The Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Plays and Other Dramatic Writings, 1928-1938 9780691198071, 9780691609317, 9780691656144

This volume contains Auden and Christopher Isherwood's dramatic extravaganzas The Dog Beneath the Skin, the Ascent

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W. Η . A U D E N CHRISTOPHE R

AN D

ISHERWOO D

PLAYS

THE

COMPLETE

W O R K S OF

W. H. AUDEN POEMS PLAYS (WITH CHRISTOPHER ISHERWOOD) LIBRETTI (WITH CHESTER KALLMAN) ESSAYS AND REVIEWS

W. Η . A U D E N A N D CHRISTOPHE R

ISHERWOO D

PLAYS AN D O T H E R

DRAMATI C

W R I T I N G S BY W. H . A U D E N π 1928-1938

EDITE D

BY

Edwar d Mendelso n

PRINCETO N

UNIVERSIT Y

PRES S

Copyrigh t 1930, 1933, 1934, 1940, 1966 by W Η Auden , copyrigh t renewe d 1962, 1968 Copyrigh t 1935 by th e Moder n Library , In c Copyrigh t 1935, 1937, 1938, 1939 by W Η Aude n an d Christophe r Isherwood , copyrigh t renewe d 1963, 1965 Copyrigh t 1988 by th e Estat e of W Η Aude n Quotation s from musi c manuscript s in th e Britten-Pear s Librar y ar e copyrigh t 1988 by T h e Britten Estat e "Auden an d th e Grou p Theatre " copyrigh t 1988 by Μ J Sidnel l Introductio n an d note s copyrigh t 1988 by Edwar d Mendelso n Publishe d by Princeto n Universit y Press, 41 William Street , Princeton , Ne w Jerse y 08540 A L L R I G H T S RESERVE D

Librar y of Congres s Catalogin g in Publicatio n Dat a will be foun d o n th e last printe d page of thi s boo k ISB N 0-691-06740- 6 Thi s boo k ha s bee n compose d in Linotro n Baskerville Clothboun d edition s of Princeto n Universit y Pres s book s ar e printe d on acid-fre e paper , an d bindin g material s ar e chose n for strengt h an d durabilit y Paperbacks , althoug h satisfactor y for persona l collections , ar e no t usually suitabl e for librar y rebindm g Printe d in th e Unite d State s of Americ a by Princeto n Universit y Pres s Princeton , Ne w Jerse y CAUTIO N Professional s an d amateur s ar e hereb y warne d tha t th e full content s of W Η Auden and Christopher Isherwood Plays, And Other Dramatic Writings by W Η Auden, 1928-1938, bein g fully protecte d unde r th e Copyrigh t Laws of th e Unite d State s of America , th e British Empire , includin g th e Dominio n of Can ada , an d all othe r countrie s of th e Bern e an d Universa l Copyrigh t Conventions , ar e subject to royalt y All rights, includin g professional , amateur , recording , motio n picture , recitation , lecturing , publi c reading , radi o an d television broad casting , an d th e right s of translatio n int o foreign languages, ar e strictl y reserved, permissio n for which mus t be secure d in writin g from th e authors ' agent , Curti s Brown , Lt d , 10 Astor Place , Ne w York, Ν Υ 10003

Princeton Legacy Library edition 2019 Paperback ISBN: 978-0-691-60931-7 Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-691-65614-4

CONTENTS

PREFACE

ix

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

xi

xiii

INTRODUCTION

xxxi

T H E T E X T OF T H I S EDITION PLAYS

Paid on Both Sides [first version] (1928), by Auden

3

Paid on Both Sides [second version] (1928), by Auden

14

The Enemies of a Bishop (1929), by Auden and Isherwood

35

The Dance of Death (1933), by Auden

81

The Chase (1934), by Auden

109

The Dog Beneath the Skin (1935), by Auden and Isherwood

189

The Ascent of F 6 (1936), by Auden and Isherwood

293

On the Frontier (1937-38), by Auden and Isherwood

357

D O C U M E N T A R Y FILMS

Coal Face (1935)

421

Night Mail (1935)

422

Negroes (1935)

424

Beside the Seaside (1935)

429

The Way to the Sea (1936)

430

The Londoners (1938?)

433

C A B A R E T AND WIRELESS

Alfred (1936)

437

Hadrian's Wall (7937)

441 APPENDICES

I Auden and Isherwood's "Preliminary Statement" (1929) 1. The "Preliminary Statement" 2. Auden's "Suggestions for the Play"

459 459 462

CONTENTS

VI

II The Fronny: Fragments of a Lost Play (1930)

III Auden and the Group Theatre, by M

J

Sldnell

IV Auden and Theatre at the Downs School V Two Reported Lectures Poetry and FIlm (1936) The Future of Enghsh Poetic Drama (1938)

464 490 503 510

511 513

fEXTUAL NOTES

PaId on Both SIdes

525

The EnemIes of a BIshop

530

The Dance of Death

534

1 History, Editions, and Text 2 Auden's SynopsIs

The Chase The Dog Beneath the Skm 1 2 3 4 5 6

History, Authorship, Texts, and EditIOns Isherwood's Scenano for a New Version of The Chase The Pubhshed Text and the Text Prepared for Production The First (Pubhshed) Version of the Concludmg Scene Isherwood's Suggestions for a New Concludmg Scene The Production VersIOn of the Concludmg Scene

The Ascent of F 6 1 2 3 4

History, Authorship, Texts, and Edmons The First Enghsh Edmon The Lord Chamberlam's Copy and the Amencan Edmon The Second Enghsh Edmon, With Notes on the Text of the Present Edmon 5 The VersIOns Produced by the Group Theatre m 1937 6 The Revised Endmgs Wntten m 1939 7 Auden's Revised Endmg Wntten m 1945

On the FrontIer History, Authorship, Texts, and Editions 2 The Lost FIrSt VersIOn 3 The Pubhshed Text and the Production Text

Documentary FIlms Coal Face Night MaIl Negroes

534 542 543 553 553 557

566 572 586 588 598 598 602 625 629 631 638 650 653 653 654 660 665 665 666 669

CONfENl S

BesIde the Seaside The Way to the Sea The Londoners Other Films

Cabaret and Wireless Alfred Hadnan's Wall INDEX OF TITLES AND FIRST LINES

VII

670 671 671 672 674 674 674 677

PREFACE

T H I S volume, the first to be published in a complete edition of Auden's works, includes his plays and other dramatic writings from the start of his career until his departure from England to America in 1939. The most important of these plays were written in collaboration with Christopher Isherwood. The next volume will include Auden's libretti and other dramatic works from 1939 until his death in 1973. Later volumes will present his complete essays and reviews and his complete poems. The texts of this edition are newly edited from Auden's manuscripts, and the notes report variant readings from all published versions.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

T o Christopher Isherwood, who died while this book was in preparation, I am indebted most of all. H e m a d e this edition possible by giving free access to his collection of manuscripts and providing vivid recollections of his work with A u d e n . T o Michael Sidnell I am grateful not only for the pages in this edition that he wrote, but also for the care with which he improved most of the others. T o Nicholas Jenkins I am grateful for the critical and scholarly strictness with which he challenged, corrected, or confirmed every word in the text and notes. T o Dr J o h n Bicknell Aud e n I am again indebted for his advice and encouragement. I could not have begun work on this volume without the help a n d scholarship of B. C. Bloomfield. I could not have finished it without the learning a n d energy of J o h n Fuller. T h e introduction profited from the care given it by Natasha Staller. I gathered the historical information included in the notes largely t h r o u g h the help of Robert Medley and Sir Stephen Spender. For important details of the G r o u p T h e a t r e and its productions I am grateful to J o h n J o h n s o n . For information about Auden's collaborations with Benjamin Britten I am indebted to the late Sir Peter Pears, Professor Donald Mitchell, Rosamund Strode, Jill Burrows, and Philip Reed. For the texts of Auden's dramatic writings at the Downs School, and for reports of his work there, I am grateful to Maurice and Alexandra Feild, Patrick Mulholland, Sir Christopher Pinsent, Bart., Professor J a m e s Iliff, and Michael Yates. For assistance with the texts and notes, and for the trouble they end u r e d to help locate previously unpublished material, I am grateful to Marcus Bishop, MVO, and to Alan Ansen, Kathleen Bell, Eric Birley, Alan Clodd, Louis Criss, Liz Duthie, Valerie Eliot, Brian Finney, J o h n Haffenden, Samuel Hynes, Hilton Kelliher, Burgess Meredith, P. G. Phillips, Seyril Schochen Rubin, R. D. Smith, Alexis Solomos, and Mardi Valgemae. An unpublished ending of The Ascent of F 6 appears in this volume t h r o u g h the kindness of Glenn Horowitz. I salute Professor Stuart Piggott for his learned a n d ingenious solution to the most difficult crux in the text. All the resources of the library and archive of the British Film Institute seemed at times to be devoted to this edition. Equally generous help came from Dr Lola Szladits, Brian Mclnerney, and Patrick Lawlor at the H e n r y W. a n d Albert A. Berg Collection of T h e New York Public Library; from Cathy H e n d e r s o n at the Harry F. Ransom Humanities Re-

Xll

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

search Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and from Caroline Swinson at the University of Tulsa The BBC Written Archives Centre at Caversham Park offered its customary resourcefulness and care I am indebted also to the librarians and staff at the Theater Collection of the New York Public Library, the library of the Museum of Modern Art, the Poetry Collection at the State University of New York at Buffalo, the libraries of Columbia University, Harvard University, and Swarthmore College, the Bodleian Library, the Cambridge University Library, and the libraries of King's College, Cambridge, and Christ Church and Exeter College, Oxford I am grateful also to the archivists of the Central Office of Information and the Dartington Trust Throughout the preparation of this book I have relied on Kathenne Bucknell for biographical and critical advice, and the edition has profited from help given by Lincoln Kirstein and Martin Meisel I am grateful also to David Bromwich, Nathaniel Bucknell, Bngitte Peucker, Michele Salzman, and Michael Seidel At the Princeton University Press, Andrew Mytelka edited the manuscript with a learned and exacting eye, and I am indebted to him for many important emendations Readers of this book will share my gratitude to Jan Lilly for her lucid and elegant design of a complex and intractable text To the anonymous typists who worked to decipher Auden's handwriting during the 1930s I offer sympathetic tribute

INTRODUCTION

Auden left Oxford in 1928 he had already perfected a laconic and fragmented poetry concerned mostly with his own isolation. At twentyone, he was ready to attempt something more public and expansive. During the summer he wrote Paid on Both Sides, a one-act tragedy in verse and prose that portrayed an episode in a feud between two houses in the north of England. A few months later he enlarged it to twice its original length and inserted an expressionist dream play at its center. During the next ten years, until he left England for America, he continued to write increasingly ambitious works for stage, film, and broadcast; he wrote the most important of them in collaboration with Christopher Isherwood. Auden's dramatic works ranged in style from rude comedy to prophetic admonition. Their settings ranged from English villages to imperial outposts and from pre-Roman times to an apocalyptic future. They combined the energy of popular entertainment with the urgency of sacramental ritual. Some were acknowledged and abandoned failures. Others, although flawed, were both profound and exhilarating. As a lyric poet Auden learned his craft by studying his great predecessors Hardy, Yeats, and Eliot. As a dramatic poet he learned his craft by inventing it. The verse plays of the recent past, most of them unperformable, provided embarrassingly inadequate models. He dismissed them all the first time he mentioned them in print, in a 1934 book review that began: WHEN

This book [Modern Poetic Drama, by Priscilla Thouless] is like an exhibition of perpetual motion models. Here they all are, labelled Phillips, Davidson, Yeats, some on the largest scale, some on the tiniest, some ingenious in design, some beautifully made, all suffering from only one defect—they won't go.* Auden was calculatedly mischievous when he included Yeats among this company. Stephen Phillips had enjoyed a vogue at the turn of the century among critics who were now trying to forget him. John Davidson had turned from the direct speech of his early poems to the unperformable bombast of his later plays. Yeats, for all the greatness of his poetry, had chosen a static manner and precious style for his plays, and had deliberately written them for the smallest possible audience. Auden's review * Sources for quotations are listed on p. xxix.

XIV

IN IRODUCriON

continued with a literary polemic that had morejustice than its tone suggested modern English poetic drama has been of three kinds the romantic sham-Tudor which has occasionally succeeded for a short time on the strength of the spectacle, the cosmic-philosophical which theatrically has always been a complete flop, and the high-brow chambermusic drama, artistically much the best, but a somewhat etiolated blossom Drama is so essentially a social art that it is difficult to believe that the poets are really satisfied with this solution English poetic drama had forgotten the social world of its audience and the social nature of drama itself Auden chose to remember both In his review Auden implied that the only plays of the period that succeeded both as poetry and as drama had been written outside England He mentioned Jean Cocteau, Andre Obey, and Bertolt Brecht Yet in his own work he had made some unacknowledged use of his English predecessors For Paid on Both Sides he had adapted the northern settings and compressed revenge plots of the verse plays written by two poets of the Georgian school, Gordon Bottomley and Wilfrid Gibson Bottomley's The Riding to Lithend (1909, republished 1920), set in Iceland, and Gibson's Kestrel Edge (1924), set in northern England, are tragedies of revenge between rival houses, with violence partly motivated—as in Auden's play—to protect or avenge a mother * But the poetic plays of the Georgian movement tended to offer extreme solemnity in monotonous verse, few of them reached the stage The poetic plays that found an audience in the 1920s, like the ballad operas of Clifford Bax, offered agreeable frivolity in hghthearted verse Auden remade English poetic drama by uniting the extremes of symbolic intensity and extravagant burlesque This was an innovation older than Shakespeare, and at least as old as the mystery plays, but it shattered the rules of decorum that prevailed in English verse drama when Auden began writing The mood and action of Paid on Both Sides veer from legendary battlefields to school playing fields, while ancient archetypes find expression in the props and diction of the present The title is a splinter from Beowulf ("That was no good exchange, that they should pay on both sides with the lives of friends"), and the murders in the play are reported in the alliterative verse of Anglo-Saxon poetry Yet the play's language also includes the Public School slang specific to Auden's social class and * Auden could have heard about and perhaps attended the first production of Bottom ley's play at Cambridge in May 1928 two months before he began writing Paid on Both Sides For the parallels between Auden and these earlier dramatists, and for much else I am grate ful to Michael J Sidnell s Dances of Death The Group Theatre of London in the Thirties (1984)

INTRODUCTION

xv

the modern vocabulary of industry. The plot of the play also connects past and present; it portrays the transmission of hatred from the older generation to the new like an incurable inherited disease. Auden designated some of the characters in the first version of the play with genetic symbols instead of names. Drama is "essentially a social art", Auden wrote later in his review of Modern Poetic Drama. He made Paid on Both Sides so essentially social that its audience and actors were the same. He conceived the play as a "charade" to be performed by the guests and hosts at a house party given by the family of one of his Oxford friends, William McElwee.* As he wrote in a manifesto on drama in 1934: Drama began as an act of the whole community. Ideally there would be no spectators. In practice every member of the audience should feel like an understudy. Paid on Both Sides, an act of its whole community, portrays in schematic and symbolic form the lives of those who perform it. The players divide into two groups, as in conventional charades, but both appear in the same action, as the feuding families whose enmities thwart the young in their desire for love. "A parable of English Middle Class (professional) family life 1907-1929" was the subtitle Auden wrote in a friend's copy some years later. (The dates are those of his birth and of his last substantial revisions to the play.) In the court masques of the seventeenth century, the audience helped portray their own harmony and order by joining in the dance; in the more subversive charade of Paid on Both Sides the actors portray their own disorder and isolation. When Auden rewrote the play in 1928, during a year in Berlin, he added to the social drama of the feud the psychological drama of the feud's most recent victim, John Nower. Nower has a dream—a play within the play—that takes the form of a pantomime of death and resurrection. It is presented by Father Christmas and attended by a comic doctor whose lines were lifted verbatim from the traditional (but largely forgotten) mummers' play. Nower wakes from his dream reconciled to himself, cured of his angers, and free to love the daughter of his enemies. He rejects the dead past for the love he feels now. But he is destroyed by the undiminished wrath of the feud that continues around him, its origins lost in a past too distant to be probed by dreams. Auden had briefly been psychoanalyzed earlier in 1928, and, not unlike Nower, found the experience stimulating but unproductive. He told his friend * 1 his was Auden's intent, but when McElwee's family read the play in advance they refused to let it be acted

XVI

IN T R O D U C 1 IO N

Naom i Mitchiso n tha t a critic would nee d no psychoanalyti c knowledge to understan d Paid on Both Sides (as she ha d suggested in a review), but "literar y knowledge of th e Mummers ' play with its Old-Ne w year symbolism is necessary " In its elliptica l style, th e play make s th e same criticism of Freu d tha t Auden wrote in his journa l a few month s later "Freud' s erro r is th e limitatio n of th e neurosi s to th e individua l Th e neu rosis involves all society" Th e Ne w Year tha t Nowe r hope s to inaugurat e with his love is bor n in celebratio n an d triumph , only to be destroye d by th e hatred s tha t persist in his society, unaltere d by his cur e Auden sent th e typescrip t of Paid on Both Sides to Τ S Eliot , who recognize d it as "quite a brillian t piece of work" an d publishe d it in The Criterion in 1930 Thi s was Auden' s first appearanc e in prin t outsid e schoo l an d universit y publication s Within a few month s William Empso n wrote an analysis of th e work tha t conclude d by statin g its immediat e impor tanc e On e reaso n th e schem e is so impressive is tha t it put s psycho-analysi s an d surrealism an d all that , all th e irrationalis t tendencie s which are so essentia l a par t of th e machiner y of present-da y thought , int o thei r prope r place , the y are mad e par t of th e norma l an d rationa l tragic form , an d indee d what constitute s th e tragic situatio n On e feels as if at th e crisis of many , perhap s better , tragedies , it is just thi s machiner y which has been covertly employe d Within its scale (twenty-seve n pages) ther e is th e gamu t of all th e ways we have of thinkin g abou t th e matter , it has th e sort of completenes s tha t make s a work seem to define th e attitud e of a generatio n Twent y years later Eliot looke d back on Auden' s charad e as "the forerun ne r of contemporar y poeti c drama"—includin g Eliot' s own Auden began to plan a secon d play, The Reformatory, in th e sprin g of 1929 Aroun d th e same tim e he wrote his earliest surviving note s on dram a I n his journa l h e asked himsel f D o I want poetr y in a play or is Coctea u right "Ther e is a poetr y of th e theatr e but no t in it" ? I shall use poetr y in "Th e Reformatory " as interlud e I don' t want any characters , any ideas in my play but stage-life, somethin g which is no imitatio n but a new thin g Thi s stage-life tha t imitate s nothin g sound s like a late flower of literar y symbolism I n fact Auden ha d in min d somethin g far less elevated H e wrote a few days later A Play is poetr y of actio n Th e dialogu e shoul d be correspondingly ]

INTRODUCTION

XVll

a simplification. E.g. Hrotswitha.* The Prep School atmosphere. That is what I want. At some point during the next few months, Isherwood, who had been advising Auden on his poetry for almost three years, began to collaborate with him on the play. They drafted a "Preliminary Statement" on the nature of drama: Dramatic action is ritual. . . . Ritual is directed towards the stimulation of the spectator who passes thereby from a state of indifference to a state of acute awareness. . . . Dramatic "characters" are always abstractions.t Later in the year, they completed The Reformatory under a new title: The Enemies of a Bishop, or Die When I Say When: A Morality in Four Acts. The finished work was written less for the stage than as a shared private joke; two of its most self-deluded characters are named Bicknell, the family name of Auden's mother. Everyone in the play, except the Bishop of the title, manifests a distortion or perversion of Eros. Robert Bicknell, the manager (and later the owner) of a lead mine that fails, is obsessed with his under-manager's wife, but his desire is a projection of his own self-love. His brother Augustus Bicknell, the governor of a reformatory, is obsessed with an escaped boy disguised as a young woman. In a nearby hotel, two white slavers, deceived by this disguise, plot to kidnap the boy for their next catalogue, while a pederastic colonel tries to persuade another escaped boy to thrash him. A psychiatrically minded police spy, Ethel Wright, becomes the unwitting ally of the white slavers in their plot against Bishop Law, the play's moral hero and its only married man. Isherwood described the Bishop as an idealized portrait of the American psychologist Homer Lane and the Bishop's enemies as "the pseudohealers, the wilfully ill and the mad". Auden had first heard about Lane from Lane's patient and disciple John Layard in 1928, and Auden soon began to speak of him as a heroic healer and prophet. (In the second version of Paid on Both Sides, John Nower's father is killed while riding to * I he didactic plays of Hrotswitha, a tenth-century nun from Saxony who wrote in rhymed Latin prose, were published in English translation m 1923 t The direct stimulus for these statements may have been Eliot's essay "Dramatis Personae" in The Criterion, April 1923 Eliot wrote "We know now that the gesture of daily existence is inadequate for the stage, instead of pretending that the stage gesture is a copy of reahtv, let us adopt a literal untruth, a thorough-going convention, a ritual For the stage—not onlv in its remote origins, but always—is a ritual, and the failure of the contemporary stage to satisfy the craving for ritual is one of the reasons why it is not a living art"

XV111

IN P R O D U C T I O N

"speak with Layard", perhaps in hope of learning the solution to the feud that Lane might have offered Homer Lane, who died in 1925, had been the governor of a reformatory in Dorset whose "citizens" practiced selfgovernment, he believed that psychological disorders could be cured by giving free expiession to instinctual desires that repression or coercion had blocked from their proper channels Lane was obliged to leave England amidst legal difficulties, including charges of sexual improprieties with his women patients, Bishop Law, before his fourth-act triumph, is arrested at Ethel Wright's instigation on a charge of trafficking in women But the Bishop is less a portrait of Lane than an allegorical personification of Lane's teachings Lane had characterized the child's experience of benevolent social and parental authority as "Mother Law" In The Enemies of a Bishop this benevolent Law is right—while the pseudohealer, Wright, is wrong In a separate plot of the play, Robert Bicknell contends with his demonic double, the Spectre, a figure he alone can see By reciting some of Auden's more obscure poems, the Spectre gives voice to the hidden and unspeakable elements in Bicknell's mind, whose extreme inner division is manifested in the separation of the secret Spectre from Bicknell's public self The Spectre's actions fulfill Bicknell's unconscious desires while frustrating his conscious ones Auden and Isherwood took the idea for the Spectre from Der Student von Prag, a film made by Hennk Galeen in 1926 Like the student of Prague, Robert Bicknell angrily destroys his Spectre at the end of the play and, in doing so, destroys himself Auden's private doubts about the teachings of Homer Lane may be reflected in this plot The Spectre stands outside the Bishop's knowledge, beyond his power to correct and cure Isherwood called the play "no more than a charade, very loosely put together and full of private jokes" Its atmosphere derived from the private fictional world of Mortmere that Isherwood and his friend Edward Upward (later a novelist) had invented while at Cambridge Mortmere was an English town that looked entirely normal but was the setting for grotesque perversities and violent disasters Isherwood and Upward made no attempt to publish their Mortmere stones, and Auden and Isherwood seem to have made no attempt to publish The Enemies of a Bishop But they thought well enough of the play to have it typed professionally, and they returned to it two years later to work on a revised version that they never finished In 1930 Auden began working as a schoolmaster at Larchfield Academy, near Glasgow During that summer he wrote his third play, The Fronny It survives only as fragments from Auden's early drafts Much of the dialogue seems to have been rhymed doggerel, with the more solemn

INTRODUCTION

XIX

poetry spoken by an observing chorus. This was the first of Auden's quest plays, and its characters and plot eventually developed into the characters and plot of The Dog Beneath the Skin. The plot of The Fronny apparently involved the search by Alan Norman for Francis Crewe, the missing heir of the squire of Alan's village. After Francis's death, Alan marries Francis's sister Iris. The wanderings of Alan and Francis seem to have given Auden an opportunity to portray miscellaneous scenes of corrupt English and European society. The tone of the play sounded the note of apocalyptic warning that Auden had begun to use in his poetry a few months before. The model for Francis Crewe was an aristocratic amateur archaeologist named Francis Turville-Petre. In Berlin, where Auden and Isherwood first met him, he was nicknamed "Der Franni", which Auden and Isherwood anglicized as The Fronny. Near the end of the play the Fronny makes a rhymed Last Will and Testament. Auden, in an overly aggressive attempt to connect the audience to the stage, wrote the hrst version of the Will as a series of indiscreet revelations about his friends' private lives. He told Isherwood that his real intention was to make the Will "vary at every performance to implicate an incredulous and slightly scared audience". On Isherwood's advice, he wrote a second and more tactful version. T. S. Eliot had by this time accepted a book of Auden's poems for publication by Faber & Faber in 1930. Auden made a half-hearted attempt to have The Fronny published also, but he abandoned the play when Eliot showed little interest in it.* Auden had now written a new play every summer from 1928 through 1930, but he had been refused a performance of the first and had no hope of seeing the second or third on stage. During the spring and summer of 1931, he made a virtue of necessity by deliberately writing a drama that was impossible to perform. This was "The Initiates", a sequence· of prose monologues, interrupted by an ironic litany, which he published as the opening section of his long work in verse and prose, The Orators. He described it in a letter to Naomi Mitchison: Formally I am trying to write abstract drama—all the action implied. . . . The four parts . . . are stages in the development of the influence of the Hero (who never appears at all). . . . The litany is the chorus to the play. A few months after writing this private and abstract drama Auden was * 1 he fate of The Fronny suggests the extent to which publishers can influence literature Had Faber published the play, Auden could not (for example) have lifted its nightclub scene into The Dance of Death, and The Dog Beneath the Skin, which reuses its central plot, could not have been written at all

XX

INTRODUCTION

invited to write a play for the public and practical use of a theatre com pany. Auden's friend Robert Medley, a painter, was living with Ruperl Doone, a young dancer and actor who had recently been instrumental ir organizing the Group Theatre.* (When they were at school together ir 1922, Medley first gave Auden the idea of writing poetry by asking hirr if he had ever done so.) In June 1932 Doone asked Auden to write a pla) for the Group based on the medieval allegory of the danse macabre and tc write a ballet scenario on the Orpheus theme that Doone could perforrr separately. Auden worked on the two projects during the summer, bui by the autumn he had shelved the first and abandoned the second. In stead of writing a drama that year, he began work on his first long poem a modern echo of Dante and Langland that he referred to as "my epic" By this time Auden had begun to perceive the stress and disorder of his society in political as well as psychological terms, and for a few months he believed he might become a communist. The feud in Paid on Both Sidet had been essentially timeless and unalterable: it had a past but no history In contrast, the crisis in his epic poem was the last phase of a historical cycle that had begun in the Renaissance and was now approaching its revolutionary end. Auden abandoned the poem early in 1933, before he wrote the lines that would portray the decisive social battle anticipated in the completed sections. That summer, he returned to Doone's commission for a danse macabre play and wrote The Dance of Death. This brash irreverent allegory of the latter days of the middle class was unlike anything written for the English stage. It combined German cabaret and English pantomime, presented Marxist analysis in rhymed verse, and offered an active and decisive role to its audience. Auden al luded to the play's implication of its audience when he referred to it as "my Masque". The silent dancer (a part written for Doone) personifies the impending death of the middle-class chorus, a death they both feat and desire. To hide them from knowledge of their doom, the dancei leads them through a round of fads and crazes, from gymnastics to nationalism to nature-worship to mysticism. As each of these distractions proves futile, the dancer declines in strength and the audience (through the voices of actors scattered among the ticket-holders) proclaims more loudly its revolutionary impatience. Finally, in a scene adapted from The Fronny, the dancer in his Will leaves his wealth and powers to the working class. In Paid on Both Sides the Old Year refuses to give way to the New and the ritual of resurrection fails. In The Dance of Death the ritual succeeds. As he dies, the dancer wishes the rising workers a Happy New * This had no connection with the Group 1 heatre that had recently begun work in New York A full history of Doone and the Group appears in Michael J Sidnell's Dances of Death a brief account by Sidnell of Auden's work with the Group appears as an appendix in the present edition

INTRODUCTION

XXI

Year Karl Marx, heralded by Mendelssohn's wedding march, enters and declares the dancer "liquidated" This lethal euphemism is the last word in the play, and puts a twist in its political sympathies About ten years later Auden wrote in a friend's copy, "The communists never spotted that this was a nihilistic leg-pull " The Dance of Death caused a small but notable sensation when the Group Theatre produced it, first for subscribing members of the theatre in 1934, then for the public in the following year Some reviewers dismissed it as offensive or crude, while others welcomed the production as a momentous event Harold Hobson, already coming to prominence as a theatre critic, expressed a common opinion when he wrote that Auden's "brilliant, and in my opinion, entirely successful, attempt to work out for the theater a new, significant art-form, may, in the strictest sense of the term, prove epoch-making" But Hobson warned that the importance of the play "depends far less upon its intrinsic merits than on what is to be done in the same line in the future by Mr Auden and his followers" But Auden and his followers did not work in quite the same line afterward, and their plays gradually accepted some of the canons of more conventional drama In the plays he produced as a schoolmaster, however, Auden made further use of the innovations of The Dance of Death In 1932 he left Larchfield Academy for the brighter pupils and more congenial setting of the Downs School, in the Malvern Hills There he experimented with communal drama, some of it written by his pupils, and his work culminated in a revue whose cast included everyone at the school Auden also began to expound in print the theory that he planned to put into practice in his later plays In May 1934, in his review of Pnscilla Thouless's Modern Poetic Drama, he proposed to adopt all the received conventions of the popular stage The truth is that those who would write poetic drama, refuse to start from the only place where they can start, from the dramatic forms actually in use These are the variety-show, the pantomime, the musical comedy and revue , the thriller, the drama of ideas, the comedy of manners, and, standing somewhat eccentrically to these, the ballet Only one of these is definitely antipathetic to poetry, the comedy of manners or characters The drama of ideas is very dangerous to touch, but not impossible As in all his theories on drama, he renounced any attempt to imitate unique personalities in the manner of the realistic theatre of the time Poetry, the learned commentators on Shakespeare's characters notwithstanding, has very little to do with character All characters who

XXII

INTRODUCTiON

speak verse are as flat as playing-cards. So are they also in the popular dramatic forms today. Poetic drama should start with the stock musical comedy characters-the rich uncle, the vamp, the motherin-law, the sheik, and so forth-and make them, as only poetry can, memorable. Acrobatics of all kinds are popular and are poetry's natural allies. It is the pure West-end drama that is talk without action. But in avoiding the conventions of the West End, poetic drama must also beware the pretensions of high art: If the would-be poetic dramatist demands extremely high-brow music and unfamiliar traditions of dancing, he will, of course, fail; but if he is willing to be humble and sympathetic, to accept what he finds to his hand and develop its latent possibilities, he may be agreeably surprised to find that after all the public will stand, nay even enjoy, a good deal of poetry.* He presented further elements of his theory in aphoristic form in a programme note for the Group Theatre's public production of The Dance of Death in 1935: The development of the film has deprived drama of any excuse for being documentary. It is not in its nature to provide an ignorant and passive spectator with exciting news. The subject of Drama, on the other hand, is the Commonly Known, the universally familiar stories of the society or generation in which it is written. The audience, like the child listening to the fairy tale, ought to know what is going to happen next. ... Dramatic speech should have the same compressed, signihcant, and undocumentary character, as dramatic movement. The first production of The Dance of Death had proved the force of these precepts in a play written on a small scale and in cabaret style. Auden now began work on a second play for the Group Theatre, this one suitable for a large auditorium with a proscenium stage. The Chase, written in the summer of 1934, presents three separate plots, each with a * ThiS last phrase rebuked Ehot. who had wntten th.lt Ehzabethan drama "was .lImed at a pubhc whICh wanted entertainment of a crude sort, but would stand a good deal of poetry" ("The Possibility of a Poetic Drama," m The Sacred Wood [1920]). Ehot made what he called the "dangerous suggestion" that the mUSic-hail comedian might be a good startmg pomt for modern poetic drama, but he was unable to wnte more than two short fragments of the Iromc entertamment Sweeney AgonlStes When Ehot began wntmg pl.lys agam m the 1930s, he borrowed much of hiS dramatIC method from Auden (See Sidnell, Dances of Death, chapter 4)

INTRODUCTION

XXlll

different style of dialogue and motivation, and frames them within a choral commentary spoken in part by two supernatural Witnesses Much of the play adapts material Auden had tried to use earlier His 1933 "epic" broke off at the point where the guests arrive at a country house to attend "the chase" Now, as Auden told Naomi Mitchison, "The epic has turned in[to] a dramma [sic]", and much of the choral narration in The Chase comes directly from the poem From The Fronny Auden took Alan Norman's pursuit of the missing heir Sir Francis Crewe From The Enemies of a Bishop he took the plot of an escape from a reformatory and the theme of troubles at a lead mine But in The Chase the mine's troubles are political, as they were not in the earlier play They begin with the miners' protests against new machinery and end with the violent reaction of the army and police The entire political plot is narrated by the chorus, and none of the miners appears on stage Auden did, however, include the conductor, the prompter, and members of the audience among the dramatis personae He wrote a dialogue for Alan Norman's left and right feet, and gave a monologue to the dog's skin worn by the escaped reformatory boy In the final scene he called for a machine gun to be brought on stage and aimed at the audience A different and more important innovation was the new style of dramatic verse that he devised for the choruses These were written in a clear and expansive line that deliberately echoed the rhythm and phrasing of the English psalms Auden felt dissatisfied with The Chase as soon as he finished it When he sent a copy to Stephen Spender in the autumn of 1934, he had already decided to rewrite the ending He asked Spender to forward the script to Isherwood, who was then living in Copenhagen Isherwood read it and proposed a complete revision He sent Auden a scenario in which the search for the missing heir became the central action and the reformatory and lead-mine plots disappeared entirely Auden accepted Isherwood's plan, and they began collaborating at a distance, each filling in different parts of Isherwood's outline By the time they met in Copenhagen for a few days in January 1935, they had rewritten most of the dialogue and added songs, dances, slapstick, and spectacle They retitled the play Where Is Francis? Rupert Doone or Robert Medley later suggested the title used when the play was printed and produced, The Dog Beneath the Skin (a spoof on "the skull beneath the skin" in Eliot's "Whispers of Immortality") Everyone concerned abbreviated this to Dogskin In the new version Alan takes a companion on his search, a friendly and talented dog named Francis The dog is in fact Sir Francis Crewe, who has concealed himself in a dog's skin in order to learn the hidden truths of his English village Francis and Alan's travels (like Isherwood's)

XXIV

INTRODUCTION

extend from England across Europe, first to ceremonial, monarchic Ostnia, where the King himself executes revolutionaries, then to lunatic, fascist Westland, where the Leader has a loudspeaker for a face. (These two misgoverned states, loosely modeled on Austria before 1914 and Germany after 1933, figure again in Auden and Isherwood's later plays.) When Alan and Francis return to England, Alan recognizes his village as the oppressive sham that Francis has always known it to be. Francis emerges from his disguise, denounces the villagers in a long speech, and leaves the stage to become "a unit in the army of the other side". Alan and some of the villagers volunteer to join him. But, as in The Chase, the revolutionary action occurs only offstage. Stephen Spender described this final scene as "a picture of a society defeated by an enemy whom the writers have not put into the picture because they do not know what he looks like although they thoroughly support him". This final scene, which was largely Isherwood's work, appeared in print when the play was published in the spring of 1935. The authors rewrote the ending when the Group Theatre began rehearsals later in the year. In a version that returned in part to the ending of The Chase, they killed off Sir Francis before he could join the revolution, and Isherwood made a special point of dropping Francis's call for volunteers. Auden, who wrote the new dialogue according to a scenario supplied by Isherwood, transformed the tone of Francis's long speech to the villagers. He replaced the direct, dismissive attack that Isherwood had used in the earlier version with a characteristically Audenesque appeal to the villagers and to the audience to make their own choices. With this new ending, the play opened in January 1936 to critical approval which was less intense but more widely shared than that given to The Dance of Death. Doone's staging was bare to the point of severity, although, as Auden told a friend, the play had been "written with a view to an elaborate production along the lines of an Edwardian musical comedy". Auden's changing idea of the political appeal that The Dog Beneath the Skin should make to its audience reflected his growing sense that politically responsible drama was more difficult to write than he had hoped. When he made his revisions to the play, he was working full time on documentary films, a position he considered contradictory: he received an official government salary for making films that expressed subversive, proletarian sentiments. Auden had first turned to films as an alternative to schoolteaching. In the spring of 1935, he asked his friend Basil Wright if a job could be found for him in the General Post Office Film Unit, where Wright worked as a director. The official task of the Film Unit was to make advertising films for the Post Office, but the head of the Unit, John Grier-

INTRODUCTION

XXV

son, was more interested in artistic experiment and social commentary Gnerson had an eye for talent He had already hired the painter William Coldstream and a twenty-one-year-old composer named Benjamin Britten He now commissioned Auden to write verses for Coal Face, a brief film about miners, and Night Mail, a more elaborate production about the mail train from London to Glasgow Then, in September 1935, Auden started work as an "apprentice" at the Film Unit offices in Soho Square At first he carried cables and film cans when he was not writing verse, but he later directed a few scenes on his own Gnerson, who had founded, inspired, and shepherded the documentary movement in Britain, regarded film as an art form that could be put in the service of the working class (Sir William Coldstream recalls Gnerson's anger when Coldstream and Auden advised him to cut from the narration of one of his films the line, "Ever on the alert, this worker lubricates his tool with soap" ) Auden quickly came to distrust the social pieties of the documentary movement, although he gave it some of his finest verse * After five months with the Film Unit, he went on leave for two months to pursue his own writing About the same time, in February 1936, he wrote a review of Paul Rotha's book Documentary Film He had less to say about the book than about the practical and political obstacles faced by the documentary movement The first and most important of these is the time factor Inanimate objects, like machines, or facts of organisation, can be understood in a few weeks, but not human beings, and if documentary films have hitherto concentrated on the former, it is not entirely the fault of the directors, but is also due to the compulsion on them to turn out a film in a ridiculously short period It is a misfortune that the art which is the slowest to create, should at the same time be the most expensive The second obstacle is class It is doubtful whether an artist can ever deal more than superficially (and cinema is not a superficial art) with characters outside his own class, and most British documentary directors are upper middle Lastly, there is the question of financial support A documentary film is a film that tells the truth, and truth rarely has advertisement value One remains extremely sceptical about the disinterestedness of large-scale industry and government departments, or about the possibility that they will ever willingly pay for an exact picture of the human life within their enormous buildings He resigned from the Film Unit a few weeks later, but he continued to * He wrote the poem Look stranger for Beside the Seaside a documentary made by Gner son s sister Marion but only a few phrases were used in the sound track

XXV I

INTRODUCTIO N

d o free-lanc e film work. Late r in 1936, he , Britten , a n d Wright collabo rate d o n The Way to the Sea, a commercia l documentar y celebratin g th e electrificatio n of a rail line . T h e y m a d e th e film portentou s e n o u g h to parod y t h e solem n production s of th e documentar y movemen t bu t no t so m u c h so t h a t th e railway officials who commissione d it notice d anythin g wrong . A u d e n stayed o n friendl y term s with Grierson , and , two year s later , h e wrot e som e poeti c pros e for Grierson' s The Londoners tha t was dignifie d a n d vigorous. Whe n A u d e n left t h e Fil m Unit , h e a n d Isherwoo d ha d almos t finished thei r ne w pla y The Ascent of F6. It s h e r o , th e climbe r Michae l Ransom , is a partia l portrai t of Τ . E. Lawrenc e a n d th e on e sustaine d stud y of per sona l psycholog y in all of Auden' s plays. Tw o years before , A u d e n ha d writte n in prais e of Lawrence' s solitar y triumphs , bu t no w h e share d Ish erwood' s view tha t Lawrence' s characte r was uncomfortabl y amora l an d ambitious . After his experienc e of work in film, with its promis e of a n unlimite d audience , A u d e n used his portraya l of Lawrenc e in th e ne w pla y as a privat e warnin g to himself : Ransom' s stor y is th e parabl e of an artis t wh o yields t o th e flattery of publi c acclai m a n d official sponsorshi p a n d in consequenc e destroy s bot h his ar t a n d his life. T h e speeche s in whic h Ranso m approache s a stat e of hysterica l m o n o m a n i a includ e passages fro m a b a n d o n e d poem s tha t A u d e n ha d writte n in his own voice a few year s before . Ranso m is destroye d by his messiani c fantasies . H e d r e a m s of a weak a n d helples s h u m a n i t y t u r n i n g to hi m for salvation afte r h e t r i u m p h s over th e u n c o n q u e r e d mountain . Bu t his wish for h o m a g e is a neuroti c compensatio n for his failur e to win his mother' s love. Whe n th e govern m e n t (in t h e perso n of Ransom' s brother , th e hea d of th e Colonia l Office) offers to sponso r hi m in a n expeditio n to F 6 , Ranso m refuses: th e gove r n m e n t ' s interes t is imperia l a n d propagandistic , an d h e will no t c o r r u p t wha t h e believes is his disintereste d love of mountaineering . Bu t whe n Ransom' s m o t h e r asks hi m t o accep t th e offer, his resistanc e breaks. * Drive n by secre t a n d privat e motives , Ranso m accept s a contradictor y publi c role : while Flee t Stree t an d th e Colonia l Office pa y his expenses , th e publi c acclaim s hi m as a symbo l of romanti c freedom . Ransom' s crisis is a n e x t r e m e version of Auden' s doubl e rol e as spokesma n for bot h th e force s of o r d e r a n d t h e force s of revolt—salaried by th e Britis h govern ment , celebrate d as a revolutionar y b a r d by th e British left, a n d privatel y disenchante d with both . A u d e n said late r tha t h e recognize d while writin g The Ascent of F6 tha t h e mus t eventuall y leave Englan d a n d that , if h e stayed , h e woul d inevitabl y becom e par t of th e British establishment . * 1 he play is dedicate d to Auden' s brothe r Joh n Bicknell Auden , who at th e tim e was climbin g th e Himalaya s while working as a geologist in Indi a

INTRODUCTION

XXVll

In the summer of 1936, after finishing the manuscript of F6, Auden wrote a cabaret sketch, Alfred, a satire on "certain prominent European figures" then in power in Germany and Italy He and Isherwood then made plans to revise F6, they had read the proofs without making changes, but now said they were annoyed that their first version had appeared in print They altered Ransom's speeches to refute the suggestion that he is driven more by his followers than by his ambition and to emphasize that he and his followers die as victims of his pride They also rewrote the endings of both acts to focus attention less on the lies of officialdom and more on Ransom's psychological disorder Yet even as they emphasized the personal aspects of the play, the recent outbreak of the Spanish Civil War made them feel a political urgency to speak out against fascism So Auden added to the final chorus a new stanza that placed the blame for Ransom's fate not on himself but on those whom the forces of history had already doomed and deserted These conflicting revisions appeared in the second published edition Early in 1937, while Auden was observing the war in Spain (his offer to serve as an ambulance driver had been refused by the Republicans), the Group Theatre began rehearsals for its production of F6 Isherwood and Doone tried out further versions of the ending without finding one that satisfied them Even after the play opened to warm reviews and packed houses (Britten's music added to the excitement), they tried out different endings every night for a week And when Auden returned to England, he and Isherwood wrote yet another ending In all these versions, the emphasis shifted constantly between tragedy and farce, between psychology and politics * The success of F6 led Auden and Isherwood to write their next play, On the Frontier, for a large commercial audience Taking their theme from the political tragedies of contemporary Europe, they outlined the story in the spring of 1937 and wrote the dialogue in the autumn The play is a warning prophecy with a double plot One is a Shavian satire the Westland munitions magnate tries to keep his nation's Leader calm enough to prevent a war but angry enough to maintain a profitable arms race with Ostnia The other is a poetic melodrama set in the "OstniaWestland Room", a room divided between the homes of two familes— one in each nation, neither aware of the other's existence When this room darkens, the conventional action stops, and the son of one family and daughter of the other family meet in dream visions of each other As Westland and Ostnia move inevitably from saber rattling to total war, both plots move toward their separate tragic endings * In 1942 Auden wrote in Albert and Angelyn Stevens s copy of the published text 1 he end of this play is all wrong because as I now see it required and I refused it a Christian solution

xxvm

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As soon as On the Frontier was finished , th e Grou p Theatr e mad e plan s to stage it unde r th e sponsorshi p of Joh n Maynar d Keynes, who ha d founde d an d maintaine d th e Arts Theatr e in Cambridge . But when Aude n an d Isherwoo d told Keyne s the y ha d been commissione d by thei r publisher s to repor t on th e Sino-Japanes e War, Keyne s postpone d th e productio n unti l thei r return . Lat e in 1937, before leaving for China , Auden wrote Hadrian's Wall, "an historica l survey" for broadcas t by th e BBC. I n it h e returne d to th e norther n landscap e of Paid on Both Sides an d again portraye d its archai c enmities . But where th e subject of Paid on Both Sides was th e letha l psychology of th e family, th e subject of Hadrian's Wall was th e letha l politic s of empire . Th e moo d of th e work was light, but its historica l portrai t of Englan d was no t flattering. Th e closing speech was a reminde r tha t "our venerabl e ancestor s . . . th e Saxons, Danes , an d Norman s . . . cam e over in swarms, butchered , robbe d an d possessed; althoug h the y ha d no mor e right tha n I have to your coat. " I n 1938, durin g thei r retur n voyage from China , Auden an d Isher wood rewrot e muc h of On the Frontier. The y apparentl y discarde d a cho ru s tha t reporte d th e final triump h of th e workers after th e collapse of th e two warrin g governments , an d th e play ende d with plague an d disaster on all sides. But by th e tim e th e Grou p Theatr e productio n opene d in Cambridg e in Novembe r 1938, Hitle r ha d cappe d his Anschluss with Austria by annexin g th e Sudetenlan d an d humiliatin g his enemie s at Mu nich , an d th e play's evenhande d apportionmen t of blam e between its combatant s seeme d irrelevan t an d embarrassing. * Th e play was also th e victim of its authors ' misunderstandin g of thei r own purpose . Auden an d Isherwoo d though t the y were writin g a topica l dram a suitable for a West En d stage, but th e play transforme d th e local materia l of politic s an d histor y int o timeles s lamentatio n an d prayer . Against th e consciou s inten t of its authors , On the Frontier aspired to th e conditio n of opera . (Britte n was rightly annoye d when Auden insisted tha t on e of th e lyrics be sung, no t to a seriou s settin g by Britten , but to th e jaunt y America n folk tun e "Sweet Betsy from Pike".) Auden discovere d his fascinatio n for oper a later , in America , when he wrote Paul Bunyan for Britte n an d collaborate d with Cheste r Kallma n on The Rake's Progress for Stravinsky an d Elegy for Young Lovers an d The Bassarids for Han s Werne r Henze . I n Januar y 1939 Auden an d Isherwoo d left Englan d for America . Tha t sprin g the y wrote yet anothe r endin g for The Ascent of F6. The y * I n a lectur e in December , Auden said tha t for a poeti c dramatis t "to choos e as a subject a [contemporary ] politica l subject is a mistake , because histor y is always now mor e terribl e an d mor e movin g tha n anythin g you can possibly inven t an d mor e extravagan t tha n anythin g you can imagine " (See ρ 522.)

INTRODUCTIO N

XXIX

no w transforme d Ransom' s deat h int o his t r i u m p h I n his dyin g vision afte r h e attain s th e summit , Ranso m shed s his pride , overcome s his fear of love, a n d acknowledge s at last hi s c o m m o n humanit y Hi s politica l am bition s a n d persona l longing s fade T h e division in himsel f betwee n th e publi c a n d th e privat e world s dissolves in his final line s

REFERENCE S Page xm This book is like Unsigne d review, The Listener, 9 May 1934, ρ 808 Page xv Drama began as an act Fro m Auden' s statemen t for th e programm e of The Dance of Death, 1 Octobe r 1935, see ρ 497 A parable of English Written in 1942 in Albert an d Angelyn Stevens's copy of Poems (America n edition , 1934) Page xvi literary knowledge of Lette r to Naom i Mitchison , 28 Octobe r 1930 (Ber g Collection , Ne w York Publi c Library) Freud's error Fro m Auden' s 1929 journa l (Ber g Collection ) quite a brilliant Lette r from Eliot to Ε McKmgh t Kauffer, 6 Januar y 1930 (Pierpon t Morga n Library, Ne w York) One reason the scheme Empson , "A Not e on Auden' s 'Pai d on Bot h Sides' ", Experiment, Sprin g 1931, ρ 61 the forerunner of Unsigne d note , almost certainl y by Eliot , on th e jacket of Auden' s Collected Shorter Poems 1930 1944 (1950) Do I want poetry Fro m Auden' s 1929 journa l (Berg Collection ) Page xvu Dramatic action is Fo r th e "Preliminar y Statement " see ρ 459 the pseudo-healers Isherwood , "Some Note s on Auden' s Early Poetry" , New Verse, Novembe r 1937, ρ 7 Page xvm Mother Law 204

Reporte d in W David Wills, Homer Lane A Biography (1964), ρ

no more than a charade Isherwood , "Some Notes" , pp 7-8 Page xix vary at every performance Lette r to Isherwood , ['Octobe r 1930] Formally I am trying Lette r to Naom i Mitchison , 12 August 1931 (Ber g Collection )

INTRODUCTIO N

XX X

Page xx my epic Lette r to Naom i Mitchison , 18 Octobe r 1932 (Ber g Collection ) my Masque Lette r to Nevill Coghill , 24 April 1933 (Berg Collection ) Page xxi The communists never Written in 1942 in th e Stevens's copy of Poems brilliant, and in my Harol d Hobson , Chnslian Science Monitor, 22 Octobe r 1935, ρ 12 Anothe r reviewer used almost th e same term s "This productio n for all its faults may prove epoch-making " (E L , Drama, Novembe r 1935, ρ 23) The truth w that

Unsigne d review, The Listener, 9 May 1934, ρ 808

Page xxii The development of Fro m Auden' s statemen t for th e programm e of The Dance of Death, 1 Octobe r 1935, emende d from th e manuscrip t (Berg Collection ) Page xxin The epic has turned Lette r to Naom i Mitchison , [-Jul y 1934] (Berg Collec tion ) Page xxiv a picture of a society Spender , "Th e Poeti c Drama s of W Η Auden an d Christophe r Isherwood" , New Writing, Autum n 1938, ρ 105 written with a view Reporte d by Joh n Hayward , "Londo n Letter" , New York Sun, 12 Octobe r 1935, ρ 13 Page xxv The first and most Unsigne d review, The Listener, 19 Februar y 1936, ρ 369 Auden mad e no secret of his authorshi p of this review Page xxvi the British establishment Unpublishe d intervie w with Timoth y Foote , 1963

TH E TEX T OF THI S EDITIO N

AUDEN' S works are presente d in thi s collecte d editio n in th e versions tha t he prepare d an d revised aroun d th e tim e of thei r publication . Works tha t appeare d in his books appea r in th e versions tha t he prepare d for thos e book s or tha t h e revised shortl y thereafter ; revisions tha t h e mad e man y years later for his retrospectiv e collecte d edition s appea r in th e notes. * Works tha t Auden abandone d before book publicatio n or tha t he never considere d for inclusio n in a book appea r in thei r last revised versions. Fo r works with mor e comple x or unusua l publishin g histories , thes e same genera l principle s have determine d th e choic e of text. An essay, for example , tha t Auden first publishe d in book form thirt y years after he printe d it in a magazin e appear s m thi s editio n in th e earlie r version, an d th e later revisions are listed in th e notes . All th e plays in thi s volum e presen t slightly differen t editoria l prob lems an d requir e slightly differen t editoria l solutions . In general , th e texts printe d in th e body of th e book incorporat e revisions mad e by Aude n or Isherwoo d at abou t th e tim e each play was written ; revisions mad e when th e author s went back to a play after a few years are printe d in th e notes . Thes e note s also includ e a histor y of th e composition , publication , an d productio n of each play; a detaile d descriptio n of th e source s for th e text an d th e variant s in all earlie r editions ; an d th e texts of letter s an d othe r materia l tha t figured in th e compositio n of th e plays. Fo r th e plays tha t were produce d by th e Grou p Theatr e unde r Auden' s supervision—Th e Dance of Death, The Dog Beneath the Skin, The Ascent of F6, an d On the Frontier—the texts printe d her e incorporat e th e addi tion s an d substitution s mad e by th e author s before each play was hande d over to th e director . (Cut s mad e later by th e directo r or censor , with or withou t th e authors ' approval , are describe d in th e note s but are no t reflected in th e text. ) Th e text of The Dance of Death, therefore , include s some passages tha t have no t previously appeare d in print . Th e text of The Dog Beneath the Skin also include s verse tha t Auden wrote after hand * I his volum e of plays note s th e revisions Auden mad e in differen t versions of each of th e plays as a whole an d in differen t versions of individua l scenes When he excerpte d some of th e lyrics from thes e plays for inclusio n in his later volume s of collecte d an d selected poems , he sometime s mad e mino r revisions in th e texts Thes e later printing s are mentione d in th e note s to this volume , but th e detail s of any revisions belon g mor e properl y to th e forthcomin g editio n of Auden' s complet e poem s Ί he mino r revisions to th e punctuatio n of Paid on Both Sides tha t Auden mad e when he reprinte d th e play as on e of his longer poem s will also be listed m th e editio n of th e complet e poem s

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ing the play to the publisher; it substitutes Auden's revised version of the final scene for the published version, which had been put into shape by Isherwood. (Like all other altered passages in these plays, the original ending appears in full in the notes.) The text of The Ascent ofF6, the only play for which the authors had an opportunity to publish a revised version, is that of the second English edition, which incorporates all the changes they wished to preserve. The text of On the Frontier includes a verse interlude that, shortly before the first night, Auden substituted for the prose interlude in the printed text. All the plays have been newly transcribed, wherever possible, from early manuscripts and typescripts to remove errors introduced earlier by typists, printers, and publishers. For the dramatic works that Auden published but did not see produced, such as Paid on Both Sides and Alfred, the texts have been taken from manuscripts or typescripts, but they incorporate revisions made in the course of publication. Previously unpublished works, such as The Enemies of a Bishop and The Chase, are here printed with minimal editorial interference. The published and unpublished plays appear in chronological sequence in this book because the distinction between them is largely accidental: Auden submitted two of his three unpublished plays, The Fronny and The Chase, to Faber & Faber. Although there is no evidence that he submitted the third, The Enemies of a Bishop, he hired a professional typist to prepare it in the same format that he used for the published plays. I have made no attempt to impose a rigorous consistency on Auden's spelling and punctuation or to bring his usage into conformity with Isherwood's. Isherwood, who was far more careful than Auden about such matters, evidently prepared for the typist or printer the manuscripts of his collaborations with Auden, so these works appear more polished on the page than do the works Auden wrote alone. An instructive contrast may be observed between the punctuation of the speech used as the text of the General's "special record" in Auden's The Chase and the punctuation of the same speech used as the Vicar's sermon in a scene prepared by Isherwood for The Dog Beneath the Skin. Isherwood seems not to have interfered with some punctuation that readers have found puzzling in Auden's choruses for Dogskin. Here, as elsewhere in his poetry, Auden used heavy punctuation to indicate a pause or a caesura where conventional grammar calls for lighter pointing. Specifically, he used a semicolon to separate the parallel divisions of his choral verse and to emphasize its echoes of the parallelism of biblical poetry. A typical line in the opening chorus reads: "As at Trent Junction where the Soar comes gliding; out of green Leicestershire to swell the ampler current." Auden was especially irregular and inconsistent in the punctuation he

THE TEXT OF THIS EDITION

XXXlll

used to introduce quoted speech, often using a semicolon, sometimes even a full stop, where stylebooks call for a comma or colon. But his pointing indicates verbal rhythms, and a reduction to conventional consistency would remove one of the components of his style. After the early 1930s, he sometimes asked friends for help in punctuating his poems, but he made his own final decisions in these matters and was often attentive to them while reading the proofs. Although Auden appears to have paid little or no attention to spelling, except when rendering the dialect of a social class, there seems to be no compelling reason to regularize his inconsistencies. In works by Auden alone, I have restored some spellings that earlier printers or publishers treated as errors but that were not inconsistent with common practice. In this edition Auden's customary alright and aint coexist with Isherwood's all right and ain't. But I have not hesitated to change the do'nt and dont and dont' of Auden's manuscripts to don't, and I have substituted its for it's, or the reverse, when necessary. I have followed Auden by using "Wireless" rather than "Radio" in the headings provided for this edition. The typographic style of this edition (not the typeface itself) is based on the design used by Faber & Faber for the original editions of the Auden-Isherwood plays. Speech headings, stage directions, and other design elements in previously unpublished works have been set in conformity with this style. Faber used some slightly different conventions in the original editions of Paid on Both Sides and The Dance of Death, and these have been preserved despite a slight sacrifice of consistency in the volume as a whole. One convention has been added: where an open square (•) appears at the foot of a page it indicates a break between stanzas or verse paragraphs that might not otherwise be evident.

