The Mousetrap and Other Plays

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The Mousetrap and Other Plays

Table of contents :
Introduction vii
Ten Little Indians 1
Appointment With Death 73
The Hollow 159
The Mousetrap 261
Witness for the Prosecution 337
Towards Zero 423
Verdict 497
Go Back for Murder 573

Citation preview

^^^^««M#M^ and^Oih€f^4lh4UfA

INTRODUCTION BY

IRA LEVIN



3w

in its

26th year—

e longest-running play ever... jring her lifetime, Agatha Christie stead-

refused to publish her plays. Now much arduous negotiating readers

stly



ter

volume of eight brilDame int stage thrillers from the Grande suspense. Here, making their initial ap?arance, are some of the most ingenious n delight in this

id

first

whodunits ever

chilling

to

grace the

And heading the list is the recordreaking, phenomenally successful The age.

(ousetrap, us

now

performance

26th year of continu-

in its in

London.

HE MOUSETRAP. A superbly constructed suspenseful from the legendary drama about ight people snowbound with an avenging lurderer has been wearing out actors, jrniture and theatrical records ever since it lystery, rst

rst

irresistibly

moment,

opened

in

this

London

in

1952. The longest-

unning play in the history of the Englishpeaking stage, it appears here in print for he

first

time.

VITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION. Classic, double-twist" stunner about a sensational nurder trial. International stage success, view York Drama Critics Award-winner and lit

motion picture.

[EN LITTLE INDIANS. ;tage in

A

great success

London and New York,

on

this farrious

locked-room" puzzler has also been seen n three film versions.

(continued on back

flap)

Book Club Edition

Digitized by the Internet Archive in

2010

http://www.archive.org/details/mousetrapotherplOOchri

THE MOUSETRAP & OTHER PLAYS

THE MOUSETRAP & OTHER PLAYS BY AGATHA CHRISTIE INTRODUCTION BY IRA LEVIN

Dodd, Mead

& Company New York *

Copyright

© 1978 by Dodd, Mead & Company, Inc. © 1978 by Ira Levin

Introduction copyright All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America

TEN LITTLE INDIANS. Copyright

1944, 1946 by Agatha Christie.

Copyright renewed 1971, i974 by Agatha Christie. APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH. Copyright 1945 by Agatha Christie Mallowan. Copyright renewed 1972 by Agatha Christie Mallowan.

Copyright

© 1956 by Agatha Christie.

THE HOLLOW. Copyright 1952 by Samuel French Ltd. THE MOUSETRAP. Copyright 1954 by Agatha Christie. WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION. Copyright © 1954 ^y Agatha Christie.

TOWARDS ZERO.

Copyright 1944 by Agatha Christie.

Copyright renewed 1971 by Agatha Christie. Copyright

© 1956,

\TZRDICT. Copyright

1957 by Agatha Christie and Gerald Verner. 1958 by Agatha Christie.

©

GO BACK FOR MURDER.

Copyright

© i960 by Agatha Christie Ltd,

caution: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that the above-mentioned plays, being fully protected under the Copyright Law of the United States of America, the British Commonwealth, including the Dominion of Canada, and all other countries of the Copyright Union, the Berne Convention, the Pan-American Copyright Convention and the Universal Copyright Convention, are subject to license and royalty. All rights including, but not limited to, reproduction in whole or in part by any process or method, professional use, amateur use, film, recitation, lecturing, public reading, recording, taping, radio and television broadcasting, and the rights of translation into foreign languages, are stricdy reserved. Particular emphasis is laid on the matter of readings, permission for which must be obtained in writing from the aumors agent. Inquiries concerning permission to reprint from the text of the plays should be addressed to the pubhsher: Dodd, Mead & Company, Inc., 79 Madison Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10016. Inquiries concerning stock and amateur acting rights should be addressed to: Samuel French, Inc., 25 West 45th Street, New York, N.Y. 10036. All other inquiries should be addressed to: Harold Ober Associates, Inc., 40 East 49th Street, New York, N.Y. 100 17.

CONTENTS Introduction

Ten

vii

Little Indians

i

Appointment With Death

The Hollow

1

59

The Mousetrap

261

Witness for the Prosecution

Towards Zero Verdict

497

Go Back

for

73

423

Murder

573

337

Introduction to

AGATHA

CHRISTIE'S PLAYS Ira

An Agatha

Christie

is,

Levin

of course, a mystery novel, cleanly written,

and usually featuring Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple. One begins it, if one is sensible, around nine p.m., and some time after midnight one smites one's brow and says, "Of course! Why didn't I see it? It was staring me in the face!" One marvels awhile and falls into peaceful slimiber. As the New York Times understated in a

masterfully surprising,

funeral piece on

people

who have

There

Dame

Agatha, "She gave more pleasure than most other

written books."

are about sixty

Agatha

Christies,

which

in a

way

is

a pity, be-

cause their continuing popularity has overshadowed a second definition of the generic noun; for an Agatha Christie

is

also a mystery flay, cleanly

and not featuring Poirot or Miss Marple. It unfolds in two hours instead of four or five, and being both alive and more concentrated, produces a more intense pleasure. It runs for years, or in one instance forever. There are about a dozen of these other Agatha Christies, and in them, if one knows the turf, is an accomplishment even more awe-inspiring than those sixty-odd novels. Other novelists, after all, have given us large nimibers of first-rate mysteries; John Dickson Carr and George Simenon

written, masterfully surprising,

spring to mind.

more than one

No

playwright except Christie, however, has given us

great stage mystery.

Check any

critic's list

of the ten or

twelve masterworks in that trickiest and most demanding of genres and you'll find that

each play— Nigfet

Must

Fall,

Angel

Dial

"M"

for

One

real

stunner per playwright seems to be

for

want of

Street,

The Bad

Seed,

Murder, Sleuth, and so on— is the work of a different hand.

trying.

The

sole exception

is

all that's possible,

Dame

Agatha,

and not

who managed

to

INTRODUCTION

Viii

write not one, not two, but three of the great stage mysteries: Indians, Witness for the Prosecution,

and The Mousetrap.

Ten

Little

When

you

have read them— all three are in this volume, along uath five other Christie plays— perhaps you too will wonder that the second definition of an Agatha Christie isn't as widely known as the first. Agatha Christie turned to playwriting in the midst of her novel-writing career for a reason that was, like the lady herself, both modest and astute.

Other playwrights had adapted some of her novels to the stage; they had erred, she felt, in following the hooks too closely. A rare complaint for a believe me.

novelist,

play

.

."

.

But "a dectective story

is

particularly

unlike a

she explains in her autobiography. "It has such an intricate

and usually so many characters and false clues, that the thing is bound to be confusing and overladen. What was wanted was sim^lificaplot,

tion."

And

so,

with

Ten

Little Indians, she

decided to try the job herself.

She proved to be instinctively theatrical, and ruthless as no other playwright would have dared be with her work. Three of the plays in this vo\\im&—A^f ointment with Death, The Hollow, and Go Back for Murder —are adapted from Poirot novels, but you won't find Poirot listed in the dramatis personae; Dame Agatha deemed him unnecessary. In Appointment with Death she found a new murderer among the principal characters; the novel's murderer becomes the play's comic relief. Two of the dead bodies of Ten Little Indians survive and find love in the stage version, and somehow do so without disturbing the pattern of that most dazzling of all Christie plots. (The novel, in its American editions, is called And Then There Were None, if you care to compare, and I hope you do.)

Nowhere

Agatha Christie's remarkable ingenuity more evident than Witness for the Prosecution. The short story of the

is

in her adaptation of

same

title is

tion that

seemingly perfect and complete, with a stunning

final revela-

the reader in his chair. Yet for the stage version

lifts

Agatha devised

still

another revelation beyond that one,

plausible surprise that not only

makes

for

Dame

an entirely

an electrifying curtain but

at

the same time legitimitizes what would otherwise have been a necessary deception in the

list

of characters. Again

pare, especially if you're

Verdict

is

am

will read

and com-

an aspiring playwTright.

Dame Agatha

Witfiess for the Prosecution; I

hope you

the only play in this volume not adapted from another

Christie work.

but

I

I

considered

would put

here to introduce, not argue.

it

it

her best play except for

somewhat lower on the

scale,

INTRODUCTION The

Mousetra'p, based on a radio sketch written to

eightieth birthday of forever. It

furniture,

opened in and theatrical records ever

since.

Cynics attribute

to the smallness of the theater in which it was there long before 1952; why did none of

a tourist attraction as popular as

London? The Mousetrap suspenseful from

its

commemorate the

Queen Mary, is the Christie play that is nmning London in 1952 and has been wearing out actors,

run

its

IX

very

is

first

Madame

its

perpetual

plays, but that small theater its

previous tenants become

Tussaud's and the

Tower

of

a superbly constructed mystery, irresistibly

moment, and therein

lies

the real reason for

enduring success.

Playwriting was, for Agatha Christie, a holiday from the book-a-year routine of her professional life. Reading her plays— more concise than the novels, richer than the short stories— can

be the same

sort of holiday for

One word of advice to those not accustomed to reading plays: worry too much about the chairs and tables. It rarely matters

her readers.

Don't whether they're at stage right or stage left, or whether the doors are upstage or down. What does matter is the dialogue. Try to hear it, and try to hear the pauses too, that's where the shivers are. I was fifteen when my parents took me to see the New York production of Ten Little Indians. As those figurines vanished one by one from the mantlepiece and the actors vanished one by one from the stage, I fell in love—udth theater that grips and dazzles and surprises. I was already a

would-be novelist, thanks in part

to the other

That

15-year-old

a

would-be playwright

too.

Agatha Christies; now boy and I are pleased

I

was be

to

introducing these plays to you. Ira

New York June, 1978

City

Levin

TEN LITTLE INDIANS

Program of the produced

at the

first

'TEN LITTLE INDIANS" New York, June 27, 1944.

performance of

Broadhurst Theatre,

as

Messrs. Shubert and Albert deCourville

present

TEN LITTLE INDIANS by

AGATHA CHRISTIE Directed by Mr. deCourville

Scenery by

Howard Bay

CAST (In order of their appearance)

Rogers Mrs. Rogers Fred Narracott

Neil Fitzgerald Georgia Harvey Patrick

Vera Claythorne Philip Lombard Anthony Marston William Blore General Mackenzie Emily Brent Sir Lawrence Wargravb Dr. Armstrong

O'Connor

Claudia Morgan

Michael Whalen

Anthony Kemhle Cooper /.

Pat O'Malley

Nicholas Joy Estelle

Winwood

Halliwell

Hohhes

Harry Worth

SCENE The

scene of the flay off the coast of

Act Act

I.

A

in the living

summer evening

room

in August.

II.

Scene Scene

Act

is

Devon, England.

I.

II.

The following morning. The same day—afternoon.

III.

Scene Scene

I.

II.

The same day— evening. The following afternoon.

of a house

on Indian

Island,

Act

SCENE:

The

scene

is

One

room

the living

of the house

on Indian

Island. It

a very modern room, and luxuriously furnished. It is a hright sunlight evening. Nearly the whole of the hack of the stage is a window is

looking directly out to sea. French doors are ofen in Center to bal-

cony. It should give the impression of heing like the deck of a liner almost overhanging the sea. There is a chair out Ri^t on the balcony

and the main approach

to the

house

is

presumed

he up steps on the

to

Left side of the balcony. There is also presumed to be steps on the Right of the balcony, but these are not the direct way up from the

landing stage, but are supposed to lead around the house and

up

be built against the side of a steep hill. The French doors are wide so that a good area of the balcony is shown. In the Left, near windows, is a door to dining room. Doivn stage Left is a door communicating with hall. Pull cord below this door. behind

it,

since the house

Up Ri^t is a

door

is

supposed

to study.

to

Middle stage Right

is fireplace.

Over

it

hangs the reproduction of the "Ten Little Indians" nursery rhyme. On the mantelpiece are a group of ten china Indian figures. They are not

number is not easily seen. modern furniture. Center are two sofas with space between. Chair and small table up Left. Club chair with tabouret Right and above it, down Left, where there is also a bookcase. There is a window seat up Right and cocktail cabinet below mantelpiece. Tabouret down Ri^t. Before fireplace is a big white bearskin rug with a bear's head. There is an armchair and tabouret Right Center. A square ottoman at lower end of fireplace. A spaced out, but clustered so that the exact

The

settee

When

room,

is

barely furnished with

with table Left of

Curtain

rises,

Rogers

setting out bottles

Not a

Just a

specious

in front of

is

down

man-servant. tj'ifle

it

busy putting

Right. Rogers

butler,

and

window Right final is

at bofik.

touches to room.

He

but a house-parlourman. Quick and shifty.

There

is

is

a competent middle-aged

a noise of

deft.

SEAGULLS.

TEN LITTLE INDIANS

4

Motor boat HORN heard off. mrs. Rogers enters front dining room up Left. She is a thin, worrried, frightened-looking woman. Enter NARRACOTT at Center from Left. He carries a market basket piled vnth packages.

NARRACOTT.

be arriving in Jim's boat. Another

First lot to

behind. ^Crosses Left to

lot

not far

her.')

MRS. ROGERS. Good evening, Fred.

NARRACOTT. Good evening, Mrs. Rogers. MRS. ROGERS.

the boat?

Is that

NARRACOTT. YeS. MRS. ROGERS. Oh, dear, already? Have you remembered everything?

NARRACOTT. QGiving her basket)

I

think

Eggs, tomatoes and butter. That's

MRS. ROGERS. That's

maids

till

right.

So much

the morning, and

to

it,

do

so.

Lemons. Slip

wasn't I

soles.

Cream.

it?

don't

know where

to start.

No

these guests arriving today.

Calm down,

ROGERS. (At mantel)

Looks nice, don't

all

all,

Ethel, everything's shipshape

now.

Fred?

NARRACOTT. Looks neat enough for me. Kind of bare, but rich folks like places bare,

it

seems.

MRS. ROGERS. Rich folks

NARRACOTT.

is

And he was

Spent a wicked

lot of

puts the whole thing

MRS. ROGERS. Beats

queer.

a queer sort of gentleman as built this place.

money on it he up for sale.

me why

the

did,

and then

Owens wanted

to

buy

gets tired of

it,

living

it

and

on an

is-

land.

ROGERS. Oh, come off

it,

Ethel,

and take

all

that stuff out into the kitchen.

They'll be here any minute now.

MRS. ROGERS. Making that steep Like some others

I

dimb an

excuse for a drink, I suppose.

know.

CMotor boat

HORN heard off.)

NARRACOT. That be young Jim. I'll be getting along. There's two gentlemen arriving by car, I understand. QGoes up to balcony.) MRS. ROGERS. ^Calling to him) I shall want at least five loaves in the

morning and eight pints of milk, remember. NARRACOTT. Right. (mrs. ROGERS puts bosket on ROGERS. (Breaks

to

floor

up

Left; exits to hall Left i,)

Right of window) Don't forget the

oil for

the engine,

ACT ONE Fred. I ought to charge

down. NARRAcoTT. CGotfig tion

ROGERS.

now.

And

I'll

off at

bring

it

up tomorrow,

Left) 'Twas held

have the

I'll

up on

lights

railway.

running

It's

at the sta-

list

of guests,

across the first thing tomorrow.

hand with the luggage,

give a

5 or

will

you?

NARRACOTT. Right. MRS. ROGERS. Centers with

you the

I forgot to give

list')

Tom. ROGERS. Thanks, old

girl.

Crooks

be the

H'mm,

reflectively at list)

very classy lot to me. QRefers to

list)

Miss Claythome.

doesn't look a

She'll probably

secretary.

MRS. ROGERS.

I

don't hold

much with

nurses,

and diem giving themselves

on the

servants.

Worse than hospital and looking down

secretaries. airs

and

graces

ROGERS. Oh, stop grousing, Ethel, and cut along to that lovely up-to-date expensive kitchen of yours.

MRS. ROGERS. (Picfes wp hasket; going out Left 2) gadgets for

(VOICES

my

of VERA

Too many

ne^v-fangled

fancy!

and Lombard heard

doors ready to receive them.

manservant, vera and

He

Lombard

is

outside.

now

Rogers stands

at

Center

the well-trained, deferential

enter from Left

on halcony. She

is

a

good-looking girl of twenty-five. He is an attractive, lean man of thirty-four, well-tanned, with a touch of the adventurer about him. He is

already a good deal taken with vera.)

LOMBARD. (Gazing round room, very interested) So VERA.

this is

it!

How perfectly lovely!

ROGERS. Miss Claythome! VERA. You're— Rogers?

Good

ROGERS. Yes.

evening, Miss.

up my luggage and Captain Lombards? ROGERS. Very good, Miss. (He exits through Center windows to Left.) VERA. (To LOMBARD, coming Right Center into room) You've been here VERA.

Good

evening, Rogers. Will you bring

before?

LOMBARD.

No—but I've heard a lot

about the place.

From Mr. and Mrs. Owen? LOMBARD. (Crossing down Left) No, VERA.

built this

VERA.

old Johnny Brewer, house—it's a sad and poignant story.

A love story?

a pal of mine,

TEN LITTLE INDIANS ma'am-thc saddest of all. He was

6 LOMBARD. Yes,

love with the famous Lily

fell in

land and built

a wealthy old boy and

Logan—married her-bought

the

is-

this place for her.

VERA. Sounds most romantic

LOMBARD. Poor Johnny! He thought by cutting her off from the rest of the world—without even a telephone as means of communication—he could hold her. VERA. But of course the fair Lily tired of her ivory tower—and escaped? LOMBARD. U'huh. Johnny went back to Wall Street, made a few more millions,

and the place was

sold.

Cloving as if to go out of door Left i) Well, I VERA. And ought to find Mrs. Owen. The others wiU be up in a minute. LOMBARD. C^tappng her) It would be very rude to leave me here all by here

we

are.

myself.

Would it? Oh, well, I wonder where she is? LOMBARD. She'll come along when she's ready. While we're waiting. (Nodding towards cabinet down Ri^t) Do you think I could have a drink? I'm very dry. (Goes helow sofa to down Right and starts fte-

VERA.

faring drinks.)

Of course you could. LOMBARD. It's Certainly warm after that steep climb. What's yours? VERA. No, thanks, not for me— Not on duty. (To behind chair, Right VERA.

Center.)

LOMBARD.

A good Secretary is never off duty.

VERA. Really. (Looking round room) This

is

exciting!

(Goes helow sofa

to

up Center.) LOMBARD. What? VERA. All house.

The smell of the sea— the am going to enjoy myself.

this. I

gulls—the beach and this lovely

LOMBARD. (Smiling. Coming to her) I think you are. I think we both (Holding up drink) Here's to you—you're very lovely. Crogers enters Center from Left with two suitcases and comes

down

are.

Left

Center.) VERA.

(To Rogers) Where

ROGERS. Mr. and Mrs.

is

Owen

Mrs.

Owen? down from London

won't be

imtil tomorrow.

Miss. I thought you knew.

VERA.

Tomorrow—but—

ROGERS. I've got a to

have

it.

list

if you would (Holds out list.)

here of the guests expected. Miss,

The second boat load's just arriving.

like

ACT ONE VERA.

Thank

VERA.

Thank

7

Rogers goes into hall Left i) I say you will be sweet and help me, won't you? LOMBARD. I won't move from your side. silly to

you. (Takes

list.

How

awful—

you. (She reads list. They both move down Right") It seems have brought only us in the first boat and all the rest in the

second.

LOMBARD. That, I'm VERA. Design?

afraid,

was design, not accident

What do you mean?

LOMBARD. I suggested to the boatman that there was no need to wait for any more passengers. That and five shillings soon started up the engine.

VERA. CLaughing") Oh, you shouldn't have done that!

LOMBARD. Well, VERA.

I

they're not a very exciting

thought the young

man was

lot,

are they?

rather nice-looking.

LOMBARD. Callow, Definitely callow. And very, very young. I suppose you think a man in his thirties is more attractive. LOMBARD. I don't think, my darling—I know. VERA.

(marston

enters Center

three or

so.

from

Left. Good-looking

MARSTON. (Coming down Right (Pre-pares to greet

vera

young man of twenty-

Rich, sfoiled—not very intelligent.) to

them) Wizard place you've got

as his hostess.

Lombard

here.

stands heside her like a

host.)

VERA. (Shakes hands) I'm Mrs. Owen's secretary. Mrs. detained in London, I'm afraid, and won't be

down

Owens has been

until tomorrow.

MARSTON. (Vaguely) Oh, too bad. May I introduce Captain Lombard, Mr.— er— MARSTON. Marston, Anthony Marston. LOMBARD. Have a drink? MARSTON. Oh, thank you. VERA.

Cblore comes wp on halcony from Left, Middle-aged, thickset man. Is wearing rather loud clothes and is giving his impression of a South American gold magnate. His eyes dart about, making notes of everything.)

LOMBARD. What will you have? Gin, whiskey, sherry—? MARSTON. Whiskey, I think.

(They go down Right

to cabinet.)

TEN LITTLE INDIANS

8 BLORE. CComes

wringing

it

down

to

heartily')

vera at Right Center. Seizing vera's hand and Wonderful place you have here.

VERA. I'm Mrs. Owen's secretary. Mrs.

don, I'm afraid,

Owens

has been detained in Lxm-

and won't be down until tomorrow.

LOMBARD. Say when! MARSTON. Oh, wizard! BLORE.

How are you?

LOMBARD.

Crakes

Lombard. Have a drink, Mr.—

My name's

BLORE. Davis. Davis

for cocktail cabinet.')

is

the name.

LOMBARD. Mr. Davis—Mr. Marston! (vera BLORE.

How

Lombard.

on Ri^t

sofa.)

Mr. Marston? Pleased

are you, I

sits

to

meet you. Thanks, Mr.

up here. (He goes balcony) But whew! What a view and what a height!

don't

mind

if I

do. Bit of a stiff climb

uf Center to Reminds me of South Africa, this place. QCovies down Center.) LOMBARD. (^Staring at him) Does it? What part? BLORE. Oh— er— Natal, Durban, you know. LOMBARD. (Crosses Center) Really? Qrlands him drink) BLORE. Well, here's to temperance. Do you— er— know South Africa?

LOMBARD. Me? No. BLORE. (With renewed confidence) That's where

I

come from. That's my

Natal state— ha ha.

LOMBARD. Interesting country,

I

should think,

BLORE. Finest country in the world,

sir.

Gold,

silver,

diamonds, oranges,

everything a man could want. Talk about a land flowing with beer and skitdes. (Goes to cocktail cabinet down Right.)

(general MACKENZIE

arrives on balcony from man, with a gentle, tired

MACKENZIE. (Hesitating courteovsly)

(vera

rises;

VERA. General MacKenzie,

Left. U'pright soldierly old

face.)

Er— How do you

do?

meets him above sofa seat.)

isn't it?

I'm Mrs. Owen's secretary. Mrs.

Owen

has been detained in London, I'm afraid, and won't be dov^Ti until

morrow. Can

I

introduce Captain

(MACKENZIE

to-

Lombard— Mr. Marston and Mr.—

cTosscs

toward them.)

BLORE. (Approaching him) Davis, Davis

is

the name. (Shakes hands.)

ACT ONE

9

LOMBARD. Whiskey and soda, sir? MACKENZIE. Er-thanks. QGoes down Right;

stiuiies

lombabd) You

in the

service?

LOMBARD. Formerly in the King's African time. I chucked it. JVLACKENZIE. Pity. C-As

LOMBARD

Rifles.

Too tame

to

VERA. Miss Brent,

vera) Where

Mrs.

is

Owen?

tail,

peace

thin spinster,

(Vuts case on Left

I'm Mrs. Owen's secretary. Mrs.

isn't it?

me in

When.

'pouTs out sodo)

(miss EMILY BRENT onives Center from Left. She is a with a disagreeable, suspicious face.')

EMILY. (Sharply

for

Owen

sofa.')

has been

detained in London, I'm afraid.

(LOMBARD

Right of EMILY.)

to

LOMBARD and VERA. And won't be down (They

tail off,

imtil tomorrow.

rather emharrassed.')

EMILY. Indeed. Extraordinary. Did she miss the train? I expect so. Won't you have something? May I introduce Captain Lombard—General MacKenzie—Mr. Marston. I think you aU met on the boat. And Mr.—

VERA.

BLORE. Davis, Davis

is

LOMBARD.

Do

let

me

May

the name.

then goes hehind her give

I

take your case?

(Up

to

emily,

to Right.)

you a drink?

A

dry Martini?

A glass

of sherry?

Whiskey and soda? EMILY. (Coldly)

I

never touch alcohol,

LOMBARD. You never touched alcohol! EMILY. (She picks up case; goes below sofa to Left) I suppose you know, young man, that you left us standing there on the wharf? VERA. I'm afraid, Miss Brent, I was to blame for that I wanted to— EMILY. It seems to me most extraordinary that Mrs. Owen should not be here to receive her guests. VERA. (Smiling) Perhaps she's the kind of person

ing

who

just can't help miss-

trains.

BLORE. (Laughs) That's what

EMILY. Not at

all.

Mrs.

Owen

I

reckon she

isn't

is.

the least like that

LOMBARD. (Lightly) Perhaps it was her husband's fault EMILY. (Sharply) She hasn't got a husband, (vera stares. Enter Rogers Left 2.)

VERA.

Of

I

should like to go to

course.

I'll

my room.

take you there.

TEN LITTLE INDIANS

lO RCX^ERs.

CTo vera)

You'll find Mrs. Rogers upstairs, Miss.

She

will

show

you the room. CExit VERA and

i. Rogers exits Left r. wargrave enters Cenfrom Left; comes Center.')

emily Left ter

LOMBARD. (^Comes forward') I'm afraid our host and hostess haven't arrived, sir. My name's Lombard. WARGRAVE. Mine's Wargrave. How do you do? LOMBARD. How do you do? Have a drink, sir? WARGRAVE. Yes, please. A whiskey. BLORE. ^Crosses to wargrave) How are you? Da\^s, Davis is the name. (LOMBARD gets his drink. Affably to wargrave) I say, wonderful place you've got here. Quite unique.

wargrave. As you say— Quite unique. BLORE. Your drink, sir.

(wargrave ^ts

on sofa Left, takes his drink and Watches 'proceedings from there.)

coat

sits

Uf

Left.

MARSTON. (To Lombard) Old Badger Berkely rolled up yet? LOMBARD. Who did you say? MARSTON. Badger Berkely. He roped me in for this show. When's he coming?

LOMBARD. I don't think he is coming. Nobody of the name of Berkely. MARSTON. (Jaw drops) The dirty old double-crosser! He's let me down. Well,

a pretty wizard island. Rather a wizard

it's

She ought

to liven things

up a

bit. I say,

old man,

girl,

that seaetary.

what about dressing

for dinner if tliere's time?

LOMBARD.

Let's go and explore. MARSTON. Oh, wizard! LOMBARD. Things are a bit at sixes and sevens with the Owens not turning

up.

MARSTON. Tricky, what?

I say,

wizard place for a holiday, what?

Lombard

(Exit js/iARsroN and

Left i. blore wanders out on halcony, room and presently exits Right on halcony as general ivL^CKBNziE and wargrave talk, wargrave continues to sit like a looks sharply into

Buddha.

He

ing rather is

observes Mackenzie,

lost,

carrying a shooting-stick.

closes it.)

who

is

Right Center, standing look-

absent-mindedly pulling his moustache. Mackenzie

He

looks at

it

wistfully, half

opens and

ACT ONE

II

WARGRAVE. Aren't you going to sit down? MACKENZIE. Well, to tell you the truth, you seem to be in my chair. WARGRAVE. I am sorry. I didn't realize you were one of the family. MACKENZIE. Well, it's not that exactly. To tell you the truth, I've never been here before. But you see I live at the Benton Club—have for the last ten years. And my seat is just about there. Can't get used to sitting anywhere else. WARGRAVE. It becomes a bit of a habit. (He rises; hreaks to Right^ MACKENZIE. Ycs, it Certainly does. Thank you— (Sits wp Left) Well,

not quite as good as the Club's but

To

tell

you the

truth, I

was a

it's

it's

a nice chair. CConfidentially)

bit surprised

when

I

got this invitation.

Haven't had anything of the kind for well over four

years.

Very nice

of them, I thought.

ROGERS. Centers Left

your keys,

i.

Picks

wp wargrave's

coat from sofa)

Can

I

have

sir?

WARGRAVE.

Is Lady Constance Culmington expected here, can you tell me? CGives him keys.) ROGERS. QSurprised) Lady Constance Culmington? I don't think so, sir. Unless she's coming down with Mr. and Mrs. Owen. WARGRAVE. Oh. ROGERS. Allow me, sir. (JTakes general Mackenzie's coat) Can I have

your keys, sir? MACKENZIE. CRistfig. Crossing down Left) No, thanks.

I'll

unpack

for

myself.

ROGERS. Dinner is at eight MACKENZIE. Please.

o'clock,

sir.

Shall I

show you

to

your room?

(MACKENZIE goes to door Left i, which Rogers holds open for him. wargrave follows more deliberately, looking around room in an unsatisfied fashion. Rogers follows them out. Sound of SEAGULLS, then DR. ARMSTRONG arrives upon halcony from Left, followed hy narraCOTT carrying his suitcase. Armstrong is a fussy, good-looking man of forty-four.

He

looks rather tired.)

NARRACOTT. Here you

are, sir.

I'll

call

Rogers. (Exits Left i.)

(ARMSTRONG looks round; nods approval; looks out at sea. Then NARRACOTT rctums. ARMSTRONG tips him. NARRACOTT cxits to Center Left. ARMSTRONG sits scttce up Right, blore comes along halcony from Right; pauses at sight of Armstrong.) BLORE.

(To above

settee)

How are you? Davis.

Davis

is

the name.

TEN LITTLE INDIANS

12

ARMSTRONG. Mine's Armstrong. CRises.^ BLORE. Doctor Armstrong,

I believe.

ARMSTRONG. YcS. BLORE. Thought so. Never forget a face. ARMSTRONG. Don't tell me I've forgotten one of my patients! BLORE. No, no, nothing like that, but I once savi^ you in Court giving

ex-

pert evidence.

ARMSTRONG. Oh, really? Are you interested in the Lawr BLORE. Well, you see, I'm from South Africa. Naturally, this country are

bound

to interest

ARMSTRONG. Oh,

yes, of course.

BLORE. CCrossing

down Right) Have

legal processes in

a Colonial. a drink?

ARMSTRONG. No, thanks. I never touch it. BLORE. Do you mind if I do? Mine's empty. ARMSTRONG. Not a bit, BLORE. (Pours himself a drink) I've been having a look round the It's

a wonderful place, isn't

island.

it?

ARMSTRONG. (Crossing to Center) Wonderful. across the mainland what a haven of peace

I

thought as

I

was coming

this was.

BLORE. (L/j? to him, -putting his face close to his)

Too

peaceful for some,

I

daresay.

ARMSTRONG. C^ovcs

to

Left) Wonderfully restful. Wonderful for the

you know. Did you come down by train? (Goes to him.) ARMSTRONG. (17^ Left to vptndow) No, I motored down. Dropped in on a patient on the way. Great improvement,—wonderful response. BLORE. (L/p to him) Best part of two hundred miles, isn't it? How long nerves. I'm a nerve specialist,

BLORE. Yes,

I

know

that.

did it take you? ARMSTRONG. (To up Right Center) the nerves.

I

didn't hurry.

Some mannerless young

ditch near Amesbury. Shot past

me

I

never hurry. Bad for

fellow nearly drove

at

me

into the

about eighty miles an hour. Dis-

had his number. him) Yes, and if only more people would take the numbers of these young road hogs. ARMSTRONG. Ycs. You must cxcusc me. I must have a word vidth Mr. Owen. (He hustles out Left i.) BLORE. CFollowing down Left) Oh, but—Mr. Owen isn't coming down— graceful bit of driving. I'd like to have

BLORE. (Comes

(blore rings

to

hell heloxv Left

sofa.

i

door, finishes drink; puts glass

ROGERS enters almost immediately Left

i.)

on Left

ACT ONE You

ROGERS.

13

rang, sir?

my hat,

BLORE. Yes, take

you? (,Hands him his

will

cap")

What

time's sup-

per?

ROGERS. Dinner

is

at eight o'clock, sir.

(Pauses) In a quarter of an hour.

I

think tonight dressing will be optional.

BLORE. ^Familiarly') Got a good place, here. ROGERS. CJ^raxvs himself uf rather BLORE. Been here long? ROGERS. Just under a week,

BLORE.

Is that all? (P'^'^^e)

crowd

that's

ROGERS. No,

Yes, thank you,

stiffly)

sir.

sir.

So

I don't

suppose you

know much about

this

here?

sir.

BLORE. All old friends of the family? ROGERS.

I

really couldn't say,

sir.

BLORE. Oh, well— Oh, Rogers— ROGERS. Yes,

sir?

BLORE. Rogers, do you think you could put some sandwiches and a botde of beer in

my room

at night? I get

an

'el

of an appetite with this sea

air.

ROGERS.

I'll

see

what

I

can do,

sir.

BLORE. Rogers—I'll see you won't lose by ROGERS.

I'll

show you,

it.

Where's

my room?

sir.

BLORE. (As they go out) Good. straightaway. (Exits Left

i

I

can do with a wash and brush up

with rogers.)

2. She ficks wp ^ass from sofa and from them down Ri^t. Enter Rogers with tray of

(Enter mrs. Rogers Left

Uf

Left and takes

table

eight

glasses.)

MRS. ROGERS. (She takes glasses

Oh,

there you are, Rogers.

off tray

mtd Rogers futs on

You ought

to clear these dirty glasses.

You're always leaving the dirty work to me. Here course dinner on

my

hands and no one

dirty ones)

to

I

help me.

am

with a four-

You might come

and give me a hand vidth the dishing up. (To above Left sofa) Who was it that you were talking to, by the way? ROGERS. Davis, South African gendeman. No class if you ask me—and no

money

either.

MRS. ROGERS. (Comes

down Right

Don't like any of 'em much. boarding house,

I'd say.

of sofa to Center) I don't like

More

like that

him—

bunch we had in the

TEN LITTLE INDIANS

14

RCX3ERS. Davis gives out he's a millionaire or something.

underwear! Cheap

MRS. RCXJERS. Well, riving today

they

as

as I said,

make

see his

not treating us right. All these \asitors

it's

and the maids not coming

we are? Now, then— Anyway,

You should

'em.

What do

tomorrow.

till

ar-

they

think

ROGERS.

MRS. ROGERS. So

ought

it

the money's good.

Catch

to be!

money was good. ROGERS. CTo Center^ Well,

me

going into service again unless

the

MRS. ROGERS. Well,

Can

I

it is

good, so what are you going on about?

you

tell

this,

where I'm put upon. Cooking's ROGERS. CPkicatmg

Rogers. I'm not staying any place

my business!

MRS. ROGERS. But the kitchen's

my

place and housework's none of

business. All these guests! I've a good

and walk out now and go ROGERS.

I'm a good cook—

her') First rate, old girl.

(Gnwwmg) You

straight

can't

MRS. ROGERS. CBelUgerently)

do

mind

back

to

to

put

my

my

hat and coat on

Plymouth.

that, old girl.

Who says

I can't?

Why not,

I

should like to

know? ROGERS. Because you're on an island, old

MRS. ROGERS. Ycs, and ROGERS. Don't

know

pub, or going

Now, now,

And

be

girl.

Had you

as I fancy being

forgotten that?

on an

island.

come to that. No slipping down to a Oh, well, it's double wages on account

there's plenty of beer in the house.

all )'ou

ever think about—beer.

stop your nagging.

your dinner will be It'll

know

to the pictures.

MRS. ROGERS. That's

MRS. ROGERS.

don't

that I do, either,

of the difficulties.

ROGERS.

I

You

get back to the kitchen or

spoilt.

spoilt

anyway,

I

expect. Everybody's going to be late.

Wasted on them, anyway. Thank goodness, I didn't make a souffle. (Jbnter vera Left i. mrs. Rogers goes to Left 2 do(jr) Oh, dinner won't be a minute, Miss. Just a question of dishing up. (^Exits Left 2.) VERA.

(To above Left

sofa) Is everything all right, Rogers?

Can you man-

age between the two of you? ROGERS. CCrossing up Left) Yes, thank you, Miss.

but she gets

(vera goes VERA.

to

What

it

Right window, emily enters Left

talks a lot,

i,

having changed.)

a lovely evening!

EMILY. Yes, indeed.

dow.)

The Missus

done. (Exits Left 2.)

The

weatlier seems very settled.

(To Center

vn-nr

ACT ONE VERA.

CComes down

EMILY.

A

Right')

pleasant sound.

VERA. Hardly a breath o£ at

15

How plainly one can hear the sea.

CComes down Center.') wind—and deliciously warm. Not

like

England

all.

EivuLY. I should have thought

you might

feel a litde

uncomfortable in that

dress.

VERA. (_Not taking the foint) Oh, no.

BMDLY. (Nastily)

It's

rather tight, isn't

VERA. (Good-humored) Oh,

I

it?

don't think so.

EMILY. (Sits Left sofa; takes out gray knitting) You'll excuse me, but you're a young girl and you've got your living to earn— VERA. Yes? EMILY. A well-bred looks,

woman

you know,

as

my dear,

doesn't like her secretary to appear flashy. It

though you were trying

to attract the attention of

the opposite sex.

VERA.

(Coming

to

Right Center)

EMILY. That's beside the point. attention of

men

A

And would you say I do attract them? girl who deliberately sets out to get the

won't be likely to keep her job long.

VERA. (Laughing at her) Ah! Surely that depends on

who

she's

working

for?

EMILY. Really, Miss Claythorne! VERA. Aren't you being a

little unkind? EMILY. (Spitefully) Young people nowadays behave in the most disgust-

ing fashion. VERA. Disgusting?

(Carried away) Yes. Low-backed evening dresses. Lying half naked on beaches. All this so-called sun-bathing. An excuse for immodest conduct, nothing more. Familiarity! Christian names—drink-

E]vnLY.

And look at the young men nowadays. Decadent! Look young Marston. What good is he? And that Captain Lombard! VERA. What do you object to in Captain Lombard? I should say he was a man who'd led a very varied and interesting life. EMILY. The man's an adventurer. All this younger generation is no goodno good at all. VERA. (Brea'ks to Right) You don't like youth—I see. EMILY. (Sharply) What do you mean? VERA. I was just remarking that you don't like young people. EMILY. (Rises; moves up Left) And is there any reason why I should, ing cocktails! at that

pray?

6

TEN LITTLE INDIANS

1

VERA. Oh,

no—

CPaiises^ but

it

seems to

me

that

you must miss an awful

lot.

EMILY. You're very impertinent. VERA. (Qwietl)/) I'm sorry, but that's just what

EMILY. VERA.

The

(To

I

herself} Quite pathological.

EMILY. (Sharfly')

What

think.

we stamp (Goes dovm

world will never improve until

out immodesty. Right.')

did you say?

VERA. Nothing.

(emily

sits u-p Left.

Enter Armstrong and Lombard Left

They

cross

i,

talking.

Uf Right.)

LOMBARD. What about the old boy— ARMSTRONG. He looks rather like a tortoise, don't you think so? LOMBARD. All judges look like tortoises. They have that venomous way of darting their heads in and out. Mr. Justice Wargrave is no exception. ARMSTRONG. I hadn't realized he was a judge. LOMBARD. Oh, yes. (Cheerfully') He's probably been responsible for sending more innocent people to their death than anyone in England. (wargrave enters and looks at him) Hello, you. (To vera) Do you two know each other? Mr. Armstrong— Miss Claythome. Armstrong and I have just decided that the old boy— VERA. Yes,

I

heard you and so did he,

(wargrave moves over

to

I think.

emily. emily

rises

as she sees

wargrave

approaching.)

EMILY. Oh, Sir Lawrence.

WARGRAVE. Miss Brent,

isn't it?

EMILY. There's something

I want to ask you. (emily indicating she wants him on the balcony) Will you come out here? WARGRAVE. (As they go) A remarkably fine night! (They go out Center.)

to talk to

(LOMBARD up Center, marston

enters Left

i

with blore. They are in

conversation.)

MARSTON. Absolutely wizard car— a super-charged Sports Mulatti Carlotta. You don't see many of them on the road. I can get over a hundred out of her.

(vera

sits

on Right

BLORE. Did you come from London?

sofa.)

ACT ONE

17

MARSTON. Yes, two hundred and eight miles and I did it in a bit over four hours. (ARMSTRONG tums and looks at him) Too many cars on the road, though, to keep it up. Touched ninety going over Salisbury Plain.

Not

too bad, eh?

ARMSTRONG. I think you passed me on the road. MARSTON. Oh, yes? ARMSTRONG. You nearly drove me into the ditch. MARSTON. (Unmoved') Did I? Sorry. C^o above Left sofa.) ARMSTRONG. If I'd scen your number, I'd have reported you. MARSTON. But you Were fooding along in the middle of the road. ARMSTRONG. Fooding? Me footling? BLORB. OTo relieve atmosphere) Oh, well, what about a drink?

MARSTON. Good idea. O-hey move toward the drinks down Right) Will you have one, Miss Claythome?

Clombard drops down toward vera.) VERA. No, thank you.

LOMBARD. (Sitting beside vera on sofa) Good evening, Mrs. Owen. VERA.

Why

Mrs.

Owen?

LOMBARD. You'd make the most attractive wife for any wealthy business man. VERA. Do you always flirt so outrageously? LOMBARD. Always. VERA. Oh! Well, now we know. (She turns half away, smiling.) LOMBARD. Tell me, what's old Miss Brent talking to the Judge about? She tried to buttonhole

VERA.

I

him

upstairs.

Funny—she seemed

don't know.

Mr. Owen. LOMBARD. You don't think that Mrs.

so definite that there wasn't a

Owen—

I

mean

that there isn't—

that they aren't—

VERA.

What, married you mean?

(ROGERS enters Left study

up

rises to

MARSTON. you a

Right,

2,

switches on

LIGHTS,

marston comes

to

draws curtains and

Right end of Left

sofa.

eocits

to

Lombard

Left end sofa.)

Damn shame we

didn't

know each

other. I could

down. VERA. Yes, that would have been grand. MARSTON. Like to show you what I can do across Salisbury what— maybe we can drive back together?

have given

lift

Plain. Tell

you

8

TEN LITTLE INDL^^S

1

(Enter wargrave and emily Center. Mackenzie enters;

sits

down

chair

Left.')

VERA. (SuTfrised') But I— (Rising.') MARSTON. But it seems damn silly. I've got an empty car. LOMBARD. Yes, but she likes the way she's going back and— VERA. (Crosses to fireplace') Look! Aren't they sweet? Those ten

china Indians,

(marston and Lombard scowl

there's the old nursery

What

LOMBARD.

are

at each other)

little

Oh, and

rhyme.

you talking about?

What

figures?

What

nursery

rhyme?

and rhyme—reading) 'Ten

VERA. (She points at the figures

little

Indian

boys going out to dine

One choked

crosses Left,

rhyme, blorb crosses up

"Nine

One

and then there were nine—" (rogers vera continues reading nursery helow her; emily to above her)

his litde self

wp Right and

enters

to

litde Indian boys sat

overslept himself

up very

late.

and then there were

eight."

(Crosses Left.)

BLOKE. "Eight

One

little

Indian boys traveling in Devon.

and then there were seven—" from off up Right) Ladies and gendemen, silence, please! (all rise, everybody stops talking and stares round at each other, at the walls. As each name is mentioned that person reacts got left behind

VOICE. (Very slowly

and

clearly

hy a sudden movement or gesture) You are charged with these indictments: that you did respectively and at divers times commit the following:

Mary

Edward Armstrong, William Henry

Glees.

of James Stephen Lendor.

that

you did cause the death of Louisa

you brought about the death Emily Caroline Brent, that you were reBlore, that

sponsible for the death of Beatrice Taylor. Vera Elizabeth Claythome, that

you

killed Peter Ogilvie

Hamilton, (vera

sits

Left sofa) Philip

Lombard, that you were guilty of the deaths of twenty-one men,

members

of

John Gordon MacKenzie, that you Arthur Richmond, to his death. (Mackenzie

an East African

sent your wife's lover,

tribe.

down Left) Anthony James Marston, that you were guilty of the murder of John and Lucy Gombes. Thomas Rogers and Ethel Rogers, that you brought about the death of Jennifer Brady. Lawrence John sits

^

ACT ONE

19

Wargrave, that you were guilty o£ the murder of Edward Seton. oners at the bar, have you anything to say in your defense?

(There

is

a momentary 'paralyzed

Then

silence.

there

is

Pris-

a scream, outside

door Left 2. Lombard springs across the room to it. Indignant murmur hreaks out as feofle recover from, prst shock. Door Left 2 ofiens to

show MRS. ROGERS in a fallen heap, marston springs across to LOMBARD. They fick wp MRS. ROGERS and carry her in to Right sofa. ARMSTRONG comcs to her.") ARMSTRONG.

It's

nothing much. She's fainted,

that's all. She'll

be round in

a minute. Get some brandy—

BLORE. Rogers, get some brandy. (ROGERS, shaking

all over,

goes out Left 2.)

Who was that speaking? It sounded— MACKENZIE. (Ahove Left sofa. His hands shaking, 'pulling at his moustache^ What's going on here? What kind of practical joke was that?

VERA.

(blore wipes face with handkerchief, wargrave stands in the middle of room near sofas, thoughtfully stroking chin, his eyes peering suspiciously from one to the other.

LOMBARD. Where the round. VOICE.

vera.

Lombard

devil did that voice

goes into study

up

come from? (They Here we are.

stare all

Right')

You are charged with these indictments— Turn it oflF! Turn it off! It's horrible! (LOMBARD switches

it off.

MRS. ROGERS

grOflWS.)

ARMSTRONG. A disgraceful and heartless practical joke. WARGRAVE. (With significance) So you think it's a joke, do you? ARMSTRONG. What clsc could it be?

(emily

sits

down

Right.)

WARGRAVE. (With significance) At the moment I'm not prepared an opinion.

to give

table

up

MARSTON. Who the devil turned it on, though? And set it going? WARGRAVE. We must enquire into that. (He looks significantly

at

(ROGERS enters Left 2 with hrandy and

glass

on

tray.

Puts

it

on

Left.)

ROGERS.)

TEN LITTLE INDIANS

20 (LOMBARD

up Right with

enters

record; •puts

MRS. ROGERS hcgins

to

it

move and

on chair Right Center. twist.')

MRS. ROGERS. Oh, dear mel Oh, dear me!

(The OTHERS move

nearer, obscuring tahle tion

ROGERS. CAbove sir.

If I

ous)

is

where the brandy

Atten-

is.

focused on mrs. rogers.)

Allow me. Madam. CTo Armstrong) Allow me, is urgent and nerv-

sofa')

speak to her— Ethel— Ethel— CHis tone

It's all

right All right, do you hear? Pull yourself together.

(mrs. ROGERS begins

to

gasp and moan. She

tries to

pull herself up.

Her

frightened eyes stare round the room.)

ARMSTRONG. (Taking wrist) You'll be aU

right

now, Mrs. Rogers. Just a

nasty turn.

(blore pours out brandy up Left.) MRS. ROGERS. Did

I faint, sir?

ARMSTRONG. YeS. MRS. ROGERS. It was the voice— the awful voice—like a judgment— (ROGERS makes anxious movement, mrs. Roger's eyelids about

flutter.

She seems

to collapse again.)

ARMSTRONG. Where's the brandy? (They draxu back a little, disclosing it. BLORE gives glass to vera, who gives it to Armstrong, vera sits Left edge of sofa, holding cushion under mrs. Rogers head) Drink Mrs. Rogers. MRS. ROGERS. (She gidps a

now.

I

just— gave

ROGERS. (Quickly) was! I'd like to

(wargrave

at

stares at

me

Of

little.

