison? What extravagant terms to apply to an amusing flirtation.

  LUCY—(scornfully) Flirtation? Then you don't know, after all. (bitterly) Or are you just trying to hide it from me? It seems as if there weren't a word of truth left in the world.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(hurt) Lucy! Is that the way you speak to your mother? (LUCY does not answer and her face remains hard. MRS. ASHLEIGH, plainly worried now, speaks with an attempt at calmness.) Let's get to the bottom of this. I don't understand you. What is it I don't know?

  LUCY—(fiercely) You don't seem to know—or you couldn't taunt me with it—that Leo is now Tom's mistress!

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(shocked and stunned, stares at the distracted LUCY in amazement for a moment) Oh!

  LUCY—Now you know! Now tell me it's my fault—that it serves me right—that I brought it on myself!

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—Lucy! What a wicked lie! I'm ashamed of you!

  LUCY—(with a hard laugh) Of course, I knew you wouldn't believe it. You think everyone's so nice and proper. People don't do such things in your world. (She laughs mockingly.)

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—Lucy, has your mind become so distorted that you can believe an infamous falsehood like that?

  LUCY—I believe what I've seen, what I've suspected, what I now know to be the truth. Do you think I'm blind, that everyone else is blind? Where did they go on all their motor trips? Do you think I can put any trust in the foolish tales they told us?

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(severely) Stop, Lucy! I refuse to listen to you when you accuse Tom of deliberately lying to you, of deceiving you in the basest manner.

  LUCY—(wildly) Of course he's a liar! They're all liars. Everyone lies! What about their teas together all alone in the studio? And the times they were supposed to be at exhibitions of paintings, which I know he hates? And the night he said he had to stay in town? Do you—does he think I'm a fool?

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—Are you out of your mind? Do you realize what you're saying?

  LUCY—(frantically) Her Great Blond Beast! Well, she can have him! (She shudders.) You must give him a message from me. I loathe him too much to speak to him.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—Lucy!

  LUCY—Tell him I'll leave this house tomorrow—and I never want to see him again.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(resolving to be diplomatic—suppressing her grief and anxiety) I will if you'll stop talking wildly and listen to me for a moment. (LUCY looks at her mother with stubborn defiance.) Come, Lucy, please sit down. You're trembling all over. I'm afraid you'll be ill. Sit down and rest for a while and try to calm yourself (LUCY reluctantly sits down on the lounge beside her mother.) What a state you've worked yourself into! And all for nothing. There. Sit still and listen to me.

  LUCY—(stubbornly) I warn you in advance, Mother, that nothing you can say will make me change the resolve I've taken.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(gently) You may do whatever you think is best, dear. You can come home tomorrow and stay with your father and me for a while if you like. The change may do you good.

  LUCY—(harshly) Come home? And be driven insane by father's eternal nagging and questioning? And even you—(she chokes back her tears) are against me.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(tenderly) You know that isn't so, dear.

  LUCY—I won't go home. I don't need any help or sympathy. I'll go out alone and live my own life as I choose.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—As you like, dear. No one is objecting to that. And now listen and I'll explain all this misunderstanding away. (coaxingly) Will you believe your mother when she swears to you that this apparent affair between Leo and Tom was all a secret plot of ours—Tom's and mine—to make you jealous, to rid you of the nasty influence of that detestable Gabriel person? (But LUCY has gone too far to believe anything but her own suspicions. She stares at her mother with wild-eyed scorn.)

  LUCY—Stop, Mother! I can't bear it! Do you expect me to believe that silly cock-and-bull story—that you and Tom suspected me of something terrible and deliberately planned to do your best to make me unhappy and miserable? Do you think I'm a child to be put off with a silly tale like that?

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—But, my dear, you haven't heard—

  LUCY—(weeping hysterically and clapping her hands over her ears) I don't want to hear any more! Let me alone!

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(seeing the futility of argument) All right, dear. I won't mention the matter again. (LUCY gradually grows calmer.) And now don't you think you'd better go upstairs and go to bed? You'll be sick tomorrow if you don't.

  LUCY—(hoarsely) Upstairs? With her? I'd die first!

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(indicating the room on right) Then go in there and lie down on the couch. The darkness will rest your eyes. (TOM enters from the hallway. He is in evening clothes but his tie has not yet been tied. LUCY gets up abruptly and, without looking at him, walks into the next room pulling the portieres shut behind her. TOM looks after her gloomily.)

  TOM—(savagely) Did you see that? She never even looked at me.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—You mustn't mind her tonight, Tom. She's dreadfully upset.

  TOM—It isn't only tonight. It's every night. (throwing himself into a chair) And I'm sick of it.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—SSShh! She might hear you.

  TOM—(grumpily) I don't care if she does. It's about time she knew the way I feel about some things.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—Why, Tom!

  TOM—(morosely) I'm tired of being treated like a dog. And that fine plan of yours seems to be messing things up worse than ever. This Leo is getting on my nerves. She's too—too exuberant. I'm not in love with the idea of this theatre party. I've a good notion to chuck it.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(thoughtfully) Perhaps you'd better.

  TOM—(defiantly) No, I'll be darned if I will. Lucy'd only think I wanted to spy on her and that little doggie of hers.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(with a sigh of comic despair) I see I've two big children who need spanking instead of one.