PLAYS

Paid on Both Sides A Charade

BY W. H. A U D E N

[1928]

TO CECIL

DAY-LEWIS

[First Version] CHARACILRS

Ltntzgarth.

Nattrass.

JOHN NOWER.

AARON SHAW.

WILLIAM NOWER.

ANNE SHAW.

F'

F"

FF'

GUNMEN.

FF"

GUNMEN.

SETH. SETH'S MOTHER. T H E MIDWIFE. T H E ANNOUNCER. T H E GUEST. T H E BUTLER. PEOPLE. T H E CHORUS.

DRESSES J O H N NOWER.

Tails.

ANNE SHAW.

Evening frock.

AARON SHAW. W I L L I A M AND GUNMEN.

Plus-fours a n d a cap, preferably tweeds. Dinner jackets for the last scene. For the first they wear trench coats. William and F F ' wear homburgs, the others bowlers. F" a n d FF' have field glasses. All carry sportsman's guns. SETH. A straw p a n a m a with an elastic u n d e r the chin. Clothes tight a n d too small. A large revolver. S E T H ' S M O T H E R . An iron on one leg as for rickets. A stick. Untidy. A blue apron. Soiled lavatory towels on a r m . MIDWIFE. T h e uniform of a cinema commissionaire. A megaANNOUNCER. phone. GUEST. Dress suit with a yellow waistcoat. A paper cap out of a cracker. CHORUS. Rugger things. T h e leader wears a scrum cap. T h e Lintzgarth party will wear its handkerchiefs r o u n d their left arms. Both sides a r e to be seated on chairs on t h e R a n d L of t h e stage until their disappearance in the last scene. Exeunt means going back to their chairs. T h e stage is a plain one with a raised recess which has drawing curtains in front a n d a back-cloth behind.

C H O R U S Often t h e m a n , alone shut, shall consider T h e killings in old winters, death of friends, Sitting with stranger shall expect n o good T h e r e was n o food in t h e assaulted city, Men spoke at corners asking for news, saw Outside t h e watchfires of a stronger army Spring came u r g i n g to ships, a casting off, But o n e would stay, vengeance not d o n e it seemed Doubtful to t h e m that they should meet again Fording in the cool of the day they r o d e T o meet at crossroads when t h e year was over Dead is Brody, such a m a n was Mori I will say this not falsely, I have seen T h e j u s t a n d t h e unjust die in the day All, willing or not, a n d some were willing [Enter M I D W I F E ]

M I D W I F E Sometimes we read a sign, cloud in the sky, T h e wet tracks of a hare, quicken the step, Promise the best day But h e r e no remedy Is to be t h o u g h t of, no news but the new death, A Nower d r a g g e d out in the night, a Shaw A m b u s h e d behind the wall Blood on t h e g r o u n d Would welcome fighters last night at Hammergill A boy was b o r n fanged like a weasel I am old Will die this winter, but more than once shall hear T h e cry for help, the shooting r o u n d the house [Exit C M I D W I F E During her speech F" enters R and squats in the centre of the stage looking L through field glasses Enter W I L L I A M and F' R ] W I L L I A M A r e you h u r t '

F' Nothing much sir, only a slight flesh wound Did you get him sir ? W I L L I A M O n ledge above the gulley, aimed at, seen moving, fell, looked down on, sprawls in the stream F' Good H e sniped poor Dick last Easter, riding to Flash W I L L I A M I have some lint a n d bandages in my haversack, a n d there's a spring h e r e I'll dress your a r m [Enter L F F ' and FF" ]

8

FF' . FF" . FF' . FF" .

PAI D ON B O T H SIDES , FIRS T VERSIO N

Di d you find T o m ' s body ? Yes, sir. It' s lying in th e Hangs . Which way di d the y go? Dow n t h e r e sir.

[F " observes them and runs R.] F".

T h e r e a r e twent y m e n fro m Nattras s sir, over th e gap , comin g a t once . W I L L I A M . Hav e the y seen us? F". No t yet. W I L L I A M . We mus t get out . You go r o u n d by th e cops e a n d mak e for th e Barbo n road . We'll follow th e old tramway . Kee p low a n d r u n like hell . [Exeunt β . F F ' watches through field glasses.] FF' . Yes. No . N o . Yes I ca n see them . T h e y ar e makin g for th e Barbo n road . G o dow n a n d cu t t h e m off. T h e r e is goo d cove r by th e bridge . We've got t h e m now . [A whistle. The back curtain draws showing J O H N , A N N E , and A A R O N and the

A N N O U N C E R grouped. Both sides enter L and R.] A A R O N . T h e r e is a tim e for peace ; to o ofte n we Hav e gon e o n col d marches , hav e take n life, Till wrong s ar e bre d like flies; th e d r e a m e r wakes Beatin g a smoot h door , footstep s behind , o n th e left T h e pointe d finger, th e u n e n d u r a b l e d r u m , T o h e a r o f horse s stole n o r a hous e b u r n e d . No w thi s shall e n d with marriag e as it ought ; Love t u r n s th e wind , bring s u p th e salt smell, Shado w o f gulls o n th e roa d to th e sea. T H E A N N O U N C E R . T h e e n g a g e m e n t is a n n o u n c e d of J o h n Nower , eldes t son o f th e lat e M r a n d Mr s Georg e Nowe r o f Lintzgart h Rookhope , an d A n n e Shaw, onl y d a u g h t e r of th e lat e M r a n d Mr s J o s e p h Sha w of Nattras s Garrigill . ALL. Hurrah . [Someone does a cartwheel across the stage. Exeunt L and R. Back curtains close.] C H O R U S . T h e fou r sat o n in th e bar e r o o m T o g e t h e r a n d th e fire unlighted : On e said; "We playe d duets , she t u r n e d th e page , Mor e quaver s o n th e o t h e r side. "

PAID ON B O T H SIDES, F I R S T V E R S I O N

9

"We parted in the waiting-room Scraping back chairs for the wrong train." Said T w o ; and T h r e e . "All kinds of love Are obsolete or extremely rare." "Yesterday", Four said, "falling on me T h r o u g h the glass pavement overhead T h e shadow of r e t u r n i n g girls Proclaimed an insolent new spring." T h e y said, the four distinguished men W h o sat waiting the enemy, Saw closing u p o n the bare room T h e weight of a whole winter night, Beyond the reef high-breaking surf. [Back curtains draw. J O H N and A N N E alone. J O H N blows on a grass held between the thumbs and listens.] J O H N . O n Cautley where a peregrine has nested, iced heather h u r t the knuckles. Fell on the ball near time, the rushing of forwards stopped. Good-bye now, he said, would open the swing doors. These I rem e m b e r but not love till now. We cannot tell where we shall find it t h o u g h we all look for it till we do, and what others tell us is n o use to us. Some say that h a n d s o m e raider, still at large, A terror to the Marches, in truth is love; And we must listen for such messengers T o tell us daily. "To-day a saint came blessing T h e huts." "Seen lately in the provinces Reading behind a tree and people passing." But love returns: At once all heads are t u r n e d this way, and love Calls order—silenced the angry sons— Steps forward, greets, repeats what he has heard A n d seen, feature for feature, word for word. A N N E . Yes, love does not begin with meeting, nor end in parting. We are always in love though we know love only by moments, and p e r h a p s it is only ourselves that we love. Mouth to mouth is no nearer. Now I see you, but if I shut my eyes I forget. Words fail us and t r u t h eludes us a n d we cannot be satisfied. But I am glad this evening that we are together.

10

PAID ON B O T H SIDES, F I R S T VERSION

Look. T h e flushed waterfall Spouts from the hanging valley; b u t for us T h e silence is unused, a n d life a n d death Seem n o m o r e than t h e echo of an axe. [One of the chorus sings:] T h e s u m m e r quickens all Scatters its promises T o you a n d m e n o less, T h o u g h neither can compel The The The The

wish to last t h e year, longest look to live, u r g e n t word survive m o v e m e n t of the air.

But loving now let n o n e T h i n k of divided days W h e n we shall choose from ways, All of t h e m evil, one: Look o n with stricter brows T h e sacked a n d b u r n i n g town, T h e ice-sheet moving down, T h e fall of an old house. A N N E . J o h n , I have a car waiting. Let's get away from here. We sleep in beds where m e n have died howling. J O H N . YOU may be right, b u t we shall stay. No one can avoid to-morrow. A N N E . T o - m o r r o w may c h a n g e us.

J O H N . We only love what changes. A N N E . To-night the many come to mind Sent forward in the thaw with anxious marrow, For such might now r e t u r n with a bleak face, An image pause half-lighted in the door, A greater b u t not fortunate in all; Come h o m e deprived of an astonishing end— Morgan's who took a clean death in the north Shouting against t h e wind, o r Cousin Dodds' Passed o u t asleep in h e r chair, the snow falling. T h e too-loved clays, borne over by diverse drifts, Fallen u p o n t h e far side of all enjoyment, Unable to move closer, shall not speak

PAID ON B O T H SIDES, F I R S T VERSION

II

Out of that grave stern on no capital fault: Enough to have lightly touched the unworthy thing. J O H N . We live still. ANNE. But what has

become of the dead? They forget. JOHN. These. Smilers, all who stand on promontories, slinkers, whisperers; deliberate approaches, echoes, time, promises of mercy, what dreams or goes masked, embraces that fail, insufficient evidence, touches of the old wound. . . . But let us not think of things which we hope will be long in coming. The Spring will come, Not hesitate for one employer who Though a fine day and every pulley running Would quick lie down; nor save the wanted one That wounded in escaping swam the lake Safe to the reeds, collapsed in shallow water.

CHORUS.

You have tasted good and what is it? For you Sick in the green plain, healed in the tundra, shall Turn westward back from your alone success Under a dwindling Alp to see your friends Cut down the wheat. JOHN. It's getting cold, dear, let's go in. [Exeunt C. Back curtains close.] For where are Basley who won the Ten, Dickon so tarted by the House, Thomas who kept a sparrow-hawk? The clock strikes, it is time to go The tongue ashamed, deceived by a shake of the hand.

CHORUS.

[Enter bridal party from one side L, guests from the other R. The CHIEF comes forward and presents a bouquet to the bride.] PEOPLE. Ssh. GUEST. With

gift in hand we come From every neighbour farm To celebrate in wine The certain union of A woman and a man; And may their double love Be shown to the stranger's eye

GUEST

12

P A I D ON B O T H S I D E S , F I R S T V E R S I O N

In a son's symmetry. Now hate is swallowed down, All a n g e r p u t away; T h e spirit comes to its own, T h e beast to its play. [All clap. The G U E S T addresses the audience.] G U E S T . Will any lady be so kind as to oblige us with a dance? T h a n k you very much. This way, miss. What tune would you like? [Gramophone. Dance. Enter B U T L E R . ] B U T L E R . D i n n e r is served. [ A A R O N goes to the dancer.]

A A R O N . You'll dine with us of course. P E O P L E . It will be a good year for them I think. You don't mean that he—well you know what. Rather off his form lately. T h e vein is showing well in the Q u a r r y Hazel. O n e of Edward's friends. Well it does seem to show. Etc. [Exeunt except S E T H and his M O T H E R . This time they go right off.] M O T H E R . Seth. S E T H . Yes, m o t h e r .

M O T H E R . William Nower is here. S E T H . I know that. What d o you want m e to do? M O T H E R . Kill him.

S E T H . I can't d o that. T h e r e is peace now, besides he is o u r guest. M O T H E R . Have you forgotten your brother's death at the Hangs? It is a nice thing for m e to hear people saying that I have a coward for a son. I a m thankful your Father is not alive to see it. S E T H . I'm not afraid of anybody o r anything; but I don't want to. M O T H E R . I shall have to take steps. S E T H . It shall be as you like. But I think that much will come of this, chiefly h a r m . M O T H E R . I have thought of that. [Exeunt. A shot. More shots. Shouting.] P E O P L E O U T S I D E . A t r a p . I might have known.

Take that d a m n you.

PAI D O N B O T H SIDES , F I R S T VERSIO N

13

O p e n th e window . You swine. J i m m y . Ο m y God . Etc . [Two of the Shaw party enter L and R.] FF' . T h e Master' s killed. Som e of t h e m got away: fetchin g hel p will attac k in a n h o u r . FF" . See tha t all t h e door s ar e bolted . [Exeunt R and L. Back curtains draw. A N N E with the dead.] A N N E . No w we hav e seen th e stor y to its e n d . T h e h a n d s tha t were to hel p will no t be lifted, A n d ba d followed by worse leaves to us tears , An empt y bed , h o p e fro m less nobl e men . I h a d seen joy Receive d a n d given u p o n bot h sides for years, No w not . C H O R U S . Ligh t strives with darkness , righ t with wrong : Ma n think s t o be calle d th e fortunate , T o brin g h o m e a wife, t o live long . Bu t h e is defeated ; let t h e son Sell th e far m lest th e m o u n t a i n fall: Hi s m o t h e r a n d h e r m o t h e r won . Hi s fields a r e use d u p wher e t h e mole s visit, T h e contour s wor n flat; if t h e r e sho w Passage for wate r h e will miss it: Giv e u p hi s breath , his woman , his team ; N o life to touch , t h o u g h late r ther e be Big fruit , eagles above th e stream . CURTAI N

[Second

Version]

CHARACILRS

Lintzgarth

Nattrass

JOHN NOWER

AARON S H A W * * * * *

DICK

SETH SHAW

GEORGE****

T H E SPY—SETH'S BROTHER

WALTER

BERNARD

KURT

SETH'S M O T H E R * * *

CULLEY

ANNE SHAW

STEPHEN** Z E P P E L — J O H N N O W E R ' S SERVANT

No. 6 STURTON J O A N — M O T H E R OF J O H N N O W E R TRUDY*** FATHER XMAS* T H E DOCTOR P/~) % H* % sfc ^

T H E MAN-WOMAN T H E DOCTOR'S BOY** T H E PHOTOGRAPHER T H E ANNOUNCER* T H E CHIEF GUEST* T H E BUTLER* T H E CHORUS

The starred parts should be doubled No scenery is required. The stage should have a curtamed-off recess The distinction between the two hostile parties should be marked by different coloured arm-bands The chorus, which should not consist of more than three persons, wear similar and distinctive clothing.

[Enter T R U D Y and

WALTER. ]

T. W.

You've onl y j u st heard ? Yes. A b r e a k d o w n at th e Mill neede d attention , kep t m e all m o r n i n g . I guessed n o h a r m . Bu t lately, ridin g at leisure , Dic k me t me , p a n t e d disaster . I cam e h e r e at once . Ho w di d the y get him ?

T.

I n Kettledal e above Colefang s roa d passes wher e high bank s overh a n g d a n g e r o u s fro m ambush . T o Colefang s h a d to go, would spea k with Layard , J e r r y an d H u n t e r with hi m only . T h e y mus t hav e stole n news, for Re d Sha w waite d with ten , so J e r r y said, till for last tim e unconscious . H u n t e r was killed at first shot . T h e y fought , exhauste d a m m u n i t i o n , a brave defenc e bu t fight n o m o r e .

W T.

H a s J o a n b e e n tol d yet? Yes I t couldn' t be helped . Shock , startin g birt h pangs , cause d a pre m a t u r e delivery. Ho w is she? Bad , I believe. Bu t here' s th e doctor .

W. T.

[Enter D O C T O R . ]

D.

W.

Well, Doctor , ho w ar e thing s going? Better , thanks . We've ha d a h a r d fight, bu t it's goin g t o be all right . She'l l pul l t h r o u g h a n d hav e a fine infan t as well. M y God , I' m thirst y afte r all that . Wher e ca n I get a drink ? H e r e in t h e nex t room , Doctor .

[Exeunt. Back curtains draw J O A N with child and corpse.] J

No t fro m thi s life, no t fro m thi s life is an y T o keep ; sleep, da y a n d pla y woul d no t hel p ther e D a n g e r o u s to ne w ghost ; ne w ghost learn s fro m man y Learn s fro m ol d termer s wha t deat h is, where . Who' s jealou s of hi s latest compan y F r o m o n e da y to th e nex t final t o us, A c h a n g e d o n e , woul d use sorro w to den y Sorrow , t o replac e death , sorro w is sleepin g thus . Unforgettin g is no t to-day' s forgettin g Fo r yesterday , no t bedri d scorning , B u t a ne w begettin g An unforgivin g m o r n i n g .

[Baby squeaL·.] Ο see, h e is impatien t

16

PAI D O N B O T H SIDE S SECON D VERSIO N

T o pass beyon d thi s prett y lispin g tim e There'l l be som e cryin g ou t whe n he' s com e ther e [Back curtains close ] C H O R U S Ca n spea k of trouble , pressur e o n me n B o r n all t h e time , b r o u g h t forwar d int o light Fo r war m d a r k m o a n T h o u g h h e a r t fears all hear t crie s for, rebuffs with morta l bea t Skyfall, t h e legs sucke d u n d e r , adder' s bit e T h a t priz e hel d o u t of reac h Guide s t h e unwillin g tread , T h e askin g breath , Till o n a t t e n d e d be d O r in u n t r a c k e d d i s h o n o u r come s to eac h Hi s n a t u r a l d e a t h We pass o u r days Speak , m a n t o m e n , easy, learnin g to poin t T o j u m p befor e ladies, to sho w o u r scars Bu t n o We were mistaken , thes e faces ar e no t our s T h e y smile n o m o r e whe n we smile bac k Eyes, ears , tongue , nostril s brin g New s of revolt , inadequat e counse l to An infir m kin g Ο watche r in th e dark , you wake O u r d r e a m o f waking, we feel Your finger o n th e flesh tha t ha s bee n skinned , By you r brigh t da y See clea r wha t we were doing , tha t we were vile Your s u d d e n h a n d Shal l h u m b l e grea t Pride , brea k it, wear dow n to stump s old systems whic h await T h e last transgressio n of th e sea [Enter J O H N N O W E R and

J D

DIC K ]

I f you hav e really m a d e u p you r mind , Dick , I won' t tr y a n d per suad e you t o sto p Bu t I shall be sorr y to lose you I hav e t h o u g h t it all over an d I thin k it is th e best thin g to d o M y cousi n write s tha t th e ranc h is a thoroughl y goo d propositio n I don' t kno w ho w I shall like th e Colonie s bu t I feel I mus t get away fro m

PAID ON B O T H S I D E S , SECOND V E R S I O N

J. D. J. D.

17

here. T h e r e is not room e n o u g h . . . b u t the actual moving is u n pleasant. I u n d e r s t a n d . W h e n are you thinking of sailing? My cousin is sailing to-morrow. If I am going I a m to join him at t h e Docks. Right. Tell o n e of the m e n to go down to the post-office a n d send a wire for you. If you want anything else, let m e know. T h a n k you.

[Exit D I C K . Enter Z E P P E L . ]

Z. J.

N u m b e r Six wishes to see you, sir. Alright, show him in.

[Enter N U M B E R S I X . ]

6.

J. 6. J. 6.

Well, what is it? My area is Rookhope. Last night at Horse a n d Farrier, d r a n k alone, one of Shaw's m e n . I sat down friendly next, till muzzed with drink and lateness h e was blabbing. Red Shaw goes to B r a n d o n Walls today, visits a woman. Alone? No, sir. H e takes a few. I got n o numbers. This is good news. H e r e is a p o u n d for you. T h a n k you very much, sir.

[Exit N U M B E R S I X . ]

J.

Z. J. Z.

Zeppel.

Sir. Ask George to come here at once. Very good sir.

[ J O H N gets a map out. Enter G E O R G E . ]

J. G.

Red Shaw is spending the day at B r a n d o n Walls. We must get him. You know the g r o u n d well, don't you, George? Pretty well. Let m e see the m a p . There's a barn about a h u n d r e d yards from t h e house. Yes, h e r e it is. If we can occupy that without attracting attention it will form a good base for operations, comm a n d s both house a n d road. If I r e m e m b e r rightly, on the other side of the stream is a steep bank. Yes, you can see from the contours. T h e y couldn't get out that way, b u t lower down is marshy g r o u n d and possible. You want to post some m e n there to catch those who try.

18

PAID ON B O T H SIDES, SECOND VERSION

J. Good. Who do you suggest to lead that party? G. Send Sturton. He knows the whole district blindfold. He and I as boys fished all those streams together. J. I shall come with you. Let's see: it's dark now about five. Fortunately there's no moon and it's cloudy. We'll start then about half-past. Pick your men and get some sandwiches made up in the kitchen. I'll see about the ammunition if you will remember to bring a compass. We meet outside at a quarter past. [Exeunt. Enter KURT and CULLEY.]

K. There's time for a quick one before changing. What's yours? C. I'll have a sidecar, thanks. K. Zeppel, one sidecar and one C.P.S. I hear Chapman did the lake in eight. C. Yes, he is developing a very pretty style. I am not sure though that Pepys won't beat him next year if he can get out of that double kick. Thanks. Prosit. K. Cheerio. [Enter WALTER and TRUDY.]

W. Two half pints, Zeppel, please. [To KURT.] Can you let me have a match? How is the Rugger going? K. Alright, thank you. We have not got a bad team this season. W. Where do you play yourself? K. Wing 3Q. W. Did you ever see Warner? No, he'd be before your time. You remember him don't you, Trudy? T. He was killed in the fight at Colefangs, wasn't he? W. You are muddling him up with Hunter. He was the best threequarter I have ever seen. His sprinting was marvellous to watch. Z. [producing Christmas turkey]. Not bad eh? T. [feeling it]. Oh a fine one. For to-morrow's dinner? Z. Yes. Here, puss . . . gobble, gobble . . . T. [to W]. What have you got Ingo for Christmas? W. A model crane. Do you think he will like it? T. He loves anything mechanical. He's so excited he can't sleep. K. Come on, Culley, finish your drink. We must be getting along. [To W.] You must come down to the field on Monday and see us. W. I will if I can. [Exit KURT and CULLEY.]

T.

Is there any news yet?

PAID ON B O T H SIDES, SECOND VERSION

19

W. Nothing has come through. If things are going right they may be back any time now. T. I suppose they will get him? W. It's almost certain. Nower has waited long enough. T. I am sick of this feud. What do we want to go killing each other for? We are all the same. He's trash, yet if I cut my finger it bleeds like his. But he's swell, keeps double shifts working all night by flares. His mother squealed like a pig when he came crouching out. Sometimes we read a sign, cloud in the sky, The wet tracks of a hare, quicken the step Promise the best day. But here no remedy Is to be thought of, no news but the new death; A Nower dragged out in the night, a Shaw Ambushed behind the wall. Blood on the ground Would welcome fighters. Last night at Hammergill A boy was born fanged like a weasel. I am old, Shall die before next winter, but more than once shall hear The cry for help, the shooting round the house. W. The best are gone. Often the man, alone shut, shall consider The killings in old winters, death of friends. Sitting with stranger shall expect no good. Spring came, urging to ships, a casting off, But one would stay, vengeance not done; it seemed Doubtful to them that they would meet again. Fording in the cool of the day they rode To meet at crossroads when the year was over: Dead is Brody, such a man was Maul. I will say this not falsely; I have seen The just and the unjust die in the day, All, willing or not, and some were willing. Here they are. [Enter

NOWER, GEORGE, STURTON

and others. The three speak alternately.]

Day was gone Night covered sky Black over earth When we came there To Brandon Walls Where Red Shaw lay Hateful and sleeping Unfriendly visit.

20

PAI D O N B O T H SIDE S S E C O N D VERSIO N

I wished t o reveng e Qui t fully Who m y fathe r At Colefang s valley Lyin g in a m b u s h Cruell y sho t With life for life T h e n watcher s saw T h e y were attacke d Shoute d in fear A nigh t alar m T o m e n asleep D o o m e d me n awoke Fel t for thei r gun s Ra n to th e door s Would wake thei r maste r Who lay with woma n Upstair s togethe r T i r e d afte r love H e saw t h e n T h e r e would be shootin g H a r d fight Sho t answere d sho t Bullet s screame d G u n s shoo k H o t in th e h a n d Fighter s lay G r o a n i n g o n g r o u n d Gav e u p life Edwar d fell Sho t t h r o u g h th e ches t Firs t of o u r lot By n o m e a n s refuse d fight Stephe n was goo d Hi s first e n c o u n t e r Showe d n o fear W o u n d e d man y T h e n Sha w kne w We were to o stron g Would get away Ove r th e m o o r R e t u r n alive Bu t foun d at th e ford Sturto n waitin g Greates t gun ange r T h e r e h e die d N o r an y cam e Fighter s h o m e N o r wives shall go Smilin g t o be d T h e y boas t n o m o r e [ S T E P H E N suddenly gets up ] S G

A forwar d forwar d ca n neve r be a backwar d backwar d H e l p m e p u t Stephe n to bed , somebod y H e got tigh t o n th e way bac k Hullo , they'v e caugh t a spy V O I C E S O U T S I D E Loo k ou t T h e r e h e is Catc h hi m Go t you [Enter K U R T and others with prisoner ] Κ J S J

We f o u n d thi s c h a p hidin g in a n outhous e Brin g hi m h e r e Who ar e y o u ? I kno w hi m I saw hi m onc e at Eickham p He' s Set h Shaw' s b r o t h e r H e is, is h e Wha t d o you com e h e r e for? You kno w wha t we d o t o spies I'll destro y th e whol e lot of you Tak e hi m ou t

PAI D O N B O T H SIDES , SECON D V E R S I O N

SP Y YOU ma y loo k big, b u t we'll get you o n e day, Nowe r [Exeunt all but J O H N , S T E P H E N following ]

S

Don' t go, darlin g

[ J O H N sits A shot outside followed by cheers ] [Enter Z E P P E L ]

Ζ J Ζ

Will you be wantin g anythin g m o r e to-night , sir 5 N o , tha t will be all than k you G o o d night , sir

J

Always th e followin g wind of histor y O f others ' wisdom make s a buoyan t air Till we com e suddenl y o n pocket s wher e Is n o t h i n g lou d b u t us, wher e voices seem Abrupt , u n t r a i n e d , competin g with n o h e O u r father s shoute d onc e T h e y taugh t u s war, T o scampe r afte r darlings , t o clim b hills, T o emigrat e fro m weakness, find ourselve s T h e easy conqueror s of empt y bays Bu t neve r tol d u s this , left eac h t o learn , H e a r somethin g of tha t soon-arrivin g da y W h e n t o gaze longe r a n d delighte d o n A face o r ide a be impossibl e Coul d I hav e bee n som e simpleto n tha t lived Befor e disaste r sen t his r u n n e r s h e r e , Younge r t h a n worms , worm s hav e to o muc h t o bea r Yes, minera l were best coul d I bu t see T h e s e woods , thes e fields of green , thi s lively world Steril e as m o o n

C H O R U S T h e Sprin g unsettle s sleepin g partnerships , Foundrie s improv e thei r castin g process , shop s O p e n a furthe r wing o n credi t till T h e winte r I n s u m m e r boys grow tall With r u n n i n g race s o n th e froth-we t sand , War is declare d there , h e r e a treat y signed , H e r e a scru m break s u p like a bomb , ther e troop s Deplo y like bird s Bu t proudes t int o trap s Hav e fallen T h e s e gears whic h r a n in oil for week By week, n e e d i n g n o look , no w will no t work, T h o s e m a n o r s mortgage d twice t o pa y for love G o to anothe r

21

22

PAI D O N B O T H SIDES , SECON D V E R S I O N

Ο ho w shall m a n live Whose t h o u g h t is b o r n , chil d of o n e farcica l night , T o find hi m old ? T h e bod y war m bu t no t By choice , h e d r e a m s of folk in dancin g bunches , O f tar t wine spilt o n home-mad e benches , Wher e learns , o n e draw n apart , a secre t will Restor e t h e dead ; bu t come s thenc e to a wall. Outsid e o n froze n soil lie armie s killed Who seem familia r bu t the y ar e cold . No w t h e mos t solid wish h e trie s to kee p Hi s h a n d s sho w t h r o u g h ; h e neve r will loo k u p , Say "I a m good" . O n hi m misfortun e falls Mor e tha n e n o u g h . Bette r wher e n o on e feels, T h e out-of-sight , burie d to o d e e p for shafts. [Enter F A T H E R C H R I S T M A S . He speaks to the audience.]

X.

Ladie s a n d G e n t l e m e n : I shoul d like to than k you all very m u c h for comin g h e r e to-night . No w we hav e a little surpris e for you . Whe n you go h o m e , I h o p e you will tell you r friend s to com e a n d brin g th e kiddies , b u t you will r e m e m b e r to kee p thi s a secret , won' t you ? T h a n k you . No w I will no t kee p you waitin g an y longer .

[Lights. A trial. J O H N as the accuser. The S P Y as accused. J O A N as his warder with a gigantic feeding bottle. X M A S as president, the rest as Jury, wearing school caps.] X. J.

X.

I s t h e r e an y m o r e evidence ? Yes. I kno w we hav e a n d ar e makin g terrifi c sacrifices, bu t we give in . We canno t betra y th e dead . As we pass thei r graves be dea f t o t h e simpl e eloquenc e of thei r inscriptions , thos e th e glory o f thei r earl y m a n h o o d gave u p thei r lives for us? mus t fight t o th e finish. Very well. Cal l t h e witness.

[Enter Bo. ] B.

I n thes e days d u r i n g th e migrations , days F r e s h e n i n g with rai n r e p o r t e d fro m th e mountains , By loss o f memor y we ar e reborn , Fo r m e m o r y is d e a t h ; by takin g leave, Partin g in a n g e r a n d glad to go W h e r e we ar e still unwelcome , a n d if we coun t Wha t d e a d th e tide s wash in , onl y to mak e Notche s for enemies . O n n o r t h e r n ridge s

canno t ca n we who in No , we

PAID ON B O T H SIDES, SECOND V E R S I O N

23

Where flags fly, seen and lost, denying rumour We baffle proof, speakers of a strange tongue. [The SPY groans. His cries are produced by jazz instruments at the back of the stage. JOAN brandishes her bottle.] Be quiet, or I'll give you a taste of this. X. Next, please.

JOAN.

[Enter Po.] P.

Past victory is honour, to accept An island governorship, back to estates Explored as child; coming at last to love Lost publicly, found secretly again In private flats, admitted to a sign. An understanding sorrow knows no more, Sits waiting for the lamp, far from those hills Where rifts open unfenced, mark of a fall, And flakes fall softly softly burying Deeper and deeper down her loving son.

[The SPY groans. JOHN produces a revolver.] J.

Better to get it over. This way for the Angel of Peace. X. Leave him alone. This fellow is very very ill. But he will get well.

JOAN.

[The MAN-WOMAN appears as a prisoner of war behind barbed wire, in the snow.] MW. Because I'm come it does not mean to hold An anniversary, think illness healed, As to renew the lease, consider costs Of derelict ironworks on deserted coasts. Love was not love for you but episodes, Traffic in memoirs, views from different sides; You thought oaths of comparison a bond, And though you had your orders to disband, Refused to listen, but remained in woods Poorly concealed your profits under wads. Nothing was any use; therefore I went Hearing you call for what you did not want. I lay with you; you made that an excuse For playing with yourself, but homesick because Your mother told you that's what flowers did,

24

P A I D ON B O T H SIDES, SECOND V E R S I O N

And thought you lived since you were bored, not dead, And could not stop. So I was cold to make No difference, but you were quickly meek Altered for safety. I tried then to d e m a n d Proud habits, protestations called your mind T o show you it was extra, but instead You overworked yourself, misunderstood, Adored m e for the chance. Lastly I tried T o teach you acting, but always you had nerves T o fear performances as some fear knives. Now I shall go. No, you, if you come, Will not enjoy yourself, for where I am All talking is forbidden . . . [The S P Y groans.] J.

I can't bear it.

[Shoots him. Lights out.] V O I C E S . Quick, fetch a doctor. T e n p o u n d s for a doctor. T e n p o u n d s to keep him away. Coming, coming. [Lights. X M A S , J O H N and the SPY remain. The Jury has gone, but there is a PHOTOGRAPHER.]

X.

Stand back there. H e r e comes the doctor.

[Enter D O C T O R and his B O Y . ]

B. D. B. D. B. D. B. X. D. X. D.

Tickle your arse with a feather, sir. What's that? Particularly nasty weather, sir. Yes, it is. Tell me, is my hair tidy? O n e must always be careful with a new client. It's full of lice, sir. What's that? It's looking nice, sir. [For the rest of the scene the B O Y fook about.] Are you the doctor? I am. What can you cure? Tennis elbow, Graves' Disease, Derbyshire neck a n d Housemaids' knees.

P A I D O N B O T H S I D E S , SECON D V E R S I O N

X. D.

X.

25

I s tha t all you ca n cure ? N o , I hav e discovere d th e origin of life. Fourtee n m o n t h s I hesitate d befor e I conclude d thi s diagnosis . I receive d th e m o r n i n g star for this . M y hea d will be left at deat h for clever medica l analysis. T h e laugh will be gon e a n d th e microb e in c o m m a n d . Well, let' s see wha t you ca n d o .

[ D O C T O R takes circular saws, bicycle pumps, etc., from his bag. He farts as he does so.] B. D. B.

You nee d a pill, sir. What' s that . You'll nee d you r skill, sir. Ο sir you'r e hurting .

[ B O Y IS kicked out.] [ J O H N tries to get a look.] D.

G o away. Your presenc e will be necessar y at Scotlan d Yard whe n th e criminal s of th e war ar e tried , bu t you r evidenc e will no t be n e e d e d . I t is valueless. Cage s will be provide d for som e of th e m o r e interest in g specimens . [Examines the body.] Um , yes. Very interesting . T h e consciou s brai n appear s n o r m a l excep t u n d e r emotion . Fanc y it. T h e Devi l couldn' t d o that . Thi s advance s a n d retreat s u n d e r contro l a n d poison s everythin g r o u n d it. M y diagnosi s is; A d a m a n t will, coo l brai n a n d laughin g spirit . Hullo , what' s this ? [Produces a large pair of pliers and extracts an enormous tooth from the body.] Com e along , that' s better . Ladie s a n d Gentlemen , you see I hav e nothin g u p m y sleeve. Thi s toot h was growin g ninety-nin e years befor e his grea t grand m o t h e r was b o r n . I f it h a d n ' t bee n take n ou t to-da y h e would hav e die d yesterday . You ma y get u p now .

[The S P Y gets up. The P H O T O G R A P H E R gets ready.] P.

J u s t o n e m i n u t e , please . A little brighter , a little brighter . No , mois te n th e lips a n d star t afresh . Hol d it.

[ P H O T O G R A P H E R lets off his flash. Lights out. X M AS blows a whistle.] X.

All change .

[Lights. S P Y behind a gate guarded by XMAS . Enter J O H N running.] J. X.

I' m late , I' m late . Which way is it? I mus t hurry . You can' t com e in h e r e withou t a pass.

[ J O H N turns back his coat lapel.]

26

Χ

PAI D O N B O T H SIDE S SECON D V E R S I O N

Ο I be g you r p a r d o n , sir Thi s way, sir

[Exit X M A S The Accuser and Accused plant a tree ] JOH N

Sametim e sharer s of th e sam e hous e

We kno w no t th e builde r n o r th e n a m e of his son No w canno t mea n to them , boy's voice amon g dishonoure d portrait s T o docksid e barmai d speakin g Sorr y t h r o u g h wires, p r e t e n d e d speec h S P Y Escape d Armie s pursuit , rebellio n an d eclipse T o g e t h e r in a car t After all j o u r n e y s We stay a n d ar e no t know n [Lights out ] Sharer s o f th e sam e hous e Attendant s o n th e sam e machin e Rarel y a word , in silenc e u n d e r s t o o d [Lights J O H N alone in his chair Enter D I C K ] D

J

D J

Hull o I've com e t o say good-by e Yesterda y we sat at tabl e togethe r Fough t side by side at enemies ' face t o face meetin g To-da y we tak e o u r leave, tim e of d e p a r t u r e I' m sorr y H e r e , give m e you r knife an d tak e min e By thes e We ma y r e m e m b e r eac h o t h e r T h e r e ar e two chances , bu t m o r e of o n e Partin g for ever, no t hearin g th e o t h e r T h o u g h h e nee d hel p Hav e you got everythin g you w a n t 5 Yes, thank s Good-bye , J o h n Good-by e

[Exit D I C K ]

T h e r e is th e city, Lighte d a n d clea n once , pleasur e for builder s An d I Lettin g t o cheape r tenants , hav e m a d e a slum House s at whic h th e passer shake s his fist R e m e m b e r i n g evil Prid e a n d Indifferenc e hav e share d with me , an d I

PAID ON B O T H SIDES, SECOND VERSION

Have kissed them in the dark, for mind has dark, Shaded commemorations, midnight accidents In streets where heirs may dine. But love, sent east for peace From tunnels under those Bursts now to pass On trestles over meaner quarters A noise and flashing glass. Feels morning streaming down Wind from the snows Nowise withdrawn by doubting flinch Nor joined to any by belief's firm flange Refreshed sees all The tugged-at teat The hopper's steady feed, the frothing leat. Zeppel. [Enter ZEPPEL.] Z. J.

Sir. Get my horse ready at once, please.

[Exeunt.] throw away the key and walk away Not abrupt exile, the neighbours asking why, But following a line with left and right An altered gradient at another rate Learns more than maps upon the whitewashed wall The hand put up to ask; and makes us well Without confession of the ill. All pasts Are single old past now, although some posts Are forwarded, held looking on a new view; The future shall fulfil a surer vow Not smiling at queen over the glass rim Nor making gunpowder in the top room, Not swooping at the surface still like gulls But with prolonged drowning shall develop gills.

CHORUS. T O

But there are still to tempt; areas not seen Because of blizzards or an erring sign Whose guessed-at wonders would be worth alleging, And lies about the cost of a night's lodging.

27

28

P A I D ON B O T H S I D E S , SECOND V E R S I O N

Travellers may meet at inns b u t not attach, T h e y sleep one night together, not asked to touch; Receive n o normal welcome, not the pressed lip, Children to lift, not the assuaging lap. Crossing the pass descend the growing stream T o o tired to hear except the pulse's strum, Reach villages to ask for a bed in Rock shutting o u t the sky, the old life done. [ C U L L E Y enters right and squats in the centre of the stage, looking left through field glasses. Several shots are heard off. Enter G E O R G E and K U R T . ] G. K. G. K. G.

A r e you much hurt? Nothing much, sir. Only a slight flesh wound. Did you get him, sir? O n ledge above the gulley, aimed at, seen moving, fell; looked down on, sprawls in the stream. Good. H e sniped poor Billy last Easter, riding to Flash. I have some lint a n d bandages in my haversack, a n d there is a spring here. I'll dress your a r m .

[Enter S E T H and B E R N A R D , left.]

S. B. S. B.

Did you find Tom's body? Yes, sir. It's lying in t h e Hangs. Which way did they go? Down there, sir.

[ C U L L E Y observes them and runs right.] C. G. C. G.

T h e r e a r e twenty m e n from Nattrass, sir, over the gap, coming at once. Have they seen us? Not yet. We must get out. You go down to the copse and make for the Barbon road. We'll follow the old tramway. Keep low a n d r u n like hell.

[Exeunt right. S E T H watches through field glasses.] S.

Yes. No. No. Yes, I can see them. T h e y are making for t h e Barbon road. Go down and cut them off. T h e r e is good cover by the bridge. We've got them now.

[A whistle. The back curtains draw, showing J O H N , A N N E and A A R O N and the

A N N O U N C E R grouped. Both sides enter left and right.]

P A I D ON B O T H S I D E S , SECOND V E R S I O N

29

A A. T h e r e is a time for peace; too often we Have gone on cold marches, have taken life, Till wrongs are bred like flies; the d r e a m e r wakes Who beats a smooth door, behind footsteps, on the left T h e pointed finger, the u n e n d u r a b l e d r u m , T o hear of horses stolen or a house b u r n e d . Now this shall e n d with marriage as it ought: Love turns the wind, brings u p the salt smell, Shadow of gulls on the road to the sea. A N N O U N C E R . T h e engagement is announced of J o h n Nower, eldest son of the late Mr a n d Mrs George Nower of Lintzgarth, Rookhope, a n d A n n e Shaw, only d a u g h t e r of the late Mr and Mrs Joseph Shaw of Nattrass, Garrigill. ALL. Hurrah. [ G E O R G E and S E T H advance to the centre, shake hands and cross over the stage to their opposite sides. Back curtains close. Exeunt in different directions, talking as they go.] G. K. B. S. B. S.

It was a close shave that time. We had a lucky escape. How are you feeling? T h e a r m is rather painful. I owe B e r n a r d one for that. It's a shame. Just when we h a d them fixed. Don't you worry. You'll get your chance. But what about this peace? T h a t remains to be seen. Only wait.

[Exeunt. Back curtains draw. J O H N and A N N E alone. J O H N blows on a grass held between the thumbs and listens.] J.

O n Cautley where a peregrine has nested, iced heather h u r t the knuckles. Fell on the ball near time, the forwards stopped. Good-bye now, h e said, would open the swing doors. . . . These I remember, but not love till now. We cannot tell where we shall find it, t h o u g h we all look for it till we d o , a n d what others tell us is n o use to us. Some say that h a n d s o m e raider still at large, A terror to the Marches, in truth is love; And we must listen for such messengers T o tell us daily "To-day a saint came blessing T h e huts." "Seen lately in the provinces Reading behind a tree a n d people passing." But love r e t u r n s ;

30

PAID ON B O T H SIDES SECOND VERSION

At once all heads are turned this way, and love Calls order—silenced the angry sons— Steps forward, greets, repeats what he has heard And seen, feature for feature, word for word Yes, I am glad this evening that we are together The silence is unused, death seems An axe's echo

ANNE

The summer quickens all, Scatters its promises To you and me no less Though neither can compel J

The The The The

A

But loving now let none Think of divided days When we shall choose from ways, All of them evil, one

J

Look on with stricter brows The sacked and burning town, The ice-sheet moving down, The fall of an old house

A

John, I have a car waiting There is time to join Dick before the boat sails We sleep in beds where men have died howling You may be right, but we shall stay

J A

wish to last the year, longest look to live, urgent word survive movement of the air

To-night the many come to mind Sent forward m the thaw with anxious marrow, For such might now return with a bleak face, An image pause half-lighted in the door, A greater but not fortunate in all, Come home deprived of an astonishing end Morgan's who took a clean death in the north Shouting against the wind, or Cousin Dodds', Passed out in her chair, the snow falling The too-loved clays, borne over by diverse drifts, Fallen upon the far side of all enjoyment, Unable to move closer, shall not speak

P A I D ON B O T H SIDES

SECOND V E R S I O N

31

O u t of that grave stern o n n o capital fault E n o u g h to have lightly touched the unworthy thing J A J

We live still But what has become of the d e a d ? They forget T h e s e Smilers, all who stand on promontories, slinkers, whisperers, deliberate approaches, echoes, time, promises of mercy, what d r e a m s o r goes masked, embraces that fail, insufhcient evidence, touches of the old wound But let us not think of things which we hope will be long in coming

C H O R U S T h e Spring will come, Not hesitate for o n e employer who T h o u g h a fine day a n d every pulley r u n n i n g Would quick lie down, n o r save the wanted o n e T h a t , wounded in escaping, swam the lake Safe to the reeds, collapsed in shallow water You have tasted good a n d what is it ? For you, Sick in the green plain, healed in the tundra, shall T u r n westward back from your alone success, U n d e r a dwindling Alp to see your friends Cut down the wheat J

It's getting cold, dear, let's go in

[Exeunt Back curtains close ] C H O R U S For w h e r e a r e Basley who won the T e n ,

Dickon so tarted by the House, T h o m a s who kept a sparrow-hawk'' T h e clock strikes, it is time to go, T h e tongue ashamed, deceived by a shake of the h a n d [Enter Bridal Party left, guests right ] GUESTS

Ssh

[The C H I E F G U E S T comes forward and presents a bouquet to the bride ] C G With gift in h a n d we come From every neighbour farm T o celebrate in wine T h e certain union of A woman a n d a m a n , A n d may their double love

32

PAID ON B O T H SIDES, SECOND V E R S I O N

Be shown to the stranger's eye In a son's symmetry. Now hate is swallowed down, All anger p u t away; T h e spirit comes to its own, T h e beast to its play. [All clap. The C H I E F G U E S T addresses the Audience.}

Will any lady be so kind as to oblige us with a dance? . . . T h a n k you very much . . . This way, miss . . . What tune would you like? [Gramophone. A dance. As the dance ends, the back curtains draw and the B U T L E R enters centre.} B U T L E R . D i n n e r is served. [ A A R O N goes to the Dancer.}

A A . You'll dine with us, of course? [Exeunt all except S E T H and his M O T H E R . ]

G U E S T S [as they go out}. It will be a good year for them, I think. You don't mean that he . . . well, you know what. Rather off his form lately. T h e vein is showing good in the Quarry Hazel. O n e of Edward's friends. You must come a n d have a look at the Kennels some day. Well it does seem to show. [Etc., etc.} [Back curtains close.} M O T H E R . Seth.

S. M. S. M. S.

Yes, Mother. J o h n Nower is here. I know that. What d o you want m e to do? Kill him. I can't d o that. T h e r e is peace now; besides he is a guest in o u r house. M. Have you forgotten your brother's death . . . taken out and shot like a dog? It is a nice thing for m e to hear people saying that I have a coward for a son. I a m thankful your father is not here to see it. S. I'm not afraid of anything or anybody, b u t I don't want to. M. I shall have to take steps.

PAI D ON BOT H

S. M. S.

SIDES , S E C O N D

VERSIO N

33

I t shall be as you like. T h o u g h I thin k tha t m u c h will com e of this , chiefly h a r m . I hav e t h o u g h t o f that . [Exit.] T h e little funk . Sunligh t o n sparklin g water , its shade s dissolved, re forming , u n r e a l activit y wher e other s laughe d bu t h e blubbe d clinging, homesick , a n undevelope d form . I'll d o it. Me n poin t in afte r days. H e always was. Bu t wrongly. H e fough t an d overcame , a ster n self-ruler . You didn' t hear . H e a r i n g the y loo k ashame d to o lat e for shakin g h a n d s . O f cours e I'll d o it. [Exit.]

[A shot. More shots. Shouting.] V O I C E S O U T S I D E . A t r a p . I migh t hav e known . T a k e that , d a m n you . O p e n th e window . You swine. Jimmy , Ο m y God . [Enter S E T H and

B. S.

BERNARD. ]

T h e Master' s killed. So is J o h n Nower , bu t som e of t h e m got away, fetchin g help , will attac k in a n hour . See tha t all t h e door s ar e bolted .

[Exeunt right and left. The back curtains draw. A N N E with the dead.] A N N E . No w we hav e seen th e stor y to its end . T h e h a n d s tha t were to hel p will no t be lifted, A n d ba d followed by worse leaves to us tears , An empt y bed , h o p e fro m less nobl e men . I h a d seen joy Receive d a n d given, u p o n bot h sides, for years. No w not . C H O R U S . T h o u g h h e believe it, n o m a n is strong . H e think s t o be calle d th e fortunate , T o brin g h o m e a wife, to live long . Bu t h e is defeated ; let th e son Sell th e far m lest t h e m o u n t a i n fall: Hi s m o t h e r a n d h e r m o t h e r won . Hi s fields a r e use d u p wher e th e mole s visit, T h e contour s wor n flat; if t h e r e sho w Passage for wate r h e will miss it:

34

PAID ON B O T H SIDES, SECOND VERSION

Give up his breath, his woman, his team; No life to touch, though later there be Big fruit, eagles above the stream. CURTAIN

The Enemies of a Bishop or

Die When I Say When A Morality in Four Acts

BY W. H. A U D E N CHRISTOPHER

AND

ISHERWOOD

[1929]

TO OTTO KUSEL AND BERTHOLD SZCZESNY

CHARACTER S TH E

SPECTR E

ROBER T

MIS S ETHE L

BICKNEL L

COLONE L

WRIGH T

TEARE R

AUGUSTU S BICKNEL L

*

WARDE R

GEORG E

*

PORTE R OF TH E NINEVE H

JIMM Y

HOTE L

MAXIMILIA N CESLAU S

BUNYA N

LUDE R

ί T H E FLYIN G

LUDE R

B I S H O P L AW K A T H E R I N E L AW

* a n d **

\ Two **

SQUA D

LOCA L POLICEME N

B O Y S AT T E M P L I N REFORMATOR Y

These parts may be doubled.

PROLOGUE [To be spoken by the B I S H O P ]

Will you t u r n a deaf ear T o what they said on the shore, Interrogate their poises In their rich houses? Of stork-legged heaven-reachers, Of the compulsory touchers, T h e sensitive amusers And masked amazers Yet wear no ruffian badge N o r lie behind the hedge, Waiting with bombs of conspiracy In arm-pit secrecy Carry no talisman For g e r m or the abrupt pain, Needing no concrete shelter Nor porcelain filter Will you wheel death anywhere In his invalid chair With no affectionate instant But his attendant? For to be held as a friend By an undeveloped mind, T o be joke for children is Death's happiness Whose anecdotes betray His favourite colour as blue, Colour of distant bells And boys' overalls His tales of Disturb the H a r d to be O n parting

the bad lands sewing hands, superior nausea

T o accept the cushions from Women against martyrdom,

38

T H E E N L M I E S OF A B I S H O P

Yet applauding the circuits Of racing cyclists. Never to make signs, Fear neither maelstrom nor zones, Salute with soldiers' wives When t h e flag waves. Remembering there is No recognized gift for this, No income, n o bounty, No promised country. But to see brave sent h o m e Hermetically sealed with shame And cold's victorious wrestle With molten metal. A neutralising peace And an average disgrace Are h o n o u r to discover For later other.

Act I Scene 1 [ R O B E R T BiCKNELL'sy/ai in Town. T H E S P E C T R E IS sitting in an armchair

with his feet on the mantelpiece. He puffs a large cigar and reads a letter He is in full evening dress, with an opera hat on the back of his head. He wears a black silk half-mask. There is a wireless loud speaker on the table.] W I R E L E S S . Hullo kiddies. Just back from the City, a r e you? Isn't h o m e lovesome? Hmpsch! Hmpsch! That's Tootle and Babs sending you a kiss. T O O T I E . I say, Babs, what shall we play? B A B S . Let's have the servants u p and play families. T O O T I E . I think that's perfectly scrumptious, don't you? B A B S . Well, ring the bell, Tootie. J A M E S . You r a n g , sir.

T O O T I E . Fetch Maud and come and play with us. J A M E S . Very good, sir. T O O T I E . I'll take off my collar.

B A B S . You'll find your sailor suit in the drawer. T O O T I E . Mm! N u m ! Num!