Revives.

She

up again) I'm

right

all

a turn.

course

it

did.

Gave me

a turn too.

Wicked

lies it

know—

Center deliberately clears his

him

sits

this,

nervously,

wargrave

throat. It stops

Rogers,

clears his throat again,

who

looking

hard at Rogers.)

wargrave.

Who

was

it

put that record on the gramophone?

Rogers? I was just obeying WARGRAVE. Whose ordcrs?

ROGERS.

ROGERS. Mr. Owen's.

orders,

sir,

that's all.

Was

it

you,

ACT ONE WARGRAVE. Let

me

get this quite clear.

21

Mr. Owen's orders were—what

ex-

actly?

ROGERS.

I

was

to

put OH

SL

recoid on the gramaphone in the study. I'd find I was to start with some music.

the records in the drawer in there.

thought

WARGRAVE.

was

it

just to give

CSke'ptically')

ROGERS. ^Hysterically') didn't

know what

thought

it

was

A

was—not

looks towurd

MACKENZIE.

sir.

for a

Before Heaven,

moment.

sir. It's

thing

is

it.

must be done about

Then come back ARMSTRONG.

I'll

give

Left.)

is

exactly what we must go into very you get your wife to bed, Rogers.

you a hand.

ARMSTRONG. Ycs, quite OYid

This

here.

VERA. QRising) Will she be

(ARMSTRONG

it.

Who is he?

carefully. I should suggest that

sir.

record.')

preposterous— preposterous! Slinging ac-

WARGRAVE. (yjith authority) That

ROGERS. Yes,

it I

entided "Swan Song."

Owen, whoever he is— QAoves uf just

the truth. I

him, hut some of the others react nervously.)

The wholc

EMILY. That's

it's

had a name on

It

LOMBARD, wJto examines

cusations about like this. Something

fellow

sir. I

music

WARGRAVE. Is there a tide? LOMBARD. (jGrinning) A tide? Yes,

Qt amuses

that one,

very remarkable story.

just a piece of

CwARGRAVE

all

the truth,

It's it

you

all

ROGERS

all right.

Doctor?

right hel'p

MRS. ROGERS

Mj?

and tokc her out Left

MARSTON. (To wargrave) Dou't loiow about you,

sir,

but

I feel I

I.)

need

another drink.

WARGRAVE. I agree. MARSTON. I'll get them. (Goes dovm Right.) MACKENZIE. Cluttering angrily) Preposterous— that's what

wp MARSTON. Whiskey terous. CSits

for you, Sir

EMILY. (Sits Right sofa) VERA. Yes,

I'll

(vera takes

get

it. I'll

I

is—prepos-

Lawrence?

should like a glass of water, please.

have a

glass of water to

litde

whiskey

emily, then

They sip drinks without ARMSTRONG entcTS Left I.) drink.

it

Left.)

too.

sits

CCrosses

down

Right.)

Right Center with her

own

speaking, hut they eye each other.

TEN LITTLB INDIANS

22 ARMSTRONG.

She'll

BLORB. ^Crosses

be

all

down

right I've given her a sedative.

Now,

Left}

then, Doctor, you'll

want

a drink after

all this.

ARMSTRONG. No, thank you. I ne\'er touch it. CSits dovm Left.} BLORE. Oh, so you said. You have this one. General? QU'p Left MACKENZIE.)

to

Cmarston and Lombard refill their ghsses. Rogers enters Left i. WARGRAVE takes charge. Rogers stands near door Left i. He is nervous, everyone focuses attention on him.} WARGRAVE. (^Center above sofas') Now, then, Rogers, we must get bottom of this. Tell us what you know about Mr. Owen. ROGERS.

He owns

WARGRAVE.

am

I

to

the

this place, sir.

aware of that

fact.

What

I

want you

to tell

me

what

is

you yourself know about the man. ROGERS.

I can't say, sir.

You

see, I've

never seen him.

(JPaint stir of interest.}

What

MACKENZIE.

d'you mean, you've never seen him?

ROGERS. We've only been here just under a week,

were engaged by

letter

through a registry

my

sir,

office.

The

wife and

I.

We

Regina, in Ply-

mouth. BLORE. That's a high-class firm.

WARGRAVE. Have you got the ROGERS.

The

(Hunts WARGRAVE. ROGERS.

We can check on that.

letter?

letter

engaging us? Yes,

for

and hands

it

Go on

vdth your

to

it

sir.

WARcmAVE, who runs through

it.}

story.

We arrived here like the letter said, on the 4th. Everything was in

order, plenty of food in stock

and everything very

nice. Just

needed

dusting and that

WARGRAVE.

What

ROGERS. Nothing,

ncxt? sir.

That

house party—eight.

is,

Then

we

got orders to prepare the

yesterday,

by the morning

post,

room I

for a

recei^'ed

saying Mr. and Mrs. Owen might be detained and, if do the best we could, and it gave the instructions about dinner and putting on the gramophone record. Here it is, sir. (Crosses

another so,

letter

we was

to Cefiter.

to

Hands

over

letter.

Retires

uf Center.}

WARGRAVE. H'mm, Headed Ritz Hotel and typewritten.

ACT ONE (blore steps up to him and. of BLORE. MACKENZIE

23

takes letter out of his hands,

marston

to Left

looks oveT wargrave's shouldeT.')

Tises;

Number 5. Quiet now. No defects. Ensign paper—most common make. We shan't get much out of this. We might try it for fingerprints, but it's been handled too much. LOAiBARD. Quite the htde detective.

BLORE. Coronation machine

(wARGRAVB tiims and

looks at

him

pletely changed, so has his voice.

bard

sits

Left

manner has comup Left again. Lom-

sharply, blore's

Mackenzie

sits

sofa.")

marston. CTaking

letter,

moving down

names, hasn't he? Ulick

WARGRAVB. (Takes

letter

Rig^it)

Got some fancy Christian

Norman Owen. Quite

from marston;

obliged to you, Mr. Marston.

think the time has come

You have drawn my

Qie

ous and suggestive point.

a mouthful.

helow sofa)

crosses Left

looks around in his court

for all of us to pool

I

am

attention to a curi-

manner^ I It would

our information.

be well for everybody to come forward v\dth all the information they have regarding our unknown host. We are all his guests. I think it would be profitable if each one of us were to explain exacdy how that came about (There

is

a pause.')

EMILY. (^Rising) There's something very peculiar about

all this. I

a letter vwth a signature that was not very easy to read.

be from a

woman whom

three years ago.

I

I

took the

had met

name

to

at a certain

be Ogden.

I

It

summer

am

received

purported to resort

two or

quite certain that I

have never met or become friendly wdth anyone of the name of Owen. WARGRAVB. Have you got that letter, Miss Brent?

(Goes out Left i.) WARGRAVE. (JCo Left of vera) Miss Claythome? VERA. (Rises) I never actually met Mrs. Owen. I wanted a holiday post and I applied to a Secretarial Agency, Miss Grenfell's in London. I EMILY. Yes.

I vdll

fetch

it

for you.

was offered this post and accepted. WARGRAVE. And you were never interviewed by your prospective employer?

VERA. No. This

is

the

letter.

(Hands

it

to him. Sits again chair

Right Cen-

ter.)

WARGRAVE. (Reading) "Indian Island, Sticklehaven, Devon. I have received your name from Miss Grenfell's Agency. I understand she

TEN LITTLE INDIANS

24

knows you personally. I shall be glad to pay you the salary you ask, and shall expect you to take up your duties on August 8th. The train is the 12:10 from Paddington and you will be met at Oakbridge Station. I enclose five pounds for expenses. Yours

truly,

Una Nancy Owen." (marston

starts to

go wp Right^ Mr. Marston?

MARSTON. Don't actually know the Owens. Got a wire from a pal of mine, Badger Berkeley. Told me to roll up here. Surprised me a bit because I had an idea the old horse had gone to Norway. I haven't got the v\are. CTo Right window.^ WARGRAVE. Thank you. Doctor Armstrongf> ARMSTRONG. CAftcT a pause, rising and coming Left Center") In the circumstances, I think I may admit that my visit here was professional. Mr. Owen wrrote me that he was worried about his wife's health— her nerves, to be precise. He wanted a report without her being alarmed.

He

therefore suggested that

my

visit

should be regarded as that of an

ordinary guest.

WARGRAVE. You had no previous acquaintance with the family? ARMSTRONG. No. WARGRAVE. But you had no hesitation in obeying the summons? ARMSTRONG. A Colleague of mine was mentioned and a very handsome fee suggested. I was due for a hoUday, anyway. CRises; crosses to Right to mantelpiece for cigarette.)

WARGRAVE. (emily re-entcTs and hands letter to wargravb, who unfolds it and reads, emily sits down Left) "Dear Miss Brent: I do hope you remember me. We were together at Bell Haven guest-house in August some years ago and we seemed to have so much in common. I am

my ovm on an island ofiF the coast of Devon. an opening for a place where there is good plain

starting a guest-house of I

think there

is

really

English cooking, and a nice old-fashioned type of person. None of this nudity and gramophones half the night I shall be very glad if you could see your way to spending your summer holiday on Indian Island

—as

my

guest, of course. I suggest

August

8th, 12:40

from Padding-

ton to Oakbridge.

Yours sincerely,

U.N." H'm, yes, the signature is slightly ambiguous. LOMBARD. CRises; crosses to vera. Aside to her) I like the nudity touch!

ACT ONE WARGRAVE. (To obovc decoy

letter.

25 from pocket) Here

sofcis. ToJzes letter

From an

old friend of mine,

my own

is

Lady Constance Culming-

ton. She writes in her usual vague, incoherent way, urges me to join her here and refers to her host and hostess in the vaguest of terms.

(arjmstrong Right of wargrave, marston look at

letter.

Mackenzie

to

LOMBARD. (With sudden excitement, staring just thought of something— WARGRAVE. In a minute. LOMBARD. But I— WARGRAVE. We will take one thing at a time, Lombard. General MacKenzie? Cblore

sits

to

Right of Armstrong

to

Left of wargrave.) at

if

Right end of Left

blorb) Look here,

I've

you don't mind, Captain

sofa.")

MACKENZIE, (father incoherently, fulling at moustache^ Got a letter— from this fellow Owen— thought I must have met sometime at the Club—mentioned some old cronies of mine who were to be here-

hoped

I'd

excuse informal invitation. Haven't kept the

afraid. CSits

uf

letter,

I'm

Left.')

WARGRAVE. And you. Captain Lombard? LOMBARD. Same sort of thing. Invitation mentioning mutual

friends.

I

haven't kept the letter either. (JPause.

WARGRAVE

minutes.

turns his attention to blore.

When

he speaks,

his voice

is

He

silky

looks at hint for

some

and dangerous.)

WARGRAVE. Just now we had a somewhat disturbing experience. An apparendy disembodied voice spoke to us all by name, uttering certain definite accusations against us.

presendy. At the

moment

I

am

We

will deal with those accusations

interested in a

the names received was that of William

we know,

there

is

minor

Henry

point.

Amongst

But

as far as

Blore.

The name

of Davis no one named Blore amongst us. What have you to say about that, Mr. Davis?

was not mentioned.

blore. (Rises) Cat's out of the bag,

it

seems. I suppose I'd better admit

my name isn't Davis. WARGRAVE. You are William Henry Blore? blore. That's right.

LOMBARD. (To Right of blore) I will add something to that. Not only are you here under a false name, Mr. Blore, but in addition I've noticed this evening that you're a first-class liar. You claim to have come from

TEN LITTLE INDIANS

26

Natal, South Africa. I

know South

swear that youVe never

prepared to

Africa and Natal well, and I'm

set foot there in

(all turn toward blorb. Armstrong goes wp BLORE.

You gendemen have

me wrong.

got

to

your

life.

Ri^t window.')

I'm an ex-C.

I.

D. man.

LOMBARD. Oh, a copper!

my

BLORE. I've got

in Plymouth.

I

and

credentials

was put onto

can prove

I

it.

I

run a detective agency

this job.

WARGRAVE. By whomi" BLORE.

Why, Mr. Owen. Sent was

said I

of all your

to join the

names and

Any

WARGRAVE.

Right

that

order for expenses, and

said I

was

to

He

keep an eye on you

also sent a list

all.

Owen had

got

some valuable

foot! I don't believe there's

jewels.

QPause) Mrs.

any such person. QGoes down

to cabinet.)

WARGRAVE.

down

money

reason given?

BLORE. Said Mrs.

Owen, my

a very nice

house party, posing as a guest.

QSits Left sofa)

at letters) Ulick

is to

Your conclusions

U. N. Owen. Or, by a

say,

are, I think, justified. Cl-ooks

Norman Owen. Una Nancy Owen. Each

time,

slight stretch of fancy,

Un-

known. VERA. But it's fantastic! Mad! WARGRAVE. CRises. Quietly) Oh, yes, I've no doubt in my own mind that we have been invited here by a madman—probably a dangerous homicidal lunatic.

(There

is

an affailed

silence.)

ROGERS. Oh, my gawd! WARGRAVE. QTo hock of Left sofa) Whoever

it

is

who

has enticed us

here, that person has taken the trouble to find out a great deal about

A

us.

CPause)

us,

he has made

BLORE.

It's all

MACKENZIE. VERA.

It's

ROGERS,

very great deal.

out of his knowledge concerning

certain definite accusations.

make accusations. damn lies! Slander!

very well to

A

pack of

iniquitous!

A

And

Wicked!

lie— a wicked lie—we never did, neither of

us— ivLUisTON.

getting

(everybody more or less s-peaks

Don't

know what

the

damned

fool

at

once)

was

at—

WARGRAVE. (Raiscs a hand

for silence. Sits Left sofa) I vidsh to say this.

ACT ONE

me

27

murder of one Edward Seton. Our unknown perfectly well. He came Seton up before me for trial in I remember charged with the murder was of an elderly woman. He Jime, 1930. good and made a defended impression very ably on the jury in He was the witness box. Nevertheless, on the evidence he was certainly guilty. I summed up accordingly and the jury brought in a verdict of Guilty. friend accuses

In passing sentence of death,

of the

I fully

concurred with this verdict.

appeal was lodged on the grounds of misdirection.

The

The

appeal was

man was duly executed. QPause) I wish to say beyou all that my conscience is perfectly clear on the matter. I did duty and nothing more. I passed sentence on a rightly convicted

dismissed and the fore

my

murderer.

CThere

is

a pause.')

ARMSTRONG. (To obove wargrave) Did you know Seton

at all? I

mean,

personally.

wargrave. QLooks

at him.

Seton previous to the

LOMBARD. QLow

to

He

hesitates a

vera) The old boy's

(ARMSTRONG MACKENZIE.

moment)

I

knew nothing

of

trial.

tO

lying.

I'll

swear he's lying.

doWfl Right.)

madman. Absolute madman. Got a bee in Got hold of the wrong end of the stick all round. (To

C^^ises) Fcllow's a

his bonnet.

wargrave) Best

really to leave this sort of thing

unanswered.

How-

say—no truth—no truth whatever in what he said about— er— young Arthur Richmond. Richmond was one of my officers. I sent him on reconnaisance in 1917. He was killed. Also like to say—resent very much—slur on my vdfe. Been dead a long time. ever, feel I

Best

woman

ought

to

in the world. Absolutely—Caesar's wife.

(He

sits

down

again.)

MARSTON. C^ight Center) I've just been thinking—John and Lucy Combes. Must have been a couple of kids I ran over near Cambridge. Beastly bad luck. wargrave. CAcidly) For them or for you? MARSTON. Well, I was thinking— for me—but, of course, you're right, sir. It was damned bad luck for them too. Of course, it was pure accident. They rushed out of some cottage or other. I had my license suspended for a year. Beastly nuisanca ARMSTRONG. This spccdings all wrong— all wrong. Young men are a danger to the community.

like

you

TEN LITTLE INDIANS

28 MARSTON. (Wanders Well,

full')

ROGERS. Might

Go

LOxMBARD.

I I

to

Right window; picks up his

couldn't help

it.

Just

glass,

half-

say a word, sir?

Jennifer Brady. There

isn't

sir,

of

me and

Mrs. Rogers, and of Miss

a word of truth in

it.

We

Brady when she died. She was always in poor health,

The

is

ahead, Rogers.

ROGERS. There was a mention,

we came

the time

which

an accident.

to her.

There was a storm,

telephone was out of order.

We

sir,

were with Miss always from

sir,

the night she died.

couldn't get the doctor to her.

I

But he got there too late. We'd done everythina possible for her, sir. Devoted to her, we were. Anyone will tell you the same. There was never a word said against us. Never a word. BLORE. (Iw a hidlying manner') Came into a nice litde something at her

went

for him,

death,

I

sir,

on

foot.

suppose. Didn't you?

down Right

ROGERS. (.Crosses

to

blore.

Stiffly)

acy in recognition of our faithful service.

Miss Brady

And why

left

us a leg-

not, I'd like to

know? LOMBARD. (Right Center. With meaning)

What

about yourself, Mr.

Blore?

BLORE.

What

about me?

LOMBARD. Your name was on the list BLORE. I know, I know, Landor, you mean? That was the London mercial

Bank

& Com-

robbery.

WARGRAVE. (Ctossbs Right hclow sofa to mantelpiece. Lights pipe) I remember the name, though it didn't come before me. Lander was convicted on your evidence. You were the police officer in charge of the case.

(Up to him) I was, my Lud. WARGRAVE. Landor got penal servitude for life and died in Dartmoor a year later. He was a delicate man. BLORE. He was a crook. It was him put the nightwatchman out The case BLORE.

was clear from the start. WARGRAVE. (Slowly) You werc complimented,

I think,

on your able han-

dling of the case. I was only doing my duty. Convenient word—duty. (There is a general suspicious movement, vera rises, moves as if to cross Left, sees emily, turns. She sits again chair Right Center, wargrave moves up to windowseat. Armstrong to Center window) What about you, Doc-

BLORE.

I

got

LOMBARD.

tor?

my

promotion. (Pause)

(Sits Right SO fa)

ACT ONE

29

Ms head good-humoredly) I'm at a loss to understand the matter. The name meant nothing to me—what was it"? Close? Close? I really don't remember having a patient of that name— or its being connected with a death in any way. The thing's a complete mystery to me. Of course, it's a long time ago. (Pause) It might possibly be one of my operation cases in hospital. They come too late, so many of these people. Then, when the patient dies, it's always the

ARMSTRONG.

(S^flfees

surgeon's fault.

LOMBARD. And then it's better to take up nerve cases and give up surgery. Some, of course, give up drink. AEiMSTRONG. I protest You've no right to insinuate such things. I never touch alcohol.

LOMBARD.

My

known

is

dear fellow,

the only one

(wARGRAVE

I

never suggested you did. Anyway, Mr. Un-

who knows

all

to Left of VERA.

the facts.

BLORE

to

Right of her.)

WARGRAVE. Miss Claythome? VERA. (Starts. She has been sitting, staring in front of her. She speaks unemotionally and without feeling of any kind) I was nursery governess to Peter Hamilton. We were in Cornwall for the summer. He was forbidden to swim out far. One day, when my attention was distracted,

him.

I

WARGRAVE.

he

started off—as soon as I

couldn't get there in

Was

saw what happened

I

swam

after

time—

there an inquest?

VERA. (In the same dull voice) Yes,

I

was exonerated by the Coroner. His

mother didn't blame me, either. WARGRAVE. Thank you. (Crosses Left) Miss Brent? EMILY. I have nothing to say.

WARGRAVE. Nothing? EMILY. Nothing.

WARGRAVE. You reserve your defense? EMILY. (Sharply) There is no question of defense. cording to the dictates of

my conscience.

(blore

(Rises;

have always acted moves up Left.)

I

ac-

to fireplace.)

LOMBARD. What a law-abiding lot we seem to be! Myself excepted— WARGRAVE. We are waiting for your story. Captain Lombard. LOMBARD. I haven't got a story. WARGRAVE. (Sharply) What do you mean? LOMBARD, (Grinning and apparently enjoying himself) I'm sorry to

disap-

TEN LITTLE INDIANS

30 point

all

of you.

It's

just that I plead guilty. It's perfectly true. I left

those natives alone in the bush. Matter of self-preservation.

(His words cause a sensation, vera looks (Rtses. Sternly)

MACKENZIE.

to

all,

Ri^t; (There

is

act of a

self-preservation's a man's

sits

They

unbelievingly.')

window-seat uf lii^t.)

LOMBARD. (Coolly) Not quite the after

him

You abandoned your men?

(emily moves

dying, you know.

at

first

pukka mahib, I'm duty.

don't feel about

it

And

afraid.

But

mind Europeans do— (^o

as

natives don't

fire-place fender.)

a pause. Lombard looks around at everyone with amusement.

WARGRAVE WARGRAVE. Our inquiry

who

Rogers,

else

is

cleats throat disapprovingly.)

(rogers crossed

rests there,

to Left 1

there on this island besides ourselves

door)

Now,

and you and

your wife? ROGERS. Nobody,

sir.

Nobody

at all.

WARGRAVE. You'rc sure of that? ROGERS. Quite sure, sir. WARGRAVE. Thank you. (rogers moves as if to go) Don't go, Rogers. (To everybody) I am not yet clear as to the purpose of our unknown host in getting us to assemble here. But in my opinion he's not sane in the accepted sense of the word. He may be dangerous. In my opinion, it

would be well

that

we

for us to leave this place as

(General agreement. Mackenzie I beg your pardon, WARGRAVE. No boat at all?

ROGERS.

ROGERS. No,

WARGRAVE.

soon as possible.

I

suggest

leave tonight

sir,

but

there's

sits

up

Left.)

no boat on the

island.

sir.

Why don't you telephone to

the mainland?

ROGERS. There's no telephone. Fred Narracott, he comes over every morning,

sir.

papers,

(A

He

brings the milk

and takes the

chorus of "1 agree," "Quite so," "Only thing to he done.")

MARSTON. (Picks up drink from of

and the bread and the post and the

orders.

Ri^t

sofa.

windoT.v-seat; crosses

Raising his voice)

A

down

bit unsporting,

RigJit to front

what? Ought

to

ACT ONE ferret out the

we

mystery before

go.

31

Whole

thing's like a detective

story. Positively thrilling.

WARGRAVE. QAcidly') At

down

my

time of

life, I

have no desire for

thrills.

CSits

Left.^

(blore

to Left

end

sofa,

marston

grins; stretches out his legs.')

CWARJSI MARSTON. The Here's to

it.

Curtain.')

legal life's narrowing. I'm all for crime. Chaises his glass)

QDrinks

it

a

off at

gul-p,

affears to choke,

gas'ps,

falls from lent convulsion and sli'ps ARMSTRONG. (Rmms over to him, hends down, feels fulse, My God, he's dead!

onto sofa. Glass

his

has a vio-

hand.) raises eyelid)

(MACKENZIE to Left end sofa. The others can hardly take strong sniffs li'ps, then sniffs glass. Nods.)

it

in.

arm-

MACKENZIE. Dead? D'you mean the fellow just choked and—died? ARMSTRONG. You Can Call it choking if you like. He died of asphyxiation, right enough. MACKENZIE. Ncver knew a man could die like that—just a choking fit. EMILY. (Witl^ meaning) In the middle of life we are in death. QShe

sounds inspired.)

ARMSTRONG.

A man

Marston's death VERA.

Was

doesn't die of a isn't

what we

mere choking

fit,

General MacKenzie.

call a natural death.

there something in the whiskey?

ARMSTRONG. Ycs. By the smell of

it,

cyanide. Probably Potassium Cyanide.

Acts pretty well instantaneously.

LOMBARD. Then he must have put the BLORE. Suicide, eh? That's a

rum

stuff in the glass himself.

go.

VERA. You'd never think he'd commit suicide.

He was

so alive.

He

was en-

joying himself.

(emily comes down and picks Uf remains

of Indian from behind chair

Right Center.)

EMILY. Oh! Look— here's one of the broken. Ci^olds

it

little

wp.)

CURTAIN

Indians off the mantelpiece-

Act

Two

Scene

The

same.

The

I

following morning.

and the room has leen tidied. It is a fine mantelpiece. morning. There are only eight Indians on the are waiting for the hoat all halcony. the Suitcases are filed uf on

The windows

are Of en

a

Mackenzie is sitting uf Left in his chair, looking definitely Center, knitting, with her hat and little queer, emily is sitting Right window-seat uf Right, a little apart, and coat on. WARGRAVE is sitting scene, vera, hy winthroughout judicial is thoughtful. His manner is one as room the into if to sfeak, no comes dow Center, is restless. She sits. and takes any notice, goes down Left ARMSTRONG and blore come uf Right on halcony.

to arrive.

ARMSTRONG. We' ve been up VERA.

It's

very early

to the top.

No sign

of that boat yet

still.

all know. Still the fellow brings the milk and the bread and QOfens this. before here got that I should have diought he'd have Where's that door Right 2 and looks iw) No sign of breakfast yet-

BLORE. Oh,

I

fellow Rogers?

VERA. Oh, don't

let's

bother about breakfast—

WARGRAVE. How's the weather looking? BLORE. (To

window

Center')

The wind

has freshened a

mackeral sky. Old boy in the train yesterday said dirty weather. Shouldn't wonder if he wasn't right-

ARMSTRONG (Uf Center. Nervously) sooner

we

on the

island.

I

bit.

Rather a

we were due

for

wish that boat would come. The It's absurd not keeping a boat

get o£E this island the better.

a proper harbor. If the wind comes to blow from the southeast, rocks. the against pieces boat would get dashed to EMILY. But a boat would always be able to make us from the mainland?

BLORE.

No

BLORE.

(To

EMILY.

Do

EMILY) No, Miss Brent-that's just what you mean we should be cut oS from the land? Left of

it

wouldn't

ACT TWO SCENE BLORE. Yes. Condensed

blown EMILY.

I

itself out.

inilk, ryvita

I

and tinned

But you needn't worry. The

33 stuff sea's

the gale had

till

only a bit choppy.

think the pleasures of living on an island are rather ovenated.

ARMSTRONG. (_Restless^ I wonder if that boat's coming. Annoying the way the house is built slap up against the cliff. You can't see the mainland until you've climbed to the top. QTo blore) Shall we go up there again?

BLORE. CGnnning)

It's

no good, Doctor.

A watched pot never boils.

There

when we were up there just now. What can this man Narracott be doing?

wasn't a sign of a boat putting out

ARMSTRONG. CTo down Right)

BLORE. CPhiloso-phically) They're

all like

that in

Devon. Never hurry

themselves.

ARMSTRONG. And wherc's Rogers? He ought to be about. BLORE. If you ask me, Master Rogers was pretty badly rattled last night. ARMSTRONG. I loiow CShivers) Ghastly— the whole thing. BLORE. Got wind up properly. I'd take an even bet that he and his wife did do that old lady in. WARGRAVE. QncTedulous) You really think so? BLORE. Well, I never saw a man more scared. Guilty as hell, I should say. ARMSTRONG. Fantastic— the whole thing—fantastic BLORE. I say, suppose he's hopped it? ARMSTRONG. Who, Rogcrs? But there isn't any way he could. There's no boat on the island. You've just said so. BLORE. Yes, but I've been thinking. We've only Rogers' word for that. Suppose there is one and he's nipped off in the first thing. MACKENZIE Oh! No. He wouldn't be allowed to leave the island. CHis tone

is

so strange they stare at him.)

BLORE. Sleep well, General? (S^rosses Right of Mackenzie.)

MACKENZIE. BLORE.

I

I

don't

MACKENZIE.

dreamed—yes, I dreamed— wonder at that.

dreamed of Lesley— my wife, you know. Oh—er— yes—I wdsh Narracott CTurns wp to window.) MACKENZIE. Who is Narracott? I

would

CEmharrassed)

BLORE.

The

bloke

MACKENZIE.

Was

BLORE.

BLORE. CComes too.

who brought it

us over yesterday afternoon.

Only yesterday?

down

Center. Determinedly cheerful) Yes,

Batty gramophone records—suicides— it's about

stand.

word.

I

come.

I feel like that, all

a

man

shan't be sorry to see the back of Indian Island, I give

you

can

my

TEN LITTLE INDIANS

34

MACKENZIE. So you don't understand.

How

strangel

BLORE. What's that, General?

(MACKENZIE nods

his

head gently, blore looks qtiestioningly at abm-

STRONG, then taps his forehead

ARMSTRONG BLORE.

I

I

significantly.')

don't like the look of him.

reckon young Marston's suicide must have been a pretty bad

shock

to

him.

He

looks years older.

ARMSTRONG. Where is that poor young fellow now? BLORE. In the study— put him there myself. VERA. Doctor Armstrong, I suppose it was suicide? ARMSTRONG. QSharply') What

else

could

it

be?

VERA. CRises; crosses to Right sofa; sits) I don't

know. But suicide— (S/ze

shakes her head.)

BLORE. ^Crosses

to

behind Left sofa) You know

ing in the night. This Mr. land. Rogers mayn't luiow.

I

had

a pretty

funny

feel-

Unknown Owen, suppose he's on the isCPcitise) Or he may have told him to say

so. (Watches arjvistrong) Pretty nasty thought, isn't it? ARMSTRONG. But would it have been possible for anyone to tamper with Marston's drink without our seeing him? BLORE. Well, it was standing up there. Anyone could have slipped a dollop of cyanide in it if they'd wanted to. ARMSTRONG. But that— ROGER. CComes running wp from Right on halcony. He is out of hreath. Comes straight to Armstrong) Oh, there you are sir. I've been all over the place looking for you. Could you come up and have a look at

my

wife, sir?

ARMSTRONG. Yes, of der the weather

course.

CGoes toward door Left i)

Is

she feeling un-

still?

ROGERS. She's— she's— CSwallows convulsively; exits Left 2.)

ARMSTRONG. You won't leave the island without me?

(They go out Left VERA. (Rises; to Left of windows)

I

i.)

wish the boat would come.

I

hate this

place.

WARGRAVE. Ycs.

I

think the sooner

we can

get in touch with the police the

better.

VERA.

The

police?

WARGRAVE. The police have Miss Claythome.

to

be

notified in a case of suicide,

you know.

ACT TWO SCENE

I

35

wf Right toward

VEEA. Oh, yes— of course. CLoohs

the door of study

and

shivers.')

BLORE. cozening door Left z) What's going on here?

No

sign of any

breakfast.

VERA. Are you hungry, General? (macjkenzie does not answer. She sfeaks louder) Feeling like breakfast?

(Tums sharfly) Lesley—Lesley—my dear. No,—I'm not—I'm Vera Claythome. hand over his eyes) Of course. Forgive me. MACKENZIE. QPosses

MACKENZIE. VERA.

tt

you

for

my

I

took

wife,

VERA. Oh!

was waiting

you

MACKENZIE.

I

VERA. But

thought your wife was dead—long ago.

I

MACKENZIE. Yes.

I

for her,

thought

so, too.

see.

But

I

was wrong. She's

here.

On

this

island.

LOMBARD. CComes in from

hall Left i)

(vera

to

Good morning.

above Left sofa.)

to down Left) Good morning. Captain Lombard. Good morning. Seem to have overslept myself. Boat here yet?

BLORE. CComing LoaiBARD.

BLORE. No.

LOMBARD. Bit

late, isn't it?

BLORE. Yes.

LOMBARD. (To Vera) Good morning. You and before breakfast.

VERA.

Too bad aU

Too bad you overslept yourself. You must have good nerves to sleep

BLORE.

LOMBARD. Nothing makes

me lose my

(vera

I

could have had a swim

this.

to

like that.

sleep.

mantelpece.)

BLORE. Didn't dream of African natives, by any chance, did you?

LOMBARD. No. Did you dream of convicts on Dartmoor? BLORE (Angrily) Look here, I don't think that's fimny. Captain Lombard. LOMBARD. Well, you started it, you know. I'm hungry. What about breakfast?

CTo

Left sofa— sits.)

The whole

domestic staflf seems to have gone on strike. LOMBARD. Oh, well, we can alway forage for ourselves. VERA. (Examining Indian figures) Hullo, that's strange. LOMBARD. What is? BLORE.

TEN LITTLE INDIANS

26 VERA.

You remember we found one

of these

little

fellows smashed last

night?

LOMBARD. Yes— That ought to leave nine. VER/v. That ought to leave nine. I'm certain there were ten of them here

when we

arrived.

LOMBARD. Well? VERA. There are only eight. LOMBARD. CLooking) So there

are.

(They look VERA. I think

it's

CTo

mantelpiece.')

at each other.)

queer, don't you?

LOMBARD. Probably only were nine

to

begin with.

We assumed there were

ten because of the rhyme. (Armstrong enters Left i. He is ufset, hut striving to a'pfear calm. Shuts door and stands against it) Hullo,

Armstrong, what's the matter?

ARMSTRONG. Mrs. Rogers

dead.

is

Cwargravb

How?

BLORE and vera. No?

(vera

ARMSTRONG. Died in her

to

Right end Left sofa.)

sleep.

Rogers thought she was

influence of the sleeping draught disturbing her.

rises.)

Het

lit

the kitchen

I

gave her and came

fire

and did

this

still

under the

down without

room. Then, as she

hadn't appeared, he went up, was alarmed by the look of her and

went hunting

for

should say. (Sits

me. (Pause) She's been dead about

down

Left,

vera

sits

five hours, I

Left sofa.)

What was it? Heart? ARMSTRONG. Impossible to say. It may have been. BLORE. After all, she had a pretty bad shock last night ARMSTRONG. YeS. wargrave. (Comes down to Left end of Right sofa) She might have been BLORE.

poisoned,

I

suppose, Doctor?

ARMSTRONG. It is perfectly possible. WARGRAVE. With the same stuff as young Marston? ARMSTRONG. No, not Cyanide. It would have to have been some narcotic or hypnotic. One of the barbiturates, or chloral. Something like that. BLORE. You gave her some sleeping powders last night, didn't you? ARMSTRONG. (Rises, cTossing to cabinet Right for drink of water) Yes, I gave her a mild dose of Luminal.

ACT

TWO SCENE

I

37

BLORE. Didn't give her too much, did you? ARMSTRONG. Certainly not. What do you mean? BLORE. All right—no offense, no offense. I just though that perhaps i£ she'd had a weak heart— ARMSTRONG. The amount I gave her could not have hurt anyone. LOMBARD. Then what exactly did happen? ARMSTRONG. Impossible to say without an autopsy. WARGRAVE. If, for instance, this death had occurred in the case o£ one of your private patients, what would have been your procedure? ARMSTRONG. CCwsstng Left, sits down Left') Without any previous knowledge of the woman's state of health, I could certainly not give a certificate.

VERA. She was a very nervous-looldng creature. night. Perhaps

it

was heart

She had a bad

fright last

failure.

ARMSTRONG. Her heart certainly failed to beat—but what caused EMILY. CFirmly and with emphasis) Conscience.

(They ARMSTRONG.

You

all

jump and

look at her.

wargrave

What cxacdy do you mean by that,

it

to fail?

to Right.")

Miss Brent?

heard— She was accused, together with her husband, of having deliberately murdered her former employer—an old lady. BLORE. And you believe that's true, Miss Brent? EMILY. Certainly. You all saw her last night. She broke dovm completely and fainted. The shock of having her wdckedness brought home to her was too much for her. She literally died of fear. ARMSTRONG. CDoiihtfully) It is a possible theory. One cannot adopt it without more exact knowledge of her state of health. If there was a latent cardiac weakness— EMILY. Call it, if you prefer, An Act of God.

EJNOLY.

all

(everyone

is

shocked.)

BLORE. Oh, no, Miss Brent. CMoves up Left.)

(LOMBARD EMILY. (Evifhatically) struck

down by

WARGRAVE. (StTokes

My

You

regard

the wrath of his chin.

dear lady, in

my

to

it

window.)

as impossible that a sinner

God?

I

His voice

experience of

do

is ironic. ill

should be

not.

Coming down Right)

doing. Providence leaves the

work of conviction and chastisement to us mortals— and the process often fraught vidth difficulties. There are no short cuts.

is

TEN LITTLE INDIANS

38

What

BLORB. Let's be practical.

woman have

did the

to eat

and drink

last

night after she went to bed?

ARMSTRONG. Nothing. BLORE. Nothing at all? Not a cup of tea? Or a glass of water? I'll bet you she had a cup of tea. That sort always does. ARMSTRONG. Rogcrs assures me she had nothing whatever. BLORE. He might say so. LOMBARD. So that's your idea? BLORE. Well, why not? You all heard that accusation last night WTiat if it's true? Miss Brent thinks it is, for one. Rogers and his missus did the old lady in. They're feeling quite safe and happy about it— VERA.

Happy?

Well— they know

BLORE. CSits Left sofa)

them. Then,

there's

no immediate danger

night some lunatic goes and

last

spills

the beans.

to

What

happens? It's the woman cracks. Goes to pieces. Did you see him hanging round her when she was coming to? Not all husbandly solicitude? Not on your sweet life. He was like a cat on hot bricks. And that's the position. They've done a murder and got away with it But if it's all going to be raked up again now, it's the woman will give the

show away. She hadn't danger

to

got the nerve to brazen

it

out. She's a living

what she is, and him—he's all right the cows come home, but he can't be sure of her.

her husband,

that's

on lying till So what does he do? He drops a nice little dollop of something into a nice cup of tea, and when she's had it, he washes up the cup and saucer and tells the doctor she ain't had nothing. VERA. Oh, no. That's impossible. A man wouldn't do that—not to his He'll go

up

wife. (Rises; goes

Left.)

BLORE. You'd be surprised, Miss Claythome, what some husbands would do. Crises.)

ROGERS. Centers Left Just the

getting afraid.

be

mask

He

2.

is

dead-white and speaks like an automation,

To vera) Excuse me, Miss. I'm much of a hand as a cook, I'm worrying me. Would cold tongue and gelatine

of the trained servant.

on with It's lunch

satisfactory?

breakfast. I'm not that's

And

there's tinned fruit

VERA. That wiU be

fine,

BLORE. Lunch? Lunch?

I

could manage some fried potatoes.

and cheese and

And

then

biscuits.

Rogers.

We shan't be here for lunch!

And when

the hell's

that boat coming?

EMILY. Mr. Blore! CPicks up her case and marches up to Right windowseat—sits.)

ACT BLORB.

TWO SCENE

I

39

What?

ROGERS. ^Fatalistically') You'll pardon me,

sir,

but the boat won't be com-

ing.

BLORB. What? ROGERS. Fred Narracott's always here before eight (PaMse)

Is there

any-

thing else you require, Miss?

VERA. No, thank you, Rogers.

(ROGERS goes out Left 2.)

And

not Rogers! His wife lying dead upstairs and there he's cooking breakfast and calmly talking about lunch! Now he says the

BLORB.

it's

boat won't be coming.

How the 'ell does he know?

EMILY. Mr. Blore! BLORB.

What?

down

VERA. ^Crossing

Left) Oh, don't you see? He's dazed. He's just

carrying on automatically as a good servant would. It's—it's pathetic, really.

fast one, if you ask me. WARGRAVB. The really significant thing is the failure of the boat to arrive. It means that we are being deliberately cut oflF from help. MACKENZIE C^tsing) Very litde time. We mustn't waste it talking about

BLORB. He's pulling a

things that don't matter.

(He

turns to window, all look at

him dubiously

hefore resuming.)

LOMBARD. CDovm Right to wargrave) Why do you think Narracott hasn't turned up? wargrave. I think the ubiquitous Mr. Owen has given orders. LOMBARD. You mean, told him it's a practical joke or something of that kind?

BLORB. He's never fallen for that, would he?

LOMBARD.

Why

not? Indian Island's got a reputation for people having

crazy parties. This

knows it's all

is

just

there's plenty of

one more crazy

idea, that's

all.

Narracott

food and drink in the island. Probably thinks

a huge joke.

VERA. Couldn't they'd see

we

light a bonfire

up on the top

of the island? So that

it?

LOMBARD. That's probably been provided against. All signals are to be ignored. We're cut oflF all right VERA. (Impatiently) But can't v/e do something? LOMBARD. Oh, yes, we can do something. We can find the funny gende-

TEN LITTLE INDIANS

40

man

thing you like he's

hold of him the

And

Mr. somewhere on the

who's staged this

little

joke,

my

better. Because, in

Unknown Owen. island,

I'll

bet any-

and the sooner we get

opinion, he's

mad

as a hatter.

as dangerous a a rattlesnake.

WARGRAVE. Hardly a very good simile, Captain Lombard. The ratdesnake at least gives warning of its approach. LOMBARD. Warning? My God, yes! ^Indicating nursery rhyme') That's our warning. C^eading)

'Ten litde Indian boys—" There were ten of us after Narracott went, weren't 'Ten litde Indian boys going out to dine; One went and choked himself—" Marston choked himself, didn't he? And then— "Nine little Indians sat up very late.

there?

One overslept himself"—overslept himself— The last part fits Mrs. Rogers rather well, doesn't it? VERA. You don't think—? Do you mean that he wants LOMBARD. Yes,

I

to kill us all?

think he does.

And each one fits with the rhyme! ARMSTRONG. No, no, it's impossible. It's coincidence. VERA.

It

must be

coinci-

dence.

LOMBARD. Only eight little Indian boys too. What do you think, Blore? BLORB.

I

don't like

ARMSTRONG. But

here. I suppose that's coincidence

it.

there's

nobody on the

island.

BLORE. I'm not so sure of that

ARMSTRONG. This Is terrible. MACKENZIE. Nonc of US wdll ever leave this island. BLORE. Can't somebody shut up Grandpa? LOMBARD. Don't you agree wdth me, Sir Lawrence? WARGRAVE. (SJoti;/)/) Up to a point—yes. LOMBARD. Then the sooner we get to work the better. Come on, Armstrong. Come on, Blore. We'll make short work of it. BLORE. I'm ready. Nobody's got a revolver, by any chance? I suppose that's too much to hope for. LOMBARD. I've got One. CTakes it out of -pocket.') BLORE. (blore's cycs open rather wide. An idea occurs to him—not a pleasant one) Always carry that about with you? LOMBARD. Usually. I've been in some tight places, you know. BLORE. Oh. Well, you've probably never been in a tighter place than you

^

1

ACT TWO SCENE are today. If there's a homicidal

4

I

maniac hiding on

this island, he's

him—and he'll use it. ARMSTRONG. You may be wrong there, Blore. Many homicidal probably got a whole arsenal on

maniacs are

very quiet, unassuming people.

WARGRAVE. Delightful fellows! ARMSTRONG. You'd never guess there was anything wrong with them. BLORE. If Mr. Owen turns out to be one of that kind, we'll leave him you, Doctor.

Now,

then,

let's

make a

start I suggest Captain

to

Lombard

searches the house while we do the island. LOMBARD. Right House ought to be easy. No sliding panels or secret doors. (Goes up Right toward study. BLORE. Mind he doesn't get you before you get him! LOMBARD. Don't worry. But you two had better stick together—Remember

-"One got left behind." Come on, Armstrong.

BLORE.

(They go along and out uf WARGRAVE. VERA.

(Rises')

(To Uf

A very energetic yoimg man,

I

Captain Lombard.

Left) Don't you think he's right? If someone

the island, they'll be

WARGRAVE.

Right.')

bound

to find him.

It's

is

hiding on

practically bare rock.

think this problem needs brains to solve

Rather than

it.

brawn. (Goes wp Right on balcony.) VERA. Where are you going? WARGRAVE. I'm going to sit in the sim-and think, my dear young lady. (Goes up Right on halcony.) EMILY. Where did I put the skein of wool? (Gets up and comes dawn Right.)

VERA. Did you leave

EMILY. No,

I'll

it

go. I

upstairs? Shall I

go and see

know where

Hkely to be. (Goes out Left i.)

it's

if I

can find

it?

VERA. I'm glad Captain Lombard has got a revolver.

MACKENZIE. They're all wasting time—wasting time. VERA. Do you think so? MACKENZIE. Yes, it's much better to sit quiedy—and wait VERA. Wait for what? (Sits Left sofa.) MACKENZIE. For the end, of course. (There is a pause. Mackenzie opens and shuts both doors Left) I wish I could find Lesley. VERA. Your wife? MACKENZIE. (Cfosses up Right. Below Right sofa) Yes. known her. She was so pretty. So gay— VERA.

Was

she?

I

rises,

wish you'd

TEN LITTLE INDIANS

42 MACKENZIE.

I

Of

lovcd her very much.

course, I

was a

lot older

than she

was. She was only twenty-seven, you know. (Pfltise) Arthur Rich-

mond was twenty-six. He was my A.D.C. (PflMse) Lesley liked him. They used to talk of music and plays together, and she teased him and made fun of him. I was pleased. I thought she took a motherly interest in the boy.

wasn't

(Suddenly

D No fool like an

to

old fool.

vera, confidentially')

(A

Damn

fool,

long fause') Exactly like a book

us,

way I found out. When I was out in France. She wrote to both of and she put the letters in the wrong envelope. (He nods his head')

So

I

the

knew—

VERA. (In fity) Oh, no.

MACKENZIE. (Sits Ri^ts sofo) It's all right, my dear. It's a long time ago. But you see I loved her very much— and believed in her. I didn't say anything to him—I let it gather inside—here— (Strikes chest) a slow, murderous rage- Damned young hj^ante— I'd liked the boy—trusted him. \rERA.

(Trying

]MACKENZiE. \^RA.

I

to

Sent

I wonder what the others are doing? death—

hreak s^ell)

him

to his

Oh—

It was quite easy. Mistakes were being made all the time. All anyone could say was that I'd lost my nerve a bit, made a blunder, sacrificed one of my best men. Yes, it was quite easy— (Pause) Lesley never knew. I never told her I'd found out. We went on as usual—

MACKENZIE.

but somehow nothing was quite real any more. She died of pneumonia.

(Pause) She had a heartshaped face— and grey eyes—and brown

hair that curled.

VERA. Oh, don't.

MACKENZIE. (Rises) Yes, I suppose in a way—it was murder. Curious, murder—and I've always been such a law-abiding man. It didn't feel like that at the time. "Serves

him danm

well right!" that's what I

thought. But after— (Pause) Well, you know, don't you?

VERA. (At a loss) What do you mean? MACKENZIE. (States at her as though something puzzles him) You don't seem to imderstand— I thought you would. I thought you'd be glad, too, that the

end was coming—

VERA. (Draws hack, alarmed. Rises; hacks

down

Left)

\— (She

eyes

him

going

die,

you

warily.) jviACKENZiB.

(Follows her— Confidentially) We're

know. VERA. (Looking round

for help)

I— I

don't know.

all

to

ACT TWO SCENE

43

I

vera) You're very young—you haven't got to that yet. The relief! The blessed relief when you know that you've done with it all, that you haven't got to carry the burden any longer.

MACKENZIE. CVaguely

to

CMoves up Right.^ him—moved) General—

VERA. QFollcnvs

MACKENZIE. Don't talk to me that way. You don't understand. I want to sit here and wait— wait for Lesley to come for me. QGoes out on halcony and draws wp chair and sits. The hack of his head down to shoulders is visible through window. His position does not change throughout scene.') VERA. (^Stares after him.

Her composure

breaks down. Sits Left sofa) I'm

frightened— Oh! I'm frightened—

(LOMBARD comes LOMBARD. CCrosses Left) All

correct.

in

up

Right.)

No secret passage—one

corpse.

VERA. (Tensely) Don't!

LOMBARD.

I say,

you do look low.

How

about a drink to steady your

Two

corpses in the house at nine

nerves?

VERA. CRises, flaring up) o'clock in the

A

drink!

morning and

all

you

say,

going quite crackers—"Have a drink"! diat's all

"Have a

Ten

drink"!

An

old

man

people accused of murder—

right—just have a drink. Everything's fine so long as you

have a drink. LOMBARD. All right. All right— Stay

thirsty.