  TOM—It's nothing to laugh at. (getting up from his chair) I've half a mind to go in and have it out with her right now.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(grasping his arm) No, Tom. Please don't—now.

  TOM—(stubbornly) Why not?

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—Because she's in a dreadful state of nerves. She'd only become hysterical if you started to quarrel with her. Wait until you come back. I'll see to it she gets rested up before then, and willing to listen to reason.

  TOM—(with real anxiety) She isn't really ill, is she?

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—No—(in almost a whisper) Someone's been telling her some nasty tales and—

  TOM—About me? (MRS. ASHLEIGH nods and puts her finger to her lips. TOM clenches his fists.) I'll bet it was that—

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(hurriedly interrupting him) No, no. I'll explain it all to you later. Not here. I can't now. She might hear me. (aloud) Do you want me to tie that tie for you, you big baby, you?

  TOM—(ruefully) I can tie it all right but I left it for Lucy—she usually—I thought I'd have an excuse—

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—(with a smile) Poor boy. (LEONORA comes tripping in from the hallway. She is dressed in a white evening gown of LUCY's which shows every evidence of having been shortened, tightened, and otherwise made over with the aid of pins and basting thread. However LEONORA has an air which carries it off. She is bubbling over with delight at the strangeness of her make-up.)

  LEONORA—Now I ask you, amn't I the ultimate gasp! My dear, if I dare to heave a sigh I'll be in the nude. That will give the audience a moment. (to TOM) You don't mind, do you?

  TOM—(sullenly) You can go the limit as far as I'm concerned.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—You look quite bewitching in that dress, doesn't she, Tom? (The portieres on the right are parted a trifle and LUCY's pale face is seen for a moment and hurriedly withdrawn.) White is your color.

  LEONORA—(making a mocking grimace) Blessed are the pure—whatever it is they inherit. (seeing TOM's tie) I thought you were all ready. I say, look at your tie. You can't go with me like that. Here. Let me fix it. Bend down, my Beast—or page me a stepladder. (She ties the tie for him and slaps his face roguishly.) There. Now aren't we beautiful?

  TOM—(looking at his watch—sulkily), You've got three minutes to put on the rest of your armor if there's anything missing.

  LEONORA—I'm all ready, I think, excepting my coat. (suddenly feeling her face with her hands) Oh, I've forgotten my beauty spots. I must have beauty spots! They'll help cover my nakedness. (She lifts up her skirts and skips out of the room, shouting back over her shoulder) I'll be right down.

  TOM—(suddenly beginning to feel in his pockets) Dammit, here I am starting out without a cent in my pockets—a nice pickle we'd have been in. (He starts for the doorway, left.)

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—Just a minute. I'm going up to phone to Mr. Ashleigh. (in a low voice) And I've a few words to say to you before you go.

  TOM—All right, Mother.

  MRS. ASHLEIGH—Not here. (She casts a significant glance at the room on the right.) We'll turn these lights out so they won't disturb her. I hope she's asleep, poor dear. (She switches off the lights. The room is in darkness except for the light from the hallway. She and TOM go out, left, and can be heard conversing as they go up the stairs. The portieres on the right are carefully parted and LUCY enters. She stops and stands motionless for a moment or so in an attitude of strained attention, listening for some sound from the hallway. Hearing nothing, she goes to the table and throws herself into a chair beside it. She rests her head on her outstretched arms and sobs softly. Making an effort to control herself, she drys her eyes hastily with her handkerchief, gets up, and walks nervously from the table to the windows in rear and back again.

  (She stands by the table for a minute staring straight before her, her expression betraying the somber thoughts which are passing through her brain. Then, with a quick movement of decision, she pulls out a drawer in the table and slowly takes a revolver from it. She looks at it with frightened eyes and puts it down on the table with a convulsive shudder.

  (There is the sound of a motor from the roadway outside. LUCY gives a nervous start and looks quickly around the room as if searching for a hiding place. She finally hurries back into the room on the right, pulling the portieres together behind her. The noise of the motor grows steadily louder. At last the machine stops in front of the main entrance to the house, and only the soft purr of the engine is heard. The glare from the headlamps pierces the darkness beyond the french windows.

  (Someone is heard walking along the hallway to the front door. The outer door is heard opening. There is the brief murmur of the voices of the chauffer and the maid. Then the door is dosed again. TOM's voice is heard calling from the top of the stairs: "Is that the car?" The maid's voice answers: "Yes, sir", and she is heard returning to the back of the house.

  (TOM and LEONORA are heard conversing as they come down the stairs in the hall. LEONORA's infectious laughter rings out. TOM appears in evening dress in the doorway left, and looks toward the door on the right. He calls softly: "Lucy"; then takes a step forward into the room. LEONORA calls to him from the hall: "We'll be late." TOM makes a movement of impatience and raises his voice: "Lucy!")

  LEONORA—(from the hallway) She's probably out in the garden mooning with Gab. Come on.

  (TOM allows a muttered "damn" to escape him, and walks back into the hall.

  (The outer door is again opened and shut. LUCY comes out from behind the portieres and goes quickly to the table. The sound of the limousine door being slammed is heard. A wild look of determination comes into LUCY's face and she snatches the revolver from the table. The noise of the motor increases in volume. The curtain starts to fall. The car outside starts. Closing her eyes tightly, LUCY lifts the revolver to her temple. The curtain hides her from view. As it touches the stage there is the sound of a shot.)


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