TH E J A M E S AN D M A U D

ENEMIE S OF A BISHO P

YOU w a n t e d us,

39

sir

B A BS Hullo , Dadd y Giv e Babs a kiss J A M E S Really , m a d a m B A BS James , you'r e no t playin g pwoperl y T o o r i E I'se h u n g r y M u m m i e give Tootl e suck-suc k MAU D

Really , sir

T O O T I E Mau d no t playin g pwoperl y Tooti e give Mau d th e sack B A BS Bab s wan t to pla y Doctor s with Tooti e T O O T I E All right , J a m e s You a n d Mau d ca n go J A M E S T h a n k you , sir

T o o ΓΙ Ε Tooti e pla y to o Tooti e bwin g Babs a dea r lckle S P E C T R E N O W t h e n T h a t ' s e n o u g h [The wireless immediately stops T H E SPECTR E goes on reading ] [Enter R O B E R T B I C K N E L L ]

ROBER T

Well'

SPECTR E

Well

ROBER T WelP How' s e v e r y t h i n g ' S P E C TR E Exactl y as you left it ROBER T

Splendid

1

S P E C TR E I see you've bee n enjoyin g yoursel f R O B E R I Enjoyin g mysel f T h a t ' s a funn y way of puttin g it Why, m a n , afte r all thos e weeks, I've succeede d at last' I ca n scarcel y believe it S P E C TR E Well, com e o n Tel l m e th e whol e stor y We shall hav e t o hav e it soone r o r later , I suppos e R O B E R I You'd reall y like t o hear ? S P E C Ι RE [yawning] Yes, yes, of cours e R O B E R T I tol d you abou t m y enquiries , didn' t Ρ Ho w I discovere d tha t the y ha d a hous e in th e marshes , with onl y o n e a p p r o a c h , alon g th e causewa y with two drawbridge s T h e fathe r is a homicida l maniac , w h o spend s t h e da y at t h e sitting-roo m windo w with a machin e g u n A n d th e whol e plac e is s u r r o u n d e d with electrifie d barbe d wire I tol d you all t h a P SPECTR E

Ofte n

R O B E R T Well, yesterda y nigh t seeme d idea l for m e T h e servant s were all away at a d a n c e in th e village, excep t th e n e g r o e u n u c h I reck o n e d I' d a clea r t h r e e h o u r s I t was blac k as pitc h I've got everythin g read y in t h e car , m y r u b b e r overalls, a n electri c torc h fixed t o m y cap , for swimming , an d th e climbin g iron s a n d burglar' s tool s I h a d a fairly decen t aeria l p h o t o g r a p h , too , bu t I wasn' t takin g an y chances , so I' d b r o u g h t a ba g of gelatin e an d an exploder , in case t h e wall was thicke r tha n it looke d

40

T H E E N E M I E S OF A B I S H O P

S P E C T R E Always thoughtful

R O B E R T However, as it h a p p e n e d , everything went like clockwork T h e inner wall was rather a problem I as near as anything bust my neck T h e r e was a light in h e r room I knew from enquiries that h e r brother would be downstairs in the cellar kissing his wife's cofhn So the coast was clear I did a standing j u m p from the roof o n to h e r balcony, forced t h e catch of the window, a n d there she was I got away quite easily, too fust made a dash for it T h e motor boat was waiting T h e y p u t a bullet t h r o u g h my cuff Look' S P E C T R E A n d what did you say to h e r when you saw her? ROBERT Say? O h — I forget exactly 1 couldn't stay long SPECTRE You were too busy kissing? R O B E R I Kissing 5 Good God, n o ' T h e r e was n o time for that S P E C T R E By the way, what's she like' 1 What coloured hair and eyes? R O B E R T D O you know, it's funny you should ask, because 1 haven't the least idea SPECTRE

Love by ambition

Of definition Suffers partition, And cannot go From yes to n o , For n o is not love, n o is n o T h e shutting of a door, T h e tightening jaw, A conscious sorrow And saying yes T u r n s love into success Views from the rail Of land a n d happiness Assured of all T h e sofa's creak, And were this all, love were But cheek to cheek And dear to dear Voices explain Love's pleasure a n d love's pain Still t a p the knee A n d cannot disagree H u s h e d for aggression Of full confession

T H E E N E M I E S OF A B I S H O P

41

Likeness to likeness Of each old weakness Love is not there, Love has moved to another chair, Aware already Of what stands next And is not vexed A n d is not giddy Leaves the North in place With a good grace, And would not gather Another to another, Designs his own unhappiness, Foretells his own death a n d is faithless R O B E R T Well, I'm afraid all that's a bit above my head But let m e tell you, it's very easy to sneer at what you aren't capable of feeling for yourself S P E C T R E Quite T o o true [Showing letter ] By the way, I suppose this will hardly interest you It came while you were away ROBERT

Let's h e a r

S P E C T R E T h e Old Mountain Lead Company want you to go as Manager to their mine at Stunhead You can n a m e your own salary T h e last m a n died of the horrors ROBERT [taking letter] Let m e look [He begins pacing the room ] By Jove, you know, I've a good mind to accept this Yes, by God, I will It's just what I've been wanting O n e gets soft in this town And, after all, a man's work does come first If o n e isn't careful, love becomes a destroyer You said that yourself SPECTRE

Liar'

R O B E R T By Jove, yes T h e Old Mountain Lead Company I heard something about them only last week, at the Club They're nearly on their last legs But I'll pull them r o u n d By George, it's just the sort of j o b I like A n uphill fight S P E C T R E If that's what you want, you shall have it R O B E R T Stunhead That's right u p in the Sheared Flysch Range God's own country We shall be u p against things in the winter O n e feels free o n those fells A n d clean Not like this dirty town life S P E C T R E About a mile away from the mine is one of the biggest hotels in the British Isles R O B E R T A n d that reminds me of something else Isn't T e m p h n Reformatory somewhere in those parts 5 God, yes I must look u p old Gus

42

T H E E N E M I E S OF A B I S H O P

S P E C T R E Your b r o t h e r '

R O B E R T Yes Why, I haven't seen him for nearly fifteen years A n d now he's head of T e m p h n I hear he treats the boys like dirt Never mind, I should like to see the old buffer again Damned if I don't wire to him now H e might come over for a week-end to see m e A n d of course I must let the Company know S P E C TRE You needn't I've d o n e that R O B E R T D O you mean you accepted 5 In my n a m e 5 S P E C T R E Yes Wasn't I r i g h t 5

R O B E R T You've got a nerve, haven't you 5 Well, as it happens, you were But I won't stand much more of this sort of thing, see 5 Anyone'd think I h a d n ' t a mind of my own SPECTRE Shall I send the telegram to your brother while you pack 5 ROBERI

N o I d o n ' t trust you

SPEC TRE You're not such a fool as 1 took you for R O B E R I For heaven's sake, behave yourself until I come back [Exit ] SPECTRE

Watch any day his nonchalant pauses, see His dexterous handling of a wrap as he Steps after into cars—the beggars' envy " T h e r e is a free one", many say, but e r r H e is not that returning conqueror, N o r ever the Pole's circumnavigator But, poised between shocking falls on razor edge Has taught himself this balancing subterfuge Of the accosting profile, the erect carriage T h e song, the varied movement of the blood Would drown the warning from the iron wood, Would cancel the inertia of the buried Travelling by daylight on from house to house T h e longest way to the intrinsic peace With love's fidelity a n d with love's weakness CURTAIN

T H E ENEMIES OF A B I S H O P

43

Act I Scene 2 [Temphn Reformatory. A bare room with a barred window and a table and benches. Doors left and right. A door at the back opens into a yard. Enter W A R DER BUNYAN from the yard, with G E O R G E and J I M M Y , boys of about sixteen, wearing flash East End suits and check caps.] G E O R G E . Nah, then, cheese it Guv'nor—who in hell d'yer think yer pushin'? B U N Y A N . That's all right, sonny. I'm not pushing nothing I don't know of. G E O R G E . T h i n k s yer bleedin' funny, don't yer? B U N Y A N . Don't think. I knows. G E O R G E . Jest yer wyte till I hinforms me pal the Prince o' Wyles wot yer bin an' d o n e ter us. J I M M Y . AW, cheese it, George. Wot's the bleedin' use? We copped it this time. G E O R G E . C o p p e d it my arse. Yer wyte till I tells me pal the Prince o' Wyles— B U N Y A N . That's all right, sonny. 'E's been a pal to 'undreds 'ere, but I never see 'im 'elp any on 'em out. [A steamer siren blows, off. Enter a crowd of boys in broad-arrow suits, from the yard, with tin mugs. They sit down at the table and begin banging and shouting.] B O Y S . Soup! We wants our soup! We wants o u r bleedin' soup! B U N Y A N . All right, yer lordships. All right. All right. [Exit.] A B O Y [to G E O R G E ] . Wot's yer nyme? G E O R G E . T h e Right Honorrible Stanley Baldwin. M.P. A.R.S.E. A N O T H E R B O Y . COO, Christ! Aint they toffs? A N O T H E R B O Y [snatching off GEORGE'S cap and putting it on rakishly]. Ow, chyse me! [ G E O R G E snatches it back and knocks the boy down.] Yer wyte, yer bleedin' barstard! A N O T H E R BOY. Wot sy, boys? Let's give 'im wot the curate gyve the choirboy. SEVERAL. Not 'arf. Git the poker, one of yer. [They hold G E O R G E and JIMMY.]

A B O Y . Stow it. 'Ere's Uncle. [Enter BUNYAN with a bucket.]

44

T H E ENEMIE S OF A BISHO P

B O Y S. We want s o u r soup ! [They scramblefor the soup ] 'Ere , thi s ain' t sou p 'O' s misbehyve d hisself? Shyme ! BUNYAN . It' s all you'l l git. Por e little bleeder s [Exit ] A B O Y [smelling his soup]. Cor , don' t it whistle? A N O T H E R B O Y [jumping on to the table and holding up a bootlace] Dee s ces zoo mooc h C o m r a d e s , 'ow lon g shall we dees e oppression s e n d u r e ? Are we t o be treate d like th e hoonds ? ALL. N a h ! ! A B O Y. We've 'a d e n o u g h . A N O T H E R B O Y . Joostice !

T H E B O Y O N T H E T A B L E We d e m a n d d e r free air De r zunlich t A N O T H E R B O Y. Goo d ole Fritz ! A N O T H E R B O Y. T h r e e cheer s fer Fritz ' A L L . I p , ιρ , Oory ! Oory ! Oory ' A B O Y AT T H E D O O R 'Er e come s 'is nib s [General stampede for the door to the yard JIMM Y IS knocked down by the rush and finds himself alone in the room, as A U G U S T U S B I G K N E L L and

BUNYA N

enter.] A U G U S T U S . It' s risky m y goin g away just now , with th e Inspecto r comin g tomorrow . BUNYAN . Don' t you worry, sir. ΈΊ 1 neve r notic e nothing . 'E' s n e a r ston e blind , p o r e old gentleman . A U G U S T U S . Well, min d you p u t th e wax fruit o n th e tabl e at lunch . Hav e you got you r lesson s ready ? BUNYAN . T h e y bee n doin g tha t ther e sum every da y a m o n t h com e Tues day. T h e y shoul d kno w it. A U G U S T U S . G o o d . [Seeing J I M M Y ] Who' s that ? BUNYAN . C o m e in thi s evening , sir. With another . A U G U S T U S . H m ! What' s h e h e r e for? BUNYAN . Cigarett e machine s an d loiterin g with intent , sir A U G U S T U S . A n d th e usual , I suppose ? B U N Y A N . Yes,

sir.

A U G U S T U S . O h , by th e way, you migh t fetc h m e thos e testimonial s You'll find t h e m o n m y desk. BUNYAN . Yessir. [Exit.] A U G U S T U S . C o m e here . [ J I M M Y comes forward ] What' s you r name ? J I M M Y . J y m e s Halber t 'Ener y Piatt . A U G U S T U S . Say Sir whe n you'r e speakin g to m e JIMMY .

Sir.

T H E ENEMIE S O F A BISHO P

45

A U G U S T U S . A n d tak e off you r cap . [JIMM Y does so ] No w listen t o m e , Piatt . I say thi s t o every bo y wh o come s t o T e m p h n . Thi s is n o t a prison . It' s a H o m e You u n d e r s t a n d ' JIMM Y

Yes

A U G U S T U S . Yes, sir J I M M Y . Sir.

A U G U S T U S . I've bee n governo r o f thi s plac e no w for te n years A n d all th e tim e I've bee n drillin g int o you boys' head s tha t thi s is a H o m e . Boys com e h e r e d e t e r m i n e d t o regar d thi s plac e as a Prison . I' m de t e r m i n e d tha t the y shall r e g a r d it as a H o m e . Very well It' s m y will agains t theirs . A n d you'll find tha t I invariabl y win. JIMM Y

Yes, sir.

A U G U S T U S I divide t h e boys wh o com e h e r e int o two sorts , t h e rotter s an d t h e slackers. T h e rotter s I brea k a n d th e slacker s I p u t th e fear of G o d into . No w whic h sort ar e y o u ' J I M M Y . D u n n o , sir

A U G U S T U S . Well, we'll soo n find out . A n d whe n we've foun d out , we ca n star t work. I wish you coul d see yoursel f as you'll b e in a m o n t h fro m now . Your own m o t h e r wouldn' t recognis e you . B u t get thi s clea r righ t a t t h e start . Thi s is a H o m e . Whateve r you mak e o f yoursel f h e r e , you'l l mak e by self-disciplin e a n d self-control . T h e T e m p l i n cod e will hel p you buil d u p both . If you nee d a hidin g for th e goo d of you r soul, we'll give it you . I f you nee d t o p u t a cur b o n you r beastl y physica l appetites—al l you boys a r e as greed y as hogs—we'll kee p you o n do g biscuit for a m o n t h . No w d o you quit e u n d e r s t a n d ? J I M M Y . Yes, sir.

[Enter B U N γ AN with papers.] B U N Y A N . 'Er e the y are , sir A U G U S T U S . G o o d . [To J I M M Y . ] You ca n go. [Exit J I M M Y . ] Yes, thes e a r e

right . " T o m m y was apprentice d t o a gan g o f d i a m o n d thieve s a n d drov e hi s own ca r No w he' s earnin g te n shillings a week crossing sweepin g H o w ca n we ever than k y o u ' " Sho w t h e Inspecto r tha t one . B U N Y A N . Yessir.

A U G U S T U S . Shoo t an y bo y you find in t h e cook' s b e d r o o m mine d t o p u t a sto p t o tha t sort o f thin g

I' m deter -

B U N Y A N . Yessir.

A U G U S T U S . T h e n that' s everythin g Good . Well, I' m onl y stayin g t h e week-end . I shall b e bac k withou t fail o n Tuesday . You've got t h e keys?

46

T H E ENEMIES OF A B I S H O P

BUNYAN Yes, sir [Exit A U G U S T U S ] T h r e e into four thousand, eight ' u n d r e d a n d sixty-nine goes—blessed if I haven't forgotten already 'Ere, let's 'ave a look Where's my pencil 5 [The siren blows, off All the boys, including G E O R G E and JIMMY, enter from the yard and crowd across stage, going out, right ] B U N Y A N [to G E O R G E and J I M M Y ] 'Ere, you two You'll'ave to sleep in the

office tonight T h e r e isn't room in there I'll go a n d get some blankets [Exit ] G E O R G E See 'ere, J i m m y This is o u r chance Ter-mght we'll 'op it Yer gyme 5 J I M M Y Bet yer life

G E O R G E We'll 'ave ter git a disguise, like, when we're aht I reckon we can pinch some d u d s at the stytion [As BUNYAN returns with blankets ] Luvverly night, ain't it ? I don't think BUNYAN Now then, sonny You cut along Know the way, don't you 5 G E O R G E 'Appy d r e a m s An' I 'opes they're dry [Exeunt, left ] BUNYAN T h r e e into four thousand, eight 'undred— V O I C E [off, right] Uncle, ain't yer comin' ter kiss us good-night 5 A N O T H E R V O I C E H I , Uncle, want a spot o' brown 5 BUNYAN Lights out in five minutes A n d then we'll 'ave complete silence [Exit ] [Various noises off Then the boys begin to sing Enter G E O R G E and JIMMY, left, stealthily They cross the stage and exit by the door into the yard ] T H E B O Y S [singing off]

Do yer want ter see m e agyne 5 T h e n come ter the stytion before the tryne In the gen'ral waitin' 'all We'll see each other fer the last time of all CURTAIN

T H E KNLMIES OF A B I S H O P

47

Act I S c e n e 3 [The lounge of the Nineveh Hotel, Stunhead. The atmosphere is Mediterranean. At back of the stage is a gilded staircase. A large window reveah the heads of palms and the brilliant blue water of a lake. C O L O N E L T E A R E R and M A X I MILIAN and C E S L A U S L U D E R are sitting smoking. T E A R E R wears an eyeglass

and white spats. M A X I M I L I A N IS dressed like a Bank Manager and CESLAUS as a parson.] T E A R E R . O h , it's such a delightful place, don't you know. I found it so extraordinarily amusin'. My gweat fwend, Lady Starkey— [Glancing out through a doorway, left.] Excuse me a moment, won't you? M A X . Certainly. [Exit T E A R E R . ] He's seen that lift-boy again. CESLAUS. H o w sordid! Max, I'm afraid this place is going to be just like all the others. No poise. M A X . We shall have to make the best of it now we're here. We can't afford to move again till we've d o n e some business. CESLAUS [sighing]. N o , I suppose not. Certainly, this is the worst year we've h a d since 1911. M A X . I got a cable from Rio this morning. T h e last consignment was beginning to go bad when it arrived. That's the second in six months. We shall have to dismiss o u r Cardiff agent. CESLAUS. I expect he was responsible for that wooden leg being overlooked in t h e Buenos Aires cargo. I can't imagine how anyone could be so careless. M A X . It makes any customer lose confidence in the firm. That's why it's essential we should select the next lot personally. CESLAUS. Are you sure you've r e m e m b e r e d everything? T h e chloroform? M A X . Yes. C E S L A U S . A n d t h e sacks? M A X . Yes. CESLAUS. A n d the hypodermic syringe? M A X . Yes. It's sewed inside my cuff. Here. CESLAUS [fingering his collar]. I wish to God I hadn't dressed u p like this. If I'd known your friend t h e Bishop was staying here, I shouldn't have been such a fool. I know I shall get caught out— M A X . Well, you ought to have all that stuff by heart by this time. You've d o n e it often enough. CESLAUS. I must sweat u p this new prayer-book. I bought a copy on t h e bookstall at Euston. M A X . By the way, I forgot to tell you. There's one possible I saw yesterday. Mrs Stagg—the wife of the u n d e r - m a n a g e r at Windyacre Mine.

48

T H E ENEMIES OF A B I S H O P

We might d o worse. [The P O R T E R crosses the stage.] Vegery gegoegod begust. CESLAUS. Tegight cegunt? M A X . I should think so. H e r mouth's small enough, anyhow. CESLAUS. Well, let's go out for a drive now and see what we can see. You've got the field-glasses, I hope? M A X . Yes, they're in the car. CESLAUS. Here's that awful woman. [On their way out, they meet Miss E T H E L W R I G H T and M R S L A W . E T H E L wears a blouse and tie. K A T H E R I N E LAW IS feminine and water-coloured.] M A X . Good morning, Mrs Law. Good morning, Miss Wright. E T H E L . Good morning, Mr Luder. Are you going fishing? M A X . Yes. [They go out.] K A T H E R I N E . My dear, how lucky we are to have this wonderful hot weather, especially while there've been such fearful storms in the mountains. It's doing the Bishop such a lot of good. He's beginning to look quite brown already. E T H E L . I can't help it. I take sun-baths every day after lunch, but it makes absolutely no impression. Of course, I know it's some impurity of heart, but I can't find it out. I went through all Mother's letters to Father d u r i n g h e r pregnancy, looking for expressions of a deathwish. But she must have been too repressed to put them down. By the by, you ought to stop your husband smoking. You know what that means? K A T H E R I N E . I think so—

E T H E L . Now, Kath, you're not telling the truth. You know you've forgotten. What does it? Be frank. K A T H E R I N E . Well, isn't it—? E T H E L . YOU have forgotten! But it's no good telling you now, as I see you have a resistance about it. Shall we go out on the lake? K A T H E R I N E . I should love to. [As they are walking across the lounge, she trips slightly.] E T H E L [taking off her hat and coat]. That's very interesting. All right, my dear. I don't mind in the least. K A T H E R I N E . What is it, Ethel? Aren't you coming? E T H E L . You don't want to. K A T H E R I N E . But I do. I was so looking forward to it.

T H E E N E M I E S OF A B I S H O P

49

E T H E L I'm not in the least offended You tripped over that mat You wouldn't have d o n e that if your unconscious mind had wanted to go out It would be very unsafe to go now K A T H E R I N E But Ethel— [Enter B I S H O P L A W ]

E T H E L Here's your husband You r u n along with him for a bit You would quarrel with m e if we stayed together this m o r n i n g Good m o r n i n g , Bishop Kathenne's been looking for you L A W Good morning, Miss Wright Still talking over old schooldays' 1 I thought, my dear, we might go on the lake this m o r n i n g I hear the fishing is excellent Are you coming, Miss Wright 5 E T H E L N O I've got my notes to write u p A u revoir I h o p e you'll have a nice time [Exeunt B I S H O P and K A T H E R I N E ] ETHEL

Porter [The P O R T E R enters ]

What day did t h e Bishop a r r i v e ' PORT ER T u e s d a y , Miss ETHEL

Has he a car 5

P O R T E R Yes, Miss E T H E L W h a t m a k e is it?

PORT ER Really, Miss—I— [ E T H E L lifts her tie, showing a police badge ] I beg your p a r d o n , Miss I didn't know you was one of them What is it 5 E T H E L I can't tell you, but it's very serious What's the make of the c a r ' P O R T E R A Daimler, I think

E T H E L T h a n k you T h a t will be all for the present Keep an eye o n his letters, please If any come marked with a foreign stamp, let m e know I want to communicate now with Scotland Yard P u t it t h r o u g h yourself And, remember, not a word to anyone, or— P O R T E R YOU can trust m e , Miss CURTAIN

50

T H E E N E M I E S OF A B I S H O P

Act II Scene 1 [ROBERT'S hut at Wmdyacre Mine, Stunhead A Canadian movie log shack with skins, a carbine and snow shoes on the walL· A wireless loud speaker on the table and a telephone In one corner is a huge packing-case labelled Flowers. With great care.] R O B E R T [at the telephone]. Is that you, Mr Stagg ? Yes, Bicknell speaking. I've o r d e r e d two magnetic separators to be sent from Town o n trial to see if they can deal with the pyrites in the blende T h e dressing plant is a disgrace. N o p r o p e r sizing I'm glad you think so No, but look at t h e great chunks of rock a n d boltheads we get fed to the rollers. O n e might just as well— [A loud banging from inside the packing-case.] Be quiet, can't you? N o [laughing], I beg your p a r d o n , Mr Stagg, I wasn't speaking to you. It's a stray dog I've got in here Will keep barking. What was I saying' O u r water-wheel must have been m a d e in the year one—and we've e n o u g h power to electrify the State Railways. I don't like to think about o u r loss in tailings. No. As soon as we get the plant into shape I'm going to start working over the d u m p s at R o d d e r u p . Yes Good-bye See you in an h o u r V O I C E FROM T H E C A S E [beginning to sing]. " .

be it ev-er so ' u m b l e — "

R O B E R T . O h , all right. I suppose I can't keep you in there for ever More's the pity. [He picks up a hammer and prises open the lid of the case T H E SPECTRE steps out, popping his opera hat.] S P E C T R E . T h a n k s . I h a d an idea, somehow, that you'd let m e o u t to-day R O B E R T . I n d e e d ? A n d why, may I ask ?

S P E C T R E I fancy that having m e in there was beginning to get o n your nerves Admit that, once o r twice, when I'd kept quite quiet for two or three h o u r s on e n d , you suddenly h a d a m o m e n t of panic that the box was really empty. R O B E R T . Panic? I like that' A m o m e n t of hope, you mean SPECTRE. Panic a n d h o p e , then R O B E R T After your behaviour on the journey, you deserve to have stayed in that case for the rest of my life. Are you aware that at Euston you broke a porter's wrist? S P E C T R E . Yes, a n d deliberately You were feeling annoyed with him because h e was surly a n d didn't say "thank you" for your tip R O B E R T . I'm still in correspondence with the Company about compensation. T h e y want £100. T h a t doesn't include those crates of eggs you smashed in the van.

T H E E N E M I E S OF A B I S H O P

51

SPECTRE. Well, well. Don't let's keep harping on it. How are you getting along here? R O B E R T . Not too badly. By Jove, it's hard work—but I like it. I'm reorganising the whole outfit from top to bottom. Stagg, my under-manager, isn't a bad sort, but he's conservative, too cautious. I have to keep pushing him forward the whole time. S P E C T R E . A n d Mrs Stagg? Seen h e r lately? R O B E R T . Stagg's wife? No. Why? What the hell are you driving at? S P E C T R E . T h a t time she brought you some flowers for your desk. R O B E R T . She's got a kid of six months. She nurses it nearly all day. S P E C T R E . T h a t time you lent h e r your great-coat because it came on to snow. R O B E R T . She goes to chapel regularly every Sunday. S P E C T R E . T h a t time you stood together at the window a n d you asked h e r the names of the different fells. R O B E R T . D O you think I'm an utter bounder? What about Stagg? He's a dry stick, it's true, a n d I'm sorry for her, but—Good God— S P E C T R E . YOU stood quite close, a n d twice your hand brushed against hers. R O B E R T . I never gave a sign. Neither did she. SPECTRE.

Sentries against inner and outer At stated intervals is feature. And how shall enemy on these Make s u d d e n raid or lasting peace? For bribery were vain to try U p o n the incorruptible eye T o o amply paid with tears; the chin Has hairs to hide its weakness in, A n d p r o u d bridge a n d indignant nostril Nothing to do but look noble. Yet in between these lies the mouth; Watch that; that you may parley with; T h e r e strategy comes easiest T h o u g h it seem stern, was seen compressed, Over a lathe, refusing answer: It will release the ill-fed prisoner, It will d o m u r d e r or betray For either party equally; Yielding at last to a close kiss It will admit tongue's soft advance, So longed for, given in abandon, Given long since h a d it but known.

52

T H E ENEMIES OF A B I S H O P

R O B E R T . Don't be beastly. S P E C T R E . Suppose, for instance, you were to see h e r now R O B E R T . She's at home, doing the washing. S P E C T R E . Well, let's imagine that she's yielded to the impulse, p u t on her shawl, stepped out at the back door, taken the path which leads u p to t h e mine. R O B E R T . Don't be a fool. S P E C T R E . It isn't far. It wouldn't take her long. R O B E R T . By Jove—if I thought she— S P E C T R E . Let's suppose that she's standing outside the door now, hesitating whether to knock— R O B E R T . But she isn't.

S P E C T R E . She raises h e r h a n d , takes a step forward—then changes h e r mind, turns away. R O B E R T . Stop this comic stuff. It's getting on my nerves. S P E C T R E . She walks a few paces. Stops. Takes another step. Stops. T u r n s r o u n d suddenly, r u n s u p to the door, and— [He raps sharply on the table with a yuler.] R O B E R T [starting violently]. Curse you, don't do that! S P E C T R E . Come in, Mrs Stagg. [He goes to the door, opens it, goes out for a moment and returns pushing before him a beautiful milliner's wax figure of a woman, on a little pedestal on wheeh. The dummy is dressed in a simple dove-grey frock with a white collar and cuffs. There is a girdle of barbed wire, round the dummy's hips.] R O B E R T . Julia!

S P E C T R E [standing just behind the dummy and speaking falsetto]. I—I don't know whatever m a d e m e come here, Mr Bicknell. I didn't know you'd be busy— R O B E R T . I'm not busy. Do stay a moment. Please. S P E C T R E [fahetto]. I don't know whether I ought to— R O B E R T . O u g h t ? What does ought matter? If you care to stay— [Taking the dummy's hand.] Forgive me—I don't know what I'm saying. All the m o r n i n g , all yesterday, I've been hoping that perhaps I might see you. Do you mind my telling you this—? S P E C T R E [fahetto]. O h , Mr Bicknell— R O B E R T . Robert.

S P E C T R E [fahetto]. O h , Robert— R O B E R T . What, Julia? S P E C T R E [fahetto]. O h , I don't know—

T H E E N E M I E S OF A B I S H O P

53

R O B E R T . Julia, I'm a beast to say this, but if ever you should need anything, any help, anyone to—oh, I don't know how to tell you. [Kneeling down and kissing the dummy's hand.] You know I'd d o anything o n earth to save you an instant's pain— S P E C T R E [fabetto]. It's very kind of you, Mr Bicknell— R O B E R T . Robert.

S P E C T R E [fabetto]. Robert, but— R O B E R T . B u t what?

S P E C T R E [fabetto]. O h , I don't know— R O B E R T . My dear. [He kisses the dummy's foot.] Say you care for m e a little— S P E C T R E [fabetto]. O h , I don't know. I'm not sure—I think I'd better be going h o m e — R O B E R T . I shall see you again? Soon? S P E C T R E [fabetto]. Perhaps. O h , I'm not sure. I don't know— R O B E R T [kissing the dummy's wheels]. My darling. [He rises to his feet T H E SPECTRE wheeb out the dummy and returns. The telephone bell rings. R O B E R T collects himself and goes to answer it.] R O B E R T [at the telephone]. Hullo. Yes, Bicknell speaking. Is that you, Stagg? Yes. A new vein? What! How big? Good God! Four feet from cheek to cheek—but, man, it'll be the making of the mine—yes, I'll come at once— [To T H E S P E C T R E . ] A new vein! D o you realise? O u r f o r t u n e ' s p r o b a b l y m a d e ! D o you h e a r ! S e n d d o w n to t h e h o t e l for s o m e c h a m p a g n e . [Taking T H E SPECTRE'S hands.] H o w can I e v e r t h a n k you? T h i s is all y o u r d o i n g . My d e a r old b o y ! [He begins waltzing T H E SPECTRE round and round.] But for all your encouragement—I'll never forget it—Never— CURTAIN

Act I I Scene 2 [The Nineveh Hotel. C O L O N E L T E A R E R sitting reading

Enter G E O R G E and

J I M M Y with suitcases. G E O R G E wears plus fours which are a little too big for him. J I M M Y IS dressed as a woman, in smart tweeds, with a beret. T E A R E R watches them.] J I M M Y . Coo, Christ, George, let's 'op it This plyce is fer toffs. Let's go back ter the Bunch o' Grypes. G E O R G E . S h u t yer fyce. Leave it all ter me. [To T E A R E R . ] Beg p a r d o n ,

54

T H E ENEMIE S O F A BISHO P

mister . D o yer 'appe n t e r kno w if the y got a coupl e o ' room s 'and y wot the y ca n let u s 'ave? T E A R E R . You'd bette r ask a t th e office. Wait a minute , I'l l wing for th e porter . [He presses the bell.] Extwordinar y ho w the y inwariabl y kee p on e waitin' . T h e y ' r e mos t fwightfully careles s here , don' t you know . G E O R G E . Jes t wot I sez t o m e sister as we com e in . T E A R E R . Shal l you b e stayin ' h e r e long ? T h e countw y w o u n d h e r e is weally quit e charmin' . G E O R G E . Well, we'ad t h o u g h t o ' goin ' o n t e r Blackpool , reely. I ain' t neve r bin . T E A R E R . O h , you' d far bette r stay here . I' m sur e we ca n find somethin ' m u c h m o r e amusin ' for you , what ? [He pokes G E O R G E in the ribs.] Somethin ' extwordinaril y amusin' . [Enter the P O R T E R . ] Porter , you've bee n neglectin ' you r duty , don' t you know . Thi s gentlema n an d hi s sister wan t wooms . You'll see tha t they'r e given nic e ones , won' t you ? He' s a gweat fwend o f mine . P O R T E R . Yessir. Certainly , sir. [To G E O R G E . ] Will y o u c o m e thi s way, p l e a s e , sir? T E A R E R . I shall see you later , I hope ? G E O R G E [winking]. You bet . [ G E O R G E , J I M M Y and the P O R T E R go out, left.

T E A R E R goes up the staircase. Re-enter

GEORG E

and J I M M Y with the P O R T E R . ]

P O R T E R . Your rooms'l l b e read y in a few moments , sir. Would you car e to wait 'er e o r in th e smokin g room ? G E O R G E . T h a t ' s or l right . We'll wyte 'ere . [Gives P O R T E R a couple of £1 notes.] P O R T E R . T h a n k you very much , sir. [He retires to the doorway.] G E O R G E . Col'ne l Tearer . T h o u g h t I kne w 'is fyce. Έ use d t o be o n e o ' th e c r a h d a t t h e Cos y Corner , didn' t 'e? P r o p e r ole t e r r o r 'e is? Recko n we're in luck , J i m . J I M M Y . Curs e thes e 'er e knickers . 'Op e t e r Chris t th e bloke s wot thes e d u d s belon g t o ain' t stoppin ' 'ere . We'd get quo d nex t packet . 'O w do I look , George ? G E O R G E . No t so dusty . Yer wan t som e doins , t h o u g h . Wait till I pinc h a coupl e o ' saucers . [Enter A U G U S T U S and R O B E R T , followed by T H E

SPECTRE , who strolls about the stage with his hands in his pockets.]

T H E ENEMIE S OF A BISHO P

55

J I M M Y . Christ , if it isn' t th e ole bleede r fro m Templin . Lo r l u m m y — we're for it thi s time . ΈΊ 1 kno w me , sur e as Fyte . G E O R G E . Nah , 'e won't . No t 'im . No t if yer don' t stan d starin ' ther e like a r u p t u r e d duck . 'Ave a fag. A U G U S T U S . It' s uphil l work. I d o all I ca n for th e boys, bu t they'r e so unresponsive . Deceitful . What ca n you expect , with th e sort of home s mos t of t h e m com e from ? I've ha d to instal l microphone s in th e dormitories . Onl y to-day , I get a wire to say tha t two of t h e m hav e bolted . No w that'l l m e a n tha t I shall hav e to go bac k tomorrow . My staff ar e m u c h to o lenient . After anythin g of thi s kin d th e onl y possible cours e is to pu t th e whol e lot o n brea d a n d wate r for a m o n t h . O r t h e moral e goes to pieces . R O B E R T . I' m sorr y you can' t stay, becaus e I' d hav e liked to sho w you thi s ne w vein. I feel I wan t everyon e to see i t — A U G U S T U S [preoccupied, having noticed J I M M Y ] . Yes, yes. I ' m sorry , t o o . Porter . P O R T E R . Yes,

sir.

A U G U S T U S . Who ar e tha t lad y a n d gentlema n over there ? I' m no t s u r e — I seem t o kno w o n e of them . P O R T E R . A M r a n d Miss Becker , sir. A U G U S T U S . Becker ? Le t m e see. Yes, of course . Why, by Jove , yes— [He crossesthe stage and says to G E O R G E , who is smoking, with his back turned to the other group.] M r Becker , I believe? You won' t r e m e m b e r me . Bu t you r fathe r was a grea t frien d of mine . Befor e you were b o r n . Hi s s u d d e n d e a t h was a grea t shoc k t o me . G E O R G E [suspicious of a trap]. H o yus. I t mus t 'ave bin . A U G U S T U S . A n d thi s is you r sister? G E O R G E . Yes, thi s is 'er .

A U G U S T U S . A n d wha t ar e you doin g now ? G E O R G E . Jes t travellin ' abaht . [ T H E SPECTRE , who has been hanging round, suddenly hops on to a table behind A U G U S T U S and assumes the posture of the Eros statue. R O B E R T sees him.] R O B E R T [in a whisper]. Ge t dow n at once ! [ T H E S P E C T R E gets down and goes and sits on the stairs.] A U G U S T U S [looking at J I M M Y ] . I see . . . Your m o t h e r ha d suc h a lovely C h i p p e n d a l e , I remember . I suppos e you still have tha t at home , now ?

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T H E ENEMIES OF A B I S H O P

G E O R G E . Yes. We keeps it fer the spare-room bed. A U G U S T U S . A n d the R e m b r a n d t ? G E O R G E . T h e how much?

A U G U S T U S . Your beautiful Rembrandt. G E O R G E . O h , that. Yes, she wasn't 'alf a bad ole bus in 'er dy. But we r a n 'er into a wall a n d broke 'er u p . A U G U S T U S [who has not been listening, looking at J I M M Y ] . I wonder—would you and—your sister care to have lunch with me? G E O R G E . Would we? I should sy so. I don't 'arf feel empty. A U G U S T U S . Splendid. T h e n we'll go in now. [AUGUSTUS

leads the way with

GEORGE

and

J I M M Y . R O B E R T and T H E S P E C T R E follow.]

A U G U S T U S [turning to R O B E R T ] . By t h e way, Bob, I've changed my mind. I can't resist seeing this famous new vein of yours. I think I will stay on a day or two, after all. We haven't seen much of each other, yet. R O B E R T . Splendid. [ T H E S P E C T R E has come behind A U G U S T U S and is

pinning a large red plush heart to his coat tails. R O B ERT sees it.] R O B E R T [snatching away the heart and throwing it into a corner]. Any more of this a n d you go h o m e at once, see? [Exeunt.] CURTAIN

Act II Scene 3 [ R O B E R T ' S hut. R O B E R T IS pacing up and down. T H E S P E C T R E lolh in a

chair.] R O B E R T . SO you were right after all. I took h e r r o u n d the old workings. While we were looking down into the Great West Stope there was a fall of rock. Somehow, we found ourselves in each other's arms. Poor girl, h e r life must have been terrible. But now all that's going to e n d . J u s t think, in an h o u r we shall be together, in the sleeping carriage, alone— S P E C T R E . A n d then—?

T H E E N E M I E S OF A B I S H O P

57

R O B E R T . O h , I don't know. London. Paris. Naples. I want to take h e r away into the Sun. S P E C T R E . T h e mine?

R O B E R T . Don't talk about it. What's all that beside Love? S P E C T R E . H O W will you live?

R O B E R T . I'll work for her, steal for her—beg—anything. S P E C T R E . I can imagine you with a barrel organ a n d a monkey. R O B E R T . This is the greatest m o m e n t of my life. SPECTRE.

U p o n this line between adventure Prolong o u r meeting out of good-nature Obvious in each agreeable feature. Calling of each other by name, Smiling, taking a willing a r m , Has the companionship ol a game. But should the step d o more than this O u t of bravado o r drunkenness Forward o r back are menaces. O n neither side let foot slip over Invading Always, exploring Never, For this is hate, a n d this is fear. O n narrowness stand, for sunlight is Brightest only o n surfaces, No anger, n o traitor, but peace.

R O B E R T . It's time we were going. She can't get down to the bridge before nine a n d the express leaves Carr Bridge junction at nine thirty. You'll have to drive like hell. S P E C T R E . I will. R O B E R T [putting his hands on T H E SPECTRE'S shoulders]. Old friend, you

won't fail m e now? S P E C T R E . I shall never fail you. [He picks up a motoring coat and changes his opera hat for a chauffeur's cap.] R O B E R T . I'll go a n d get the car out. Will you bring my suitcase? [Exit.] [The telephone bell rings.] S P E C T R E [at the telephone]. Hullo. Yes. Is that Mr Stagg? Yes, Bicknell speaking. Your boy's ill? I'm sorry to hear that. Very sorry. No, I haven't seen Mrs Stagg. Yes, of course, I'll tell h e r if I d o . Perhaps she's down at the hotel. I'd try there if I were you. Good-bye.

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T H E ENEMIES OF A B I S H O P

R O B E R T [looking in]. Did I hear the telephone? SPECTRE. NO.

[Exeunt. The sound of a car starting, speed, dying away.]

gathering

CURTAIN

INTERVAL For discussion & refreshments.

Act I I I Scene 1 [ROBERT'S hut. R O B E R T busy with papers. T H E SPECTRE lounging. the W I R E L E S S , an American recitative with jazz'hccompamment.] W I R E L E S S . It's n o use raising a shout. No, Honey, you can cut that right out. I don't want any more hugs, Make me some fresh tea, fetch me some rugs— H e r e am I, here are you, But what does it mean? What are we going to do? A long time ago I told my mother I was leaving h o m e to find another. I never answered her letter But I never found a better— H e r e am I, etc It wasn't always like this— Perhaps it wasn't, but it is. Put the car away; when life fails What's the good of going to Wales? H e r e am I, etc. In my spine there was a base A n d I know the general's face; But they've severed all the wires A n d I can't tell what the general desires— H e r e am I, etc. In my veins there is a wish A n d a memory of fish,

Through

1H I

E N E M I E S Ol· A B I S H O P

59

Whe n I h e cryin g o n th e floor, It says "You've ofte n d o n e thi s befor e " — H e r e a m I, etc A bir d use d to visit thi s shor e It isn' t goin g to com e an y m o r e I've com e a very lon g way to prov e N o land , n o wate r a n d n o love— H e r e a m I , etc [The telephone bell rings R O B E R T switches off the W I R E L E S S and answers it ]

R O B E R T [at the telephone] Hullo , M r Stag g Yes, it's Bicknel l You've got thos e separator s installed ' Goo d Satisfactory ? I' m glad You mus t ba g sample s of th e taking s for compariso n with th e old buddie s Ca n you com e u p o n T h u r s d a y evening ? You can't ? Mr s Stagg's goin g to thi s dance , is she ? It'l l be a grea t do , I hea r Yes, sit a n d min d th e baby, eh ? I'll com e dow n thi s afternoo n Good-by e [To T H E S P E C T R E ] Stag g always seem s so genia l 1 don' t thin k Julia ca n hav e said anythin g You know , I can' t mak e it ou t Th e m o r n i n g afte r th e acciden t I got a not e fro m h e r saying tha t she leahse d she' d bee n verv foolish an d wrong , tha t she coul d neve r forgive m e for lying abou t th e chil d a n d she neve r wante d to see m e again I trie d to see he r onc e o r twice, bu t she was always ou t o r busy Ho w sh e shoul d imagin e I kne w th e kid was ill I d o n t kno w S P E C T R E Extraordinary , isn't it? R O B E R T Well, if she' s fool e n o u g h to like tha t sort of life, she ca n stew in it I've got bette r thing s t o thin k of T h e mine' s doin g jolly well T h e or e fro m t h e ne w vein is so clea n tha t it hardl y need s an y dressing, excep t for takin g th e pyrite s ou t T h e Mill ca n trea t te n ton s of c r u d e or e a n h o u r no w T h e Director s wrot e m e a lette r th e o t h e r da y congratulatin g m e an d saying tha t th e Compan y wouldn' t forget m y services T h e y mentione d tha t thei r share s ha d alread y risen six point s SPECTR E

Again in conversation s Speakin g of fear a n d throwin g off reserve T h e voice is n e a r e r Bu t n o cleare r T h a n first love T h a n peace-tim e occupation s π

60

T H E E N E M I E S OF A B I S H O P

For every news Means pairing off in twos and twos A n o t h e r I, another You, Each knowing what to d o But of n o use Never stronger But younger and younger Saying good-bye, but coming back, for fear Is over there, And the centre of anger Is out of d a n g e r R O B E R T You know, I see now that it was really quite providential that we should have r u n into that hay-cart It was a most extraordinary accident We were going dead slow when it h a p p e n e d , weren't we 5 And you're an expert driver Of course, I could have w r u n g your neck at the time But now it all seems to have h a p p e n e d for the best T h e mine's a success, a n d I'm body and soul m the work I believe I'm fonder of that vein than I ever was of Julia Do you know, I sometimes go down after the m e n have stopped work a n d stand staring at it for ages? I like to be near it I love it [The telephone rings ] [At the telephone ] Yes, Bicknell speaking Oh, it's you, Gus No, I'm afraid I shan't be able to come to the dance Sorry, but I'm u p to the roof in work I'll come and see you when I can So long [To T H E S P E C T R E ] Now there's a case That's the sort of thing a woman can d o to you My brother's got himself hopelessly entangled with this Becker girl, who's nothing but a common little whore She's sucking him dry A n d h e gets absolutely nothing in r e t u r n SPECTRE

Before this loved one Was that o n e a n d that one A family And history And ghost's adversity Whose pleasing name Was neighbourly shame Before this last o n e Was much to be d o n e Frontiers to cross As clothes grew worse

T H E E N E M I E S OF A B I S H O P

61

And coins to pass In a cheaper house Before this last one Before this loved one. Face that the Sun Is supple o n May stir but here Is n o New Year T h e gratitude for gifts is less T h a n the old loss Touching is shaking hands O n mortgaged lands And smiling of This gracious greeting "Good Day. Good luck" Is n o real meeting But instinctive look A backward love. R O B E R T . Yes, I've been t h r o u g h all that kind of madness, God knows. I can sympathise. B u t thank God I've got beyond it now. I've p u t all those feelings into my work. I love that mine. I'd give my life for it. I want to have a h a n d in everything connected with it. T o help t h e men. Yes, I want to be a father to them. It sounds absurd, I know. S P E C T R E . A n d why not?

R O B E R T . Stagg a n d all the rest of them a r e scared by this success. T h e y think it can't last. I'll show them it can. Take that question of the ropeway to the R o d d e r u p d u m p s . It's only ten miles. Stagg's against it. S P E C T R E . Never mind, you're manager. R O B E R T . I know I a m .

S P E C T R E . Well, o r d e r it to be made. R O B E R T . YOU think I should? SPECTRE. Undoubtedly. R O B E R T . By God, I will.

S P E C T R E . T h e other day you noticed that some of the miners have to come nine o r ten miles to work. R O B E R T . I know, poor devils. S P E C T R E . Well, why not build a garden city for them, here? R O B E R T . But, God, it would cost thousands. S P E C T R E . T h e mine's going to bring you thousands. R O B E R T . It'd be a terrific j o b .

62

T H E ENEMIES OF A B I S H O P

S P E C T R E . Of course it would. It'd be worthy of you. R O B E R T . Mind you, if I did it, it wouldn't be a shoddy affair, either. I'd employ t h e best architects. A n d we'd have electric light laid on. SPECTRE. A bath in each cottage. R O B E R T . Playing-fields.

SPECTRE. A free cinema. R O B E R T . Swimming baths. S P E C T R E . A church.

R O B E R T . A lending library. S P E C T R E . A n Art Gallery and Museum. R O B E R T . O n e day, p e r h a p s — S P E C T R E . Why not now?

R O B E R T . We haven't a tenth of the capital we'd need. S P E C T R E . T h a t will come. Make a start. R O B E R T . It's madness. S P E C T R E . W h o cares?

R O B E R T . O n e can't take t h e responsibility. S P E C T R E . T h i n k of Caesar, Napoleon, Henry Ford. R O B E R T . Of course, o n e might lead u p to the subject with the Directors. But they'd sack m e at once. SPECTRE. T h e n buy t h e mine. R O B E R T . Buy the mine!

S P E C T R E . Yes, buy t h e mine. I'll a r r a n g e everything. I'll get a call t h r o u g h to the L o n d o n Office now. R O B E R T . Stop! You must be crazy! [He jumps up.] S P E C T R E [putting on a crown]. Sit down. [ R O B E R T collapses weakly into a chair.] This is my hour. I'm King. [He picks up the telephone.] CURTAIN

Act I I I Scene 2 [The Nineveh Hotel. Enter C O L O N E L T E A R E R and G E O R G E . ]

G E O R G E . Geoff, when yer goin' ter git m e that swell kyse for fags yer was tellin' m e abaht? All gold, an' that? T E A R E R . I've written for it to town, my dear. They're so stoopid. It's sure to be h e r e tomowow . . . But cigawette cases are for good little boys, don't you know. W h e n a r e you goin' to do what I want?

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63

G E O R G E . Wot's that? T E A R E R . My dear, don't pwetend you don't know. G E O R G E . Honest, I don't. T E A R E R . Somethin' fwightfully amusin'. G E O R G E . Well, coff it aht. T E A R E R . I like to be thwashed. Perfectly delicious. G E O R G E . Well, you ought to be ashymed o' yerself. Stryte, yer ought. Ain't yer goin' ter tyke Olive an me aht in the car this evenin'? T E A R E R . Olive as well? G E O R G E . If she can't come, I don't. See? T E A R E R . All wight, my dear. Don't be angwy. It's only that your sister doesn't dwive very well. She makes me a little nervous, don't you know. G E O R G E . I won't let h e r drive, see? I'll drive orl the wy meself. [Enter J I M M Y . ] Wot, oh, Olive. Comin' drivin' with m e this evenin'? I'm tyking Geoff aht in me Rolls. J I M M Y . Reckon I will. I was 'avin dinner with Gus. But it ain't arf dry with 'im. T h o u g h 'e does yer well. I will sy that for 'im. G E O R G E . See yer in ten minutes, then. We got some pertiklar himportant bisness ter atten' ter. Aint we, Geoff? [Winks at T E A R E R . ] [They go up the staircase arm in arm. Enter A U G U S T U S . ] A U G U S T U S . Ah, there you are, Olive. My darling, you look wonderful this evening. J I M M Y . Give us a fag, Gus.

A U G U S T U S . Yes, yes. Of course. [Producing cigarettes.} Tell m e how you like these? I o r d e r e d them specially for you from Angora. Let m e . [He tries to light JIMMY'S cigarette.} J I M M Y . Yer aint 'alf clumsy, Gus. Look at yer. Yer 'ands are shykin'. Wot's up? A U G U S T U S . O h , Olive, my darling—you don't, you can't realise what you mean to me. I worship you. You've changed my whole life. O h , I know I'm just an old fool. I'm not worth your wasting your time with. A n d you've been very patient with me. You've been wonderful, these weeks we've spent here together. You're different from everybody else in t h e world. I never d r e a m e d there could be a girl like you. I'm t h e luckiest m a n on earth. [He bursts into tears and kneels down in front

O/JIMMY.]

J I M M Y . 'Ere, cheese it, Gus. Yer'd best go an' lie dahn. Wot if anyone was ter come in? T h e y ' d think yer was balmy. A U G U S T U S . You've m a d e m e see what a fool I've been. How blind. How conceited. How selfish. My whole life was wasted until I met you.

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T H E ENEMIE S O F A BISHO P

J I M M Y . Gi t yerself u p , Gus , Chris ' syke. A U G U S T U S [rising]. I'l l d o anythin g you ask me , m y dearest . You see? I'l l be good . I'l l b e quit e cal m . . . Oh , Olive, com e away with m e now , to-night . J I M M Y . I f I've tol d yer once , I've tol d yer a n ' u n d r e d times , Gus . 1 can't . A U G U S T U S . Go d knows , I wouldn' t ask you t o marr y m e — o r — a n y t h i n g else tha t you didn' t wish, bu t let m e adop t you . Anything . As lon g as I ca n b e n e a r you , spea k t o you sometimes . A n d if you fall in love, I'll pa y for everything . I'l l s u p p o r t you r husband . Le t m e be you r servant , I can' t live withou t you . J I M M Y . I t ain t an y use, Gus . I' m sorry. I t can' t be did . Now , jest yer go an ' lie d a h n . A U G U S T U S . Very well, m y darling , if you wish it. You'll din e with m e thi s evening ? J I M M Y . T h a t ' s jest wot I was goin ' te r tell yer, Gus . I can't . I 'ave t e r go ah t with m e brother . Έ want s m e ter . A U G U S T U S . Would h e car e t o din e too , d o you think ? Tel l him , we'd hav e tha t c h a m p a g n e h e likes. J I M M Y . Very sorry, Gus . It' s imposs . A U G U S T U S . Very well, m y dear , I u n d e r s t a n d . J I M M Y . Yer no t ma d with me , Gus ? A U G U S T U S . H O W coul d I be? Whateve r you d o is right . J I M M Y . Yer no t a ba d sort , yer know , Gus . AUGUSTUS . Oh , my darling —

J I M M Y . Or l right . I f yer like. [ A U G U S T U S kisses him.] Loo k aht , 'ere' s some one . [ G E O R G E and T E A R E R appear at the top of the stair-

case. T E A R E R IS in a condition of extreme exhaustion, G E O R G E supports him.]

G E O R G E . 'Er e buc k u p , Geoff . 'Ave a brandy . I didn' t mea n te r 'ur t yer, yer know . Yer'll be O.K . in 'alf a tick. Yer ready , Olive? 'ere , gimm e an 'an d with 'im . ΈΊ 1 be all righ t in th e ope n air . T E A R E R [faintly]. Perfectly—delicious — J I M M Y . S O long , Gus . See yer t e r m o r r e r mornin' . [ A U G U S T U S tries to smile, bursts into tears and goes out.] G E O R G E [as they help T E A R E R out]. Yer ain t drivin ' thi s evenin' , see? J I M M Y . Gawd' s strewth , I bleedin ' well am . G E O R G E . You aint .

T H E ENEMIES OF A BISHOP

t>5

J I M M Y We'll bleedin' well see abaht that [Exeunt Enter E T H E L W R I G H T ] ETHEL

Porter [Enter P O R T E R ]

P O R T E R Yes, m i s s ' E T H E L Any news?