(Goes

to Left

2 door.)

you—you're nothing but a waster—an adventurer—you make me tired. Cloves to fireplace.) LOMBARD (Crossing to her) I say, you are het up. What's the matter, my

VERA. Oh,

sweet?

VERA. I'm not your sweet

LOMBARD. I'm

sorry. I rather

thought you were.

VERA. Well, you can think again. LOMBARD. Come now—you know you don't really feel like that. We've got something in common, you and I. Rogues and murderers can't fall out (He takes her hand— she draws away.) VERA, Rogues and murderers—! LOMBARD. Okay. You don't like the company of rogues and murderersand you won't have a drink. I'll go and finish searching— (Eodts Left I.)

Cemily

enters Left

1.

vera moves up

to

window.)

TEN LITTLE INDIANS

44

EMILY. Unpleasant young man!

I

face) Is anything the matter?

VERA.

{Low) I'm worried about

can't find

it

anywhere. (Sees vera's

CTo above Left sofa.)

He really is

the General.

ill,

think.

I

Mackenzie, then goes out on balcony and EMILY. CLooks from loud, him. In behind cheerful voice, as though talking to an stands idiot child) Looking out for the boat, General? (vera to down Left. \^era to

MACKENZIE docs not in.

ans:iver.

Unctuously) His

sin has

emily

waits a minute, then comes slowly

found him out

VERA. CAngrily) Oh, don't

EMILY.

One must

face facts.

Can any of us afford to throw stones? EMILY. (Cowes down Center; sits Right sofa) Even if his wife was no better than she should be— and she must have been a depraved womanhe had no right to take judgment into his own hands.

VERA.

What about— Beatrice

VERA. CColdly angry)

EMILY.

Taylor?

Who?

VERA. That was the name, wasn't

it?

(Looks

at her challengingly.)

EMILY. You are referring to that absurd accusation about myself? VERA. Yes

EMILY.

Now that we are

of the case—Indeed

was not a

alone, I

have no objection to

telling

you the

should like you to hear them, (vera

I

sits

facts

Left

gentlemen—so naturally I refused to say anything last night. That girl, Beatrice Taylor, was in my service. I was very much deceived in her. She had nice manners and was clean and willing. I was very pleased uith her. Of course, all that was sheerest hypocrisy. She was a loose girl with no morals. Disgusting! It was some time before I found out that she was what they call "in trouble." (Pause) It was a great shock to me. Her parents were decent folks too, who had brought her up stricdy. I'm glad to say they didn't condone her behavior. VERA. What happened? EMILY. (Self-righteously) Naturally, I refused to keep her an hour under my roof. No one shall ever say I condoned immorality. VERA. Did she drown herself? sofa) It

fit

subject to discuss before

EMILY. Yes. VERA. (Rises to Left)

How old was she?

EMILY. Seventeen. VERA. Only seventten.

EMILY. (With horrible fanaticism) Quite old enough to have.

I

told her

what

a

low depraved thing she was.

know how I told

to be-

her that she

ACT TWO SCENE

I

45

no decent person would take her into their house. I told her that her child would be the child o£ sin and would be branded all its life— and that the man would naturally not dream of marrying her. I told her that I felt soiled by ever having had her under my roof— was beyond the pale and

VERA. (_Shuddering)

You

EMILY. Yes, I'm glad

that

told a girl of seventeen all that?

to say I

broke her

down

utterly.

VERA. Poor litde devil.

EMILY.

I've

no patience

VERA. CMoves

up

indulgence toward

vidth this

Left to above sofa)

And

sin.

then, I suppose,

you turned her

out of the house?

EMILY. Of course.

And she didn't What did you feel

dare go

VERA.

like

EMILY. (Puzzled) Feel

home—

down Right

CCoines

when you found

she'd

drowned

to

Center)

herself?

like?

VERA. Yes. Didn't you blame yourself?

EMILY. Certainly not VERA.

I

I

had nothing with which

to reproach myself.

believe— I believe you really feel like that. That makes

more

horrible.

(Turns away

to Right,

it

even

then goes wp to center win-

dows.)

EMILY. That

girl's

unbalanced. (O'pens hag and takes out a smcdl Bihle.

in a low mutter) 'The heathen are sunk down in the made— (StO'ps and nods her head) In the net which they hid is their own foot taken." (rogers enters Left 2. emily stops and smiles approvingly) 'The Lord is known by the judgment He executeth, the wicked is snared in the work of his own hand."

Begins

to

read

it

pit that they

ROGERS. (Looks doubtfully at emily) Breakfast

EMILY. 'The wicked shall be turned into

hell."

is

ready.

(Turns head sharply) Be

quiet ROGERS.

Do you know where

(To above

the gentlemen are. Miss? Breakfast

is

ready.

Left sofa.)

VERA. Sir Lawrence Wargrave

is

sitting

out there in the sun. Doctor

Armstrong and Mr. Blore are searching the

island. I should bother

about them. (She comes in.)

(ROGERS goes out EMILY. "Shall not the

isles

to holcony.)

shake at the sound of the

fall,

when

wounded cry, when the slaughter is made in the midst of thee?" VERA. (To Left. Coldly. After waiting a minute or two) Shall we go in? EMILY.

I don't feel like eating.

the

TEN LITTLE INDLANS

46 ROGERS.

CTo MACKENZIE)

Breakfast

is

EMILY, cogens Bible again) 'Then

CGoes

ready.

all

Right on halcony.^

off

the princes of the sea shall

come

and lay away their robes, and put off their 'broidered garments." Center blorb up Right) 'They shall clothe themselves with trembling they shall sit upon the ground, and shall tremble at every moment, and be astonished at thee." QLooks up and

down from

their thrones,

sees BLORE, but her eyes are almost unseeing.)

BLORE QSfeaks

but watches her with a

readily,

new

interest)

Reading

aloud, Miss Brent?

EMILY.

It is

my

custom

to read a portion of the Bible every day.

BLORE. Very good habit, I'm sure.

(To down

Right.)

(ARMSTRONG comes Ri^t along balcony and

What luck did you have:* ARMSTRONG. There's no cover in the

in.)

VERA.

island.

No

caves.

No

one could hide

anywhere.

(WARN BLORE. That's right (lombard enters heft 2)

What

Curtain.)

about the house, Lom-

bard?

LOMBARD.

No

selves. I've

One.

I'll

Stake

been over

it

my

from

life there's

no one

in the

house but our-

attic to cellar.

(ROGERS enters from balcony, wargrave comes Right along balcony, slowly, and in to Right of window.) ROGERS. Breakfast

is

getting cold.

(emily

is still

reading.)

LOMBARD. CRoisterously) Breakfast! Come on, Blore, You've been yelping for breakfast ever since you got up. Let's eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Or who knows, perhaps, even today! (vera and Armstrong

cross to Left 2 door.)

EMILY. CRises; drofs knitting, blore 'picks it up) You ought of such levity, Captain Lombard. CCrosses Right.)

to

be ashamed

LOMBARD. C^till in the same vein, with determination) Come on. General, can't have this. CCalls) Breakfast, I say, sir— CGoes out on balcony to MACKENZIE. Stops—stoops—comcs slowly back and stands in vHndow. His face is stern and dangerous) Good God! One got left behind— There's a knife in MacKenzie's bacL

ARMSTRONG (Gocs

to

him) He's dead—he's dead.

H

ACT TWO SCENE BLORB. But he can't

be—

Who

could have done

47

it?

There's only us on the

island.

WARGRAVE. Exacdy, my dear sir. Don't you realize that this clever and cunning criminal is always comfortably one stage ahead of us? That he

knows exacdy what we

are going to do next,

and makes

his plans ac-

cordingly? There's only one place, you know, where a successful murderer could hide and have a reasonable chance of getting

One place—where? WARGRAVE. Here in this room—Mr. Owen

away with

it.

BLORE.

is

one of

us!

CURTAIN End

of Scene

Scene There

a storm; the room

is

is

II

much darker— the windows

and WIND. WARGRAVE cowes in from Left

heating

1

closed

and

RAIN

2,

followed hy blorb.

BLORE. Sir Lawrence?

WARGRAVE. CCentBT^ Well, Mr. Blore? BLORE.

I

wanted

You were

you alone. Crooks over shoulder at dining room) what you said this morning. This damned murderer And I think I know which one. to get

right in

is one of us. WARGRAVE. Really?

BLORE. Ever hear of the Lizzie Borden case? In America. Old couple killed

with an axe in the middle of the morning. Only person

have done credible.

it

was the daughter, a

So incredible that they acquitted

any other explanation. WARGRAVE. Then your answer BLORE.

I tell

you that woman

you—she's

the one.

WARGRAVE. Really?

I

to the is

as

who

could

respectable, middle-aged spinster. In-

problem

mad

is

her.

But they never foimd

Miss Emily Brent?

as a hatter. Religious

And we must watch

mad,

I tell

her.

had formed the impression that your suspicions were

in a different quarter.

BLORE.

Yes— But

I've

changed

my

mind, and

I'll tell

you

for

why—she's

TEN LITTLE INDIANS

48

not scared and she's the only one

(wARGRAVE goes up

who

isn't.

Why?

Because she knows

no danger—hush—

quite well she's in

VERA and EMILY emily wp Center.')

Right.

carrying coffee tray,

enter from Left

2.

vera

is

We've made some coffee. CShe puts tray on tabouret Right Center. BLORE moves up to tabouret) Brr—it's cold in here. BLORE. You'd hardly believe it when you think what a beautiful day it was VERA.

this

morning.

Lombard and Rogers

VERA. Are Captain

BLORE. Yes.

No boat will

out?

still

put out in this— and

it

couldn't land, anyway.

VERA. Miss Brent's. C^i'^nds coffee cup to blore.)

(emily comes dawn;

sits

Left Sofa.)

WARGRAVE. Allow me. CTakes cup and hands it to emily) VERA. (To wargrave) You were right to insist on our going to Iimch—and drinking some brandy with it. I feel better. WARGRAVE. (Returns to coffee tray— takes his awn coffee; stands by mantelpiece)

The

court always adjourns for lunch.

VERA. All the same,

it's

a nightmare. It seems as though

What—what

we

going to do about

are

(blore

sits

it

can't

be

true.

it?

chair Right Center.)

We

must hold an informal court of inquiry. We may at least some innocent people. BLORE. You haven't got a hunch of any kind, have you, Miss Claythome? WARGRAVE. If Miss Claythome suspects one of us three, that is rather an WARGRAVE.

be able

to eliminate

awkward

question.

VERA. I'm sure

it isn't

any of you.

If

you ask

me who

I suspected, I'd

say

Doctor Armstrong. BLORE. Armstrong? VERA. Yes. Because, don't you see, he's had far and kill

away the

best chance to

Mrs. Rogers. Terribly easy for him, as a doctor, to give her an

overdose of sleeping

stuff.

BLORE. That's true. But someone else gave her brandy, remember.

(emily goes up Left and

sits.)

WARGRAVE. Her husband had a good opportunity of administering a drug. BLORE. It isn't Rogers. He wouldn't have the brains to fix all this stimt— nor the money. Besides you can see he's scared stiff.

ACT TWO SCENE

U

49

(ROGERS and Lombard, in mackintoshes, come wp Right on balcony and appear at vnndow. blore goes and lets them in. As he opens the winand RAIN comes in. emily half screams dow, a sivirl of loud

WIND

and turns around.^ LOMBARD.

My God,

EMILY. Oh, VERA.

it's

Who did

it's

only

something

like a storm.

you—

you think

it

was? (PaMse) Beatrice Taylor?

EMILY. QAngrily') Eh?

LOMBARD. Not a hope of rescue until this dies down. Is that coffee? Good. (To vera) I'm taking to coffee now, you see. VERA. CTakes him a cup^ Such restraint in the face of danger is nothing short of heroic. v

C^oving hclow the

f 1^—justice be done.

did quitc right,

And what

I feel is

.

.

my .

sofa.) Justice

be done.

girl.

and listens.) Someone's must hop it. I'm supposed to be

(Sfee breaks off

coming. (Sfce moves quickly wp c.)

I

coimting the laundry.

CShe

eodts

uf

c. to l.)

SERGEANT, (moving Uf c. and looking after doris) That's a useful She's the one who was hanging about for Miss Craye's autograph.

girl.

THE HOLLOW

236

(sir

henry

enters l.)

msPECTOR. Good morning, Sir Henry. SIR HENRY, (^crossing to L. of the sofa) Good morning, Inspector.

Good moming,

SERGEANT.

(sir SIR

sir.

HENRY nods

to the

sergeant.)

henry, (to the inspector) You wanted to see mer* wanted some further

inspector. Cc^-ossing to l.c.) Yes, Sir Henry.

We

in-

formation. sir henry. Yes?

inspector. Sir Henry, you have a considerable collection of firearms, mostly pistols and revolvers.

I

wanted

to

Imow

if

any of them are

miss-

ing.

SIR

on the sofa at the left end of W) I don't quite underyou that I took two revolvers and one pistol down to the target alley on Saturday moming, and that I subsequently found that one of them, a thirty-eight Smidi and Wesson, was missing. I identified this missing revolver as the one that Mrs. Cristow was

HENRY.

Csitting

stand. I have already told

holding just after the murder.

inspector. That

is

quite correct. Sir Henry. According to Mrs. Cristow's

statement, she picked

it

up from the

floor

by her husband's body.

We

assumed, perhaps naturally, that that was the gun with which Dr. Cristow was shot.

sm HENRY. Do you mean—it wasn't? We have now received the

INSPECTOR-

report of our ballistics expert Sir

Henry, the bullet that killed Dr. Cristow was not SIR HENRY. You astound me.

fired

from that gun.

it's extremely odd. The bullet was of the right calibre, but was definitely not the gun used. SIR HENRY. But may I ask, Inspector, why you should assume that the murder weapon came from my collection? INSPECTOR. I don't assume it, Sir Henry—but I must check up before

INSPECTOR. Yes, that

looking elsewhere. SIR

HENRY. Crising and crossing

what you want

to

know

to l.) Yes, I see that.

in a very

(He SERGEANT.

He

doesn't

know

few moments,

exits l.)

anything.

Well,

I

can

tell

you

ACT THREE INSPECTOR. Cmoving wp c.) So

it

237

(He

seems.

goes on to the terrace and

stands looking off l.)

What

SERGEANT.

time's the inquest?

INSPECTOR. Twelve o'clock. There's plenty of time. SERGEANT. Just routine evidence and an adjournment. vidth the Coroner, I

(midge enters

She wears her hat and coat, and gloves and suitcase.^

l.

It's

fixed

all

up

suppose? carries her

handbag,

INSPECTOR. Cturning') Are you leaving, Miss Harvey?

MIDGE. Qcrossing

to c.) I

have

up

to get

to

town immediately

after the in-

quest.

INSPECTOR, (inoving to

r. of

midge) I'm

afraid I

must ask you not

to leave

here today.

MIDGE. But

that's

very avv'kward.

You

see, I vjoxV in a dress shop.

And

if

I'm not back by two-thirty there'll be an awful to-do. INSPECTOR. I'm sorry. Miss Harvey. You can say you are acting on police instructions.

MIDGE. That won't go

down very well, I can tell you. (Sfee crosses helow the sofa to the writing table, jputs her handbag and gloves on it and stands the case on the floor above the writing table.') Oh well, I suppose I'd better ring up now and get it over. (.She lifts the telephone

receiver. Into the telephone.)

CThe OPERATOR.

voice of the

Number

HeUo

operator

.

is

.

.

reasonably audible.)

please.

MIDGE. Regent four-six-nine-two, please. OPERATOR. What is your number?

MIDGE. Dowfield two-two-one.

CThe INSPECTOR

eases to l. of the sofa

and

looks at the sergeant.)

OPERATOR. Dowfield two-two-one. There's a twenty-minute delay on the line.

MIDGE. Oh!

OPERATOR. Shall I keep the call in? MIDGE. Yes, keep the call in, please. You'll ring me? OPERATOR. Yes. MIDGE.

Thank

you.

CShe replaces the CsiR

HENRY

receiver.)

enters l.)

THE HOLLOW

238 SIR HENRY,

Do you mind

Of course— but

MIDGE.

and

I'll

about

give you a hail

call.

QShe pcks wp her

suitcase

when

it

comes through, unless they forget

it.

(midge

(He

I'm expecting a

crosses to l.)

sm HENRY. all

leaving us, Midge?

exits l. sir

henry

closes the door

crosses to l. of the inspector.)

Wesson

exhibit in a

brown

A

behind

her.")

second thirty-eight Smith and

leather holster

is

inspector. Ci^king a revolver from his fochet}

missing from

my

Would

this

it

be

study.

gun, Sir

Henry? (sir henry, surprised, takes the revolver from the inspector fully

sm HENRY. Yes—yes,

this is

it.

examines

Where

and

care-

it.)

did you find

it?

INSPECTOR. That doesn't matter for the moment. But the shot that killed Dr. Cristow was fired from that gun. May I speak to your buder, Sir Henry? (He holds out his hand for the revolver.') SIR HENRY, (handing the revolver to the inspector) Of course. (He turns, crosses to the fireplace and presses the hell-push.') Do you want to speak to him in here? INSPECTOR, (putting the revolver in his pocket) If you please, Sir Henry, sm HENRY. Do you want me to go away or to remain? I should prefer to remain. Gudgeon is a very old and valued servant INSPECTOR. I would prefer you to be here, Sir Henry.

(gudgeon

enters l.)

GUDGEON. You rang. Sir Henry? HENRY. Yes, Gudgeon. (He indicates the inspector.)

SIR

(gudgeon

looks politely at the inspector.)

INSPECTOR. Gudgeon, have you lately had a pistol or a revolver in your possession?

(sm HENRY gudgeon, (crossing so, sir. I

don't

sits

to l. of the

own any

in the armchair l.c.)

inspector; imperturhahly)

sergeant, (reading from his notehook) banisters

and

revolver—

I

I

don't think

firearms.

"I happened to glance over the saw Mr. Gudgeon standing in the front hall with a

ACT THREE Cgudgeon —in

his

reacts

hand and he looked ever

(The INSPECTOR GUDGEON. That

is

quite correct,

sir.

tell

his fists.^

so peculiar

loohs at the sergeant,

INSPECTOR. Perhaps you will

239

hy clenching

I'm sorry

.

who it

.

."

hreaks off ahrwptly.')

slipped

my

memory.

us exactly what occurred.

on Saturday. Normally owing to a murder having taken place a short time before, household routine was disorganized. As I was passing through the front hall, I noticed one of Sir Henry's pistols, a small Derringer it was, sir, lying on the oak chest there. I didn't think it should be left lying about, so I picked it up and subsequently took it to the master's study and put it back in its proper place. I may add, sir, that I have no recollection of having looked pe-

GUDGEON. Certainly,

sir.

It

was about one

o'clock

of course I should have been bringing in luncheon, but

culiar.

INSPECTOR, (moving

Henry's study? there

GUDGEON.

say you put the

the sofa

and

faces

up

gun

in Sir

stage.") Is it

now?

To

the best of

INSPECTOR, (moving focket)

It

no,

my

belief, sir. I

can easily ascertain.

and taking the

to l. of the sofa

revolver from his

wasn't— this gun?

GUDGEON, (moving in

On

You

to r. of the sofa)

(He moves below

to l. of the

inspector and looking at the revolver)

That's a thirty-eight Smith and

sir.

Wesson— this was

a small

pistol— a Derringer.

know

INSPECTOR.

You seem

GUDGEON.

served in the nineteen-fourteen-eighteen war,

I

to

a good deal about firearms.

INSPECTOR, (turning and moving

down

r.)

And you

sir.

say you found this

Derringer pistol—on the oak chest in the hall?

GUDGEON. Yes,

sir.

(lady angkatell enters up

c.

from

l.

end of the

The inspector

eases above the r.

sofa.)

How

nice to see you, Mr. Colquhoun. and Gudgeon? I found that child Doris in floods of tears. The girl was quite right to say what she saw if she thought she saw it. I find right and wrong bewdldering myself— easy when wrong is pleasant and right is unpleasant—but confusing the other way about, if you know what I mean. And what have you been

LADY ANGKATELL. (moving

What

telling

is all

this

about a

them about

c.)

pistol

this pistol,

Gudgeon?

THE HOLLOW

240

GUDGEON, (respectfully hut emphatically') I found the pistol in the hall, m'lady. I have no idea who put it there. I picked it up and put it back in its proper place. That is what I have told the Inspector and he quite understands.

LADY ANGKATELL, (gently shaking her head at gudgeon) You shouldn't have done that, Gudgeon. I'll talk to the Inspector myself. GUDGEON. But LADY ANGKATELL. I appreciate your motives, Gudgeon. I know you always try to save us trouble and annoyance. (Firmly.) That will do now. .

(gudgeon

.

.

throws a quick glance at sir henry, then hows and

hesitates,

exits L. SIR

(She

HENRY

crosses to the sofa, sits

looks Very grave.)

and smiles disarmingly

at the

inspector.)

That was really very charming of Gudgeon. Quite feudal, if you know what I mean. Yes, feudal is the right word. INSPECTOR. Am I to understand. Lady Angkatell, that you yourself have some further knowledge about the matter? LADY ANGKATELL. Of course. Gudgcon didn't find the gun in the hall at all. He found it when he took the eggs out.

The

INSPECTOR.

eggs?

LADY ANGKATELL. Ycs, out

of the basket

(She seems

to

think

all is

now

exflained.) SIR

HENRY. You must

tell

us a litde more, ray dear. Inspector Colquhoun

and I are still at sea. LADY ANGKATELL. Oh! The gun, you (sir

—under

see,

HENRY

was in the basket—

rises.)

the eggs.

What

basket? And what eggs, Lady Angkatell? LADY ANGKATELL. The basket I took down to the farm. The gun was in it and I put the eggs in on top of the gun and forgot about it. When we found poor John Cristow shot in here, it was such a shock that I let go the basket and Gudgeon caught it just in time—because of the eggs.

INSPECTOR.

(sir

Later

I

HENRY

'tnoves slowly to the fireplace.)

asked him about waiting the date on the eggs—so that one

shouldn't eat the fresh ones before the old

ones—and he said all that had already been attended to— and I remember now he was rather emphatic about it. He found the gun, you see, and put it back in

1

ACT THREE

24

Henry's study. Very nice and loyal of

him—but

cause, of course, Inspector, the truth

what you want

mspECTOR. CcTossing ahove the sofa

mean

to

is

c; grimly')

to

also very foolish, be-

The

to hear, isn't it?

truth

what

is

I

get

LADY ANGKATELL. Of

couTSB.

It's all

SO sad, all this

bounding people.

(Tfee iNSPEcrroR moves to l. of the sofa.) I don't

shoot

suppose whoever

it

(The INSPECTOR and —not fact,

was

that shot

John Cristow

meant

really

to

him—

seriously I

mean.

the sergeant look at each other.)

If it

was Gerda, I'm quite sure she

In

didn't.

I'm rather surprised she didn't miss—it's the sort of thing one

would expect of

her.

CThe INSPECTOR If she did shoot

crosses

above the sofa

to r.)

him, she's probably dreadfully sorry about

it

now.

It's

bad enough for children having their father murdered, without having their mother hanged for it (Accusingly.) I sometimes wonder if

you policemen think of these

things.

inspector, (crossing helow the sofa to

l. of

it;

taken ahack)

We are not

contemplating making an arrest just at present. Lady Angkatell.

LADY ANGKATELL. (with a dazzUng smile) Well, that's sensible. But I have always felt that you are a very sensible man, Mr. Colquhoun. INSPECTOR. Er—thank you. Lady Angkatell. (He breaks uf c. and turns.) Now I want to get this clear. (He moves dawn l.c.) You had been shooting with this revolver?

LADY ANGKATELL. INSPECTOR.

Pistol.

Ah yes,

so

Gudgeon

said.

You had been

shooting with

it

at the

targets?

LADY ANGKATELL. Oh, no, no.

I

took

it

out of Hcnry's study before

I

went

to the farm.

INSPECTOR, (looking at sir

henry and then

at the armchair l.c.)

May P

(sm HENRY nods)

(He sits.) Why, Lady Angkatell? LADY ANGKATELL. (with unexfBcted ttiumfh) I knew you'd ask me that And of course there must be some answer. (She looks at sir henry.) Mustn't there, Henry? SIR HENRY. I should Certainly have thought so, my dear.

THE HOLLOW

242

LADY ANGKATELL. Ycs, obviously

when

I

looks hopefully at sir SIR

HENRY.

must have had some idea in

I

took that httle Derringer and put

henry.)

I

wonder what

My wife is extremely absent-minded,

my

in

it

it

my

head

egg basket. (Sfee

could have been?

Inspector.

INSPECTOR. So it seems. LADY ANGKATELL. WHiy should I have taken that pistol? INSPECTOR. CT^ising and hreaking wp c.) I haven't the faintest

idea,

Lady

Angkatell.

LADY ANGKATELL.

CTtsitig') I

camc

in JteTe—this being your study,

with the window there and the fireplace here.

I

Henry—

had been talking to pillow cases— and I

Simmonds about pillow cases— let's hang on to remember crossing— (she moves to the writing tahW) over

distinctly

to the fireplace— and

thinking

not the rector— (s/ze

young

to

know what

we must

new poker— the

get a

the inspector)

at

loolis

curate,

you're probably too

that means.

(The inspector and the sergeant look

at each other.')

And

1 remember opening the drawer and taking out the Derringer— it was a nice handy little gun—I've always liked it—and dropping it in the egg basket. And then I No, there vv^ere so many things in my head—Cshe eases to the sofa and sits) what with bindweed in the border— and hoping Mrs. Medway would make a really rich Nigger .

.

.

in his Shirt. to contain himself) A Nigger in his Shirt? LADY ANGKATELL. Ycs, chocolate, cggs and cream. John Cristow loved a

SERGEANT. Qunahle

re-

ally rich sweet.

inspector, (jnoving to

LADY ANGKATELL. I can't

l.

Did you load the pistol? Ah, did I? Really, it's too ridiculous that should think I must have, don't you, Inspec-

of the sofa)

C^^houghtfully)

remember. But

I

tor?

INSPECTOR.

and

I

think

I'll

have a few more words with Gudgeon.

crosses to the door l.)

you'll let

When

you remember a

little

(He

turns

more, perhaps

me know. Lady Angkatell? (The SERGEANT

LADY ANGKATELL. Of

coursc.

CTOsses to the door l.)

Things come back to one quite suddenly

sometimes, don't they?

INSPECTOR. Yes.

(He

exits l.

The sergeant follows him

off.

The

clock strikes eleven.)

ACT THREE sm HENRY.

243

Why did you take the pistol,

Lucy? had some

Ccrossing to l. of the sofa)

LADY ANGKATELL. I'm really not quite sure, Henry— I suppose I vague idea about an accident. SIR HENRY. Accident? LADY ANGKATELL. Ycs, all those roots of tree sticking up—so easy to trip over one. I've always thought that an accident would be the simplest way to do a thing of that kind. One would be dreadfully sorry, of course, and blame oneself C^er voice trails off.) SIR HENRY. Who was to havc had the accident? LADY ANGKATELL. John Cristow, of course. SIR HENRY, ^sitting L. of her on the sofa) Good God, Lucy! .

.

.

Clady angkatell's manner suddenly changes. All, the vagueness goes and she is almost fanatical.)

lady ANGKATELL. Oh, Henry,

I've

been so dreadfully worried. About

Ainswick. SIR

HENRY.

I see.

So

it

was Ainswick. You've always cared too much about

Ainswick, Lucy.

LADY ANGKATELL. You and Edward are the last of the Angkatells. Unless Edward marries, the whole thing will die out— and he's so obstinate— that long head of his, just like my father. I felt that if only John were out of the way, Henrietta would marry Edward—she's really quite fond of him— and when a person's dead, you do forget. So, it all came to that— get rid of John Cristow. SIR HENRY, (flgliost) Lucy! It was you LADY ANGKATELL. (her elusive self again) Darling, darling, you don't imagine for a moment that I shot John? (She laughs, rises, crosses to the fireplace and ficks uf the box of chocolates from the mantelpiece.) I did have that silly idea about an accident. But then I remembered that he was our guest. (She eases c.) One doesn't ask someone to be a guest and then get behind a bush and have a pop at them. CShe moves above the sofa and leans over the hack of it.) So you mustn't worry, Henry, any more. sm HENRY, (hoarsely) I always worry about you, Lucy. LADY ANGKATELL, (taking a chocolatc from the hox) There's no need to, dear. (She holds wp the chocolate.) Look what's coming. Open, .

.

(sm HENRY opens (She pops the chocolate been got

rid of

into

sm

without our having

.

his

mouth.)

henry's mouth.) There! John has to do anything about it. It reminds

THE HOLLOW

244

me

man

of that

Bombay who was

in

CShe crosses to the window he was run over by a tram.

CShe

The

exits r.

telephone rings,

and operator. Your Regent

sm HE>fRY.

r.)

lifts

Do

so rude to me at a dinner party. you remember? Three days later

sm henry

rises,

moves

to the

telephone

the receiver.')

call, sir.

(into the telephone)

Hullo—yes— Regent

call?

Cmidge enters l.) RUDGE. For me? SIR

HENRY. Yes.

Cmidge

crosses to the telephone

and

who

MBDGE. Onto the telephone.) Hullo. VOICE.

No,

MIDGE.

Can Hold

(There

I

Is that

sm henry,

Madame?

speak to

Madame

herself?

on, will you.

a short pause, then another voice

is

from

Vera.

it's

VOICE.

takes the receiver

exits R.)

is

heard through the

tele-

phone.) is Madame Henri speaking. Miss Harvey. VOICE. Why are you not 'ere? You are coming back this afternoon, yes? MIDGE. No, no, I'm afraid I can't come back this afternoon.

VOICE. 'Alio. This

MIDGE.

It's

(edward VOICE.

enters

up

c.

from

l.

and moves

to l.c.)

Oh, always these excuses. it's not an excuse.

MIDGE. No, no,

(edward

asks hy a gesture whether she

(She puts her hand over the mouthpiece. go.

VOICE.

It's

only

What

MIDGE, (into

(edward

VOICE.

is it

tlie

picks

An

my

minds him

staying.)

To edward.) No—no,

don't

shop.

then? telephone) There's been an accident.

up a magazine from the coffee table, then at the left end of it.)

accident? Don't

tell

me

these

lies.

sits

on the sofa

Don't make these excuses.

ACT THREE

Tm

MIDGE. No,

not telling you

lies

today. I'm not allowed to leave.

VOICE.

The

or

245

making

It's

excuses. I can't

come back

the police.

police?

MIDGE. Yes, the police. VOICE.

MIDGE. VOICE.

What

Where

MIDGE. I'm VOICE.

'ave

you done?

my fault. One can't help

not

It's

Dowfield.

at

Where

there

a murder?

is

MIDGE. Yes, you read about VOICE.

Of

course.

This

tomers will say

MIDGE. VOICE.

hardly

It's

It's all

MIDGE.

It's

I

is

when

my

it

in the paper?

most inconvenient. they

know you

are

What do you

think

cus-

fault.

is.

very exciting for you. Very nice for you to be in the limelight.

think you are being rather unjust.

VOICE. If you do not return today, you will not 'ave any job.

plenty of

girls

who would be 'appy

to 'ave

You

will return

Cmidge

She

are

sorry.

tomorrow or don't dare

replaces the receiver.

There

it.

MIDGE. Please don't say such things. I'm very VOICE.

my

mixed up in a murder?

most upsetting.

MIDGE. Murder VOICE.

these things.

are you?

to

is

show your

near

face again.

to tears.')

Who was that? My employer.

EDWARD. MIDGE.

EDWARD. You should have MIDGE.

And

told her to go to hell.

get myself fired?

EDWARD. I can't bear to hear you so—subservient. MIDGE. You don't understand what you're talking about. (She vioves above the sofa.') To show an independent spirit one needs an independent income. EDWARD. My God, Midge, there are other jobs—interesting jobs. MIDGE. Yes—you read advertisements asking for them every day in The Times.

EDWARD. Yes. MIDGE, (moving wp c.) Sometimes, Edward, you make me lose my temper. What do you know about jobs? Getting them and keeping them? This job, as it happens, is fairly well paid, with reasonable hours.

EDWARD. Oh, money!

THE HOLLOW

246 MIDGE. O^oving

to

of the sofa) Yes,

J.

I've got to ha\'e a job that kee'ps

EDWARD. Henry and Lucy would

.

live on.

.

.

Of

MIDGE. We've been into that before. to the fire-place.)

money. That's what I use to me, do you understand

course they would. (Sfce crosses

no good, Edward. You're an Angkatell and Henry

It's

and Lucy are Angkatells, but I'm only half an Angkatell. My father was a plain little business man—honest and hardworking and probably not very clever. favours.

When

It's

from him

get the feeling

I

lings in the pound. I'm like him.

you

debts. Don't

I

don't like to accept

his business failed, his creditors got paid

Edward,

see,

it's

I

all

twenty

shil-

mind about money and about right for you and Lucy. Lucy

would have any of her friends to stay indefinitely and never think about it twice—and she could go and live on her friends if necessary. There would be no feeling of obligation. But I'm different. EDWARD, (rising) You dear ridiculous child. (He 'puts the magazine on the coffee table.) I may be ridiculous but I am not a child. EDWARD, (crossing to the fireplace and standing above midge). But

MIDGE.

it's all

wrong that you should have to put up with rudeness and insolence. My God, Midge, I'd like to take you out of it all—carry you off to Ainswick.

Why

midge, (furiously and half crying)

do you say these stupid things?

mean them. (She sits on the pouffe.) Do you think it makes any easier when I'm being bullied and shouted at to remember

You life

don't

Do you think I'm and babbling about how much It sounds so charming and means

that there are places like Ainswick in the world? grateful to

you

for standing there

you'd like to take

me

out of

it all?

absolutely nothing.

EDWARD. Midge! midge. Don't you

know

I'd sell

ute? I love Ainswick so

my

much

I

soul to be at Ainswick

now,

can hardly bear to think of

this it.

min-

You're

cruel, Edward, saying nice things you don't mean. EDWARD. But I do mean them. (He eases c., turns and faces midge.) Come on, Midge. We'll drive to Ainswick now in my car.

midge. Edward! EDWARD, (drawing midge Ainsvidck. Shall

midge, (laughing a

EDWARD.

to

her feet)

we? What about little

It isn't bluff.

it,

Come

on. Midge.

We're going

eh?

hysterically) I've called your bluff, haven't I?

to

ACT THREE MIDGE. Qpaiting Edward's arm then crossing

247 to l. oj the sofa)

Edward. In any case, the police would stop us. EDWABD. Yes, I suppose they would. MIDGE, chitting on the sofa at the left end of it; gently) All I'm sorry

shouted

I

EDWARD. Qquietly) You MIDGE. I'm resigned

to

Calm down,

right,

Edward,

at you.

really love Ainswick, don't your*

not going there, but don't rub

it

in.

EDWARD. I can see it wouldn't do to rush off there this moment— (fee moves to l. of the sofa) but I'm suggesting that you come to Ainswick for good.

MIDGE. For good?

EDWARD. I'm suggesting that you marry me, Midge. MIDGE. Marry

.

.

.

?

EDWARD. I'm not a very romantic proposition. I'm a dull dog. I read what I expect you would think are dull books, and I write a few dull articles and potter about the estate. But we've known each other a long time —and perhaps Ainswick would make up for me. Will you come.

Midge? MIDGE. Marry you? CShe

rises.)

EDWARD. Can you bear the idea? MIDGE, (kneeling at the left end of the sofa and leaning over the end of it towards edward; incoherently) Edward, oh, Edward— you offer me heaven like—like something on a plate.

Cedward

takes her hands

and

kisses

them, lady angkatell enters

b..).

LADY ANGKATELL. (as she entCTs) What I feel about rhododendrons is that unless you mass them in big clumps you don't get MIDGE, (rising and turning to lady angkatell) Edward and I are going .

to

.

.

be married.

lady angkatell. (dumbfounded) Married? You and Edward? But, (She recovers herself, moves to midge, kisses Midge, I never dre her, then holds out her hand to edward.) Oh, darling, I'm so happy. (She shakes Edward's hand and her face lights Uf.) I am so delighted. You'll stay on here and give up that horrid shop. You can be married from here— Henry can give you away. .

MIDGE. Darling Lucy,

I'd

.

.

love to be married from here.

LADY angkatell. (sitting on the sofa at the right end of it.) Off-white satin, and an ivor)' prayer book— no bouquet. Bridesmaids? MIDGE. Oh no, I don't want any fuss. EDWARD. Just a very quiet wedding, Lucy.

THE HOLLOW

248 LADY ANGKATELL. Ycs,

I

loiow cxactly what you mean, darling. Unless one

them, bridesmaids never match properly— there's

carefully chooses

nearly always one plain one

bridegroom's step

on the

sister.

train,

And

who

ruins the

whole e£Fect—usually the

children— children are the worst of

they howl for Naimie.

I

never

feel

all.

They up

a bride can go

the aisle in a proper frame of mind while she's so imcertain what's happening behind her. MIDGE. I don't need to have anything behind me, not even a train. I can be married in a coat and skirt. LADY ANGKATELL. (rising and crossing l.c.) Oh no. Midge— that's too

much hke MIDGE.

a vwdow. Off-white satin

and

I shall

take you to Mireille.

I can't possibly afford Mireille.

LADY ANGKATELL. Darling, Henry and I will give you your trousseau. MIDGE. Qcrossing to lady angkatell and kissing h&r) Darling. (She turns, crosses to edward and holds his hands.") LADY ANGKATELL. Deal Midge, dear Edward! I do hope that band on Henry's trousers won't be too tight. I'd like him to enjoy himself. As for me, I shall wear (She closes her eyes.) MIDGE. Yes, Lucy? LADY ANGKATELL. Hydrangea blue—and silver fox. That's settled. What a pity John Cristow's dead. Really quite unnecessary after all. But what an exciting weekend. (She moves to l. of midge and edward.) First a .

.

.

murder, then a marriage, then

this,

then that

(The INSPECTOR and the sergeant (She

turns.")

engaged

to

Come in—come

in.

enter l.)

These yoimg people have

just got

be married.

INSPECTOR, (easing l.c.) Indeed.

My congratulations.

EDWARD. Thank you very much. LADY ANGKATELL. (cTossing to the door L.) for the inquest. I

am so

I

suppose

I

ought to get ready

looking forward to it I've never been to an in-

quest before.

(She

eocits l.

The sergeant

closes the door,

edward and midge

cross

and

exit R.)

sergeant, (crossing

(He nods

to r.)

to^vards the

was her he was keen inspector. So

it

You may say what you like, she's a queer one. window r.) And what about those two? So it

on,

and not the other one.

seems now.

sergeant. Well, that about washes him out

Who have we got left?

ACT THREE

249

it that the gun in Lady what he says it was. It's still wide open. You know, we've forgotten one thing. Penny—the holster.

INSPECTOR. We've only got Gudgeon's word for Angkatell's basket

is

SERGEANT. Holster? INSPECTOR. Sir Henry told us that the gun was originally in a brown leather holster.

Where's the

holster?

Csm HENRY

we ought

SIR HENRY. I suppose

to

enters l.) to the windows some extraordinary Edward. Midge.

be starting— (^e crosses

R.) but everyone seems to have disappeared for

reason.

(He

looks out of the

window and

calls.^

Clady angkatell enters l. She wears her hat and coat. She 'prayer hook and one white glove and one grey glove.^

carries

a

LADY ANGKATELL. (moving L.c.) How do I look? Is this the sort of thing one wears? SIR HENRY. Qturning and moving to ^ of the sofa") You don't need a prayer book,

my

dear.

LADY ANGKATELL. But

I

INSPECTOR. Evidence

isn't

thought One swore things. usually taken on oath in a Coroner's court,

Lady Angkatell. In any today.

(He

case, the

crosses to the door l.)

(The SERGEANT Well,

if

proceeding will be purely formal

you'll excuse

(He

me,

exits l.

crosses to the door l.)

we'll

both be getting on our way.

The sergeant

follows

him

o/f.)

LADY ANGKATELL. (easing to the fireplace') You and I and Gerda can go in the Daimler, and Edward can take Midge and Henrietta. SIR HENRY, (moving c.) Where's Gerda? LADY ANGKATELL. Henrietta is with her.

(edward and midge

enter r.

midge picks up her hag and gloves from the

writing table, and moves below the sofa, sofa to R. of SIR

crosses

above the

HENRY.)

SIR HENRY. Well, what's this

with EDWARD.)

edward

Isn't this

I

hear about you two?

wonderful news?

and kisses her.) EDWARD. Thank you, Henry. midge. Thank you. Cousin Henry.

(He

(He

shakes hands

crosses to l. of

midge

THE HOLLOW

250

LADY ANGKATELL. Qooktng at her gloves') Now what made white glove and one grey glove? How very odd. (_She

EDWARD. Qmoving uf

c.)

I'll

get

(He

my

me

take one

l.)

escits

car roimd.

exits u-p c. to l.)

MIDGE. Csitting on the sofa) Are you really pleased? SIR HENRY. It's the bcst news I've heard for a long time.

You

don't

know

what it'll mean to Lucy. She's got Ainswick on the brain, as you know. MIDGE. She wanted Edward to marry Henrietta. (Troubled.) Will she mind that it's me? sm HENRY. Of course not. She only wanted Edward to marry. If you want my opinion, you'll make him a far better wife than Henrietta. MIDGE.

It's

always been Henrietta with Edward.

sm HENRY.

Ccrossing to the fireplace) Well, don't

(He

you

let

those police

from the hox on the mantelpece.) Best thing in the world from that point of view that he's got engaged to you. Takes suspicion right off him. MIDGE, (rising) Suspicion? Off Edward? SIR HENRY, (turning) Counting Gerda out of it, I should say he was susfellows hear

pect

number

you say

one.

MIDGE, (crosssing the

plls his cigarette case

To put it blundy, he loathed John

to c.

murder—so

so.

then moving uf l.)

that's

why

.

.

.

I

(Her

Cristow's guts.

remember— the evening

after

face grows desperately un-

happy.)

(HENRIETTA entevs

L.)

HENRIETTA. Oh, Henry, I'm taking Gerda with me. (She crosses to the drinks table and picks

ous state— and

I

up her

gloves

and bag.) She

is

in rather a nerv-

think that one of Lucy's conversations would just

about finish her. We're starting now. SIR

HENRY, (moving

to the

(He

door l.) Yes,

we ought to be starting too.

exits l., leaving the

door open.)

(Off; calling.) Are you ready, Lucy?

HENRIETTA, (putting OK her gloves) Congratulations, Midge. Did you stand on a table and shout at him? MIDGE, (solemnly) I rather think I did.

HENRIETTA.

I told

you that was what Edward needed.

1

ACT THREE MIDGE, (jnoving

to the radio) I don't

25 Edward

think

will ever really love

anyone but you. HEi«iRiETTA. Oh, don't be absurd, Midge. MIDGE. I'm not absurd.

It's

the sort of thing

HENRIETTA. Edward wouldn't ask you MIDGE, ^switching on the

radio')

HENRIETTA.

What

GERDA. (o/f

L.;

HENRIETTA.

(^CTOSsing to the

CShe

He may

do you mean? door L.) I'm coming, Gerda.

radio war-ms

uf and music

is

aux Cheveux de Lin." midge moves gloves on the mantelpiece and looks in the

The

heard.

tune

to the preflace,

Fille

c.

to.

have thought it— wise.

calling) Henrietta.

The

exits l.

one—knows.

marry him unless he wanted

to

mirror,

edward

is

"ha

^uts her enters

wp

from L.)

EDWARD, (moving

l.c.)

MIDGE, (turning)

If

The

car's outside.

you don't mind,

EDWARD. But why ? MIDGE. She loses things—and

I'll

go with Lucy.

.

.

.

flutters— I'll

be

useful.

(She moves down

L.)

EDWARD, (hurt) Midge, MIDGE, (crossing

to r.)

is

anything the matter?

Never mind now.

What

is it?

We must get to

the inquest

EDWARD. Something is the matter. MIDGE. Don't—don't bother me. EDWARD. Midge, have you changed your mind? Did I—rush you into things just now? (He moves helow the sofa.) You don't want to marry

me

after all?

no— we must keep on What do you mean?

MIDGE. No,

EDWARD.

with

it

now. Until

all this is

MIDGE. As things are— it's better you should be engaged can break

(edward

(She turns her hack

it off.

looks stunned for a

to

moment, then

to

over.

me. Later,

we

him.) controls himself

and speaks in

a monotone.)

EDWARD.

I

see—even

MIDGE, (turning)

EDWARD. No, better go.

1

I'll

for

Ainswick— you

others will .

can't go through with it

wouldn't work, Edward.

suppose you are right

The

MIDGE. Aren't you

EDWARD.

It

.

.

(He

turns

be waiting.

?

be along. I'm used to driving alone.

and

faces

up

1..)

You'd

THE HOLLOW

252 Cmidge he

exits

wp

re-enters.

edward

c. to l.

He

crosses

a revolver.

carries

and

He

After a jew moments,

exits l.

closes the door, crosses to the

moves to the fire'place, 'picks up midge's and puts them in his pocket. He then moves L.c. and opens the revolver to see if it is loaded. As he snaps the revolver shut, midge enters up c. from l.)

and

radio

^ves

MIDGE.

svintchs it off,

from the mantelpiece

Edward—are you

EDWARD.

still

here?

Cstriving to appear natural)

MIDGE. Q^noving above the sofa)

I

Why, Midge, you

came back

startled

my

for

me.

gloves. (,She leans

over the hack of the sofa and looks under the cushions.)

I left

them

somewhere. (Sfee looks towards the mantelpiece and sees the revolver in edwaed's hand.)

EDWARD.

I

thought

Edward, what are you doing with that revolver?

might have a shot or two down

I

at the targets.

MIDGE. At the targets? But there's the inquest

EDWARD. The inquest,

yes, of course. I forgot.

MIDGE, C^ith a step towards him) R.

of him.)

My God!

mantelpiece.) Give revolver

Edward—what

CShe snatches the

me

QShe moves in

is it?

to

gun from him,

crosses to the

must be mad.

(.She puts the

that revolver—you

on the upstage end of the mantelpiece.)

(EDWARD

sits

in the armchair l.c.)

(She turns.) How could you? (She kneels down l. of edwaed.) But why, Edward, but why? Because of Henrietta? EDWARD, (surprised) Henrietta? No. That's all over now. MIDGE.

Why— tell me why?

EDWARD.

It's all

so hopcless.

MIDGE. Tell me, darling.

Make me

understand.

It's men like Cristow— But I Even for Ainswick you couldn't bring yourself to marry me. MIDGE. You thought I was marrying you for Ainswick? EDWARD. Heaven on a plate—but you couldn't face the prospect of having me thrown in.

EDWARD. I'm no good. Midge. Never any good. they're successful—women admire them.

MIDGE. That's not true,

that's

not true. Oh, you

stand? It was you I wanted, not Ainswick.

adored you.

I've

loved you ever since

with love for you sometimes.

EDWARD. You love me?

.

I

I

fool!

.

.

Don't you under-

adore

you— I've always

can remember.

I've

been

sick

ACT THREE

253

Of course I love you, you darling idiot When you asked me to marry you I was in heaven. EDWARD. But then why ? MIDGE. I w as a fool. I got it into my head you were doing it because of the

MIDGE.

.

.

.

police.

EDWARD. The police? MIDGE. I thought—perhaps—you'd killed John Cristow. EDWARD. I ? MIDGE. For Henrietta—and I thought you'd got engaged to me to throw them ofiF the scent. Oh, I must have been crazy. (She rises.^ EDWARD. C^ising) I can't say I'm sorry that Cristow is dead— (fee crosses to the fire-place) but I should never have dreamed of killing hira. MIDGE, cloving in to r. of him) I know. I'm a fool. CShe lays her head on his chest.) But I was so jealous of Henrietta. EDWARD. Cpwttfng his arms around her) You needn't be, Midge. It was .