P O R T E R Yes, miss T h e r e was a letter from South America for t h e Bishop this morning, miss E T H E L You're a sensible man, Porter [Tips him ] P O R T E R T h a n k you very much, miss I suppose you couldn't tell me anything m o r e ? E T H E L Not yet, but you will all know very soon [Enter K A T H E R I N E L A W The P O R T E R retires ]

K A T H E R I N E O h , Ethel I'm so worried I can't make o u t what's happ e n e d We seem to have offended the Hotel people somehow T h e y were so charming before, a n d now they've suddenly become quite different So r u d e and careless T h e Bishop's shaving-water was forgotten this morning, a n d h e h a d to ring for nearly ten minutes before anyone came A n d when I asked for some chicken for Googlums, he's o u r Peke, you know, the maid said that they couldn't spare it a n d that if I wanted some I should have to buy it myself I can't u n d e r s t a n d it T h e Bishop's always so popular wherever h e goes I believe that Mr L u d e r has something to d o with it Ethel, I don't like that m a n He's n o t straight E T H E L Now my dear, you must guard against subconscious jealousy of your husband's m e n friends I know it's hard—the hardest thing a woman has to face But you must try As for Mr Luder, I've h a d several long talks with him myself, a n d I can assure you he's a most delightful a n d interesting man, with an extraordinary knowledge of people He's given m e several ideas for my work [Enter B I S H O P L A W talking to M A X I M I L I A N L U D E R ]

LAW T h e vicar has just r u n g m e u p to say that he's in bed with a chill a n d did I know of anyone who could take duty for him I wondered if your brother would be so kind? M A X I'm sure he'd be delighted LAW That's excellent I'll introduce them after dinner He's an old Blue, a n d doing such splendid work My dear, we ought to go and dress

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T H E E N E M I E S OF A B I S H O P

K A T H E R I N E Very well, Travers [They go upstairs ] M A X Ah, Miss Wright, I've been looking forward for a long time to having a n o t h e r talk with you It's so seldom that one's lucky e n o u g h to meet a woman with brains and—may I say 5 —charm E T H E L I'm afraid you're flattering, Mr L u d e r But I agree that it's very sad how few women ever develop Men seem to think it bad form in women to have interests, so they never acquire any l a k e Katherine for instance—By-the-by, you were at school with the Bishop, weren't you' M A X Yes E T H E L W h a t was h e like 5

M A X Oh—er—all right I didn't know him very well E T H E L NOW, Mr Luder, you're not being frank It s n o good trying to conceal your thoughts from m e You know something M A X You're too clever for me, Miss Wright As a matter of fact, I d o But o n e hates saying anything against an old school-fellow Besides, I expect he's given all that u p long ago T h o u g h I have looked at his wife a n d wondered— E T H E L Tell m e —

M A X O n e hardly likes to speak of these things to a lady E T H E L I'm a woman of Science It's o u r duty to know everything, to u n d e r s t a n d everything M A X It's wonderful to find a woman whom o n e can talk freely to Well, it's— E T H E L Yes 5 G o a t s 5

M A X Worse than that G r a m o p h o n e discs E T H E L H O W dreadful Wait a m o m e n t Yes, I see it all now Poor, poor Katherine' M A X O f course, Miss Wright, I can trust you to be absolutely discreet 5 E T H E L Naturally, Mr L u d e r [Enter G E S L A U S L U D E R ]

M A X Hullo, Ceslaus, how were the fish rising after the rain 5 CESLAUS Nothing to be seen, I'm afraid E T H E L I think, if you'll excuse me, I'll go a n d dress [She qoes upstairs ] M A X I'm quite certain of it now T h a t woman's a tec We shall have to be careful B u t she's barking u p the wrong tree, at present

TH E

ENEMIE S OF A BISHO P

67

CESLAUS . Let' s clea r ou t of thi s place , Max . I' m afraid we shall find noth in g m o r e h e r e T h e hotel' s full of old cats . It' s a waste of time . MAX. I believe you'r e right . We'll mak e certai n of Mr s Stagg. An d wha t abou t th e Becke r girP CESLAUS . She' s dreadfull y c o m m o n MAX. I kno w A n d h e r figure's all wron g for th e Sout h America n market . Bu t she' s tolerable , an d probabl y he r technique' s quit e fair. CESLAUS . Yes, I suppos e we shall hav e to hav e her . I t seem s a come down , doesn' t it, fro m th e days whe n we sen t off regula r fortnightl y consignments , a n d nothin g belo w a gentleman' s d a u g h t e r ? Why, man y of t h e m coul d play th e pian o a n d spea k thre e language s M A X . Neve r m i n d Time s will change . Don' t let' s be d o w n h e a r t e d . Bythe-way , Ceslaus , I've got a littl e surpris e for you . T h e Bisho p want s you t o d o dut y for th e vicar h e r e tomorrow . I said you would . CESLAUS . Oh , Max , ho w coul d you ? I kno w I shall pu t m y foot in it. MAX. O h no , you won't . You'll be as righ t as rai n . . Loo k here , if you've got you r b u t t o n h o l e camer a you migh t get a few snap s of th e Becke r girl thi s evening . We'd bette r have t h e m pu t in th e ne w catalogue , an d t h e pnnters'l l be wantin g th e stuff nex t week CESLAUS . Very well, I will CURTAI N

A ct I I I S c e n e 3 [The Nineveh Hotel

A U G U S T U S IS telephoning.]

A U G U S T U S . Yes T h a t ' s T e m p h n Reformator y Yes, M r Bicknel l speak in g O h , it's you Bunya n I' m afraid I can't . I've bee n in be d ever sinc e I last telephone d T h e influenz a was followed by a slight attac k of pleurisy . T h e docto r says I mus t stay h e r e at least thre e m o r e ? weeks T h e boys ar e gettin g ou t of h a n d , ar e t h e y T h e n get som e girls in Can' t you h e a r me ? G E T SOM E GIRL S I N T h e y wan t love. ? What' s t h a t N o , no . LOVE . L for lighthouse , Ο for orange , V for vision. Yes. T h e girls' parent s ma y object , you think ? Well, you'l l find th e machin e gun s in th e attic . T h e y were pu t t h e r e afte r th e last rebellio n Le t m e hav e an y new s [Enter the P O R T E R . ]

A U G U S T U S . Hav e you seen Miss Becke r anywhere ? P O R T E R . No ,

sir.

68

T H E E N E M I E S OF A B I S H O P [Exit A U G U S T U S Enter E T H E L W R I G H T ]

E T H E L O h , Porter, I want you to keep out there in the passage for the next q u a r t e r of a n h o u r Don't go away on any account I may need your help P O R T E R Very good, miss [Exit ] [Enter M A X I M I L I A N L U D E R ]

M A X Good morning, Miss Wright I wanted to see you to say good-bye I have to go away to-day—rather unexpectedly E T H E L O h — I ' m so sorry

M A X Yes, I shall often think of this place, a n d the talks we used to have I should like, before I go, to give you this little picture of myself as a m e m e n t o of o u r acquaintance E T H E L T h a n k you so much But you must sign it M A X Let's see "For Ethel from Max In homage to a woman of u n d e r standing " How will that d o 5 E T H E L That's lovely I shall always keep it by m e Where are you going? Perhaps we might meet each other sometimes? M A X I'm going abroad, I'm afraid It may be a long time before I come back But we needn't take o u r final farewells quite yet I'm not going till this evening [He kisses her hand ] ETHEL

I shall see you at lunch [She goes out, much moved Enter C E S L A U S L U D E R ]

M A X Well, everything's fixed We leave this evening, d u r i n g the dance Mrs Stagg will be down here for it You'd better deal with h e r I'll settle the Becker girl We'll make a clear getaway Probably they won't be missed for hours in the crowd T h e yacht's waiting off Ravenglass We'll be at sea before dawn By the way, how did your clerical duties go o f P CESLAUS I m a d e o n e rather unfortunate mistake I was in t h e vestry at about eight o'clock a n d a lady came in all muffled u p So I took h e r a n d c h u r c h e d h e r W h e n I'd finished, I discovered that she'd come to a r r a n g e about a bazaar for the Zenana Mission I hear she's the worst ingrown virgin in the village [Enter J I M M Y ]

M A X Well, Miss Becker Looking forward to the dance? J I M M Y O h , I d u n n o Jazzin' aint much in my line M A X Perhaps sitting out is, eh? H a ha' You won't forget me when you're making u p your p r o g r a m m e , I hope? What about numbers 7 a n d 8?

T H E ENEMIES OF A BISHOP

69

J I M M Y . Right y'are. S'long as yer doesn't expec' me to d o them Yile Blues. T h e y get m e fair tied u p M A X . You shan't d o anything you don't like, Miss Becker I shall see you later, then. [Exit M A X and C E S L A U S Enter G E O R G E . ]

J I M M Y Let m e b o r r e r some o' your d u d s agyne, George. I got a dyte with that tart down village. Coo, she aint 'alf 'ot stuff, neither. G E O R G E . Why can't yer get some d u d s o' yer own? Always cadgin', you are. 'Ow m u c h did yer git for that fur cloak Gus gyve yer? J I M M Y T h e bloody ole Jew wouldn't let m e 'ave n o more'n twenty-hve quid for it. I reckon it wuz worth an 'undred. G E O R G E . Give us a fiver, then. J I M M Y . A fiver? Strewth, I hkez that' An' you gettin' Gawd knows 'ow much from yer ole m u g . G E O R G E . 'Ere, oo's show wuz this, anyway? 'F if weren't for me, yer'd be in T e m p h n now, sittin' on yer arse a n d cryin' fer Muvver. J I M M Y . YOU? If it weren't for you—? Wot the bleedin' Christ d'yer think you are, when yer at 'ome? Many's the night I stood you a c u p o' tea, when yer 'adn't the price of a bed at Levy's. A n d glad yer was of it; an' glad enuff yer was if yer cud git awy with some pore 'alf blind ole m u g wot couldn't see yer ugly fyce G E O R G E . Jest you be careful, yer little barstard, o r I'll myke yer so as yer won't be yble ter give darlin' Gussy wot 'e likes fer a munf J I M M Y . G a m then. Garn. 'It me Jest you 'it m e Yer dirty little 'arf-crahn poof G E O R G E . Yer bleedin' little— [Enter B I S H O P L A W . ]

LAW Dear me! Quarrelling? You mustn't speak to your sister like that, Mr Becker. What's it all about? Well, nothing very serious, I'm sure? Come, come You young people must learn to give a n d take Have some coffee with m e now, a n d make it up? [Enter E T H E L , the P O R T E R and two P O L I C E M E N . ]

E T H E L . T h e r e h e is, sergeant, d o your duty POLICEMAN. Which is Bishop Law? LAW. I am P O L I C E M A N . I 'ave a warrant for your arrest on a charge of illicit traffic in women. CURTAIN

T H E E N E M I E S OF A B I S H O P

70

Act I I I Scene 4 [ R O B E R T ' S hut T H E S P E C T R E reading Enter R O B E R T ]

R O B E R T I'm d o n e T h e vein has faulted—thrown down a h u n d r e d feet, and when we p u t down borings we found it had pinched o u t completely This is the e n d T h e mine's doomed I've lost every farthing SPECTRE And more

R O B E R T All I've done, all I'd hoped—has come to nothing It isn't fair [He sits down and buries his face in his arms ] SPECTRE

H e a d asleep

Falling forward Must stop a n d go backward Must keep, h a r d to keep Its old importance, its chief position R O B E R T O h , d o be quiet I'm so tired SPECTRE

But trusted h e r e

Choosing to tell A chosen listener Slapstick adventures, views from holidays Receive d u e praise Praise giving a n d taking Before waking And reproachful m o r n i n g All's well Each act has place Each word has n u m b e r And praise takes breath Before death For death is a case With n o examples to r e m e m b e r CURTAIN

Act I V Scene 1 [ R O B E R T ' S hut

R O B E R T at the window T H E S P E C T R E smoking ]

R O B E R T She'll be down there now, dancing

T H E E N E M I E S OF A B I S H O P

SPECTRE

71

T h e strings' excitement, the applauding d r u m Are b u t the initiating ceremony T h a t out of cloud the ancestral face may come And never hear their subaltern mockery Graffiti-writers, moss-grown with whimsies, Loquacious when the water course is dry It is your face I see and morning's praise Of you is ghost's approval of the choice Filtered t h r o u g h roots of the effacing grass Fear taking m e aside would give advice "To conquer her, the visible enemy It is e n o u g h to turn away the eyes" Yet there's no peace in this assaulted city But speeches at the corners, h o p e for news Outside the watch-fires of a stronger army And all emotions to expressions come Recovering the archaic imagery This longing for assurance takes the form Of a hawk's vertical stooping from the sky, T h e s e tears, salt for a disobedient dream, T h e lunatic agitation of the sea While this despair, with h a r d e n e d eyeballs cries "A golden age, a silver " rather this, Massive a n d taciturn years, the age of ice

R O B E R T I can't bear this I must see her once again It's all I've got left, now [Exit ] S P E C T R E [taking up the telephone] Hullo, Is that the Nineveh H o t e P Can I speak to Mrs Stagg, please? Yes Julia, is that you ? It's J i m Baby's bad again He's feverish, I think Can you come h o m e at once? Yes, I've sent for the doctor But come now, won't you ? No, I won't leave him Good-bye CURTAIN

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T H E E N E M I E S OF A B I S H O P

Act I V S c e n e 2 [The Nineveh Hotel Dance music, off Enter E T H E L , M A X I M I L I A N , C E S L A U S and P O R T E R ]

E T H E L But we must still be careful H e generally works with a n accomplice We must keep o u r eyes open P O R T E R 'E's a disgrece to 'is country, 'is sex and 'is cless T h e m parsons are mostly preaching 'ypocntes Begging your pardon, Mr L u d e r I knows t h e r e a r e some that a r e real good 'uns, b u t there's some a decent m a n wouldn't clean 'is teeth into a basin after T h e y ought to give the likes of 'im the cat It's what 'e deserves—a good 'iding, a n d I'm itching to give it 'im myself M A X I wouldn't have believed it of a m e m b e r of my old school A m a n I've kept wicket for CESLAUS Well, thank G o d a n d Miss Wright that h e was frustrated in time If it hadn't been for h e r courage a n d cleverness—but we needn't think of such ugly things I only hope, Miss Wright, that everyone in the hotel will show their appreciation of your plucky victory over the fiend—every mother who has a d a u g h t e r ought to go down o n h e r knees to you—and that your chief will give you the promotion you deserve MAX

AND P O R T E R Hear, hear

E T H E L You're making m e blush, Mr L u d e r I've tried to d o my duty, as anyone would, but I should never have been so successful if it hadn't been for the loyal help of my friend here I'm going to speak to the Manager about you PORT ER It's very kind of you to p u t it like that, Miss I did nothing You were the boss a n d I was the willing 'and, as you might say M A X IS all my baggage down yet ? P O R T E R I'll go a n d see, sir [Exit ]

M A X We needn't start for another half h o u r I'm hoping to have a dance or two before I leave I suppose you wouldn't d o m e t h e honour, Miss W r i g h t ' E T H E L I'm afraid dancing isn't much in my line, Mr Luder Besides, I must be about keeping watch We've scored the first point, b u t o n e never knows It doesn't d o to rest o n one's laurels M A X I shall see you again, before we start? E T H E L O f course I shall be down there in the passage [Exit ] M A X T h a t Stagg woman's gone home She had a telephone call Everything seems to be against us, to-night However, we can't very well stop on, now We'll get the Becker girl a n d be off She's better than nothing You go out a n d have the car ready H e r e she is

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T H E ENEMIES OF A B I S H O P

[Enter J I M M Y , dressed for the dance ] Megind yegoegu degont fegorgeget thege chlegoregofegorm Well, Miss Becker, I h o p e I may claim my d a n c e ' [Exit CESLAUS ]

J I M M Y Right y'are Only let's look slippy, 'cos ole Bicknell keeps followm' me abaht M A X Shall we go outside for a few minutes, to avoid him 5 J I M M Y Yus, that's t h e ticket [Enter A U G U S T U S ]

A U G U S T U S A h , t h e r e you a r e , Olive Can I have t h e next dance 5 JIMMY Sorry, Gus I'm booked with Mr L u d e r A U G U S T U S Well, which can you p u t me down for 5 JIMMY I'm booked for the evenin' A U G U S T U S What's t h e matter with you to-day, Olive 5 Why are you angry with m e 5 Where's that fur cloak 5 J I M M Y I've told yer I've p u t it awy

A U G U S T U S I h a p p e n to know that you've sold it

J I M M Y It's a b l e e d i n ' h e

M A X Mr Bicknell, I'm afraid I really cannot permit you to address a lady in such tones in my presence A U G U S T U S M m d your own business, sir Forgive me, Olive I don't know what's the matter with m e this evening When you're unkind to me, I can't bear it J I M M Y That's all right, Gus M A X C o m e along, Miss Becker [Exeunt ] [Enter R O B E R T ]

R O B E R T Hullo, Gus Enjoying t h e dance

5

A U G U S T U S N O [He goes out after M A X and J I M M Y ] ROBERT Porter5

P O R T E R [appearing] Yes sir 5 R O B E R T I suppose Mrs Stagg is at the dance 5 P O R T E R She was, sir T h e n she got a telephone message to go 'ome, because t h e baby was ill T h e funny thing was, 'er 'usband rang u p from 'ome five minutes later a n d didn't seem to know nothing about it A mistake, I expect R O B E R T A mistake' By God— [Exit ] [A shout and a scream from outside rushes in ]

AUGUSTUS

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T H E ENEMIES OF A B I S H O P

A U G U S T U S . Quick, porter. T h e police! T h e fiends have got her. I saw it all. I followed. J u s t too late. T h e telephone— [ B I S H O P L A W , wearing a police hat and medah, appears at the top of the staircase, followed by T H E FLYING SQUAD. These are dressed in gym-shoes, shorts and zephyrs marked with a scarlet F.] L A W . Put that down. P O R T E R . Gawd! It's 'is Reverence. LAW. Flying Squad. 'Shun! N u m b e r ! {They do so.] Private Loring. LORING. Adsum!

L A W . Private Foot. FOOT. Adsum!

L A W . Private Cockshoot. COCKSHOOT. Adsum.

L A W . Private Jesser-Coop. J - C O O P . Adsum!

L A W . O n the line. [They bend down, one foot forward, as if in a race.]

L O R I N G . Come on, chaps, we'll debag them. F O O T . Won't we jolly well scrag them? C O C K S H O O T . We'll gorse-bush them. J - C O O P . We'll squirt water on them. We'll milk them. L A W . Are you ready? Steady? Go! [ T H E F L Y I N G S Q U A D rush out.]

P O R T E R . Please, sir, may I go with them? I'd like to d o something to show I'm sorry. L A W . You may. [Enter E T H E L and K A T H E R I N E . ]

P O R T E R . T h a n k you, sir. [Exit.] LAW. Miss Wright, you've failed. You know the penalty? E T H E L . Yes, sir.

L A W . You know what to do? E T H E L . Yes, sir. Please lend me your revolver. My automatic is too small. [ L A W gives it.] T h a n k you, sir. Good-bye, Katherine, I'm sorry. K A T H E R I N E . O h , Ethel . . . [Exit E T H E L . ]

[A scuffle. The LUDERS are brought in with J I M M Y by T H E F L Y I N G S Q U A D and the P O R T E R . ]

T H E ENEMIES OF A B I S H O P

75

P O R T E R . Got you, you beasts. My roller-skating's not what it was, b u t I caught 'em u p . L A W . Stand over there. T H E B I S H O P and

[A shot, off.

T H E FLYING

SQUAD salute.]

L A W . Private Loring. Fetch my revolver back from Miss Wright. [Exit L O R I N G . ] Private Foot, bring Colonel T e a r e r here. [Exit F O O T . ] L O R I N G [returning]. Your revolver, sir. LAW. Dead? L O R I N G . T h r o u g h both temples, sir. [COLONEL

TEARER

IS brought

in

by

FOOT.

G E O R G E follows them.] LAW. Katherine, will you please take Miss Becker into the next room and search her? G E O R G E [roaring with faughter]. Oh, coo, Christ—! J I M M Y . Shut yer bleedin' fyce. 'Ere, I protes'! L A W . D O as you're told. [Exeunt K A T H E R I N E and J I M M Y . ]

L A W . Mr Augustus Bicknell. [ A U G U S T U S IS led forward by C O C K S H O O T . ]

K A T H E R I N E [entering with a scream]. Oh, Travers, it's a man! L A W . T h e r e , there, my dear. Calm yourself. Private Jesser-Coop, just go and verify this. [Exit J E S S E R - C O O P . He returns immediately with JIMMY.]

J - C O O P . T h e party is male, sir. M A X . T O think, after all these years, we should be caught for a bloody little boy. A U G U S T U S . I'm free. I'm p u r e . LAW. Mr Bicknell. You are head of Templin Reformatory? A U G U S T U S . Yes.

L A W . A few weeks ago, I should have been inclined to deal severely with you. B u t I think you have suffered a good deal. I h o p e it will be a lesson to you. I shall exile you to Brighton for a year. If, at the e n d of that time, you wish to r e t u r n to Templin, you may d o so. A U G U S T U S . Never, never again.

76

T H E ENEMIES OF A BISHOP

L A W . I'm glad you take it in the right spirit, Mr Bicknell Next please. Colonel Geoffrey T e a r e r [ T E A R E R IS brought forward by F O O T ] T E A R E R . Yes, sir.

L A W . Colonel Tearer, my d e p a r t m e n t has h a d trouble with you betore. Your face has become too familiar in Algiers I'm afraid I shall have to be severe. T E A R E R . Quite weady to take my punishment, Bishop Must gwin a n d bear it. Old soldier, don't you know. H o n o u r of the wegiment, what ? LAW. Very p r o p e r sentiments. You will d o the Cautley Spout r u n every afternoon for two months You will be timed, a n d my m e n will be posted at various points to see that you make n o short cuts Also, every Saturday morning, before lunch, you will bring m e five thousand lines. T h e motto for this week will be "Mummy's been dead quite a long time now" T h a t will d o [ T E A R E R salutes and retires ]

L A W . T h e Luders. [ M A X I M I L I A N and C E S L A U S are brought forward by J E S S E R - C O O P and L O R I N G ]

LAW Maximilian a n d Ceslaus Luder, it is unnecessary for m e to dwell at length u p o n your record. For a very long time, now, you have persistently worked against m e a n d the powers which I represent You are well aware of the penalty which your conduct has incurred Have you anything to say? MAX

NO.

CESLAUS. N O .

L A W . Very well K a t h e n n e , please leave the room [Exit K A T H E R I N E . ] Private Loring, my cane. [ L O R I N G gives the cane and places a chair in the centre of the stage.] Maximilian L u d e r [ M A X I M I L I A N comes forward and kneeh on the chair.] CURTAIN

77

T H E ENEMIES OF A BISHOP

Act I V Scene 3 [ R O B E R T ' S hut. T H E S P E C T R E at the telephone.]

S P E C T R E . IS that t h e Stunhead police-station? O h , good evening, Sergeant. It's Mr Robert Bicknell, of Windyacre Mine speaking. Will you please come u p here at once? I've just committed a m u r d e r a n d I want to give myself u p . [Enter R O B E R T . ]

S P E C T R E . You're back early. R O B E R T . Yes, I've come for you. S P E C T R E . H o n o u r e d , I'm sure.

R O B E R T . You've cheated m e all my life. S P E C T R E . Really? I've d o n e what you wanted m e to. R O B E R T . It's a lie!

S P E C T R E . T h a t makes n o difference. R O B E R T . It's the shame of it— But I know you now, you devil. [He draws a revolver and fires. T H E SPECTRE falL·.] You'll never trick m e again. [He comes forward and addresses the audience:] Men pass t h r o u g h doors a n d travel to the sea Stand g r o u p e d in attitudes of play o r labour, Bending to children, raise equals' glass, Are many times together, m a n with woman. We a r e in this, this wonderful life, On lawns in flannels, in garages, in golf-clubs Talking, starting slightly at the shooting, T h e small disaster o n the limitless plains, We see the unit fall apart O n bridges in all lands its fragments leaning Outworn like processes, in each the past, Gradual accumulations of its own production Sitting in corners till it die, a n d see O n the sky-line of life death's tall destructors Consuming rubbish. This is o u r view Of fidgetting, preening, comforting and cadging, W h e r e love returns to epoch of the poisoner, Willing transforms itself to influenza A n d guilty rashes, speeding descent Of noble mind, the brakes b u r n t out. We know who have d o n e this; are several here,

78

T H E ENEMIES OF A B I S H O P

T h e r e you sit who smooth sick pillows Devoted as lice a n d have no day-dream, Wince at n o curse, are never ill, Put kindness, words, a n d sleekness in You're going to have friends, to bring u p children, You're going to be like this for ever, all the time, More terrible than the bursting of the bolted door, O r t h e exhausting adverse wind of dreams [Enter two P O L I C E M E N ]

POLICEMAN [looking at body] 'L's dead 'Oo is 'e? R O B E R T My spectre I h a d one

POLICEMAN That's unusual I 'ope you're coming quietly, Mr BicknelP I should take your coat, it's snowing R O B E R T T h a n k you

[ R O B E R T turns at the door ] You who have come to watch us play and go Openly to face the outer sky, you may As guests or as possessor enter in T o the mysterious joy of a lighted house But never think o u r thoughts a r e strange to yours, We, too, have watched life's circular career How seed woken by touches in the dark O u t of this inarticulate recognition A n d changing every m o m e n t come at last By fortunate prejudice to delighting form A n d t h e indifference of profuse production We saw all this, but what have we to do With the felicities of natural growth? What reference theirs to ours, where shame Invasive daily into deeper tissues Has all convicted? Remain we here Sitting too late a m o n g the lights and music, Without h o p e waiting for a soothing hush, Never to day-break can we say "at last" A n d eyes from vistas have b r o u g h t nothing back, T h e pane of glass is always there, looked through, Bewilders with left-handed images If when the curtain falls, if you should speak, T u r n i n g together, as of neighbours lately gone,

T H E ENEMIES OF A B I S H O P

Although our anguish seem but summer lightning, Sudden, soon over, in another place, Although immune then, do not say of us "It was nothing, their loss." It was all. CURTAIN

79

The Dance of Death BY W. H. A U D E N

[1933]

TO ROBERT MEDLEY AND RUPERT D O O N E

A N N O U N C E R . We present to you this evening a picture of the decline of a class. C H O R U S [behind curtain]. Middle class. A N N O U N C E R . Of how its members d r e a m of a new life. C H O R U S . We d r e a m of a new life.

A N N O U N C E R . But secretly desire the old, for there is death inside them. We show you that death as a dancer. C H O R U S . D e a t h for us.

A N N O U N C E R . Do you care for Musical Comedy, Worm's eye view, r e d lips? [The italic letters indicate performers on the stage, the Greek letters performers in the auditorium.] STAGING NOTE:

[The stage is bare with a simple backcloth, in front of which are the steps on which the A N N O U N C E R sits, like the umpire at a tennis tournament. Down stage is a small jazz orchestra. In front of the conductor a microphone. When B o x and C o x are to speak the conductor sits down and they take his place.] SCENE:

[ C H O R U S in silk dressing gowns. Their clothes on the ground. As they sing they take off their dressing gowns revealing handsome two-piece bathing suits. They dance and he on the stage in various patterns. A Medicine Ball.] Gents from Norway Ladies from Sweden Don't stand in the doorway Come, this is what you've been needing. Boys from France Join in o u r dance; Italian belles, valiant belles And anyone else With profs, from Germany All sing in harmony Come out into the sun. Strip off your shirt Kick off your shoes It won't h u r t T o leave behind those office blues H e r e o n the beach You're out of reach

84

T H E DANC E O F D E A T H

Of sad news, bad news You can refuse Th e invitatio n To self-examinatio n Com e ou t int o th e sun . Are you too fat And gettin g bigger He'l l see to tha t He'l l give you a grecian figure Exercises As th e sun rises Shall strengthe n you, lengthe n you Build you anew. When day is ende d You shall feel splendid ; Com e ou t int o th e sun. Lie down on th e sand Fee l th e sun on your flesh; It' s so grand ; Ο Boy, you'll soon want to get fresh. Living with natur e Is th e life of th e futur e Th e new life, th e tru e life Th e life for you. Europe' s in a hole Million s on th e dole But com e ou t int o th e sun. We shall build to-morro w A new clean town With no mor e sorro w Where lovely peopl e walk up an d down . We shall all be stron g We shall all be youn g N o mor e tearfu l days, fearful days Or unhapp y affairs We shall all pull ou r weight In th e ship of state Com e ou t int o th e sun. A.

Ca n you tur n a cartwhee l yet?

T H E DANCE OF D E A T H

85

I've often been taught but I always forget. I can. Shall I show you? Please. [Business.] How wonderful. You d o it with such ease. C. Heavens I've left my oil behind. D. Madam, use mine. C. You're very kind. A N N O U N C E R . Get ready, your instructor comes Stand u p at ease, a n d beat the d r u m s .

B. A. B.

[A human arch is formed. DANCER enters through audience.] He's marvellous He's Greek. W h e n I see him My legs go weak. B. Lend m e your comb T o d o my hair I must look my best W h e n h e is here. C. H e walks with such grace J u s t like a cat Where's my kodak I must snap him like that, a. 'E's a bit of orlright, ain't 'e Bill? A.

[ C H O R U S form up with dumb-bells for exercises. DANCER has a drum for these.] C H O R U S . Vital y o u n g m a n

Do what you can For o u r dust We who are weak Want a splendid physique You must, you must. Do n o t forsake us, make us, give us your word As strong as a horse as quick as a bird. You're o u r ideal Make it come real For us. Vital young m a n Do what you can You must. [Business.] A N N O U N C E R . Well d o n e , well done. Let new desire

86

TH E

DANC E O F DE A 1 Η

C o m e to thos e whose muscle s tir e After exercise come s leisure , T h e a r m s of love, t h e danc e of pleasur e A m o n g th e crow d whe n you woul d rest On e seem s especiall y th e best Ladie s a n d gentlemen , th e sea Waits for you , tall u p o n th e shor e So fill y o u r lung s a n d tak e a plung e Choos e y o u r p a r t n e r s a n d dela y n o m o r e [Select partners for old-time Waltz ] C H O R U S YOU were a grea t C u n a r d e r , I Was onl y a fishin g smac k O n c e you passed acros s m y bows A n d of cours e you di d no t loo k bac k I t was onl y a single m o m e n t yet I watc h t h e sea a n d sigh Becaus e m y hear t ca n neve r forget T h e da y you passed m e by H a n d stretche d ou t t o lie in h a n d A n d eye looke d int o eye, T w o heart s san g a simpl e t u n e I n a n old-worl d h a r m o n y O h t h e m o o n is shining , com e bac k to m e A n d m a k e m y d r e a m s com e tru e Fo r ever Salte r grows th e sea A n d ever sweeter you [Exeunt C H O R U S ] [Dance Solo dance as S U N G O D , creator and destroyer At the end of the dance he picks up the clothes of the C H O R U S , puts them in a clothes basket and shoves the basket into the wings ] A N N O U N C E R T h o u g h the y forget him , for Romanc e make s t h e m dizzy, Deat h will no t forget t h e m , as you see, h e is busy H i d i n g away thei r clothes , thei r social defence s T h a t t h e col d wind of t h e futur e ma y freeze thei r sense s D o no t be mistake n for a m o m e n t abou t thi s stranger , T h e lives of man y h e r e ar e alread y in d a n g e r H e look s o n t h e j u st a n d th e unjus t as h e ha s always d o n e Som e of you thin k h e loves you H e is leadin g you o n H e dances , a n d of cours e th e barle y a n d th e tree s grow tall, Hi s hel p is powerfu l bu t doe s no t appl y to you all

TH E DANC E ΟΙ· D t A Ι Η

87

T h e bone s of t h e beggare d listen fro m u n d e r g r o u n d ; T o t h e m his dancin g ha s lon g bee n a familia r sound . Fo r h e ha s a n evil eye as well as a good . He' s certainl y able t o bewitc h with it thos e who m h e would . He' s fon d of flowers, an d dove s will fly to his h a n d . Yes, b u t wha t is h e doin g h e r e to-da y in o u r land ? T h e y o u n g peopl e t u r n to hi m no w in thei r gree n desir e P e r h a p s the y imagin e he'l l set thei r heart s o n h r e . Will touc h t h e m alive as h e touche s th e barle y s e e d — P e r h a p s they'l l find they'v e bee n very mistake n indeed . [Re-enter BATHERS— stiff

and mechanical from cold.]

I feel so cold . I' m gettin g old . I d o n ' t really hol d With thi s lying abou t I n t h e sun withou t A stitc h o r a clout . D. I've got a pain . E. T h e sun' s gon e in . F. It' s goin g t o rain . G. I've got a h u n c h I wan t m y lunch . a. You o u g h t t o be ashame d of yourself, Maudie , a p p e a r i n g in publi c like that . Wher e d o you thin k you are ? T h e G a r d e n of Eden ? I f fat h e r were to see you , e'd give you a goo d 'iding . A. C o m e on , let' s dress . B. Why, where' s o u r clothing ? C. T h e y ' r e g o n e — t h e r e ' s nothing ! D. Stolen , I guess. E. We're in a mess. a [excitedly]. Έ too k ' e m — I saw 'im . A. B. C.

[ D A N C E R bangs his drum to drown her.]

β. α. β.

[Still louder.] No , M r Noisy , you can' t sto p me . You too k 'em—you kno w it, a n d p u t 'e m in tha t basket . Didn' t 'e, 'Arry, own up ? Wha t di d you say, ma ? Έ too k 'em . T o o k what , ma ?

88

T H E DANC E O F

DEAT H

a. T h e clothes . β. Wha t clothes , ma ? a. Why, thei r clothes . β. Di d 'e really, coo . [Laughs.] C H O R U S [excitedly]. I f thi s is tru e It' s m e a n of you . Is thi s a game ? We thin k it's a shame . Is it a stunt ? Giv e t h e m bac k at once . Pleas e d o n ' t be silly. We're gettin g chilly. A N N O U N C E R . Calm , please , calm . No w as you accus e hi m H e will call th e manager , excuse him . [Exit and enter with M A N A G E R . ] M A N A G E R . Vy mak e so a trobbl e in m y theatr e Explai n yoursel f quick . Vot is d e matter ? C H O R U S . T h i s lad y declares , h e ha s p u t o u r clothe s in a basket . Le t u s see for ourselves. Brin g it, we ask it. a. T h a t ' s right , 'e did . [ D A N C E R makes a nose at a.] Harry , di d you see wha t 'e did ? Are you goin g t o let you r m o t h e r be insulted ? G o a n d 'it 'im . M A N A G E R . Please , lady, pleas e No t so loud , pleas e I fetc h dis basket , we see Vot in it d e r e be Ullo , ullo . [Two

S T A G E H A N D S enter.]

Is t h e r e a basket there ? S T A G E H A N D S . Yes,

sir.

M A N A G E R . Brin g it here , ct. No w we'll see oo' s right . [Basket is brought in. It contains miscellaneous uniforms.] C H O R U S . Bu t thes e aren' t ours . We've neve r seen the m before . Why, they'r e uniforms . Thi s isn' t th e war. M A N A G E R . Vot doe s thi s mean ? I am astounded .

T H E DANC E Ol· DE A I Η STAG E H A N D S

In

1916

A musica l revue , sir, T h e Lad y o f th e G u a r d Was p u t o n by you , sir I n aid of th e w o u n d e d T h e r e was a scen e I n t h e palac e yard , Thi s was worn , I believe, sir By Miss Annabell e Eve, sir MANAGE R

Oh , yes, I r e m e m b e r

I t bega n in N o v e m b e r Wha t was th e n u m b e r T h a t m a d e suc h a h i t ? S T A G E H A N D S "Soldier s of th e Kin g of Kings " M A N A G E R Yes, tha t was it

Conductor , ca n you pla y it ? C O N D U C T O R I mus t ask m y strings — Yes, sir, we ca n MANAGE R

I'll say

it

T h e y ar e ever steppin g onwar d T h e y ar e eage r with th e h o p e of yout h T h e y neve r fear t h e foe Bu t strik e a gallan t blow Fo r G o d a n d th e caus e of t r u t h T h e y ar e ever steppin g h o m e w a r d T h e y ar e lookin g u n t o highe r ways Fre e as th e flag tha t waves overhea d Soldier s of th e Kin g of King s C H O R U S We a r e gettin g so cold , T h e s e uniform s ar e old Bu t our s o r no t We'll wear th e lot M A N A G E R Gut , t h e n every thin g e n d s Happily , m y friend s Now , com e alon g A n d sing thi s son g Are you read y Are you steady 5 7 Wha t abou t Abyssinia? δ O n e m o m e n t , sir, th e Kellog g pac t Ha s outlawe d war as a nationa l ac t

89

90

T H E DANC E O F DE A 1 Η

e.

Scholarships—no t battleships . Re d front , re d front , Re d united , fighting front . Re d front , re d front , Re d united , fightin g front , a. Thi s is a n attac k o n th e working-class , ζ. Worker s unit e befor e it's to o late . e. Dow n with th e bosses' class, U p with th e workers ' class. Re d front , re d front , Re d united , fightin g front . Re d front , re d front , Re d united , fighting front . A U D I E N C E . O n e , two, three , fou r T h e last war was a bosses' war. Five , six, seven, eigh t Rise a n d mak e a workers ' state . Nine , ten , eleven , twelve Seize th e factorie s a n d r u n t h e m yourself, β. It' s 'is fault . I tol d you so. A U D I E N C E [pointing at D A N C E R ] . Pu t hi m

out . Pu t hi m

out .

C H O R U S . YOU ar e responsible ,

You ar e impossible , O u t you go. We will liquidate , T h e capitalis t stat e Overthrow . A U D I E N C E . Atta boys. M A N A G E R . D o something , man ,

As quic k as you can . Preven t suc h behaviou r An d be o u r saviour . Ge t u s o u t o f thi s troubl e As I g u a r a n t e e M y theatr e will doubl e Your salary. [ D A N C E R dances as the demagogue. The C H O R U S lose their menacing attitude and become fascinated. Crowd as $. Demagogue as 9.] A N N O U N C E R . Comrades , I absolutel y agre e with you . We mus t hav e a revolution . Bu t wait a m o m e n t . All thi s talk abou t class war won' t get

ΓΗ Ε

DANC E O F D E A T H

91

u s anywher e T h e circumstance s h e r e ar e quit e differen t fro m Rus sia Russia ha s n o middl e class, n o traditio n of official administrativ e service We mus t hav e an Englis h revolutio n suite d to Englis h con ditions , a revolutio n no t t o p u t o n e class o n to p bu t t o abolish class, to e n s u r e no t less for som e bu t m o r e for all, a revolutio n of English me n for Englishme n After all, ar e we no t all of on e blood , th e bloo d of Kin g A r t h u r , a n d Wayland th e S m i t h 5 We hav e Lancelot' s cour age, Merlin' s wisdom O u r first dut y is to kee p th e rac e p u r e , a n d no t let thes e dirt y foreigner s com e in a n d tak e o u r job s Dow n with th e dictatorshi p o f internationa l capita l Away with thei r filthy book s whic h c o r r u p t o u r innocen t son s an d daughter s Englis h justice , Englis h morals , Englan d for th e Englis h C H O R U S P e r h a p s you ar e right , p e r h a p s you ar e righ t You p u t thing s in a n o t h e r light A N N O U N C E R T h e Anglo-Saxo n rac e is in d a n g e r Who will follow hi m t o save it ? A

Β

I was a farme r d u r i n g th e war, I sold m y baco n at two a n d four , If you kee p o u t D e n m a r k , I ca n d o it onc e m o r e — I'll follow the e I was a girl tha t h a d nic e youn g men ,

Bu t they'v e all bee n goin g abroa d sinc e the n If you ca n brin g t h e m bac k again , I'll follow the e C I n t h e goo d old days, I was a Black a n d T a n I was always t h e r e whe n th e torture s began If you give u s a whip I'll d o wha t I can , I'll follow the e D Fo r five year s no w I've bee n ou t of a job , I d o n ' t car e w h e t h e r you'r e a Je w o r a nob , If you will promis e to give m e a bob , I'll follow the e C H O R U S T h e Englis h revolutio n Is t h e onl y solutio n We tak e a resolutio n T o follow the e A N N O U N C E R [pointing to M A N A G E R ] We'll begin h e r e Loo k at hi m t h e r e A dirt y Jew You kno w wha t t o d o [They assault and beat him, etc ]

T H E DANCE OF D E A T H

92

[Ship formation. ] Take your place, take your place, To save the Anglo-Saxon race, Follow our gallant captain for ever Our dandy, our dancer, our deep sea diver. We are all of one blood, we are thoroughbred, We'll not lose our courage, we'd sooner be dead. Like one big family we're all united In our hearts burns a fire that has been long lighted.

CHORUS.

Hurrah for me and hurrah for you Line up in file In a regimental style With the shovel, the pick, and the rake and the plough The beautiful old plough Salute, Salute, Toot a toot toot, We'll make old England new. The ship of England crosses the ocean Her sails are spread, she is beautiful in motion. We love her and obey her captain's orders We know our mind, no enemy shall board us. Then hurrah for me and hurrah for you Though the decks may heel We'll be true as steel The captain, the bo'sun, the mate and the boy The pretty cabin boy Salute, Salute, Toot a toot toot, Hurrah for the English crew. Let the whirlpools boil as the billows rise higher, We'll steer through them all to what we require Over monsters deadly in the deep sea sand Our keel rides on to the Promised Land. Then hurrah, etc. God bless the wind that blows us over God bless the will that binds us like a lover. God bless our ship that carries us so rightly

T H E DANC E Ol· DE A I Η

Go d bless o u r captai n da y a n d nightl y T h e n h u r r a h , etc [ A U D I E N C E makes a noise like waves ] I' m prett y tough , Bu t thes e waves ar e rough , I' m beginnin g t o feel A littl e ill, Let' s ask th e lookou t Wha t it's all abou t Hullo , u p t h e r e — Hav e you anythin g t o d e c l a r e ' A N N O U N C E R Stor m ahea d A U D I E N C E We ar e th e stor m [Noises ] C H O R U S Wha t shall we d o T o pul l us t h r o u g h ? A Fur l th e sails Β Jettiso n th e carg o C Cas t a n c h o r A Thi s way Β T h i s way C Thi s way A Hol d it like thi s Β Hol d it like thi s C Hol d it like thi s A N N O U N C E R Lightnin g an d t h u n d e r A U D I E N C E We ar e th e lightnin g Cras h Fiz z A

We ar e th e t h u n d e r Boo m I've got a weak h e a r t Oh , why di d I ever start ? Β I shall see n o m o r e T h e rose s r o u n d th e d o o r C I a m a n onl y son Ο what' s to b e done ? A N N O U N C E R Rock s ahea d A U D I E N C E We ar e th e rock s [Noises ] A We shall soo n r u n a g r o u n d , We shall all be d r o w n e d Β George , hol d m e tight , I' m in suc h a fright C Ful l stea m ahea d A

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B. C. A. C. A. C. A. C.

T H E DANCE OF D E A T H

Reverse, man, reverse. Stop, stop. O u r Father which a r t in—

Mother!

Hallowed be thy—

Mother! T h y kingdom come. Mother. Mother.

[Crash.] [During the storm the formation gets more and more disintegrated. D A N C E R gradually works into a whirling movement which culminates in a falling fit.] C H O R U S . He's sick,

A doctor quick. A N N O U N C E R . T h e condition of these people is so drastic Any p r o p h e t can make them enthusiastic. It is pleasant to march about a n d all shout "glory" But the after results are another story. A. Hold his legs, Put a gag in his mouth. C H O R U S . A doctor, please.

D O C T O R [comes up from the Audience]. I'm a doctor, Let m e examine him. [Pause.] C H O R U S . W h a t is it, doctor?

D O C T O R . A n epileptic fit. He'll be better soon, but we must get him into bed. I a m afraid this will have to be the end of his performance tonight, and for many nights to come. C H O R U S . O h , but, doctor, t h e play—the play. We can't get on without him. What about us? We can't lose o u r j o b suddenly like this. D O C T O R . I'm sorry, but it can't be helped. [Enter S I R E D W A R D . ]

S I R E. O n e moment, doctor. D O C T O R . O h , good evening, Sir Edward. I didn't know you were here. S I R E. Can't you really d o something for the poor chap? He'll be so disappointed if h e can't go on. Incidentally, there's the audience, you know. After all, they've paid for their seats. D O C T O R . Honestly, Sir Edward, I couldn't. He's in a most critical condition. Any exertion now might be fatal.

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S I R Ε Couldn' t you give hi m a n injectio n o r s o m e t h i n g I've a frien d with m e who woul d be mos t annoye d if th e performanc e were t o com e t o a n e n d no w I don' t kno w wha t I shall say t o hi m You mus t d o somethin g I kno w tha t he' d see tha t you r positio n was secur e if anythin g u n f o r t u n a t e h a p p e n s 5

DOCTO R

Who

is

he 5

S I R Ε 'Sh no t so lou d [Whispers in D O C T O R ' S ear ] As a matte r of fact h e is very anxiou s t o mee t you C o m e a n d hav e s u p p e r with us whe n th e show's over D O C T O R Very well, bu t I d o n ' t like it I'll give hi m a n injectio n [Turning to actors ] Liste n I've decide d t o let hi m go o n C H O R U S Ο t h a n k you , docto r D O C T O R Bu t m i n d T h e r e ' s to be n o excitemen t of an y k i n d — n o politics , for instance , somethin g quit e peaceful , something , shall we say, abou t t h e countr y o r h o m e life' C H O R U S We u n d e r s t a n d

S I R Ε I S h e alright 5 D O C T O R O h , he'l l pul l t h r o u g h , I think , if they'r e carefu l of hi m He' s very r u n dow n S I R Ε You gave hi m a n injection ' D O C T O R Well, Sir Edward , wha t woul d you d o with a busines s tha t was in low w a t e r 5 S I R Ε Why, p u m p in fresh capita l D O C T O R Exactl y After you , Sir Edwar d S I R Ε After you docto r [Exeunt to audience ] A N N O U N C E R T h e conscienc e of tha t p o o r Docto r is ill at ease Bu t mone y is a maste r h e is force d to pleas e T h e hel d of knowledg e is so extensive T h e exploratio n ha s becom e expensiv e T h o s e who seek t r u t h discove r soo n Who pays th e p i p e r calls th e t u n e A Very well, fellows, wha t shall we d o 5 α O h , go a n d d r o w n yourselves [Exit a from the theatre with a great deal of noise ] A N N O U N C E R Notic e ho w thes e ar e drive n in desperatio n F r o m spor t t o war, fro m actio n to sensatio n T u r n i n g thi s way, tha t way, doublin g o n thei r trac k Deat h standin g always befor e t h e m , drivin g t h e m bac k I n e m p i r e outposts , o r flats in th e Sout h of France ,

TH E

96

B.

A. B. C. A. B. C.

DANC E O F D E A T H

O n still walkin g t o u r o r enjoyin g th e dance , T h e fear is th e same . We sho w you phase s O f its expressio n in thei r differen t places . Be t r u e T o th e i n n e r self. Retir e to a wood T h e will of th e bloo d is th e onl y goo d We mus t lear n t o kno w it. I see wha t you mea n We mus t kee p o u r prima l integrit y clean . Exactly . T h a t ' s clear . What a goo d idea . Be perfectl y calm . Live o n a farm . Well ou t of h a r m .

C H O R U S . Knowin g n o sin.

A. Onl y obeying . B. Withou t delaying . C. T h e slightest saying. C H O R U S . O f t h e voice within . A [to A U D I E N C E ] . Listen , friend s we Are a colon y Equa l a n d free O f boys a n d girls. [ D A N C E R shakes his head.] β.

T h e r e ' s somethin g th e matte r with you r dancin g friend . He' s gettin g excited . A. H e doesn' t agre e With somethin g whic h we Hav e said. What ca n it be? A N N O U N C E R . It' s abou t th e girls. Ma n mus t be th e leade r who m wome n mus t obey. H e mus t go forwar d int o th e u n k n o w n at dawn , while she waits at h o m e trustin g an d believin g in him , till at nigh t h e re t u r n s tired , a n d as suc h become s as a little chil d again . Thi s is h e r hour . Sh e shall car e for an d refres h hi m tha t h e ma y set ou t onc e m o r e in searc h of th e Ideal . C H O R U S . T h a t leaves n o d o u b t We mus t leave th e girls ou t C o m e on , let' s start . G I R L S I N C H O R U S . T h i s is a s h a m e

We wan t a part .

THL · DANC L Oh D t A I H M E N YOU d o wha t we say A n d r u n away β Don' t be so tam e You stay wher e you ar e Don' t you let 'e m pu t tha t stuff o n you G I R L S We're goin g t o play in thi s sho w W h e t h e r you like it o r n o We won' t go A [to A N N O U N C E R ] T h e y refuse t o go flat Wha t d o you say abou t that ? A N N O U N C E R Mak e t h e m int o scener y A Brillian t M y wor d T h a t neve r occurre d To me

[To G I R L S ] You be a bird ,

You be a tre e So, croo k you r kne e You be a cow So we'll begin no w C H O R U S [folk dance] Are you living in th e city Wher e th e traffic won' t stop , H a g g a r d a n d anxiou s Fo r life's a flop Why no t stop ? Are you tire d of partie s All tha t clever talk? Ο boy, hav e you ever See n a sparrowhawk ? Lear n to walk Sailor , tha t assuranc e You lost at birt h You ca n hav e it, recove r A sense of wort h C o m e bac k to eart h Ga y girl to who m pettin g Matter s so m u c h Poo r kid, th e reason' s You'r e ou t of touc h With flowers a n d such Revolutionar y worke r I get wha t you m e a n

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But what you'r e needin g 'S a revolutio n within So let's begin Banker , boxer, burglar Hostes s an d girl gone wron g We've got you beat to a frazzle Thi s is where you belon g Hea r ou r song Ho w happ y are we I n ou r countr y colon y We play games We call each othe r by ou r christia n name s Sittin g by stream s We have sweet dream s You can take it as tru e Tha t Voltaire knew We cultivat e ou r garden s when we're feeling blue Lying close to th e soil Ou r heart s strike oil We live day an d nigh t In th e inne r light We contemplat e ou r navels till we've secon d sight Gosh , it's all right I n ou r countr y colon y [Towards the end of the dance A gets out of time ] Clumsy , can' t you coun t one , two, three , four You're spoilin g th e danc e β And I don' t blam e him Έ wants his girl friend Did you see 'im making eyes at tha t little bit over ther e on th e right? A [breaking off and comingforward] I won't danc e any mor e You ar e mistake n About th e pat h you have take n What you desire Is no earthl y fire You won't find th e trut h I n a beautifu l yout h No r will it be foun d I n tilling th e groun d

T H E DANCE OF D E A T H

For the Eternal Word Has n o habitation In beast o r bird In sea o r stone N o r in the circumstances Of country dances It abideth alone H e who would prove T h e Primal love Must leave behind All love of his kind A n d fly alone T o the Alone C H O R U S We d o n ' t u n d e r s t a n d W O M E N [ceasing to be scenery]

We d o , a n d he's right You were fooled all right You thought you were escaping from sin By leaving us out but you left yourselves in C H O R U S T h i s is s o m e t h i n g new

We don't know what to d o This doctrine is at variance With all o u r past experience A N N O U N C E R For those who found life evil Fearing the devices of the devil In the middle ages T h e r e were stone cages Cells were built W h e r e they could expiate their guilt W h e r e they could retire And seek their heart's desire, Conquering temptation T h r o u g h self-abnegation But at the present day T h e r e is a m o r e m o d e r n way Explore dry deserts, go Across the Arctic snow, O r any d a n g e r o u s region O r join the Foreign Legion Race death a n d all his power At three h u n d r e d miles an h o u r O r fly above the clouds

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A n d th e ease-lovin g crowd s T h r o u g h th e astringen t air A n d face d e a t h lonel y ther e C H O R U S You ma y p e r h a p s be righ t Abou t thi s mysti c flight Again it ma y be fiction T o tell t h e t r u t h we lack convictio n I t woul d be best we feel I f s o m e o n e woul d appea l T o o u r imaginatio n A n d give a demonstratio n A n d she w u s th e techniqu e Thi s is wha t we seek Now , wh o will be o u r master ? Who will be th e on e T o teac h u s ho w t o fly fro m t h e alon e t o th e A l o n e 5 [Pause ] [ D A N C E R comes forward While the A N N O U N C E R IS speaking,, he should be rubbed down by masseurs and generally got ready ] A N N O U N C E R Hullo , everybod y As you all know , th e greates t feat, th e mos t s t u p e n d o u s risk in h u m a n histor y is bein g u n d e r t a k e n thi s evenin g by a gentlema n who prefer s to remai n know n simpl y as th e Pilo t Hi s ambitio n is n o less tha n to reac h th e very hear t of Realit y 7 I'll be t m y boot s h e can' t d o it δ I'll be t m y o p e r a ha t h e ca n 7 Bet you m y ca r δ Bet you m y wife 7 Bet you m y hous e δ Bet you m y Scotc h grous e m o o r A N N O U N C E R T h e Pilo t desire s m e — o n e m o m e n t pleas e T h e new s ha s j u st com e t h r o u g h tha t two listener s ar e bettin g a pai r of boots , a ca r an d a h o u s e t o a n o p e r a hat , a wife a n d a Scotc h grous e moo r o n th e resul t As I was saying, th e Pilo t desire s m e to t h a n k all thos e wh o hav e bee n kin d e n o u g h to sen d hi m messages of goo d luck , knitte d scarves, crystallised fruits, killing-bottles , copie s of th e Outlin e of M o d e r n Knowledg e for Boys a n d Girls , pamphlet s relatin g to t h e pyramids , birth-control , a universa l language , et c H e regret s tha t owin g to pressur e h e is unabl e to answe r eac h c o r r e s p o n d e n t indi vidually, bu t trust s tha t the y will accep t thi s publi c acknowledgmen t T h e tim e is no w (whatever it is) so we ar e goin g over to th e g r o u n d itself wher e M r Bo x a n d M r Co x will carr y o n a n d give you an eyewitness's accoun t of thi s uniqu e even t

ΓΗ Ε DANC E Ol· DEA T Η

101

[While B o x and C o x are speaking, the A U D I E N C E should render the appropn ate noises they describe ] B o x I shoul d say it's freezin g What d o you think , Cox ? C o x T h e r e is a ni p in th e air, Bo x B o x T h e crow d ar e stampin g thei r feet a n d swinging thei r arm s to kee p war m I h e a r som e of th e wome n hav e bee n her e sinc e th e da y before yesterda y T h e r e mus t be fifty t h o u s a n d peopl e h e r e C o x Fifty, Bo x B o x M r Co x think s t h e r e ar e fifty t h o u s a n d I' m goin g to toss hi m for it You call, Co x C o x Tail s B o x Tail s it is Very well, then , t h e r e ar e fifty thousan d h e r e It' s a beau tifully clea r starligh t night , a n d they'r e as happ y as sandboy s Away t o t h e righ t a m e m b e r of th e G r e e n Chees e Societ y is makin g a spirite d speec h Davi d J o h n s t o n e , th e six year old marvel , is thrillin g a portio n o f th e monste r audienc e by t h e instantaneou s conversio n of logarithm s int o i m p r o p e r fraction s T h e r e ar e a lot of distinguishe d peopl e h e r e [Mentions any there may be in the audience ] 1 say, Cox , ca n you mak e ou t with you r glasses what' s goin g o n o n th e left? Co x

I t look s as t h o u g h the y ha d caugh t a pickpocke t Yes ugh , d o n ' t look , they'r e breakin g his bac k agains t th e railing s B o x Very regrettabl e [Cheers ] Ah, ca n you h e a r that ? Wha t is it, Cox ? Wait a m o m e n t Yes, it is H e r e h e come s Splendi d fellow I thin k he' s lookin g a bit pal e You carr y on , Cox , you've got hel d glasses a n d see m o r e detai l C o x He' s comin g int o th e enclosur e T h e crow d ar e franti c Ί h e polic e ar e holdin g t h e m T h e y ' r e giving way Hol d the m Well d o n e T h e polic e ar e marvellou s No w he' s acknowledgin g th e cheer s o f t h e crow d S o m e o n e at bac k mentione d Jule s Verne N o o n e answere d hi m

B o x H o w woul d you like to be goin g with them , Cox ? C o x I thin k I' d r a t h e r stay wher e I a m B o x P e r h a p s you'r e righ t Bu t still it doe s mak e on e feel youn g again D o you r e m e m b e r ho w we cheere d you whe n you di d tha t r u n t h r o u g h in t h e Amplefort h matc h a n d score d as th e whistle w e n t 5 C o x A fluke, Bo x He' s gettin g read y O n e , two, t h r e e He' s off [Dance begins ] C o x T h e crow d ar e holdin g thei r breat h Marvellou s Di d you see tha t turn- ' He' s doin g it I' m afrai d tha t listene r will lose his boot s He' s well away no w Wha t di d I say, Box? B o x Yes, I a d m i t you rea d hi m righ t Hullo , look , what' s th e matter ?