.

.

Henrietta, the

girl, I

ized Henrietta the

me

asked

tle girl,

But that day you

loved.

woman was

to look at you, I

but Midge the

I

me

the

didn't

fire for

know.

for the first time, not

woman—warm and

MIDGE. Oh, Edward. EDWARD. Midge, don't ever leave

MIDGE. Never.

a stranger

saw you

lit

me,

I real-

When

Midge

you

the

lit-

alive.

again.

promise you never.

I

(The sound Heavens, Edward,

of a motor horn

we must

go.

is

heard up c.)

They're waiting.

What

did

I

come

back for? Gloves!

(edward Oh, (She

takes the gloves

curtain

is

off.

The

closed.

One hour

is

from him, turns and

c.

from

L.

exits

lights fade to a hlack-out,

There

presumed

HENRIETTA

up

c. to l.

edward

to

is

fol-

during which the alcove

a pause of six seconds then the lights

is

come

have elapsed, during which the weather

has turned stormy and the sky

up

to her.)

darling!

lows her

up.

from his pocket and holds them out

takes midge's gloves

is

overcast,

gerda and Henrietta enter

Supporting gerda.

They hoth

carry hand-

hags.)

HENRIETTA.

Casses him') Darling,

you were wonderful

(mrs. BOYLE and mollie eodt l wp the CHRISTOPHER.

woman.

I

C^istfig;

childishly')

don't like her at

all.

I

think

that's

I'd love to see

To

Giles, softly,

.

.

.

statrs')

perfectly

a

horrible

you turn her out into the

snow. Serve her right GILES.

It's

a pleasure I've got to forgo, I'm afraid.

CThe door

hell 'peah)

Lord, there's another of them. (giles goes out to the front door')

CO/f)

Come in—come

in.

CcHRiSTOPHER moves to the sofa and sits, miss casewell enters wp r. She is a young woman of a mxmly type, and carries a case. She has a long dark coat, a light scarf and no hat. giles enters) MISS CASEWELL. (iM a deep, manly voice) Afraid half a mile

down

the road—ran into a

my

car's

bogged about

drift.

me take this. (He takes her case and puts it R of Any more stuff in the car? CASEWELL. Qmovtng down to the fire) No, I travel light

GILES. Let

the refectory

tahle)

MISS

Cgiles moves above the armchair c)

Ha, glad to see you've got a good manly fashion) GILES. Er-Mr. Wren-Miss



fire.

CShe

straddles in front of

it

in

a

"?

miss CASEWELL. CasewcU. CShe nods to Christopher) GILES. My wife will be down in a minute. miss CASEWELL. No huny. CShe takes off her overcoat) Got to get myself thawed out. Looks as though you're going to be snowed up here. CTaking an evening paper from her overcoat pocket) Weather forecast says

heavy

falls

expected. Motorists warned, etcetera.

plenty of provisions GILES.

Oh

yes.

My

wife's

you've got

we

can always

an excellent manager. Anyway,

eat our hens.

miss CASEWELL. Before

Hope

in.

we

start eating

each other, eh?

ACT ONE SCENE QShe laughs

stridently

275

I

and throws the overcoat at She sits in the armchair c)

C3HRISTOPHER, (rising and crossing to the pre')

Giles,

Any news

who

catches

it.

paper-

in the

apart from the weather?

MISS CASEWELL. Usual

A

CHRISTOPHER.

Oh yes,

political crisis.

(Turning

murder?

and a rather juicy murder! Miss CasewelV) Oh, I like

to

murder!

MISS CASEWELL. (handing him the 'pafer) They seem to think it was a homicidal maniac. Strangled a woman somewhere near Paddington.

Sex maniac,

I

suppose. (She looks at dies')

(GILES crosses tot. of the sofa table)

CHRISTOPHER. Doesn't say much, does

and reads) 'The

Culver Street

cinity of

(He

it?

in the small armchair

sits

police are anxious to interview a

overcoat, lightish scarf

at the time.

and

soft felt

Medium

man

seen in the

r

vi-

height, wearing darkish

hat Police messages

to this effect

have been broadcast throughout the day." MISS CASEWELL. Uscful description. Fit pretty well anyone, wouldn't it? CHRISTOPHER. When it says that the police are anxious to interview someone,

is

that a polite

way

of hinting that he's the murderer?

MISS CASEWELL. Could be.

Who was the woman who was murdered? CHRISTOPHER. Mrs. Lyon. Mrs. Maureen Lyon. CHLEs.

GILES.

Yotmg

or old?

CHRISTOPHER.

It doesn't say. It

MISS CASEv^^ELL. (to GUcs) (mot.t.ie

seem

doesn't

I told

comes down the

to

have been robbery

.

.

.

you—sex maniac and

stairs

crosses to

Miss Casewell)

Miss Casewell, MoUie. My vidfe. ^uss CASEvi^LL. (rising) How d'you do? (She shakes hands vHth Mollie

GILES. Here's

vigorously)

Cgiles picks

MOLLIE.

The

It's

wp her

an awful night. Would you

water's hot

if

case)

like to

come up

to

your room?

you'd like a bath.

miss casewell. You're

right, I

would.

(mollie and miss casew^ell

exit to the stairs l. Giles follows them, carrying the case. Left alone, Christopher rises and makes an exploration.

He

opens the door

down

l,

peeps in and then

eodts.

A moment

THE MOUSETRAP or two later he reappears on the stairs l. He crosses to the arch up r and looks off. He sings "Little Jack Horner" and chuckles to himself, giving the impression of heing slightly unhinged mentally. He moves

276

hehind the refectory table, giles and mollie enter from the stairs l, talking. CHRISTOPHER hides hehind the curtain, mollie moves ahove the armchair c and giles moves to the r end of the refectory tabled MOLLIE.

I

must hurry out

Metcalf

He

very nice.

is

won't be

We must have a

frightens me.

and

to the kitchen

on with

get

difficult.

nice dinner.

I

things.

Major

Mrs. Boyle really

It's

was thinking of opening

two tins of minced beef and cereal and a tin of peas, and mashing the potatoes.

be GILES.

And

stewed

there's

figs

and

custard.

Do you

think that wdll

right?

all

Oh— I

should think

Not— not

so.

very original, perhaps.

CHRISTOPHER. Qcoming from hehind the curtains and moving between Giles and Mollie^ Do let me help. I adore cooking. Why not an omelette? You've got eggs, haven't you?

MOLLIE.

Oh

yes,

we've got plenty of eggs.

We

don't lay as well as they should but we've put

keep

lots of fowls.

down

They

a lot of eggs.

(GILES breaks away l)

And

if you've got a bottle of cheap, any t)rpe wine, you the— "minced beef and cereals," did you say? Give it a Continental flavour. Show me where the kitchen is and what you've got, and I daresay I shall have an inspiration.

CHRISTOPHER.

could add

MOLLIE.

it

Come

to

on.

(mollie and Christopher

exit

through the archway r

to the kitchen.

GILES frowns, ejaculates something uncomplimentary to Christopher

and crosses to the small armchair down r. He picks up the newspaper and stands reading it with deep attention. He jumps as mollis returns to the room and speaks') Isn't

he sweet? (Sfee moves above the sofa table) He's put on an

apron and he's getting

him and

don't

the cooking themselves, GILES.

Why on

mollie. GILES.

I

He

all

come back it

the things together. for half

If

He

him the

best

he liked the fourposter.

liked the pretty fourposter.

Twerp!

says leave

it

all to

our guests want to do

will save a lot of trouble.

earth did you give

told you,

an hour.

room?

ACT ONE SCENE

277

I

MOLLIS. Giles! GILES. I've got

no use

for that kind. CSignificantly')

You

didn't handle his

suitcase, I did.

Had

it got bricks in it? CShe crosses to the armchair c and sits^ was no weight at all. If you ask me there was nothing inside it. He's probably one of those young men who go about bilking hotel

MOLLIS.

GILES. It

keepers.

MOLLIS.

GILES. Terrible

MOLLIS.

QShe pauses}

don't believe it I like him.

I

well's rather peculiar, don't

It

female— if she

is

seems very hard that

Anyway,

or odd.

I

I

think Miss Case-

you? a female. all

our guests should be either unpleasant

think Major Metcalf s

all right,

don't you?

GILES. Probably drinks!

MOLLIS. Oh, do you think so? GILES.

No,

we

I don't. I

was

just feeling rather depressed. Well, at

loiow the worst now. They've

(The door MOLLIS.

Who can

any

rate

all arrived.

hell rings^

that be?

GILES. Probably the Culver Street murderer.

MOLLIS,

(rising') Don't!

(GILES exits

wp R

to the front door,

mollis

crosses to the fire)

Oh.

GILES, (off)

(mr. paravicini staggers in uf r, carrying a small hag. He is foreign and dark and elderly with a rather flamboyant moustache. He is a slightly taller edition

of Hercule Poirot,

to the audience.

He

which mxiy give a wrong

wears a heavy fur-lined overcoat.

He

im'pression

leans

on the

L side of the arch and futs down the hag. giles enters) paravicini. GILES.

This

a thousand pardons. I am—where am I? is

Monkswell Manor Guest House.

paravicini. But what stupendous good fortune!

down

to Mollie, takes her

hand and

Madame! (He moves

kisses it)

Cgiles crosses above the armchair c)

What

My

an answer to prayer.

A

guest

house—and a charming hostess. snow ever)'-

Rolls Royce, alas, has run into a snowdrift. Blinding

where.

I

do not know where

I

am. Perhaps,

I

think to myself,

I shall

THE MOUSETRAP

278 freeze to death.

snow,

And then I take a me big iron gates.

little

A

see before

I

I fall into

snow

the

come up your

as I

bag, I stagger through the

habitation! drive,

immediately— (?ze looks round) despair turns to

manner) You can GILES.

Oh

MOLLiE.

yes

It's

.

.

let

me

am

I

but at

Twice and ^Changing his saved.

last I arrive

joy.

have a room—yes?

.

rather a small one, I'm afraid.

PARAVicna. Naturally—naturally— you have other guests. MOLLIE. We've only just opened

we're— we're rather new

at

PARAviciNi Clearing at Mollie) GILES.

What

house today, and so

Charming—charming

.

.

.

about your luggage?

PARAviciNi. That GILES.

this place as a guest

it.

of

is

But wouldn't

PARAVICINI. No, no.

a night as

this,

it

no consequence. be better

(He moves wp

there will be

I

have locked the car securely.

to get it in? to

no

are very simple. I have all I

r of Giles)

I

thieves abroad.

need—here—in

can assure you on such

And

for

me,

my

wants

this litde bag. Yes, all

that I need.

MOLLIE. You'd better get thoroughly warm. (pARAviciNi crosses to the I'll

fire)

C^he moves to the armchair c) I'm afraid it's room because it faces north, but all the others are occu-

see about your room.

rather a cold pied.

You have several guests, then? MOLLIE. There's Mrs. Boyle and Major Metcalf and Miss Casewell and a PARAVICINI.

young man called Christopher Wren— and now—you. Yes— the unexpected guest. The guest that you did not invite. The guest who just arrived— from nowhere—out of the storm. It sounds quite dramatic, does it not? Who am I? You do not know. Where do I come from? You do not know. Me, I am the man of mys-

PARAVICINI.

tery.

(He

laughs)

(mollie laughs and

looks at giles,

head

at

who

grins feebly, paravicini nods his

Mollie in high good hwnour)

But now, I tell you this. I complete the picture. From now on there be no more arrivals. And no departures either. By tomorrow—

will

perhaps even already—we are cut

no

baker,

ofiF

from

no milkman, no postman, no

civilization.

No

butcher,

daily papers—nobody

and

ACT ONE SCENE

279

II

nothing but ourselves. That is admirable—admirable. It could not suit me better. My name, by the way, is Paravicini. (He moves down to the small armchair r)

CcaLEs moves to l of Mollie') PARAVICINI. Mr. and Mrs. Ralstonr"

(He nods

his

head as they agree.

He

him and moves up to ^ of Mollie^ And this— is Monkswell Manor Guest House, you said? Good. Monkswell Manor Guest House. (He laughs') Perfect. (He laughs') Perfect. (He laughs and looks round

crosses to the fireplace)

MOLLIE

looks at GILES

and they look

at Paravicini uneasily

the CURTAIN

Scene

SCENE—Tfee same. The following

When

the curtain rises

it

is

falls

II

afternoon.

not snowing, hut snow can he seen

hanked high against the window, major metcalf sofa reading a hook, and mrs. boyle is sitting in the in front of the fire, writing on a fad on her knee. MRS. BOYLE.

I

Consider

only just starting

it

as—

most dishonest not

to

is

seated

on the r

large armchair

have told

me

they were

this place.

MAJOR METCALF. Well,

everything's got to have a beginning,

Excellent breakfast this morning.

made marmalade. And

all

Good

coffee.

you know.

Scrambled eggs, home-

nicely served, too. Little

woman

does

it

all

herself.

MRS. BOYLE. Amatcurs— there should be a proper

MAJOR METCALF.

staff.

Excellent lunch, too.

MRS. BOYLE. Combeef.

MAJOR METCALF. But

very well disguised combeef.

Ralston promised to

make

MRS. BOYLE, (rising and crossing really hot.

I

shall

speak about

MAJOR METCALF. Very yours was,

too.

Red wine

in

it.

Mrs.

a pie for us tonight. to the radiator)

These

radiators are not

least

mine was. Hope

it.

comfortable beds,

too.

At

THE MOUSETRAP

28o

was quitc adequate. (She returns to the large armchair r don't quite see why the best bedroom should have been given to that very peculiar young man. MAJOR METCAUF. Got here ahead of us. First come, first served.

MRS. BOYLE.

and

It

sits) I

MRS. BOYLE. From the advertisement

what

this place

would be

much larger place altogether— with MAJOR METCALF. Regular old tabbies' beg your pardon. MAJOR METCALF. Er—I mean, yes, MRS. BOYLE.

got quite a dififerent impression of

I

A

like.

comfortable writing-room, and a

bridge and other amenities.

delight

I

I quite see

(cHRisTOPER enters l from the MRS. BOYLE. No, indeed,

I shan't stay

CHRISTOPHER, (hughing) No. No,

(CHRISTOPHER MRS. BOYLE. Really that tally, I

is

I

what you mean.

stairs

unnoticed)

here long. don't suppose you wiU.

exits into the library

wp l)

a very peculiar yoimg man. Unbalanced men-

shouldn't wonder.

MAJOR METCALF. Think MRS. BOYLE.

I shouldn't

he's escaped

be

from a lunatic asylum.

at all surprised.

(mollie enters through the archway uf r) MOLLIS,

(^calling upstairs) Giles?

Qo^) Yes? MOLLiE. Can you shovel the snow away again from the back door? GILES, (o^) Coming. GILES.

(mollie disappears through the arch)

MAJOR METCALF. I'll give you a hand, what? (He the arch) Good exercise. Must have exercise.

rises

and

crosses

up r

(major METCALF cxits. GILES enters from the stairs, crosses and exits up R. MOLLIS returns, carrying a duster and a vacuum cleaner, crosses the Hall and runs upstairs. She collides with miss casewell who is coming down the stairs) MOLLIS. Sorry!

miss casewell. That's

(mollie

all right.

exits,

miss casewell com^s slowly c)

1

ACT ONE SCENE MRS. BOYLE. Really!

What an

incredible

H

28

young woman. Doesn't she know

anything about housework? Carrying a carpet sweeper through the front hall. Aren't there

MISS CASEWELL.

—nice

stairs.

CShe

fire.

stairs?

lights the cigarette)

Then why

MRS. BOYLE.

any back

C^i^king u ciguTette from a packet in her handbag') Oh yes (S/ie crosses to the pre) Very convenient if there was a

not use them? Anyway,

all

the housework should

have been done in the morning before lunch. MISS CASEWELL. I gather our hostess had to cook the lunch. MRS. BOYLE. All Very haphazard and amateurish. There should be a proper staff.

MISS CASEWELL. Not very easy

to get

nowadays,

is it?

MRS. BOYLE. No, indeed the lower classes seem to have no idea of their

re-

sponsibilities.

MISS CASEWELL. Poor old lower

classes.

Got the

bit

between

their teeth,

haven't they?

MRS. BOYLE.

CShe moves

much

I

wouldn't say

to the sofa

and

that.

I'm not a

Red—just

on the right arm) But

sits

pale pink.

I don't take

interest in politics— I live abroad.

MRS. BOYLE.

I

suppose Conditions are

MISS CASEvi^ELL.

have

gather you are a Socialist

Cfi'ostily) I

MISS CASEWELL. Oh,

to

do in

much

don't have to cook

I

easier abroad.

and clean—as

I gather

most people

this country.

MRS. BOYLE. This country has gone sadly downhill. Not what be. I sold

my house last year.

it

used to

Everything was too difficult

MISS CASEWELL. Hotcls and guest houses are

easier.

MRS. BOYLE. They certainly solve some of one's problems. Are you over in

England

for long?

MISS CASEWELL. Depends.

—I

shall

MRS. BOYLE.

I've got

some business

to see to.

When

it's

done

go back.

To

France?

MISS CASEWISLL. No. MRS. BOYLE.

Italy?

MISS CASEWELL. No. (Sfee grins) (mrs. BOYLE looks at her inquiringly hut miss casewell does not

spond MRS. BOYLE

Starts writing,

her, crosses to the radio, turns

volume)

it

re-

miss casevv^ll grins as she looks at

on

at

first softly,

then increases the

THE MOUSETRAP

282

MRS. BOYLB. ^annoyed, as she that

on quite so loud!

one is trying to write MISS CASEWELL. Do yOU?

I

Would you mind

uniting)

is

not having

always find the radio rather distracting

when

letters.

MRS. BOYLE. If you don't particularly want to listen just now Russ CASEWELL. It's my favourite music. There's a writing table in there. CShe nods towards the library door wp l) .

MRS. BOYLE.

I

Icnow.

MISS CASEWELL.

But it's much warmer here. warmer, I agree. (S/ie dances

Much

to the

.

.

mustc)

glare, rises and exits into the lihrary up L. moves to the sofa table, and stubs out her cigaShe moves up stage and picks up a magazine from the refectory

(mrs. BOYLB, after a moment's

ROSS CASEWELL rette.

grins,

table)

Bloody old bitch. (SJie moves

to the large

(CHRISTOPHER enters from the

library

armchair and ^ts)

up l and moves down l)

CHRISTOPHER. Oh!

MISS CASEWELL. HuUo. CHRISTOPHER, (^gesturing back

seems

to

hunt

to the library')

me down— and

MISS CASEWT.LL. (indicating the radio) Turn

(CHRISTOPHER turns the radio down until CHRISTOPHER.

it

down

it it is

I

go that

me—positively

woman

glares.

a bit

playing quite softly)

Is that all right?

MISS CASEWELL. CHRISTOPHER.

Wherever

then she glares at

Oh

ycs,

it's

served

its

purpose.

What purpose?

MISS CASEWELL. Tactics, boy.

(CHRISTOPHER looks puzdcd. MISS CASEWELL indicates the library) CHRISTOPHER. Oh, you mean her.

Rnss CASEWELL. She'd pinched the best chair. I've got it now. CHRISTOPHER. You drove her out. I'm glad. I'm very glad. I don't like her a bit.

do

(Crossing quichly to Miss Casewell) Let's think of things to

annoy

her, shall

we?

I

we

can

wish she'd go away from here.

MISS CASEw^ELL. In this? Not a hope. CHRISTOPHER. But when the snow melts. jvnss CASEWELL. Oh, when the snow melts

lots of things

may have

hap-

pened.

CHRISTOPHER. Yes—ycs— that's

true.

(He

goes to the

window) Snow's

ACT ONE SCENE rather lovely, isn't

H

283 ...

So peaceful— and pure

iti*

makes one forget

It

things.

MISS CASEWELL. CHRISTOPHER.

docsn't

It

make me forget

How fierce you

sound.

MISS CASEWELL. I was thinking. CHRISTOPHER, What sort of thinking;" (He

sits

on the window

seat")

MISS CASEWELL. Ice on a bedroom jug, chilblains, raw and bleeding—one thin ragged blanket— a child shivering with cold and fear. CHRISTOPHER,

My dear,

it

sounds

grim—what

too, too

is it?

A novel?

know I was a writer, did you? CHRISTOPHER. Are you? (He rises and moves down to her) MISS CASEWELL. You didn't

MISS CASEWELL. Sorry

I'm not. QShe futs the

to disappoint you. Actually

magazine wp in front of her face^

(CHRISTOPHER looks very loud and

at her doubtfully, then crosses l, turns

The

the drawing-room.

into

exits

MOLLIE runs down the phone^

duster in hand,

stairs,

wp

the radio

telephone rings.

and goes

to the tele-

receiver') Yes? (She turns off the radio) Yes— No, I'm What? Monkswell Manor Guest House Mr. Ralston can't come to the telephone just now. This is Mrs.

MOLLIE, (jpicking up the this is

afraid

.

Ralston speaking.

Who

.

.

?

.

The

.

.

.

Berkshire Police

.

.

.

.

.

?

(miss casewtell lowers her magazine)

Oh

Superintendent Hogben, I'm afraid

yes, yes,

He'd never get

roads are impassable

.

.

(miss CASEWELL

and

riscs

.

(giles enters

.

impossible.

.

.

up l)

crosses to the arch

Nothing can get through Very well Yes Hullo— hullo CShe replaces the receiver) .

that's

We're snowed up. Completely snowed up. The

here.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

But what

.

.

.

.

up r wearing an hangs

overcoat.

it

up

He

removes the overcoat and

in the hall)

MoUie, do you know where there's another spade? MOLLIE, (^moving up c) Giles, the police have just rung up. GILES.

MISS CASEWELL. Trouble with

police,

eh? Serving liquor without a

cence?

(miss CASEWELL

cxits

L up the

stairs)

li-

THE MOUSETRAP

284

MOLLiE. They're sending out an inspector or a sergeant or something. (moving to ^ of Mollie) But he'll never get here.

GILES,

MOLLIE. That's what

I

told them.

But they seemed quite confident

that

he

would.

Even a jeep

GILES. Nonsense.

MOLLIE. That's what impress on

think

ter, I

Isn't

GILES,

couldn't get through today.

Anyway, what's

about?

it all

it

my

asked.

I

husband

But he wouldn't

was to what Sergeant Trot-

say. Just said I

to listen very carefully to

was, had to say, and to follow his instructions implicidy.

it

extraordinary?

(moving down

What on

to the pre)

earth do you think we've

done? MOLLIE. (moving to

of Giles)

l.

Do you

think

those nylons from

it's

Gibraltar? GILES. I did

remember

MOLLIS. Yes, GILES. I

car the other

day but

it

was en-

the other fellow's fault

We must have done something

GILES, (kneeling

and putting a

with running of

to get the wireless licence, didn't I?

in the kitchen dresser.

had rather a near shave with the

tirely

MOLLIE.

it's

log

.

.

.

on the pre) Probably something

this place. I expect

some Ministry or other. You rises and faces Mollie)

do

to

we've ignored some tinpot regulation practically can't avoid

it,

nowadays.

(He MOLLIE.

Oh

dear, I

snowed up

for days,

our reserve of GILES.

wdsh we'd never started

Cheer up,

and everyone

We're going

this place.

is cross,

and we

shall

to

be

go through

all

tins.

darling,

(he takes Mollie in his arms) everything's going

moment

I've filled up all the coalscuttles, and brought and stoked the Aga and done the hens. I'll go and do the boiler next, and chop some kindling (He breaks off) You know, Mollie, (he moves slowly up to r of the refectory table) come to think of it, it must be something pretty serious to send a police sergeant trekking out in aU this. It must be something really urgent all

right at the

in the wood,

.

.

.

.

.

.

(giles and mollie look at each other uneasily, mrs. boylb enters from the library

MRS. BOYLE, (coming Ralston.

to

L of the refectory table) Ah, there you

Do you know

stone cold?

up l)

the central heating in the library

is

are,

Mr.

practically

ACT ONE SCENE

285

II

and . MRS. BOYLE. I am paying seven guineas a week here—seven guineas and do not want to freeze. GILES. Ill go and stoke it up. GILES. Sorry, Mrs, Boyle, we're a bit short of coke

(GILES exits hy the archway

wp

r.

mollie

.

follows

.

him

I

to the arch')

if you don't mind my saying so, that is a very young man you have staying here. His manners— and his ties— and does he ever brush his hair? MOLLIE. He's an extremely brilliant young architect

MRS. BOYLE. Mrs. Ralston, extraordinary

MRS. BOYLE.

I

beg your pardon? Wren is an architect

MOLLIE. Christopher

My

MRS. BOYLE.

dear young

woman.

topher Wren. QShe crosses to the

He

built St. Paul's.

I

.

.

.

have naturally heard of

fire')

Of

course,

You young people seem

Sir Chris-

he was an

to think that

architect.

no-one

is

educated but yourselves.

MOLLIE.

him

I

Wren. His name is Christopher. His parents called hoped he'd be an architect. (Sfce crosses to the and takes a cigarette from the box) And he is— or nearly

meant

this

that because they

sofa table

one—so

it

MRS. BOYLE.

turned out

all right.

Humph. Sounds

armchair)

I

should

a fishy story to me. CShe

make some

inquiries about

sits

him

in the large

if I

were you.

What do you know of him? MOLLIE. Just as much as I know

about you, Mrs. Boyle—which is that you are both paying us seven guineas a week. (She lights her cigarette) That is really all I need to know, isn't it? And all that concerns me. It doesn't matter to me whether I like my guests, or whether Oneaningly) I don't

MRS. BOYLE. You are young and inexperienced and should welcome advice

from someone more knowledgeable than yourself.

And what

about

this foreigner?

What about him? MRS. BOYLE. You weren't expecting him, were you? MOLLIE. To turn away a bona fide traveller is against the law, Mrs. Boyle. MOLLIE.

You should know MRS. BOYLE.

that.

Why do you say that?

MOLLIE. Qmoving

down c) Weren't you

a magistrate, sitting

on the bench,

Mrs. Boyle? inRS.

BOYLE. All

seems to

me

I

say

.

.

.

is

that this Paravicini, or whatever

he

calls himself,

THE MOUSETRAP

286

(pARAviciNi enters softly from the PARAViciNi. Beware, dear lady.

You

stairs

l)

and there he

talk of the devil

Ha,

is.

ha.

CmRS. BOYLE jumps^

MRS. BOYLE.

I didn't

hear you come

in.

(mollie moves behind the PARAVICINI. I

came

in

down c) Nobody

on tiptoe—like

ever hears

me

sofa

QHe

this.

if I

tahW) demonstrates, moving

do not want them

to. I

find that

very amusing.

MRS. BOYLE. Indeed?

Now there was a young lady

PAEiAviciNi. chitting in the armchair c)

MRS. BOYLE. Casing) Well, little

warmer

(mrs. BOYLE

I

must get on with

my

letters. I'll

.

see if

.

.

it's

a

in the drawing-room.

eocits to

the drawing-room

down

l.

mollis follows her

to the

door')

PARAVICINI.

My charming hostess

looks upset.

What

dear lady? Qrie

is it,

leers at her)

MOLLIE. Everything's rather

morning. Because of the snow.

difficult this

Snow makes things difl&cult, makes them easy. (He moves uf to

PARAVICINI. Yes. else

it

Yes— very

does

it

not?

(He

the refectory table

rises')

and

Or

sits)

easy.

know what you mean. No, there is quite a lot you do not know. I think, for one thing, that you do not know very much about running a guest house. MOLLIE. (mofving to i. of the sofa table and stubbing out her cigarette) I daresay we don't. But we mean to make a go of it. PARAVICINI. Bravo—bravo! (He claps his hands and rises) MOLLIE. I'm not such a very bad cook MOLLIE.

I

don't

PARAVICINI.

.

PARAVICINI. (leering)

You

moves behind the sofa

(mollie draws

May

I

give you a

the sofa)

Have you

little

it

.

.

are vsdthout doubt an enchanting cook. table

and

takes Mollie's

(He

hand)

away and moves below the

sofa

down c)

word of warning, Mrs. Ralston? (Moving below too trusting, you know.

You and your husband must not be

references with these guests of yours?

H

ACT ONE SCENE MOLLiB.

Is that

287

usual? (Sfee turns to Paravicini) I always thought people

just—just came? PARAVICINI.

car at

is

advisable to Icnow a

It is

under your

roof.

Take,

overturned in a snowdrift.

may be

all! I

fugitive

little

sleep

up saying that my What do you know of me? Nothing

madman— even—a

MOLLiE. Chacking away^ Oh! PARAVICI^fI. You see! And perhaps you

I

turn

moves slowly towards Mollie^ a

a thief, a robber, (/le

from justice— a

who

about the people

for example, myself.

murderer.

know

your other

just as little of

guests.

MOLLIE. Well, as

far as

Mrs. Boyle goes

.

.

.

(mrs. Boyle enters from the drawing-room, mollie moves wp c

to the

refectory tabled

MRS. BOYLE.

The drawing-room (S^e

letters in here.

me

PARAVICINI. Allow

to

is

far too cold to sit in. I shall write

my

crosses to the large armchair^

poke the

(major metcalf

fire for

enters

MAJOR metcalf. Qo MolUe; with

(He moves R and does so')

you.

wp r through

the archway)

old-fashioned modesty) Mrs. Ralston,

is

your husband about? I'm afraid the pipes of the—er— the downstairs

cloakroom are frozen.

MOLLIE.

Oh

dear.

CShe moves

What an

to the

arch

awful day.

First the police

and then the

pipes.

up r)

(paravicini drops the poker with a

major metcalf

clatter,

stands as

though paralysed) MRS. BOYLE. Cstartlcd) Police?

major METCALF.

Qloiidly, as if incredidous) Police, did you say? QHe l end of the refectory table) MOLLIE. They rang up. Just now. To say they're sending a sergeant out here. QShe looks at the snow) But I don't think he'll ever get here.

moves

to the

(GILES enters from the archway GILES. is

The ruddy

more than half

stones.

basket of logs)

And

the price

.

.

.

Hullo,

anything the matter?

MAJOR METCALF. Oh, that's must be five

GILES.

coke's

up r with a

I

hear the police are on their

all right.

No-one can

feet deep.

The

way

here.

Why?

get through in this.

roads are

all

Why,

the drifts

banked up. Nobody

will get

THE MOUSETRAP

288

(He

here today.

May

Paravicini.

(pARAViciNi moves

Excuse me, Mr.

takes the logs to the pre'place')

put these down.

I

dovm

stage of the fireflace.

There are three shatf

ta'ps

on the window as sergeant trotter fresses his face to the 'pane and peers in. mollie gives a cry and points, giles crosses and throws open

trotter is on skis and young man with a slight cockney accent^

the window, sergeant

place

is

a cheerful, common-

TROTTER. Are you Mr. RalstonP GILES. Yes. Trotter. I

Thank

you,

Detective Sergeant Trotter. Berkshire Police.

sir.

and stow them somewhere? r) Go round that way to the front

Can

get these skis off

GILES, (jpointing

TROTTER.

Thank

you,

(GILES leaves the

MRS. BOYLE. to go

I

window open and

supposc

that's

crosses

PARAVICINI. C'f^oving Mollie')

MOLLIE. But

up

eodts to the front

what we pay our

round enjoying themselves

(mollie

I'll

meet you.

police force for, nowadays,

helow the refectory table to

door up r)

at winter sports.

c of the refectory

Why did you send for the police, I didn't.

door.

sir.

to the

table; in

window')

a fierce whisper to

Mrs. Ralston?

CShe shuts the window)

(CHRISTOPHER enters from the drawing-room l and comes to l of the PARAVICINI moves to the r end of the refectory table)

Where

CHRISTOPHER. Who's that man?

drawing-room window on

skis.

did he

All over

sofa.

come from? He passed the snow and looking terribly

hearty.

MRS. BOYLE. You

may

believe

or not, but the

it

man

is

a policeman.

A

policeman— ski-ing! (GILES and TROTTER enter from the front door, trotter has removed his skis

GILES.

and

is

carrying them)

Cmoving r of the arch up r) Er—this

is

Detective Sergeant Trotter.

L of the large armchair) Good afternoon. MRS. BOYLE. You Can't be a sergeant. You're too young. TROTTER, (^moving

to

TROTTER. I'm not quite as young as

CHRISTOPHER. But terribly hearty.

I

look,

madam.

ACT ONE SCENE U GILES. We'll stow your skis

away under the

289

stairs.

Cgiles and trotter exit through the archway

MAJOR METCALF. Excuse me, Mrs. Ralston, but may I MOLLiB. Of course, Major Metcalf. (major metcalf

up r)

use your telephone?

goes to the telephone and

dials')

CHRISTOPHER. Csttting at the r end of the sofa) He's very attractive, don't you think so? I always think that policemen are very attractive.

No

MRS. BOYLE.

You can

brains.

major METCALF. Qnto Mrs. Ralston,

MOLLIE.

was

It

all

this

see that at a glance.

the telephone) Hullo! Hullo!

telephone

is

right about half

major METCALF. The

line's

.

.

off.

That's funny,

(To Mollie)

an hour ago.

gone with the weight of the snow,

CHRISTOPHER, (landing hysterically) So we're quite cut cut

.

dead— quite dead.

off

I

suppose.

now. Quite

isn't it?

MAJOR METCALF. Qnioving to I. of sofa) I don't see anything to laugh at MRS. BOYLE. No, indeed. CHRISTOPHER. Ah, it's a private joke of my own. Hist, the sleuth is returning.

(trotter enters from the archway wp r, followed hy giles. trotter moves down c while giles crosses to l of the sofa table) trotter. Ci^king out his notebook) ston.

Now we

can get

to business,

Mr. Ral-

Mrs. Ralston?

(mollie moves down c) GILES.

Do

you want

to see us alone? If so,

TROTTER, (turning his back save time mxives

up

PARAViciNi.

TRorrER.

I

if

to the

r end

you.

library.

(He

I

It's

might

not necessary, sit

at this

sir.

table?

It'll

(He

of the refectory table)

beg your pardon.

Thank

can go into the

audience)

everybody's present. If

to the

we

up l)

points towards the library door

(He

(He moves behind

settles

the table to the l end)

himself in a judicial

manner c behind

the refectory table)

MOLLIE. Oh, do hurry up and refectory table)

What

have

tell us.

TROTTER, (surprised) Done? Oh, It's

something quite

you understand me.

(SJie

moves up the R end of the

we done? it's

different. It's

nothing of that kind, Mrs. Ralston.

more a matter of

police protection,

if

THE MOUSETRAP

290 MOLLiB. Police protection? TROTTER.

the death of Mrs. Lyori— Mrs.

It relates to

twenty-four Culver

Maureen Lyon

of

London, West two, who was murdered yesinstant You may have heard or read about the

Street,

terday, the fifteenth

case?

MOLLiE. Yes.

I

heard

it

TROTTER. That's right,

on the

wireless.

madam. CTo

you were acquainted with Never heard of her.

this

is if

GILES.

The woman who was strangled? The first thing I want to know

Giles^

Mrs. Lyon.

(mollbb shakes her head) TROTTER.

You mayn't have known

of her under the

name

Lyon

of Lyon.

wasn't her real name. She had a police record and her fingerprints file so we were able to identify her without difficulty. Her name was Maureen Stanning. Her husband was a farmer, John Stanning, who resided at Longridge Farm not very far from here.

were on real

GILES. Longridge Farm!

Wasn't that where those children

.

.

.

?

TROTTER. Yes, the Longridge Farm case.

(miss casemtell enters from the

MISS casew^ell. Three children

and

.

.

.

C^he

stairs

l)

down r

crosses to the armchair

sits)

(Everyone watches her) TROTTER. That's right, miss.

The

Corrigans.

Two

boys and a

before the court as in need of care and protection. for

them with Mr. and Mrs. Stanning

at

girl.

Brought

A home was

found

One

of the

Longridge Farm.

children subsequendy died as the result of criminal neglect and persistent ill-treatment.

MOLLIE. (very TROTTER.

The

Case made a

mmch shaken)

It

was

bit of a sensation at the time.

horrible.

Stannings were sentenced to terms of imprisonment Stan-

ning died in prison. Mrs. Stanning released. Yesterday, as I say, she

Culver Street MOLLIS. Who did

sen,^ed

her sentence and was duly

was found strangled

at twenty-four

it?

TROTTER. I'm coming to

that,

madam.

A

notebook was picked up near the

scene of the crime. In that notebook as written two addresses.

One

was twenty-four Culver Street The other (he pauses) was Monkswell Manor. GILES.

What?

1

ACT ONE SCENE TROTTER. Yes,

H

29

sir.

(During the next speech paraviceni moves slowly l to the on the wpstage side of the arch^ That's

why

stairs

and

leans

Superintendent Hogben, on receiving this information

it imperative for me to come out here and find out if you knew of any connexion between this house, or anyone in this house, and the Longridge Farm case. GILES, (moving to the l end of the refectory table') There's nothing— absolutely nothing. It must be a coincidence.

from Scotland Yard, thought

TROTTER. Superintendent Hogben doesn't think

(major metcalf

turns

and

looks at Trotter.

takes out his pipe

and

it is

a coincidence,

sir.

During the next speeches he fills it)

had been in any way possible. Under the as I can ski, he sent me with instructions to get full particulars of everyone in the house, to report back to him by phone, and to take what measures I thought fit to ensure the safety of

He'd have come himself weather conditions, and

if it

the household.

What

GILES. Safety?

danger does he think we're in? Good Lord, he's not is going to be killed here.

suggesting that somebody

trotter. is

GILES.

I

want

don't

to frighten

any of the ladies—but frankly,

yes, that

the idea.

But— why?

TROTTER. That's what I'm here

to find

out

But the whole thing's crazy! TROTTER. Yes, sir. It's because it's crazy that MRS. BOYLE. Nonscnsc! GILES.

MISS CASEvt^LL.

CHRISTOPHER.

I

I

must say

think

it's

it

seems a

wonderful.

it's

dangerous.

bit far-fetched.

(He

turns

and

looks at

Major Met-

calf)

(major METCALF Ughts MOLLiE.

his pipe)

something that you haven't told

Is there

us,

Sergeant?

trotter. Yes, Mrs. Ralston. Below the two addresses was written 'Three Blind Mice".

And on

the dead woman's body was a paper with "This

the First" written on

it, and below the words, a drawing of three litde mice and a bar of music. The music was the tune of the nursery rhyme Three Blind Mice. You know how it goes. (He sings) "Three

is

BHnd Mice

." .

.

THE MOUSETRAP

292

MOLLIS, (singiwg) "Three Blind Mice, See how They all

they run,

ran after the farmer's wife

." .

.

Oh, it's horrible. There were three children and one died? TROTTER. Yes, the youngest, a boy of eleven. GILES. What happened to the other two? TROTTER. The girl was adopted by someone. We haven't been able to trace her present whereabouts. The elder boy would now be about twentytwo. Deserted from the Army and has not been heard of since. According to the Army psychologist, was definitely schizophrenic (ExGILES.

A bit queer in

plaining)

MOLLiE. They think that

(She 'moves down

it

the head, that's to say.

was he who

to the

killed

Mr. Lyon—Mrs. Stanning?

armchair c)

TROTTER. Yes.

MOLLIE.

And

that he's a homicidal

up here and

try to kill

maniac (she

sits)

and that he

will turn

someone—but why?

TROTTER. That's what I've got to find out from you. As the Superintendent sees

there must be some connexion. (To Giles) Now you you yourself have never had any connexion with the

it,

state, sir, that

Longridge Farm case? GILES.

No.

And

TROTTER.

the same goes for you,

MOLLIS, (not at ease) I—no— I

What

TROTTER.

madam?

mean—no

connexion.

about servants?

Cmrs. BOYLE registers disapp'oval) MOLLIE.

We

haven't got any servants. (She rises

arch) That reminds me. to the kitchen?

I'll

TROTTER. That's quite

Cmollie

be there

I

have

all

and moves wp r

Sergeant Trotter,

to the

if I

went

you want me. Ralston.

all right, IVLrs.

is

r.

giles crosses

up r

to the arch,

hut he

stopped as trotter speaks)

your names, please?

We are merely staying in a kind of We only arrived yesterday. We've nothing to do wdth this place.

MRS. BOYLE. This hotel.

if

hy the archway up

exits

Now can

Would you mind.

is

quite ridiculous.

raoTTER. You'd planned to come here in advance, though. You'd booked

your rooms here ahead.

ACT ONE SCENE H MRS. BOYLE. Well,

ycs.

PARAViciNi. Paravicini.

My

293

All except Mr. } QShe looks at Paravicint) moves to the l end of the refectory table) (He

car overturned in a snowdrift

I see. What I'm getting at is that anyone who's been following you around might know very well that you were coming here. Now, there's just one thing I want to know and I want to know it quick. Which one of you is it that has some connexion with that business at Longridge Farm?

TROTTER.

(There

a dead silence)

is

One

You're not being very sensible, you know. deadly danger. I've got to

know which one

(There

is

that

of you

is

in

danger-

is.

another silence)

Al right, I'll ask you one by one. (To Paravicini) You, first, since you 7 seem to have arrived here more or less by accident, Mr. Pari PARAVICINI. Para— Paravicini. But, my dear Inspector, I know nothing, but nothing of what you have been talking about. I am a stranger in this country. I know nothing of these local affairs of bygone years.

down

TROTTER, (rising and moving

MRS. BOYLE. Boyle.

Why

to

? l of Mrs. Boyle) Mrs. it an impertinence

don't see—really I consider

I

on earth should

I

have anything

to

do with such— this

.

.

.

distress-

ing business?

(major metcalf TROTTER, (looking

at

looks sharply at her)

Miss Casewell) Miss

?

MISS CASEWELL. (slowly) Casewell. Leslie Casewell. Longridge Farm, and TROTTER, (moving

to

know nothing about

I

R of the

sofa; to

the time.

I

was stationed

at

sir?

the case in the papers at

Edinburgh then.

And

never heard of

Major Metcalf) You,

MAJOR METCALF. Mctcalf— Major. Read about TROTTER, (to Christofhet)

I

it.

No

personal knowledge.

you?

CHRISTOPHER. Christopher Wren.

remember even hearing about

was a mere child

I

at the time. I don't

it.

TROTTER, (moving behind the sofa table)

And

that's all

you have

to

say-

any of you?

(There

(Moving c) Well, blame.

Now then,

is

a silence)

if one of you gets murdered, you'll have yourself Mr. Ralston, can I have a look round the house?

to

2^

THE MOUSEI^JL?

CiMJiiai edts

atp

b

s^ ^ ^^ wJKdaw

vidb GOfS. pab.*vb-tvt

seat)

CEEsrarHES. C^^sai^ ^ir deais, haw nf.:.irirLi-c He's vaj attxacdve, I do athoBe the police. is:: : ~er CH« soses 17 to Ae refer: l^*il««ilwl 'r^Qsiness. Three Qmie 2 l So stem and '

Ham does £be tax ^-

BSml Mice,

:./«$ tt)

.

BGni£. ReaSr, Mr. Wren!

DoD't joa like it? CHe aos«s &> i. £^ Mrs. BoyU) But it's a tnae—die dy»jnn>' of d^e mnrderet. ]xst hncy w!^ a lock be nost be gettiE^ out of it. SCTLE. Mdodiamaiic idbbisii. I don't beliane a wocd of iL 'HII I (jaaOdmg hdumd her) Bat jaSt wak, Mrs, CEBcp 1^ bcsuud you, sDtu.yoa.fBsL^rnBBias on joat llitoai.

Bo^

Mas, BoiXE. Sbsp CS^ •MAjtm MgiT-ATj Tr:2rT! f.

bet, k's oot £

'

.

.

:>r

rises) '!"

-

-iiosjber. Iii

mofiLE,

necBOtic

Cmouje

:hose

A

K ^OQ cc _

:

pier ;c]s. anyvrav. In

Ae armdudr c) Tha^s jost wbat makes it so ddidoosly ^, looks rotmi emd pg^es)

Ot it is.

=

i:

:

_

CatmiMg ap & jfXB^ BOiL

eajBTs from iJbe

fo

Ae

ardt)

A

::^

£ngitXMB dovs b amd

sbimds hj

Ae door)

^^nr^ Vr-'^i Gdes? Takmg oar p Jirfiiiffli on a cuf durtcJ toor of die boose. lOB. BOTLE. Qmovimg itmm to Ae Wge mmduir) Toor fdend, the aidu-

jfss c^k^^rzLL.

i

IBC^ bas been bebaiii^ in

MAjOB

MEm^"

^T-z^r

-:

a most ahpoDnal maimer

:—

raem

newy noHada^ Dknesay

bell

ffOmOML Nerves? Ive 00 pafifnre witb people

BGFTLE. [iZzz^T.g^ BOBPz -



M&JQB WZT^.

-

:

-

,

MAjoB scEitLd:^^

>

-

-

_

_^ _^ ^ _j^^^ .

ve

tuamJuiu c) I

^Ao

saj tbey

Bat iMNT was I to ir

MBS. BOTTF. C

I en;

3JBS.BOTLZ.

_

-:

MISS O^SCWEU.

a«xiXB.Idcn and pofTc

And

\r cv: T TT.

vet

MATCS MZTCAIP.

Cnbere



pen? CS3b«

fiic

THE MOUSETRAP

296

Cmrs. BOYLE exits wp L to the library. There is the sound of a 'piano Toeing played from the drawing-room— the tune of "Three Blind Mice" picked out with one finger^

MOLLIS, (moving up httle tune that

window

to the

What

to close the curtains^

a horrid

is.

MISS CASEWELL. Don't you like

Reminds you

it?

of your childhood

perhaps— an unhappy childhood? MOLLiE. I was very happy as a child. (She moves round

to

c of the refec-

tory tabled

MISS CASEWELL. You were lucky. MOLLIE. Weren't you happy? MISS CASEWELL. QcTossing MOLLIE. I'm

i^ss CASEWELL. But MOLLIE.

I

to

the

fire')

No.

sorry.

suppose

all that's

a long time ago.

One gets

MISS CASEWELL. Or doesn't one?

Damned hard to say. when you're a

MOLLIE. They say that what happened than anything

over things.

so.

child matters

more

else.

MISS CASEWELL. They say— they

say.

Who says?

MOLLIE. Psychologists.

MISS CASEWELL. All humbug. Just a damned

and psychiatrists. MOLLIE. (moving down helow the sofa')

lot of

nonsense. I've no use

for psychologists

I've

never really had

much

to

do

with them.

MISS CASEWELL.

A good

thing for you you haven't.

the whole thing. Life's what you

make

of it

It's all

Go

hooey— ahead—don't

a lot of

straight

look back.

MOLLIE.

One

can't always help looking back.

MISS CASEWELL. Nonsense.

It's

a question of will power.

MOLLIE. Perhaps.

MISS CASEWELL. (forccfully) I know. (She moves down c) MOLLIE. I expect you're right (She sighs) But sometimes things hap.

.

pen—to make you remember MISS CASEviTELL. Don't give MOLLIE.

Is that really

in.

.

.

.

.

Turn your back on them.

the right

way?

I

wonder. Perhaps

that's all

wrong.

Perhaps one ought really to face them.

MISS CASEWELL. Depends what you're talking about. MOLLIE. (with a slight laugh) Sometimes, I hardly know what ing about (She

sits

on the sofa)

I

am

talk-

ACT ONE SCENE U MISS CASEWELL. Qf^oving affect

me—except in

to

way

the

297

Mollie) Nothing from the past I

want

all

right upstairs.

stairs

(He

l)

looks at the open din-

He

ing-room door, crosses and exits into the dining-room.