102

Co x

T H E DANC E O t D E A T H

Wha t is i t He' s waving Something' s u p He' s rightin g himsel f No , h e isn' t Ο God , he' s fallen ?

[ D A N C E R folk and staggers up being paralysed from the feet up ] C H O R U S Ge t hi m int o a chai r A n d give hi m som e air I f we onl y kne w Wha t we coul d d o Doe s a n y o n e kno w W h e r e we ca n g o ? [Enter M A N A G E R ]

M A N A G E R G u t evenin g friend s T h e last tim e we me t Ve h a d a leetl e q u a r r e l Bu t let' s forget N o ? No w leesen , I hav e given o p My t h e a t r e beesnes s a n d o p e n e d a clo b A cosy littl e night-clobjus t like h o m e A N N O U N C E R I n t h e face of d e a t h howeve r violen t thei r self-assertio n T h e r e come s at last a n e n d t o every exertio n N o t h i n g the y desir e no w bu t to r e t u r n t o eart h T o live for ever in th e peac e tha t precede d thei r birt h [As he is talking the S T A G E H A N D S bring in a dumb waiter with drinks and set the stage M A N A G E R produces a card with Alma Mate r written on it and hangs it up ] M A N A G E R I he v calle d it t h e Alma Mate r just to r e m i n d you O f t h e beautifu l Englis h home s you leave behin d you Beautifu l food , lovely wines No w won' t you c o m e 5 A N N O U N C E R Who is ugly

Who is sick Who is lonel y C o m e o n quic k Hithe r [The A U D I E N C E begin to come up on to the stage ] γ

δ

Ύ

Hopeles s at games , despisin g self in r o o m no t knocke d at blac k ha t well down , I com e for secre t t r i u m p h , caus e for smilin g whe n other s t u r n away I com e for you H a t i n g a village spire , m y simpl e people' s answer , prospec t of everlastin g rai n o n half-ploughe d fields I com e for expensiv e shoe s t o tak e applaus e fro m table s I com e for you Ho w goes it t h e n '

TH E

DANC E O F D E A T H

103

δ. 7. δ. e.

I t goes m e well. Comes t tho u with ? Self-understandingl y I come . N e e d i n g its foo d a n d warmth , m y body , unfeelin g i n s t r u m e n t of m y will, shall serve th e othe r h u n g e r . Onc e I kne w desir e a n d its sorrow . Ma y n o embrace s ever again mak e m e tast e tha t pleasure , lest, tast ing, I plac e myself onc e m o r e withi n th e circl e of Another , a n d there , enchanted , perish .

ζ.

Blessed be m y fathe r who , toilin g for a lifetime , left m e suc h a gift. T h e s e coin s hav e powe r t o transfor m h e r who m I shall choos e int o a mother . T h r o u g h t h e m a n d h e r I shall recove r th e prima l sleep, freely receive tha t love whic h doe s no t have t o be deserved . To-da y m y d o g died . N o soun d greete d m y footste p o n th e stair . I coul d no t stay at h o m e . H a d overhear d last A u t u m n in th e office, C r o w d e r speakin g of his, forgotte n unti l now. M y n a m e is Alfred J o n e s . Pleas e spea k to me .

η.

Θ.

Littl e the y guess, th e rats . Confidant e of grea t ladies, th e prid e of salons , bowe d t o at privat e views, I coul d blast the m with a word , for I a m greate r t h a n t h e m all. C o m m o n , the y would no t d a r e to com e h e r e , b u t I d a r e . O n these , wh o d o no t ask them , I besto w m y hon ours . T o these , becaus e th e basest, it is m y pleasur e to be humble .

[The D A N C E R IS wheeled forward.] A N N O U N C E R . Mak e way. Mak e way. He' s living still, Bu t r e m e m b e r h e is very ill, Bu t whee l hi m furthe r away fro m th e wall, So h e ca n see better . I t is his last tim e at all. A [his attendant]. O h , don' t say that , sir. He'l l soo n be about . A N N O U N C E R . H e thank s you for you r words , bu t there' s n o d o u b t Fetc h hi m a half — A. D o you thin k h e better ? A N N O U N C E R . Very well then , he'l l hav e a whol e litre . B. Day , m y sir. C. Day , m y sir. Ho w goes it thee ? D. T h o u seest dreadfu l o u t — T h o u has t thyself to o well amused , no t true ? No , swindle not . B. Has t a cigarett e for me ? A [distributing cigarettesfor D A N C E R by throwing them from a box]. Catch . B. I thank . A. T h e e also.

T H E DANCE Ol· D E A T H

104

C I thank D Forget m e not, my sire, I thank A N N O U N C E R Fetch him some p e n a n d p a p e r and write H e is going to make his will to-night And tell the story of his life to you As dying m e n are apt to d o {Tune, Casey Jones ] H e leaves his body, he leaves his wife He leaves the years, he leaves the life For the power a n d the glory of his kingdom they must pass T o work their will a m o n g the working class C H O R U S T h e Greeks were balanced, their art was great T h e y t h o u g h t out in detail the city state But a g a p to the interior was found at Carcassonne So trade moved westward and they were gone A N N O U N C E R H e leaves you his horses the light and the dark He leaves the oaks in the long deer park H e leaves you his meadows, his harvests and his heath With the coal a n d the minerals that lie u n d e r n e a t h C H O R U S T h e Romans as every schoolboy knows United an empire with their roman nose But they caught malaria a n d they couldn't keep accounts And barbarians conquered them who couldn't pronounce A N N O U N C E R H e leaves you his engines and his machines T h e s u m of all his productive means H e leaves you his railways, his liners and his banks And he leaves you his money to spend with thanks C H O R U S T h e feudal barons they did their part T h e i r virtues were not of the head but the heart T h e i r ways were suited to an agricultural land But lending on interest they did not understand A N N O U N C E R T o the medical student who came in tight T h a t chandelier there to sleep with to-night And then to that lady who ought never to have come A tip for the attendant a n d a taxi home C H O R U S L u t h e r a n d Calvin p u t in a word T h e god of your priests, they said, is absurd

TH E

DANC E Ol· D E A T H

Hi s laws ar e inscrutabl e a n d d e p e n d u p o n grac e So laissez-fair e pleas e for th e chose n rac e T h e bourgeoi s t h o u g h t thi s splendi d advice T h e y cu t off th e hea d of thei r kin g in a tric e T h e y enclose d th e c o m m o n land s a n d laid t h e m for shee p An d th e peasant s were tol d the y coul d play bo-pee p A N N O U N C E R A n d last h e would like to congratulat e T h e actors , orchestr a a n d author s to-nigh t U p o n thi s p e r f o r m a n c e an d as soo n as it is d o n e Ma y engagement s be offered t h e m by everyon e C H O R U S T h e y invite d the m int o a squali d tow n T h e y p u t t h e m in factorie s a n d di d t h e m dow n T h e n the y l u i n e d eac h o t h e r for the y did n t kno w ho w T h e y were makin g th e condition s tha t ar e killing t h e m no w A N N O U N C E R H e asks for free drink s for th e compan y h e r e T o mak e thei r lives no t so h a r d to bea r So d r i n k to hi s funera l in clare t an d bee r Fo r h e wishes you all a very happ y ne w year [Clocks strikes 12 ] C H O R U S Ne w Year Ne w Year We hav e thirs t A N N O U N C E R Sen d r o u n d th e boot , waite r WAITE R

Β A D C Β

So direct , m y sir

He' s sendin g m e th e boo t He' s no t m e a n He' s goot Pas s it Pas s it Ne w Year Now , altogethe r

C H O R U S Hai l th e strang e electri c writin g Alma Mate r o n th e d o o r Like a secre t sign invitin g All th e ric h to mee t th e p o o r Alma Mater , ave salve Florea s in secula G I R L S YOU sen t You sen t us You sen t us With w h o m

u s m e n with lots of money , m e n you kne w were clean , m e n as sweet as honey , we coul d be really kee n

105

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Always even t h o u g h we marry T h o u g h we wear ancestral pearls O n e m e m o r y we'll always carry We were Alma Mater girls. C H O R U S . Alma Mater, ave salve, etc. T H I E V E S . Let Americans with purses Go for short strolls after dark, Let the absent-minded nurses Leave an heiress in the park, T h o u g h t h e bullers sooner or later Clap us handcuffed into jail, We will r e m e m b e r Alma Mater, We will r e m e m b e r without fail. C H O R U S . Alma Mater, ave salve, etc. B O Y S . T h e French are mean a n d Germans lazy, Dutchmen will leave you in the end. Only the Englishman though he's crazy, He will keep you for a friend. Always t h o u g h a king in cotton Waft us all to foreign parts Alma Mater shall not be forgotten, She is written on o u r hearts. C H O R U S . Alma Mater, ave salve, etc. BLACKMAILERS. We must thank o u r mugs' relations For o u r income a n d man's laws. But the first congratulations Alma Mater they are yours. C O I N E R S . W h e n the fool believes o u r story W h e n h e thinks o u r coins are true T o Alma Mater be the glory For she taught us what to do. C H O R U S . Alma Mater, ave salve, etc. OLD

H A C K S A N D T R O T S . We c a n n o t d a n c e u p o n the table

Now we're old as souvenirs Yet as long as we are able We will r e m e m b e r bygone years Still as when we were the attraction Come the people from abroad,

TH E

DANC E O F D E A T H

107

S p e n d i n g t h o u g h we're ou t of action , Mor e tha n the y ca n well afford . C H O R U S . Alma Mater , ave salve, etc. G R A N D C H O R U S . Navie s rus t a n d nation s peris h C u r r e n c y is neve r sur e Bu t Alma Mate r she shall flourish While th e sexes shall e n d u r e . Alma Mater , ave salve Florea s in secula . A.

Som e b r a n d y quic k He' s sick.

A N N O U N C E R . He' s d e a d .

[Pause.} [Noise without.] A.

Quic k u n d e r th e table , it's th e 'tec s an d thei r narks , Ο n o , salute—it's M r Kar l Marx .

C H O R U S [singing to Mendehsohn's "Wedding Ο M r Marx , you've gathere d All th e materia l facts You kno w th e economi c Reason s for o u r acts .

March"].

[Enter KAR L M A R X with two young communists.] K A R L M A R X . T h e instrument s of productio n hav e bee n to o m u c h for him . H e is liquidated . [Exeunt to a Dead March.} TH E

EN D

The Chase A Play in Three Acts BY W. H. A U D E N

[1934]

TO TYRONE

GUTHRIE

My relations are but three And they live in a tree They are beautiful birds But sometimes they are cruel. JOHN

BOWES

PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS T H E V I C A R of Pressan Ambo PRESSMEN

G E N E R A L H O T H A M of Puffin

Conyers A U G U S T U S B I C K N E L L , H e a d of

T u d r o Reformatory

POLICEMEN

ALAN NORMAN S E R G E A N T B U N Y A N , assistant at

Tudro M R H A Y B O Y , research chemist JIMMY GEORGE DEREK HECTOR T H E SURGEON

T H E M A N A G E R of the Nineveh

Hotel MRS HOTHAM

M I L D R E D L U C E , t h e Vicar's sister JEAN M I S S I R I S C R E W E of H o n e y p o t

Hall MISS LOU VIPOND T H E WITNESSES CHORUS

Villagers, Boys, Waiters, Pages, Soldiers, Medical Students, etc

Chorus The summei holds upon its glittering lake Lie Europe and the islands, many rivers Wrinkling her surface like a ploughman's palm Under the bellies of the grazing horses On the far side of posts and bridges The vigorous shadows dwindle, nothing wavers Between the cathedrals and the wide feminine valleys Where dragonflies race above the still and treacherous reaches Between the big farms and the arterial roads We show you a hedgeless country, the source of streams, Deadstones above Redam, Thackmoss, Halfpenny Scar, Two-top and Muska, Pity Mea, Bullpot Brow Land of the stone chat a bird stone-haunting, an unquiet bird Before the Romans built their rational roads Man mined for lead here, honoured the hammer In a mound near The Viols, was found a lead pig, dating from Hadrian A stone lamp at Midge Pits, a bronze axe head at Softly Side A charter records the murder of a German miner, and copper at Skeers Here generations farmed at the week-ends only They loved their lamps, and were obedient to their fathers Marshalls were appointed to supervise the buying and selling of ore, to detect false measure New veins were discovered, special laws awarded the ownership to the discoverer No one remembers the first mine at Hardshins, nor the day when Hubberdale Pipe was struck Susannah was rich in the water-sill, and the Hospital down to the Jew bottom limestone A trial was made at Elphytorey Tnddle pinched out in the Whinsill Stafford's Dream was good while it lasted, a fortune came out of Surrender But alas this is not a historical comedy full of quaint and beautiful dresses Dancing at the wedding, a background of English glory and humour We speak of the numbing uncertainty of the present, near in the North Hiker with sunburn blisters on your office pallor Cross-country champion with corks in your hands When you have eaten your sandwich, your salt and your apple When you have begged your glass of milk from ill-kept farm What is it you see ? D

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T h e shafts are filled with water, the mosses grope over the washing floors I look t h r o u g h the rigid arms of broken waterwheels I see lambs feeding T r u c k s he overturned, an old rail patches a gap in the wall Ram falls t h r o u g h the gaping roofs of sheds, it falls on the obsolete inventions and structures T h o s e who sang in the inns at evening have departed, they saw their h o p e in another country "What is going to h a p p e n to us" they said "Lead is ten pounds a ton" T h e i r sons also, their daughters entered service in the suburban areas, they became typists, mannequins and factory operatives, they desired a different rhythm of life T h a t was an ill bargain that was struck, a bargain with nasal-voiced Australia T h e y were to build us cruisers Nelson was not forgotten Destroyers to sweep the seas, flotillas against fear We were to take their lead, to import at their price o u r whole supply T h e r e is n o smoke from Fleming's chimney, the cupolas are cold in Washtub Wood Daddry and Noonstones weep At Broken Hill you were defeated But one mine is working At Windyacre the wheels t u r n Yes at Windyacre, in the parish of Pressan Ambo Mr F o r d h a m has made it pay, he has installed the latest machinery A power house at Sally Grain, a power house with a pelton wheel H e has replaced the buddies by magnetic separators, separating blende from galena O n e m a n can tend five machines H e needs less labour H e has t u r n e d off hands the men are angry H e has dismissed Corder, Forge-Hammond, O r m e r o d and Rylands have received their notice T h e y gather at the corners of the village street, they argue m the evening T h e y are holding a meeting of protest to-morrow, T h e y threaten a strike, T h e i r wives are with them F o r d h a m is firm H e loves his creation H e argues with them, either that or nothing We must work efficiently or not at all Without the machines we should have to close down, the last mine in the district, you can take it or leave it H e is a liar they say T h e company is rich

I HE CHASE

113

O r why d o the directors go about in Daimlers; why do their wives drink tea in the yew avenues, talking of art. T h e i r sons read the classics at Oxford; and their daughters play tennis on the Riviera. Man is changed by his living; but not fast enough His concern to-day; is for that which yesterday did not occur. In the h o u r of the Blue Bird and the Bristol Bomber; his thoughts are suitable to the years of the Penny-Farthing. H e tosses at night who at noonday found no truth. But stand aside; the play is beginning. It appears to concern itself with quite other matters; with private salvation T h e scene is Pressan, the speaker the Vicar Listen.

Act I Scene 1 V I C A R . Good evening, gentlemen, you wished to see me. 3 P R E S S M E N . Yes, if you please.

[Taking out notebooks and writing aside.] Tall, scholarly, and dreamy. 1ST PRESSMAN. T h e papers which we represent, T h e Post, T h e Telegraph, T h e Mail, have sent Us h e r e about the great event To-morrow. We must gather news Get local colour, interviews. But firstly let me introduce Myself and friends. This man is What He's Why, he's Where. And that's the lot. 2 N D PRESSMAN. T h e Morning Post Is England's ghost. [Makes the secret sign of his paper.] 1ST PRESSMAN. T h e Daily Telegraph Raises n o foolish laugh. [Ditto.] 3 R D PRESSMAN. But look at the sale Of the Daily Mail. [Ditto.] T O G E T H E R . We're pleased to meet you, sir And so says each reporter And if you don't feel flattered You're a B-F, cause you oughter.

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T H E CHASE

1ST PRESSMAN. And now, explain, sir, if you please About to-morrow's ceremonies. V I C A R . T h e ancient family of Crewe It may p e r h a p s be known to you 2 N D PRESSMAN. It is; it fought at Waterloo 3 R D PRESSMAN. And many other places too. V I C A R . For generations has owned the land T h e mines, the fells on which we stand. Sir Vauncey Crewe who was the last —God rest his soul for he has passed— [Crosses himself. The PRESSMEN take off their bowler hats.] We touched o u r hats to, had a son A h a n d s o m e lad, his only one, Called Francis who was to succeed him —Would he were here, we badly need him. T h e y quarrelled I am sad to say A n d twenty years ago to-day Young Francis packed and ran away Leaving behind him no address. 3 R D PRESSMAN. Why did they quarrel? 1ST P R E S S M A N .

I can guess.

[Whisper together.] 2 N D PRESSMAN. Mem.; question the servants at the hall. V I C A R . A n d since that day no news at all Has ever come. We d o not know If h e be living still or no. [Clears his throat.] Sir Vauncey died ten years ago Francis, his heir being missing still A n d left these clauses in his will Each year his villages in turn Should choose by lottery a man T o find Sir Francis if he can F u r t h e r he promised half his land And Iris his d a u g h t e r adds her hand In marriage to the lucky one Who comes h o m e with his only son

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Thi s year is Pressan' s t u r n to choos e Bu t now , I h o p e you will excuse M e bu t I still hav e p r e p a r a t i o n s Fo r to-morrow' s celebrations . 1S T PRESSMAN . Befor e you go sir, we have o n e reques t Pleas e face thi s way a n d loo k you r best T h e Mail , T h e Post , a n d T h e T e l e g r a p h Will b e h o n o u r e d with you r p h o t o g r a p h . [Cameras. Flashlight.] A L L . We h o p e to-morro w will be bright . We t h a n k you sir, a n d wish goo d night . 1 S T PRESSMAN . Well boys that' s all to-day , I thin k It' s o p e n i n g tim e a n d tim e to drink . Ο D a m n , we've a visit still to pa y T o Bicknell , Majo r a n d B.A. 3 R D P R E S S M A N . Who' s he ? 1ST PRESSMAN .

You ar e a n i g n o r a m u s

H e is th e principa l of th e mos t famou s Reformator y in England , buil t at Pressa n T o teac h town-lad s a n a t u r e lesson . T o quot e fro m t h e prospectus . T u d r o is T h e mos t select of reformatorie s Classes ar e small; t h e bed s ar e aire d T h e die t is scientificall y p r e p a r e d A n d wha t we value highes t h e r e Is j u st a Christia n characte r O u r pupil s find fit p r e p a r a t i o n I n t h o u g h t s t o suit thei r h u m b l e statio n Was it Kiplin g wh o said. N o it mus t hav e bee n som e o t h e r fella: I n t h e boile r room s of liner s fro m Vancouve r t o P e n a n g I n bar s a n d factorie s u p an d dow n th e lan d You will kno w a T u d r o p r o d u c t 'caus e h e neve r uses slan g A n d always ha s a wash befor e h e shake s you r h a n d . You will kno w hi m o n t h e quaysid e by th e way h e take s you r ba g A n d t h e way h e says "Ay Ay sir" in a n obedien t sort of ton e I f you quote , whe n you hav e tippe d him , a n ap t Vergilian ta g H e will ca p it, if he' s T u d r o to t h e bone . 2 N D PRESSMAN . It' s gettin g m u c h to o lat e So let T u d r o wait

1HL· CHASE

116

Until the m o r n i n g My stomach gives me warning T h e Press must feed If the Press is to succeed. [Song and dance.] Rhythm of life That's what we're after Tragedy, laughter Death. Birth, marriage and love T h e breath Of life in the m o d e r n and odd At binges and on the fringes Of Civilisation. What film stars wish, the lives of certain fish, T h o u g h t s on, reports on God in his heaven above T h e Modern Press Depends for its success O n you and you What you desire and what you d o O n your imagination. We watch your faces We hear when your blood races We capture your r a p t u r e , your Rhythm of life. [Exeunt.

Act 1 S c e n e 2 [Tudro Reformatory. A bare room with a barred window and a table and benches. Doors left and right. A door at the back opens into a yard Enter W A R D E R BUNYAN from the yard, with G E O R G E area! J I M M Y , boys of about sixteen, wearing flash East End suits and check caps.] G E O R G E . N a h then, cheese it Guv'nor—who in hell d'yer think yer pushin'? B U N Y A N . That's all right, sonny. I'm not pushing nothing I don't know of. G E O R G E . T h i n k s yer bleedin' funny, don't yer?

TH E

CHAS E

117

BUNYAN . Don' t think . I knows . G E O R G E . Jes t yer wyte till I hinform s m e pa l t h e Princ e o' Wyles wot yer bin an ' d o n e te r us. J I M M Y . AW, chees e it, George . Wot's th e bleedin ' use? We coppe d it thi s time . G E O R G E . C o p p e d it m y foot . Yer wyte till I tells m e pa l t h e Princ e o' Wyles— BUNYAN . T h a t ' s all right , sonny . 'E' s bee n a pa l to ' u n d r e d s 'ere , bu t I neve r see 'im 'elp an y o n 'e m out . [A steam siren blows, off. Enter a crowd of boys in broad-arrow suits, from the yard, with tin mugs. They sit down at the table and begin banging and shouting.] B O Y S . S o u p ! We want s o u r soup ! We want s o u r bleedin ' s o u p ! BUNYAN . All right , yer lordships . All right . All right . [Exit.] A B O Y [to G E O R G E ] . Wot's yer nyme ? G E O R G E . T h e Righ t H o n o r r i b l e Stanle y Baldwin . M.P . A N O T H E R B O Y. Coo , Christ . Aint the y toffs? A N O T H E R B O Y [snatching off GEORGE' S cap and putting it on rakishly]. Ow, chyse m e ! [ G E O R G E snatches it back and knocks the boy down.] T H E B O Y. Yer wyte, yer bleedin ' barstard ! [Uproar.] [Enter V I C A R . ]

A B O Y. Look , 'ere' s Uncle . [Uproar. They crowd round him, banging and shouting.] A L L . Ull o Uncle . 1ST B O Y. Go t a fag fer me , Uncle ? 2 N D B O Y. Ere , smell thi s soup . 3 R D B O Y. Sto p shuvving, can' t yer. I worn t to sho w 'im m a boat . Ooncle , luk e whar t arve m a a d e . 4 T H B O Y. Go t a n n u v e r boo k fer me , Uncle ? Oive finished thi s wan . Aint it thrillin g whe n Dic k gets shu t u p wiv th e gerilla. V I C A R . Please . Please . O n e at a time . [Criesof Shut up. Noise subsides. B O YS form a rough ring round him.] H e r e you are , H e n r y , catch . You'll neve r grow if you smok e like that , I' m afraid . No w Albert , wha t is it? Ο yes th e soup . H m . I t doe s smell a bit stron g I admit . I'll spea k to M r Bicknel l abou t it. Well, Henry ,

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I mus t congratulat e you T h a t ' s a beautifu l piec e of work You haven' t got t h e r u d d e r quit e righ t yet, hav e you ? Gla d you liked t h e book , A r t h u r I haven' t rea d thi s on e b u t I believe it' s quit e goo d [Noticing G E O R G E and J I M M Y ] Hull o I don' t r e m e m b e r seein g you r faces befor e Are you ne w arrivals? [They nod ] What' s you r name ? JIMM Y Jimm y VICAR

A n d yours ?

GEORG E

Georg e

V I C A R Well, J i m m y a n d George , I' m very sorr y t o see you h e r e bu t least said soones t m e n d e d Hav e a bull's eye Wher e d o you two com e from ? GEORG E

Colestree t

V I C A R You o u g h t t o find plent y o f friend s here , the n Mos t o f t h e m com e fro m t h e r e B O Y Rea d u s som e m o r e o f yer istor y abah t th e Grea t War V O I C E S Yes G o o n Uncl e

V I C A R [fishes envelopes from his pocket] Wher e di d I get t o last time ? B O Y G o r d o n was avin g a cha t with a G e r m a n prisone r A N O T H E R B O Y Naaw , we're m u c h furthe r o n tha n tha t Έ was waitin g for th e attac k larst tym e V O I C E S Yus, that' s righ t V I C A R [reading] H e coul d feel hi s hear t p o u n d i n g agains t hi s ribs " T h a t ' s goo d T h a t ' s g o o d " it seeme d t o say H e looke d at hi s wristwatch , tryin g t o seem calm T e n m o r e seconds , nine , eight , seven, six, five, four , t h r e e , two B O Y Loo k out , h e r e come s his nib s [Enter S E R G E A N T B U N Y A N and B I C K N E L L ]

S E R G E A N T Atte n shu n B I C K N E L L Hullo , Vicar, spoilin g t h e boys as usua l You d o n ' t kno w t h e m Giv e the m a n inc h a n d they'l l tak e a mil e V I C A R Good-evening , Bicknel l I've just d r o p p e d in t o see you abou t th e a r r a n g e m e n t s for to-morro w afternoo n I' m delighte d you've decide d B I C K N E L L Ssh [Aside to V I C A R ] I haven' t tol d t h e m yet [Aloud ] Com e alon g a n d hav e som e coffee in th e stud y [Exeunt B I C K N E L L and V I C A R ]

S E R G E A N T NO W boys Stead y no w stead y No t a movemen t Class Di s miss As you were We'll have O'Grad y Smartl y no w H e a d t u r n i n g quickl y by n u m b e r s beginnin g with th e righ t O n e T w o H a r r y a n d A r t h u r I saw you Off you go a n d fetch th e sou p O'Grad y says T w o

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A r m s bend . O'Grad y says Arm s bend . H a n d s down . Quick . You fou r lay t h e table . O'Grad y says H a n d s down . Hip s firm. O'Grad y says Hip s firm. O'Grad y says Heel s raise . Knee s bend . Go t you . G o an d Fetc h t h e cups . O'Grad y says Knee s stretch . O'Grad y says Heel s lower. H a n d s down . O'Grad y says H a n d s down . As you were. Alrigh t that'l l d o . Class. Dismiss . B O YS [scramblingfor places and soup]. 'Er e thi s ain t soup . Shyme ! S E R G E A N T . It' s all you'll get. Por e littl e bleeders . 1S T B O Y [smelling it]. Cor , don' t it whistle? 2 N D B O Y [jumping onto table and holding up bootlace]. Dee s is zoo mooc h C o m r a d e s ; ow lon g shall we dees e oppression s e n d u r e ? Are we to be treate d like t h e hoonds ? ALL. Nah . 3 R D B O Y. We've a d e n o u g h . 4 T H B O Y. Joostice . 2 N D B O Y. We d e m a n d d e r free air. De r zunlicht . 4 T H B O Y. Goo d ole Fritz . 5 T H B O Y. T h r e e cheer s for Fritz . A L L . I p , ip , Oory ! Oory ! Oory ! A B O Y AT T H E D O O R . Loo k aht . Er e come s 'is nibs. [Enter S E R G E A N T and

BICKNELL. ]

S E R G E A N T . Atten . . . . shun . [Goesto piano.] B I C K N E L L . T h e Vicar ha s very kindl y invite d you t o t h e ceremon y to m o r r o w afternoon . At two o'cloc k a bell will be r u n g . You will go upstair s a n d you will p u t o n you r blu e stocking s a n d you r blu e suits. Ever y boy will see tha t h e ha s a clea n handkerchief . At two-fiftee n a secon d bell will be r u n g a n d you will assembl e in th e q u a d for callover. Whe n call-ove r is finished you will line u p in age o r d e r a n d will t h e n m a r c h dow n t o th e village in doubl e file a n d in silence—I N SI L E N C E . R e m e m b e r pleas e t h e r e is to be n o raggin g of an y kind . Any boy wh o is seen raggin g will be very severely deal t with indeed . I hav e o n e o t h e r a n n o u n c e m e n t . T h e min e at Windyacr e is O u t of B o u n d s unti l f u r t h e r notice . I wan t to see thos e who sleep in Dur h a m a n d Carlisl e in five minutes ' tim e in th e study . Ne w boys stay b e h i n d for a m o m e n t now please . [Rings a bell.] B O YS [sing grace, accompanied at piano by SERGEANT] . Fo r healt h a n d strengt h a n d daily food We prais e th y n a m e , Ο God . [Exeunt B O YS in silence, followed by S E R G E A N T . ]

B I C K N E L L . C o m e h e r e . [ J I M M Y comes forward.] What' s you r name ?

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120

J I M M Y . Jymes Halbert 'Enery Piatt. BICKNELL. Say Sir when you're speaking to me. J I M M Y . Sir.

BICKNELL. A n d take off your cap. [ J I M M Y does SO.] NOW listen to me, Piatt. I say this to every boy who comes to T u d r o . This is not a prison. It's a H o m e . You understand? J I M M Y . Yes. B I C K N E L L . Yes, sir. J I M M Y . Sir.

BICKNELL. I've been governor of this place now for ten years. A n d all the time I've been drilling into you boys' heads that this is a H o m e . Boys come h e r e determined to regard this place as a Prison. I'm determined that they shall regard it as a H o m e . Very well. It's my will against theirs. A n d you'll h n d that I invariably win. J I M M Y . Yes, sir.

B I C K N E L L . I divide the boys who come here into two sorts, the rotters and t h e slackers. T h e rotters I break and the slackers I p u t t h e fear of God into. Now which sort are you? J I M M Y . D u n n o , sir.

BICKNELL. Well, we'll soon h n d out. A n d when we've i o u n d out, we can start work. I wish you could see yourself as you'll be in a m o n t h from now. Your own mother wouldn't recognize you. But get this clear right at the start. This is a H o m e . Whatever you make of yourself here, you'll make by self-discipline and self-control. T h e T u d r o code will help you to build u p both. If you need a d a m n good hiding, we'll give it you. If you need to p u t a curb on your beastly physical appetites—all you boys a r e greedy as hogs—we'll keep you on d o g biscuit for a m o n t h . Now do you quite understand?

J I M M Y . Yes, sir.

BICKNELL. Good, that is all. Good night. [Exit BICKNELL.] [The siren blows, off. All the BOYS enter chasing one of the maids across the stage, singing. (Tune: The Great American Railway.)} BOYS.

I n nineteen h u n d r e d and thirty-three T h e Bishop started to rescue me H e started just above the knee W h e n I was a parson's daughter. [Exeunt.] [Enter S E R G E A N T . ]

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121

SERGEANT. Ere you two. You'll ave to sleep in the office to-night. T h e r e isn't room in there. I'll go and get some blankets. [Exit.] G E O R G E . See 'ere Jimmy. This is o u r chance. Ter-night, we'll 'op it. Yer gyme? J I M M Y . Bet yur life.

G E O R G E . We'll ave to get a disguise like, when we're aht. I reckon we can pinch some d u d s in the village. [As SERGEANT returns with blankets.] Luvverly night, aint it. I don't think. SERGEANT. NOW then, sonny. You cut along. Know the way don't you? G E O R G E . 'Appy dreams. An I opes they're dry. [Exeunt G E O R G E and

JIMMY.]

V O I C E O F F . Sergeant, aint yer comin to kiss us goodnight. SERGEANT. Lights out in five minutes. And then we'll have silence please. [Exit.] [Various noises off. The BOYS begin to sing. Enter G E O R G E and J I M M Y , left. Stealthily they cross the stage and exit left into the yard.] B O Y S [singing off]. Do yer want to see me agyne T h e n come to the stytion before the tryne In the gen'ral waitin' 'all We'll see each other for the last time of all. BLACK O U T

Act I Scene 3 [Curtains open at the top of the Cyclorama, disclosing the W I T N E S S E S , old men identical in nightshirts and night caps.] 1ST W I T N E S S .

T h e young m e n in Pressan to-night Toss on their beds T h e i r pillows do not comfort T h e i r uneasy heads T h e lot that decides their fate Is cast to-morrow One must d e p a r t and face Danger and sorrow.

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IHL · CHAS L

VOICE S

I s it m e

2N D WITNES S

Loo k in you r h e a r t a n d see T h e r e lies th e answe r T h o u g h t h e h e a r t like a clever Conjuro r o r d a n c e r Deceive s you ofte n int o man y A curiou s sleight A n d motive s like stowaways Are foun d to o lat e

VOICE S

Wha t shall h e d o whose hear t Choose s to d e p a r t 5

1ST W I T N E S S

H e shall agains t his peac e Fee l his hear t h a r d e n Env y th e heav y bird s At h o m e in a g a r d e n Fo r walk h e mus t th e empt y Selfish j o u r n e y Betwee n th e needles s risk A n d th e endles s safety

VOICE S

Will h e safe a n d soun d R e t u r n t o his own ground ?

2N D WITNES S

Cloud s a n d lion s stan d Befor e hi m d a n g e r o u s A n d th e hostilit y of d r e a m s Ο let hi m h o n o u r us Lest h e shoul d be ashame d I n t h e h o u r of crisis I n t h e valleys of corrosio n T a r n i s h hi s brightnes s

VOICE S

Who ar e you whose speec h Sound s far ou t of reach ?

5

I s it me ? I s i t — m e '

W I T N E S S E S [song] You ar e th e tow n a n d we ar e th e cloc k We ar e th e guardian s of th e gate in th e roc k T h e Two O n you r left a n d o n you r righ t I n th e da y a n d m th e nigh t We ar e watchin g you

1HL· CHASL

Wiser not to ask just what has occurred To them who disobeyed our word To those We were the whirlpool, we were the reef, We were the formal nightmare, grief And the unlucky rose Climb up the crane, learn the sailor's words When the ships from the islands laden with birds Come in Tell your stories of fishing and other men's wives The expansive moments of constricted lives In the lighted inn But do not imagine we do not know Nor that what you hide with such care won't show At a glance Nothing is done, nothing is said But don't make the mistake of believing us dead I shouldn't dance We're afraid in that case you'll have a fall We've been watching you over the garden wall For hours The sky is darkening like a stain Something is going to fall like rain And it won't be flowers When the green field comes off like a lid Revealing what was much better hid Unpleasant And look behind you without a sound The woods have come up and are standing round In deadly crescent The bolt is sliding in its groove Outside the window is the black remov-ers van And now with sudden swift emergence Come the woman in dark glasses and the humpbacked surgeons And the scissor man This might happen any day So be careful what you say Or do

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Be clean , be tidy, oil th e lock T r i m th e g a r d e n , wind th e cloc k Remembe r th e Two [Both pick up telephone receivers] BLAC K O U T

Act I S c e n e 4 [The Vicarage garden It is just getting light G E O R G E and J I M M Y discovered sheltering by a bush ] G E O R G E It' s p e n s h i n ' col d T h i s er e de w fair make s you d a m p M y plate s ar e col d Wher e t h e 'ell ar e we? J I M M Y It' s getti n a bit lighte r no w Arf-a-m o Yus, loo k George , there' s a c h u r c h o r somethin k Wonde r oos e g a r d e n we've got int o Shouldn' t w o n d e r if it's tha t t h e r e parson' s A decen t kin d of blok e h e seeme d larst nigh t bu t wouldn' t h e arf j u m p if h e foun d us er e a m o n g his vegetables I wish we was safe bac k in Colestree t D o yer thin k we'll get t h e r e o r l n g h t , George ? G E O R G E Cors e we shall Gimm e a fag J I M M Y Why can' t yer git som e of yer own Always cadgm , you ar e Besides, I ain t got n o n e G E O R G E [snatching a case out of J IMMY' S pocket] Ο ain t yer J I M M Y [furious] You jest give thos e back , yer dirt y thie f A n d you wiv a notecas e you foun d at th e stytio n with Gaw d know s ow man y note s in it G E O R G E 'Ere , oos e sho w wuz thi s anyway? If it wasn't for m e you' d be m T u d r o , sitti n o n yer be'in d a n d crym for Muvve r J I M M Y YOU I f it wasn't for you A n d o o th e ell d o yer thin k you ar e whe n you'r e at o m e ' Many' s th e tim e I've stoo d you a c u p of te a whe n you adn' t th e pric e of a be d at Levy's An' glad you was of it, an ' glad enuf f yer was if yer cu d git awy wiv som e por e arf-bhn d ole m u g wot c u d n ' t see yer ugly fyce G E O R G E Jes t you tak e care , yer bleedi n little barstar d De r yer see this 5 J I M M Y G a r n t h e n G a r n Jest you it me , yer dirt y little arf-crah n pou f G E O R G E [suddenly subsiding as V I C A R and his C O O K emerge from the house] Sh Someone' s comin g V I C A R Bu t Mr s B u r k e wha t shall I d o ? I can' t get d i n n e r by myself

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125

M R S B U R K E . You'll find th e cold mea t o n th e shelf. V I C A R . Bu t I've got guests. I t mus t be hot . M R S B U R K E . I'll mak e a stew a n d leave it in th e pot . You'll onl y hav e to p u t it o n at six. I' m sorr y to leave you in a fix Bu t I promise d Maggi e I' d go t o th e meetin g A n d len d h e r a h a n d with a r r a n g i n g th e seatin g A n d a promis e is a promise . It' s onl y to-da y A n d h e r boy is o n e tha t they'v e t u r n e d away. M r F o r d h a m a n d th e compan y ca n say wha t the y like If the y d o n ' t tak e t h e m back , there' s goin g to be a strike . V I C A R . Very well. Dea r m e . I suppos e it's alrigh t Bu t wha t shall I d o for d i n n e r to-night ? [Extracts envelopes from his pockets.] No w wher e doe s thi s passage com e from ? I thin k it mus t be th e battl e of th e Somme . [PicL· up a rake and stabs at the bushes with it.] Burs . Burs . Burs . T h e y ' r e falling bac k o n th e left. [Putting his hand to his ear.] Is tha t Brigade ? We're bein g overwhelme d by superio r n u m b e r s . Sen d reinforcements . Yes quick . Burs . Burs . Ow. Platoo n get read y to attack . Are you all there ? O n e . Two . T h r e e . Charge . Burs . Burs . G r r r . G r r r . Grrr . Burs . I' m killed. [Falls over the rockery into the arms of J I M M Y and GEORGE. ]

Excus e me . Who ar e you? I' m sur e I've seen you two somewher e before . Was it o n t h e E m b a n k m e n t last September ? N o wait a bit. No w I r e m e m b e r . Last nigh t at T u d r o . Bu t I t h o u g h t as a rul e At thi s h o u r you were doin g earl y school . Ο I see. [Pause.] You'r e r u n n i n g away. [Pause.] [Aside, boks at the audience, not at the ceiling.] Wha t were you sen t h e r e for? [Pause.] For ? [Gesture. They nod.]

126

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A n d no w alread y you wan t t o go [Pause ] You haven' t trie d it yet you kno w G E O R G E [bursting out] N o , bu t I a d a pa l wot was insid e Ε t h o u g h t isself smar t enuf f afor e h e wen t in , bu t h e foun d h e was onl y a p o r e innocen t kid arte r all Ε tol d m e thing s as goes o n u p t h e r e wot I neve r ear d tell o f befor e Ask an y of th e boys dow n o u r way They'l l tell yer T h e r e ' s m o r e crook s come s ou t of tha t plyce tha n ever goes in J I M M Y Yus, a n d the y treat s yer like dir t 'Arry Bartlet t tol d m e G E O R G E Giv e u s jest anuvve r charnce , Mister , can' t y e r ' We'll go stryte , afte r this , we promis e yer, d o n ' t we J i m m y ' J I M M Y YUS, George , whe n I thin k of Muvve r an d all th e shym e an d disgryce I've bin t o er [Starts to howl So does G E O R G E ] V I C A R [bursting into a terrible tenor] Don' t kno w m y father' s n a m e I a m m y mother' s sham e I mayn' t di e all th e sam e I' m still to o youn g [That stops them ] Fo r t h e Lord' s sake d o n ' t mak e suc h a fuss No w Georg e You ar e Georg e aren' t y o u ' GEORG E

YUS

V I C A R I f you hav e n o hanky , th e h a n d will d o A c i g a r e t t e ' Ho w old ar e y o u ' Sit dow n GEORG E

Sixtee n

VICAR Sixtee n T h a t ' s splendi d A n d wha t will you d o whe n you r yout h is e n d e d ' G E O R G E I' m goin g t o b e a gryte explore r A n d go t o Africa a n d h u n t for lion s A n d ave m y p h o t e r in t h e pictur e paper s A n d shyke a n d s wiv t h e Princ e of Wyles V I C A R No w J i m m y it's you r t u r n J I M M Y I' m fifteen Shal l I tell you wha t I' m goin g t o b e ' I' m goin g t o be a te c a n d in disguise Fin d ou t o o pinche d th e Duchess' s pearls , Rescu e m y y o u n g pa l fro m t h e Maste r Croo k A n d tyke is ole gan g single 'ande d V I C A R A n d wha t d o you propos e to d o T o find t h e c a s h ' I thin k we kno w [Getsup, lights pipe and walks about the stage ]

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GEORG E

Hones t

VICAR

Be quie t [Pause ] It isn't easy I confes s

I wonder , d a r e I , d a r e I [Curtains draw back revealing W I T N E S S E S ] WITNES S

Yes

V I C A R You see tha t toolshe d Ge t in ther e you two I'll tell you wha t I wan t you bot h to d o [Exeunt ] W I T N E S S T h e i r lives ar e o n t h e wron g side of th e m i r r o r Deat h lies in wait ther e a n d with all his terro r A n d life's entir e performanc e come s to nothin g Bu t b r o k e n china , laughter , an d self-loathin g Ο comfor t t h e m , assist t h e m no w to pass Wher e the y ma y feed u p o n th e living grass [Curtains draw to again Enter SERGEAN T on a bicycle ] S E R G E A N T Vicar

Vicar [ V I C A R peeps out of toohhed ]

VICAR

Who

is it 5 Ο it's

you

Hull o Bunya n Wha t ca n I do ? S E R G E A N T Hav e you seen t h e m here ? VICAR See n w h o 5 S E R G E A N T Haven' t you heard ? You kno w thos e two who cam e in yesterda y You spok e t o t h e m V I C A R Yes, I r e m e m b e r I t h o u g h t t h e m c h a r m i n g T h e y o u n g e r one' s smile was so disarmin g S E R G E A N T C h a r m i n g I don' t thin k They'v e gor n O p p e d it in th e mid dl e of th e nigh t T h e guvnor' s in a p r o p e r fury, I ca n tell yer Said it was m y fault , b u t ow was I to kno w he' d left tha t blasted—begging you r p a r d o n Vicar,—tha t g a r d e n d o o r unbolte d Says I've got te r find e m a n d I n e e d n ' t com e bac k till I've foun d e m bot h T h r e a t e n e d m e wiv th e sack M e After all thes e years I've elpe d im You ain t seen e m anywher e about s t h e n Vicar I' m afrai d I haven' t Hav e you trie d Curly ? T h e Milkma n He' s u p earl y S E R G E A N T I adn' t t h o u g h t of im T h a n k s for th e ti p I'll be pushin g off t h e n at onc e if you d o n ' t min d V I C A R I say you r tyr e look s prett y dick y

128

T H E CHASE

[While SERGEANT IS talking, G E O R G E wrapped in a dog-skin and JIMMY half-dressed as a woman tiptoe out. J I M M Y has a nail and sticks it out in the path. They tiptoe back into the shed and watch through the door.] SERGEANT. Vicar, if I've asked the guvnor once for a new bicycle I've asked im a h u n d r e d times. O n e day, I says, this bicycle will be the death of me, a n d you'll be ter blame. It'll haunt yer. But d o he listen? No. You might as well ask at the Miners Arms for a glass of water. Look at the old fossil. As I said to cook last Sunday; cook, I says, A d a m might have leant it against the fatal tree when 'e was courtin Eve. She didn't laughed. She eaved. It was like tickling a blancmange. Well, I must be gettin along or there won't be no boys left to look for. Wait till I catch the little bleeders. [Exit, watched by all three. After a moment there is a loud bang off as the tyre bursts.]

[Enter P R O M P T E R in front of the curtain.] P R O M P T E R . Ladies a n d gentlemen, the vicar is awfully sorry but there is a slight delay in starting the next scene. He's not quite ready for this ceremony of his, I mean the choosing of someone to go a n d h u n t for t h e missing heir. Naturally there's always a great deal to get ready a n d this year he's got those two boys to look after. As a matter of fact I've left him dressing them u p . V O I C E FROM T H E O R C H E S T R A . D a m n silly idea, if you ask me.

P R O M P T E R . Yes, he's let me into the secret, but no one else, so you won't give t h e m away, will you, especially to those reporters. While you're waiting, t h e vicar thought you might like to know the names of some of t h e people who a r e coming to the ceremony. They've already started arriving [peeping through curtain] and the vicarage lawn's getting quite black. He's given me a list which I'm going to ask the conductor to read to you. Do you mind, Edgar? I've got to lend a hand. [Exit.] C O N D U C T O R . From Honeypot Hall, haunt of doves Driving dangerously in a blue Daimler Iris Crewe, an o r p h a n beauty M o u r n i n g h e r father, and missing h e r brother. From Puffin Conyers, place for peacocks

T H L CHASE

129

General H o t h a m in white moustaches Beside him Betty his obedient wife Geoffrey their son with the great glasses A n d a d u n face like a d r o p of water And Antonelli, their Italian chauffeur, Sweep past the sycamores of their sumptuous drive A family in fortune, rich in Rolls Augustus Bicknell from T u d r o , his m o u t h Padlocked for fear of property and person A dried boy on a back-pedalling bicycle As peevish as if he had pissed on a nettle With one-eyed Bunyan, warm, in shirtsleeves, His old school sergeant puffing beside him From deep-walled Larchwood a n d its weedy garden In cotton black a n d bird-cage hat Jerkily hurrying, hating the Germans Mildred Luce, t h e Vicar's sister Gilbert Gilbert [Enter P R O M P T ER ]

I say, I can't read this word P R O M P T E R Akers, silly [Exit ] C O N D U C T O R Akers t h e poet in an open shirt A n d khaki shorts, smoking a pipe Young Dr Stag in a standard coupe Wearing a club tie, come from Cambridge Mrs Aster Lynch in an Aero Morgan With spat-coloured tyres, scatters the gravel Billy h e r Sealyham on the seat beside h e r In a second-hand Riley from a small bungalow T h e i r faultless flannels, factory-fresh Very attractive, t h e solicitor's sons, Derek a n d Hector I n a dinky straw hat H e r make-up matching the morning, Miss J e a n McKay Deliberately fails to turn in drive Till Hector has to help A n d heaps more [Enter P R O M P T E R ]

P R O M P T E R H u r r y u p , we're waiting C O N D U C T O R Girls o n foot, farmers in gigs [The church bell begins to ring ]

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A ct I S c e n e 5 [Curtain rises The scene should be as much a musical comedy or pantomime village garden as possible Crowds, the middle, lower-middle, and working, keeping themselves to themselves but not completely so Some tennis rackets Some bags of tooh Brass band in distance ] B O Y T h e y ' r e waving fro m th e m a r q u e e Com e o n Surel y t h e r e will be ices no w 1 S T G I R L Ursul a you said h e did 2 N D G I R L I d i d n ' t say h e didn't , Mar y 1S T W O M A N Hav e you h e a r d abou t thos e boys at T u d r o ' Onl y just com e an d they'v e r u n away alread y Disgracefu l carelessness , I call it Di d you lock u p all th e window s befor e you cam e o u t ? I t make s you so nervou s I shan' t be able to sleep to-nigh t 2 N D W O M A N Poo r littl e thing s It' s a sham e th e way the y trea t the m I don' t like M r Bicknel l Go t a nast y loo k in his eye, don' t you t h i n k ? He' s like a bottl e with th e label missin g 1S T W O M A N I don' t kno w Peopl e ar e to o soft abou t childre n thes e days, if you ask m e I f a few of thos e boys got a goo d whippin g no w a n d t h e n it woul d d o t h e m a world of goo d P O E T [reading out of a notebook] Word s disappea r h e r e Sinkin g heavily t h r o u g h stagnan t mind s Bu t thes e ar e d e p t h charges , disturbin g sleep Warnin g we kno w Fro m spiritua l enclosure , bu t ar e in vain M R S H O T H A M T h u r s d a y t h e n T h a t will be fine We h o p e t o mak e a star t at nin e Dere k a n d Hecto r hav e promise d a n d I Will ask t h e Vicar by an d by We'll see t o lunch , bu t brin g you r ca r O u r s ha s troubl e in t h e clutc h We shan' t be goin g very far J E A N I shall loo k forwar d to T h u r s d a y so muc h Ο I d o h o p e it isn' t goin g to rai n Thi s is m y best froc k a n d it will stain Last nigh t t h e wireless said loca l shower s Bu t it looke d so fine in th e earl y h o u r s I t h o u g h t I' d risk it Goo d afternoo n Ho w ar e you , G e n e r a P G E N E R A L U g h Thi s t h u n d e r y weathe r doesn' t suit m e Who' s t h i s '

131

T H E CHAS E

M R S H O T H A M . Ο darlin g thi s is M r Haybo y who' s doin g som e chemica l test s for M r F o r d h a m at th e mine . M r Hayboy , thi s is m y husband , Genera l H o t h a m . GENERAL .

Ugh .

M A N . N e i t h e r di d I . W O M A N . I wish we knew . M A N . We mus t be very careful . 2 N D PRESSMA N [tight]. Where' s Toby ? 1 S T PRESSMAN . Gon e to th e strike meeting . Man y m o r e speeche s a n d m u c h less eating . No w F r a n k you com e a n d lie dow n for a bit. 2 N D PRESSMA N [breaking loose and running up to the G E N E R A L ] . Sir,

I j u st wan t to tell you , I thin k you'r e a . . . [ 1 ST PRESSMA N pulh him away.] A U G U S T U S [to G E N E R A L ] . It' s uphil l work. I d o all I ca n for t h e boys b u t they'r e so unresponsive . Deceitful . What ca n you expec t with th e sor t of home s mos t of t h e m com e from . I've ha d t o instal l microphone s in t h e dormitories . Onl y to-da y two of the m hav e bolted . M y staff ar e m u c h to o lenient . After anythin g of thi s kin d t h e onl y possible cours e is t o p u t th e whol e lot o n brea d an d wate r for a m o n t h . O r th e moral e goes t o pieces . [Noticing J I M M Y with V I C A R . ] Hullo , wh o ha s th e Vicar got stayin g with hi m thi s time ? V I C A R . Ο Bicknell , I was sorr y to h e a r you r news. I t mus t be tiresom e bu t I daresa y You'll see t h e m h e r e again to-day . A n d no w I' d like t o introduc e Miss J a m e s , m y secretary-chauffeur . N o ca r I touc h will ever stir. I h o p e she'll coo k too . Mr s B u r k e Is no t devote d t o h e r work. M r Bicknell . Miss Olive J a m e s . [ P O L I C E M A N comes up.]

P O L I C E M A N . T h e n a m e s hav e all com e in . We're read y to begin . V I C A R . Right .

[Rings a small hand bell. Silence. Groups. Choir boys. M A S T E R produces a tuning fork and sings.] C H O I R M A S T E R . Bass. T e n o r . Alto. Treble . O n e two thre e four .

132

CHORUS .