(miss CASEWELL to

reafpears in

wp r)

the archway

exits into the dining-room, leaving the

and hegins

rises

to

it to.

(GILES and TROTTER enter from the

TROTTER. Well, ever)'thing's

going

is

door open, mollis

up, rearranging the cushions, then moves

to tidy

the curtains, giles moves

up

h of Mollie. trotter

to

up

crosses

down l) (Opening the door down l) What's

(The sound trotter

of the piano

MRS. BOYLE, (o/f)

heard much louder while the door is open. drawing-room and shuts the door. Presently he

is

exits into the

reappears at the door

in here, drawing-room?

up l)

Would you mind

shutting that door. This place

is full

of draughts.

TROTTER. Sorry, madam, but I've got to get the lay of the land.

(trotter

closes the

door and exits up the

mollie moves above the

stairs,

armchair c) GILES,

(coming down

l of Mollie) Mollie, what's

to

(trotter reappears dawn the

all this

.

report

now

to

.

?

stairs)

TROTTER. Well, that completes the tour. Nothing suspicious.

make my

.

Superintendent Hogben.

(He

I

think

goes to the

I'll

tele-

phone) MOLLIE. (moving

The

to

of the refectory table)

l.

dead TROTTER, (swinging round sharply) What? line's

.

.

But you

can't telephone.

.

(He

picks

up the

receiver)

Since when?

MOLLIE. Major Metcalf

tried

TROTTER. But

right earlier. Superintendent

all

it

was

all

it

just after

you

arrived.

Hogben

got through

right

MOLLIE.

Oh yes.

TROTTER.

I

I

suppose, since then, the lines are

wonder.

It

may have been

and turns to them,) GILES. Cut? But who could cut

it?

cut.

(He

down with

the snow.

puts the receiver

down

THE MOUSETRAP

298

Just how much do you know about who are staying in your guest house? GILES. I—we— we don't really know anything about them. TROTTER. Ah. (He }nove5 above the sofa tabled

TROTTER. Mr. Ralston

.

.

.

these peo-

ple

Cloving to B. of Trotter') Mrs. Boyle wrote from a Bournemouth Major Metcalf from an address in— where was it? MOLLiE. Leamington. (She moves to h of Trotter) GILES. Wren wrote from Hampstead and the Casewell woman from a priGILES.

hotel,

up out

vate hotel in Kensington. Paravicini, as we've told you, turned

of the blue last night.

Still, I

suppose they've

all

got ration

books—

much

reliance

that sort of thing.

TROTTER. to

I

shall go into all that, of course.

be placed on that

MOLLiE. But even

if

But

there's not

sort of evidence.

this— this maniac

is

trying to get here

and kill us all No-one can

—or one

of us, we're quite safe now. Because of the snow.

get here

till it

melts.

TROTTER. Unless he's here already. GILES.

Here already?

Why

TROTTER.

evening.

Mr. Ralston? All these people arrived here yesterday after the murder of Mrs. Stanning. Plenty of

not,

Some hours

time to get here. GILES.

But except

TROTTER. Well,

for

why

Mr.

Paravicini, they'd all

booked beforehand.

not? These crimes were planned.

been one crime. In Culver Street. Why are you sure there vwll be another here? TROTTER. That it will happen here, no— I hope to prevent that That it GILES. Crimes? There's only

will be attempted, yes.

GILES. Ccrossing to the fire) I can't believe

TROTTER.

it. It's

so fantastic

It isn't fantastic. It's just facts.

MOLLIE. You've got a description of what this—man looked like in London? TROTTER.

Medium

height, indeterminate build, darkish overcoat, soft felt

hidden by a muffler. Spoke in a whisper. (He crosses to l of the armchair c. He 'pauses) There are three darkish overcoats hang-

hat, face

ing up in the hall now.

One

are three lightish felt hats

(giles

starts to

move towards

.

of .

them

I Still can't

believe it

yours,

Mr. Ralston

.

.

.

There

.

the arch

speaks)

MOLLIE.

is

up r but he

stops

when

Mollie

ACT ONE SCENE U You (He

TROTTER. .

.

.

MOLLiB.

See?

It's

crosses to the fhone,

(molldb

through

exits

the

London hus

archway uf

Mollie—then hack TROTTER.

Is there

ticket

it

r.

giles

wp

-j^icks

absently, smoothing

from the glove—stares

Mollie's

it

out.

He

at it—then after

to the ticket^

an extension?

Cgiles frovms at the hus GILES. I

been cut

vegetables.

glove from the armchair c and holds extracts a

it's

hends dovm and studies the wire^

must go and get on with the

I

299

telephone wire that worries me. If

this

ticket,

and does not answer^

beg your pardon. Did you say something?

TROTTER. Yes, Mr. Ralston,

I said "Is

there an extension?"

(He

crosses to

c) GILES. Yes,

TROTTER.

up

in our bedroom.

Go and

try

Cgiles exits to the

it

up

there for me, will you?

carrying the glove

stairs,

and hus

and looking

ticket

dazed, trotter continues to trace the wire to the window.

He

fulls

hack the curtain and ofens the window, trying to follow the wire. He crosses to the arch wp r, goes out and returns with a torch. He moves

window, jumps out and hends down, looking, then disappears out of sight. It is practically dark. mrs. boyle enters from the library up L, shivers and notices the open window^ to the

MRS. BOYLE,

(wovwg to the window") Who's left this window open? (SJie window and closes the curtain, then moves to the fire and

shuts the

puts another log on

moves up (There

is

She

it.

and turns it on. She up a magazine and looks at it)

crosses to the radio

to the refectory table, picks

a music programme on the radio, mrs. boyle frowns, moves

to

the radio and tunes in to a different programme^

VOICE

ON THE

RADIO.

.

.

.

to

Understand what

I

chanics of fear, you have to study the precise

human mind.

may term

as the

efiFect

Imagine, for instance, that you are alone in a room.

late in the afternoon.

(The door down r

MRS. BOYLE, (with

A door opens sofdy behind you

opens. tled.

The tune

of "Three Blind

MRS. BOYLE tums with a

reliefs

Oh,

it's

me-

produced on the

.

.

Mice"

It is

.

is

heard whis-

start^

you. I can't find any

programme worth

THE MOUSETRAP

300 listening

to.

(SJze

moves

to

the radio and tunes in to the

mime

frogramme)

(A hand shows through the open doorway and clicks The lights suddenly go out') Here—what QThe

radio

scuffle.

is

are

you doing?

at full volume,

MRS. boyle's body

Why

the light switch.

did you turn out the light?

and through it are heard gurgles and a mollis enters hy the archway wp r

falls,

and stands perplexed) MOLLiE.

Why is it all dark? What a noise!

She switches on the light at the sxvitch up r and crosses to the radio to turn it down. Then she sees Mrs. Boyle lying strangled in front of the sofa and screams as— the CURTAIN quickly falls

Act

SCENE—T/ze same. Ten minutes

When

the

eryone

is

curtain

rises,

Two

later.

Mrs. Boyle's body has heen removed and ev-

assembled in the room, trotter

the wpstage side of the refectory table, of the refectory table.

The

is

in charge

mollie

is

and

is sitting

on

standing at the r end

others are all sitting;

major metcalf

in

the large armchair r, Christopher in the dark chair, gdles on the stairs l,

miss casewell

at the

r end

and paravicini

of the sofa,

at

the L end.

Now, Mrs.

trotter.

Ralston, try

and thiak—think

.

.

.

My head's

numbed. TROTTER. Mrs. Boyle had only just been killed when you got to her. You came from the kitchen. Are you sure you didn't see or hear anybody as you came along the hallway? mollie. (at breaking

No— no,

mollie.

I

point') I can't think.

don't think

so.

couldn't think who'd turned

it

Just the radio blaring out in here. I

on so loud.

I

wouldn't hear anything

would I? TROTTER. That was clearly the murderer's idea—or Qmeaningly) murelse

with

that,

deress.

MOLLIE.

How could I

hear anything else?

TROTTER. You might have done. If the murderer had

way Qie

He

.

the Hall that

.

.

think— I'm not sure— I heard a door creak—and shut—just

I

came out I

as I

of the kitchen.

Which

TROTTER.

MOLLIE,

left

he might have heard you coming from the kitchen.

might have slipped up the back stairs—or into the dining-

room MOLLIE.

points l)

door?

don't know.

TROTTER. Think, Mrs.

Ralston— try and think. Upstairs? Downstairs?

Close at hand? Right? Left?

a

THE MOUSETRAP

302 MOLLiE. Ctearful^

I don't know, I tell you. I'm not even sure I heard anymoves down to the armchair c and sits^ GILES. Crising and moving to l of the refectory table; angrily^ Can't you stop bullying her? Can't you see she's all in? TROTTER. (sJzflrp/y) We're investigating a murder, Mr. Ralston. Up to now, nobody has taken this thing seriously. Mrs. Boyle didn't. She held out on me with information. You all held out on me. Well, Mrs. Boyle is dead. Unless we get to the bottom of this—and quickly,

thing. (S/ze

mind— there may be

another death.

GILES. Another? Nonsense.

Why?

TROTTER. Cgravely') Because there were three

A

GILES.

little

blind mice.

death for each of them? But there would have to be some con-

nexion—I mean another connexion—with the Longridge Farm business.

TROTTER. Yes, there would have GILES.

But

why

to

be

that.

another death here}

TROTTER. Because there were only two addresses in the notebook found.

Now,

at

we

twenty-four Culver Street there was only one possible

But here at Monkswell Manor there is a wider round the circle meaningly} MISS CASEWELL. Nonscnse. Surely it would be a most unlikely coincidence that there should be two people brought here by chance, both of them victim. She's dead. field.

(He

looks

with a share in the Longridge Farm case? TROTTER. Given certain circumstances, coincidence. get

down

killed.

Think

it

out.

quite clearly

I've already got

it

much of a (He rises') Now I want to was when Mrs. Boyle was

wouldn't be so

Miss Casewell.

where everyone

Mrs. Ralston's statement. You were in the

kitchen preparing vegetables.

You came

out of the kitchen, along the

and in here. (He foints archway r) The radio was blaring, but the light was switched and the hall was darL You switched the light on, saw Mrs. Boyle,

passage, through the swing door into the hall to the off,

and screamed. MOLLIE. Yes. I screamed and screamed. And at last— people came. TROTTER, ^moving down to l of Mollie) Yes. As you say, people came— lot of people from different directions— all arriving more or less at once.

(He

fjauses,

Now

then,

when

moves down c and turns his hack to the audience) got out of that window (he 'points) to trace the telephone wire, you, Mr. Ralston, went upstairs to the room you and I

Mrs. Ralston occupy, to try the extension telephone. (^Moving up c)

Where were you when Mrs.

Ralston screamed?

ACT TWO GILES. I

was

still

up

window

wires being cut there, but again,

I

The

in the bedroom.

looked out of the

too. I

303

Just after I closed the

I couldn't.

heard MoUie scream and

I

was dead, any sign of the

extension telephone

to see if I could see

window

rushed down.

table') Those simple actions took you Mr. Ralston? GILES. I don't think so. (He moves away to the stairs) TROTTER. I should Say you definitely— took your time over them. GILES. 1 was thinking about something. TROTTER. Very well. Now then, ]Vlr. Wren, I'll have your accoimt of where you were. CHRISTOPHER. (^T^sing and moving to L of Trotter) I'd been in the kitchen, seeing if there was anything I could do to help Mrs. Ralston. I adore cooking. After that I went upstairs to my bedroom.

TROTTER, (leaning on the refectory rather a long time, didn't they,

TROTTER.

Why?

CHRISTOPHER. think?

I

It's

quite a natural thing to go to one's bedroom, don't

mean—one

You wcnt

you

does want to be alone sometimes.

your bedroom because you wanted to be alone? Wanted to brush my hair—and—er— tidy up. TROTTER, (looking hotd at Christopher's dishevelled hair) You wanted TROTTER.

CHRISTOPHER.

And

to

I

to

brush your hair?

CHRISTOPHER. Anyway,

that's

where

(geles m

LADY TRESSILIAN. NevcT you mind. What an upbringing for a girl. Kay made a dead set at Nevile from the moment they met, and never rested until she got him to leave Audrey and go ofiE with her. I blame Kay entirely for the whole thing. TREVES. CRising and moving ahove the coffee table, fairly amused.) I'm sure you do. You're very fond of Nevile. LADY TRESSILIAN. Nevilc's SL fool. Breaking up his marriage for a silly infatuation. It nearly broke poor Audrey's heart. QTo Royde.) She went to your mother at the Vicarage and practically had a nervous breakdown. ROYDE.

Er—yes—I know.

TREVES.

When

the divorce

LADY TRESSILIAN.

went through, Nevile married Kay.

had been true them here.

If I

fused to receive

to

my

principles I should

have

re-

TREVES. If one sticks too rigidly to one's principles one would hardly see

anybody.

LADY TRESSILIAN. You'ie Very accepted Kay

But

I

cynical,

Mathew—but

it's

quite true. I've

wife— though I shall never really like her. was dumbfounded and very much upset, wasn't I,

as Nevile's

must say

I

Mary? MARY. Yes, you were, Camilla. LADY TRESSILIAN. When Nevile wrote asking if he could come home with Kay, under the pretext, if you please, that it would be nice if Audrey and Kay could be biends—CScom fully.) friends—I said I couldn't en-

TOWARDS ZERO

432 tertain

such a suggestion for a

ful for

Audrey.

moment and

TREVES. CPutting his glass on the coffee

that

table.')

it

would be very pain-

And what

did he say to

that?

He

LADY TREssiLiAN. she thought

it

replied that

he had already consulted Audrey and

a good idea.

TREVES. And did Audrey think it a good idea? LADY TRESSILIAN. Apparendy, yes. QShe tosses a knot of

Unravel

silk to Mary.')

that.

MARY. Well, she said she did, quite firmly. LADY TRESSILIAN. But Audrey is obviously embarrassed and unhappy. If you ask me, it's just Nevile being like Henry the Eighth. ROYDE. (Pwzzleci.) Henry the Eighth? LADY TRESSILIAN. Conscience. Nevile feels guilty about Audrey and is trying to justify himself. CMary rises, moves above the armchair l. c. and futs the silks in the work-hasket.) Oh! I don't understand any of this modem nonsense. (,To Mary.) Do you? QRoyde pits his glass on the coffee table.)

MARY. In a way. LADY TRESSILIAN. And you, Thomas? ROYDE. Understand Audrey—but I don't understand Nevile.

It's

not like

Nevile.

TREVES.

I agree.

Not

transfers Royde's

like

Nevile

and Treves'

at all, to

go looking for trouble. CMary

glasses to the butler's tray.)

MARY. Perhaps it was Audrey's suggestion. LADY TRESSILIAN. Oh, DO. Ncvile says it was entirely his idea. MARY. Perhaps he thinks it was. (Treves looks shar'ply at Mary.) LADY TRESSILIAN. What a fool the boy is, bringing two women together who are both in love with him. CRoyde looks sharply at Lady Tressilian.) Audrey has behaved perfecdy, but Nevile himself has paid far too much attention to her, and as a result Kay has become jealous, and as she has no kind of self-control, it is all most embarrassing— (To Treves.) isn't it? (Treves, gazing towards the French windows, does not hear.) Mathew? TREVES. There

is

undeniably a certain tension

.

.

.

LADY TRESSILIAN. I'm glad you admit it. (There is a knock on the door l.) Who's that? MARY. (Moving to the door l.) Mrs. Barrett, I expect, wanting to know something.

LADY TRESSILIAN.

(Irritably.) I

vwsh you could teach these

women

that

ACT ONE SCENE

I

433

they only knock on hedroom doors. C^^oving to the table rc and 'putting the sandwiches in front of lester) Finish them up, my boy. Always hungry at your age. LESTER, hy

now deep

in the hook, does not look

up hut

automatically

helps himself to a sandwich.

LESTER. Well, thanks.

mind

don't

I

if I

do.

LISA. Coff; calling) Karl.

KARL, (rising and putting his cup on the work-table) Excuse

ment (He

and

calls

KARL

exits

crosses to the door

down

LESTER. He's terribly cut-up,

DOCTOR, (taking out LESTER.

r, closing the

isn't he,

pose—what

I

Yes,

I

am

me

a

mo

coming.

door behind him.

Doctor?

his pipe) Yes.

seems odd in a way,

It

down r)

mean

is, it's

at least I don't

so difficult

mean

odd, because,

I

sup-

to understand what other people

feel like.

DOCTOR, (moving down c and lighting his pipe) Just what are you trying to say,

my

boy?

LESTER. Well, what that,

I

mean

is,

poor

Mrs Hendryk being an

invalid

and

all

you'd think, wouldn't you, that he'd get a bit impatient with her

or feel himself tied.

The DOCTOR

puts the matchstick in the ashtray on the table rc, then

on the

And a

bit.

you'd think that really, underneath, he'd be glad to be

He loved

her.

sits

sofa at the left end.

He really

loved her.

free.

Not

VERDICT

544 DOCTOR. Love

glamour, desire, sex appeal— all the things you

isn't just

young people

are so sure

ness. It's the

showy

That's nature's start of the whole busi-

it is.

you

flower, if

ground, out of sight, nothing

much

But

like.

Underwhere the Hfe

love's the root.

to look at,

but

it's

is.

LESTER.

I

suppose

But passion doesn't

SO, yes.

DOCTOR. (despflirrngZy)

God

give

me

last, sir,

does

it?

You young

strength.

people

know

nothing about these things. You read in the papers of divorces, of love tangles with a sex angle to everything. Study the columns of deaths

sometimes for a change. Plenty of records there of Emily

and

this

John that dying in their seventy-fourth year, beloved wife of So-andso, beloved husband of someone else. Unassuming records of Hves spent together, sustained by the root I've just talked about which still puts out its leaves and its flowers. Not showy flowers, but still flowers. LESTER.

suppose you're

I

moves and

getting married

a

girl

who

doctor. Yes,

.

is

(He

rises,

You meet

a girl—or you've

a girl—who's different.

LESTER. C^arnestly^ But really,

enters

it.

always thought that

taking a bit of a chance, unless, of course, you meet

doctor. Cgood-humouredly')

EARL

I've

.

yes, that's the recognized pattern.

met

already

.

never thought about

right. I've

r of the doctor on the sofa)

sits

down

r.

He

sir,

I see.

she

is

different

Well, good luck to you, young fellow.

carries a small pendant.

The doctor

rises,

karl

crosses to c, looking at the pendant.

KARL. Will you give this to your daughter. Doctor?

know

she would like Margaret to have

it.

(He

It

was Anya's and I and hands the

turns

-pendant to the doctor)

DOCTOR, (moved') gift.

(He

Thank

you, Karl.

up c) Well,

I

must be

off.

LESTER, (rising and moving there's

I

know Margaret

will appreciate the

futs the pendant in his wallet then tnoves towards the doors

nothing

I

Can't keep

up

rc; to

can do for you,

KARL. As a matter of fact there

my

surgery patients waiting.

karl)

I'll

go, too, if you're sure

sir.

is.

LESTER looks delighted. Lisa has been

—she

is

making up some

her to carry them to the post LESTER.

Of

parcels of clothes

and things like that If you would help

sending them to the East London Mission. course

I will.

office

.

.

.

ACT TWO SCENE

I

down

r.

LESTER

exits

545

DOCTOR. Good-bye, Karl.

The DOCTOR wraffed sellotape.

wp c. lester enters down r. He carries a large hox brown paper, which he takes to the desk and fastens with lisa enters down r. She carries a hrown paper parcel and a

exits

in

small drawer containing papers,

letters, etc.,

and a small

trinket box.

below the sofa') If you would look through these, Karl. CShe puts the drawer on the sofa} Sit down here and go through these, quietly and alone. It has to be done and the sooner the better. KARL. How wise you are, Lisa. One puts these things off and dreads them —dreads the hurt. As you say, it's better to do it and finish. LISA, (nioving

LISA. I shan't

be long.

LISA and LESTER exit

Come up

along, Lester.

c, closing

the doors behind them, karl collects

the waste-paper basket from the desk,

on

his

knee and

starts to

sits

go through the

on the

sofa,

puts the drawer

letters.

KARL, (^reading a letter) So long ago, so long ago.

The MRS

front door bell rings.

Oh, go away whoever you are. ROPER, (o/f) Would you come

MRS ROPER It's

enters

Miss Hollander,

inside, please.

up c from r and stands

to

one

side.

sir.

HELEN

enters up c from r and moves down c. karl rises and puts the drawer on the table rc. mrs roper exits up c to 1., leaving the door

open.

HELEN.

I do hope I'm not being a nuisance. I went to the inquest, you see, and afterwards I thought I must come on here and speak to you. But if you'd rather I went away KARL. No, no, it was kind of you. .

MRS ROPER MRS ROPER. closes.

I'll

We're

just

.

up c from

l,

putting on her coat.

pop out and get another quarter of

tea before

he

right out again.

KARL, (.fingering the Roper.

enters

.

letters in

the drawer; far away) Yes, of course,

Mrs

VERDICT

546 MRS ROPER. Oh,

My

is.

see

I

sister

what you're doing,

now,

she's a widder.

sir.

Kep'

And all

what he wrote her from the Middle out and cry over them, like as not.

a sad business

her husband's

And

East.

did,

HELEN, rather impatient about mrs roper's

it

always

letters,

she'll

she

them

take

moves above the

chatter,

armchair.

The

heart doesn't forget,

sir,

that's

what

The

I say.

heart doesn't for-

get KARL. Ccrossing below the sofa toil of

MRS ROPER. Must have been you expect KARL. No,

MRS

ROPER. Can't imagine

sir,

Mrs Roper.

say,

sir,

Or

wasn't iO

did

it.

how

fascinated, at the -place right,

As you

it?

did not expect

I

it)

a terrible shock to you,

not right at

she came to do such a thing. QShe stares,

where

ajnya's chair

used

seem

to be") It don't

all.

KARL. Csadly exasperated) Did you say you were going to get some

tea,

Mrs Roper?

MRS ROPER.

Cstill

Staring at the wheel-chair's place) That's right,

sir,

must hurry, sir— CShe backs slowly up c) because that grocer

he shuts

and

I

there,

at half past twelve.

MRS ROPER HELEN, (moving c) KARL, (moving

I

exits

was

up

c, closing

so sorry to hear

dawn r) Thank

HELEN. Of course she'd been

ill

the door behind her. .

.

.

you.

a long time, hadn't she? She must have

got terribly depressed.

KARL. Did she say anything to you before you

left

her that day?

HELEN, (nervously -moving above the armchair and round

I— I

to

l of

it)

No,

Nothing particular. KARL, (moving below the sofa) But she was depressed— in low spirits? HELEN, (rather grasping at a straw) Yes. (She moves below the armchair) don't think so.

Yes, she was.

KARL, (a shade accusingly)

You went away and

left

her—alone—before

Lisa returned.

HELEN, it

(sitting in the armchair; quickly) I'm sorry

didn't occur to me.

KARL moves up

c.

about that I'm afraid

ACT TWO SCENE

I

547

mean she said she was perfectly all right and she urged me not to and— well as a matter of fact, I— I thought she really wanted me to go— and so I did. Of course, now EARL. Cmoving dovm r) No, no. I understand. I can see that if my poor Anya had this in her mind she might have urged you to go. I

stay,

.

And

HELEN.

in a way, really,

it's

.

.

the best thing that could have happened,

isn't it?

What do you mean— the best thing happened? (He moves wp c) HELEN, (^rising') For you, I mean. And for her, too. She wanted to get out of it all, well, now she has. So everything is all right, isn't it? QShe moves wp lc, between the armchair and the desh) KARL, ^moving wp rc) It's difficult for me to believe that she did want to

KARL. Qmoving towards her; angrily^ that could have

get out of

it all.

HELEN. She said so— after

all,

she couldn't have been happy, could she?

KARL. C^houghtfidly') Sometimes she was very happy.

HELEN. Ccircling the armchair^ She couldn't have been, knowing she was

on you. below the

a burden

KARL.

C'f'f^T^i^g

sofa;

beginning

She was

to lose his temper')

never a burden to me.

HELEN. Oh, why must you be so hypocritical about it all? I know you were kind to her and good to her, but let's face facts, to be tied to a querulous invalid is a drag on any man. Now, you're free. You can go ahead. You can do anything— anything. Aren't you ambitious? KARL.

I

don't think so.

HELEN. But you

are, of course

you

heard people talk about you,

are. I've

heard people say that that book of yours was the most

I've

brilliant of

the century.

KARL,

on the sofa

(^sitting

HELEN.

And

at the left

they were people

the United States, to

them dowTi because

all

end) Fine words, indeed.

who knew. You've had sorts

wake

now

up. it's

of your wife

ought KARL.

HELEN. KARL.

to

Is this It's

The

Be be

you couldn't leave and who end of the sofa) You've been

whom

you hardly know what

over.

go to

of places. Haven't you? You turned

couldn't travel. (.She kneels at the left tied so long,

offers, too, to

it

is

to feel free.

Wake

up, Karl,

did the best you could for Anya. Well,

yourself.

You

You can

start to

enjoy yourself,

to live life as

lived.

a sermon you're preaching me, Helen?

only the present and the future that matter. made up of the past

present and the future are

it

really

VERDICT

548

HELEN. C^ising and moving lc) You're tending

we

free.

Why

we

go on pre-

and almost

harshly") I

should

don't love each other?

KARL. Qrising and crossing

the armchair; firmly

to

don't love you, Helen, you must get that into your head. I don't love

own making.

you. You're living in a fantasy of your

HELEN. I'm

not.

tell you now I've no feelyou imagine. (He sits in the armchair) HELEN. You must have. You must have. (S^e moves down rc) After what I've done for you. Some people wouldn't have had the courage, but I had. I loved you so much that I couldn't bear to see you tied to a useless querulous woman. You don't know what I'm talking about, do you? I killed her. Now, do you understand? I killed her. KARL, (^utterly stufified) You killed ... I don't know what you're saying. HELEN, (moving down r of karl) I killed your wife. I'm not ashamed of

KARL.

You

hate to be brutal, but I've got to

are. I

ings for you of the kind

it.

People

who

are sick and worn out and useless should be removed room for the ones who matter. and hacking away dawn l) You killed Anya?

so

as to leave

KARL, (rising

HELEN. She asked for her medicine.

I

gave

it

to her. I

gave her the whole

bottleful.

KARL, (hacking further away from her Uf HELEN, (moving c) Don't worry. Nobody erything.

(She sfeaks rather

fingers

first

all right,

you

you, but

I

see.

just

round the

You—you

know.

I

.

.

.

thought of ev-

moves

level

vdped

with karl) and put her

and then round the bottle. So that's r of him) I never really meant to tell that I couldn't bear there to be any se-

glass

(She moves

suddenly

aghast)

will ever

like a confident, pleased child) I

off all the fingerprints— (S^e

own

l;

felt

to

(She futs her hands on karl) KARL, (-pushing her away) You killed Anya. HELEN. If you once got used to the idea crets

between

us.

.

KARL.

You— killed— Anya.

sciousness of her act grows greater seizes

.

.

(Every time he repeats the words, his con-

and

his tone mx)re

menacing.

her suddenly hy the shotdders and shakes her like a

forces her above the left

rat,

He then

end of the sofa) You miserable immature

child— what have you done? Prating so glibly of your courage and your resource. You killed

my

wife— my Anya.

Do you

realize

what

you've done? Talking about things you don't understand, without con-

you by the neck and strangle you hy the throat and starts to strangle her)

science, vidthout pity. I could take

here and now.

(He

seizes her

ACT TWO SCENE HELEN

549

I

forced hackwards over the hack of the sofa,

is

her away and she

flings

karl eventually

downwards over the

face

falls

arm

left

of the

sofa, gas'ping for breath.

Get out of

HELEN

and

I

do

on the hack, near

leans

to

you what you did

and sohhing. karl

gas'ping for hreath

is still

chair

Get out before

here.

to

Anya.

staggers to the desk

collapse.

HELEN, (hroken and desperate^ Karl.

(He

KARL. Get out.

HELEN,

sohhing,

still

and

shouts')

and

gloves,

rises,

Get

out, I say.

as in a trance, exits

up c

to R.

karl sinks on

desk chair and buries his head in his hands. There front door

is

handbag

staggers to the armchair, collects her

is

heard closing, lisa enters the hall from

to the

a pause, then the r.

LISA. Ccalling') I'm back, Karl.

LISA exits to her bedroom, karl

rises, crosses

collapses

on

to

slowly to the sofa and almost

it.

My poor Anya.

KARL.

There

is

She

a pause, lisa enters from her bedroom and comes into the room.

is

tying an apron on as she enters,

LISA. C^asually') I

met Helen on the

and goes

stairs.

to look out the

She looked very

past

me

as

and

sees

karl) Karl, what has happened? QShe

window.

strange.

Went

though she didn't see me. (S/ze finishes her apron, turns crosses to

him)

KARL. C^uite simply) She killed Anya. LISA, ^startled)

What!

KARL. She killed Anya.

Anya asked

for her

medicine and that miserable

child gave her an overdose deliberately. LISA.

But Anya's fingerprints were on the

glass.

KARL. Helen put them there after she was dead. LISA,

(fl

calm, matter-of-fact

mind dealing with

the situation)

I

see—she

thought of everything. KARL.

I

knew.

I

always

LISA. She's in love

KARL. Yes, her.

I

yes.

knew

that

Anya wouldn't have

killed herself.

with you, of course.

But

I

never gave her any reason to believe that

didn't, Lisa, I

LISA. I don't suppose

swear

you

I

I

cared for

didn't.

did. She's the type of girl

who would assume

VERDICT

55°

wanted must be

that whatever she

so.

QShe moves

to the

armchair and

sits}

KABL.

My poor, brave Anya. There

LISA.

What

you going

are

KARL. Csur-prised^ LISA. Aren't

to

a long pause.

is

do about

it?

Do?

you going

to report

it

to the police?

KARL. Cstartled) Tell the police? LISA. Cstill calm')

LISA.

KARL.

murder, you know.

It's

was murder. Well, you must report what she

KARL. Yes,

it

I can't

do

LISA.

Why not? Do you

KARL

rises,

uf

faces

condone murder? slowly to l, then crosses above the armchair

c, turns

l of

to

KARL. But

I can't let

that girl

.

.

gees, to a country

we

the subject

KARL.

You

where we

should respect

may

its

it.

.

LISA, (restraining herself; calmly')

think

said to the police.

that.

We've come live

law,

of our

own

accord, as refu-

under the protection of

no matter what our own

its

laws.

feelings

I

on

be.

seriously think I should go to the police?

LISA. Yes.

KARL.

Why?

LISA. It

seems to

me

pure

common

KARL, (sitting at the desk)

sense.

Common

sense!

Common

sense!

Can one

by common sense? You don't, I know. You never have. You're softhearted,

rule

one's life LISA.

Karl. I'm

not.

KARL.

Is

LISA. It

KARL.

it

wrong

can lead

One must

Can mercy

to feel pity?

to a lot of

ever be wrong?

unhappiness.

be prepared

to suffer for one's principles.

That is your business. (She rises and crosses Rc) But other people suffer for them as well. Anya

LISA. Perhaps.

table

them. KARL.

I

know,

I

know. But you don't understand.

LISA, (turning to face

KARL.

karl)

What do you want me

I

understand very well.

to

do?

to

i.

of the

suffered for

1

ACT TWO SCENE USA,

I

have

Go

told you.

to the police.

55

I

Anya has been murdered. This

The

police

must be

girl

has admitted to murdering KARL. Qrising and crossing above the armchair to c) You haven't thought, Lisa. The girl is so young. She is only twenty-three. her.

Whereas Anya

LISA.

told.

u^as thirty-eight.

and condemned— what good will it do? Can it bring Anya back? Don't you see, Lisa, revenge can't bring Anya back to life

KARL. If she

tried

is

again.

No. Anya

LISA.

(moving

dead.

is

to the sofa

KARL. Ccrossing

and

sitting') I

l of the sofa) LISA, were cousins and friends.

We

after her tried

when

wish you could see

can't see

I

to

it

your way.

went about

I

my way.

it

loved Anya.

We

as girls together. I looked

ill. I know how she tried to be brave, how she know how difficult life was for her. won't bring Anya bade

she was

not to complain.

KARL. Going to the police

I

LISA does not answer hut turns and moves

up

rc.

don't you see, Lisa, I'm bound to feel responsible myself. I must some way have encouraged the girl. LISA. You didn't encourage her. (She moves to i. of the sofa and kneels, facing karl) Let's speak plainly. She did her utmost to seduce you,

And in

and

failed.

No

KARL.

matter

how you put

it,

I feel responsible.

Love

for

me was

her

motive. LISA.

Her motive was

thing she wanted

to get all

what she wanted,

her

as she always has got every-

life.

KARL. That's just what has been her tragedy. She has never had a chance. LISA.

And

she's

KARL. Csharfly)

LISA

I

wonder

young and beautiful. What do you mean?

if

you'd be so tender

if

she were one of your plain

girl stu-

dents.

KARL, (rising)

You

LISA, (rising)

What

can't think

KARL. That

.

.

.

can't I think?

I want that girl (moving slowly down l) Why not? Aren't you attracted to her? Be honest with yourself. Are you sure you're not really a litde in love .

.

.

LISA,

with the

girl?

You can always known ?

KARL, (crossing to

when

you've

"R

of Lisa)

.

.

.

say that? It's

you

You?

I love.

When You!

nights thinking about you, longing for you. Lisa, Lisa

.

.

I .

you knowHe awake at

VERDICT

552 KARL

takes LISA in his arms.

owy

figure in the

They embrace

doorway wp

c.

move

hang. This makes karl and lisa

They do

who

not see

it

The

lights

The curtain

Scene Scene: The same. Six hours the

CURTAIN

rises,

There

is

a shad-

and look at the door. unaware of the BLACK-OUT as— apart

was and the audience

identity of the eavesdropper.

When

'passionately.

After a pause, the door closes with a

are left

falls.

II

Evening.

later.

the lights

come up a very

leaving

little,

most of the room in darkness, lisa is seated on the sofa, at the right end, smoking. She is almost invisible. The front door is heard opening

and closing and there is the sound of voices in the hall, karl enters up c. He has a newspaper in his overcoat pocket. The doctor follows him on. KARL. Nobody's at home.

The DOCTOR

I

wonder

.

.

.

switches on the lights by the switch l of the double doors,

and he and karl

Why are you sitting here in the dark?

DOCTOR. Lisa!

KARL goes LISA. I

was

desk chair and puts his coat over the back of

to the

I

(He

it.

just thinking.

KARL DOCTOR.

see lisa.

met Karl

at the

sits

in the armchair.

end of the

street

and we came along

puts his coat on the chair above the table rc) D'you

prescribe for you, Karl?

A litde alcohol. A

stiflF

together.

know what

I

brandy, eh. Lisa?

LISA nwkes a slight move.

No— I know my way bookcase

about.

(He

goes to the cupboard under the

out a bottle of brandy and a glass, and pours a drink') He's had a shock, you know. bad shock. r, takes

A

KARL.

I

have

told

him about Helen.

stiff

ACT TWO SCENE DOCTOR. Yes, he LISA.

It's

told

II

553

me.

not been such a shock to you,

I

gather?

been worried, you know. I didn't think Anya was a suicidal DOCTOR. type and I couldn't see any possibility of an accident. (He crosses to r of KARL and gives him the hrcmdy') And then the inquest aroused my suspicions. Clearly the police were behind the verdict. (He sits l of I've

LISA on the sofa) Yes, closely

and

I

looked

it

The

fishy.

couldn't help seeing

police questioned

me

what they were driving

fairly

at.

Of

course, they didn't actually say anything. LISA.

So you were not surprised? really. That young

DOCTOR. No, not

woman

thought she could get away

with anything. Even murder. Well, she was wrong. KARL, (in a low voice)

I feel

responsible.

from me, you weren't responsible in any way. Compared to that young woman you're an innocent in arms. (He rises and moves uf c) Anyway, the whole thing's out of your hands now.

DOCTOR. Karl, take

LISA.

You

it

think he should go to the police?

DOCTOR. Yes. KARL. No.

DOCTOR. Because you

insist

on feeling partly responsible? You're too

sensi-

tive.

KARL. Poor wretched child.

down l) Callous, And I shouldn't worry come to an arrest. (He crosses

DOCTOR, (crossing above the armchair and standing

murdering

little

before you need.

helow KARL to

to

bitch! That's nearer the

Ten

to

one

be evidence, you know.

thing, but be unable to

portant person.

KARL. There

I

it'll

Rc) Presumably

One

The

never

she'll

mark.

deny everything—and there's got may be quite sure who's done a

police

make out

of the richest

a case.

men

The

girl's

in England.

If they've got a case they'll

And

is

That

is

a very im-

counts.

think you are wrong.

DOCTOR. Oh, I'm not saying anything against the police.

mean

father

(He moves up c)

go ahead, vdthout fear or favour. All

I

that they'll have to scrutinize their evidence with extra care.

on the face of

it

much evidence, you know. down and confesses the whole thing. much too hard-boiled for that.

there can't really be

Unless, of course, she breaks

And

I

should imagine she's

KARL. She confessed to me.

Though as a matter of fact I can't see why she (He moves and sits on the left arm of the sofa) Seems to me a damn silly thing to do.

DOCTOR. That's different. did.

VERDICT

554

Because she was proud of it. DOCTOR, (looking cuTiously at her^ You think so? LISA.

EARL.

true— that's what

It is

is

The

so terrible.

front-door hell rings.

Who can that he? One

DOCTOR.

o£ your boys or

(He

I expect.

girls,

rises)

I'll

get rid of

them.

The DOCTOR

OGDEN. (off) Could DOCTOR. (.00

up c

eodts I

and

-puts his glass

on the

desk.

see Professor Hendryk, please?

Would you come

The DOCTOR It's

ton. karl rises

enters

this

way, please.

up c from r and

stands to one side.

Inspector Ogden.

DETECTIVE INSPECTOR OGDEN and POLICE SERGEANT PEARCE enter up C from R. OGDEN has a pleasant manner and a poker face. The sergeant closes the doors, then stands

above the table rc.

I hope we're not disturbing you, Professor Hendryk. EARL, (moving down l) Not at all. OGDEN. Good evening, Miss Koletzky. I expect you didn't think you would

OGDEN. (very pleasantly)

see

me

verdict,

lady

EARL.

I

again—but we have a few more questions to ask. It was an open you understand. Insufficient evidence as to how the deceased

came

to take the fatal dose.

know.

OGDEN. Have your about

EARL

own

ideas

changed

as to that,

sir,

since

we

first

talked

it?

ogden and the sergeant note the look and change quick glances. There is a pause.

looks quickly at lisa.

EARL, (deliberately)

been some

sort

They have not changed.

I still

think

it

ex-

must have

of— accident

LISA turns away.

The doctor

almost snorts and turns aside.

ogden. But definitely not suicide. EARL. Definitely not suicide. OGDEN. Well, you're quite right as to suicide.

that, sir.

(With emphasis)

It

was not

ACT TWO SCENE

II

555

KARL and LISA turn to ogden.

How do you

LISA. Cquietly')

knowi'

OGDEN. By evidence that was not given at the inquest. Evidence as to the

found on the

fingerprints

bottle containing the fatal

drug—and on the

glass, also.

KARL.

You mean

didn't

.

.

.

But they were

my wife's

fingerprints, weren't they?

They were your wife's fingerprints. QSoftly^ But she make them. (He vwves the chair l of the table RC and sets it l

OGDEN. Oh,

yes,

sir.

of the sofa')

The DOCTOR and karl exchange KARL.

looks.

What do you mean?

OGDEN.

It's

the sort of thing that an amateur criminal thinks

pick

up a

ever

it

is

so easy.

To

hand and close it round a gun or a botde or what(He sits on the chair he has 'placed c) But actually it's

person's

may

be.

not so easy to do.

KARL

The

sits

in the armchair.

position of those fingerprints

is

such that they couldn't have been

made by

a living-woman grasping a bottle.

else took

your wdfe's hand and folded the fingers roimd the botde and

That means

somebody

that

the glass so as to give the impression that your wife committed suicide.

A rather childish sure of their

piece of reasoning and done by someone rather cock-

own

ability. Also, there

ought

to

have been plenty of

other prints on the bottle, but there weren't— it had been wiped clean

You see what that means? what it means. OGDEN. There would be no reason to do such a thing if it was an That only leaves one possibility. before your wife's were applied.

KARL.

see

I

accident.

KARL. Yes.

OGDEN.

I

wonder

if

you do

see,

sir. It

means— an ugly word—murder.

KARL. Murder.

OGDEN. Doesn't that seem very incredible

to you, sir?

You cannot know how incredible. My wife was a very sweet and gende woman. It will always seem to me both terrible and unbelievable that anyone should have—killed

KARL. Ctnore to himself than ogden)

her.

OGDEN. You, yourself

.

.

.

KARL. Qsharply) Are you accusing me?

VERDICT

556

Of

OGDEN. C^ising)

course not,

sir.

If I'd

any suspicions concerning you,

I

should give you the proper warning. No, Professor Hendryk, we've

checked your story and his seat)

You

that there

left

time

yoior

was no medicine

fully accounted for.

(He

resumes

on your wife's table at that and the time Miss Koletzky says she

bottle or glass

Between the time you

time.

is

here in the company of Dr. Stoner and he states

left

and found your wife dead, every moment of your time is You were lecturing to a group of students at the univerNo, there is no suggestion of your having been the person to put

arrived here

accounted sity.

for.

the fingerprints on the glass.

The DOCTOR moves dawn

What I am asking you, sir, who could have done so? There

is

whether you have any idea yourself

quite a long -pause,

is

KARL, (jpresently)

l.

karl

stares fixedly

I— (He pauses) cannot help

as to

ahead of him.

you.

ocaoEN rises and as he replaces the chair heside the table, he exchanges glances with the sergeant,

who moves

to the

door

OGDEN. (moving c) You will appreciate, of course, that

down

r.

this alters things. I

wonder if I might have a look round the flat. Round Mrs Hendryk's bedroom in particular. I can get a search warrant if necessary, but KARL. Of course. Look anywhere you please. (He rises) .

LISA

My

bedroom— (He

wife's

.

.

rises.

indicates the door dovra r)

is

through

there.

OGDEN.

Thank

you.

KARL. Miss Koletzky has been sorting through her things. LISA crosses to the door r and opens R.

it.

ogden and the sergeant

LISA turns and looks at karl, then

behind

eocits

down

eocit

r, closing

down

the door

her.

doctor. O^oving up l of the armchair) I've known you long enough, Karl, to tell you plainly that you're being a fool. KARL, (moving

up r

of the armchair)

I

can't

be the one

her track. They'll get her soon enough without

my

to

help.

put them on

ACT TWO SCENE

Fm

DOCTOR. sits

And

not so sure of that.

II

high-falutin' nonsense.

it's all

557 (He

in the armchair^

know what

KARL. She didn't

she was doing.

DOCTOR. She knew perfectly.

know what

KARL. She didn't

she was doing because

her understanding and compassion.

down

LISA enters

(moving

LISA,

DOCTOR. Not

Rc; to the

(He moves

r, closing the

life

has not yet taught

above the armchair^

door behind her.

doctor) Have you made him see sense?

yet.

LISA shivers.

You're cold. LISA.

No— I'm

shall

not cold. I'm afraid. (She moves towards the doors

make some

LISA exits

The doctor

c.

down l

KARL, (moving to see that

uf

I

happen

And

suppose our

to stand in

I

I

sofa.

could get you and Lisa

to life again.

little

beauty goes on disposing

her way?

will not believe that.

The SERGEANT and ogden table

OGDEN.

and moves below the

of the armchair^ I wish

DOCTOR, (moving up lc) KARL.

rises

revenge will not bring Anya back

of wives that

wp c)

coffee.

I

enter

down

r.

The

sergeant stands above the

RC and ogden stands down

r.

gather some of your wife's clothing and effects have already been

disposed of?

KARL. Yes.

They were

sent off to the East Lx)ndon Mission,

The SERGEANT makes OGDEN. (moving KARL, (crossing

(He

to to

r of the

indicates the

little

set

doubt

Still,

I

it.

expect you'll find

down

about papers,

.

.

.

One

never knows.

.

.

(He

-picks

up a bundle

bon) Will you need these? They are the

many

years ago.

Some

.

.

note, a

.

look through them, of course, .

letters?

I

vaguely)

issiie;

memorandum

What

a note.

was going through them this morning. drawer) Though what you expect to find

the table rc)

OGDEN. (evading the KARL.

sofa')

thinL

I

if

you must. I don't with rib-

of letters tied

letters 1

wrote to

my

wife

^^S

VERDICT

OGDEN. Cgsntly') I'm afraid

There

KARL.

must

I

(He

takes the

karl turns impatiently towards the doors up c.

quite a pause, then

is

through them.

just look

from kakl)

letters

be in the kitchen

I shall

The DOCTOR opens

Do

OGDEN. No,

you want me, Inspector Ogden.

up

the right half of the doors

DOCTOR follows him R of the table rc. SERGEANT.

if

off,

you think he was in on

I don't,

(He

karl

c.

closing the door behind him.

starts to

it?

go through the papers in the drawer^

Not beforehand. Hadn't the faintest idea. I should he knows now— and it's been a shock to him. SERGEANT.

C'^lso

exits up c. The ogd£n moves to

going through the papers,

etc.,

say.

QGrimly^ But

in the drawer") He's not

saying anything.

OGDEN. No. That would be too

Not

here.

SERGEANT.

If there

I'd say dirt.

And

Mop

had been, our Mrs

did she enjoy spilling

An

distaste')

SERGEANT. She'll do

all

on with the

down R

to

be much

would have known about it That kind always knows the

it!

unpleasant woman.

job.

it.

Well, nothing additional here.

(He moves

to the

Will you come in here, please.

LISA enters

mean

right in the witness-box.

OGDEN. Unless she overdoes

calls)

to expect. Doesn't

she was a pretty good snooper.

OGDEN. Qwith

get

much

under the circumstances.

likely to be,

doors

up

c,

(He moves below

We'd

better

opens one and the armchair)

c. The doctor enters up c and moves karl enters up c and stands up l of the sofa. The the doors up c, closes them and stands in front of

up c and moves down of the sofa,

SERGEANT moves

to

them.

Miss Koletzky, there are some additional questions you. less

LISA. I

You understand you

that

you are not forced

I

would

like to ask

answer anything un-

to

please.

do not want

to

answer any questions.

OGDEN. Perhaps you're wise. Lisa Koletzky, adiiunistcring poison to

I

arrest

you on the charge of

Anya Hendryk on March

KARL moves

to

R of LISA,

the hfth last—

TWO SCENE U

ACT

559

—and it is my duty to warn you that anything you down and may be used in evidence. KARL, (horror strudC) What's this?

What are you

doing?

say will be taken

What are you

say-

ing?

OGDEN. Please, Professor Hendryk, don't

let's

have a scene.

KARL, (moving behind lisa and holding her in his arms) But you can't rest Lisa,

you

LISA, (gently

murder

can't,

you

can't. She's

ar-

done nothing.

pushing karl away; in a loud,

clear,

calm voice)

I

did not

my cousin.

OGDEN. You'll have plenty of opportunity to say everything you want, later.

KARL, losing restraint, advances on ogden hut the doctor holds his arm, KARL, (pushing the doctor away; almost shouting)

You

can't

do

this.

You

can't

OGDEN. (to Lisa) LISA. I

If

you need a coat or a hat

.

.

.

need nothing.

LISA turns and looks at karl for a moment, then turns and goes

uf

c.

The

SERGEANT opcns the door, lisa exits wp c. ogden and the sergeant follow her off. karl suddenly makes a decision and runs after them. KARL. Inspector Ogden!