I H E CHAS E

T e n year s ago

We lost o u r maste r I n Pressa n A m b o Ο tha t was a disaste r H e wen t away o n e Sunda y m o r n i n g Withou t a wor d o f warnin g left u s m o u r n i n g . We wish we kne w the n Wha t we coul d d o t h e n T o brin g o u r maste r bac k Ο h e is wha t we lack So wh o (I t ma y be me , it ma y be you) Will find th e hei r Sir Franci s Crewe ? Were we t o tell You all hi s virtu e T h e contrast—well , O f you a n d hi m would h u r t you . T h o u g h nobl e h e was neve r haughty . H e was a beaut y bu t h e h a d a sense of duty . Who shall we sen d no w T o find o u r frien d no w O u r hei r an d o u r sun Withou t hi m we're u n d o n e . Ο wh o (I t ma y be me , it ma y be you) Will find th e hei r Sir Franci s Crewe ? Thi s s u m m e r da y O n e mus t be chose n T o sen d away Fo r h o p e is almos t frozen . Thi s year p e r h a p s o u r choic e ma y find him . Goo d luc k b e kin d t o us, goo d luc k no t blin d t o us. Coul d we see Sir Franci s Ho w light o u r dance s Whoeve r we ma y choos e Will go a n d no t refuse Ο who (I t ma y be me , it ma y be you ) Will find t h e heir , Sir Franci s Crewe ? V I C A R [stands up. A top hat is passed him by the P O L I C E S E R G E A N T ] .

T H E CHASE

133

Do you swear T h a t all the names are written here Of every m a n in this village alive U n m a r r i e d a n d u n d e r twenty-five? S E R G E A N T . I swear it.

V I C A R . Miss Iris Crewe. [She comes forward.] Iris Crewe, are you willing now In the presence of these people to make your vow? IRIS. I

am.

V I C A R AND I R I S [she repeats each phrase after him]. I, Iris Crewe, d o solemnly swear In the presence of these people here T h a t I will be the wedded wife T o love and cherish all my life Of him whoever he may be Who brings my brother back to me O r if that cannot be, instead Certain proof that he is dead. V I C A R . Read the names of those we sent W h o failed to d o the thing they meant. SERGEANT [reading]. Nobby Sollers. Sorbo Lamb. Kid Barnet. Battling Walter. Frenchie J o e . C h i m p Eagle. T h e Midget. Muffin T o d d . Nicky Peterson. [The VICAR'S eyes are bound with a handkerchief. He stirs the hat and draws, saying:] V I C A R . Divvy Divvy Divvy Divvy Divvy Divvy Di Divvy Divvy Divvy Divvy Divvy Divvy Di Swans in the air, swans in the air Let the chosen one appear, —Alan N o r m a n . [Short burst of cheering.]

134

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CHAS E

V O I C E N o r m a n Fanc y tha t Έ don' t kno w who 'is own fathe r was T h a t ' s a nic e thin g T h e y migh t hav e chose n someon e respectabl e V I C A R Alan N o r m a n [He comes forward and kneels ] Alan N o r m a n , will you go Cros s an y b o r d e r in san d o r sno w Will you d o whateve r ma y be needfu l T h o u g h peopl e a n d custom s bot h be hatefu l Whe n m i n d a n d m e m b e r s go opposit e way Watchin g wake foldin g lon g o n sea Will you remai n a passenge r still N o r d e s p e r a t e plung e for home ? A L AN

I will

V I C A R [with a bag] H e r e is wha t th e trustee s give T h a t as you j o u r n e y you ma y live Five h u n d r e d p o u n d s , n o m o r e n o less Ma y it hel p you to success Angels of air a n d darknes s fro m thi s h o u r Pu t a n d kee p o u r frien d in powe r Le t no t t h e reckles s heavenl y rider s T r e a t h i m o r m e as r a n k outsider s A L L We ask it V I C A R F r o m t h e fascinatin g sicknes s a n d Love' s accostin g biassed h a n d T h e lovely grievanc e a n d th e false addres s F r o m g u n m a n an d coine r protec t a n d bless A L L We ask it V I C A R We stan d a m o m e n t in silent praye r [Curtains draw back showing the W I T N E S S E S as dis patch riders Motor bicycles Crash helmets ] 1S T W I T N E S S E n t e r with hi m T h e s e legend s love Fo r hi m assum e Eac h diverse for m As legen d simpl e As legen d q u e e r T h a t h e ma y d o Wha t thes e requir e Be, love, like hi m T o legen d t r u e

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135

2N D WITNESS . When he to ease His heart' s disease Mus t cross in sorro w Corrosiv e seas As Dolphi n go As cunnin g fox Guid e throug h th e rock s Tell in his ear Th e commo n phras e Require d to please Th e guardian s there . And when across Th e livid mars h Big birds pursu e Again be tru e Between his thigh s As pon y rise As swift as wind Bear him away Till cries an d the y Are left behind . 1ST WITNESS . But when at last Thes e danger s past HI S grown desire Of legend s tire Ο then , love standin g At legends' endin g Claim your reward Submi t your nec k To th e ungratefu l strok e Of his reluctan t sword Tha t startin g back His eyes may look Amazed on you Fin d what h e wante d Is faithful to o But disenchante d Your simplest love. [Gesture of Benediction. Curtains close. A buzz of excitement.] VICAR . Well Alan let me congratulat e

136

IH L

CHASL ·

You first a n d the n ourselve s a n d fate Sh e coul d no t hav e chose n a bette r m a n If you can' t succeed , t h e n n o on e ca n O n e m o m e n t I've a smal l surpris e A littl e presen t Clos e you r eyes [Whistles Enter G E O R G E as a dog ] T h e r e Thi s is Alan Thi s is Georg e A h a n d A pa w Alan , tak e hi m A n d feed hi m George , d o no t forsake hi m A U G U S T U S [to J I M M Y ] I've bee n tryin g t o r e m e m b e r why you r face seeme d familia r t o m e O f course , you'r e on e of th e Leicestershir e Jame s JIMM Y

You

be t

A U G U S T U S T h e n you mus t be th e d a u g h t e r of m y old frien d Sir A r t h u r H e was a grea t frien d of min e Befor e you were b o r n Hi s s u d d e n deat h was a grea t shoc k t o m e J I M M Y H O YUS I t mus t ave bin

A U G U S T U S Your m o t h e r ha d som e lovely Chippendal e I r e m e m b e r I suppos e you still hav e tha t at home , no w J I M M Y YUS We keep s it for th e spar e r o o m bed A U G U S T U S A n d th e R e m b r a n d t J I M M Y T h e ho w much ?

A U G U S T U S Your beautifu l R e m b r a n d t JIMM Y Ο tha t Sh e wasn't alf a ba d ol bu s in er dy Till we r a n e r int o a wall a n d brok e er u p A U G U S T U S I w o n d e r — e r — w o u l d you car e for a n ice with m e now ? I shoul d love to hav e a cha t abou t old time s J I M M Y An ice ? I shoul d sy so I don' t ar f feel empt y A U G U S T U S Splendi d Com e alon g [ G E O R G E who has been watching has crept up and pinned a large red heart to the tails of A U G U S T U S ' S coat ] 2 N D PRESSMA N

All th e hills ar e covere d in

1 S T PRESSMA N

D O be quie t

2 N D PRESSMA N

Ol d I r e l a n d

1 S T PRESSMA N Pul l yoursel f togethe r Fran k You'd bette r stick you r hea d in th e tan k 2 N D PRESSMA N [seeing G E O R G E ] Loo k at tha t do g I love dog s Bogey Bogey Naught y O w He' s haught y

T H E CHAS E

137

Hog s an d dog s dog s a n d hog s Neve r nee d t o use th e bogs [Toot on horn Enter B u s C O N D U C T O R ] B u s C O N D U C T O R T h e village bu s is abou t t o star t T h o s e wh o ar e comin g p r e p a r e t o d e p a r t F R I E N D I've packe d you r suitcas e an d you r jacke t You'll find insid e addresse d a packe t Of postcard s read y stampe d t o sen d New s o f you r j o u r n e y to you r frien d M I D D L E - A G E D L A D Y An d here' s som e fruit fresh from o u r garde n Tak e I t a n d ea t it for m y sake I R I S Alan dearest , tak e thi s rin g U p o n you r finger ever t o wear Whateve r you ma y hav e to bea r M y hear t goes with you in everythin g A L AN I n s , give m e a partin g kiss I n promis e of o u r futur e bliss I R I S Gladly , Alan , I give you thi s V O I C E S 1 Ο dear , it's beginnin g t o rai n 2 You o u g h t t o weed it 3 T h e farmer s nee d it 4 M u m m y , I've got a p a m A L AN I s ther e anythin g tha t I ca n d o Ladie s a n d Gentleme n for you [ M I S S M I L D R E D L U C E suddenly appears ]

2 N D PRESSMA N Ο m y Go d wha t a face T e d d y T a k e m e away fro m thi s plac e MILDRE D LUC E

Yes

Set off for G e r m a n y a n d shoo t the m all Poiso n th e wells till he r peopl e drin k th e sea A n d peris h howlin g Stre w all h e r fields With arsenic , leave a lan d whose cro p Would starve t h e unparticula r hyen a Bu t you ar e y o u n g an d it is useless T o loo k t o yout h I n t h e Novembe r silenc e I hav e h e a r d m o r e shufflin g every year See n m o r e of t h e up-to-dat e youn g m e n ther e waitin g I m p a t i e n t in th e crow d to catc h a trai n A n d shak e a G e r m a n gentl y by th e h a n d I ha d two son s as tall as you

138

TH E

CHAS E

A G e r m a n snipe r sho t t h e m both . T h e y crawle d to m e acros s th e floor I p u t thei r earlies t prattl e in a boo k A G e r m a n snipe r sho t the m both . I saw t h e m win prize s at thei r prep-schoo l sport s I ha d thei r friend s at hal f ter m ou t t o te a A G e r m a n snipe r sho t the m bot h I h e a r d thei r voices alte r as the y grew Shye r of m e a n d m o r e like men . [Taking out a large watch.] Ο Ticker , ticker , the y ar e dea d As th e Grimald i infant s Justic e ha s gon e a s u m m e r cruis e a n d let H e r mansio n t o a m a d m a n . Say something , Ticker . Nothing . Nothing . I protest . V I C A R . Mildre d dear , go h o m e a n d rest An d cal m yourself. T h a t will be best. [More toots.] B u s C O N D U C T O R . T h e bu s is leavin g in a minut e T h o s e wh o ar e comin g mus t ste p in it. C H O R U S AN D S O L O [descant].

No w {we } mus t par t It' s tim e for { £ ^ , J to star t With tear s in { 0 ¾ } eyes \^e)

say good-byes

[Chorus.] Success and satisfaction We wish to you in every action. [Solo.] I thank you for your sympathies. In J u n e and December |y

} will r e m e m b e r you. CURTAIN

T H E CHASE

139

Act II Chorus Norman Call him the hero: if it helps your attention Pressan is now behind him; but not forgotten Do not forget it either; do not forget Iris nor the Headmaster Do not forget the strike; of miners at Windyacre. He is entering the city; he is approaching a centre of culture First the suburban dormitories; spreading over fields Villas on vegetation; like saxifrage on stone. Isolated from each other; like cases of fever And uniform in design; uniform as nurses. To each a lean-to shed; containing a well-oiled engine of escape Section these dwellings: expose the life of a people Living by law; and the length of a reference. See love in its disguises; and the losses of the heart Cats and old silver; inspire heroic virtues And psychic fields accidentally generated, have destroyed whole families Extraordinary tasks are set: a ploughman's hand acquires the most exquisite calligraphy A scheme is prepared for draining the North Sea; with the aid of books from the local library One has a vision in the bathroom after a family quarrel: he kneels on the cork mat. A naturalist leaves in a cab: in time for the breaking of the meres A youth with boils lies face down on bed; his mother over him Tenderly she squeezes from his trembling body; the last dregs of his childhood Writers be glib: please them with scenes of theatrical bliss and horror Whose own slight gestures tell their doom; with a subtlety quite foreign to the stage For who dare patiently tell; tell of their sorrow Without let or variation of season; streaming up in parallel from the little houses And unabsorbed by their ironic treasures Exerts on the rigid dome of the unpierced sky; its enormous pressures. But look While we were talking; he has not stood still He has passed up the parade; the site of shops Goods are displayed: behind plate glass

140

T H E CHASE

One satin slipper: austerely arranged On an inky background: of blackest velvet A waxen sandboy: in ski-ing kit Dumb and violet: among vapour lamps High in the air: in empty space Five times a minute: a mug is filled And in ten-foot letters: time after time Words are spelt out: and wiped away. He moves amazed: among the well-fed multitudes They glance at the stranger: with the gaze of those Who have paid their allowance: to be left alone. And now he reaches: The Nineveh Hotel He stands at the entrance: His dog George with him Consider this hotel; its appointments and fittings. 500 bedrooms: with h and c 300 bathrooms: 375 WC's. Inspect the dining hall: seating 2000. The waiters scuttling from side to side Like gold-fish feeding the valuable people. Admire the shining silver and cutlery Stamped with the mark of that sombre town Which fouls the Don still fresh from the moor And the beautiful glassware blown on the Danube. And stand in the vestibule spacious and gilded As our hero enters to sign his name. Old men afraid of reflections in glass Are ushering ladies out to their cars Veiled and valued through revolving doors Paid to be pretty, pumped into cloth Ranked by pillars pages wait At signals like gulls from a nesting stack To rise on their toes and tear away. Enter.

Act II Scene 1 ALAN. Feeling shy George So am I George Look at those palms This is different from the Miners Arms.

T H E CHASE

141

P O R T E R . I'm glad you've come, sir You want a room, sir? A L A N . Please.

P O R T E R . I'm sorry to be a trouble, sir A single or a double, sir? A L A N . A single please. P O R T E R . I'm still in doubt, sir With b a t h r o o m or without, sir? A L A N . With b a t h r o o m please. P O R T E R . J u s t sign your name, sir A n d date the same, sir. H e r e quickly page boy O r you'll p u t me in a rage, boy. Show this gentleman u p to Room 132. PAGE. Let me take your bag, sir It'll save you fag, sir Please follow me, sir I've got the key, sir. C H O R U S . Make way, make way This gentleman has come to stay H e wants a room where he may rest But not the best, but not the best He's only a provincial guest. P O R T E R [seeing G E O R G E ] . I'm sorry dogs are not allowed, sir, I didn't see in the crowd, sir. A L A N . But that's absurd, my dog and I Are never parted; tell me why If not; well h e r e are my keys I'll leave this m o m e n t if you please. C H O R U S . H e wants his d o g like all the rest He's only a provincial guest. [Trumpet.] Silence. H e r e comes Miss Lou Vipond T h e star of w h o m the world is fond. [Miss V I P O N D descends the marble stairs. As she does so, top curtains draw back revealing the W I T NESSES with a small statue of Cupid. She speaks with a foreign accent and is husky.]

142

T H E CHASE

M i s s V I P O N D . What is this noise you make It is keeping m e awake It makes the head ache. C H O R U S . H e wants his d o g like all the rest He's only a provincial guest. Miss V I P O N D . Dog, what dog? Explain please I don't understand. Whose d o g is thees? A L A N . I'm sorry, Madam; he is mine T h e y say they will not let him in But h e a n d I a r e never parted. Miss V I P O N D . I u n d e r s t a n d , my friend; don't be downhearted [ G E O R G E starts limping.] I like him. What is his name? ALAN. George.

M i s s V I P O N D . T h a t is charming. But he's lame Poor George. Come here. Let me see your foot I've something upstairs that will make it goot. Porter. P O R T E R . Bless Madam Yes Madam. Miss V I P O N D . Please tell t h e manager I say This d o g is going to stay. P O R T E R . Very good, Madam I've quite understood, Madam. A L A N . H o w can I thank you Miss . . . V O I C E . I'm glad we came in time for this. Miss V I P O N D . Vipond. You have not heard my name before. A L A N . I d o not think so.

VOICE. T h a t will make her sore. Miss V I P O N D . YOU d o not go to the pictures much. A L A N . Only once in my life have I been to such. M i s s V I P O N D . What did you see? VOICE.

He's in her clutch.

A L A N . I saw a film called Flame of Desire About a youth who played with fire An artist who to ruin came For t h e sake of a harlot with eyes of flame. M I S S V I P O N D . I was t h e harlot. No I do not mind

You were quite right. She was unkind. But now my friend since you know my name Will you not do for m e the same?

143

T H E CHAS E

A L A N . M y name' s N o r m a n , Alan N o r m a n . M i s s V I P O N D . A n d wher e is you r home ? A L A N . Ο you won' t ever hav e h e a r d it. I com e F r o m a littl e village u p in th e hills Calle d Pressa n Ambo . [Mis s V I P O N D faints.] What' s t h e matter ? You'r e ill. H e l p someone . M i s s V I P O N D . I t is nothing . T h a t was foolish of m e I d o no t sleep very well you see Pressa n Amb o you said. Bu t tha t is strange . A L A N . YOU kno w it? U p in th e Sheare d Flysch Range . M i s s V I P O N D . Ma y be. Ο I' m so tired . 1ST V O I C E . Well was I wrong . 2N D VOICE . She' s inspired . A L A N . Le t m e hel p you t o you r r o o m . M i s s V I P O N D . I f you like. T h a n k you . You'r e stron g M r Alan N o r m a n . V O I C E . H e goes to hi s d o o m . C H O R U S . I n f o r m th e Press , I n f o r m th e Pres s Miss Vipon d score s on e m o r e success It' s in t h e air, it's in th e air She' s goin g t o hav e a ne w affair. Mak e way, mak e way Thi s gentlema n ha s com e t o say H e want s t h e best, h e want s t h e best He' s m o r e tha n a provincia l guest. H e quickl y fell, h e quickl y fell H e lost his h e a r t in a hote l He' s goin g to start , he' s goin g t o star t He' s startin g no w t o brea k his heart . CURTAI N

Choru s R e t u r n t o Pressan ; t o t h e deserte d min e by th e H o d d e r T h e y ar e havin g a picni c t h e r e : th e genera l a n d his friend s Bu t while we hav e bee n absent ; condition s hav e show n n o i m p r o v e m e n t

T H E CHASE

144

T h e m e n have called a strike F o r d h a m has answered with a lockout T h e m e n a r e divided in opinion they agree like London clocks Some a r e for arbitration, others call them traitors Not a penny off, they say, not a minute on T h e i r wives a r e anxious, the children puling a n d constipated, there is a shortage of milk a n d fresh vegetables T h e r e a r e r u m o u r s at nightfall r u m o u r s of the importation of blacklegs Plans for picketting a r e being p r e p a r e d , Scales T a r n waits for t h e intruders, black u n d e r basalt T h e well-off a r e uneasy, they cannot fully attend to their books a n d their pleasures T h o s e with a university education, are sympathetic but deplore violence T h e y talk of moderation in large rooms T h o s e who decorate the church for festivals, have engaged in relief work T h o s e who own land a n d those who keep shops are in agreement, they demand order T h e intervention of the military they want their money

Act I I S c e n e 2a [The deserted mine A picnic GENERAL, M R S and GEOFFREY H O T H A M VICAR

HAYBOY

AUGUSTUS BICKNELL

MISS JAMES (JIMMY)

The Miss

JEAN M C K A Y DEREK H E C T O R ]

J E A N Derek, p u t on the H a u n t e d Mill It's near t h e bottom DEREK Right I will [Searching through the records ] It is not good to be alone I loved no one but my mother Do you get what I mean She gave herself away in the Sahara Shakespeare knew a thing or two The Haunt H e r e it is You hold I'll wind H E C T O R After you with the bottle Mind J E A N I bet you sixpence that you can't finish it In a single breath

T H E CHAS E

HECTOR .

145

You do ? I'll diminis h it

Here' s m u d in you r eye. J E A N . Ο look . Hecto r is goin g to tr y T o finish t h e bottl e withou t takin g a breat h Mak e hi m laugh , someone . V A R I O U S . He' s chokin g t o deat h Hi s Adam' s apple' s workin g Like a pisto n O r t h e ballcoc k of a cister n Star t hi m gurkin g Tickl e hi s nos e with a piec e of bracke n He' s beginnin g t o slacken I ca n see th e island . H u r r y . H E C T O R . Sixpence , please , J e a n . [Gurks.] Sorry . D E R E K . J e a n , h e led you to th e slaughte r Hecto r always doe s you dow n Onc e I be t hi m hal f a crow n H e wouldn' t kiss th e Greystok e p o r t e r I lost. MR S

H O T H A M . Ο by t h e

way

Is t h e r e an y new s of Alan to-day ? V I C A R . T h e r e ' s bee n n o new s for a week 1 believe Iris , p o o r girl, is beginnin g t o grieve. D E R E K . Who' s comin g t o get coo l I kno w a perfec t pool . H E C T O R [getting up]. I t will be J e a n ' s fault I f m y stomac h calls a halt . DEREK . Comin g Jean ? J E A N . D O you thin k I' m safe withou t A c h a p e r o n e w h e n you'r e about ? H E C T O R . Wha t abou t you , Miss James ? J I M M Y . Wot, me ? I ain t got a fish frightener . H E C T O R . I f you'l l wait till J e a n come s ou t She'l l len d you hers . J I M M Y . Nothi n doin . I can' t swim. A U G U S T U S . Ο bu t Miss J a m e s , I t h o u g h t you tol d m e th e o t h e r da y you won all th e swimmin g cup s at school . J I M M Y . T h a t was befor e I 'it m e ea d o n th e botto m of th e bat h a n d lorst m y memory . Whe n I cam e r a h n d I couldn' t r e m e m b e r o n e of t h e m fanc y strokes . A U G U S T U S . Anyway I' m sur e Miss J a m e s want s t o be quiet . She' s lookin g tired .

146

T H E CHASE

J I M M Y . Yus. T h e m lobster patties we ad last night, Gus, didn't arf give me dreams. DEREK. That's the lot then so let's drive. J e a n , I want to see you dive. J E A N . Vicar, if you h e a r me scream R u n till you are out of breath Save little Jeanie from worse than death. [Exeunt.] [Pause.] A U G U S T U S . I know a rock from which you get a marvellous view. I should like to show it to you. Would you care to see it? J I M M Y . Don't mind if I do; but I opes it isn't too slippy. My eels are too igh. T h e y give me corns. [Exeunt A U G U S T U S and J I M M Y . ]

M R S H O T H A M . Well now the young people have all gone away I shall be able to get on with my knitting. Ernest darling, hold your arms this way I want to see how this pullover is fitting. Isn't the strike too terrible. Yesterday I h e a r d one of the village girls say She couldn't get milk for her baby at all. I tell you when I got h o m e to the Hall I simply couldn't drink my tea It all seems so unjust to me. G E N E R A L H O T H A M . Nonsense, my dear. It's all their fault. "It is unjust. H a d things been different"— T h a t is the whimper of the u n d e r d o g W h o d a r e not own u p to his weakness. Unjust. T h e greatest injury we did them Was teaching them to read and write T o imagine that a smattering of knowledge Put reverence and duty in the shade Books have debauched them as the trader's gin Degrades the savage. Now every typist with a two-line reference, Each Sunday lad in his purple suiting Spots spreading on his features like a chain of stores His head as empty as a school in August T h e sweaty crowds T h a t make the beaches stink in summer—

T H E CHASE

Each thinks himself the flower of the earth Sees a Napoleon or a Shakespeare in the mirror And holds the latest notions of the cafe Born of a gasper and a greasy stew Has made the wisdom of the ages stale. I am a soldier And I know why private soldiers are admired. It is obedience makes them beautiful Take that away as in a panic And in the instant squalor rushes back. Each to his duty. That is justice. A few whom birth and breeding fits Must order and the rest obey that all Be happy and at peace. As for those Who flattering their ignorant conceit Would start a cancer in the commonwealth They need the short sharp treatment of the surgeon. HAYBOY. Yes I agree. You notice the same kind of thing in my job Of chemical research. How often am I asked When I show visitors my lab, the question "What is the use of what you do Are people better fed for it or richer What practical results have you to show?" Even my lab boy when my back is turned Sneers at my labours as a waste of time. Comfort acquired without an effort Has stuck them up and they will ruin Themselves and us. Already I can see The deserts racing on towards us Where the fauna of experimental man A stranger creature than the unicorn Is finally extinct, and with him, all. Now Vicar, you've said nothing. You're a historian. What's your opinion? VICAR. Does my opinion matter? As you will. I think that both what you complain of And your complaints are symptoms of a sickness Inclusive of us all. You, General, fancy A couple of machine guns and a barked command Can frighten death away. You, Hayboy, That you and a few colleagues, helped of course

147

148

T H E CHASE

By General Hotham, will raise us from the dead If I may say so, you too are patients Prone in the general epidemic like the rest And these the personal mouthings of delirium That has not reached its crisis, signs Significant as are the twitchings which precede An epileptic seizure, of fever To which we had been made susceptible Before our bodies cast a shadow That wave which already was washing the heart When the cruel Turk took Constantine's city And the apples of knowledge were hawked from barrows To the cunning and greedy by Greek refugees, To-day all spent is withdrawing itself Unhappy he who after it is sucked Then the mind cried out I'm king of the earth And the body became its beautiful pet Dangerous no longer but a dog for show To roast in the kitchen or run the house While the mind in its study spoke with its god And for the sordid commerce of the soul was minted The counterfeit coin still current amongst us The nickel with love thy neighbour as thyself On the one side for superscription stamped And on the back imprinted "My purse and I " The self was away now Harried and haunted by the hounds of fear The troupe of explorers by that terror fired From Columbus and Magellan to Mallory and Scott Still honoured in our schools on Sunday evenings, Diverted with markets but made no cure Play was an insult to prayer Wesley Spent all his life in the saddle preaching To the gentiles in Britain the gospel of work And to get and to keep was to be as good as gold Machines created by clergymen and boys Lured them like magnets from mountain and meadow Into towns on to the coal measures, crowded and dark Where the careful with the careless drove a bitter bargain But sowed in the act the seed of a hatred Which germinating in tenement and gas-lit cellar Is now bursting the floors of the beautiful mansions,

THE

CHASE

149

W h e r e their sons sit certain of their safety still A n d will shake the world in a war to which T h e last was only a manoeuvre W h o cheats, must cheat himself T h e disinherited T h e y are the agents of o u r common guilt T o execute o u r j u d g e m e n t on ourselves A n d still with m u r d e r T h r o u g h fissures in o u r nature, Fear builds intrusive like a sill T r e m e n d o u s ranges, casting shadows Heavy, bird-silencing u p o n the outer world, Peaks that o u r grief sighs over like a Shelley Because impassible, dividing T h a t which we feel from that we perceive Desire from data, the watershed between T h e lonely unstable mad executives We recognize in banks and restaurants as o u r friends And t h e unprogressive blind society Knowing n o a r g u m e n t but the absolute veto Blind, private, arbitrary and base We parch for water and grow cruel T h e timely warnings of the tender to the tough Grow more insistent Pierce them we must O r in a scandalous explosion of the stolid perish [Fadeout during end of speech ]

Act I I S c e n e 2 b [A box lights up

I R I S alone ]

I R I S Day brings n o news

And nights n o clues W h e n shall I learn Of Alan's r e t u r n [The W I T N E S S E S disclosed, as explorers with maps and compasses ] WITNESS

Be patient, trust us, though T h e images beckon His footsteps along a route You cannot reckon

150

T H E CHAS E

Fo r Ma n mus t lear n by choic e Desir e ca n lead hi m Onl y by indirectio n T o thos e wh o nee d him . [Curtains hide them.] I R I S [song].

See n whe n nigh t was silent T h e bea n shape d islan d A n d o u r ugly comi c servan t Who is observan t Ο t h e v e r a n d a h a n d th e fruit T h e tin y steame r in th e bay Startlin g s u m m e r with its hoo t You hav e gon e away. [Light goes out.]

A ct I I S c e n e 2c [Light up opposite box. A U G U S T U S and J I M M Y . ]

J I M M Y . Giv e u s a fag,

Gus .

A U G U S T U S . Yes, yes. O f course . [Producing cigarettes.] Tel l m e ho w you like these ? I o r d e r e d the m specially for you fro m Angora . Le t me . [He tries to light J I M M Y ' S cigarette.] J I M M Y . Yer ain t 'alf clumsy , Gus . Loo k at yer. Yer 'and s ar e shykin' . Wot's up ? A U G U S T U S . Ο Olive, m y darling—you don't , you can' t realise wha t you mea n t o me . I worshi p you . You've change d m y whol e life. O h , I kno w I' m j u st a n old fool. I' m no t wort h you r wastin g you r tim e with . A n d you've bee n very patien t with me . You've bee n wonderful , thes e weeks we've spen t h e r e together . You're differen t fro m everybod y else in t h e world . I neve r d r e a m e d ther e coul d be a girl like you . I' m t h e luckies t m a n o n earth . [He bursts into tears and kneeb down in front

O/JIMMY. ]

J I M M Y . 'Ere , chees e it, Gus . Yer'd best go an ' lie d a h n . Wot if anyon e was te r com e in ? T h e y ' d thin k yer was balmy . A U G U S T U S . You've m a d e m e see wha t a fool I've been . Ho w blind . Ho w conceited . Ho w selfish. M y whol e life was wasted unti l I me t you . J I M M Y . Gi t yerself u p , Gus , Chris ' syke.

151

TH E C H A S i .

A U G U S T U S [rising] I'll d o anythin g you ask me , m y deares t You see I'll be goo d I'll be quit e calm O h , Olive, com e away with m e now , to-nigh t 5

J I M M Y I f I've tol d yer once , I've tol d yer a n ' u n d r e d times , Gu s I can' t A U G U S T U S Go d knows , I wouldn' t ask you t o marr y m e — o r — a n y t h i n g else tha t you didn' t wish Le t m e adop t you Anythin g As lon g as I can be n e a r you , spea k t o you sometime s An d if you fall in love, I'll pa y for everythin g I'll s u p p o r t you r husban d Le t m e be you r servan t I can' t live withou t you J I M M Y I t ain t an y use, GU S I' m sorr y I t can' t be di d Now , jest yer go an ' lie d a h n A U G U S T U S Very well, m y darling , ii you wish it You'll din e with m e thi s evening ' J I M M Y T h a t ' s jest wot I was goin ' te r tell yer, Gu s I can' t I 'ave te r go ah t with Hecto r Έ want s m e te r A U G U S T U S Would h e car e to din e too , d o you think ? Tel l him , we'd hav e tha t c h a m p a g n e h e likes J I M M Y Very sorry, Gu s It' s impos s A U G U S T U S Very well, m y d e a r I u n d e r s t a n d J I M M Y Yer no t m a d with me , G u s ? A U G U S T U S Ho w coul d I b e ? Whateve r you d o is righ t J I M M Y Yer no t a ba d sort , yer know , Gu s A U G U S T U S Oh , my darling —

J I M M Y O r l righ t I f yer like [ A U G U S T U S kisses him ] [Light up on stage S E R G E A N T with bicycle ] BUNYA N M r Bicknell , M r Bicknel l J I M M Y Loo k ah t 'Ere' s someon e A U G U S T U S Hull o Who' s tha t BUNYA N It' s Bunya n sir Wher e a r e you A U G U S T U S At t h e t o p of th e cliff You can' t get u p thi s side Wha t is it ? BUNYA N It' s th e boys, sir T h e y ' r e gettin g ou t of h a n d I don' t kno w wha t t o d o Last nigh t the y thre w all th e sou p o u t of th e windo w a n d no w the y say they'r e goin g t o thi s strike meetin g thi s afternoo n I can' t hol d t h e m , sir A U G U S T U S Ge t som e girls in a n d have a danc e BUNYA N

— W h at

A U G U S T U S Can' t you hea r m e ' G E T S O M E G I R L S I N T h e y wan t love BUNYA N Heaven s above A U G U S T U S N O N O Love L for Lighthous e Ο for O r a n g e V for Vision Love

152

ΓΗ Κ CHAS E

[Crowd of B O YS rush on.] B O Y S. C o m e o n o r we'll be late . Why if it isn' t Sergeant . You comin g t o th e meetin ? Cors e you are . Eave hi m u p [They hoist him on to the bicycle.] My, 'e's heav y Giv e Ener y a rid e o n you r carrier , Sergean t 'L' s onl y a littl e un . [Exeunt singing ] T h e bluebell s bloome d o n th e Baltic shor e Whe n Kit was Schneide r Creusot' s love

A ct I I S c e n e 3 [Nineveh Hotel. The staircase up to M i s s V I P O N D ' S bedroom A grandfather clock in the cornet ] MANAGER .

Whe n h e gets his bill to-morro w What will M r N o r m a n say ? Will h e shoo t himsel f for sorro w All o n a summer' s day?

C H O R U S O F W A I T E R S , P A G E S AN D C H A M B E R M A I D S

P e r h a p s he'l l onl y lose his min d G o wild an d feed a m o n g th e lilies Tel l u s if you' d be so kin d Tel l us wha t th e bill is ? M A N A G E R 20 cases of c h a m p a g n e A finest pedigre e Grea t Dan e V2 do z Pari s frock s A sable fur, a silver fox Bottle s of scen t a n d beaut y salves An M G Midge t with overhea d valves 1 do z pair s o f shoe s a n d boot s 6 lounge , 1 tails, a n d 3 dres s suits A h a n d s o m e two-piec e bathin g dres s An electri c razor , a trouse r pres s A cutte r for cigars, two lighter s 10 a u t o g r a p h s of famou s writer s Berth s a n d ticket s in advanc e Fo r a tri p r o u n d s o u t h e r n Franc e A d d t o thi s his be d a n d boar d C H O R U S . It' s m o r e tha n on e m a n ca n afford

IH E

153

CHAS E

M A N A G E R Thi s we'll kee p unti l th e m o r n i n g Remember , d o no t give hi m warnin g [Exit M A N A G E R ]

[Song and step dance ] WAITER S

PAGE S

I f we're lat e O r brea k a plat e H e won' t be r u d e I f we served hi m n u d e Would h e kno w No No No He' s in love I f we lose

AH his shoe s Say go to hel l When h e ring s th e bell H e won' t kno w No No No He' s in love CHAMBERMAI D

If I stop s

Emptyin g th e slops Leaves a d e a d Mous e in th e be d H e won' t kno w No No No He' s in love [A bell rings C H O R U S arrange themselves under the HEA D WAITE R ]

C H O R U S YOU who r e t u r n to-nigh t to a narro w bed With o n e n a m e r u n n i n g sorrowfull y t h r o u g h you r sorrowfu l hea d You wh o hav e neve r bee n touche d a n d you pal e lover Who left th e hous e thi s m o r n i n g kissed all over You littl e boys also of quit e fourtee n Beginnin g t o realise just wha t we m e a n Fil l u p glasses with c h a m p a g n e a n d d r i n k again It' s no t a ne w schoo l o r factor y to whic h we s u m m o n We're rejoicin g to-da y becaus e of a m a n an d a woma n Ο Che f emplo y you r continenta l art s

154

TH E

CHAS E

T o celebrat e th e unio n of two lovin g heart s Waiter s be deft a n d skip you page s by T o h o n o u r th e god to n a m e who m is to lie Fil l u p glasses with c h a m p a g n e a n d drin k again . Alread y h e ha s b r o u g h t th e swallows past th e Scillies T o chas e eac h o t h e r shinin g u n d e r Englis h bridge s Ha s loose d th e u r g e n t polle n o n th e glitterin g countr y T o find t h e pistil, forc e its burglar' s entr y H e move s us also a n d u p t h e marbl e stair H e lead s t h e figures matche d in beaut y an d desir e Fil l u p glasses with c h a m p a g n e a n d d r i n k again . [Enter M i s s V I P O N D and ALAN . Spotlighted. Evening feathers. G E O R G E following.] A L A N . M y swan so beautifu l to m y five senses Whe n I loo k o n you , in a m o m e n t I lose m y defence s My clums y hear t forget s hersel f a n d dances . M i s s V I P O N D . Ο lion , Ο sun , encompas s m e with powe r Fee d lion , shin e sun , for in you r glory I flower Creat e t h e h u g e a n d gorgeou s s u m m e r in an hour . C H O R U S . Wha t would you give tha t she migh t live? A L A N . I woul d give th e N e t h e r l a n d s with all thei r canal s T h e e a r t h of th e Ukraine , th e Niagar a falls T h e Eiffel T o w e r also, an d th e D o m e of St Paul's . C H O R U S . Wha t would you d o to kee p h e r true ? A L A N . I woul d h u n t t h e e n o r m o u s whal e in th e Arcti c lowland s I woul d coun t all th e starling s in th e British Island s I woul d r u n t h r o u g h fighting E u r o p e in absolut e silence . M i s s V I P O N D . O u r sails ar e set. Ο launc h u p o n love's ocea n Fea r ha s n o m e a n s t h e r e of locomotio n A n d d e a t h canno t exhaus t us with his endles s devotion . [They pass into the bedroom. Above the W I T N E S S E S appear wearing paper hats and carrying balloons and scatter confetti.] C H O R U S [receding]. It' s no t onl y thi s we praise ; it's th e genera l love Let cat' s me w rise to a screa m o n t h e tool-she d roo f Let son com e h o m e to-nigh t to his anxiou s m o t h e r

TH E

Let Th e Th e Fil l

CHAS E

155

t h e vicar lea d t h e choi r boy int o a d a r k corne r orchi d shall flower to-nigh t tha t flowers every h u n d r e d year s boot s a n d th e slavey b e foun d Dutch-kissin g o n th e stair s u p glasses with c h a m p a g n e a n d drin k again

Let thi s be kep t as a generou s h o u r by all T h i s onc e let t h e uncl e settl e his nephew' s bill Let th e nervou s lady's tabl e gauchenes s be forgiven Let t h e thief' s explanatio n of th e thef t be take n T h e boy caugh t smokin g shall escap e th e usua l whippin g To-nigh t th e expensiv e whor e shall give hersel f for n o t h i n g Fil l u p glasses with c h a m p a g n e a n d drin k again T h e landlocke d stat e shall get its por t to-da y T h e midnigh t worke r in th e laborator y by th e sea Shal l discove r u n d e r th e cros s wire tha t whic h h e look s for To-nigh t t h e asthmati c cler k shall d r e a m he' s a boxe r Let t h e col d heart' s wish be g r a n t e d , th e desir e for a desire , Ο give to th e cowar d no w his h o u r of powe r Fill u p glasses with c h a m p a g n e a n d drin k again [Scene darkens leaving G E O R G E outside the door ] G E O R G E Bein g a daw g ain t m u c h fun It' s alrigh t for 'im 'e got 'is tart , an d I ave to r u n r a h n d afte r th e two of em while the y doe s thei r shoppin , a n d oo s goin to py for it, I shoul d like te r kno w I f I doe s catc h t h e eye of a skirt, she onl y pat s m e Wonde r ow they'r e gettm ' o n in t h e r e [Peeps through keyhole ] No w isn' t tha t a shym e I f she asn' t blocke d u p th e keyole with pype r [To C O N D U C T O R ] Go t a pin , mist e r 5 [ C O N D U C T O R gives him one ] T h a n k s No w the n Com e o n 'Er e wot' s thi s A lette r [Whistles into the wings on his fingers ] O i give us a spo t of light to rea d by can' t yer [Light comes on ] St J a m e s Infirmar y Tuesda y That' s to-da y Darling , I was hi t by a polic e bulle t d u r i n g th e stree t fighting dow n at t h e Powe r H o u s e last nigh t I' m dyin g Com e an d see me , befor e I pe g ou t Pleas e I forgive you everythin g Franci s Franci s Oo s 'e Arf a m o Aint tha t th e nym e of th e blok e wot 'e's looki n fer ? I'll fetc h im ah t [Scratches at the door and barks ] Nothin ' doin ' E's busy a n d I don' t blym e im Well it'll kee p till m o r n i n ' I s u p p o s e T h e r e yer are , yer see J u s t like a daw g to ave n o pocket s

156

T H E CHASE

I'll stick it down by the clock so I sees it first thing Gawd I'm sleepy [Lies down Short pause ] Oi Put that bloody light aht [Light out ] [The DOG'S SKIN speaks ]

Ticker Ticker Are you awake? [Clock strikes one ] It's only me, the dog's skin that hides this vulgar little boy I hope you admire my accent I've lived so long with them, I have all the emigre's pride at having forgotten my own I'm quite deracine as they say in Bloomsbury When I first paid them a visit, before I gave up my nationality, when I was still an Irish Wolfhound, I was very romantic The odour of a particular arm-chair, the touch of certain fingers, excited me to rash generalisations which I believed to be profound I composed poems that I imagined highly idiomatic, on the words "walk" and "dinner" And it was in this romantic mood that I decided to sever all ties with my past, and throw in my lot with theirs My dearest ambition was to be accepted naturally as one of them I was soon disillusioned To them I was only a skin, valued for its associations with that very life I had hoped to abandon Small children misunderstood by their parents rubbed tearful cheeks against me and whispered secrets to their doggie I ask you—Doggie Young men wore me at charades to arouse in others undisguised human amusement and desire Talking about charades, Ticker, are you interested in literature at alP [Clock strikes two ] You are ? So am I

DOG'S SKIN

In the old days, before I became a skin, I used to be the pet of a very famous author He used to talk all day to yours truly He suffered terribly from indigestion, poor fellow, and used to write what was called "virile" poetry He was knighted for it during the war Well I'll tell you a story about him One night, it was nearly one o'clock in the morning as a matter of fact, and he was pretty tight on whisky, we had a real heart-to-heart George, he says, funnily enough I was called George even in those days—George, he says, come here I came, rather crossly, to tell you the truth, I was sleepy and wishing he'd go to bed George, look at me Do I make you sick? (By the way, I forgot to tell you it was during the war, at the time of the big German offensive in March of '18 ) Less than a hundred miles from here men, young men, are being blown to pieces Listen, you can hear the guns doing it (It was quite true you could We lived on the South Downs and it was a still night) Every time I hear that, I say to myself, you fired that shell It isn't the cold general on his white horse, nor the owner of the huge factory, nor the luckless poor, but you Yes I and those like me Invalid poets with a fountain

T H E CHASE

157

pen, undersized professors in a classroom, we t h e sedentary a n d learned whose schooling cost the most, the least conspicuous of them all a r e the assassins. (I'm giving you his own words. Whiskey always m a d e him a bit rhetorical.) We have conjured u p all vigours and all splendours, skillfully transformed o u r envy into an image of the universal mother, for which the lad of seventeen whom we have always sent a n d will again against o u r terrors, gladly immolates himself. Men are falling t h r o u g h the air in flames and choking slowly in t h e dark recesses of the sea to assuage our pride. O u r pride who cannot work without incessant cups of tea, spend whole days weeping in o u r rooms, immoderately desire little girls on beaches a n d buy them sweets, cannot pass a mirror without staring, whom a slight cold is e n o u g h to make d a y d r e a m of o u r death bed with appropriate organ music. Now wasn't that queer? It was t h e last talk I ever h a d with him. H e couldn't bear the sight of me after that evening a n d sold m e as soon as h e could. J u s t like a man. You know, Ticker, I think the important thing to r e m e m b e r about m a n is that pictures mean more to him than people. Take sex, for instance. I r e m e m b e r how it used to be with me. It was like a t h u n d e r s t o r m . You felt a bit queer for a day or two. Suddenly something h a p p e n e d to you, a n d then it was gone till t h e next time. With them it's different—well, you've seen what it's like this evening—sometimes it's funny, a n d sometimes it's sad, but it's always hanging about like a smell of drains. T o o many ideas in their heads. T o them I'm an idea, you're an idea, everything's an idea. That's why we're here. Funny thing, Ticker, we should both be in the same play. T h e y can't d o without us. If it wasn't for m e this boy here would never be able to get a good night's rest; a n d if it wasn't for you he'd never wake u p . And look what we d o to t h e audience. W h e n I come on they start sighing, thinking of nuns, spring, meadows a n d goodness knows what else. You on t h e other h a n d make them d e m a n d a tragic ending, with you they associate an immensely complicated system of awards and punishments. Heavens, it's getting light a n d you've forgotten to strike. H u r r y u p . [Clock strikes six.} Hush, someone's coming. So long. Abyssinia. [ M A N A G E R , W A I T E R S , etc. come up the stairs sing-

ing. (Tune: John Peel.)] MANAGER. T h e sun has risen and it shines t h r o u g h the blind This lover must awaken and recall to mind T h o u g h the pillow be soft and the lady kind Yet the man has to pay in the morning

158

T H E CHAS E

CHORUS .

Fo r in Nineve h Hote l th e mos t humbl e guest Be h e old , be h e young , h e ma y tak e a goo d rest H e ma y smok e cigars, h e ma y o r d e r th e best Bu t we h a n d hi m th e bill in th e morning .

M A N A G E R [seeing G E O R G E ] . T h e r e ' s tha t ugly brut e I've a n itc h in m y boot . [Kicks him out of the way. Knocks loudly. Door opens. ALAN appears in pyjamas.] A L A N . What' s all thi s row? I can' t see you now . C H O R U S . I' m sorry , sir

T o be a worry, sir Bu t we're in a h u r r y , sir We wan t o u r money , sir H e r e is o u r bill, sir. [Gives him the bill. Pause.] Ο d o n ' t be ill, sir. A L A N . 1500. It' s a b s u r d

T h i s will hav e to be deferre d I' m sorr y gentleme n to say fust at thi s m o m e n t I canno t pa y You shall hav e you r mone y a n o t h e r day. C H O R U S . Till we hav e o u r d u e we stay. A L A N . Here' s a to-d o I mus t borro w fro m Lou . [Speah into bedroom.] Darling , I' m sorr y to be such a b o t h e r Bu t som e stupi d tradesme n ar e makin g a p o t h e r — I t ' s n o t h i n g really—abou t m y accoun t So will you len d it me , darlin g Lo u 1500 p o u n d s will do . V O I C E O F L o u [off]. M y frien d I d o no t len d I spend . A L A N . Darling , pleas e Don' t be a teas e T h e y ' r e waitin g h e r e T h e y will fetc h th e polic e Please , b e a dear .

IH E

CHAS E

159

V O I C E O F LOU. M y friend , you'r e foolish, you mus t lear n Your trouble s ar e no t m y concern . A L A N . Bu t I a m you r lover. V O I C E O F L o u . T h a t is over. A L A N . Wha t d o you mean ? V O I C E O F L o u . Ο d o n ' t mak e a scen e I've said wha t I m e a n . No w go. ALAN .

Lou .

V O I C E O F L o u . Don' t d o tha t Leave m e flat. A L A N . I can' t believe it. V O I C E O F L o u . Mus t I rin g th e bell? A L A N . Alright . I'll leave it O h I' m in Hell . [Comes out of bedroom.] [To M A N A G E R . ] Gentlemen , wha t ca n I say? I c a n n o t pay. M A N A G E R . Thi s is a mos t regrettabl e occasio n You mus t com e with m e to th e polic e station . Alphonse , fetc h hi s trunk s an d cases A n d stor e t h e m in th e usua l places . Giuseppi , tak e tha t d i a m o n d rin g Off hi s littl e finger. ALAN .

Ο anythin g

Rathe r t h a n that . Pleas e leave m e that . M A N A G E R . Ο an d Alphonse , r e m e m b e r his oper a hat . W A I T E R . T h e dog ,

MANAGER .

sar.

Pah . H e scatter s his hair s

All over m y sofas a n d best arm-chair s Kic k hi m downstairs . [ G E O R G E IS kicked out.]

ALAN . George .

V O I C E O F G E O R G E [from below, forgetting he is a dog]. Dontche r worr y sir. I'll get yer ah t o f thi s fix. T h e password is Letter . M A N A G E R . Wha t was tha t noise ? WAITERS .

I d o n ' t kno w sah Mus t b e one o f t h e boys, sah O n t h e floor belo w sah .

T H E CHAS E

160

M A N A G E R . Disgraceful . I' m always tellin g th e porte r T o kee p thes e page s in bette r o r d e r Are we ready ? Let' s go. [To A L A N . ] No w steady .

[Exeunt.] [ A L P H O N S E comes along with bags, etc., and opera hat on the back of his head. He catches sight of the letter. Picks it up, reads it, glances at the door and downstairs, shrugs his shoulders, puts it in his pocket, winks at the audience, picks up bags and follows down the stairs.] [A bell rings. French maid enters and goes into bedroom.] V O I C E O F L O U . Delice . Delice . M A I D . M o d o m desired ? V O I C E O F L O U . Ο I' m so tire d

T h e s e m e n a r e suc h a b o t h e r T h e y ' r e all t h e same , the y wan t thei r mother . [Curtains draw back. The W i I N E S S E S holding a model toll gate.] W I T N E S S . D O no t imagin e tha t h e distracte d to-da y By hopelessnes s a n d t e r r o r ha s lost hi s way T h e way b e carefu l t o r e m e m b e r is neve r lost Bu t t o o u r tolls for u p k e e p you mus t pa y th e cost . CURTAI N

Choru s T h e strik e continues . At Windyacr e it is worse Blacklegs hav e arrive d in lorries : the y cam e over Yadmos s T h r o u g h D a d d r y at dawn : protecte d by policemen . Alread y t h e r e hav e bee n clashes : free-hght s at Ipetones . H e a d s were b r o k e n at Leadgate ; ther e was bloo d in th e beck . A sho t was fired at Sedling ; fro m a n ol d revolver. Reall y seriou s trouble ; is quit e o n th e cards . Haybo y t h e chemis t ha s gon e bac k quic k t o hi s laboratory ; t o t h e pursui t o f p u r e knowledge .

161

THE CHASL·

T h e General is in communication with the War Office: he has wired "Am ready". T h e Vicar is very u n h a p p y : his history of the war is interrupted Iris also grieves. Alan is not with her. So does Augustus but for another reason: h e weeps in his study. But Jimmy, alias Miss James, is contented; he has associated Himself with the strikers; he has found his place. H e r e is o u r scene: the reformatory of T u d r o T h e y have cleared away supper; they are having a concert.

Act II Scene 4 [ M I L D R E D comes through the curtains.] M I L D R E D . It's an outrage. [Exit.] [Curtain. The gymnasium. An improvised stage. F R I T Z dressed up as a German admiral is singing a song.] V O I C E S . Encore. Encore. FRITZ. Liebling, ein abschieds Kuss: Lebwohl die Mutter Das Insel wo Du bist liegt hell u n d klein Ich bin genannt an d e r unsicher Flotte Das Vaterland muss j a gerettet sein. [Deafening applause.] W O M A N [to V I C A R ] . Isn't he sweet. 2 N D V I S I T O R . IS that my mac

U n d e r your seat?

V I C A R . Yes, he's fine.

It takes me back T o a walking tour I took on t h e Rhine In that scorching s u m m e r of 1911. 3 R D V I S I T O R . I've left my hanky in the porch. B O Y . I'll swop this penknife for your torch. [ A U G U S T U S rings a bell.] A U G U S T U S . Item n o . 7.

[Any available member or members of the cast who have a suitable non-musical turn, a conjuring feat, a gymnastic act, etc., should perform it here.] [Applause. The stage is got ready for prize giving.]

162

IHL · CHAS t

t s T B O Y Wots t h e m a t t e r wiv is nibs E's bee n acti n very q u e e r lytely Ε coppe d m e yesterd y smoki n behin d th e woodshe d f t h o u g h t I was ? in for a p r o p e r 'ldi n Bu t d o yer kno w wot 'e d i d Erbert , h e says, you'l l find thi s bette r tha n t h e tras h you'r e smoki n Tr y o n e An h e bring s o u t is cyse a n d gives m e on e of the m fanc y fags tippe d with vilets I t tysted like 'y bu t I didn' t like to disappoin t 'im 5

2 N D B O Y Yers a n Soonda y a was goin oo p t'stai r a n a passed im like Ow's foond s lad , a says A'rve now t boo t t h r u p p e n c e , a says 'Ere' s som e brass, lad , a says a n d gives m e a shilh n A was bat e 3 R D B O Y G a r n Don' t yer kno w wy? Co s e's balm y abah t Miss Jymes , that' s wy 'O t stuff sh e looks, to o [ A U G U S T U S rings his bell ] A U G U S T U S Well boys, I nee d hardl y say ho w delighte d we all ar e to hav e Miss J a m e s with u s to-mgh t As you know , sinc e sh e cam e h e r e a littl e while ago sh e ha s take n a kee n interes t in us, a n d no w in spit e of th e man y calls u p o n h e r very valuable time—sh e is a very busy w o m a n — sh e ha s consented , with he r usua l generosity , to give away o u r few prizes , o r p e r h a p s I shoul d say, token s M I S S J A M E S Ο c o m e or f it,

Gu s

A U G U S T U S T h e Vicarage priz e for woodwor k ha s bee n won by More lan d O n e [Clapping Boy comes up to receive prize ] M i s s J A M E S AV yer got t h e key of th e g u n r o o m ' O O ah A U G U S T U S T h e H o t h a m shield for sno b cricket—an d ma y I say ho w sorr y we ar e no t t o see Genera l a n d Mr s H o t h a m her e thi s evening , bu t the y hav e bee n unavoidabl y d e t a i n e d — t h e shield goes thi s year to T h e Badger s with a g r a n d tota l of 146 point s Runners-up , T h e Owls with 127 point s BO Y

[Business ] M i s s J A M E S Are th e bomb s ready ? B O Y YUS, MIS S We couldn' t finish th e last on e cos we r u n ou t of nitri c aci d T h e y ' r e upstair s in th e b o x r o o m A U G U S T U S NO W th e g a r d e n priz e T h e standar d of th e garden s ha s bee n very hig h a n d we hav e foun d it a h a r d task to adjudicat e th e priz e Bu t I think , a n d Miss J a m e s agree s with me , tha t it o u g h t to be awarde d t o Bowde n an d Speddin g equally , a n d we ar e giving a special priz e t o K e m p [Business ]

T H E CHASE

163

M I S S J A M E S . Have you seen to the barbed wire? B O Y . YUS, Miss. T h e rolls are behind the laurels near the scullery winder. A U G U S T U S . Some of you are familiar with Sergeant Bunyan's bicycle. [Laughter.] Sergeant Bunyan has been with us for many years now but I'm sorry to say he is not likely to be here much longer if he goes on riding that bicycle. Some of the senior boys have had a collection a n d they are and I am delighted to be able to present him with a new one. Sergeant Bunyan. [Great applause.] A U G U S T U S . And now let's all join hands in a circle and sing the T u d r o song. [They do so.] B O Y S [song].

O m n e bene Sine poenae T e m p u s est ludendi Venit hora Absque mora Neque d e p o n e n d i Q u o m o d o vadis Mi sodalis Visne edere p o m u m Qui non vis Mirabile est Dulc' adire d o m u m Domum, Domum Duke Domum D o m u m d o m u m divo Hie haec hoc Perry werry way Hip Hip H u r r a h . [Enter a D E T E C T I V E and a W O M A N P O L I C E M A N

and an ordinary bobby who guards the door. The first two come up to A U G U S T U S . ]

D E T E C T I V E . I'm sorry to disturb your party sir. Is Miss J a m e s here? A U G U S T U S . Yes. T h e r e she is. What is it? D E T E C T I V E . I think you'd better send everybody away, sir. A U G U S T U S . I don't understand. D E T E C T I V E . You'd better, sir, really. We don't want a scene.

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T H E CHASE

A U G U S T U S . Well. Alright. [Raising his voice.] Now J u n i o r s off to bed. If the visitors will go to the drawing-room, they will find some refreshments. [Exeunt all but P O L I C E , M I S S J A M E S and A U G U S T U S . ]

Now then. What's all this? D E T E C T I V E . Information has been received that Miss James is a dangerous agitator. I have a warrant for h e r arrest. A U G U S T U S . But this is ridiculous. Miss James . . . D E T E C T I V E [to W O M A N P O L I C E M A N ] . T a k e h e r u p t h e r e a n d search her. [ W O M A N P O L I C E M A N takes M i s s J A M E S on to the

stage and draws the curtains.] Miss J A M E S . 'Ere, I protest. A U G U S T U S . I shall complain to headquarters. D E T E C T I V E . I'm sorry sir. Orders is orders. [ W O M A N P O L I C E M A N comes out with M I S S J A M E S . ]

W O M A N POLICEMAN. T h e party is male, sergeant. D E T E C T I V E . YOU see, sir. I told you. [Pause.] Bring him along. [Exeunt P O L I C E . A U G U S T U S wanders about, sits down at the piano, strikes a few odd notes and begins to sing.] A U G U S T U S [song]. A beastly devil came last night H e said h e was going to kill you quite I was going to faint T h e virgin came down a n d made m e a saint Olive I a m renowned For the devil I have drowned A saint a m I a n d a saint are you It's perfectly perfectly perfectly true. Olive will you be my wife I have saved your life J u s t say you'll be mine You shall have kisses like wine W h e n the wine gets into your head I will see that you're not misled A saint a m I a n d a saint a r e you It's perfectly perfectly perfectly true. Olive when we are wed We shall have a lovely clean bed

T H E CHASE

165

You know how little babies are made Now don't be afraid You understand They are made with God's hand A saint am I and a saint are you It's perfectly perfectly perfectly true Olive I love your hair I love your clothes, I love you bare A cathedral we will build For the devil I have killed We'll go up to the skies And eat sweet mince pies A saint am I and a saint are you It's perfectly, perfectly, perfectly true CURTAIN

Act III Chorus You with shooting sticks and cases for field glasses, your limousines parked in a circle who visit the public games, observing in burberries the feats of the body, You who stand before the west fronts of cathedrals appraising the curious carving The virgin creeping like a cat to the desert the trumpetting angels, the usurers boiling And you also who look for truth, alone in tower Follow our hero and his escort on his latest journey from the square surrounded by Georgian houses, take the lurching tram eastward South of the ship cranes, of the Slythe canal stopping at Fruby and Drulger street Past boys, ball using shrill in alleys Passing the cinemas blazing with bulbs bowers of bliss Where thousands are holding hands they gape at the tropical vegetation, at the Ionic pillars and the organ solo Look left the moon shows locked sheds, wharves by water On your right is the Power House, its chimneys fume gently above us like rifles recently fired

166

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CHAS E

Loo k throug h th e gratin g at th e vast machiner y at th e dynamo s an d turbine s Grave , giving n o sign of th e hurrican e of steam within thei r huge steel bottle s At th e Diese l engine s like howdahe d elephants , at th e dials with thei r flickering pointer s Powe r to th e city, whose loyalties are no t thos e of th e family And now ente r Ο huma n pity grippe d by th e crying of a capture d bird wincin g at sight of surgeon' s lanc e Shudde r indeed , tha t life on its narro w littora l so lucky Can matc h against eternit y a tim e so crue l Th e street we ente r with setts is paved cracke d an d uneve n as an Alpine glacier Garbag e chucke d in th e gutters , has collecte d in th e hollows in loathsom e pool s Back to back house s on bot h sides stretc h a dea d straigh t line of dung coloure d brick Wretche d an d dirt y as a ru n for chicken s Ful l as a theatr e is thi s foul thoroughfar e some sittin g like sacks, some slackly standin g Thei r faces grey in th e glimmerin g gaslight thei r eyeballs drugged like a dea d rabbit' s Fro m a windo w a child is looking, by want so fretted , his face has assume d th e feature s of a tortois e A huma n forest, all by on e infectio n cancelle d Despai r so far invadin g every tissue has destroye d in thes e th e hidde n seat of th e desire an d th e intelligenc e

Act I I I Scen e 1 [Before the drop A slum street Enter GEORG E ] GEORG E Goo d evenin g lydies an d gentleme n Betch a don' t know oo I am Give yer thre e guesses an 'ere' s a box of chocolate s for th e lucky one VERY JEWELLE D LAD Y Albert'

GEORG E Sorry, lydy I'm no t yer ol ma n com e back from Americ a That' s on e UNDERGRADUAT E My dea h felleah GEORG E NO W then , Mister , speak u p I can' t ear yer

167

T H E CHAS E

U N D E R G R A D U A T E M y d e a h felleah , that' s easy G E O R G E I' m afryd e I' m no t t h e college Porta h Would yer min d sayin tha t agyne U N D E R G R A D U A T E I ss-aid , th-tha-at' s easy G E O R G E O h , that' s easy Com e o n then , Montmorency , spit it a h t U N D E R G R A D U A T E You'r e a s-s-s-ymbo l of M-m-m-m-ar x a n d Leni n G E O R G E M-m-m-m-ar x a n d Leni n N-n-n-n-eve r ear d of e m That' s two Onl y o n e m o r e DREADFULL Y CLEVE R LITTL E G I R L

MOTHE R

I kno w wh o h e is, m u m m y

Ssh, d a r l i n g

G E O R G E Le t t h e littl e girl speak , M a d a m Well, girlie, a n d o o d o yer thin k I a m ' GIR L

You'r e t h e d o g

G E O R G E Bravo Go t it in o n e What' s you r n a m e , littl e g i rP GIR L

Bett y

G E O R G E Well d o n e , Betty , 'ere' s a bo x o f chocolate s for yer [To M o THE R ] Don' t let th e a t t e n d a n t see it, Madam , co s I pinche d it off th e Buffet Yus, t h e littl e girl is righ t I' m Georg e a n d glad t e r be m y own shyp e agyn e I t a p p e n e d like thi s When th e wyter kicke d m e down stairs, t h e stitche s brok e a n d t h e skin fell off Coo , you shoul d ave seen 'is fvce Ε was as whit e as a fresh 'addoc k An d no w e r e we a r e T h e r e ' s n o plyce like 'om e is ther e I tell yer I coul d ave crie d whe n I saw ol Fishy , th e c o p p e r wot pinche d me , stand m ahtsid e th e King s 'Ea d Talki n o f coppers , they'v e tyken p o o r Miste r N o r m a n t o t h e stytio n W o n d e r if 'e's got t h e lette r Bu t jest yer wyte We'll ave 'im ah t in n o tim e [Enter a SLU M B O Y ]

B O Y Blyme y Georg e GEORG E

'Arr y

H A R R Y ' O W d o you com e e r e ? I t h o u g h t you was doin ' a stretc h G E O R G E I'll tell yer abah t tha t lyter 'Ow' s 'evrythin 5 H A R R Y Rotte n You won' t kno w t h e plyce Cautiou s Cuti e As lost e r beaut y A r e h p Hett y As j u m p e d off a jett y Lous y Lill Is very ill A n d t h e Frul y Fo x G E O R G E O o taugh t m e te r b o x 5

168

IH E

CHAS E

H A R R Y YUS 'E' S o n th e rock s

'E's got t h e po x ? G E O R G E Ow's Samm y th e S a p HARR Y

' E ' S off th e

ma p

G E O R G E A n d ow's th e Mask ?

H A R R Y Yer mus t neve r ask Com e on , let' s go d a h n to Levy's M a will be glad te r see yer G E O R G E Nothi n doi n Go t som e partikla i bisiness to atten d te r Ain' t Ρ [Winks at audience ] Loo k ere , 'Arry Go t a j e m m y a n d a blowlam p yer coul d len d m e ? H A R R Y Ο SO that' s it Go t a job , ave yer Sorr y I can' t oblyge myself, bu t I'll tyke yer t o see Padd y ΕΊ 1 be yble to fix yer u p O, I saw Fann y yesterda y a n d sh e said [Exeunt ]

A ct I I I S c e n e 2 [The Police Station Enter SERGEAN T and three R E C R U I T S ] S E R G E A N T Left righ t Left righ t Class Hal t Left t u r n Stan d at ease N o 1 Atten-shu n Your lesson , pleas e N o 1 T h e a u t h o r of a crimina l ac t Is show n by motive , class, an d fact As motive s we mus t recogniz e Wome n a n d thei r jealousie s Money , love o f power , a n d drin k Is no w a n d the n t h e caus e we thin k Crimina l ar e butchers , bakers , Locksmiths , dyers, carpe t maker s But littl e crim e we see in Quaker s A n d least of all is foun d t o be 'Mongs t thos e engage d in carpentr y SERGEAN T Very goo d Stan d at ease N o 2 Atten-shu n Your lesson pleas e N o 2 [he sticks often] As indecen t we defin e Book s a n d p a p e r s tha t inclin e Average m e m b e r s of th e Forc e T o certai n feelings whic h ar e coars e T h a t is, sensation s whic h ar e felt Belo w t h e regulatio n belt Shamefu l a n d indecen t ar e

I H E CHAS E

169

T h e Bible in particula r T h e plays of Massinge r a n d For d T h e bits in Shakespear e abou t a bawd Herrick' s verse a n d M r Pope's . [Sticks.] Sorry , sir. I j u st can' t get thes e name s int o m y head . S E R G E A N T . C o m e o n man . T h i n k o f th e rhyme . What rhyme s with Pope's . T h e works of D r Mari e Stopes . You'll neve r get int o th e Staff College . Alright that'l l d o for you . Stan d at ease. No w t h e n No . 3. Atten-shun . Your lesson please . N o . 3. T h e Englis h law concernin g libel T o defin e we ar e unyble . [Enter P O L I C E M A N . ]

P O L I C E M A N . T h e r e ' s a part y outsid e ha s bee n sen t to thi s statio n By th e Nineve h Hote l for interrogation . S E R G E A N T . Brin g hi m in . Class atten-shun . Dis-miss . [Enter P O L I C E M A N with A L A N . ]

Name . ALAN .

Norman .

S E R G E A N T . Loo k 'er e youn g feller, don' t you tr y a n d be funn y with us, see. What' s you r name ? A L A N . N o r m a n . Alan N o r m a n . S E R G E A N T . Ο so you'r e goin g t o be saucy, ar e you . Where' s you r papers ? A L A N . I haven' t got any .

S E R G E A N T . So that' s it. N o addres s eithe r I suppose . A L A N . No .

S E R G E A N T . N O n a m e , n o papers , n o address . You migh t as well be dead . [Telephone rings.] Ullo . T h e polic e station . Yes, sir, speaking . Yes. Yes. No . Yes. Right , sir, we'll be dow n in five minutes . [He blows his whistle. The P O L I C E all fall in.] T h e y ' r e holdin g a demonstratio n at th e Powe r House . Hav e you all got you r truncheons ? A L L . Yes, sir. S E R G E A N T . N O . 2 fall ou t an d g u a r d th e prisoner . (O a n d get hi m some thin g t o wear. I can' t hav e peopl e sittin g abou t m y statio n in pyjamas. ) C o m p a n y . Shun . Righ t t u r n . Left wheel . Quic k m a r c h . [Exeunt to the tune of the Policeman's Holiday.] [No . 2 goes out and comes back with some workman's clothes.]

170

IH L

CHAS E

No

2 Er e T h e y ain t exactl y West En d bu t they'l l be w a r m e r tha n t h e m beac h pyjama s O f all t h e ungryteful , you migh t sy than k yer Wot's th e troubl e m a t e ' Wome n I shoul d think , j u d g i n g by th e 'air s o n yer colle r Well, if yer d o n ' t wan t to be civil, d o n ' t A L AN I' m sorr y T h a n k you bu t pleas e leave m e alon e I wan t to be quie t N o 2 N o offenc e As yer like Live a n d let live, that' s wot I sy Where' s m y b o o k ' [Pause ] Was you an y goo d at learm n by ear t whe n you was at schoo P I wish I was [Spells out slowly ] Offence s u n d e r Schedul e Β Restrain t of Princes , Ba, Ba Wot's thi s word ? B-A-R-R-A-T-R- Y Ba, Ba, Ba Giv e it u p What is it anyway ' Somethin g improper , mos t likely Thes e lon g word s make s m e air cur l Where' s th e paper ? [Picks it up ] Bisho p bite s Do g Well di d you ever Triplet s b o r n in Ira n Gla d I' m no t th e fathe r I f it 'a d bee n m e I' d ave said the y belonge d t o th e lydy opposit e Picket s at Pressa n Tens e situatio n at Windyacr e Min e H m Russia n Gol d A L AN Giv e m e tha t p a p e r N o 2 'Ere , steady , stead y Wot yer snatchi n at? Yer ca n ave it bu t yer n e e d n ' t be in suc h a n urr y abah t it Don' t wan t th e crosswor d pyge as well I suppos e [Both read Stage darkens ] A L A N ' S R I G H T F O O T Wha t ar e you p u s h i n g for, Left ?

L E F T F O O T You'r e takin g u p all th e r o o m R F Well you n e e d n ' t pus h so You'r e always pushin g L F It' s d a m n e d col d Scratc h m y bac k for me , will you , Righ t No , a bit highe r R F There ? L F Yes T h a t ' s goo d Ο Hell , I' m tire d R F It' s b e e n a tirin g da y L F I always feel tire d no w Don' t wan t to get u p in th e m o r n i n g I' m gettin g old T h e c r a m p keep s gettin g m e I t gets m e ba d sometime s R F You o u g h t t o see a docto r L F I know , bu t th e maste r won' t let m e Mea n I call it Well, if I let hi m com e a stinke r o n e of thes e days it won' t be m y fault R F I'll m e n t i o n it to hi m nex t tim e h e want s to go for a walk, a n d if h e won' t listen , I'll slip After all, we feet mus t stick togethe r L F You'r e d e a d righ t [Pause ] See n anythin g of th e Mon k lately? R F Ssh H e ma y b e listenin g You kno w wha t a on e h e is for comin g r o u n d t h e c o r n e r suddenl y whe n you'r e no t expectin g hi m C o m e

171

T H E CHAS E

close r It' s m y opinion , Left, he' s ha d som e sort of unpleasan t shoc k Something' s h a p p e n e d You kno w ho w high a n d might y he' s bee n all thi s last week, o r d e r i n g u s abou t like dirt , an d giving th e Maste r sauce , till o n e wante d to slap hi m Well, I saw hi m thi s m o r n i n g a n d hones t I wouldn' t hav e know n hi m h e was so change d H a n g i n g his h e a d dow n as mee k as you pleas e Someon e mus t hav e tol d hi m w h e r e h e got off, a n d I can' t say I' m sorr y L F N o r I eithe r Who is h e anyway? He' s kep t like you o r m e R F Ssh [Enter G E O R G E with a pocket torch A L AN POLICEMA N are sound asleep ]

and

G E O R G E Miste r N o r m a n [Flashes torch in his face ] A L AN Who' s that ? GEORG E

It' s G e o r g e

A L AN Ο I' m goin g ma d I t h o u g h t Georg e was a do g G E O R G E Ssh, 01 yer'll wyke u p yer fat frien d It' s Georg e I' m th e daw g o r r a t h e r I was I can' t explyn e no w co s we mus t urr y Di d yer find th e letter ? A L AN Wha t letter ? G E O R G E Didn' t yer ea r m e shou t u p th e stairs? I foun d a lette r in Miss Vipond' s keyole fro m a blok e calle d Franci s I t 'ad a coa t of arm s o n it so I t h o u g h t it migh t be fro m th e gentlema n you was look m for T h a t ' s wy we mus t urr y cos if it is lm , e's dyin A L AN Dyin g W h e r e is h e now ? G E O R G E I n St J y m e s ' Infirmar y I kno w th e plyce A L AN

Ho w di d you

get

in ?

G E O R G E Brok e in at th e winde r at th e bac k That' s o u r wy ou t Com e on A L AN

I s it to o lat e

Be mercifu l Fat e [Exeunt ] N o 2 [talking in his sleep ] T h e plays of Massinge r a n d For d T h e bits in Shakespear e abou t a bawd H e r n c k ' s verse CURTAI N

172

T H E CHAS E

Act I I I S c e n e 3 [The door of the Infirmary.] PRESSMAN . Why mus t I go to th e demonstratio n It' s a lon g lon g way to th e Powe r Statio n I shall neve r get so far I shall find th e neares t bar . Le t t h e Dail y Mai l Los e its sale O n a nigh t of rai n an d mist Who woul d be a journalist ? [Alternative song.]

[Song.] O n a wet Sunda y evenin g I me t m y love Sh e wor e a n old ulste r A n d o n e black glove Sh e o p e n e d a suitcas e A n d b r o u g h t ou t in h e r h a n d 10 semi-detache d villas with lean-t o garage 9 doubl e bed s with Kumfy sleep mattresse s 8 Telescopi c hat-stand s 7 rolls of chequ e linoleu m 6 Dink y te a cloth s 5 g a r d e n mower s 4 Gent s pyjam a suitin g 3 shavin g mirror s 2 D r Wellingdon' s pin k pills for gout , r h e u m a t i s m , varicose veins, acidosis , chilblains , bod y o d o u r , baldnes s a n d nervou s debilit y And

[Tune: Jesu the very thought of thee. Alice ha s gon e a n d I' m alon e Nobod y u n d e r s t a n d s Ho w lovely were h e r fire alarm s Ho w fair h e r G e r m a n bands . Ο ho w I crie d whe n Alice die d T h e da y we were to hav e wed We neve r h a d o u r roaste d duc k An d no w she' s a loaf of bread .

O n e smal l packe t of Woodbine s T H E ONL Y BRAND . [Enter A L AN and

Good-evening . Are you lookin g for me ? A L A N . I S thi s th e e n t r a n c e to th e Infirmary ?

GEORGE. ]

TH L

CHAS E

173

2 N D PRESSMA N Ove r t h e r e is th e d o o r I'll sho w you Yes I' m tigh t Bu t I won' t fight [Rings bell for them ] I've seen you r face befor e Bu t wher e I' m no t sur e [ P O R T E R comes out ]

A L AN

Ca n I see M r C r e w e '

PORιE R

YOU canno t d o

T h e y ' r e takin g hi m no w int o th e theatr e I' m afrai d you will hav e to com e bac k late r A n d you'l l be luck y if you see hi m alive He' s no t expecte d to survive [Exit P O R T E R ]

A L AN

T o o lat e

G E O R G E T h a t ' s gor n a n d ben t it 2 N D PRESSMA N H e r e , Misery , wait T h e r e ' s a bac k d o o r tha t I kno w T o t h e t h e a t r e we will go G E O R G E I t seem s te r m e I've d o n e all I can , so if you'l l excuse m e I'll be gettin g bac k to m y pal s Good-by e M r N o r m a n , an d I 'ope s yer finds lm breathi n A L AN Good-by e George , I shall neve r forget All tha t you di d w h e n you were m y pe t A n d I' m glad tha t in perso n we hav e me t G E O R G E Sym e te r you So lon g [Exit G E O R G E ]

PRESSMA N [as they exit by a small door] T h e r e ' s a bac k d o o r in Soh o Onl y commercia l traveller s kno w [Exeunt ]

174

T H E CHAS E

Act I I I S c e n e 4 [An operating theatre in the Infirmary. Benches of S T U D E N T S . ] M E D I C A L S T U D E N T . D O you kno w th e stor y of th e curat e a n d th e B.B.A.? [Enter P R O M P T E R very quickly.] P R O M P T E R . I' m sorr y gentlemen . T h e Censo r doe s no t allow tha t one . M E D I C A L S T U D E N T . Ο very well. D o you kno w th e story — P R O M P T E R . N o r tha t o n e either . M E D I C A L S T U D E N T . Bu t you don' t kno w yet wha t th e stor y is goin g to be. P R O M P T E R . You'r e a medica l student , sir, an d that' s e n o u g h for him . All you r storie s ar e tab u in thi s theatre . A L L . Bu t wha t ar e we t o d o while you'r e waiting? P R O M P T E R [scratching his head]. Well, if you were to whispe r the m I don' t suppos e there' d be an y h a r m in it. A L L [whisper]. . . . A n d so you see . . . H e said there' s a stigma It was D a n d C . Abou t th e lette r Sigma . [A harmonium begins to play a voluntary. Procession of N U R S E S , D R E S S E R S , P A T I E N T , and

SURGEON .

He takes up a position at the end of the table with his back to the audience. The note is given, ff subito. Flavour of Bach in his dramatic mood.] A L L S T U D E N T S [heavy 4-part harmony]. We see d e a t h every da y Bu t d o no t u n d e r s t a n d him . S U R G E O N . I believe

ALL.

in th e physica l causatio n of all p h e n o m e n a materia l o r mental , an d in th e ger m theor y of disease. An d in Hippocrates , th e fathe r of Medicine , Galen , Ambros e Pare , Listo n of th e e n o r m o u s hands , Syme , Liste r who discovere d th e use of antiseptics , H u n t e r a n d Sir Frederic k Treves . A n d I believe in surgica l t r e a t m e n t for d u o d e n a l ulcer , cerebra l abscess, pylori c stenosis , aneurism , an d all form s of endocrin e disturbance . S U R G E O N . Le t no t th e patien t reac t unfavourabl y to th e anaesthetic . A L L . Bu t let it save hi m fro m pain . S U R G E O N . Le t ther e be n o unforesee n complications . A L L . N e i t h e r let sepsis hav e th e advantage . S U R G E O N . Ma y m y skill no t deser t me . A L L . Bu t guid e you r h a n d s .

ΊΗ Ε

CHAS E

175

S U R G E O N . Gentlemen , we hav e befor e us a case of abdomina l injury , cause d by a bulle t piercin g th e bowel. I inten d therefor e to mak e a 5-inc h m e d i a n incision , dividin g th e rectu s abdominus , brin g t h e bowel forward , resec t it, wash ou t th e p e r i t o n e u m with war m saline , a n d inser t a tub e for drainage . I s it clear ? A L L . I t is. [ S U R G E O N turns to wash his hands. During this process the S T U D E N T S sing the following to a C of Ε chant. The PRESSME N and A L AN enter during the

singing.] D E C A N I . T h e surgeo n is great : let his n a m e a p p e a r in th e birthda y honours . C A N T O R I S . I was in d a n g e r of death ; a n d h e delivere d me . D E C . I was in fever a n d I coul d no t sleep; th e pai n assailed m e all th e da y long . C A N . I g r o a n e d in th e darkness ; I was in t e r r o r for m y life: I too k n o pleasur e in women , neithe r in th e innocen t pastime s of children , m y food h a d lost its flavour. D E C . T h e Physician s shoo k thei r heads : the y consulte d togethe r in th e nex t r o o m a n d the y were perplexed . C A N . T h e y prescribe d diets , cathartics , drug s an d all m a n n e r of salves a n d ointments ; b u t n o o n e of the m relieved me . 2 N D H A L F . Bu t th e surgeon , h e relieved me ; h e remove d t h e emphasi s of m y troubl e a n d I was healed . P R E S S M A N . You see Mr . N o r m a n

I tol d you I neve r forget a face Fanc y meetin g you in thi s plac e Fanc y t h e patien t bein g Sir Franci s You will see ho w m y edito r dance s I' m coc k ο w h o o p Boy wha t a scoop . STUDENTS .

Ssh.

S U R G E O N [adjusting his gloves and picking up a scalpel]. It' s a terribl e thing , nurse , to kee p wicket for a man' s life. A L A N . Who' s th e surgeon ? PRESSMAN . Sir William Spurgeo n T h e famou r a m a t e u r crickete r H e captaine d t h e Hospital' s t e a m last year. STUDENTS .

Ssh.

[RolL· of drums like a tight rope act. S U R G E O N be-

176

T H E CHAS E

gins. Back curtains draw showing W I T N E S S E S dressed as boxing seconds. They throw up their right hands and the lights go out.] S U R G E O N . Lights , Nurse , dresser , you dresse r nex t to tha t d a m n e d dresser . Fo r God' s sake get a torch . Light , give m e a blood y light. Chris t is t h e r e n o o n e in thi s blood y theatr e who u n d e r s t a n d s plai n English ? Fetc h t h e manager , th e scen e shifte r a n d find ou t wha t th e devil it's all about . [There u a flash of magnesium light.] P R E S S M A N . H e r e you are , sir.

Th e Will SURGEON one ,

Mai l b u t no t t h e T e l e g r a p h be h o n o u r e d with you r p h o t o g r a p h . . YOU blood y fool. You've blinde d me . Scalpel , Nurse . No t tha t idiot . Arter y forceps . Mor e forceps . More . More . More . [Enter S C E N E S H I F T E R . ]

S C E N E S H I F T E R . T h e Powe r Hous e ha s cu t us off. T h e polic e ar e storm in g it now . S U R G E O N . I hav e cu t th e mesenteri c Death has declared. [Throws instruments about.] S T U D E N T S . T h e paper s said ther e was goin g to be trouble . A N A E S T H E T I S T . He' s sinkin g sir. I' d bette r give hi m a n injectio n of ad renalin . S U R G E O N . God , m a n , d o n ' t chatter . D o something . [To DRESSER. ] Ho w th e Hel l d o you thin k I ca n see if you stan d a mil e away. Hol d th e torc h nearer . Ge t ou t of m y way. T H E A T R E S I S T E R . Something' s t h e matter . T h e patient' s comin g to . Hol y Mary , m o t h e r of all th e saint s hav e mercy . A N A E S T H E T I S T . Wha t was in th e bottle , sister? S I S T E R . A d r e n a l i n , sir.

A N A E S T H E T I S T . Giv e it here . Can' t you read ? It' s hydrochlori c acid . S U R G E O N . I t isn' t cricket . [Gives up.] [The music of the ensuing duet between FRANCIS and A L AN should be in the style of Wagnerian opera. If the actors cannot sing, the singing might either be done by the singers concealed in the chorus, or by using a panatrope concealed under the operating table.] F R A N C I S . Ο Pressa n Fell s Ho w beautifu l you ar e

I H E CHAS E

I h e a r you r bells Alas I canno t com e T o Pressa n h o m e I hav e w a n d e r e d to o far C H O R U S (Pai n make s hi m w a n d e r in his min d T h e r e ' s nothin g audibl e of an y kin d ) A L AN

Ο Franci s

F R A N C I S I h e a r a voice T h a t make s m e rejoic e Who is it standin g t h e r e I c a n n o t see you clea r A L AN

Francis , it is I

Alan N o r m a n standin g by An d I hav e com e T o tak e you h o m e F R A N C I S I c a n n o t see

Twixt you a n d m e Death' s grea t tire d face H a n g s in spac e C H O R U S (Deat h make s hi m w a n d e r in his min d T h e r e ' s nothin g visible of an y kin d ) A L AN

I am nea r

D o no t fear FRANCI S I hea r he r

say

T h a t she ha s com e T o tak e m e to-da y A L AN Ο Franci s stay FRANCI S

Na y

Sh e beckon s m e away Beast s a n d flowers ar e in h e r keepin g I n h e r arm s I woul d be sleepin g A L AN Ο Franci s give Your blessing first tha t I ma y live Giv e m e you r h a n d to kiss F R A N C I S Gladly , Alan , I give you thi s A L AN Ο wha t shall I d o ? F R A N C I S Be true , be t r u e T o Pressa n Sh e Will teac h you wha t to be Mor e I canno t tell Darknes s assails m e a n d I fail Farewel l

177

178

T H E CHAS E

[One of the W I T N E S S E S counts like a referee. At Ten, he raises the right arm of the other W I T N E S S . ] [Shouts of N E W S B O Y S . ]

N E W S B O Y S . Evenin g special . Martia l law in Pressan . Evenin g special . Riot s at Windyacre . Evenin g special . A S H O U T O U T S I D E . H e r e com e th e Mounte d Police . T h e y ' r e goin g t o charg e t h e crowd . [Sounds of mounted police charging crowd. Cries of Blood y M u r d e r e r s , etc., etc.] O N E O F T H E S T U D E N T S [looking out the window]. T h e y wen t t h r o u g h t h e m like a dos e o f salts. A L A N . I h e a r a n d obey. CURTAI N

Choru s Finall y a n d u n d e r th e loca l image s o u r bloo d ha s conjure d We sho w you m a n caugh t in th e t r a p of his terror , destroyin g himself . Fro m hi s favourit e poo l betwee n th e yewhedg e a n d th e roses; it is n o fairy tal e hi s lin e catche s Bu t grey whit e a n d h o r r i d , th e monste r of his childhoo d raises; its hug e d o m e d forehea d As d e a t h move s in t o take ; his i n n e r luck . Land s o n t h e beache s of his love; like Coghlan' s coffin. D o no t spea k onl y of a chang e of heart ; meanin g 500 a year a n d a r o o m of one' s own : As if tha t were all tha t is necessary ; in thes e island s alon e ther e ar e som e forty-seve n millio n hearts , eac h of fou r chamber s You c a n n o t avoid th e issue; by becomin g simpl y a communit y digger Neithe r blam e onl y t h e system; it is you r collectiv e productio n T h e secretio n of you r several greed s an d envies; a n d n o less of you r courage s a n d you r loves. Ο you who prattl e abou t th e wonderfu l middl e ages; you who expec t th e millenniu m afte r a few triflin g adjustments , remember . Wonderfu l slogan s ar e a d o p t e d ; dow n in its d e p t h s th e sou l doe s no t adapt . Visit fro m hous e t o house , fro m countr y to country : conside r th e population s

T H E CHASE

179

Beneath the communions and the coiffures: discover your image Man divided always and restless always: afraid and unable to forgive Unable to forgive his parents: or his first voluptuous rectal sins Afraid of the clock, afraid of catching his neighbour's cold; afraid of his own body Desperately anxious about his health and his position: calling upon the universe to justify his existence Slovenly in posture and thinking: the greater part of the will devoted To warding off pain from the waterlogged areas An isolated bundle of nerve and desire: suffering alone Seeing others only in reference to himself; as a long-lost mother or his ideal self at sixteen. Watch him asleep and waking Dreaming of continuous sexual enjoyment: or perpetual applause Reading of accidents over the breakfast-table, thinking: "This could never happen to me" Reading the reports of trials: flushed at the downfall of a fellow creature Examine his satisfactions Some turn to the time-honoured solutions of sickness and crime: some to the latest model of aeroplane or the sport of the moment Some take to good works: to a mechanical ritual of giving Some adopt an irrefragable system of beliefs or a political programme: others have escaped to the ascetic mountains Or taken refuge in the family circle, among the boys on the bar-stools: on the small uncritical islands. Men will profess devotion to almost anything, to God, to Humanity, to Truth, to Beauty; but their first thought on meeting is "Beware" They put their trust in Reason or in the Feelings of the Blood: but they will not trust a stranger with half-a-crown. So beware then of those with no obvious vices: of the chaste, the nonsmoker and drinker, the vegetarian Beware of those who show no inclination towards making money: there are even less innocent forms of power. Beware of yourself. Have you not heard your own heart whisper: "I am the nicest person in this room" Asking to be introduced to someone "real": someone unlike all those people over there? Repent

I H L CHAS E

180

You hav e wonderfu l hospital s a n d a few goo d school s Repen t T h e precisio n o f y o u r instrument s a n d th e skill of you r designer s is unparallele d Repen t Your knowledg e a n d you r powe r a r e capabl e of infinit e extensio n Repen t O n e theor y ma y b e t r u e r o r falser tha n a n o t h e r bu t tha t is no t e n o u g h A belief ma y b e foolish o r sensible tha t is no t e n o u g h eithe r A way o f living ma y give o p p o r t u n i t y t o goo d o r to evil b u t it is n o t self-supportin g Refus e n o suc h assistanc e explor e every avenu e o f enlightenmen t Fo r t h e r e is n o t h i n g tha t is no t u n i m p o r t a n t b u t t h e hna l issue is always Betwee n t h e lovin g a n d t h e unloving , t h e unforgivin g a n d t h e forgiving t h e trus t a n d t h e fear

Act I I I S c e n e 5 [Curtain nses Pressan The V I C A R and I R I S ]

I R I S An y new s o f Jimmy ? VICAR

Dea d

Sho t while tryin g t o escap e T h e official bulleti n said Bu t you kno w wha t tha t mean s Ο J i m m y , I shall h e a r you r scream s Fo r ever in m y d r e a m s I R I S I saw Majo r Bicknel l to-da y H e refuse s t o go away H e refuse s t o spea k O r even ea t Bu t h e sits in hi s r o o m A n d waits for hi s d o o m Will Alan neve r c o m e ' V I C A R Dea r Lor d a n d Maste r Who h u n g o n tre e I n thi s disaste r Strengthe n m e T o bea r t h e scor n O f all m e n b o r n Chris t crucifie d Confir m m y m i n d

181

I H E CHAS E

T h a t I be kin d T o thos e wh o assert an d h u r t O n eithe r side [Enter

GENERA L

in full

uniform

HECTO R

in

attendance ] G E N E R A L Goo d m o r n i n g , Padre , you'r e th e m a n I wan t I've got th e traitor s by th e shor t hair s no w We've drive n 'e m int o t h e reformator y Wher e we ca n r o u n d the m u p Someho w o r othe r They'v e got som e arms , however , an d I wan t Som e reinforcement s That' s wher e you com e in Just preac h a sermo n t o th e audience , will you, You kno w th e kin d of thin g to call 'e m r o u n d VICAR

I won' t

G E N E R A L Ο com e Perhap s I pu t it a bit crudel y Bu t that' s a soldier' s way T h e r e ' s n o offenc e intended , m y d e a r Padr e C o m e o n R e n d e r t o Caesar , Caesar' s thing s you kno w [ V I C A R says nothing ] W h a t Pacifist ' T h a t ' s somethin g ne w for you What' s h a p p e n e d to you r histor y of th e w a r ? T h e r e is som e hanky-pank y somewher e Speak , ma n [Pause ] M y God , we'll see ho w d e e p it goes Tak e tha t [Hits his paunch ] I d o believe th e senil e idio t ha s gon e Socialist Well I'll soo n sho w you wha t the y thin k of you He y Corpora l Brin g a prisone r her e Allow m e to introduc e you two T h e Vicar 5

[PRISONER , beaten up, dragged in ] VICAR

Fredd y

P R I S O N E R Leave m e alon e I don' t wan t you a n d you r blood y prayer s [ P R I S O N E R taken away ] G E N E R A L YOU see [Whistles Enter several SOLDIER S ] Thi s m a n is u n d e r m y arres t Leave hi m alon e bu t kee p a n eye o n hi m Fetc h m e th e g r a m o p h o n e a n d specia l recor d T r a i n a machin e g u n o n th e audienc e I n case there' s [gramophone brought in] an y troubl e Pu t it h e r e [To V I C A R ] An d now , you cissy, listen to a ma n

182

T H E CHAS E

G R A M O P H O N E Wha t was th e weathe r o n Eternity' s worst day? A n d w h e r e was t h e So n of Go d d u r i n g tha t fatal second—pausin g befor e a m i r r o r in a n a n t e r o o m , o r nea r to th e S u p r e m e Presenc e itself in th e middl e of a n awful crescend o of praise , o r again withdraw n apart , r e g a r d i n g pensivel y th e unspeakabl e beautie s of th e heavenl y landscape ? T h e divines t of book s says nothin g O f th e primar y crises of t h e sou l n o histor y is ever writte n Yon citize n crossin g th e stree t while th e policema n hold s u p th e traffic like th e Re d Sea H e leaves o n e cur b a n hones t m a n Bu t O , quickl y constable , handcuff s o u t ' Rol l o n you heav y lorrie s H e is P h a r a o h Mercifull y exterminat e thi s pest T o o lat e T h e warnin g canno t be given It' s d o n e th e poiso n administered , th e sou l infecte d T h e o t h e r cur b is reache d a n d o u r J o h n Bull, honest-seeming , undistinguished , unsuspected , is free to walk away, with m a few year s t o involve widows in financia l rui n o r a part y of schoolchildre n in som e frightfu l acciden t So o n thi s inconceivabl y m o r e catastrophi c occasion , n o d o o r banged , n o d o g barke d T h e r e was n o alar m of an y kin d Bu t con sider its importanc e N o judge' s sentenc e ha d ever yet bee n passed Basedow' s disease ha d no t occurre d Love Jo y Peac e Go d N o word s b u t thes e N o populatio n bu t angel s A n d after—th e whol e lexico n of sin, t h e sullen proletaria t of hel l T h e n wha t of th e centra l figure in th e tragedy ? Firs t a m o n g th e Son s o f Go d Powe r N o Calip h o r Mikad o h a d on e gra m of it Beaut y Alcibiade s beside hi m were extraordinaril y plai n Wits Ein stein were a s t a m m e r e r Bu t for hi m it was no t e n o u g h Fo r hi m n o t h i n g was e n o u g h bu t t h e uniqu e majorit y of Go d T h a t o r — Ah h a d h e reckone d with th e d r e a d alternative—unqualifie d rui n Alas for us, h e raise d th e questio n T h e answe r was to lie with A n o t h e r Ο even then , whe n th e t h o u g h t first tempted , was all irrevocabl y lost? Was t h e r e no t still time , wonderfu l creature , to cast it fro m you with a phe w of disgust? I t doesn' t matte r no w Altere d for ever, a n d for t h e worse, h e wen t ou t to c o r r u p t others , to for m hi s notoriou s a n d infamou s societie s Gon e for ever were th e fran k h a n d s h a k e , t h e obviou s look , th e direc t an d simpl e speec h T h e Golde n Age was definitel y over L a n g u a g e ha d becom e symbolic , gestur e a cod e of signal s T h e a r r a n g e m e n t of book s o n a tabl e conveye d a shameface d message flowers in a vase expresse d som e unsavour y double e n t e n d r e Personalitie s acquire d a ne w a n d siniste r significance , lost all bu t tha t Fo r o r against , o n thi s side of th e ledge r o r o n tha t Gabrie l a n d Michael—ou t of th e questio n What gloriou s prais e De m o g o r g o n — s a f e Wha t a shamefu l c o m m e n t Abdiel a n d Azazael —

T H E CHASL

183

Possible Beware, you unsuspecting couple This is a terrible examination, decisive of your everlasting career Here are but two colours from which to choose, the whitest white or the blackest black Salvation or damnation at 100% Azazael chooses What' the black? Miserable, unlucky he He's failed Now Abdiel You hesitate? Quick man, the white Bravissimo, he passes Baffled, they slink away, to make their preparations Too late for diplomacy or apologetic telegrams It is war On the details of that appalling combat, history is mercifully silent To the vanquished, unable to consider such reminiscences without a shudder, the subject is tabu and the victors, to whom all boasting is by nature abhorrent, have been content to leave the matter in a decent obscurity But remember, they were divine, and therefore omniscient, omnipotent No new-fangled auxiliary arm, the value of which is realised only by a few enthusiastic subalterns, no depth charges or detectors, no tricks of camouflage, no poison gas which in times of peace even generals do not see how they could bring themselves to use, no technique of deployment or barrage, can have been unknown to them It was conflict on an astronomical scale and with the gloves off There were no Quakers or strikers, no international Red Cross, no question of colonies or reparations Where all were committed absolutely there could be no ironic misgivings Every schoolboy knows the result To the rebels it was destruction The reservoirs of the divine wrath were inexhaustible Nothing was signed There was no one left to discharge so unnecessary an office Into the fosse of hell they fell like water Hurrah Hurrah Hurrah Yet, my friends, you know and I know, don't we, that the events I have just narrated were not the last Would God they had been The scene of operations was transferred to another front, to us Impotent to attack him directly, the defeated sought to strike at God through his creatures, to wound where it be most tender, his artist's love And to our shame, they succeeded The world became an everlasting invalid Of course God could have dismissed us with a snap of the fingers One little stellar collision and no more bother for him Why not? All reason was for it It would have been quite cricket But God is no eugenist There was no talk of sterilisation or euthanasia Only the treatment of a very merciful and loving physician He set over us a kindly strictness, appointed his authorities, severe but just, a kind of martial law He gave them power to govern in his name, and access to his presence in their prayers, to make their reports, and ask for help and guidance, that through them the people might learn his primary will

184

T H E CHASE

And so, to-day we are here for a very good reason. His enemies have launched another offensive on the grandest scale perhaps that this poor planet of ours has witnessed. As on the first awful occasion in Eden, so now, under the same deluding banner of freedom. For their technique of propaganda has never varied: It has been far too successful for them to need to change it. In silk-clad China or the naked Archipelagoes, in the Bermudas or Brighton, in the stone hamlet among the beechwoods or the steel flats of the Metropolis, that three-syllabled whisper—"You are God" has been, is, and alas, will be sufficient to convert in a moment the chapped-handed but loyal ploughboy, the patient sufferer from incurable disease, the tired economical student, or the beautiful juvenile mama into a very spiteful maniac indeed, into whose hands modern science has placed an all too efficient axe. I should like you just to try and imagine for a moment what the world would be like if they succeeded; if this lunacy of theirs with its grim fanatic theories were to spread over the civilised globe. I tell you there would exist a tyranny compared with which a termite colony would seem dangerously lax. No family love. Sons would inform against fathers, mothers cheerfully send daughters to the execution cellars. No romance. Even the peasant must beget the standard child under laboratory conditions; motherhood would be by licence. Truth and beauty would be proscribed as dangerously obstructive. To be beautiful would be treason against the State, thought a sabotage deadly to the thinker. No books. No art. No music. A year of this and, I say, even the grass would cease to grow, flowers would not risk appearing, heifers would not dare to calve. So you see our job. To those whom danger in God's cause makes them exclaim, like a schoolboy confronted with an ice "How Lush" this is a lucky day. God has given them extraordinary privileges. But if there be any doubters, cowards wavering like the cowl on an oast house, I say "Go out of that door before it is too late". Only those whose decisions are swift as the Sirocco, senses keen as the finest mirror galvanometer, will constant as the standard inch, and of a chemical purity need apply. And to these last I say. Remember. God is behind you, and Nelson, Henry V, Shakespeare, Shackleton, Julius Caesar. But as for our enemies, those rats, they shall skedaddle like a brook. Nature herself is on our side. Their boasts are vain. You cannot threaten a thunderstorm with a revolver. They shall be trapped by the stalks of flowers. Sheep shall chase them away. Useless for them to imitate natural objects such as a boulder or a tree. Even the spade-handed moles shall declare their folly.

I H E CHAS E

185

Bu t mind , Go d first T o Go d th e glory, an d let hi m rewar d Fo r Go d is n o s u m m e r touris t We're m o r e t h a n scener y t o hi m H e ha s a farmer' s eye for ergo t an d tare s Bu t Ο deligh t highe r t h a n Everes t an d d e e p e r t h a n th e Challenge r Gul f Hi s c o m m o d o r e s com e int o hi s counci l a n d his lieutenant s kno w his love Lord , I confess , I con fess All to o weak a n d utterl y unworth y I a m Bu t I a m thin e All action s a n d diversion s of th e people , thei r g r e y h o u n d races , thei r footbal l competitions , thei r clums y act s of love, wha t ar e the y bu t th e pitifu l maime d expressio n of tha t entir e passion , th e positive tropis m o f th e sou l to Go d Ο Father , I have alwavs praise d T h e e , I prais e T h e e now , I shall always prais e T h e e Liste n to th e sabot s o f th y eage r child , r u n n i n g to th y a r m s Admi t hi m to th e fairs of tha t blessed countr y wher e th e saint s mov e happil y abou t thei r nea t clea n house s u n d e r th e blu e sky Ο windmill s Ο cock s Ο cloud s an d pond s Mothe r is waving t o m e fro m th e tin y d o o r T h e quil t is t u r n e d dow n in m y beautifu l blu e an d gold r o o m Father , I t h a n k T h e e in advanc e Everythin g ha s bee n g r a n d I a m comin g h o m e [Just before the last paragraph "O Father " the doors at the back of the auditorium open and R E CRUIT S pour in As they come on to the stage, they are handed arms ] G E N E R A L Are all th e doorway s g u a r d e d ? VOICE S

Yes

sir

G E N E R A L An d th e gangways patrolle d VOICE S

Yes

GENERA L VOIC E 1 VOIC E 2 VOIC E 1 VOIC E 2

sir

C o m p a n y Fal l in Hal t Who goes t h e r e 5 Don' t be ridiculou s I've got to catc h a tra m Stan d o r I fire You'r e a n awfully goo d acto r bu t really I've got to go [Shot ]

G E N E R A L C o m p a n y S h u n T h e attac k o n th e reformator y will begin at onc e C o m p a n y left t u r n Quic k marc h [Exeunt ] V I C A R Le t m e go away

I will go an d pra y T o o n e who is greate r S O L D I E R G r e a t e r t h a n who ? V I C A R Greate r t h a n you [Exit ]

186

T H E CHAS E

[A clatter. Enter running from back of Auditorium, A L AN

N O R M A N . The

machine gun fires. As

he

reaches the steps onto the stage he collapses.] I R I S . Alan . ALAN .

T o o late .

O n c e m o r e I' m cheate d by m y Fat e I c a n n o t fight With th e miner s to-nigh t Iris , I saw Franci s onc e m o r e T o hi m I swore I woul d b e t r u e T o Pressa n a n d t o you . No w h e is d e a d a n d I . . . I R I S . You shal l no t die . A L A N . N O , Iris , no .

A surgeo n no w Is i g n o r a n t as a dove , Farewel l m y love. [Dies.] [Curtains draw back disclosing W I T N E S S E S as Everyman.] W I T N E S S . I n all thei r strivings m e n mus t er r H e lies in d e a t h at last, i m m u n e F r o m m u t e frustration' s false alar m No w h e t h r o u g h error s of hi s own Ha s also m a d e man' s weaknes s known . [A red glow in the background.] [Enter M I L D R E D . ]

M I L D R E D . T h e y hav e fired th e reformatory ; the y ar e b u r n i n g alive Fles h fusin g for fuel, bodie s b u r n i n g . I ha d two sons ; th e snipe r sho t the m I t is th e genera l protes t of th e eart h Against th e G e r m a n s a n d m y desolation . [Sings.] Brea k thei r teet h Ο Go d in thei r m o u t h s ; smit e th e jaw bone s of th e lions , Ο Lord : let t h e m fall away like wate r tha t r u n n e t h apace ; a n d whe n the y shoo t thei r arrow s let the m be roote d out . Le t t h e m consum e away like a snail, a n d be like th e untimel y fruit of a woman ; a n d t h e m no t see th e sun . T h e righteous shall rejoic e whe n h e seet h th e vengeance ; h e shall wash hi s footstep s in th e bloo d of th e ungodly .

THE

CHASE

187

So that a m a n shall say: verily there is a reward for the righteous; doubtless there is a God that j u d g e t h the earth. C H O R U S . If we end to-night with the a p p a r e n t triumph of reaction and folly: t h e r e is an alternative ending. A n d the choice is your own. W I T N E S S . Love loath to enter T h e suffering winter Still willing to rejoice With the u n b r o k e n voice At the precocious charm Enter a n d suffer, Within the q u a r r e l Be most at h o m e A m o n g the sterile prove Your vigours, Love. C H O R U S . M o u r n not for these: these are ghosts who chose their pain M o u r n rather for yourselves; for your inability to make u p your minds. Whose h o u r s of self-hatred and contempt, are all your majesty a n d crisis Between your fear for your little survival, and your fear of the future and its infinite duties Choose that you may recover: both your charity and your place Determining not this that you have lately witnessed; but another country W h e r e grace may grow outward and be given praise Beauty and virtue be vivid there. W I T N E S S . W h e r e time flies on as chalk stream clear A n d lovers by themselves forgiven T h e whole d r e a m genuine, the charm m a t u r e Walk in the great and general light In their delight a part of heaven Its furniture and choir. C H O R U S . T o each his need; from each his power. CURTAIN

The Dog Beneath the Skin or

Where Is Francis? A Play in Three Acts

BY W. H. A U D E N CHRISTOPHER

AND

ISHERWOOD

[1935]

TO ROBERT

MOODY

Boy with lancet, speech or gun Among the dangerous ruins, learn From each devastated organ The power of the genteel dragon.

D R A M A I I S PERSONAL·

Principal Characters T H E V I C A R of Pressan Ambo GENERAL H O T H A M

M R S H O T H A M , his wife

Miss I R I S C R E W E , of Honeypot Hall S I R F R A N C I S C R E W E , Bart., h e r b r o t h e r ALAN NORMAN

F I R S T J O U R N A L I S T (The Evening S E C O N D J O U R N A L I S T (The

Moon)

Thunderbolt)

Minor Characters CURATE

SORBO LAMB

MILDRED LUCE

C H I M P EAGLE

H . M . T H E K I N G OF O S T N I A

SIR WILLIAM SPURGEON,

H . M . T H E Q U E E N OF O S T N I A G R A B S T E I N , a Financier

the Surgeon MADAME BUBBI

DESTRUCTIVE DESMOND

Others Bus Conductor. Hotel Porter. Village Chemist. Scoutmaster. Master of Ceremonies. Poet. Cabaret Announcer. Head Waiter. Art Expert. Hotel Manager. Barman. C h o r u s Girls. Courtiers. Diners. Doctors. Dressers. Invalids. Lunatics. Nurses. Police. Priests. Procurers. Prostitutes. Students. Waiters. Villagers. Two Lovers Two Touts

Chorus T h e S u m m e r holds upon its glittering lake Lie E u r o p e a n d the islands, many rivers Wrinkling its surface like a ploughman's palm U n d e r the bellies of the grazing horses O n the far side of posts and bridges T h e vigorous shadows dwindle, nothing wavers, Calm at this m o m e n t the Dutch sea so shallow T h a t sunk St Paul's would ever show its golden cross A n d still the d e e p water that divides us still from Norway We would show you at first an English village You shall choose its location Wherever your heart directs you most longingly to look, you are loving towards it W h e t h e r n o r t h to Scot's Gap and Belhngham where the black rams defy the panting engine O r west to the Welsh Marches, to the lilting speech and the magicians' faces Wherever you were a child or had your first affair T h e r e it stands amidst your darling scenery A parish b o u n d e d by the wreckers' cliff, or meadows where browse the S h o r t h o r n and the maplike Frisian As at T r e n t Junction where the Soar comes gliding, out of green Leicestershire to swell the ampler current Hiker with s u n b u r n blisters on your office pallor, Cross-country champion with corks in your hands, When you have eaten your sandwich, your salt and your apple, W h e n you have begged your glass of milk from the ill-kept farm, What is it you see 5 I see barns falling, fences broken, Pasture not ploughland, weeds not wheat T h e great houses remain but only half are inhabited, Dusty the gunrooms and the stable clocks stationary Some have been t u r n e d into prep-schools where the diet is in the hands of an experienced matron, O t h e r s into club-houses for the golf-bore and the top-hole T h o s e who sang in the inns at evening have departed, they saw their h o p e in another country, T h e i r children have entered the service of the suburban areas, they have become typists, mannequins and factory operatives, they desired a different rhythm of life

192

T H E DOG B E N E A T H T H E SKIN

But their places are taken by another population, with views about nature, Brought in charabanc and saloon along arterial roads; Tourists to whom the T u d o r cafes Offer Bovril a n d b u n s u p o n Breton ware With leather work as a sideline: Filling stations Supplying petrol from rustic p u m p s . T h o s e who fancy themselves as foxes or desire a special setting for spooning Erect their villas at the right places, Airtight, lighted, elaborately warmed; A n d nervous people who will never marry Live u p o n dividends in the old-world cottages With an animal for friend or a volume of memoirs. Man is changed by his living; but not fast enough. His concern to-day is for that which yesterday did not occur. In the h o u r of the Blue Bird and the Bristol Bomber, his thoughts are appropriate to the years of the Penny Farthing: H e tosses at night who at noonday found no truth. Stand aside now: T h e play is beginning In the village of which we have spoken; called Pressan Ambo: H e r e too corruption spreads its peculiar and emphatic odours A n d Life lurks, evil, out of its epoch. L E A D E R O F S E M I - C H O R U S I.

T h e young men in Pressan to-night Toss on their beds T h e i r pillows d o not comfort T h e i r uneasy heads, T h e lot that decides their fate Is cast to-morrow, O n e must depart and face Danger and sorrow. VOICES.

Is it me? Is it me? Is it . . . me?

LEADER OF S E M I - C H O R U S II.

Look in your heart and see: T h e r e lies the answer. T h o u g h the heart like a clever Conjuror or dancer Deceive you often into many A curious sleight

T H E DOG B E N E A T H T H E SKIN

A n d motives like stowaways Are found too late. VOICES.

What shall h e d o , whose heart Chooses to depart?

L E A D E R O F S E M I - C H O R U S I.

H e shall against his peace Feel his heart h a r d e n , Envy the heavy birds At h o m e in a garden. For walk h e must the empty Selfish j o u r n e y Between the needless risk And the endless safety. VOICES.

Will he safe a n d sound Return to his own ground?

LEADER OF SEMI-CHORUS II.

Clouds a n d lions stand Before him dangerous And the hostility of dreams. Oh let him h o n o u r us Lest h e should be ashamed In the h o u r of crisis, In the valleys of corrosion Tarnish his brightness. VOICES.