Come

back.

I

must speak

to you.

(He moves rc) ogden. (off) Wait in the sergeant, (o^) Yes,

hall,

Sergeant

sir.

OGDEN

enters

wp

c The doctor crosses to lc.

ogden. Yes, Professor Hendryk? KARL, (moving killed

my

to

l of the sofa)

I have something was not Miss Koletzky. Who was it, then?

to tell you. I

know who

wife. It

OGDEN. (politely)

was a girl called Helen Rollander. She is one of my pupils. (He and sits in the armchair) She—she formed an unfortunate attachment to me.

KARL.

It

crosses

The doctor moves

to

l of the armchair.

She was alone with my wife on the day in question, and she gave her an overdose of the heart medicine.

VERDICT

560 OGDEN. (moving

down c)

How do you know this,

Professor

Hendiyk?

me herself, this morning. OGDEN. Indeed? Were there any witnesses? KARL. No, but I am telling you the truth. KARL. She told

You mean

OGDEN. (thoughtfully') Helen— RoUander.

the daughter of Sir

William Hollander?

Her father is William Hollander. He is an important man. Does that make any difference? OGDEN. (moving helow the left end of the sofa) No, it wouldn't make any

KARL. Yes.

difiFerence— if your story

KARL, (rising)

I

were

true.

swear to you that

it's

true.

OGDEN. You are very devoted to Miss Koletzky, aren't you? KARL. Do you think I would make up a story just to protect her? OGDEN. (moving c)

I

think

it is

quite possible— you are on terms of inti-

macy with Miss Koletzky, aren't you? KARL, (dumbfounded) What do you mean? OGDEN. Let

me

tell

you. Professor Hendryk, that your daily

woman, Mrs made a

Roper, came along to the police station this afternoon and

statement KARL.

Then

OGDEN.

It is

it

was Mrs Roper who

.

.

.

pardy because of that statement that Miss Koletzky has been

arrested.

KARL, (turning to the doctor for support) I. . .

You

OGDEN. Your wife was an invalid. Miss Koletzky

woman. You were thrown together. KARL. You think we planned together to OGDEN. No, I don't think you planned it. KARL I think all the

circles the

kill

I

believe that Lisa

is

an

attractive

and

young

Anya.

may be wrong

armchair

there, of course.

to c.

planning was done by Miss Koletzky. There was a pros-

pect of your wife's regaining her health owing to a

new

treatment

I

think Miss Koletzky was taking no chance of that happening.

KARL. But

I tell

OGDEN. You

tell

you that me, yes.

it

It

was Helen Hollander. seems to me a most unlikely

story.

(He moves

uf c) KARL Is

it

crosses

and stands down

r.

plausible that a girl like Miss Hollander who's got the world at

her feet and

who

hardly knows you, would do a thing like that?

Mak-

1

ACT TWO SCENE

56

II

ing up an accusation of that kind reflects little credit on you, Professor Hendryk— trumping it up on the spur of the moment because you think

it

cannot be contradicted.

KARL, (woviwg

R 0/ ogden)

to

woman has been know— know—that

Listen.

Go

Miss Hollander. Tell her that

to

another

arrested for the murder. Tell her, from me,

that I

with

est

I

up very KARL. What do you mean?

OGDEN. You've thought OGDEN.

all

her faults, she

swear that she will confirm what

What

I say.

it

But

there's

cleverly, haven't

no-one

is

decent and hon-

have told you.

I

who can

you?

confirm your story.

KARL. Only Helen herself.

OGDEN. Exactly. KARL.

And Dr

OGDEN.

Stoner knows.

He knows

DOCTOR.

I

believe

mentioned

to

I

told him.

because you told him, it

to

be the truth, Inspector Ogden.

you that when we

left

If

you remember,

Mrs Hendryk

that day.

I

Miss

Hollander remained behind to keep her company.

OGDEN.

A

kind offer on her

part.

(He

crosses to

r

of the

doctor)

We

in-

no reason to doubt her story. She stayed for a short time and then Mrs Hendryk asked her to leave since she felt tired. (He moves above the armchair^ KARL. Go to Helen now. Tell her what has happened. Tell her what I terviewed Miss Hollander at the time and

have asked you

I

see

to tell her.

OGDEN. Cto the doctor) Just when did Professor Hendryk

Miss Hollander had

killed his wife?

Within the

last

tell

you that

hour, I should

imagine.

DOCTOR. That KARL.

is so.

We met in

the street.

(He moves helow

the sofa)

was true, he would have come to us as soon as she admitted to him what she had done? DOCTOR. He's not that kind of man. OGDEN. C^uthlessly') I don't think you're really aware what kind of man he is. (He moves to karl's coat on the desk chair) He's a quick and clever thinker, and he's not over scrupulous.

OGDEN. Didn't

KARL

starts

This

is

it

strike

you that

if this

towards the inspector, hut the doctor crosses quickly to l of KARL and restrains him.

your coat and an evening paper,

faper from the pocket)

I see.

(He draws

the evening

VERDICT

562 EARL moves down r of the KARL. Yes,

I

bought

time to read

it,

it

The doctor moves up l

sofa.

on the comer,

just before I

of the sofa.

came

in. I

haven't had

yet.

OGDEN. (jmoving c) Are you sure? KARL.

Yes— (He moves rc)

OGDEN.

I

think you did.

I

am quite sure. (He reads from

the

William

"Sir

faper')

RoUander's only daughter, Helen Rollander, was the victim of a regrettable

accident

morning.

this

she

In crossing the road

was

knocked dowm by a lorry. The lorry driver claims that Miss Rollander gave him no time to brake. She walked straight into the road without looking right or

and was

left,

killed instantly."

KARL slumps on

to the sofa.

I think that when you saw that paragraph, Professor Hendryk, you saw a way out to save your mistress by accusing a girl who could never refute what you said—because she was dead.

The

lights

BLACK-OUT as—

The CURTAIN

Scene SCENE:

The same. Two months

When

the curtain

sofa.

The doctor

is

They

all start,

later.

Late afternoon.

come up. karl

is

seated

on the

leaning against the table rc, reading the "Walter

Savage Landor". lester rings.

III

the lights

rises,

falls.

is

pacing up and

lester,

who

is

down

lc.

The

telephone

nearest to the telephone,

lifts

the

receiver.

No. (He (He moves down l)

LESTER. Cinto the telephone") Hello?

These

reporters never stop.

The doctor

crosses

and

sits

.

I

wish

I

had stayed

.

in the armchair,

sofa to

KARL.

.

in court

karl

replaces the receiver")

rises

and

a

Why didn't you let me stay?

circles the

ACT TWO SCENE

563

III

DOCTOR. Lisa specially asked that you shouldn't remain in court to hear the

We've got to respect her You could have stayed.

wish.

verdict.

KARL.

DOCTOR. She wanted

once KARL.

.

.

me

to

The

be with you.

lawyers will

us

let

know

at

.

They can't

LESTER. (_moving

find her guilty.

down c)

They

(He moves wp r)

can't.

me

you'd like

If

to

go back there

.

.

.

DOCTOR. You stay here, Lester. LESTER. If I'm any use. If there's anything

DOCTOR. You can answer that

damn

I

could do

.

.

.

telephone that keeps ringing.

my

KARL, (^moving below the sofa) Yes,

dear boy. Stay. Your presence

here helps me. LESTER. Does

it?

Does

it,

really?

KARL. She must be, she will be acquitted.

go unrecognized.

(He

can't believe that innocence can

I

on the sofa)

sits

LESTER moves wp DOCTOR. Can't you? Karl, time

I

can. One's seen

and time

Mind

again.

c.

And

often enough.

it

you,

I

think she

you've seen

made

it,

a good impres-

sion on the jury.

LESTER. But the evidence was pretty damning.

that frightful

It's

Roper

woman. The things she said. (He sits l of the table rc) DOCTOR. She believed what she was saying, of course. That's what made her so unshakeable under cross-examination.

It's

particularly unfortu-

nate that she should have seen you and Lisa embracing each other on the day of the inquest. She did see

KARL. Yes, she must have seen it

It

I

it,

was

suppose.

true. It's the first

time

have ever

I

kissed Lisa.

DOCTOR.

And

a thoroughly

that snooping

woman

bad time

to choose. It's really a

thousand

pities

never saw or heard anything that passed be-

tween you and Helen. "A very nice young lady"— that's

all

she had to

say.

KARL.

It is so

odd

to tell the truth

DOCTOR. All you've done

is

and not be believed.

to bring

down

cooking up a scurrilous story about a KARL, Qrising and moving the

DOCTOR.

moment If

up c)

she'd told

only you had.

me

It's

.

If I'd .

a lot of

girl

who

odium on

is

yourself, for

dead.

only gone to the police right away,

.

particularly unfortunate that

you only came

out with the story after you'd bought a paper containing the news that

VERDICT

564

And

she's dead.

your reasons for not going

sound

to the police didn't

credible in the least.

KARL moves dovm

l.

they are to me, of course, because I know the incredible fool you are. The whole set of circumstances is thoroughly damnable. The Roper woman coming in to find Lisa standing by the body and holding the bottle in gloved fingers. The whole thing has built itself up in the most incredible fashion.

Though

KARL KARL.

There

Is

that

is

.

.

and stands down

crosses .

?

Can

it

...

r.

The

telephone rings.

?

a moment's agonizing •pause, then the doctor motions to lester

who

rises,

goes to the telephone and

LESTER. Ci«to the telephone') Yes?

dawn and

the receiver

DOCTOR Ghouls,

that's

stands

what they

.

.

r

.

the receiver.

lifts

Hello?

.

.

.

Go

to hell!

(He

slams

oj the desk)

are, ghouls.

KARL, (moving up r) If they find her guilty,

we can appeal, you know. (moving down c and then helow the

if

they

.

.

.

DOCTOR. Well, KARL,

go through

were in her place. DOCTOR. Yes, it's always KARL. After

all,

Why

all this?

easier

sofa)

Why should

when

it's

I've told

you

I

wish

that's

.

.

.

nonsense.

(He moves down c, then up r) DOCTOR (after a long pause; to lester) Go and make us some coffee if you know how. LESTER, (indignantly) Of course I know how. (He moves up c) KARL. But Lisa has done nothing. Nothing.

The

I

oneself.

I'm partly responsible for what happened

DOCTOR, (interrupting)

she have to

should she be the one to suffer?

telephone rings, lester makes a

move

to

answer

goes

boy,

it.

KARL, (stopping lester) Don't answer it

The

telephone goes on ringing, lester hesitates then eodts

up c

to l.

telephone goes on ringing solidly, karl eventually rushes to picks

up the

it

The and

receiver.

(Into the telephone) Leave

me

alone, can't you.

Leave

me

alone.

(He

ACT TWO SCENE HI slams I

down

can't bear

the receiver

What

565

sinks into the desk chair") I can't bear

it.

it.

DOCTOR, (risiwg and moving KARL.

and

good

is it

to

karl) Patience, Karl. Courage.

saying that to

me?

DOCTOR. Not much, but there's nothing else

There's noth-

to say, is there?

now except courage. Lisa. Of what she must be suffering.

ing that can help you

KARL.

I

keep thinking of

DOCTOR.

I

know.

I

know.

KARL. She's so brave. So wonderfully brave.

DOCTOR, (moving c) Lisa

known KARL.

I

is

a very wonderful person. I have always

that.

love her.

Did you know

DOCTOR. Yes, of course

I

I

loved her?

knew. You've loved her

KARL. Yes. Neither of us ever acknowledged

mean

that I didn't love

Anya.

I

for a long time.

it,

but

we knew.

It didn't

did love Anya. I shall always love her.

want her to die. I know. I've never doubted that. KARL. It's strange, perhaps, but one can love two women at the same time. DOCTOR. Not at all strange. It often happens. (He moves behind karl) And you know what Anya used to say to me? "When I'm gone, Karl must marry Lisa." That's what she used to say. 'Tou must make him do it. Doctor," she used to say. "Lisa will look after him and be good to him. If he doesn't think of it you must put it into his head." That's what she used to say to me. I promised her that I would. KARL, (rising) Tell me, really, Doctor. Do you think they'll acquit her? I

didn't

DOCTOR.

Do

I

know,

you?

DOCTOR, (gently)

I

think—you ought

to prepare yourself

.

.

.

KARL, (moving below the armchair) Even her counsel didn't believe me, did he?

He pretended

to,

of course, but

he

didn't believe me.

(He

sits

in the armchair)

DOCTOR. No,

I don't think he did, but there are one or two sensible people on the jury— I think. (He moves down l) That fat woman in the funny hat listened to every word you were saying about Helen, and I noticed her nodding her head in complete agreement. She probably has a husband who went off the rails with a young girl. You never know what queer things influence people.

KARL, (rising) This time

it

The

telephone rings.

must

be.

VERDICT

566

The DOCTOR moves

to the

telephone and

DOCTOR. C»wto ihe tele'phone') Hello?

LESTER enters wp c from

The

l,

the receiver.

.

.

.

lifts

carrying a tray with three

cii-ps

of coffee

on

it.

coffee has slopped into the saiicers.

KARL. Well? LESTER. Is that

.

.

coffee into the

(He

}

.

puts the tray on the table RC and pours the

cup from one of the saucers^

No

DOCTOR. Qnto the telephone")

down

.

.

.

No, I'm

afraid

(He

the receiver) Another of the ghouls.

he

can't.

(He

slams

crosses to the sofa

and

sits)

KARL.

What

can they hope to get out of

DOCTOR. Increased circulation,

I

it?

suppose.

LESTER, (handing a cup of coffee to karl)

some time KARL.

Thank

I

hope

it's

aU

right. It took

me

to find everything.

(He

you.

crosses to the desk chair

LESTER hands a cup of coffee RC.

They sip

to the

and

sits)

doctor, then takes his

their coffee.

There

is

own and

stands

quite a pause.

DOCTOR. Have you ever seen herons flying low over a river bank? LESTER. No,

I

DOCTOR.

No

LESTER.

What

don't think I have.

Why?

reason.

put

it

into your head?

no idea. Just wishing, I suppose, that all this wasn't true and that I was somewhere else. LESTER. Yes, I can see that (He moves up c) It's so awful, not being able DOCTOR.

to

I've

do anything.

DOCTOR. Nothing's so bad as waiting. LESTER, (after a pause)

I don't believe,

you know, that

I've ever seen a

heron.

DOCTOR. Very graceful KARL. Doctor,

I

birds.

want you

KARL.

I

want you

passes)

KARL. Yes,

I

No,

do something

for

me.

is it?

go back to the court.

to

DOCTOR, (crossing

to

What

DOCTOR, (rising) Yes?

karl and putting

to

his

cup on the work-table

as

he

Karl.

know

that

DOCTOR. Karl— Lisa

.

.

you promised. But

I

want you

to

go back.

.

KARL. If the worst happens,

I

would

like Lisa to

be able

to see

you

there.

ACT TWO SCENE

And

if it isn't

III

567

the worst—well, then she'll need someone to look after

her, to get her away, to bring her here.

The DOCTOR stares at karl I

know

for a

moment

or two.

I'm right.

DOCTOR. C'^eciding) Very well. LESTER, (to the doctor)

KARL looks

I

can stay and

doctor and shakes

at the

quick

his

a

man

.

.

head very

(He moves up

has got to be alone. That's right,

KARL. Don't worry about me.

I

slightly.

The doctor

is

to take the hint.

DOCTOR. No, you come with me, Lester.

when

.

want

to stay

DOCTOR. Cpidling round sharply as he

is

on

isn't

c) There are times Karl?

it,

here quietly with Anya. his

way

to the

door)

What

did

you say? With Anya? KARL. Did

I

say that? That's

answer the telephone LESTER

exits

up

c.

what

it

The doctor

follows

leans hack in his chair.

"While the

And in

seems

if it rings. I shall

him

The

like.

wait off

and

until

I shall

here. I shan't

you come.

closes the door,

clock chimes

light lasts I shall

the darkness

me

Leave

now

kakl

six.

remember, not forget."

There

is a pause then the telephone rings, karl rises, ignores the telephone, takes his coffee cup to the tray, at the same time collecting the doctor's cup as he passes the work-table. He then exits with the

tray

up c

enters

to l. While he is off, the telephone stops ringing, karl reand moves down l, leaving the door open. He pauses for a mo-

ment, staring

at the work-tahle,

then goes to the record cabinet and

Rachmaninoff record from it. He goes to the desk and sits, putting the record on the desk in front of him. lisa suddenly enters up c from R, shuts the door behind her and leans against it. karl rises takes the

and

turns.

KARL. Lisa! Lisa! his eyes') Is

LISA.

(We

it

They found me

KARL. Cattempting

goes towards her as though he can hardly believe

true? Is

it?

not guilty.

to take her in his arms) Oh, my darling, I'm so thankNo-one shall ever hurt you again, Lisa. LISA. Cpushing him away) No. KARL, ^realizing her coldness and aloofness) What do you mean? ful.

VERDICT

568 come here

LISA. I've

my

to get

things.

What do you mean— your Then I am going away.

KARL, (hacking above the armchair^ LISA. Just a few things that

KARL.

What

do you

I

need.

things?

mean—going away?

LISA. I'm leaving here.

mean because

KARL. But surely— that's ridiculous! D'you

would say? Does LISA.

You

am

don't understand. I

of

what people

now?

that matter

going away for good.

away— where? (^moving slowly down c) What

KARL. Going LISA,

does

it

matter? Somewhere.

a job. There'll be no difficulty about that. in England.

KARL.

A new

Wherever

life?

I

go I'm starting a

KARL.

I

I

can get

may

stay

other.

We

I

what

I

do mean. Without you.

down l) But why? Why?

R of the armchair^ Because

LISA, (u-p

abroad.

You mean— without me?

LISA. Yes. Yes, Karl. That's just

KARL, (hacking

may go new life. I

I've

had enough.

don't understand you.

We're not made to understand each same way, and I'm afraid of you. can you be afraid of me?

LISA, (leaving to the sofa')

don't see things the

KARL. LISA.

How

Because you're the kind of

man who

always brings suffering.

KARL. No. LISA.

It's

true.

KARL. No. LISA. I see people as they are.

judgement, but without

wonderful or

life to

wonderful myself.

Without malice and without entering

illusions, either. I don't

be wonderful, and

If there are fields of

other side of the grave as far as

KARL. Fields of amaranth?

What

I

am

into

expect people to be

don't particularly want to be amaranth— they can be on the

I

concerned.

are you talking about?

USA. I'm talking about you, Karl. You put ideas

first,

not people. Ideas of

and friendship and pity. And because of that the people who are near, suffer. (S^e moves to r of the armchair) You knew you'd lose your job if you befriended the Schultzes. And you knew, you must have known, what an unhappy life that would mean for Anya. But you didn't care about Anya. You only cared about your ideas of what was right. But people matter, Karl. They matter as much as

loyalty

ideas.

Anya

mattered,

I

matter. Because of your ideas, because of your

mercy and compassion for the girl who killed your wife, you sacrificed me. I was the one who paid for your compassion. But I'm not ready to

ACT TWO SCENE in do that any more.

I

love you, but love

isn't

569 enough. You've more in

common with the girl Helen than you have with me. She was like you— ruthless. She went all out for the things she believed in. She didn't care what happened to people as long as she got her own way. KARL, ^moving towards the armchair^ Lisa, you can't mean what you are saying. You can't. LISA. I

do mean

helow the

it.

been thinking it really for a long end of the sofa) I've thought of it

I've

left

court. I didn't really think they'd acquit did.

The

me.

judge didn't seem to think there was

I

time. all

don't

much

(She moves

these days in

know why

they

reasonable doubt

little man me as though he was sizing me up. Just a commonplace ordinary litde man—but he looked at me and thought I hadn't done it—or perhaps he thought I was the kind of woman that he'd like to go to bed with and he didn't want me to sufiFer. I don't

But

who

I

suppose some of the jury believed me. There was one

kept on looking at

know what he thought—but— he was son and he was on

my

a person looking at another per-

and perhaps he persuaded the

side

And

others.

so I'm free. I've been given a second chance to start life again. I'm starting

again—alone.

dovm

LISA exits

EARL. Cv^eadingly) Lisa.

must hsten.

karl

You

can't

She

r.

No,

Karl.

you and she

mean

and it.

sits

You

on the can't

sofa.

be so

carries a small silver -photo fram^.

down LISA.

crosses

cruel.

You

Lisa. I implore you.

down

LISA re-enters

r.

What happens

r, facing

to the

She remains

karl.

women who

love you?

Anya

loved

Helen loved you and she's dead. I— have been very near death. I've had enough. I want to be free of you—for ever. KARL. But where will you go? died.

There LISA.

You

what

told I'll

me

is

to

a pause as lisa crosses helow karl to

c.

go away and marry and have children. Perhaps

do. If so,

I'll

find

someone

like that little

man on

that's

the jury,

someone who'll be human and a person, like me. (She suddenly cries out) I've had enough. I've loved you for years and it's broken me. I'm going away and I shall never see you again. Never! KARL. Lisa! LISA,

(moving down l) Neverl

VERDICT

570

The DOCTOR DOCTOR,

suddenly heard calling from the halL

is

(off; calling) Karl! Karl!

The DOCTOR

enters

uf c from r and

-moves towards karl, without noticing

LISA. It's all

hreath')

and

God

my

right,

Do

boy. She's acquitted.

C^uring

this

he

is

you understand? She's acquitted. (He with outstretched arms') Lisa—my dear

quite out of

suddenly sees lisa

crosses to her

we've got you

safe. It's

LISA. Qtrying to respond to

Lisa.

Thank

wonderful. Wonderful!

him) Yes,

it's

wonderful.

DOCTOR, ^holding her away from him and looking her up and down) How are you? A little fine drawn— thinner— only natural with all you've been through. But we'll

make

it

up

to you.

As

the armchair to karl) We'll look after you.

imagine the state now. (He turns

Ah,

in.

to

What

thank

well,

crosses

God

above

you can

that's all

do you say— shall

A bottle of champagne— eh? (He

celebrate? LISA.

been karl)

he's

(He

for Karl here,

we

over

go out-

beams expectantly)

Qorcing a smile) No, Doctor—not tonight. I am. Of course not. You need rest (She moves towards the doors up c) I must

DOCTOR. Ah, what an old fool LISA. I

my

am

all right.

just get

things together.

DOCTOR C'^oving to lisa) Things? LISA. I am not— staying here. (Enlightened) Oh, I see— well, perhaps that is wise— DOCTOR. But with people like your Mrs Roper about, with their evil minds and tongues. But where will you go? To an hotel? Better come to us. Margaret will be delighted. It's a very tiny room that we have, but we'll .

.

.

look after you well. LISA.

How

kind you

garet that I will

are.

come

But

have

I

to see

all

my

plans made. Tell,— tell Mar-

her very soon.

LISA goes into the hall and exits to her bedroom.

KARL and begins

The doctor

to realize that all is

turns back to

not welL

doctor Cmomng c) Karl—is anything wrong? KARL. What should be wrong? DOCTOR, (semi-relieved) She has been through a terrible ordeal. It takes a litde time to— to come back to normal. (He looks around) When I think we sat here— waiting— with that damn telephone ringing all the time—hoping— fearing— and now—all over.

ACT TWO SCENE IH KARL. Ctonelessly^

Yes— all

DOCTOR. (roI^MStZy)

over.

sits

still,

hy the shoulder) Karl, snap out of

ately

CHe

decent jury would ever have convicted her.

l of karl on the sofa') I told you so. You look half Karl. Can't you believe it yet? (He takes karl affection-

•moves and

dazed

No

571

it.

We've got our Lisa back

again.

KARL tUTns

Oh,

know— I'm clumsy—it takes a

I

away.

sharfily

httle time to get

used to the

joy.

LISA enters from her bedroom and comes into the room. She carries a holdall

which she futs on the

floor

wp

c.

She avoids looking

at

karl and

stands u-p lc. LISA. I'm going

now.

DOCTOR, prising)

The DOCTOR

get a taxi for you.

I'll

No— please— I'd rather be alone.

LISA. Csharply) is

slightly taken aback.

and puts her hands on

Thank you— for

your kindness— for

all

LISA kisses the doctor, picks

moves

to the

doctor

all

you did

for

Anya—you

shall never forget.

up her

KARL to

relents,

his shoulders.

have been a good friend—I

DOCTOR, (moving

She

(She turns away l)

and without once looking up CtO'R.

hold-all

exits

karl) Karl—what does

this

mean. There

is

at

some-

thing wrong.

KARL. Lisa

is

going away.

DOCTOR. Yes, yes— temporarily. But— she is coming back. KARL, (jtuming to face the doctor) No, she is not coming bacL DOCTOR, (appalled) KARL,

(with

What do you mean?

complete

conviction

and

force)

She— is—not—coming-

back.

DOCTOR, (incredulously)

Do you mean— you

You saw her go— that was our DOCTOR. But—why? KARL.

have parted?

parting.

KARL. She had had enough.

DOCTOR. Talk sense, man. KARL.

It's

very simple. She has suffered. She doesn't want to suffer any

more.

DOCTOR.

Why should

she suffer?

VERDICT

572 KARL.

It

seems— I am a

man—who brings suffering to those who love him.

DOCTOR. Nonsense! KARL.

Is it?

Anya

me and

loved

DOCTOR. Did Lisa say that

Am

KARL. Yes.

What

to

such a man?

I

did she

she

is

dead. Helen loved

me and she

died.

you?

Do

mean when she

I

bring suffering to those

who

love

me?

talked of fields of amaranth?

(He thinks for a moment, then recollects, moves to the table rc, picks up the "Walter Savage Landor" and gives it to karl) Yes, I was reading there. (,He points to the quotation')

DOCTOR. Fields of amaranth.

KARL. Please leave me.

DOCTOR.

I'd like to stay.

must get used to being alone. DOCTOR, (moving up c, then hesitating and returning

KARL.

I

think

.

.

to

karl) You don't

?

.

KARL. She will not come back.

The DOCTOR

(He

rises, crosses to

tains,

then

sits at

exits reluctantly

up c

to r.

the desk, switches on the desk light, draws the cur-

the desk and reads') "There are no fields of

Ama-

ranth this side of the grave. There are no voices, oh Rhodope, that are not soon mute, howe\'er tuneful

:

.

.

."

(He

is no name, with whatever emwhich the echo is not faint at last

there

phasis of passionate love repeated, of

puts the hook gently on the desk,

rises,

picks

up

the record,

goes to the record player, puts on the record, switches on, then goes sloxvly to the

without you?

The

armchair and sinks into

(He

it)

c,

and puts her hand gently on looks

up

I live

drops his head into his hands)

door up c opens slowly, lisa enters up

(He

Lisa— Lisa—how can

at lisa) Lisa?

LISA, (kneeling at karl's side)

moves slowly

You've come back.

Because

I

am

up as—

The CURTAIN

^ of karl

Why?

a fool.

LISA rests her head on karl's lap, he rests his head on hers builds

to

his shoulder.

falls.

and the music

GO BACK FOR MURDER

Presented by Peter Saunders at the Duchess Theatre, London, on the

23rd March, i960, with the following cast of characters: (i« the order of their affsarance^

Justin Fogg

Robert Urquhart

TuRNBALL Carla

Peter Hutton

Ann

Firhank

Mark Eden

Jeff Rogers Philip Blake

Anthony Marlowe Laurence Hardy

Meredith Blake Lady Melksham Miss Williams Angela Warren Caroline Crale Ajviyas Crale

Lisa Daniely

Margot Boyd Dorothy Bromiley

Ann

Firhank

Nigel Green

Directed by

Hubert Gregg

Decor by Michael Weight

SYNOPSIS OF SCENES

ACT

I

London Scene i Scene 2 Scene 3 Scene 4 Scene 5

A lawyer's office A City office A A A

room

in an hotel suite

bed-sitting-room table in a restaurant

ACT

II

Alderbury, a house in the

Time— the

West

present.

of

England

Autumn

AUTHOR'S NOTES Carla and her mother, Caroline Crale, are played by the same actress.

As

regards the characters in Act

II,

Philip

is

not greatly changed, but

more slender, his manner is less pompous. Meredith is less vague, and more alert, his face is less red, and there is no grey in his hair. There is very little change in Miss Williams, except that she is also not so grey. Angela can have plaits, or long hair. Elsa must present the greatest change from Lady Melksham, young, and eager, with her hair on her neck. Caroline is distinguishable from Carla by a different hair style, as well as by an older make-up. Her voice, too, must be different, deeper in tone, and her manner more impulsive and intense. his hair

is

not grey at the temples, and he

Each scene of Act

I represents

is

a small portion of a room. In the

origi-

nal production the scenes were on trucks, but the whole of this Act can

be quite simply staged by lighting up different parts of the stage in turn, or

by

cut-outs.

One

Act

Scene

SCENE—Jwstm

Fogg's

Fogg, Solicitors.

The room

is

room

is

in the offices of Fogg, Fogg, Bamfylde

An early autumn

a sash

An

arch

window

and

afternoon in London.

and cramfed

rather old-fashioned

are lined with hooks.

and there

I

wp

The

for sface.

walls

lc leads to the rest of the building

across the corner

uf

r.

A

large desk

and

swivel chair stand in front of the window. There is a chair c for visitors, and a table covered with files is against the wall l. There is

a telephone on the desk.

When come

the

curtain

phone.

The nyindow

thirties, sober, staid,

the stage

rises,

wp. JUSTIN fogg

is

half-open,

is

justin

—we have to wait for

in the archway.

their solicitors to reply to

(To Turnball) Come be most inadvisable

in,

keep you informed.

Show

her

(He

places the

in,

(turnball

exits,

in the early

Mrs

Ross, but the

He

our

is

letter

carrying a .

file')

.

.

coughs')

to take

any

steps yourself

replaces the receiver)

on the desk

file

.

.

.

it

would

Yes,

we

Women!

in front of Justin)

sir.

Turnball.

anything urgent through

TURNBALL. Very good,

man

Turnball. (Into the telephone) No,

you

for

Miss Le Marchant? turnball. She's here now, JUSTIN.

a young

quite see your point,

I

(turnball

(turnball

is

you know

can't be hurried,

(turnball, an elderly clerk appears

will

in darkness, then the lights

but likeable.

JUSTIN, (into the telephone^

Law

is

seated at the desk, speaking into the tele-

to

I

don't

Mr

want any interruptions

at all.

Put

Grimes.

sir.

justin

rises, crosses to

the table l, selects a

file,

returns

GO BACK FOR MURDER

cyS

and 'puts Turnhall's and stands to one side^

to his desk, sits,

ball

(He (cARLA

re-enters

She

is

in the desk drawer,

turn-

Le Marchant.

announces') Miss

enters.

file

aged twenty-one,

'pretty,

and determined. She wears

a coat and carries bag and gloves. She speaks with a Canadian accent.

TURNBALL

CXits)

JUSTIN. C^ising, moving to Carla and offering his hand)

CARLA. How do you do, Mr Fogg? QShe looks his outstretched hand) But you're youngl

Thank

you. But

my

JUSTIN. Oh, you expected I see.

I'm sorry.

It

How do you do?

in dismay, ignoring

still

can assure you I'm a fully qualified

I

CARLA. I'm sorry— it's just— that CARLA.

him

moment, amused, although

( JUSTIN looks at Carla for a

JUSTIN.

at

expected you to

I

father?

He

be— rather

formal)

solicitor.

old.

died two years ago.

was stupid of me. CShe

offers

him her hand)

(jusTiN shakes hands with Carla) JUSTIN, (indicating the chair c)

Do

sit

down.

CCARLA ^tS C)

(He

returns to his desk

and

sits at it)

Now,

tell

me what

I

can do for

you.

(There

is

carla looks

a pause whilst

at Justin, a little uncertain

how

to

hegin) cabla.

Do

you know who

I

am?

JUSTIN. Miss Carla Le Marchant of Montreal.

carla. (looking away) JUSTIN. Oh, yes,

it is.

My name

carla. (leaning forward)

JUSTIN.

We

isn't really

Le Marchant

Legally.

have acted

So— you do know for

Mr

all

about me?

Robert Le Marchant over a number of

years. let's get down to it. My name may be legally Le Marchant by adoption— or deed poll— or habeas corpus—or whatever the legal jargon is. (She removes her gloves) But I was bom— (sKe pauses) Caroline Crale. Caroline was my mother's name, too. My fa-

CARLA. All right, then,

was Amyas Crale. Sixteen years ago my mother stood her trial for poisoning my father. They found her— guilty. (She takes a deep ther

breath. Defiantly) That's right, isn't

it?

ACT ONE SCENE JUSTIN. Yes, those are the CARLA.

I

579

facts.

only learned them six months ago.

When

JUSTIN.

I

you came of age?

wanted me to know. Uncle Robert and mean. They brought me up believing my parents were killed in an accident when I was five years old. But my mother left a letter for me— to be given me when I was twenty-one, so they had to

CARLA. Yes.

Aunt

Bess, I

me

tell

don't think they

I

about

all

it.

JUSTIN. Unfortunate.

Do

CAKLA.

you mean you think they ought not

JUSTIN. No, no,

don't

I

mean

you— it must have been CARLA. Finding out that

a

my

that at

all. I

to

have told me?

meant

it

was unfortunate

bad shock. father was murdered and that

my

for

mother did

it?

JUSTIN. Rafter a -pause; kindly') There were— extenuating circumstances,

you know. CARLA. (/irwZ)')

It's

not extenuating circumstances I'm interested

in. It's

facts. facts. Well, you've got your facts. Now— you can put the whole thing behind you. (He smiles encouragingly') It's your future that matters now, you know, not the past. (He rises and crosses above

JUSTIN. Yes,

the desk of the table l)

CARLA.

I think,

before

I

can go forward— I've got to—go back.

(jusTiN, arrested and puzzled, turns to Carla) JUSTIN.

CARLA.

I

beg your pardon? not as simple as you make it sound. CShe was engaged— to be married.

It's

—or

I

pauses') I'm

Cjustin picks up the

cigarette box from the table l and CARLA who takes a cigarette)

JUSTIN.

CARLA.

I see.

Of

JUSTIN.

And

course,

I

your fiancd found out about

engaged

offers

it

to

all this?

told him.

And he— er— reacted

unfavourably?

(He

replaces the

box on the

table)

CARLA. (^without enthusiasm) it

didn't matter at

Not

at

all.

He

was perfecdy splendid. Said

all.

JUSTIN. Cpuzzled) Well, then? CARLA. Cloaking up at Justin) it

at that)

It isn't

what a person

says

.

.

.

C^he

leaves

GO BACK FOR MURDER

580 JUSTIN. C«fter a

moment)

(He

Yes, I see.

lifter from the table l) At CAKLA. Anyone can say things.

It's

lights Curia's cigarette

think

least, I

what they

with the

do.

I

feel that matters.

JUSTIN. Don't you think that perhaps you're super-sensitive?

CARLA. Cprmly) No.

my

JUSTIN. But,

CARLA.

dear

Would you

girl

like to

.

.

.

marry the daughter of a murderess? QShe looks

at Justin)

CjusTiN looks down) CQuietly) JUSTIN. to

You

You

you wouldn't.

see,

me

didn't give

time to answer.

fiend or of anything else unpleasant.

it)

But what the

Jack the Ripper for

hell, if I

loved a

as

JefiF

does.

think your central heating's kind of low.

as

cold?

it

kind of non-existent, I'm

It's

box

cigarette

you would mind

don't believe

I

Do you

JUSTIN.

the cigarette hox,

and

(She shivers)

JUSTIN.

find

lighter

she could be the daughter of

girl,

CARLA.

I

wp

'picks

cared.

all I

CARLA. (looking around the room)

much

(He

and puts the

crosses above Carla to the desk

on

wouldn't particularly want

I

marry the daughter of a murderer, or of a drunkard or of a dope-

haven't any. Shall I get

them

afraid.

(He

we

smiles) I mean,

you?

to light the fire for

CARLA. No, please. C JUSTIN looks at the window, sees it is open, quickly closes over the desk to Carla)

JUSTIN. This

Mr—er

.

.

.

This

Jeff

.

.

CARLA. You'll see him. He's coming to

.

you about

my

love hfe. (Struck)

to find out the truth,

you

then leans

?

call for

me,

you don't mind. (She

if

looks at her wrist-watch) Hell, I'm wasting time. sult

it,

At

least, I

I

didn't

suppose

come

to con-

I did. I've

got

see.

I told you just now that there were extenuating circumstances. Your mother was found guilty, but the jury made a strong recommendation to mercy. Her sentence was commuted to imprisonment.

JUSTIN.

CARLA.

And

she died in prison three years

later.

JUSTIN, (sitting at the desk) Yes.

my mother wrote that she wanted me to know was innocent. (She looks defiantly at Justin) JUSTIN, (unimpressed) Yes.

CARLA. In her

letter,

nitely that she

defi-

1

ACT ONE SCENE

58

I

CARLA. You don't believe it? JUSTIN, (icarefully finding his words) I think— a devoted mother—might want to do the best she could for her daughter's peace of mind. CARLA. No, no, nol She wasn't Hke

How

JUSTIN.

that.

She never

You were a

can you know?

told lies.

child of five

when you saw

her

last.

CARLA. Qfossionately)

do know.

I

took a thorn out of

my

My

mother didn't tell lies. When she it would hurt. And going She was never one to sugar the pill. CShe rises quickly, and turns wp l)

finger once, she said

to the dentist. All those things.

What she said was always true. And if she says she was innocent

me—but

believe

it's

then she was innocent. You don't CShe takes a handkerchief front her hag and

so.

dabs her eyes) JUSTIN. Qrising)

It's

better, always, to face the truth.

CARLA. (^turning to him) That

is

the truth.

JUSTIN, Cshaking his head; quietly)

CARLA.

How can you be so sure?

It isn't

the truth.

Does a jury never make a mistake?

JUSTIN. There are probably several guilty people walking around

free, yes,

because they've been given the benefit of the doubt. But in your mother's case— there wasn't any doubt

was your father who attended the case JUSTIN, (interrupting) My father was the soHcitor in charge of the

CARLA.

You

weren't there.

It

.

.

.

defence, yes.

CARLA.

Well— ?ie thought her

innocent, didn't he?

JUSTIN. Yes. (Embarrassed) Yes, of course. these things

.

.

CARLA. (cynically)

You mean

(jusTiN

(She moves »

You

don't quite understand

.

is

that

it

was technical only?

slightly at a loss

c, in front

of her chair)

how

to explain)

But he himself, personally—what

did he think?

JUSTIN,

(stiffly) Really, I've

CARLA. Yes, you have.

And you it

that

think

He

so, too.

you remember

no

idea.

guilty. (She turns and faces l.) (She pauses, then turns to Justin) But how is

thought she was

it all

so well?

I was eighteen— just going up to Oxford yet— but—interested. (Remembering) I was in court

JUSTIN, (looking steadily at her)

—not

in the firm,

every day,

CARLA.

What

know.

did you think? Tell me. (She

sits c.

Eagerly)

I

have

to

GO BACK FOR MURDER

582

JUSTIN. Your mother loved your father desperately—but he gave her a

raw deal— he brought his mother to humiliation and

woman were

mistress insult.

could be expected to endure.

hand— try and

to

house—subjected your

the

into

Mrs Crale endured more than any

understand.

He

The means Understand and forgive. QHe drove her too

far.

and stands down l) forgive. She didn't do it.

crosses above the desk

CARLA.

don't need to

I

JUSTIN. Churning to

her')

Then who

the devil did?

(cARLA, taken ahack, looks Uf at ]ustin')

(He case

CARLA.

crosses

helow Carla

to

r) Well,

I

.

.

that's the point, isn't it?

If

you were

to read

files.

I've read

up

had the shghtest motive.

else

up the

Nobody

reports of the

.

have. I've gone to the

every single detail of the

trial.

CjusTiN crosses behind the desk and goes through the JUSTIN. Well, then, take the

facts.

file

he fut on

it)

Aside from your mother and father,

there were five people in the house that day.

There were the Blakes—

Philip and Meredith, two brothers, two of your father's closest friends.

There was a girl of fourteen, your mother's half-sister—Angela Warren, and her governess— Miss—something or other, and there was Elsa Greer, your father's mistress— and there wasn't the least suspicion against any of them—and besides, if you'd seen CHe breaks off) CARLA. (_eagerly) Yes— go on JUSTIN. Ci'^^'f^i^g to the window; with feeling) If you'd seen her standing there in the vdtness-box. So brave, so polite—bearing it all so patiently, but never— for one moment— fighting. (He looks at Carla) You're like her, you know, to look at. It might be her sitting there. There's only one difference. You're a fighter. (He looks in the file) CARLA. Clocking out front; -puzzled) She didn't fight—why? .

.

.

.

.

.

down l) Montagu Depleach led for the defence. I think may have been a mistake. He had an enormous reputation, but he was— theatrical. His client had to play up. But your mother

JUSTIN, ^crossing

now

that

didn't play up.

CARLA.

Why?

JUSTIN. She answered his questions with

all

the right answers—but

like a docile child repeating a lesson— it didn't give old

chance.

He

built

up

to the last

question— "I ask you,

Mrs

it

Monty

was his

Crale, did

ACT ONE SCENE

I

583

you kill your husband?" And she said: "No—er—no, really I d-didn't" She stammered. It was a complete anti-cHmax, utterly unconvincing. CARLA. And then what happened? JUSTIN, ^crossing above Carla to the desk') Then it was Asprey's turn. He was Attorney-General, later. Quiet, but quite deadly. Logic— after old Monty's fireworks. He made mincemeat of her. Brought out every

damning

I— I could hardly bear it You remember it all very

detail.

.

.

CARLA. Cstudying him)

.

well.

JUSTIN. Yes. CARLA.

Why?

JUSTIN, (tahen aback)

I

suppose

.

.

.

CARLA. Yes? JUSTIN.

CARLA.

I

was young, impressionable.

You

fell in

my mother.

love with

(jusTiN forces a laugh and

sits at

the desk)

JUSTIN. Something of the kind— she was so lovely— so helpless—she'd

been through so

much— I— I'd

have died

for her. (,He smiles)

Romantic

age— eighteen. CARLA. Cfrowning) You'd have died for her—but you thought her guilty. JUSTIN. Qfirmly) Yes,

(cARLA

is

I did.

really shaken.

TURNBALL TURNBALL.

A Mr

Rogcrs

She bends her head, fighting back her and moves to l of the desk)

tears.

entcTs is

here,

sir,

asking for Miss Le Marchant.

(He

looks at Carla)

CARLA.

Jeff.

(To Turnhall) Please—ask him

wait

to

TURNBALL. Certainly, Miss Le Marchant

(turnball

looks closely at Carla for a

CARLA. (looking after Turnball)

He

looked at

JUSTIN. Turnball was at your mother's

trial.

moment, then

me

.

.

.

(She breaks

forty years.

JUSTIN, (calling) Turnball.

and moves

off)

He's been with us for nearly

CARLA. Please, ask him bacL ( JUSTIN rises

exits)

to the

(He returns tORof (turnball enters)

arch)

the desk)

GO BACK FOR MURDER

584 TURNBALL. YcS,

sir?

Cjustin motions

Mr Tumball— I'm

CARLA.

turnball moves dawn l

to Carta,

Carla Crale.

I believe

you were

0/ Carld) at

my

mother's

trial.

TURNBALL. Ycs, Miss Crale, CARLA. Because I'm so like

I

Er— I knew

was.

my

at

once

who you

were.

mother?

TURNBALL. The dead spit of her, if I may put it so. CARLA. What did you think— at the trial? Did you think she was guilty?

(turnball

looTus at Justin,

justin nods

for

Turnball to answer)

TURNBALL. (kindly) You don't want to put it that way. She was a sweet, gentle lady— but she'd been pushed too far. As I've always seen it, she didn't rightly know what she was doing. CARLA. (to herself; ironically) Extenuating circumstances. (She looks at Justin)

(justin

TURNBALL.

the desk. After a while, carla looks hack at Turnball)

sits at

(_after

a 'pause) That's

Greer— she was the word.

And

a hussy

if

right.

ever there

The was

other

woman—that

one. Sexy,

if

Elsa

you'll excuse

your father was an artist— a really great painter;

derstand some of his pictures are in the Tate Gallery—and you

I

un-

know

what artists are. That Greer girl got her hooks into him good and proper— a kind of madness it must have been. Got him so he was going to leave his wife and child for her. Don't ever blame your mother. Miss Crale. Even the gentlest lady can be pushed too

JUSTIN.

Thank

(turnball CARLA.

He

JUSTIN.

far.

you, Tumball.

thinks as you

looks from Carla to Justin, then eodts)

do— guilty.

A gende creature— pushed too far. I— suppose so—yes. (y/ith sudden energy) No!

CARLA. (acquiescing) don't believe

it.

I

won't believe

To do what? Go back into the past and

it.

You— you've

I

got to help me.

JUSTIN.

CARLA.

JUSTIN.

You won't beheve

CARLA. Because

it isn't

find out the truth.

when you hear it. The defence was suicide,

the truth

the truth.

wasn't

it?

JUSTIN. Yes. It could have been suicide. My father could have felt that he'd messed up everything, and that he'd be better out of it all.

CARLA.

a

ACT ONE SCENE JUSTIN.

It

father

was the only defence possible—but was the

last

man

585

I it

wasn't convindng. Your

in the world to take his

own

life.

CARLA. (^doubtfully') Accident?

JUSTIN. Conine— a deadly poison, introduced into a glass of beer by accident?

CARLA. All right, then. There's only one answer. Someone

(jusTiN begins

One

the file on his desk, which contains on each person connected with the case)

thumb through

to

separate sheafs of notes

JUSTIN.

else.

Hardly Elsa Greer.

of the five people there in the house.

She'd got your father besotted about her, and he was going to get a

He

divorce from his wife and marry her. Philip Blake?

was devoted

to

your father and always had been. CARLA. C'^eakly) Perhaps he was in love with Elsa Greer, too.

JUSTIN.

He

certainly

friend, too,

was not Meredith Blake?

He

was your

one of the most amiable men that ever

lived.

father's

Imagination

boggles at the thought of his murdering anyone.

CARLA. All right. All right.

Who

else

do we have?

JUSTIN, Angela Warren, a schoolgirl of fourteen?

Whoever her name

And

the governess, Miss

is.

Whoever her name was? way your mind is working.

CARLA. C^uickly) Well, what about Miss

JUSTIN. Cafter a slight pause)

I

see the

tion, lonely spinster, repressed love for

that

Miss—Williams— (fee

looks in the file) yes, that

me

Frustra-

you was her name—

your father. Let

tell

like that, at all. She was a tartar, a woman of strong and sound commonsense. (He closes the fie) Go and see her for yourself if you don't believe me. CARLA, That's what I'm going to do. JUSTIN, (looking up) What?

Williams—wasn't character,

CARLA. (stubbing out her cigarette in the ashtray on the desk) I'm going to see

them

(She

all.

out where they JUSTIN.

With what

CARLA. (crossing

rises) That's

all are.

Make

what

I

want you

appointments for

me

to

do

for

me. Find

with them.

reason?

to

l) So that

I

can ask them questions, make them

remember. JUSTIN.

What can

CARLA.

(putting on her gloves)

they remember that could be useful after sixteen years?

Something, perhaps, that they never

thought of at the time. Something that wasn't evidence— not the of thing that

would come out

in court. It will

be

like

sort

patchwork—

^

GO BACK FOR MURDER

586 little

piece of this and a

knows,

it

might add up

little

piece of that

And

in the end,

who

something.

to

JUSTIN. Wishful thinking. You'll only give yourself more pain in the end.

(He

puts the

file

CAKLA. ^defiantly')

in the desk drawer^

My mother was

innocent I'm starting from there.

And

you're going to help me.

JUSTIN. Cstuhhornly') That's where you're wrong.

Qie

I'm not

rises^

going to help you to chase a will-o'-the-wisp.

(cARLA and JUSTIN

stare at

each other.

JEFF ROGERS Suddenly strides in. turnball, indignantly protesting, follows him on. jeff is a big, slick, self-satisfied man of thirty-five, good-looking

and insensitive to others. He xoears an overcoat and which he throws on to the desk JEFF, ^standing above the desk') Sorry to bust

around

in waiting-rooms gives

me

in,

but

I

take

all

sitting

this

(To Carhi) Time

claustrophobia.

means nothing to you, honey. (To Justin) Pleased to meet you.

carries a hat,

it

you're

Mr

Fogg?

(jEFF and JUSTIN shake hands)

TURNBALL. (in the archway; —quite unable

to Justin) I'm

to restrain

JEFF, (cheerily) Forget

it.

extremely sorry,

sir.

I

was—er

this— gentleman.

Pop.

(He

sla-ps

Turnball on the back)

(turnball winces) JUSTIN.

It's

quite

all right,

Turnball.

(turnball JEFF, (calling)

No

exits)

hard feelings, Turnball. (To Carlo) Well,

I

suppose

you haven't finished your business, Carla? CARLA. But I have. I came to ask Mr Fogg something— (coWJ)') and

he's

answered me. JUSTIN. I'm sorry. CARLA.

AH

right, Jeff. Let's go.

(She moves

to the

arch)

JEFF. Oh, Carla

(carla stops and turns)

—I

rather

wanted

to

have a word with

Mr

Fogg, myself— about some

ACT ONE SCENE mine

of

aflFairs

Would you mind?

here.

(cARLA CARLA.

Mr

go and soothe

I'll

horrified

Tumball's

He

feelings.

was absolutely

by your behaviour.

the arch

C'>^^'^i^& *o

an overseas hick

That old

only be a few minutes.

I'll

hesitates)

(cARLA JEFF.

587

I

and

exits')

calling) That's right, darling. Tell

who knows no

better.

(He

him I'm

laughs loudly and turns)

boy's like something out of Dickens.

Come

JUSTIN. Cdryly)

in,

Mr— er

.

.

(.He looks unsuccessfully for

.

Jeff's

natne on the hand inside his hat) JEFF. C^ot listening)

moves down c)

I

wanted

It's

have a word with you,

to

Mr

about Carla's mother.

this business

Fogg. (He The whole

thing's given her a bit of a jolt.

JUSTIN, (very cold and legal) JEFF.

It's

Not

unnaturally.

was a cold-blooded of a jolt to me, too.

a shock to learn suddenly that your mother

poisoner.

I

don't

mind

telling

you that

it

was a

bit

JUSTIN. Indeed!

(jEFF moves and JEFF. There

I

was,

sits

on the uf stage end of the desk)

marry a nice

all set to

girl,

uncle and aunt some of the

nicest people in Montreal, a well-bred girl,

thing a

JUSTIN.

It

man

could want.

money

of the

of her own, every-

blue— this.

must have upset you.

JEFF, (witfe feeling) Oh,

it

did.

Mr— er

JUSTIN, (quietly) Sit down, JEFF.

And then—out

.

.

.

What?

On

JUSTIN, (nodding towards the chair c)

(jEFF looks JEFF. Oh,

I'll

at the chair c,

admit

that,

know, kids— things

then

rises,

just at

the chair.

moves

first,

I

to the chair

and sits on

it)

thought of backing out—you

like that?

You have strong views about heredity? You can't do any cattle breeding without

JUSTIN. JEFF.

strains repeat themselves. "Still", fault. She's a fine girl.

through with

it."

You

I

realizing that certain

said to myself, "it isn't the girl's

can't let her

down. You've

just got to

go

GO BACK FOR MURDER

588

(jusTiN picks up the box of

and

cigarettes to

lighter

and

crosses ahove Jeff

(He

takes a packet of

L of him')

JUSTIN. Cattle breeding. JEFF. So

I told

her

made no

it

American cigarettes and a JUSTIN. But it does?

difference at

lighter

from

all.

his pocket)

JEFF. Ctaking a cigarette from his packet) No, no, I've put

But Carla's got some morbid idea

(He

thing up. That's got to be stopped.

(He

JUSTIN. Yes? No.

it behind me. head of raking the whole

in her

offers ]nstin a cigarette)

puts the cigarette hox quickly on the table l)

JEFF, She'll only upset herself. Let her

down lighdy— but

let

your answer

be "No". See? Cjeff

At the same moment, justin

lights his cigarette.

he holds, sees Jeff has his own, so extinguishes the table l) JUSTIN.

it

flicks

quickly,

the lighter

and puts

it

on

I see.

Of course— I suppose making all these enquiries would be quite— er —good business for your firm. You know, fees, expenses, all that

JEFF.

.

JUSTIN,

(^crossing

below

Jeff to

We

r)

are a firm of solicitors,

.

.

you know,

not inquiry agents. JEFF. Sorry, must have explained myself clumsily.

JUSTIN. Yes. JEFF.

What I want

to say is— I'll

stump up the necessary—but drop You will excuse me, Mr— er

JUSTIN, (moving behind the desk)

Miss Le Marchant

is

my

JEFF, (rising) Yep, well, it's

it

And

up.

will

Once

.

.

but

client.

you're acting for Carla, you must agree that

best for her not to go harrowing herself raking

her give JUSTIN.

if

it. .

up the

we're married, she'll never think of

you never think of

JEFF. That's a good question. Yes,

I

it

past.

Make

again.

again?

it

dare say

I'll

have one or two nasty

moments. JUSTIN.

If the coffee

JEFF. That

JUSTIN.

should taste bitter

Which

.

?

won't be very pleasant for her.

JEFF, (cheerily) Well, what can a to

.

.

sort of thing.

have met you, Fogg.

(He

man

do? You can't undo the past. Glad

offers his

( JUSTIN looks at Jeff's hand, then picks

hand)

up

Jeff's

hat from the desk

and

ACT ONE SCENE H futs

in the outstretched hand,

it

window, opens

it

wide, then

come back

589 justin turns

exits,

to the

the telephone receiver')

Has Miss Le Marchant

JUSTIN, (into the telephone') ask her to

lifts

jeff

for a minute. I shan't

left yet?

.

.

(He

keep her long.

.

Well,

replaces

the receiver, crosses to the table l, takes a cigarette from the box, lights it,

then returns

to

r

of the desk)

(cARLA enters) CARLA. (looking coldly at Justin) Yes? JUSTIN. I've changed

CARLA. (startled)

JUSTIN. That's for

you

all.

to see

my

mind.

What? I've

changed

Mr Phihp

my

mind.

Blake here.

up an appointment you know when.

I vvill fix

I will let

(cARLA smiles)

Go on. Don't keep Mr— er don't keep him waiting. He wouldn't be pleased. You'll be hearing from me. (He ushers Carla to the arch) .

.

.

(cARLA

(He goes to me Kellway,

the desk

and

lifts

exits)

the receiver. Into the telephone) Get

Blake and Leverstein, will you?

Philip Blake personally.

The

(He

lights

dim

to

Scene

SCESE—Justin Fogg's room. It is a very handsome room.

Up

is

I.

I

want

to

speak to

Mr

replaces the receiver) Cattle breeding!

a cupboard for drinks,

A

black-out

II

door up r leads

let into

the wall.

to the outer office.

A

large

and ornate

L with a damask-covered swivel chair behind it. A chair, to match, for visitors is down r. There are shaded, electric wall-brackets R and L. On the desk there is an intercom in addition to the teledesk

is

phone.

When

the lights

come up, philip blake

ing and reading the "Financial Times".

is

He

sitting at the desk, is

a good-looking

smok-

man

of

— GO BACK FOR MURDER

59°

pfty odd, grey at the temples, with a slight •paunch. He is self-important, with traces of nervous irritability. He is very sure of himself. The

intercom buzzes, philip presses the switch.

PHILIP. Ci'^to the intercom") Yes?

VOICE. Ct^rough the intercom) Miss PHILIP.

Ask her

VOICE. Yes,

Mr

to

come

Le Marchant's

here,

Mr Blake.

in.

Blake.

(pHiLip releases the switch, frovms, folds his newspaper and lays

it

on the

moves down l of the desk, turns and faces the door. He shows slight traces of uneasiness while he waits, carla enters. She desk, rises,

wears a different PHILIP.

Good

coat,

and

carries different gloves

and handbag)

Lord.

Cphilip and carla look at each other for a moment, then carla closes the

down c)

door and moves

Well, so

it's

Carla.

(He

recovers himself

(With rather forced when I saw you last.

Little Carla!

years old

and shakes hands with her) You were—what— five

geniality)

I must have been just about (She screws up her eyes) I don't remember you PHILIP. I was never much of a children's man. Never knew what to say to them. Sit down, Carla.

CARLA. Yes. think

CcARLA

I

sits

.

.

.

on the chair down r and places her handbag on the

floor beside

the chair)

He

offers the

box of

cigarettes

from the desk) Cigarette?

(carla declines)

(He

replaces the box

on the desk, moves behind the desk and looks

at

(He sits at the desk) I haven't much time, but know you're a terribly busy person. It's good of you to see me. PHILIP. Not at all. You're the daughter of one of my oldest and closest friends. You remember your father? carla. Yes. Not very clearly. PHILIP. You should. Amyas Crale oughtn't to be forgotten. (He pauses) Now, what's this all about? This lawyer chap— Fogg— son of old Andrew Fogg, I suppose his

carla.

watch)

I

.

.

.

1

ACT ONE SCENE

n

59

(cARLA nods) —wasn't very clear about why you wanted to see me. (There is a trace of sarcasm in his voice during the following sentence) But I gathered that

it

wasn't just a case of looking

up your

father's old friends?

CARLA. No.

He

PHILIP.

me

told

that you'd only recendy learnt the facts about your fa-

ther's death. Is that right?

CARLA. Yes.

you ever had

PHILIP. Pity, really,

CARLA. C^fter a ^ause; ftrmly)

to

Mr

hear about Blake,

were starded. You said "Good Lord!" PHILIP. Well,

I

.

.

it

when

at all. I

came

it

was

in just

now you

Why?

.

CARLA. Did you think, just for the moment, that

my

mother stand-

ing there?

There

PHILIP.

is

an amazing resemblance.

You— you

CARLA.

It

starded me.

didn't like her?

Could you expect me to? She killed my best friend. could have been suicide. PHILIP. Don't run away with that idea. Amyas would never have killed himself. He enjoyed life far too much. CARLA. He was an artist, he could have had temperamental ups and

PHILIP. C^ryly)

CARLA. Qstung)

It

downs.

He didn't have that kind of temperament. Nothing morbid or neurotic about Amyas. He had his faults, yes—he chased women, I'll admit—but most of his affairs were quite short lived. He always went

PHILIP.

back

to Caroline.

CARLA. WTiat fun that must have been for her! PHILIP. She'd

known him

since she

was twelve years

old.

We

were

all

brought up together. CARLA.

I

know

so

little.

Tell me.

PHILIP (sitting hack comfortably in his chair) She used to come and stay at

Alderbury for the holidays with the Crales.

house next door.

We

all

My

ran wild together.

family had the big

Meredith,

my

elder

and Amyas were much of an age. I was a year or two younger. Caroline had no money of her own, you know. I was a younger son, out of the running, but both Meredith and Amyas were brother,

quite good catches.

CARLA. PHILIP.

How cold-blooded

you make her sound.

She was cold-blooded. Oh, she appeared impulsive, but behind

it

GO BACK FOR MURDER

592 there

was

a cold calculating devil.

know what

And

she had a wicked temper.

You

she did to her baby half-sister?

CARLA. Cquickly^

No?

PHUJP. Her mother had married again, and all the attention went to the new baby—Angela. Caroline was jealous as hell. She tried to kill the baby.

CARLA. No!

Went for her with a pair of scissors, I believe. The child was marked for life. CARLA. (joutraged) You make her sound a— a monster! PHILIP.

PHILIP, (^shrugging) Jealousy

PHILIP,

(^startled') it's

the devil.

You hated her— didn't you?

CARLA. (^studying him)

CARLA. No,

is

Ghastly business.

That's putting

it

rather strongly.

true.

I suppose I'm bitter. (He rises, moves and sits on the downstage comer of it) But it seems to me that you've come over here with the idea in your head that your mother was an injured innocent. That isn't so. There's Amyas's side of it, too. He was your father, girl, and he loved life

PHILIP. Qstuhhing out his cigarette)

tOR

of the desk

.

CARLA.

I

know.

I

know

PHILIP. You've got to see this thing as

it

was. Caroline was no good.

pauses) She poisoned her husband.

never will forget, CARLA.

How?

PHILIP.

My

.

.

all that.

And what

I

(He and

can't forget,

that / could have saved him.

is

brother Meredith had a strange hobby.

about with herbs and hemlock and

stuflF

He

used to fiddle

and Caroline had

one

stolen

of his patent brews.

CARLA.

How did

PHILIP. Cgrimly)

you know that I

waiting to talk

knew it

ize that Caroline

it

was she who had taken it? And I was fool enough to hang about

all right.

over with Meredith.

wouldn't wait,

I

Why

I

hadn't the sense to real-

can't think. She'd

pinched the

stuff

use— and by God, she used it at the first opportunity. CARLA. You can't be sure it was she who took it. to

PHILIP.

My

dear

away with

girl,

CARLA. That's possible, PHILIP. Is

it?

she admitted taking

it.

Said she'd taken

herself. isn't it?

CCaustically) Well, she didn't do

(cARLA shakes her head. There

away with is

herself.

a silence)

it

to

do

ACT ONE SCENE (He

U

593

and makes an effort to resume a normal manner") Have a (He moves helaxv and l of the desk to the cwphoard wp out a decanter of sherry and a glass and "puts them on the

rises

glass of sherry? L, tahes

iesfe)

Now,

suppose

I

I've

upset you?

(He

pours a glass of sherry)

CAKLA. I've got to find out about things. PHILIP. Ccrossing

and handing the

pathy for her

glass to Carla)

at the trial, of course.

Amyas behaved badly, derbury. (He replaces

I'll

There was a

(He moves behind

admit, bringing the Greer

girl

the desk)

down

And

the decanter in the cupboard)

sym-

lot of

to Al-

she was

pretty insolent to Caroline.

CARLA. Did you like her?

Young

PHILIP, (guardedly)

Elsa?

Not

particularly.

(He

turns to the cup-

and a glass and puts them on the damnably attractive, of course. Predatory.

board, takes out a bottle of whisky

desk) She wasn't

Grasping

All the same, did.

(He

my

type,

(He pours whisky for have suited Amyas better than

wanted.

at everything she

think she'd

I

himself)

Caroline

replaces the bottle in the cupboard)

my

mother and father happy together? laugh) They never stopped having rows. His married life PHILIP, (with a long hell if it hadn't been for the way of escape one have been would CARLA. Weren't

his painting gave him.

(He

squirts soda into his drink

and

sits at

the

desk)

How did

CARLA.

he meet Elsa?

PHILIP, (vaguely) to

Some Chelsea

me— told me

any

girl

he'd

met a

(He

party or other.

smiles)

Came

along

mar\^ellous girl— absolutely different from

he'd met before. Well, I'd heard that often enough. He'd

fall

and a month later, when you mentioned you and wonder who the hell you were talking

for a girl like a ton of bricks,

her, he'd stare at

about. But

Good

it

didn't turn out that

luck, m'dear.

(He

(cARLA CARLA. She's married now, PHILIP,

(dryly)

isn't

She's run

way with

sips

married

now

I

to old

Would

PHILIP.

Who

Lord Melksham,

she have gotten tired of

knows?

raises his glass)

she?

through three husbands.

whom a

my

A

test

pilot

who

she got bored with. She's

dreamy peer who writes mystical

should say she's about had him by now.

CARLA.

(He

her sherry)

crashed himself, some explorer chap

poetry.

Elsa.

drinks)

father, 1

(He

drinks)

wonder?

GO BACK FOR MURDER

594 CARLA.

must meet

I

her.

PHILIP. Can't you let things go?

CARLA. prising and putting her glass on the desk") No, I've got to understand.

PHILIP, (^rising) Determined, aren't you?

CARLA. Yes, I'm a fighter. But

CThe intercom PHILIP.

Where

my mother— wasn't

buzzes,

carla turns and

'picks

wp her hag)

did you get that idea? CaroHne was a

terrific fighter.

(He

presses the switch. Into the intercom) Yes?

VOICE, (through the intercom) PHILIP. Tell

VOICE. Yes,

him

I

Mr

Mr

Foster's here,

won't keep him a

Blake.

moment

sir.

Cphilip releases the switch) CARLA. (struck)

Was

she?

Was

But—she

she really?

didn't fight at her

trial.

PHILIP.

CARLA.

No.

Why didn't she? knew she was

PHILIP. Well, since she

guilty

.

.

.

(He

rises)

CARLA. (angrily) She wasn't guilty! PHILIP, (angrily) You're obstinate, aren't you? After

CARLA.

You

still

PHILIP. I've told you

CARLA. PHILIP.

CARLA.

Not I

all I've

told you!

hate her. Although she's been dead for years. .

Why?

.

.

the real reason. There's something

else.

don't think so.

You hate her—now why? Thank you.

I shall

have

to find

out Goodbye,

Mr

Blake.

PHILIP. Good-bye.

(cARLA moves

(He

to the

door and

exits,

leaving the door open)

moment, slightly perplexed, then he closes the door, sits at the desk and presses the intercom switch. Into the intercom) Ask Mr Foster to come in. stares after her for a

VOICE, (through the intercom) Yes,

PHILIP

sits

sir.

hack in his chair and picks up his drink as the lights dim to black-out

ACT ONE SCENE IH

Scene

595

III

SCENE—Tfee

sitting-room of an hotel suite. There is an arch hack c leading to a small entrance hall with a door L. There is a long window r. A french settee stands l with an armchair to match R. In front of the settee there is a long stool, and a small table with a house telephone stands under the window. There are electric wall-brackets r and l of the arch. In the hall there is a console table and a row of coathooks on the wall r.

When from coat

come wp, justin is by the armchair, placing some His coat is on the settee, carla enters the hall puts her gloves and handbag on the hall table, removes her

the lights

in his brief-case.

files

L,

and hangs

it

on the hooks.

carla. Oh, I'm so glad you're here.

JUSTIN, ^surprised and pleased^ Really:"

armchair and moves

CHe puts his brief-case on the down r) Meredith Blake will be here at three

o'clock.

CARLA. Good!

What about Lady Melksham? my letter.

JUSTIN. She didn't answer

CARLA. Perhaps she's away?

JUSTIN. CcTossing

to

L of the arch') No, she's not away.

home. CARLA. I suppose that means that JUSTIN. Oh, I wouldn't say that.

I

took steps to

as-

certain that she's at

What makes you women usually .

come

She'll

CARLA. C^ioving c) JUSTIN. Well,

going to ignore the whole thing.

she's

.

all

right

so sure?

.

CARLA. Cwith a touch of mischief) I see—you're an authority on women. JUSTIN. Cstiffly) Only in the legal sense. CARLA. And— strictly in the legal sense ? .

JUSTIN.

Women usually want

(carla sees CARLA.

I really

do

Justin's coat like

towards the hooks)

.

.

to satisfy their curiosity.

on the

settee, crosses

you—you make me

feel

and picks

much

it

up)

better. (Sfee

moves

GO BACK FOR MURDER

59^

CThe telephone CShe

and

thrusts the coat at Justin, crosses

Into the telephone') Hello?

.

rings)

the telephone receiver.

lifts

.

.

( JUSTIN hangs his coat in the hall)

Oh, ask him

come up,

to

turns to Justin)

JUSTIN, (moving c) A very need to feel better?

What? You said just now

CARLA.

you? CShe replaces the receiver and

will

Meredith Blake.

It's

JUSTIN.

I

he hke

Is

his hateful brother?

different temperament, 1 should say.

made you

feel better.

Do you

need

Do you

to feel bet-

ter?

CARLA. Sometimes

I do.

(She gestures (jusTiN

I didn't realize

JUSTIN. CARLA.

was

I

what

was

on the

to sit

on the

settee)

settee)

letting myself in for.

afraid of that.

could still— give

I

I

sits

him

to

it all

up— go

back

No— er—not now.

JUSTIN, (quickly) No!

to

Canada— forget.

Shall I?

You've got to go on.

CARLA. (sitting in the armchair) That's not what you advised in the

first

place.

You hadn't started then. You still think— that my mother was

JUSTIN. CARLA.

any other solution. CARLA. And yet you want me to go on? JUSTIN. I want you to go on until you are JUSTIN.

(There

I can't

guilty, don't

you?

see

satisfied.

a knock on the hall door, carla

is

and justin rise, carla goes to and steps back, justin crosses to r of the the hall, meredith blake enters the hall from l.

the hall, opens the door

armchair and faces

He

is

a pleasant, rather vague

man

vnth a thatch of grey

gives the impression of being rather ineffectual

and

hair.

irresolute.

He He

wears country tweeds with hat, coat and muffler)

MEREDITH. Carla.

May

I?

(He

My

dear Carla.

kisses

her)

It

(He

takes her hands)

seems incredible that the

should have grown up into a young lady. are,

my

dear.

How

My

time

flies.

knew

your mother you

My word!

carla. (slightly embarrassed; gesturing to Justin)

MEREDITH.

like

How

little girl I

word,

my

word!

(He

Do

you know

pulls himself together)

Mr Fogg?

What? (To

ACT ONE SCENE HI Justin')

Ah,

yes, I

knew your

597

D (He

father, didn't

steps into the

room')

(cARLA doses the door then moves into the room and stands l of ike arch) JUSTIN. C^noving

R of Meredith) Yes,

to

QHe

sir.

May

shakes hands)

I

take your coat?

MEREDITH, (unbuttoning yourself. You're over

his coat; to Carta)

And now— tell me

all

about

from the States—

(jusTiN takes Meredith's hat)

—thank you— no, Canada. For how long? CARLA. I'm not quite sure— yet.

(jusTiN eyes Carla) MEREDITH. But you are CARLA.

Well— I'm

definitely

making your home

overseas?

thinking of getting married.

MEREDITH, (removing

his coat)

Oh,

to a

Canadian?

CARLA. Yes.

(MEREDITH hands

his coat

and muffler

to

justin who hangs them with

the hat, in the hall)

MEREDITH. Well,

hope

I

he's a nice fellow

for you,

my

to sit in

the

and good enough

dear.

CARLA. Naturally

I

think

so.

(She gestures

to

Meredith

armchair)

(MEREDITH goes

to sit in

the armchair, sees Justin's hrief-case

up. JUSTIN

and

picks

it

And

so

moves above the armchair)

MEREDITH. Good. If you'rc happy, then I'm very happy would your mother have been. CARLA. (sitting on the settee at the upstage end)

Do

for you.

you know that

my

mother left a letter for me in which she said she was innocent? MEREDITH, (turning and looking at Carla; sharply) Your mother wrote that?

CARLA. Does

it

surprise

you

(justin sees meredith

is

so

much?

uncertain what

to

do with the hrief-case and

offers to take it)

MEREDITH. Well,

I

shouldn't have thought Caroline

brief-case to Justin)

.

.

.

(lie hands the

GO BACK FOR MURDER

598

on the

C JUSTIN -puts the brief-case I

know— I

don't

distress

you

less

suppose she felt— (fee .

.

CARLA. ^'passionately^

looks

up

it

It

If

she solemnly wrote that

stands to reason that

would

when

must be true— doesn't

it

me

she was it?

C^e

at Justin for support')

CARLA. What a rotten liar you MEREDITH. Cshocked) Carla!

know

I

hall

was meant

it

want you

to tell

is

a pause")

are. (Sfee rises)

(cARLA goes into the

help. I

it

you that what she wrote

doesn't occur to

(There

CARLA. Oh,

in the armchair^

.

might be true? MEREDITH. Well, yes— of course.

dying— well,

sits

table r)

me

and picks up her handbag) be kind. But kindness doesn't really

to

about

all

(She

it.

steps into the

room and

searches in her hag)

MEREDITH. You know the facts— (to Justin) doesn't she? down l) Yes, sir, she does.

JUSTIN, (crossing

MEREDITH. Going ovci them ter let the

whole thing

be married and ( JUSTIN sees offers

it

will

rest.

be painful— and quite unprofitable. Bet-

You're young and pretty and engaged to

that's all that really matters.

carla searching in her bag, takes out

to her.

meredith

JUSTIN, (to Carla)

takes a snuff-box

You looking

for

MEREDITH, (offering the snuff-box don't suppose you do, but I'll

.

will

(jusTiN

his cigarette case

and

from his waistcoat pocket)

one of these? to .

Carla) .

(He

Have

a pinch of

.

.

.

No, I Oh,

offers the

box

to Justin)

from justin

who

also takes

you? declines,

carla takes a

cigarette

one)

CARLA. I've asked your brother Philip, you know. (She puts her bag on the stool) ( JUSTIN lights the cigarettes

with his lighter)

Oh— Philip! You wouldn't get much from him. Philip's a busy man. So busy making money, that he hasn't time for anything else. If he did remember anything, he'd remember it all wrong. (He sniffs the

MEREDITH.

snuff)

ACT ONE SCENE HI CABLA. Csitting on the settee at the upstage end')

(jusTiN

sits

on the

settee at the

MEREDITH, (^guardedly) Well—you'd have

to

599 Then you

tell

me.

downstage end) understand a bit about your

father— first.

He had

CABLA. (matter-of-fact)

mother very unhappy. MEREDITH. Well—er— yes— (/le ally

afiFairs

sniffs)

with other

but these

women and made my

affairs of his

weren't re-

important until Elsa came along.

CARLA. He was painting her? MEREDITH. Ycs, my word— (fee sniffs) I can see her now. Sitting on the terrace where she posed. Dark— er—shorts and a yellow shirt. "Portrait of a girl in a yellow shirt", that's what he was going to call it. It was one of the best things Amyas ever did. (He puts his snuff-hox in

his -pocket)

CARLA.

What happened

MEREDITH. too.

I've got

Alderbury.

to the picture?

bought

I

it.

It

turned into a building

and the proceeds put CARLA.

I

didn't

know

MEREDITH. Well, just as

it

I

it

estate.

did.

to a

It's let

I

But you know

it

that, I expect.

Youth Hostel. But I keep one wing most of the furniture . .

sold off

.

Why?

though defending himself)

ever did-

want

Everything was sold by the executors

in trust for you.

was, for myself.

(fls

Amyas

bought the house,

I

property, you know. I didn't

you'd bought the house.

CARLA. But you kept the picture.

MEREDITH,

with the furniture.

my

adjoins

My

word, yes!

It

I tell

you,

it

was the best thing

goes to the nation

when

I die.

(He

pauses)

(cARLA Well,

stares at

Meredith)

try to tell you what you want to know. Amyas brought Elsa there-ostensibly because he was painting her. She hated the pretence. She-she was so wildly in love with him and wanted to have it out with Caroline then and there. She felt in a false position. I'll

down

I— I understood her point of view. You sound most sympathetic towards her. MEREDITH, (horrified) Not at all. My sympathies were all with CARLA. (coldly)

Caroline.

always been-vvell, in love with Caroline. I asked her to marry me —but she married Amyas instead. Oh, I can understand it-he was a brilliant person and very attractive to women, but he didn't look after her the way I'd have looked after her. I remained her friend. I'd

GO BACK FOR MURDER

600

And yet you believe she committed murder? MEREDITH. She didn't really know what she was doing. There was a . terrific scene— she was overwrought CARLA.

.

.

CARLA. Yes?

MEREDITH. And that same afternoon she took the conine from my laboratory. But I swear there was no thought of murder in her mind when she took it—she had some idea of—of—doing away with herself. CARLA. But as your brother Philip said, "She didn't do away with herself.** MEREDITH. Things always look better the next morning. And there was a lot of fuss going on, getting Angela's things ready for school— that was Angela Warren, Caroline's half-sister. She was a real litde devil, always scrapping vdth someone, or playing tricks. She and Amyas were forever fighting, but he was very fond of her—and Caroline adored her.

CARLA. ((^Mtcfely) After once trying to

MEREDITH, (looking story

was

kill

at Carla; quickly')

her? I've

always been sure that that

Most children

grossly exaggerated.

new

are jealous of the

baby.

My

CARLA. (after -puffing at her cigarette)

father

was found dead—after

lunch, wasn't he?

MEREDITH. Ycs.

We

left

him on the

terrace, painting.

He

often wouldn't

had brought him was there by his side—empty. I suppose the stuff was already beginning to work. There's no pain— just a slow—paralysis. Yes. When we came

The

go into lunch.

glass of beer that Caroline

out after lunch— he was dead.

CARLA. (rising^ upset)

A

MEREDITH, (rising) I'm you.

(He

The whole

nightmare sorry,

my

.

.

thing was a nightmare.

.

dear. I didn't

want

to talk

about

it

to

looks at Justin)

I could go down there— to where it happened. Could I? MEREDITH. Of coursc, my dear. You're only to say the word. CARLA. (moving c and turning to face Justin) If we could go over

CARLA. If

—all of us

MEREDITH.

.

.

it

there

.

What do you mean by

all

of us?

Meredith) Your brother Philip and you, and the governess, and Angela Warren, and—yes—even Elsa. MEREDITH. I hardly think Elsa would come. She's married, you know.

CARLA. (turning

to face

CARLA. (wryly) Several times,

I

hear.

MEREDITH. Shc's changed very much. Philip saw her night

at a theatre

one

ACT ONE SCENE HI CARLA. Nothing itr"

You

lasts.

my

loved

6oi

mother once—but that didn't

(^She stubs out her cigarette in the ashtray

on the

last,

did

stooV)

MEREDITH. What?

down l)

CARLA. Ccrossing

would

be. I can't

Everything's dififerent from

seem

to find

my

C JUSTIN If I

could go

down

to

Alderbury

MEREDITH. You're welcome

must

.

.

at

.

what

thought

it

I'm afraid

I

I

way. rises')

.

.

my

any time,

dear.

Now,

.

(cARLA gazes out front) JUSTIN, (^moving to the halV)

I'll

get your coat,

sir.

(He

sees Carla

is

in a

hrovm study) Carla's most grateful to you, sir. (He takes Meredith's coat, hat and muffler from the hooks) CARLA. (recollecting herself) Oh, yes. Yes, thank you for coming. (MEREDITH goes

to the hall

MEREDITH. Carla, the more

I

where justin

think of

it all

hel'ps

.

.

him on with

his coat)

.

CARLA. Yes?

MEREDITH, (movtng c) did commit suicide.

I believe,

He may

you know, that it's quite possible Amyas felt more remorseful than we know.

have

(He looks hofefully at Carla) CARLA. (unconvinced) It's a nice thought MEREDITH. Ycs, ycs— wcU, good-bye,

my

dear.

CARLA. Good-bye.

MEREDITH, (taking his hat from Justin) Good-bye, JUSTIN, (opening the door) Good-bye, sir. MEREDITH. (mumhUng) Good-bye. Good-bye.

(MEREDITH

cxits.

JUSTIN

closcs the door

Mr

Fogg.

and moves c)

CARLA. Well!

JUSTIN. Well! CARLA.

What

a fool!

JUSTIN. Quite a nice kindly

fool.

(The telephone CARLA. (crossing to the tele-phone)

(She

lifts

the receiver)

Why

He

rings)

doesn't believe anything of the sort.

does he say so? (Into the telephone)

GO BACK FOR MURDER

6o2 Yes?

.

.

.

C^he replaces the

Yes. I see.

receiver.

Disapfointed) She's

not coming.

JUSTIN. Lady Melkshami>

CARLA. Yes. Unavoidably prevented. ( JUSTIN goes into the hall

and

collects his coat^

JUSTIN. Don't worry, we'll think of something.

CARLA. (looking out of the window^ I've got to see her, she's the hub of

it

all.

JUSTIN, ^moving c and putting on his

Miss Williams, CARLA.

(fifltZy)

aren't

coat")

You're going to take tea with

you?

Yes.

JUSTIN, (rather eagerly)

Want me

to

come with you?

CARLA. (without interest) No, there's no need.

JUSTIN.

Maybe

post.

CARLA.

I'll

(still

there'll

phone you

be a

letter

from Angela Warren in tomorrow's

may? looking through the window) if I

JUSTIN, (after a pause)

What

Please.

a fool your father was.

(cARLA turns)

Not CARLA.

to recognize quality

when he had

it.

What do you mean?

JUSTIN. Elsa Greer was pretty brash, you know, crude allure, crude sex,

crude hero worship. CARLA. Hero worship?

JUSTIN. Yes.

Would

she have

made

been a celebrated painter? Look

a— (he

at

if

he hadn't

her subsequent husbands. Always

by a somebody— a big noise

attracted

himself.

a dead set at your father

in the

world— never the man

But Caroline, your mother, would have recognized quality

f)auses

and

self-consciously gives a boyish smile)

in

weU—even

in a solicitor.

(cARLA picks up CARLA.

I

Justin's brief-case

believe you're

still

and

in love with

looks at

my

him with

interest)

mother. (She holds out the

brief-case)

JUSTIN. Oh, no. times,

(He

takes the brief-case

and smiles)

I

move with the

you know. (cARLA

Good-bye.

is

taken aback, but

is

pleased and smiles)

603

ACT ONE SCENE IH Cjustin exits, carla looks after him, taking in what he has said. The phone rings, carla lifts the receiver. The light starts to dim as

tele-

twir

light falls^

Oh, it's you, JefF Yes CARLA. Onto the telephone') Hullo> the armchair with in and sits instrument whole (She takes the .

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

it,

It may be a silly waste of time, but it's my straightens the seam of her stocking) (She time and CCrossly) You're quite wrong about Justin. He's a good What? AH right, so I'm quarrelling friend—which is more than you are No, I don't want to dine with you ... I don't want to dine with

tucking one leg under her) if

.

.

I

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

you anywhere.

melksham

(elsa

enters the hall from l, quietly closes the door

stands in the hall, looking at Carla. elsa

up and extremely

is tall,

and

beautiful, very made-

She wears hat and gloves, and a red velvet and carries her handbag)

smart.

coat over a black dress,

At the moment your stock is pretty low with me. (She hangs the receiver down, rises and puts the instrument on the table r) ELSA. Miss Le Marchant—or do I say "Miss Crale"? (carla, CARLA. So you've come after ELSA.

I

startled, turns

quickly)

all?

always meant to come.

I just

waited until your legal adviser had

faded.

carla.

You

don't like lawyers?

woman to woman. Let's have some (She switches on the wall-brackets by the switch l of the arch then moves down c and looks hard at Carla) Well, you don't look very much like the child I remember.

ELSA.

I

prefer, occasionally, to talk

light.

carla. Qsimply) I'm like

my

mother.

ELSA. Ccoldly) Yes. That doesn't particularly prejudice

me

in your favour.

Your mother was one of the most loathsome women I've ever known. CARLA. Qtotly) I've no doubt she felt the same about you. ELSA. Csmiling) Oh, yes, the feeling was mutual. CShe sits on the settee at the upstage end) The trouble with Caroline was that she wasn't a very good

loser.

CARLA. Did you expect her to be?

amused) Really, you know, I believe I did. I must have been incredibly young, and naive. Because I myself couldn't understand clinging on to a man who didn't want me, I was

ELSA. (^removing her gloves;

GO BACK FOR MURDER

6o4

quite shocked that she didn't feel the same. But she'd

kill

Amyas

CARLA. She didn't

rather than let

kill

me

I

never dreamt that

have him.

him.

She

ELSA. (without interest') or less in front of

my

killed

him

all right.

eyes— in a

She poisoned him more

glass of iced beer.

And

never

I

(With a com'plete change of manner) dreamed— never guessed You think at the time that you vidll never forget— that the pain will always be there. And then— it's all gone— gone— like that. (She snaps .

.

.

her fingers)

How old were you? was no injured innocent. Amyas Crale didn't seduce a trusting young girl. It wasn't like that at all. I met him at a party and I fell for him right away. I knew he was the only man in the world for me. (She smiles) I think he felt the same.

CARLA. (sitting in the armchair) ELSA. Nineteen.

But

I

CARLA. Yes. ELSA.

He

asked him to paint me.

I

said

he didn't do

Mama

about the portrait he'd done of

circumstances had led to that.

cial

gether.

I said, "I

happen? said,

I

shall

want you

make

to paint

I

knew

me."

love to you."

I

He

me by

got that setded,

the shoulders and turned

me

over in a considering sort of way.

had an affair to'Tou know what'U "Why not?" And he

my

start

St. Paul's

Cathedral. If

I

wife." I said that

Then he

said, "I've often

same effect." (She pauses. Quickly) So CARLA. And you went down to Alderbury. removes her

me

thought of

macaws

alighting

painted you in your flamboyant youth

get the

rises,

took

towards the light and looked

against a background of nice traditional English scenery,

(elsa

He

the sittings?

painting a flight of outrageously coloured Australian

on

said spe-

said,

said,

when should we

He

they'd

"I'm a married man, and I'm very fond of

now we'd

what

portraits. I said

Vadaz, the dancer.

coat, puts

it

it

I

believe I'd

was setded.

on the downstage end of the

settee

and moves c) She could be, you know. Amyas was very circumspect. (She smiles) Never said a word to me his wife couldn't have overheard. I was polite and formal. Underneath, (She breaks off) though, we both knew

ELSA. Yes. Caroline was charming.

.

CARLA.

Go

.

.

on.

ELSA. (putting her hands on her hips) After ten days he told

go back

to

London.

me

I

was

to

ACT ONE SCENE lU

605

CARLA. Yes? ELSA.

I said,

truth

"The

He

picture isn't finished."

said, "It's barely

begun.

him why, and he why I'd got to clear out

can't paint you, Elsa." I asked

is I

knew very well "why" and that's So—you went back to London? ELSA. Yes, I went. (S/ze moves up c and

The

said that I

CARLA.

He

turns) I didn't write to him. I

And then—he came. was no use struggling against it, and he said, 'Tou haven't struggled much, have you, Elsa?" I said I hadn't struggled at all. It was wonderful and more frightening than mere didn't answer his letters.

I told

him

that

was

it

fate

held out for a week.

and

it

happiness. (Sfce frowns') If only we'd kept

away—if

only

we

hadn't

gone back. CARLA. ELSA.

Why

The

did you?

imfinished picture.

It

haunted Amyas. CShe

sits on the settee at time— Caroline had

the upstage end) But things were different this

caught on.

I

wanted

Amyas would

to

have the whole thing on an honest basis. All hell with honesty. I'm painting a picture."

"To

say was,

(cARLA laughs)

Why do you laugh? CARLA. Crising and turning to the window) Because I

know

just

how he

felt

ELSA. (,angrily) How should you know? CARLA. Csimply) Because I'm his daughter,

I suppose. ELSA. Cdistantly) Amyas's daughter. QShe looks at Carla with a

new

appraisement) CARLA. (turning and crossing ahove the armchair to c) I've just begun to know that. I hadn't thought about it before. I came over because I wanted to find out just what happened sixteen years ago. I am finding out. I'm

hke. ELSA.

beginning to

The whole

Coming

CARLA.

My

know

thing's

the people— what they

coming

alive? (Bitterly) I

alive, bit

wish

it

by

felt,

what they

are

bit.

would.

father-you-Philip

Blake-Meredith Blake. (She crosses down l) And there are two more. Angela Warren . ELSA. Angela? Oh, yes. She's quite a celebrity in her way—one of those .

tough it

women who

travel to inaccessible places

.

and write books about

She was only a tiresome teenager then.

CARLA. (turning)

How

ELSA. (uninterested)

I

did she feel about don't know.

They

it

all?

hustled her away,

I think.

Some

GO BACK FOR MURDER

6o6

idea of Caroline's that contact with

cent

mind— though

I

about damage to her

When

murder would damage her

adoles-

know why Caroline should have bothered mind when she had already damaged her face for don't

I ought to have realized what Caroline and when I actually saw her take the poison CARLA. C^uickly') You saw her? ELSA. Yes. Meredith was waiting to lock up his laboratory. Caroline was the last to come out. I was just before her. I looked over my shoulder

her.

heard that story

I

was capable

of,

.

and saw her standing in front of a shelf with a small hand. Of course, she might only have been looking at it.

.

.

bottle in her

How was

I to

know? CARLA. ^crossing to c) But you suspected? ELSA.

I

thought she meant

CARLA. Suicide?

And you

ELSA. Ccalmly^

thought

I

it

for herself.

didn't care? it

might be the best way

out.

CARLA. (^crossing above the armchair to the window') Oh, no

.

.

.

Amyas had been a failure from the start—if she'd really cared for him as much as she pretended, she'd have given him a divorce. There was plenty of money— and she'd probably have married someone else who would have suited her better. CARLA. How easily you arrange other people's lives. QShe moves down r) Meredith Blake says I may come dovm to Alderbury. I want to get ev-

ELSA.

Her marriage

to

eryone there. Will you come? ELSA. (_arrested, hut attracted hy the idea)

CARLA. Qeagerly) see

ELSA.

it

as

I

want

though

Happening

all

CARLA. Qjpolitely) If

it

to

Come down

to

Alderbury?

go over the whole thing on the

were happening

over again

.

.

all

spot. I

want

to

over again.

.

you There are worse things than pain. (Harshly) It's forgetting that's so horrible— it's as though you were dead yourself. (^Angrily) You— stand there so damned young and innocent— what do you know about loving a man? I loved Amyas. (With fire) He was so alive, so full of life and vigour, such a man. And she put an end to all that— your mother. (She rises) She put an end to Amyas so that I shouldn't have him. And they didn't even hang her. (She fauses. In an ordinary tone) I'll come to Alderbury. I'll join your circus. (She pcks wp her it's

too painful for

.

.

.

ELSA.

coat

and holds (cARLA

it

out to Carla)

crosses to Elsa

and helps her on with her coat)

ACT ONE SCENE IV PhUip, Meredith—Angela

Warren—all

607

four of us.

CARLA. Five. ELSA. Five?

CARLA. There was a governess. ELSA. ^collecting her hag

and gloves from the settee^ Oh, yes, the governVery disapproving me and Amyas. Devoted to Caroline. CARLA. Devoted to my mothei—she'll tell me. I'm going to see her next ess.

CShe goes

and cpens the

into the hall

door')

ELSA. (moving to the hall) Perhaps you'll get your legal friend to tele-

phone me,

will

(elsa CARLA.

The

you? exits.

CARLA

closes the door

and moves c)

governess!

The

LIGHTS dim

black-out

to

Scene IV

scene— Miss Williams' hed-sitting-room. It is an attic room with a small window door

is

presumed

with a gas

fire,

to

hack

in the sloping roof l.

he in the "fourth wall". There c.

There

is

is

a divan with cover and cushions

gate-legged table stands under the window.

A

The

a preplace, fitted r.

A

small tahle with a table-

lamp on it is R of the fireplace. Upright chairs stand l of the fireplace and down l and there is an old-fashioned armchair with a footstool under it, c. An electric kettle is plugged into the skirting, r of the fireplace.

When

the lights

are not yet closed.

come up, the lamp

A

tray of tea for

steaming and the teapot is

is

heside

seated in the armchair c.

She

is

two

it.

is

The

on, hut the

on the gas

window The

tahle l.

fire is

lit.

curtains kettle is

miss Williams

sixty odd, intelligent,

with dear enunciation and a pedagogic manner. She wears a tweed skirt and blouse, with a cardigan and a scarf round her shoulders, carla is is

seated on the divan, looking through a photograph album.

a brown dress.

She wears

GO BACK FOR MURDER

6o8

CARLA. I do remember you. It's all coming back. MISS WILLIAMS. You were only five years old.

You looked

CARLA.

after

makes the CARLA. I'm

tea)

fine,

didn't think I did.

me?

MISS WILLIAMS. No, you werc not Angela. Ah, the

I

kettle's boiling.

Now,

are

my

you going

was in charge of wp the teayot and

responsibility. I

(.She rises, ficks to

be happy there, dear?

thanks.

MISS WILLIAMS, (fointing

to the

alburn) That's Angela— you were only a

baby when that was taken. CARLA.

What was

she like?

MISS WILLIAMS, (flitting down the kettle) pupils

I

One

of the most interesting

She took a first and you may have read her book on the rock paintings

ever had. Undisciplined, but a

at Somerville

first-class brain.

of the Hazelpa?

CARLA.

Um?

MISS WILLIAMS.

It was vcry well reviewed. Yes, I'm very proud of Angela. (She futs the teapot on the tray l) Now, we'll just let that stand a minute, shall we?

CARLA. (putting the album on the upstage end of the divan) Williams, you know why I've come?

MISS WILLIAMS. Roughly,

yes.

(She moves

you want

fuller information

You have

just

father's life,

and

to the fireplace)

learnt the facts about the tragedy that

ended your

Miss

about the whole matter. (She switches

off

the kettle)

CARLA. And,

I

suppose, like everybody else, you think

whole thing? MISS WILLIAMS. Not

at all. It

I

ought

to forget the

appears to be perfecdy natural that you

should want to understand. Then, and only then, can you forget

about

it.

me

CARLA. Will you

tell

MISS WILLIAMS.

Any

full extent of

a

little

and

my

footstool

looks

everything?

me I will answer to the my little footstool? I have

questions you like to put to

knowledge.

Now,

where's

somewhere. (She turns the armchair

around

to face

the divan

for the footstool)

CARLA. (rising and drawing the footstool out from under the armchair)

Here we

are.

MISS WILLIAMS. Thank you, dear. (She seats herself comfortably in the armchair and puts her feet on the footstool) I like to keep my feet ofiE the ground.

ACT ONE SCENE IV

609

I think— first— that I'd like to know just what my father and mother were Hke— what you thought they were Hke, I mean. CS/ie sits

CABLA.

on the divan) MISS WILLIAMS. Your

you know, has been acclaimed

father, as

as a great

am not competent to judge. I do not, myself, admire his paintings. The drawing seems to me faulty and the colouring exaggerated. However, that may be, I have never seen why the possession of what is called the artistic temperament should excuse a man painter.

I,

of course,

from ordinary decent behaviour. Your mother had a great deal

put

to

up with where he was concerned. CARLA.

And

she minded?

MISS WILLIAMS. She minded very much.

Mr

Crale was not a faithful husand forgave him for them—but she did not take them meekly. She remonstrated—and with spirit

band. She put up with his CARLA.

You mean

infidelities

they gave each other hell?

MISS WILLIAMS. C^uietly) That would not be

and

crosses

helow the armchair

my

to the table

description. (_She rises

l) There were quarrels,

but your mother had dignity, and your father was in the wrong. CShe fours the tea) CARLA. Always? MISS WOLLIAMS. C^rmly) Always. I was—very fond of Mrs Crale. And yes,

very sorry for her. She had a wife, I should have left him. at

CARLA.

lot to bear. If I

No woman

had been

Mr

Crale s

should submit to humiliation

her husband's hands.

You

didn't like

MISS WILLIAMS,

my

father?

(tight-li-pfcd)

I

disliked

CARLA. But he was really fond of

my

him—very much.

mother?

(miss WILLIAMS ficks wp a cup of tea and the sugar howl and crosses to Carla)

MISS WILLIAMS.

CShe

believe honestly that he cared for

I

her—but men

.

.

.

!

then hands the cwp of tea to Carla) CARLA. Cslightly amused') You don't think much of men? sniffs,

MISS WILLIAMS, (with sUght fanaticism) world.

I

hope

it

will not always

be

so.

Men (She

still

have the best of

thrusts the sugar

this

howl

at

Carla) Sugar?

CARLA.

I

don't take

it,

thanks.

(miss WILLIAMS CTOsscs

And

then Elsa Greer came along?

to the table, puts

up her cup

down

of tea)

the sugar bowl

and picks

GO BACK FOR MURDER

6lO MISS WILLIAMS, (with

distaste')

made poor

painted; they

Doubtless they had other things to Crale was infatuated with the discourage him. (She

CABLA. jvuss

What

Ostensibly to have

Yes.

Tier

portrait

(She crosses to c) talk about It was obvious that Mr and that she was doing nothing to

progress with the picture.

girl

then

sniffs,

in the armchair^

sits

did you think of her?

WILLIAMS.

thought she was good-looking, but stupid. She had had,

I

presumably, an adequate education, but she never opened a book, and

was quite unable to converse on any intellectual subject All she ever thought about was her own personal appearance—and men, of course. CARL A. Go on. MISS vwDLLiAMS. Miss Greer went back to London, and very pleased we were to see her go. (She fauses and si^s her tea) Then Mr Crale went away and I knew, and so did Mrs Crale, that he had gone after the girl. They reappeared together. The sittings were to be continued, and we all knew what that meant. The girl's manner became increasingly insolent, and she finally came out into the open with some outrageous remarks about what she would do at Alderbury when she was mistress there.

CARLA. (horrified') Oh, no!

MISS WILLIAMS. Yes,

came

in,

and

yes, yes.

(She pauses and

his wife asked

him

outright

sips her tea) if

was

it

Mr

Crale

true that he

to marry Elsa. There he stood, a great giant of a man, looking naughty schoolboy. (She rises, goes to the table l, puts down her cup, picks up a plate of biscuits and crosses to Carla) My blood

planned like a

boiled. I really could

they're

Peek

carla. (taking a biscuit) jvuss

WILLIAMS.

to say all

have

killed him.

Do

have one of these

did

my mother do?

biscuits,

Frean's.

I

Thank you. What

think she just went out of the room.

something

to

her of what

I felt,

I

know I— I

but she stopped me.

tried

"We

must on the

behave as usual," she said. (She crosses and puts the plate l) They were all going over to tea with Mr Meredith Blake that

table

afternoon. Just as she kissed me.

a

She

was going,

said, "You're

I

remember she came back and to me." (Her voice breaks

such a comfort

little)

CARLA. (sweetly) I'm sure you were.

MISS WILLIAMS, (crossing

unplugging

to

the fireplace, picking

Never blame her for what she her daughter to understand and forgive. it)

up

the kettle

did, Carla. It

is

and

for you,

ACT ONE SCENE IV CARLA. Cslowly') So even you think she did

MISS WILLIAMS. Csodly^ CARLA. Did she

tell

MISS WILLIAMS, refills

CARLA, ikuss

know

I

you she did

she did

6ll

it.

it.

it?

(tafeiwg the kettle to the table

Of

l)

course not. C^he

the teapot^

What

did she say?

WILLIAMS. She took pains

to impress

upon me

that

it

must be

sui-

cide.

CARLA.

You didn't—believe

MISS WILLIAMS.

I Said,

her?

Mrs

"Certainly,

Crale,

it

must have been

suicide.**

CARLA. But you didn't believe what you were saying.

MISS WILLIAMS,

have got side.

My

(^crossifig to

and was

the fireplace

to understand, Carla, that I

re-placing the kettle^

entirely

You

on your mother's

sympathies were with her— not with the police. (S/ie

sits

in

the armchair')

QShe pauses) When she was charged, you wanted her acquitted? MISS WILLIAMS. Certainly. CARLA. On any pretext? MISS VJ7ILLIAMS. On any pretext CARLA. Cpleading) She might have been innocent. MISS VraLLIAMS. No. CARLA. Cdefiantly) She was innocent. MISS WILLIAMS. No, my dear. CARLA. She was—she was. She vio^ote it to me. In a letter she wrote when she was dying. She said I could be sure of that. CARLA. But murder

.

.

.

(There MISS WILLIAMS.

Qn

a stunned silence)

is

a low voice) That was

wrong—very wrong

write a lie— and at such a solemn moment. that Caroline Crale

truthful

CARLA.

I

of her.

To

should not have thought

would have done a thing

like that.

She was a

woman. could be the truth.

(.rising) It

MISS WILLIAMS, (definitely) No. CARLA.

You

can't

MISS WILLIAMS. case, I alone

something one.

(She

I

be I

positive.

can be

You

can'tl

positive.

Of

all

the people connected with the

can be sure that Caroline Crale was

saw.

rises)

I

withheld

it

guilty.

Because of

from the police— I have never told any-

But you must take

it

from me, Carla, quite

definitely,

GO BACK FOR MURDER

6l2

mother was

that your

guilty.

Now, can

We'll both have some, shall we?

I get

you some more

tea, dear"?

sometimes gets rather chilly in

It

this

room. CShe takes Carta's cu-p and crosses to the table l)

CARLA looks

distracted

the LIGHTS

and bewildered as—

dim

to

Scene

SCENE—A

The

When

is

in

an alcove decorated in

delicate

Oriental style,

with three banquettes.

come up, carla is seated r of the table and Angela and c of it. They are just finishing lunch. wearing a mink-trimmed coat. Angela is a tall woman of

the lights

WARREN carla

V

table in a restaurant.

table

equi'p'ped

black-out

is

is

seated above

thirty, of distinguished

mannish

hat.

There

is

appearance, well-dressed in a plain suit with a

a not too noticeable scar on her

ANGELA. Cputting down her brandy our meal, Carla, I'm prepared

glass')

Well,

to talk.

now

left

cheek.

that we've finished

should have been sorry

I

if

you'd gone back to Canada without our being able to meet. (,She offers

Carla a cigarette from a leather case)

(carla declines and takes a

cigarette

from an American pack on the

table)

one of her own cigarettes) I wanted to fix it before, but had a hundred and one things to do before leaving tomorrow. QShe lights Carla's cigarette and then her awn with a lifter which (_She takes

I've

matches her case) CARLA.

1

know how

ANGELA. Yes, much

it is.

You're going by sea?

easier

when

you're carting out a lot of

equipment

saw Miss Williams? ANGELA, (ismiling) Dear Miss Williams. What a life I used to lead her. Climbing trees and playing truant, and plaguing the life out of everyone all round me. I was jealous, of course. CARLA.

I

told

you

I

CARLA. Qstartled) Jealous?

ANGELA. Yes—of Amyas.

I'd

always come

first

with Caroline and

I

ACT ONE SCENE V couldn't bear her to be absorbed in him.

I

613

played

all sorts

of tricks on

him— put— what was

it, now— some filthy stuff— valerian, I think, in and once I put a hedgehog in his bed. CShe laughs) I must have been an absolute menace. How right they were to pack me ofiE to school. Though, of course, I was furious at the time. CARLA. How much do you remember of it all?

his beer,

ANGELA. Of the actual happening? Curiously little. We'd had lunch— and then Caroline and Miss Williams went into the garden room, and then we all came in and Amyas was dead and there was telephoning,

and

I

heard Elsa screaming somewhere— on the

terrace, I

think with

wandered about, getting in everyone's way. CARLA. I can't think why 1 don't remember anything. After all, I was five. Old enough to remember something. ANGELA. Oh, you weren't there. You'd gone away to stay with your godmother, old Lady Thorpe, about a week before. CARLA. Ah! ANGELA. Miss Williams took me into Caroline's room. She was lying down, looking very white and ill. I was frightened. She said I wasn't Caroline.

just

1

to think about it— I was to go to Miss Williams' sister in London, and then on to school in Zurich as planned. I said I didn't want to leave

her—and then Miss Williams chipped

way

in

and

of hers— (sfce mimics Miss Williams')

help your

Angela,

sister,

is

said in that authoritative

"The

best

do what she wants you her brandy)

to

way you can to

do without

making any fuss." CShe si'ps CARLA. Camused) I know just what you mean. There's something about Miss Williams which makes you feel you've just got to go along with her.

ANGELA.

The

me a few questions, but I didn't know why. I had been some kind of accident, and that Amyas had taken poison by mistake. I was abroad when they arrested Caroline, and they kept it from me as long as they could. Caroline police asked

just thought there

wouldn't

let

me

me

go and see her in prison. She did everyhing she could

to

keep

to

stand between

out of

it all.

That was

me and

just like Caroline.

CARLA. She must have been very fond of you. It wasn't that. (Sfce touches her scar)

ANGELA.

CARLA. That happened

She always

tried

the world.

when you were

It

was because of

this.

a baby.

ANGELA. Yes. You've heard about older child gets

mad

it. It's the sort of thing that happens-an with jealousy and chucks something. To a sensi-

tive person, like Caroline, the horror of

what she had done never quite

GO BACK FOR MURDER

6 14

Her whole life was one long effort to make up way she had injured me. Very bad for me, of course. CARLA. Did you ever feel vindictive about it? left her.

ANGELA. Towards Caroline? Because she had spoiled laughs^

I

never had

much

No,

to spoil.

my

to

for the

beauty? C^he

never gave

1

me

it

a second

thought.

CcARLA ficks up her hag from the seat heside hands it it Angehx) CARLA. She

(There

is

left

a letter for

me—I'd like you

a pause as Angela reads the

her, takes out

a

letter

and

to read it

letter,

cabla stubs out her

ciga-

rette')

I'm so confused about her. Everyone seems to have seen her differently.

ANGELA. She had a

and reads)

".

lot of contradictions in

.

want you

.

to

know

her nature. (Sfee turns a page

that I did not kill your father."

You might have wondered. QShe on the table) CARLA. You mean— you believe she wasn't guilty? Sensible of her.

puts

folds the letter

ANGELA. Of course she wasn't

have thought

guilty.

Nobody who knew Caroline could

one moment that she was

for

CARLA. (slightly hysterical) But they

do— they

guilty.

all

do— except

you.

ANGELA. More fool they. Oh, the evidence was damning enough,

who knew

you, but anybody couldn't

CARLA.

and

it

Caroline well should

commit murder. She hadn't got

What

about

ANGELA, (pointing

.

.

I

grant

that she

in her.

?

.

her scar) This?

to

it

know

How

can

I

explain? (She stubs out

her cigarette) Because of what she did to me, Caroline was always

watching herself

for violence. I think she decided that

lent in speech she

She'd say things

would have no temptation

like, "I'd like to

if

she was vio-

to violence in action.

cut So-and-so in pieces and boil

him

murder

Or she'd say to Amyas, "If you go on like this, I shall Amyas and she had the most fantastic quarrels, they said the most outrageous things to each other. They both loved it, CARLA. They liked quarrelling? ANGELA. Yes. They were that kind of couple. Living that way, with conin oil."

you."

tinual rows

and makings up, was

CARLA. (sitting back) the letter

ANGELA.

If

and puts

only

I

their idea of fun.

You make everything sound it

different

(She picks up

in her bag)

could have given evidence. But

I

suppose the sort o£

ACT ONE SCENE V thing

615

could have said wouldn't count as evidence. But you needn't

I

You can go back

worry, Carla.

to

Canada and be

quite sure that

Caroline didn't murder Amyas. CABLA. Csadly^ But then—who did? ANGELA. Does it matter?

CARLA.

Of

ANGELA,

you

course

(m

leave

CARLA. No,

ANGELA.

it

matters.

a hard voiced it

It

must have been some kind of accident. Can't

at that?

can't

I

Why not? (carla does not answer)

man? (S/ze si'ps her hrandy) Well— there is a man, yes.

Is it a

CARLA.

ANGELA. Are you engaged? (carla, slightly embarrassed, takes a cigarette from her jacket')

CARLA.

don't know.

I

ANGELA.

He

minds about

this?

CARLA. Qrovming) He's very magnanimous.

ANGELA.

How bloody!

Qaf'preciatively')

CARLA. I'm not sure that

I

want

I

shouldn't marry him.

to.

ANGELA. Another man? (S/ie li^ts Carla's cigarette) CARLA. ^irritably)

Must everything be a man?

ANGELA. Usually seems

to be. I prefer rock paintings.

CARLA. ^suddenly) I'm going

down

people concerned to be there.

I

to

Alderbury tomorrow.

wanted you

ANGELA. Not me. I'm sailing tomorrow. CARLA. I want to re-live it—as though I were CStrongly) ist at

ANGELA. CARLA.

her

want

all

the

my

didn't she fight for her life?

mother and not myself.

Why

was she

so defeat-

trial?

don't know.

I

It

Why

I

as well.

wasn't like her, was

it?

ANGELA. Cslowly) No, it wasn't like her. CARLA. It must have been one of those four other people. ANGELA. How persistent you are, Carla. CARLA.

I'll

find out the truth in the end.

ANGELA, entruck by Carla's sincerity) pauses) glass)

I'll

come

to

I almost believe you will. (Sfee Alderbury with you. CShe picks up her brandy

GO BACK FOR MURDER

6i6 CARLA. (.delighted')

ANGELA.

I'll

You

will?

But your boat

brandy? I'm going to

Now,

sails

tomorrow.

you sure you won't have some have some more i£ I can catch his eye. QShe

take a plane instead.

are

calls) Waiter!

CARLA. I'm so glad you're coming.

ANGELA, (sombrely) Are you? Don't hope for too much. Sixteen years. a long time ago.

ANGELA

drains her glass as the lights

the CURTAIN

dim

falls

to

black-out and—

It's

Act

SCENE— Alderhury,

a house in the

Two

West

of England.

scene shows a section of the house, with the Garden

The

Room r

l with communicating french windows between them. The room is at an angle, so that the terrace extends and takers at the upstage end of off helow it to r. Doors hack c, in the room, and

and the

terrace

the terrace, lead to the house.

covered fergola

l, leads to

An

the wpstage end of a vine-

exit, at

the garden. There

is

another door

down r

Above this door is a small alcove with shelves for decorative flates and ornaments. A console table stands under the shelves. There is a table l of the door c, on which there is a telephone and a carved wooden head. On the wall above the table is the portrait of Elsa, painted by Amyas. There is a sofa r of the door c, with a long stool in front of it. Armchairs stand r and l, and there is an occasional table L of the artnchair r. There is a stone bench c of the terrace. in the room.

When come

the u-p

curtain rises, the stage is in darkness, then the lights show the house shrouded in darkness and the terrace moonlight. The long stool is on the sofa and both are

to

bathed in

The

covered with a dust sheet. sheets.

The window

are heard off

up

armchairs are also covered with dust

curtains are closed. After a

CARLA. (o/f) Which way do we go? MEREDITH, (o^) This way, mind that I

always used to

JUSTIN,

(off;

few moments, voices

c.

fall

stumbling)

over

Good

MEREDITH, (o/f) Fcw things

little step.

(He

is

heard

to stumble")

it.

heavens! Shall

I

as depressing as

leave the door?

an unlived-in house,

I

do

apologize.

up c and the lights on the room snap up. He wears an and has an old fishing hat, pulled down. He moves dovm r. CARLA follows Meredith on. She wears a loose coat and a head scarf. She moves l. justin enters last. He carries his bowler hat. He moves down c, turns and looks around the room)

(MEREDITH

enters

overcoat,

GO BACK FOR MURDER

6l8 This

what we

is

morgue, e\ er

call

the garden room. Cold as a morgue. Looks

lilce

a

(He laughs and rubs his hands} Not that I've a— hum ... I'll just remove these. (He goes to

too, doesn't it?

seen the inside of

and removes the dust sheet} me help you. (He moves to l of the sofa and takes the dust sheet from Meredith')

the sofa

JUSTIN. Let

(cARLA moves

armchair l and removes the dust sheet which she

to the

gives to ]ustin}

MEREDITH. This .

.

.

(He

(He

indicates the long stool

on the sofa} Ah,

takes the stool from the sofa} Let

where

there.

alive, once,

(cARLA CARLA.

house has been shut up, you

bit of the

sits

Is that

(He

and now on the

the stool

•places it's

me

see, I

It's

sad,

that's

an old friend.

think it went somesomehow. It was so

dead.

end

left

Rc)

see, ever since

of the stool

and

looks at the portrait}

the picture?

MEREDITH. What? Ycs. Girl in a yellow shirt CARLA.

You

here?

left it

MEREDITH. Ycs. I— somchow couldu't bear too

much

.

.

(He

.

to look at

it.

It

reminded

recollects himself, crosses to the french

me

windows

and opens the curtains} CARLA.

How

she's

changed.

MEREDITH, (turning) You've seen her? CARLA. Yes.

MEREDITH, (cxossing

to the

armchair r and removing the dust sheet}

I

haven't seen her for years. still. But not like that. So alive and triumphant— and young. (She draws a breath and faces front} It's a wonderful por-

CARLA. She's beautiful

trait.

MEREDITH. Yes—(he points l) and that is where he painted her— out there on the terrace. Well, I'll just dispose of these— (^e takes the dust sheets from Justin} in the next room,

(MEREDITH extts R. CARLA and moves onto the

riscs,

I

think.

gocs to the french windows, unlocks them,

terrace,

justin looks

stands on the step just outside the

her,

CARLA. Justin— do you think this scheme of mine thinks I'm mad.

then follows and

windows} is

quite crazy?

JeflE

ACT TWO

619

JUSTIN. Ccfossing to the exit above the pergola and looking off^

(MEREDITH CARLA.

(_sitting

ikiEREDiTH.

I'll

enters

down r and

shouldn't

You

crosses to the french

windows^

on the hench^ I don't. go and meet the others.

just

(MEREDITH CARLA.

I

worry you.

let that

Wp c)

exitS

understand, don't you, just what

JUSTIN, (grossing to r)

You want

I

want done?

to reconstruct in

your mind's eye what

happened here sixteen years ago. You want each witness in turn to describe the scene in which they participated. Much of it may be trivial and irrelevant, but you want it in full. (He moves to her~) Their recollections, of course, will not be exact. In a scene where more than one witness was present, the two accounts may not agree. CARLA. That might be helpful. JUSTIN. Cdouhtfully') It might—but you must not build too much on it. People do recollect things differently. (He moves up stage and looks around^ CARLA.

What Fm

going to do

my

shall

imagine

off}

You know,

I

is

think

my

I

think

I

make

my

believe I see

it all

happening.

I

QShe suddenly breaks father must have been great fun.

JUSTIN, (^moving behind Carla')

CARLA.

to

mother and

father

.

.

.

What?

should have liked him a

lot.

JUSTIN, ^turning and peering off down l; dryly') Women usually did. CARLA. It's odd— I feel sorry for Elsa. In that picture in there she looks so

young and alive— and

when my

now— there's no

life left in her. I

think

it

died

father died.

JUSTIN, ^sitting below Carla on the bench) Are you casting her as Juliet?

CARLA.

You

JUSTIN. No.

don't?

(He

smiles')

I'm your mother's man.

CARLA. You're very faithful, aren't you?

(jusTiN looks JUSTIN,

(fl/ter

a pause)

I

Too

faithful,

maybe.

at Carla)

don't really quite

know what

we're talking about.

CARLA. prising; matter-of-fact) Let's get back to business. Your part

is

look hard for discrepancies— flaws— you've got to be very legal and tute.

JUSTIN. Yes, ma'am.

to as-

GO BACK FOR MURDER

6lO

MEREDrm

(yoices of the others arriving can he heard off up c, with ing them)

(He CARLA.

Here they

rises)

I'll

greet-

are.

go and meet them.

(cARLA goes into the room and exits c. The lights slowly dim to blackout, JUSTIN moves down l, then a spotlight comes up revealing his face. He acts as compere)

Now,

JUSTIN.

we

are

all

we

are

here.

all

ready?

We want

ings of sixteen years ago.

impress on you once more

I will just

to reconstruct, as far as

We

shall

endeavour

each person or persons to recount in turn their on,

we

do

to

own

why

can, the happenthis,

part in

by asking what went

and what they saw, or overheard. This should make an almost con-

tinuous picture. Sixteen years ago.

We

shall start

on the afternoon of

the sixteenth of August, the day before the tragedy took place, wdth a conversation that

Mr

Meredith Blake had with Caroline Crale in the

garden room. Out here on the terrace, Elsa Greer was posing for

Amyas Crale who was

painting her.

Greer's narrative,

the arrival of Philip Blake, and so on.

to

From

that

we

shall

go on to Elsa

Mr

Meredith Blake, will you begin?

CThe

spotlight fades.

MEREDITH.

was the afternoon of the sixteenth of August, did you say? was. I came over to Alderbury. Stopped in on my way to

It

Yes, yes,

Meredith's voice can he heard in the darkness)

it

Framley Abbott. Really

them

give

a lift— they

been cutting

room

.

.

roses,

could pick any of them up later to

were coming over

and when

I

to

me

for tea. Caroline

had

opened the door into the garden

.

CThe LIGHTS come is

to see if I

up.

It is

a glorious, hot summer's day. Caroline crale

standing in the french windows looking on to the terrace. She car-

ries

a trug with

roses, etc.,

and wears gardening

ELSA poses on the hench, facing

AMYAS CRALE

c.

gloves.

She wears a yellow

On

the terrace,

shirt

and hlack

on a stool c, facing l, hefore his easel, painting Elsa. His painthox is on the ground helow him. He is a hig, handsome man, wearing an old shirt and paint-stained slacks. There is

shorts.

is

Seated

a trolley l of the terrace with various hottles and glasses, including a hottle of heer in an ice-hucket. In the room, a landscape now hangs in place of the portrait,

meredith

enters

up c)

ACT TWO

621

Hullo, Caroline.

CAROLINE, churning) Merry! C^he crosses to the stool, removes her gloves and puts them in the trug)

MEREDITH,

(^closing the

door) How's the picture going?

french windows and looks out) stool

and

(He

smells the rose)

CAROLINE. Merry, do you think

MEREDITH. No, no,

Amyas

It's

a nice pose.

takes a rose from the trug)

Harkness."

'puts

(He

(He

What

the trug on

it,

crosses to the

ntoves to l of the

have

we

here? "Ena

My word, what a beauty.

Amyas

really cares for that girl?

You know what

he's just interested in painting her.

is.

CAROLINE, emitting in the armchair r) This time I'm afraid, Merry. I'm nearly thirty, you know.

We've been married over

six years,

and

in

looks, I can't hold a candle to Elsa.

MEREDITH, (replacing the rose in the trug and moving above the of Caroline) That's absurd, Caroline.

stool to

l

You know

that

Amyas

her and bending over her) I'm

still

devoted to you,

is

really

devoted to you and always will be.

CAROLINE. Does One ever

MEREDITH, (close

to

know with men?

Caroline.

CAROLINE, (affectionately) Dear Merry. (She touches his cheek) You're so

sweet

(There I

long to take a hatchet to that

is

a pause)

girl.

She's just helping herself to

my

husband in the coolest manner in the world. MEREDITH. My dear Caroline, the child probably doesn't realize in the least what she's doing. She's got an enormous admiration and hero worship for Amyas and she probably doesn't understand at all diat he's

maybe

falling in love

with her.

(CAROLINE looks pityingly CAROLINE. So there really are people

who

at

him)

can believe

six impossible things

before breakfast.

MEREDITH.

I don't understand. CAROLINE, (rising and crossing to l of the stool) You live in a nice world all your own. Merry, where everybody is just as nice as you are. (She looks at the roses. Cheerfully) My "Erythina Christo Galli" is in wonderful bloom this year. (She crosses to the french windows

and

goes on to the terrace)

GO BACK FOR MURDER

622

Cmeredith follows Caroline on

Come and

to the terrace')

it before you go into Framley Abbott. CShe crosses to end of the pergola) MEREDITH. Just you Wait till you see my "Tecoma Grandiflora". (He moves to Caroline) It's magnificent

see

the wpstage

(CAROLINE futs her

fingers to her lifs to quieten

Meredith)

CAROLINE. Ssh!

MEREDITH. What? (He looks through one of the arches of the fergola Elsa and Amyas) Oh, man at work. (CAROLINE and meredith

No—no, wait.

hy the upstage end of the pergola)

must have a break There—oh, well, if you must.

ELSA. Cstretching herself)

amyas.

exit

I

(elsa

(He

rises)

takes a cigarette from a packet in the paintbox,

Can't you stay

still

for

more than

five

ELSA. Five minutes! Half an hour. (Sfce to

at

and

lights it)

minutes?

moves down

l,)

Anyway,

I've got

change.

AMYAS. Change? Change what?

Change out of this. (Sfee crosses above Amyas and stands behind him) We're going out to tea, don't you remember? With Meredith

ELSA.

Blake.

AMYAS.

Q^if^cibly)

What

ELSA. (leaning over

you

a damned nuisance. Always something. Amyas and putting her arms around his neck)

AMYAS. (looking up

at her)

My tastes

are simple.

(As though qtwting)

pot of paint, a brush and thou beside me, not able to

minutes

.

(They both

.

sit still

laugh, elsa snatches

Amyas'

cigarette

and

About Caroline. Telling her about

AMYAS. (easily) Oh,

straightens

ELSA. But,

Amyas

.

.

us.

.

(CAROLINE enters dovm

l.)

up)

I said?

shouldn't worry your head about that just yet

I

A

for five

.

ELSA. (drawing on the cigarette) Have you thought about what AMYAS. (resuming painting) What did you say?

ELSA.

Aren't

sociable!

ACT TWO

623

CAROLINE. Merry's gone into Framley Abbott for something, but he's coming back here. (Sfee crosses helow the bench towards the french winr

dows^ I must change. AMYAS. Cwithout looking at her') You look all right. CAROLINE. I must do something about my hands, they're gardening. Are you going to change, Elsa? (elsa returns the cigarette ELSA. (^insolently) Yes. (She

moves

to

been

Amyas)

to the french

(philip enters

filthy. I've

windows)

wp c)

CAROLINE, (moving into the room) Philip!

The

train

must have been on

time for once.

Celsa comes into the room)

This

is

Meredith's brother Philip— Miss Greer.

elsa. Hullo. I'm

ofiE

to change.

Celsa crosses and

eodts

uf c)

CAROLINE. Well, Philip, good journey? (She kisses him)

How

are you all? (She gestures towards the terrace) Amyas is out there on the terrace. I must clean up, forgive me. We're going over to

PHILIP.

Not

CAROLINE.

too bad.

Oh— fine.

Merry's to

tea.

(CAROLINE smiles and exits wp c. philip closes the door after her, then wanders on to the terrace and stands in front of the bench)

AMYAS. (looking up and smiling) Hullo,

Phil.

Good

to see you.

What

a

summer. Best we've had for years. PHILIP, (crossing helow

Amyas

AMYAS. Yes. I'm on the

last lap.

to

PHILIP, (looking at the painting)

r)

Can

I

look?

Wow!

AMYAS. (stubbing out his cigarette) Like it? Not that you're any judge, you old Philistine. PHILIP. I buy pictures quite often. AMYAS. (looking up at him) As an investment? To get in on the ground floor? Because somebody tells you So-and-so is an up-and-coming man? (He grins) 1 know you, you old money hog. Anyway, you can't buy this. It's

pmup.

not for

sale.

She's quite something.

GO BACK FOR MURDER

624 AMYAS. (looking

Somerimes

I

She

at the portraW)

wash

I'd

certainly

PHILIP, (taking a cigarette from his case) D'you

me you

said.

Remember what

serious")

remember when you

were painting her? "No personal

told

(Suddenly

is.

never seen her.

I

said?

(He

interest in her,"

first

you

grins) 'Tell that to the Marines."

AMYAS. (overla'pfing) "Tell that to the Marines." All right— all right. So you were clever, you cold-blooded old fish. (He rises, crosses to the trolley,

and opens

takes the bottle of heer from the ice-hucket,

it)

Why don't you get yourself a woman? (He 'pours the heer) No

PHILIP.

Amyas, AMYAS.

time for 'em.

It's all

(He

lights his cigarette)

And

if

I

were you,

very well for you to

talk. I just can't leave

women

alone.

grins suddenly)

How about

PHILIP.

(He

wouldn't get tied up with any more.

I

Caroline? Is she cutting

What do you

up rough?

(He takes his glass, crosses to the hench and sits on the downstage end) Thank the Lord you've turned up, Phil. Living in this house with four women on your neck is enough to drive any man to the loony bin.

AMYAS.

think?

PHILIP. Four?

AMYAS. There's Caroline being bloody way. Elsa, being just plain bloody

There's

Angela,

to Elsa in a well-bred, polite sort of to Caroline.

Cphilip

sits

on the

hating

my

guts

easel stool)

because

at

last

I've

persuaded

Caroline to send her to boarding-school. She ought to have gone years ago. She's a nice kid, really, but Caroline spoils her, to

rim wild. She put a hedgehog in

my

bed

and

she's inclined

weeL

last

(philip laughs)

Oh, lot

yes, very

funny—but you wait

of ruddy prickles.

erness.

Hates

me

And

then

till

lastly,

you ram your but not

like poison. Sits there at

feet

down on

leastly, there's

meals with her

a

the gov-

lips set to-

gether, oozing disapproval.

MISS WILLIAMS,

(off;

down l) Angela, you must

ANGELA, (off) Oh, I'm all right PHILIP. They seem to have got you

MISS WILLIAMS, (off) You're not Blake in those jeans.

AMYAS. Nil desperanduml

(He

down

all right.

drinks)

get changed.

a bit

You

can't

go out to tea with

Mr

ACT TWO (ANGELA

ANGELA

C«s she enters)

fulls

him

down l)

Merry wouldn't mind.

to his feet)

(miss WILLIAMS entcrs

enters

625

and

(iShe crosses to Philip

Hullo, Philip.

down l and

crosses

above the bench

to the

french

windows) MISS WILLIAMS. Good aftcmoon, ney down from London? PHILIP. Quite good, thank you.

Mr

Blake. I

hope you had a good

Cmiss WILLIAMS gocs into the room, sees the trug on the stool, ficks returns to the terrace and exits by the garden door uf l) ANGELA, (crossing to L of Amy as) You've got paint on your AMYAS. (rubbing a fainty hand on his other ear) Eh?

ANGELA, (delighted)

Now

it

uf,

ear.

He

you've got paint on both ears.

jour-

can't go out

to tea like that, can he?

AMYAS. I'll go out to tea with ass's ears if I like. ANGELA, (putting her arms around Amyas's neck from behind and mocking him) Amyas is an AMYAS. (chanting) Amyas

ass! is

Amyas

an

is

an

ass!

ass.

(miss v^mLLiAMS enters wp l and moves

MISS WILLIAMS.

Comc

french windows)

to the

along, Angela.

(ANGELA jumps ovcr the bench and runs

to the easel)

ANGELA. You and your stupid painting. (Vindictively) I'm going to write

"Amyas is an ass" all over your picture down, grabs a brush and proceeds to rub

in scarlet paint. it

(She bends on the pal-

in the red paint

ette)

(amyas rises quickly, puts his glass downstage ANGELA and grabs her hand before she has time amyas.

If

you.

of the bench, crosses to to

damage the picture)

you ever tamper with any picture of xmnQ— (seriously)

Remember that (He

picks

up a

piece of rag

I'll kill

and cleans the

brush)

ANGELA. You're just

like

Caroline—she's always saying,

people— but she never does, why, she won't even I

"I'll

kill

lull

you"

wish you'd hurry up and finish painting Elsa— then she'd go away.

PHILIP. Don't you like her?

to

wasps. (Sulkily

GO BACK FOR MURDER

626 ANGELA.

I

imagine

I can't

(pHiLiP and I

No.

Csnap'pily')

tMrws)

think she's a terrible bore. C^he crosses to l and

why Amyas

AMYAS exchange

has her here.

suppose she's paying you a terrible

lot of

crosses to Angela")

money

for painting her,

is

Amyas?

she,

AMYAS.

arm around Angela's shoulders and guiding her

(jputting his

wards the french windows')

Go and

train

tomorrow, and good riddance.

turns

down

(ANGELA

hits

ANGELA.

AMYAS ow

I

hate

to school if

Mind

puts

it

you—I

QHe

gives her a 'playful shove

the hack.

He

and

on the hench,

collapses

his chest)

me away

(He

up

crosses to the hench, picks

the glass

and

trolley)

ANGELA. You just want .

and

turns

hate you. Caroline would never have sent

the beer.

.

to-

your packing. Four-fifteen

wasn't for you.

it

on the

-rii-ru

finish

stage)

and she pommels

PHILIP.

amyas

looks,

to get rid of

me. You wait—I'll get even with you

.

MISS WILLIAMS. C^^ith shoTp authority) Angela! Angela, come along. ANGELA, (near to tears; sulkily) Oh, all right (She runs into the room) (miss WILLIAMS follows Angela into the room, elsa enters up

c. She has changed into a dress and looks ravishing. Angela gives Elsa a venomous look and runs out up c. miss Williams follows Angela off, and

closes the door)

amyas.

and

up)

(sitting

Wham! Why

didn't

you stand up

me? I'm black

for

blue.

PHILIP, (leaning against the downstage

blue? You're

all

end of the pergola) Black and

the colours of the rainbow.

(elsa wanders on

to the terrace

and moves down

You've got enough paint on you to

.

.

.

(He

c,

heside the easel)

breaks off as he sees

Elsa)

amyas. Hullo,

Elsa. All dolled

up? You'll knock poor old Merry

all

of a

heap. PHILIP,

(dryly)

helow the

Yes—I— I've been admiring

easel to

elsa. I shall be glad

r of

it

when

and looks

it's

the

picture.

(He

crosses

at the portrait)

finished. 1 loathe

having

to sit

still.

Amyas

ACT TWO

627 and doesn't hear you when

grunts and sweats and bites his brushes

you speak to him. AMYAS. Q^layfully^ All models should have Celsa crosses and

(He

sits

out

helow Aniyas on the hencK)

looks af-praisingly at her)

fields to

their tongues cut

Anyway, you

can't

walk

across the

Merry's in those shoes.

ELSA. (turning her foot this

He's coming

to fetch

me

way and

that; demurely') I shan't

need

to.

in his car.

AMYAS. Preferential treatment, eh? (He grins) You've certainly got old Merry going. How do you do it, you little devil? ELSA. (playfully) I don't know what you mean.

(amyas and elsa

are immersed in each other, philep crosses to the french

windows) them) I'll go and have a vrash. AMYAS. (not hearing Philip; to Elsa) Yes, you do. You know damn well what I mean. (He moves to kiss Elsa's ear, realizes Philip has said something and turns to him) What?

PHILIP, (as he passes

PHILIP, (quietly)

A wash.

(pHiLip goes into the room and exits up

AMYAS. (lauding) Good old Phil. and crossing helow the

ELSA. (rising aren't

AMYAS.

c, closing the

easel to

r) You're very fond of him,

you?

Known him

my life.

all

He's a great guy.

ELSA. (turning and looking at the portrait)

AMYAS. Don't pretend you've any

know nothing

at

that paint

artistic

I

don't think

a bit like me.

it's

judgement, Elsa.

(He

rises)

You

all.

ELSA. (quite pleased)

(amyas

door "behind him')

How rude you are.

Are you going out

to tea

with

all

on your face?

crosses to the painthox, takes

AMYAS. Here, clean

me

oflF

up a piece

of rag

and moves

to Elsa)

a bit

(elsa takes the rag and rubs his face) Don't put the turps in elsa. Well, hold

waist)

still.

my

eye.

(After a second she puts hoth her arms around his

Who do you

love?

628

GO BACK FOR MURDER

AMYAS. C«ot -moving;

quietly')

Caroline's

room

faces this

way— so

does

Angela's. I want to talk to you about Caroline. AMYAS. ^taking the rag and sitting on the stool) Not now. I'm not in the

ELSA.

mood. ELSA.

It's

AMYAS.

no good putting

We

(^grinning)

it ofF.

She's got to

know sometime,

hasn't she?

could go off Victorian fashion and leave a note on

her pin-cushion. ELSA. (jnoving between

Amyas and

the easel)

But we've got

you'd like to do.

to

I

what and aboveboard

believe that's just

be absolutely

fair

about the whole thing.

AMYAS. ELSA.

Hoity-toity!

Oh, do be

AMYAS.

I

am

serious.

Now, mind

(He

yourself.

ELSA. (^moving r)

I

around) AMYAS. Cahsorhed in

When

a lot of fuss

and scenes and

hysterics.

pushes her gently aside)

why much

there should be scenes

don't see

Caroline should have too

ELSA.

want

serious. I don't

-painting)

dignity

and pride

and hysterics. (She fivots

for that.

Should she? You don't know Caroline.

a marriage has gone wrong,

it's

only sensible to face the fact

calmly.

AMYAS. (turning

to look at her)

me and

Caroline loves ELSA. (^moving

down r)

Advice from our marriage counsellor.

she'll kick

If

up the

hell of a row.

she really loved you, she'd want you to be

happy.

AMYAS. (grinning) With somebody stick a knife into

else? She'll probably poison

you and

me.

ELSA. Don't be ridiculous! AMYAS. (wiping his hands and nodding

at the picture)

Well,

that's that.

Nothing doing until tomorrow morning. (He drops the rag, rises and moves to Elsa) Lovely, lovely Elsa. (He takes her face in his hands) What a lot of bloody nonsense you talk. (He kisses her)

(ANGELA rushes

in

AMYAS break race

and looks

up

c,

apart, off

runs on to the terrace and

miss willli\ms enters up

exits c,

down

goes on

l.

elsa and

to the ter-

l)

MISS wncLLiAMs. (calling) Angela! AMYAS. (crossing down l) She went this-a-way. Shall I catch her for you? MISS WILLIAMS, (vioving down lc) No, it's all right. She'll come back of

ACT TWO her

own

629

accord as soon as she sees nobody

paying any

is

attention to

her.

Celsa goes into the room,

^ks wp a magazine from the sofa and sits in the armchair r)

AMYAS. There's something in

that.

MISS WILLIAMS. Shc's young for her age, you know. Growing up difficult business.

Angela

is

AMYAS. (moving up l) Don't

much

is

a

at the prickly stage.

talk to

me

of prickles.

Reminds me too

of that ruddy hedgehog.

MISS WILLIAMS. That was very naughty of Angela.

AMYAS. (moving to the french windows^ Sometimes I wonder how you can stick her. MISS WILLIAMS, (turning to face Amyas") I can see ahead. Angela will be a fine

AMYAS. to

woman one

I still

c of

day,

and

(He

goes into the

room and

crosses

it)

Cmiss WILLIAMS movcs ELSA. (in a whisper")

AMYAS.

a distinguished one.

say Caroline spoils her.

Who can

Did she

to the

french windows and listens^

see us?

say? I suppose I've got lipstick

on

my

face

now

as well

as paint

Camyas glances off l and exits quickly up c. miss williams comes the room and tnoves above the stool, uncertain whether to go or She decides to stay) miss wolliams. You haven't been over

to

Mr

into not.

Blake's house yet, have you.

Miss Greer? ELSA. (flatly) No.

miss WILLIAMS.

It's

a delightful walk there.

You can go by

the shore or

through the woods.

(CAROLINE and philip enter up then goes

to the

closes the door

CAROLINE. Are ELSA.

we

He needn't

and looks all

c.

Caroline glances around the room,

french windows and looks on

ready?

at the carved

Amyas

to the terrace,

philip

head on the table up lc)

has gone to clean the paint

Artists aren't like other people.

(CAROLINE pays no attention

to

Elsa)

oflF

himself.

GO BACK FOR MURDER

630

CAROLINE. Cloving to the armchair

You

l; to Philif')

haven't been

here since Merry started on his Hly pond, have you, Phil? QShe PHILIP. Don't think

down

sits^

so.

ELSA. People in the country talk of nothing but their gardens.

(There

is

a pause. Caroline takes her spectacles from her handbag and

puts them on. philip looks at Elsa, and then

sits

on the

stool facing

the head)

CAROLINE,

(jto

Miss Williams') Did you ring up the vet about Toby?

MISS viTELLiAMS. Yes, Mis Cralc. He'll come CAROLINE, (to Philip)

Do you hke

first

thing tomorrow.

that head, Phil?

Amyas bought

it last

month. PHILIP. Yes.

It's

good.

CAROLINE, (searching in her handbag for her cigarettes) It's the work of a young Norwegian sculptor, Amyas thinks very highly of him. We're thinking of going over to ELSA.

That

doesn't

CAROLINE. Doesn't ELSA.

it,

You know very

to

visit

him.

(miss WILLIAMS goes

mind—

very cryptic. Miss Williams, would you

my cigarette case— (she indicates and and

next year to

likely.

well.

How

CAROLINE, (lightly)

Norway

me very Elsa? Why?

seem

the table rc)

to the table rc, picks

it's

up the

on that Htde

cigarette case,

table.

opens

it

offers a cigarette to Caroline, philip takes out his cigarettes, rises

offers

them

(She takes a mind?

to

Caroline)

from her own case)

cigarette

I

prefer these—do

(miss WILLIAMS moves to the table up lc and puts the case on lights Caroline's cigarette,

then takes one of his

ovm and

it.

you

philip

lights it)

and moving below the stool) This would be quite a good was properly fixed. All this htter of old-fashioned stufiE cleared out

ELSA. (rising

room

if

it

(There CAROLINE.

We like

it

as

is

a pause, philip looks at Elsa)

it is. It

holds a

ELSA. (loudly and aggressively) this

lot

When

of memories.

I'm Hving here

I shall

rubbish out.

(philip crosses

to

Elsa and offers her a cigarette)

throw

all

ACT TWO

631

No, thank you. (PHiLiP crosses to r) Flame-coloured curtains,

think— and one of those French wallwould be rather striking?

I

Philif^ Don't you think that

(To

papers.

CAROLINE, (evenly') Are you thinking of buying Alderbury, Elsa?

me to buy it What do you mean? Must we pretend? (She moves c) Come now,

ELSA. It won't be necessary for CAROLi>fE.

ELSA.

perfecdy well what

I

Caroline, you

know

mean.

I've no idea. Oh, don't be such an ostrich, burying your head in the sand and pretending you don't know all about it. (She turns, moves to r of the stool, tosses the magazine on to the armchair r and moves up r) Amyas and I love each other. It's his house, not yours.

CAROLINE.

I

you

assure

ELSA. (aggressively)

(ANGELA runs on down

And

Oh,

much for

french windows, stops outside and

after we're married I shall live here

CAROLINE, (angrily) ELSA.

l, crosses to the

philip and miss williams are frozen)

listens,

I

no, I'm not.

simpler

you

to

if

with him.

think you must be crazy.

(She

sits

on the sofa

at the left

end)

It will

be

we're honest about it There's only one decent thing

do—give him

his freedom.

CAROLINE. Don't talk nonsense! ELSA. Nonsense,

Camyas CAROLINE.

is it?

Ask him.

enters u-p c. angela, unseen, exits hy the door

I will.

amyas. (after a

Amyas, Elsa says you want slight pause; to Elsa)

to

Why

marry

her. Is

it

up

iJ)

true?

the devil couldn't you hold

your tongue?

CAROLINE.

Is

it

true?

(amyas, leaving the door open, crosses

to the

magazine and

amyas.

We don't have to talk about

CAROLINE. But ELSA.

It's

only

we

(She

rises

and

now. (He looks

are going to talk about

fair to

CAROLINE, (icily)

it

I

Caroline to

tell

armchair

r, picks

up the

sits)

it

at the

magazine)

now.

her the truth.

don't think you need bother about being fair to me.

crosses to

Amyas)

Is it true,

Amyas?

GO BACK FOR MURDER

632 Camyas AMYAS. (to

looks

hunted and glances from Elsa

Is it true?

AMYAS. Cdefiantly) All

don't

I

You

see?

enough.

right. It's true

(elsa

But

Caroline^

Women.

Philip')

CAROLINE. Cfuriously')

ELSA.

to

rises,

triumfhant)

want to talk about it now. It's no good your adopting a dog-in-the-manger

attitude.

These things happen. It's nobody's fault One just has to be rational about it. CShe sits on the stool, facing uf stage) You and Amyas will always be good friends,

CAROLINE, ^crossing ELSA.

to the

hope.

I

door wp c)

Good

Over

friends!

dead body.

his

What do you mean?

CAROLINE, ^turning in the open doorway) fore I'd give

CcAROLiNE

him up

up

exits

C'''ising

and

I

mean

that I'd kill

There

a frozen silence, miss

is

l, picks

it

crossing to the french

We'll have scenes and ructions and

up and

was

williams sees up c)

windows)

God knows

Now

you've done it

what.

ELSA.

to the

stands hehind the bench)

women

lot of

You

the pic-

french windows)

How

the hell can a

man

paint with a

buzzing about his ears like wasps.

think nothing's important but your painting.

AMYAS. (shouting) Nothing ELSA. Well,

I

think

it

is

to

me.

matters to be honest about things.

(elsa rushes angrily out up

AMYAS. Give

me

c.

amyas comes

into the

room)

a cigarette, Phil.

(pHiLiP offers his cigarettes and

(He

till

finished.

(elsa moves

(He

be-

exits hurriedly

ELSA. (rising) She had to know some time. amyas. (moving on to the terrace) She needn't have known ture

Amyas

you.

on the armchair

Caroline's hag

amyas.

c.

to

sits astride

the stool)

Women

are

amyas

all alike.

takes one)

Revel in scenes.

Why

the devil couldn't she hold her tongue? I've got to finish that picture, Phil.

It's

the best thing I've ever done.

And

a couple of

damn women

ACT TWO want

muck

to

633

up between them. (He

it

takes out his matches

and

lights his cigarette^

PHILIP. Suppose she refuses to give

you a divorce?

AMYAS. ^abstracted) What? PHILIP.

said— suppose Caroline refuses to divorce you. Suppose she digs

I

her toes

in.

AMYAS. Oh, that. Carohne would never be vindictive. (He tosses the S'pent match out of the french windows) You don't understand, old boy. PHILIP.

And

the child. There's the child to consider.

AMYAS. Look, raven,

Phil, I

know you mean well, but don't go on croaking like a my own affairs. Everything will turn out all

can manage

I

right, you'll see.

PHILIP. Optimist!

(MEREDITH

enters

up

c, closing

the door behind him)

MEREDITH. Qcheerily) Hullo, Phil. Just got down from London? CTo Amyas) Hope you haven't forgotten you're all coming over to me this afternoon. I've got the car here. I thought Caroline and Elsa might prefer it to walking this hot weather. (He crosses to lc) AMYAS. C^ising) Not Caroline and Elsa. If Caroline drives Elsa will walk, and if Elsa rides, Caroline will walk. Take your pick. (He goes on to the terrace, sits on the stool and busies himself with painting) MEREDITH. C^tartled) What's the matter with him? Something happened?

PHILIP.

It's

just

come out

MEREDITH. What? PHILIP. Elsa broke the

news

to Caroline that

she and

Amyas planned

to

marry. CMaliciously) Quite a shock for Caroline.

MEREDITH. No! You'ie joking! (pHiLip shrugs, moves

to the

armchair

r,

picks

up

the magazine,

sits

and

reads)

(He

goes on to the terrace and turns to

Amyas) Amyas! You— this— it

can't be true? I don't know yet what you're talking about. WTiat MEREDITH. You and Elsa. Caroline . AMYAS. ^cleaning his brush) Oh, that.

AMYAS.

.

MEREDITH. Look here, Amyas, you fatuation, break tive

.

.

can't

be true?

.

can't just for the sake of a

up your whole married

life. I

know

.

AMYAS. Cgrinning) So you've noticed

that,

have you?

sudden

in-

Elsa's very attrac-

GO BACK FOR MURDER

634 MEREDITH.

helow Amyos

CcTossifig

derstand a

like Elsa

girl

much concerned) I can man over, yes, but

you know. She might regret

fcer— she's very young,

on. Can't

to r;

quite un-

bowling any

it

think of

bitterly later

you pull yourself together? For little Carla's sake? and now, and go back to your wife.

Make

a

clean break here

(amyas

(He crosses know it AMYAS.

(jafter

looks wjp thoughtfully)

hench and turns) Believe me,

to the

the right thing. I

it's

a fause; quietly) You're a good chap, Merry. But you're

too sentimental.

MEREDITH. Look

down

AMYAS. Well,

MEREDITH.

I

wanted

C