W h o are you, whose speech

Sounds far out of reach? B O T H L E A D E R S [singing].

You a r e the town a n d we are the clock. We are the guardians of the gate in the rock. T h e Two. O n your left a n d o n your right In the day a n d in the night, We are watching you. Wiser not to ask just what has occurred T o t h e m who disobeyed o u r word; T o those We were the whirlpool, we were the reef, We were the formal nightmare, grief A n d the unlucky rose.

193

194

T H E DOG B E N E A T H T H E SKIN

Climb up the crane, learn the sailor's words When the ships from the islands laden with birds Come in Tell your stories of hshing and other men's wives The expansive moments of constricted lives In the lighted inn But do not imagine we do not know Nor that what you hide with such care won't show At a glance Nothing is done, nothing is said, But don't make the mistake of believing us dead I shouldn't dance We're afraid in that case you'll have a fall We've been watching you over the garden wall For hours The sky is darkening like a stain, Something is going to fall like rain And it won't be flowers When the green field comes off like a lid Revealing what was much better hid Unpleasant And look, behind you without a sound The woods have come up and are standing lound In deadly crescent The bolt is sliding in its groove, Outside the window is the black removers van And now with sudden swift emergence Come the woman in dark glasses and the humpbacked surgeons And the scissor man This might happen any day So be careful what you say Or do Be clean, be tidy, oil the lock, Trim the garden, wind the clock, Remember the Two

T H E DOG B E N E A T H THE SKIN

195

Act I Scene 1 [The garden of the Vicarage at Pressan Ambo. The scene suggests the setting of a pre-war musical comedy. The stage is crowded with villagers of all classes, who promenade to the strains of a distant band. The characters, as they pass in turn along the footlights, address the audience.] VICAR.

H e r e come I, the Vicar good Of Pressan Ambo, it's understood; Within this parish b o r d e r I labour to e x p o u n d the truth T o train the tender plant of Youth And guard the moral order.

CHORUS.

With troups of scouts for village louts And preaching zest he does his best T o guard the moral order.

GENERAL.

General H o t h a m is my name. At T a t r a Lakes I won my fame, I took the Spanish Lion. In Pressan now my h o m e I've m a d e And rule my house like a brigade With discipline of iron.

CHORUS.

Side by side his peacocks stride: He rules them all at Conyers Hall With discipline of iron.

G E N E R A L ' S W I F E . Woman, though weak, must do her part And I who keep the General's heart Know well our island story And do my utmost to advance In India, Russia, Finland, France, T h e just and English glory. CHORUS.

With subtle wile and female smile, With speech and vote she will promote T h e just and English glory.

IRIS.

And h e r e am I, Miss Iris Crewe, I live in Pressan A m b o too, T h e prize at village dances. From Honeypot Hall, the haunt of doves, In my blue Daimler and white gloves I come to take your glances.

196

CHORU S

TH E

DO G B E N E A T H I H E SKI N

With nos e a n d ea r an d m o u t h an d hai r With fur a n d ha t an d thing s like tha t Sh e take s o u r loving glance s

V I C A R [to C H O I R B O Y S ] Well, Ernie , how' s you r m o t h e r ' Goo d I h o p e you'r e behavin g as you s h o u l d ' J e r r y , you've got a dirt y face, G o a n d wash T h e n we'll hav e a rac e 1 S T V I L L A G E R B r a z e n ' I shoul d thin k she is' Sh e doesn' t car e who sees the m kiss, Can' t even troubl e to dra w th e blin d She' s a trollo p to m y min d 2N D V T h e brooder' s reall y excellen t I rea r no w 98 p e r cen t I hav e a ne w batc h ou t to-da y Leghorns , for I find the y pa y 3R D V I shan' t m i n d if the y choos e m e T h e r e ' s lot s of place s I wan t to see P a n s , Vienna , Berlin , Rom e I shouldn' t be sorr y to leave th e h o m e 4TH V Rol l th e piece s t h e n in Hou r A n d stew t h e m for at least a n hour , Pu t som e n u t m e g in th e po t Garnis h with parsle y a n d serve ho t 3R D V P e r h a p s the y will, you neve r know , Wha t will you d o if you hav e to d o ' 2N D V T h e r e ' s mone y to be m a d e in sheep , Onl y you mustn' t go to sleep 4TH V A glass of stou t befor e th e mea l Is always a goo d thing , I feel V I C A R [starting the race] Are we r e a d y ' No w C h u b b , don' t cheat ' Behin d th e lin e a n d touc h you r feet 1ST V N o w o n d e r the y have ha d a quarrel , T h e C o n t i n e n t is so immora l 4ΓΗ V Be very carefu l ho w you ad d th e salt 1S T V Well, anyway, it's no t hi s fault 3R D V After eigh t years, it seem s absur d VICAR Erni e first, C h u b b second , P n n g thir d 1S T V T h a t danc e at least shoul d hav e opene d his eyes 2N D V Roger' s heife r won first priz e 1S T V She' s carryin g o n with Fre d VICAR

Ru n

You'll bea t hi m yet'

up '

T H L DOG B E N L A T H T H E SKIN 4TH

V

V V 4TH V 1ST V 2ND V 2ND 3RD

VICAR 3RD 1ST

V V

VICAR 2ND 4TH 3RD 1ST 2ND 3RD

V V V V V V

VICAR 1ST

V

VICAR 4TH 3RD 1ST 4TH 3RD 2ND

V V V V V V

This cider-cup

Is good

T e n shillings profit on the porks C h i m p Eagle Recipe from wireless talks Someone ought to Well, we can't complain Caught you, my lad' He'll be lost again You saw her Clever boy' It's sold Taste it Choose someone He's too old Barley T h e Choice Your legs H e r name

Jolly'

Roasted T h e Hall

Ursula

Saxifrage

T h e shame

Wyandottes

VICAR

V 1ST V

2ND

He didn't'

She did'

VICAR

V 4TH V

We must

3RD

VOICES

[in crescendo] Good Bad

Game'

Yes

No

Poor Rich

White

Black

High

Low

197

198

T H E DOG B E N E A T H T H E SKIN

Touch.

Find. Pay.

Eat.

Weep.

Hurt. Come.

Boy.

Tea.

Go.

Lamb. Crewe.

Shame. Price. O!

[The hubbub

is interrupted

by the V I C A R ,

who

mounts on to a chair and begins ringing a Stationmaster's bell. Everybody is silent.} V I C A R . Ladies a n d Gentlemen. I think that there Are several strangers to Pressan here. O n your behalf I give them greeting And will explain the purpose of o u r meeting: T h e ancient family of Crewe (It may p e r h a p s be known to you) For generations owned the land, T h e farms, t h e fields on which we stand. Sir Bingham Crewe, who was the last (God rest his soul, for h e has passed) We touched o u r hats to, had a son, A h a n d s o m e lad, his only one, Called Francis, who was to succeed him. Would h e were here! We badly need him. T h e y quarrelled, I a m sad to say, And so, ten years ago to-day, Young Francis packed a n d r a n away Leaving behind him n o address. W h e r e h e has gone, we cannot guess; For since that day n o news at all Of where h e is has reached the Hall. In fact, we d o not even know If h e b e living still o r no. D

T H L DOG B E N E A T H 1 H L SKIN

199

Sir Bingham died eight years ago, Francis his heir being missing still, And left these clauses in his will Each year, his villages in t u r n Should choose by lottery a man T o find Sir Francis if he can Further, h e promised half his land, A n d I n s his d a u g h t e r adds her hand In marriage to the lucky one W h o comes h o m e with his only son This year is Pressan's turn to choose O h may this year bring the good news' A V I L L A G E R [sings] It seems such ages since the Master's son Went away H e left his books, his clothes, his boots, his car, his gun O n that dreadful summer's day He vanished suddenly without a single word of warning Left us alone to make our moan, H e left us m o u r n i n g CHORUS

Why has Fate been blind to o u r tears ? Why has she been so unkind to o u r fears' Who shall we send this time who shall look for him, Search every corner and cranny and nook for him? It may be you the lot will fall upon, It may be me the lot will call u p o n T o guide back With pride back O u r young heir Sir Francis Crewe'

VILLAGER

Without his face we don't know what to do, We're u n d o n e H e was a beauty with a sense of duty too, H e was o u r brother and o u r son His wit, his charm, his strength, his manners, his modesty and his virtue Were we to tell, your contrast, well, With him would h u r t you

CHORUS

Why has Fate

etc

C U R A T E [to the V I C A R ] T h e names have all come in We're ready to begin

200

T H E DOG B E N E A T H T H E SKIN

V I C A R Excellent

Excellent [A top hat is passed to him by the P O L I C E S E R G E A N T ]

Do you swear T h a t all the names are written here Of every m a n in this village alive, U n m a r r i e d a n d over twenty-five? S E R G E A N T I swear it V I C A R Miss I n s Crewe [ I R I S comes forward ]

I n s Crewe, are you willing now In t h e presence of these people to make your vow? IRIS I am V I C A R [ I R I S repeats each phrase after him]

I, I n s Crewe, d o solemnly swear In the presence of these people here, T h a t I will be the wedded wife T o love a n d cherish all my life Of him, whoever h e may be, Who brings my brother back to m e V I C A R Read the names of these we sent Who failed to d o the thing they meant S E R G E A N r Nobby Sollers

Sorbo Lamb Frenchie J o e C h i m p Eagle T h e Midget Muffin T o d d Nicky Peterson [The VICAR's eyes are bound with a handkerchief He stirs the hat and draws, saying ] Divvy Divvy Divvy Divvy Divvy Divvy Di Divvy Divvy Divvy Divvy Divvy Divvy Di Swans in the air Swans in the air Let the chosen one a p p e a r ' C U R A T E [taking paper from him and reading ] Alan N o r m a n [A short burst of cheering ] V I C A R [removing the bandage] Alan N o r m a n [ALAN comes forward and kneels ]

T H E DOG B E N E A T H T H E SKIN

201

Alan N o r m a n , will you go Cross any b o r d e r in sand or snow, Will you d o whatever may be needful T h o u g h people and customs both be hateful, W h e n mind and members go opposite way, Watching wake folding long on sea; Will you remain a passenger still N o r desperate plunge for home? ALAN.

I will.

V I C A R [producing a bag]. H e r e is what the trustees give T h a t as you j o u r n e y you may live: Five h u n d r e d pounds; n o more, no less. May it help you to success. [ALAN accepts the bag and bows.] Let us stand a m o m e n t in silent prayer. [All the men present remove their hats. The D O G enters and begins sniffing about. People surreptitiously kick it or pat it, but it refuses to stay quiet.] S E M I - C H O R U S I. Enter with him T h e s e legends, love, For him assume Each diverse form As legend simple As legend q u e e r T h a t he may d o What these require Be, love, like him T o legend true. S E M I - C H O R U S I I . When he to ease His heart's disease Must cross in sorrow Corrosive seas As dolphin go, As cunning fox Guide t h r o u g h the rocks, Tell in his ear T h e c o m m o n phrase Required to please T h e guardians there. A n d when across

20 2

THL · DO G B E N E A T H T H E SKI N

T h e livid mars h Big bird s p u r s u e Again be t r u e Betwee n hi s thigh s As pon y rise As swift as wind Bea r hi m away Till crie s a n d the y Are left behind . C H O R U S . Bu t whe n at last T h e s e d a n g e r s pas t Hi s grown desir e Of legend s tir e Ο t h e n , love, standin g At legends ' ending , Clai m you r rewar d Submi t y o u r nec k T o th e ungratefu l strok e O f hi s reluctan t sword T h a t startin g bac k Hi s eyes ma y loo k Amaze d o n you Fin d wha t h e wante d I s faithfu l to o Bu t disenchante d Your simples t love. V I C A R . Well, Alan , let m e congratulat e You first a n d the n ourselve s a n d Fate . We couldn' t hav e chose n a bette r m a n . If you can' t succeed , t h e n n o on e can . [Sees D o c ] T h e r e ' s tha t d o g again ! I' m blest! I t h o u g h t I' d lost hi m like th e rest . George , G e o r g e ! Goo d dog ! C o m e h e r e ! Walk George , walk. [He whistles. The D O G runs away.] T h a t ' s queer ! [Everyone looks at the D O G , who walks round, snuffling and refusing advances.]

T H E DOG B E N E A T H T H E SKIN

203

G E N E R A L If you ask me, I shouldn't wonder if that dog wasn't sickening for the rabies Most extraordinary animal I ever came across T u r n s u p o n your doorstep one m o r n i n g with his tongue hanging out, like the prodigal son, lets you feed him, slobber over him, pet h i m , makes himself quite at home In an h o u r o r two he's one of the family A n d then, after a week o r a fortnight, he'll be off again, cool as you please Doesn't know you if you meet him in the street And he's played the same trick on all of us Confounded ungrateful b r u t e ' It's his mongrel blood, of course No loyalty, no p r o p e r feeling T h o u g h I'm b o u n d to say, while h e was with m e h e was the best gun-dog I ever h a d [To D O G ] Come here, sir Heel, sir H e e l " [The D O G regards the GENERAL for a moment with an almost human contempt Then it continues its snuffling ] V I L L A G E R S Isn't h e sweet?

H e r e is some meat If h e were to choose Me, I couldn't refuse If he'd come to m e I'd give him cake for tea [The D O G reaches ALAN and begins to fawn him and wag Us tad ] V I L L A G E R S O h look' He's chosen y o u '

What a r e you going to d o ?

ALAN

I'll take him too

A L L You must n a m e him anew A L A N For luck I'll call him Francis A L L Oh, look how h e prances' B u s C O N D U C T O R T h e village bus is about to start T h o s e who are coming p r e p a r e to depart V I C A R [giving a small parcel to A L A N ]

H e r e is a tin of C h u r c h of England Mixture J u s t to show you that o u r friendship is a fixture Smoke it while you are a vagrant And may it keep o u r memory fragrant C U R A T E I have a little present here, It's j u s t some trustworthy u n d e r w e a r May its high-grade Botany wool Keep you warm a n d keep you cool

upon

204

T H E DOG B E N E A T H T H E SKIN

V I L L A G E C H E M I S T . H e r e is some Victo for the nerves, in case T h e Man Next Door should take your place. A SCOUTMASTER. H e r e is a Kron watch; like a wife T o keep exact time all your life, Generously designed to offer beauty And like an Englishman to d o its duty. A nameless watch is scarcely better T h a n an anonymous letter. [During these speeches, the GENERAL has been having a whispered consultation with his W I F E . ] GENERAL'S W I F E . O h no, dear! I'm sure ten shillings would be ample. G E N E R A L [advancing pompously to A L A N ] . Ahem! Ahem! [He gives money with the air of tipping a porter.] Don't disgrace Pressan Ambo, my boy. A L A N . Rather not, sir! T h a n k s awfully, sir! I R I S . Alan dearest, we must part But keep this p h o t o near your heart, Wherever you go, by land or sea, Look on this a n d think of m e : For whatever you must d o My thoughts a r e always with you too. A L A N . Iris, give m e a parting kiss In promise of o u r future bliss. I R I S . Gladly, Alan, I give you this. [Embrace.] V O I C E S . O h dear, it's beginning to rain! You o u g h t to weed it. T h e farmers need it. Mummy, I've got a pain. A L L . Speech! Speech! A L A N . You've been so ripping and kind It puts all words out of my mind, But if there's anything I can do, Ladies a n d Gentlemen, for you . . . M I L D R E D L U C E [suddenly appearing].

Yes!

Set off for Germany a n d shoot them all! Poison the wells, till h e r people drink the sea And perish howling. Strew all her fields With arsenic, leave a land whose crops Would starve the unparticular hyena! But you a r e young a n d it is useless T o look to Youth. I n the November Silence

THL · DO G B E N E A T H T H E SKI N

205

I hav e h e a r d m o r e shufflin g every year, See n m o r e o f th e up-to-dat e youn g m e n ther e waitin g Impatien t in th e crow d t o catc h a trai n An d shak e a G e r m a n gentl y by th e h a n d I h a d two son s as tall as you A G e r m a n snipe r sho t t h e m bot h T h e y crawle d t o m e acros s th e floor, I p u t thei r earlies t prattl e in a boo k A G e r m a n snipe r sho t t h e m bot h I saw t h e m win prize s at thei r prep-schoo l sports , I h a d thei r friend s at half-ter m ou t t o te a A G e r m a n snipe r sho t t h e m bot h I h e a r d thei r voices alte r as the y grew Shye r o f m e a n d m o r e like m e n [Taking out a large watch ] Ο Ticker , Ticker , the y a r e dea d As th e G n m a l d i infant s Justic e ha s gon e a s u m m e r cruis e a n d let H e r mansio n t o a m a d m a n Say something , Ticke r N o t h i n g N o t h i n g I protes t V I C A R Mildre d dear , go h o m e a n d rest A n d cal m yoursel f T h a t will b e best [Sounds of a motor-horn ] B u s C O N D U C T O R T h e bu s is leavin g in a minut e T h o s e who a r e comin g mus t ste p in it A L AN AN D C H O R U S

No w \^ e}

mus t par t

It' s tim e t o star t With tear s in {o i n - J eyes {^e } say good-bye s Succes s b e with you an d satisfactio n We wish t o you in you r every actio n I n J u l y a n d Decembe r τγ

| will r e m e m b e r you [ALAN goes out hands ] CURTAI N

A L L wave handkerchiefs

and

206

ΓΗΕ D O G BENEATH Ί Η Ε SKIN Choru s

Salmo n leapin g th e ladder , eel in d a m p grass, th e mol e a n d t h e tiercel : Suc h image s of trave l d o no t apply . O u r impulse s ar e unseasonabl e a n d image-ridden : o u r triflin g disturbance s ar e withou t crisis. O u r sex a n d o u r sorro w ar e ever abou t us, like th e sultrines s of a summe r As abou t o u r h e r o o n hi s h u m a n j o u r n e y , Crossin g a channel : o n sea in steame r Fo r Ostni a a n d Westland , in post-wa r E u r o p e . Creature s of air an d darkness , from thi s h o u r Pu t a n d kee p o u r friend s in power . Le t no t th e reckles s heavenl y rider s T r e a t hi m a n d us as ran k outsiders . Fro m th e accostin g sicknes s an d Love' s fascinatin g biassed hand , T h e lovely grievanc e a n d th e false address , Fro m con-ma n a n d coine r protec t an d bless.

A ct I S c e n e 2 [The saloon of a Channel steamer. Behind the bar, the BARMA N IS polishing glasses. The two J O U R N A L I S T S are seated, drinking. A small piano against the wall.] 1 S T J O U R N A L I S T . T h e Ol d Ma n sen t for m e befor e 1 left. Want s m e to get th e low-dow n o n th e Drippin g Merger . Officially, I' m coverin g th e D a n u b e floods. 2 N D J . I saw T i m m y last night . He' s just bac k from th e Carpathians . T i g h t as usual . H e ha d all th e d o p e abou t th e Arm y Contract s trial . Som e kid, T i m m y . 1S T J . I h e a r d a bit abou t tha t from Gus . Blankets , wasn't it? 2 N D J . Blanket s nothing ! Why, man , it was tarpaulin ! 1S T J . You've got it wrong , old horse . Gu s said five millio n blankets . 2 N D J . Six millio n . . . 1S T J . Gu s swears it was five. 2 N D J . T o Hel l with Gus . As I was saying, thes e tarpaulin s . . . 1 S T J . M y d e a r old fish, Gu s ha d it fro m th e War Ministe r himsel f . . . "Blankets" , h e said . . .

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2 N D J Boy, you give m e a pain T h e whole beauty of the thing was that they were tarpaulins, don't you see ? [Enter A L A N and the D O G The J O U R N A L I S T S stop

arguing and watch him ALAN crosses the stage to the bar ] A L A N [diffidently] A double whisky, please a n d a glass of milk B A R M A N Certainly, sir

A L A N [embarrassed] A n d I wonder if you'd mind putting the whisky in a bowP BARMAN [puzzled] A bowl, sir? ALAN

It's for my dog, you see [The

B A R M A N winks at the J O U R N A L I S T S

1ST

JOURNALIST taps his head significantly 2 N D JOURNALIST nods agreement ] BARMAN [suavely] Ah, to be sure, sir A L A N [confidentially] Did you ever hear of a d o g drinking whisky before? I never did I only found it out as we were coming down on the train An old gent in o u r c o m p a r t m e n t had ordered a bottle, a n d before you could say Jack Robinson, Francis h a d swallowed the lot' B A R M A N Most remarkable, sir Water or soda, sir? [The D O G begins howling ] A L A N Rather n o t ' H e always drinks it neat, don't you, Francis, old boy? [The D O G wags its tail ] Perhaps we'd better say two double whiskies It doesn't look much when you pour it into a bowl, does it? [The BARMAN adds the whiskies A L A N gives the bowl to the D O G , who laps eagerly ] You see? A n d h e won't touch anything else I've tried him with tea, coffee, cocoa, lemonade, beer, wine, everything you can think of I'm afraid I'm going to find it rather expensive [He sighs and sips his glass of milk ] BARMAN You're teetotal yourself, I see, sir? A L A N [blushing] H a h a ' You mustn't think I've given it u p on moral g r o u n d s , or any rot of that sort T h e fact is, I only started yesterday You see, I want to keep a clear head all the time I've got some rather difficult business to settle BARMAN Indeed, sir? A L A N Yes I'm looking for someone Perhaps you might be able to help me? Have you been working on this boat for long? BARMAN A matter of fifteen years, sir

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A L A N Why, that's splendid' T h e n you're almost sure to have seen him His name's Francis Crewe BARMAN Can't say that I seem to recall it, sir Can you describe him at alP A L A N Well, n o I'm afraid I can't d o that You see, h e left home ten yeai s ago a n d that was before we came to live in the village Here's the only p h o t o g r a p h they'd got of him It isn't much use It was taken when h e was six months old BARMAN [examining photo] Bless his little heart' Why, he's the spit a n d image of what my Jacky used to be And now h e can lift his poor old father u p with one a r m In the marines, is my Jacky Getting married next m o n t h A L A N I'm getting married too, soon At least, I h o p e I am Look, here's a picture of my fiancee What d o you think of h e r 5 Isn't she a r i p p e r ' BARMAN

I c o n g r a t u l a t e you, sir

[The D O G growL· ] A L A N Shut u p , Francis, you old silly' [To BARMAN ] It's an e x t r a o r d i n a r y

thing whenever I show that photograph of I n s to anybody, h e begins to growl J u s t as though h e were jealous H e r e , Francis Shake a paw [The D O G turns away ] BARMAN YOU see, sir, he's offended [Slyly ] If you were to offer him a n o t h e r whisky, he'd be ready to make it u p , I'm sure A L A N [reluctantly] All right, if you think so [The D O G immediately turns round and begins bark ing and licking ALAN'S hand ]

BARMAN What did I tell you, sir ? Nobody can resist a good whisky [He looks pointedly at the bottle ] A L A N I say, I'm most awfully sorry I ought to have asked you if you'd have a drink, too BARMAN Well, sir since you're so pressing A L A N By the way, have you ever been to Ostnia ;> BARMAN Can't say I have, sir My brother was waiter at the Grand Hotel in the capital at o n e time A L A N D O you know if it's the sort of country where people a r e likely to get lost? BARMAN I'm not sure I take your meaning, sir A L A N YOU see, I thought of beginning my search there I didn't know where to start, so I just shut my eyes and p u t my finger on the m a p

TH L

DO G B E N E A T H T H E SKI N

209

BARMA N A n d a very goo d ide a too , sir Your health , sir [They touch glasses The Doc . lifts up the bowl in its paws and touches ALAN' S glass They all drink ] 1 S T J Wha t d o you mak e of h i m 2 N D ] Q u e e r sort of car d Migh t be a munition s agen t 1 S T J Doub t it I kno w mos t of t h e m by sight 2 N D J O r in th e d o p e traffic 1S T J Hasn' t got a scara b rin g 2 N D I A whit e slaver 5 1 ST J T h e y generall y wear spat s 2 N D J Secre t Service , mayb e 1S T J With tha t t i e 5 No t o n you r life' 2 N D J T h e r e ' s somethin g phone y abou t him , anyho w C o m e on , let's get acquainte d There'l l be a stor y in it, you bet [Loudly, to A L AN ] Par do n me , sir Di d I h e a r you saying just no w tha t you were travellin g to O s t n i a 5 5

A L AN Why, yes Ca n you tell m e anythin g abou t it 5 I' d be ever so grate ful I s ι J Ca n w e 5 I shoul d say so' M y colleagu e h e r e know s Ostni a like t h e insid e of his ha t 2 N D f Prett y littl e country , Ostni a Biggest nationa l deb t a n d lowest birth-rat e in E u r o p e Hal f th e b u d g e t goes int o frontie r forts, whic h ar e n o m o r e use tha n a headach e becaus e th e contractor' s a croo k T h e railways ar e so old the y aren' t safe, t h e mine s ar e mostl y flooded an d t h e factorie s d o nothin g bu t catc h fire T h e Commander-in Chie f is n o bette r tha n a bandi t h e make s all th e big store s pa y for protectio n T h e Archbisho p spend s his tim e copyin g nava l plan s for th e Westlan d Intelligenc e B u r e a u An d meanwhile , th e peasant s di e o f typhu s Believe me , kid, it's God' s own lan d A L AN I say' I t mus t be awfully d a n g e r o u s there , isn't it 5 1 si J No t for tourist s T h e y onl y see th e mountain s an d th e Renaissanc e Palac e Of course , whe n you get behin d th e scenes , you'r e liable to be b u m p e d off if you don' t watc h ou t A L AN I shall hav e t o be careful , t h e n You see, I' m lookin g for someon e n a m e d Franci s Crew e 2 N D J See here , boy You ca n kee p tha t blue-eye d stuff for th e other s You d o n ' t hav e t o d o it o n u s We're no t inquisitiv e 1 S T J Don' t worr y We'll sho w you th e rope s 2 N D J Mayb e we shoul d introduc e ourselve s I' m o n th e Thunderbolt 1 S T J A n d I' m th e live wire of th e Evening Moon A L AN [shaking hands] I say' Are you really 5 I've always wante d to mee t

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some p r o p e r writers [To D O G ] Francis, come here and be introduced' [The D O G leaves the bar and comes over to them It is obviously intoxicated It makes the J O U R N A L I S T S a profound bow ] 1 ST J T h a t ' s a pretty cute h o u n d of yours What'll you take for \\\m? A L A N O h , I couldn't possibly sell him, thank you Why, I wouldn't be parted from Francis for a thousand pounds You've no idea how clever he is It's quite uncanny, sometimes Francis, show the gentlemen what you can d o [The D O G attempts to balance a chair on his nose, but is too drunk to do so Suddenly he rushes out of the saloon and is seen leaning over the rail of the ship ] 2 N D J Your canine friend appears to be slightly overcome A L A N Poor Francis' He'll be better soon I h o p e it'll be a lesson to him Do please go on with what you were telling me It's so awfully interesting Tell me about some other countries 2 N D J All countries are the same Everywhere you go, it's the same nothing but a racket' [The 1ST J O U R N A L I S T goes to the piano and begins to play ] 2 N D J [singing] T h e General Public has no notion Of what's behind the scenes T h e y vote at times with some emotion But don't know what it means Doctored information Is all they have to j u d g e things by T h e h i d d e n situation Develops secretly CHORUS

If the Q u e e n of Poland swears, If the Pope kicks his cardinals down the stairs, If the Brazilian Consul Misses his train at Crewe, If Irish Clergy Lose their energy A n d d o n s have too much to d o T h e reason is just simply this They're in the racket, too

T H E DOG B E N E A T H T H E SKIN

1 ST J.

T o grasp the m o r n i n g dailies you must Read between the lines. T h e evening specials make just nonsense Unless you've shares in mines. National estrangements Are not what they seem to be: U n d e r g r o u n d arrangements Are the master-key.

CHORUS.

If Chanel gowns have a train this year, If Morris cars fit a self-changing gear, If Lord Peter Whimsey Misses an obvious clue, If Wallace Beery Should act a fairy And Chaplin the Wandering Jew; T h e reason is Just simply this: They're in the racket, too!

211

[The D O G re-enters the Saloon. He holds out his arms to ALAN. They dance. The BARMAN juggles with the cocktail-shaker.] 2ND

J.

CHORUS.

There's lots of little things that h a p p e n Almost every day T h a t show the way the wind is blowing So keep awake, we say. We have got the lowdown On all E u r o p e a n affairs; T o History we'll go down As the m e n with the longest ears. If the postman is three minutes late, If the grocer's boy scratches your gate, If you get the wrong number, If Cook has b u r n t the stew, If all your rock-plants Come u p as dock-plants And your tennis-court turns blue; T h e reason is just simply this: You're in the racket, too! CURTAIN

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Chorus Ostnia and Westland, Products of the peace which that old man provided, Of the sobriquet of Tiger senilely vain Do not content yourself with their identification, Saying This is the southern country with the shape of Cornwall, O r the Danube receives the effluence from this O r that must shiver in the Carpathian shadow Do not comfort yourself with the reflection "How very u n t n g h s h " If your follies are different, it is because you are richer, Your clocks have completed fewer revolutions since the complacent years W h e n Corelli was the keeper of the Avon Swan And the naughty life-forcer in the norfolk jacket Was the rebels' only uncle R e m e m b e r m o r e clearly their suaver images T h e glamour of the cadet-schools, the footman and the e n o r m o u s hats But already, like an air-bubble u n d e r a microscope-slide, the film of poverty is e x p a n d i n g And soon it will reach your treasure and your gentlemanly behaviour Observe, therefore, and be more p r e p a r e d than o u r hero

Act I Scene 3 [Ostnia Before the Palace A POLICEMAN on duty Enter ALAN, ^ J O U R N A L I S T S and the D O G ]

1 S T J T h e trams are stopped, the streets are still, Black flags h a n g from each window-sill A n d the whole city is in m o u r n i n g T h e King can't have died? 2ND J We had no warning 1 ST J You ask the bobby on the corner there 2 N D J Officer, what's h a p p e n i n g h e r e 5 POLICEMAN Twelfth of the month, sir Execution Day T h e r e ' s been a revolt, I'm sorry to say 2 N D J A n o t h e r 5 But you had one when I was here before POLICEMAN W h e n was that, sir' 2ND J Only last May

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P O L I C E M A N Sinc e then , we've h a d fou r We hav e t h e m every fortnight , now , Bu t they'r e generall y over withou t m u c h ro w We r o u n d t h e m u p a n d the n th e Kin g [Salutes ] Himsel f arrange s everythin g G o insid e a n d see Stranger s ar e always invite d I kno w Hi s Majest y will be delighte d 1S T J Boy, wha t a scoop 1 I' m coc k a w h o o p ' Hav e you got y o u r p e n c i P It' s quit e essentia l [The J O U R N A L I S T S go into the Palace, followed by A L AN and the D O G ]

CURTAI N

Act I S c e n e 4 [Ostnia A room in the Palace K I N G , Q U E E N , C O U R T I E R S , P R I E S T S An or-

gan voluntary is fust finishing The M A S T E R οι T H E C E R E M O N I E S approaches the K I N G ]

Μ C Everythin g is ready , you r Majest y K I N G You've h a d a dres s rehearsal , I h o p e ' We don' t wan t an y hitche s thi s tim e Μ C Yes, you r Majest y I too k you r p a r t myself With a d u m m y revolver, of cours e K I N G A n d wha t abou t m y little suggestion ' Μ C We've cu t th e Die s Irae , you r Majest y K I N G G o o d I' m so glad you agre e with m e I h e a r d several complaint s last time , tha t it was to o gruesom e As you know , I a m particularl y anxiou s n o t t o h u r t anybody' s feelings It' s a beautifu l piece , o f course , b u t o n e can' t expec t t h e m t o be quit e educate d u p t o it yet O n e ha s t o mak e allowance s O h , an d by th e way, you migh t tell th e mal e alt o t o m o d e r a t e hi s to p note s a bit Last time , h e gave t h e Quee n a headach e M C I will, you r Majest y K I N G Excellen t T h e n I think , we ca n begin Brin g in t h e prisoner s [To the Q U E E N ] M y dear , you r crow n is a little crooke d Allow m e

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[Solemn music. The PRISONERS, with their wives and mothers, are brought in. The PRISONERS are workmen, dressed neatly in their Sunday clothes. The women, like the ladies of the court, are dressed in black.] C H O I R . Requiem aeternam dona et lux perpetua luceat eis. K I N G [rising to address the PRISONERS]. Gentlemen. I do not intend to keep you long; but I cannot let this opportunity slip by without saying how much I a n d the Q u e e n appreciate and admire the spirit in which you have acted and how extremely sorry we both are that o u r little differences can only be settled in this er . . . somewhat drastic fashion. Believe me, I sympathise with your aims from the bottom of my heart. Are we not all socialists nowadays? But as men of the world I am sure you will agree with me that o r d e r has to be maintained. In spite of everything which has h a p p e n e d , I d o want us to keep this solemn m o m e n t free from any thought of malice. If any of you have a complaint to make about your treatment, I hope you will say so now before it is too late. You haven't? I am very glad indeed to hear it. Before going on to the next part of the ceremony, let me conclude by wishing you Bon Voyage and every happiness in the next world. [Music. The PRISONERS are led out. A footman brings a gold revolver on a cushion and presents it to the K I N G , who follows the P R I S O N E R S . ]

C A N T O R . Kyrie eleison. C H O I R . Mars eleison. C A N T O R . Kyrie eleison. C A N T O R . H o m o natus d e muliere, brevi vivens tempore, repletur multis miseriis. Qui quasi flos egreditur et conteritur et fugit velut u m b r a , et n u n q u a m in eodem statu permanet. Media via in morte sumus; quern quaerimus adjutorem nisi te, Domine, qui p r o peccatis nostris juste irasceris? Sancte Zeus, sancte fortis, sancte et misericors Salvator amaris mortis aeternae poenis ne tradas nos. Mars omnipotens. Frater Jovis, qui tollis peccata m u n d i . C H O I R . Miserere nobis. C A N T O R . Q u i tollis peccata mundi. C H O I R . Miserere nobis. C A N T O R . Q u i tollis peccata mundi. C H O I R . Suscipe deprecationem nostram. C A N T O R . Qui sedet ad dextram Jovis.

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C H O I R . Miserere nobis. [Shots are heard, off. The Last Post is sounded.] C H O I R . Prohciscere Anima Ostniana, de hoc m u n d o . [Re-enter the K I N G . A footman brings a silk handkerchief to clean the revolver. Another footman brings a basin of water and a towel. The K I N G washes his hands. The four corpses are brought in on stretchers.} C H O I R . Rex t r e m e n d a e majestatis, qui salvandos salvas gratis salva m e fons pietatis. [Trumpet.] M.C. H e r Majesty the Q u e e n will now address the bereaved. Q U E E N [to the wives and mothers of the PRISONERS]. Ladies (or may I call you Sisters?). O n this day of national sorrow, my woman's heart bleeds for you. I too am a mother. I too have borne the pangs of childbirth a n d known the unutterable comfort of seeing a little curly head asleep on my breast. I too am a wife a n d have lain in t h e strong arms of the beloved. Remember, then, in your loss, that in all you suffer, I suffer with you. A n d r e m e m b e r that Suffering is Woman's fate a n d Woman's glory. By suffering we are ennobled; we rise to higher things. Be comforted, therefore, a n d abide patiently, strong in the h o p e that you will meet your loved ones again in another and better world where there are no tears, no pains, no misunderstandings; where we shall all walk h a n d in h a n d from everlasting to everlasting. M . C . T h e ladies of t h e Court will offer the bereaved some light refreshment. [The LADIES take round champagne and cakes to the PRISONERS' WOMEN.]

A W O M A N [with a sudden hysterical scream]. Murderers!! [All the W O M E N are instantly and politely removed by footmen. The C O U R T I E R S cough and look at the ceiling in pained embarrassment.] K I N G . Poor things! T h e y don't really mean it, you know. Q U E E N . T h e y lead such terrible lives! [All the C O U R T I E R S sigh deeply. The L A D I E S of the

court begin to admire the corpses.]

216

TH L DO G BtNLAT H T H l SKIN

1ST L A D Y H o w lovely the y loo k Like picture s in a children' s book ' 2 N D L Loo k a t thi s o n e H e seem s so calm , As if h e were asleep with hi s hea d in his a r m He' s t h e handsomest , don' t you think , of th e four ? Ho w I wish I' d me t hi m before 1 I'll p u t som e bloo d o n m y hanky , a ween y spot , So tha t h e neve r shall be forgot 3 R D L O h Duchess , isn' t h e just a duck ' Hi s fiancee certainl y h a d t h e luc k H e can' t hav e bee n m o r e tha n nineteen , I shoul d say H e mus t hav e bee n full o f Vitami n A 2 N D L D e a r Lad y Emily , Wha t a clever simile ' 4 T H L Wha t beautifu l hair , as whit e as wool' A n d suc h stron g h a n d s Why, the y r e n o t yet cool ' Len d m e a pai r o f scissors, d e a r I wan t a lock as a souveni r Μ C T h r e e Englishme n crave a n audienc e with you r Majest y K I N G O h , certainly , certainl y I'll see the m at onc e [Trumpet ] Μ C M r Alan N o r m a n a n d friend s [Enter A L AN and two J O U R N A L I S T S

They kiss the

K I N G ' S hand ]

K I N G H O W d o you do ? Delighte d t o see anyon e fro m Englan d I hav e very h a p p y memorie s of visits ther e befor e t h e War T h e singin g in King' s Chape l was marvellous , quit e marvellou s A n d Melba , ah , de licious ' Talkin g of which , I h o p e you liked o u r singin g today ? I' m always mos t gratefu l for an y criticism s How' s L o n d o n ? M y d e a r L o n d o n ' T h o s e evening s a t t h e Crysta l Palace ' What a building ' Wha t fireworks' I h e a r Regen t Stree t is quit e unrecognizabl e no w Dea r m e , ho w tim e flies, hm , indeed , yes Bu t I mustn' t bor e you with a n ol d man' s memorie s Wha t ca n I d o for you? A L AN I' m lookin g for Sir Franci s Crew e Is hi s n a m e , Sire , know n t o you ? K I N G Sir Franci s Crewe ? H m , let m e thin k H e wasn't o n e o f you r am bassadors , by an y chance ? I' m so stupi d abou t name s [To the M A S TE R O F C E R E M O N I E S ] Ask t h e C o u r t if the y kno w anythin g abou t a n Englishma n calle d Sir Franci s Crew e [Trumpet ]

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Μ C I s a n Englishman , Sir Franci s Crewe , Familia r to anyon e of you? [Silence ] K I N G YOU see I' m so sorr y Bu t I tell you wha t You migh t tr y th e Re d Ligh t Distric t It' s always full of foreign visitors [To Μ C ] I s th e Crow n Princ e in ? Μ C No , you r Majest y K I N G Wha t a pit y H e ' d hav e bee n delighte d t o sho w you r o u n d He' s always goin g dow n t h e r e I t worrie s th e Q u e e n dreadfully , bu t I tell he r no t t o tak e it t o hear t so Boys will be boys Hav e you got a pla n of th e city? Μ C H e r e ' s one , you r Majest y K I N G T h a n k s [Opening the plan, to A L AN ] Com e r o u n d o n thi s side, you'l l see bette r Here' s th e Palac e a n d here' s th e Palac e U n d e r g r o u n d Station , j u st opposit e You tak e th e tub e to th e Triangl e It' s a two ange l fare , 1 thin k T h e n you tak e a n u m b e r fou r t r a m to th e Butte r Kiln After that , I' m afrai d you'll have t o walk Kee p left at th e Cemeter y 5

Μ C Excus e me , you r Majesty , bu t th e tram s aren' t r u n n i n g a n d everything' s shu t becaus e of th e execution s K I N G O f course ' Ho w silly of m e to forget ' Rin g u p th e Broadcastin g Statio n at onc e a n d hav e th e m o u r n i n g called off [M C bows and retires ] K I N G Well, goodbye , a n d I h o p e you h n d you r frien d I' m sorr y we couldn' t d o m o r e for you By th e by, ar e you sur e you didn' t see anythin g in th e least bit ou t of tast e in o u r ceremony ? I always thin k th e Englis h hav e suc h goo d tast e in matter s of ritua l You didn't ? T h a t ' s very encouragin g Whe n you get bac k to England , r e m e m b e r m e t o Lor d H a r b o r n e , if he' s still alive O n e of th e rea l old Englis h eccentric s Use d t o breakfas t at midnigh t o n c h a m p a g n e a n d ra w beef Won' t you hav e a d r i n k befor e you go? A L AN KIN G is at

N O , t h a n k you , you r Majest y You see, we haven' t got m u c h tim e Well, goodby e Goodby e [Aside to the Μ C crossly] Wha t o n eart h th e band-maste r thinkin g of? Tel l hi m to play somethin g suitabl e once , in h o n o u r of o u r guests [As A L AN and the J O U R N A L I S T S retire backwards,

bowing, the band begins to play "Rule, Britannia" ] CURTAI N

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Choru s You with shooting-stick s an d cases for field-glasses, your limousine s parke d in a circle, who visit th e public games, observing in burberrie s th e feats of th e body You who stan d before th e west front s of cathedrals , appraisin g th e curiou s carvin g Th e virgin creepin g like a cat to th e desert , th e trumpettin g angels, th e usurer s boilin g And you also who look for trut h alon e in tower Follo w ou r her o an d his escort on his latest journe y from th e squar e surrounde d by Georgia n houses , take th e lurchin g tra m eastward Sout h of th e ship-cranes , of th e Slythe cana l stoppin g at Frub y an d Drulge r Street , Past boys ball-usin g shrill in alleys Passin g th e cinema s blazin g with bulbs bowers of bliss Where thousand s are holdin g hand s the y gape at th e tropica l vegetation , at th e Ioni c pillars an d th e organ solo Loo k left th e moo n shows locked sheds, wharves by water, On your right is th e Powe r Hous e its chimney s fume gently above us like rifles recentl y fired Loo k throug h th e gratin g at th e vast machiner y at th e dynamo s an d turbine s Grave , giving no sign of th e hurrican e of steam within thei r huge steel bottles , At th e Diese l engine s like howdahe d elephant s at th e dials with thei r flickering pointer s Powe r to th e city whose loyalties are no t thos e of th e family And now, ente r Ο huma n pity, grippe d by th e crying of a capture d bird wincin g at sight of surgeon' s lance , Shudde r indee d tha t life on its narro w littora l so lucky Ca n matc h against eternit y a tim e so cruel ' Th e street we ente r with setts is paved cracke d an d uneve n as an Alpine glacier, Garbag e chucke d in th e gutter s has collecte d in th e hollows in loathsom e pools, Back to back house s on bot h sides stretc h a dead-straigh t line of dung coloure d brick Wretche d an d dirt y as a ru n for chicken s Ful l as a theatr e is th e foul thoroughfar e some sittin g like sacks, some slackly standing ,

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T h e i r faces grey in the glimmering gaslight their eyeballs d r u g g e d like a dead rabbit's, From a window a child is looking, by want so fretted his face has assumed the features of a tortoise A h u m a n forest all by one infection cancelled Despair so far invading every tissue has destroyed in these t h e hidden seat of t h e desire a n d the intelligence A little further, a n d now enter the street of some of your dreams H e r e come t h e untidy jokers and t h e spruce who love military secrets And those whose houses are dustless a n d full of Ming vases Those rebels who have freed nothing in the whole universe from the tyranny of the mothers, except a tiny sensitive area T h o s e who a r e ashamed of their baldness or the size of their members, T h o s e suffering from self-deceptions necessary to life And all who have c o m p o u n d e d envy and hopelessness into desire Perform h e r e nightly their magical acts of identification A m o n g t h e Chinese lanterns a n d the champagne served in shoes You may kiss what you like, it has often been kissed before Use what words you wish, they will often be heard again

Act I Scene 5 [Ostnia A street in the Red Light District Each cafe has a small lighted peephole, resembling a theatre box-office Above each of the four peep holes is a signboard with the name T I G E R JACK'S YAMA T H E P I T C O S Y C O R N E R M O T H E R H U B B A R D ' S The heads of the four P R O P R I E T O R S are visible at the

peep-holes ]

F O U R P R O P R I E T O R S [singing together] T o Red L a m p Street you are all invited, H e r e Plato's halves are at last united Whatever you d r e a m of alone in bed, C o m e to us a n d we will make it real instead T I G E R J A C K Do you feel like a bit of fun ? At Tiger Jack's you will find it d o n e We've girls of eighty and women of four, Let t h e m teach you things you never knew before P R O P R I E T R E S S OF YAMA T H E P I T O r does the thought of a t h o r o u g h whipping By ladies in boots set your pulse skipping

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At Yama t h e Pi t you mus t pa y a call A n d soo n you won' t be able to sit dow n at all B o s s O F C O S Y C O R N E R Bu t p e r h a p s you'r e a woman-scorner T h e n ste p insid e at th e Cos y C o r n e r We've boys of every shap e a n d size C o m e a n d gaze int o thei r grea t big eyes

?

M O T H E R H U B B A R D I f you've take n a fanc y t o snow, M o t h e r H u b b a r d ' s th e plac e t o go With Coke y Minni e a n d Dope y J i m You ca n hol d a part y till th e star s ar e di m A L L T O G E T H E R Ladie s an d gentlemen , bea r in min d Kisses in t h e graveyard ar e h a r d to find " T e m p u s fugit", th e poe t said So com e t o u s at onc e for you will soo n b e dea d [Enter A L A N , ^ J O U R N A L I S T S and the D O G They

are immediately accosted by two touts The 1 ST T O U T IS very old and bleary The 2 N D T O U T IS a boy of eight ] 1ST Τ Bu y a post-card , g u v n o r ' 2 N D Τ C o m e wiv m e Goo d Jig-a-Ji g A L AN [going up to T I G E R J A C K ]

Goo d evenin g I s Sir Franci s Crewe , English , know n p e r h a p s to y o u ? T I G E R J A C K Money , m o n e y

Make s o u r speec h as sweet as hone y [ALAN gives money ] No w ask again A n d no t in vain A L AN G o o d evenin g I s Sir Franci s Crewe , English , know n p e r h a p s to y o u ? TIGE R JAC K

Phyllis ,

Lou ,

All of you , Hav e you h e a r d of Sir Franci s C r e w e ? V O I C E S [from within] A Franci s I kne w (A nic e boy, too ) A n d I a Crew e Bu t n o n e o f u s kno w Sir Franci s Crew e

T H E DO G B E N E A T H T I G E R J A C K . Bu t

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stay.

H e r e it is gay. A L A N . N O t h a n k you , n o .

I mus t go. [Moves on.] 1S T T O U T . Bu y a post-card , guvnor ? 2 N D T O U T . C o m e wiv m e . Goo d Jig- a Jig. A L AN [to P R O P R I E T R E S S O F YAMA T H E P I T ] .

Goo d evening . I s Sir Franci s Crewe , English , know n p e r h a p s to you ? P R O P R I E T R E S S O F Υ.Ρ. Money , mone y Make s o u r speec h as sweet as honey . [ALAN gives money.] At thi s d o o r You mus t pa y m o r e . [ A L AN gives more.] No w spea k again , No t in vain. A L A N . Goo d evening . I s Sir Franci s Crewe , English , know n p e r h a p s to you ? P R O P R I E T R E S S O F Y.P.

Sue ,

Sue ,

T h a t will d o ! He' s alread y blac k an d blue . Hav e you h e a r d of Sir Franci s Crewe ? S U E ' S V O I C E . I ha d a n Englishma n last year Who wore a p e n d a n t in eac h ear , T h e n t h e r e was o n e with a false nose : I t wasn' t eithe r of them , I suppose ? P R O P R I E T R E S S O F Y.P. Bu t stay,

H e r e it is gay. A L A N . N O t h a n k you ,

no .

I mus t go. [Moves away.] 1S T T . Bu y a post-card , guvnor ? [ 2 N D J . buys one.] 1S T J . [looking at it over his shoulder, in disgust]. Horribl e hip s a n d to o m u c h flesh: Why can' t the y get hol d of someon e fresh? 2 N D T . C o m e wiv me . Goo d Jig-a-Jig .

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A L A N [giving money to the B o s s OF C O S Y C O R N E R ] .

Good evening. Is Sir Francis Crewe, English, known p e r h a p s to you? B o s s O F C.C. You speak English? But I too! Am I acquaint with Sir Francis Crewe? Every English Lord come here. Is it he in t h e corner there? Wait a m o m e n t while I send For Willy Willy, How calls himself your English friend? W I L L Y ' S V O I C E . Harold. . . . Have you a cigarette for me? B o s s OF C.C. Is it he? Well, come inside a n d wait a n d see. Many come in after ten. Perhaps he will be o n e of them. A L A N . N o t h a n k you, n o .

I must go. [Moves away.] 1 S T J. R e m e m b e r t h e sign. 2 N D T . C o m e wiv me. Good Jig-a-Jig. [1ST J. chases him away.] 2 N D J. A n d say t h e line. [ALAN knocks three times at the door of M O T H E R HUBBARD'S.]

M O T H E R H U B B A R D . T h e c u p b o a r d was bare.

A L A N . A n d yet the poor d o g got some. [Gives money.] Is t h e n a m e of Sir Francis Crewe, English, known p e r h a p s to you? M O T H E R H U B B A R D . Wait a moment, please. I'll get Dopey J i m . [She disappears.] 1ST J. H u r r y , hurry, do! O u r train leaves for Westland at twenty to. 2 N D J . Chuck u p h u n t i n g for your boy friend. It's clear that he's come to a sticky end. [The face of a drug addict hopelessly dazed, appears at the peep-hole.] A L A N . Good evening. Are you Mr Dopey Jim? A D D I C T . That's what they call m e here: u p there, in the world, I had

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a n o t h e r name. For I could dance lightly a n d spring high like a rubber ball in the air: being champion at Flash Green of all such sports. A L A N . YOU know Flash Green? Why, that's where Sorbo Lamb came from! H e went away seven years ago to look for Sir Francis Crewe. Did you ever meet him? A D D I C T . My m o t h e r bore no twins. A L A N . Sorbo! A D D I C T . Alas.

A L A N . O h , I am so glad! Whatever are you doing here? Have you seen Francis? Come along, we'll look for him together. A D D I C T . I may not leave this place. A L A N . D O you mean they won't let you out? We'll soon see about that! T h e r e ' s four of us, a n d my d o g can fight like a tiger. Just let them try to stop you! A D D I C T . YOU d o not understand. [Holds up his hands, which are free.] Don't you see these chains? My punishment and my reward. T h e light of your world would dazzle m e and its noises offend my ears. Fools! How could you possibly appreciate my exquisite pleasures? Sometimes I lie quite still for days together, comtemplating the flame of a candle o r t h e oscillating shadow of a lamp. What revelations, what bottomless despairs! Please leave m e alone. A L A N . Sorbo. . . . Isn't there anything I can do? A D D I C T . Yes. Tell t h e m at Flash Green that I am dead. More I ask not. Farewell. [He disappears.] A L A N . What shall I do? What shall I do? I cannot find Sir Francis Crewe! 2 N D J. Pull your socks u p , kid, a n d don't make a fuss! Come along to Westland now with us. Your friend may be there: you never know: A n d we'll show you all there is to show. [All three exeunt with D O G , singing.] If yer wants to see m e agyne T h e n come to t h e stytion before the tryne. In t h e general wytin' 'all We'll see each other fer the very las' time of all! [The F O U R P R O P R I E T O R S sing, accompanied by F I R S T T O U T on the concertina and S E C O N D T O U T

on the penny whistle.] A L L T O G E T H E R . Let us r e m e m b e r in a little song

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T h o s e who were with us but not for long Some were beautiful a n d some were gay But Death's Black Maria took them all away T I G E R J A C K Lucky Lil got a r o p e of pearls,

Olive h a d autographed letters from earls, Grace looked lovely when she danced the Fern But Death took them yachting a n d they won't r e t u r n YAMA T H E P I T Pixie h a d a baron as a customer, H e b r o u g h t a zeppehn, just for h e r You should have seen h e r with a hunting crop, But in Death's sound-proof room she's got to stop C O S Y C O R N E R T o n y the Kid looked a god in shorts,

Phil was asked to Switzerland for winter sports, J i m m y sent them crazy in his thick white socks, But Death has shut them all u p in a long black box M O T H E R H U B B A R D Sammy a n d Di beat the g o n g a i o u n d ,

Wherever they walked there was snow on the g r o u n d Jessie a n d Colin h a d rings r o u n d their eyes But Death p u t them where they can't get supplies A L L T O G E T H E R When we are dead we shan't thank for flowers, We shan't h e a r the parson preaching for hours, We shan't be sorry to be white bare bone At last we shan't be hungry a n d can sleep alone CURTAIN

Act II Chorus A land ruled by fear may be easily recognized by the behaviour of its frontier officials T h o s e in whom private terrors breed a love of insult and interference are always with us But only such a country offers them a splendid career in the public services T h e brutal voices a n d t h e fawning, the padlocked pleasure-hating mouths, the fussy assertive adam's apples, the popping horrified eyes, the furtive r o d e n t noses Each o n e dingily afraid of his immediate superior D

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Pictur e t h e m no w at th e Frontie r betwee n Ostni a an d Westland , a m o n g th e coloure d form s in th e stuffy little station . T h e swallows swoopin g in th e daw n over t h e simmerin g railway engine , in th e b a c k g r o u n d th e beautifu l ignoran t mountains . See t h e m scrapin g t o th e riche r passenger , b u t to th e p o o r outrageous . See t h e m no w with Alan a n d hi s friends . Passin g t h e Journalist s at once . Foreig n opinio n mus t be cajoled . Bu t suspiciou s of Alan . Asking insolen t questions . Sniffin g in hi s trunks , longin g to find somethin g juicy. No t satisfied. Why with a dog . A dog . No t satisfied. Mus t be espionage . Espionag e o r lunacy . Anyway dangerous . Bette r say lunacy . Shu t t h e m bot h u p . Westlan d ha s excellen t asylums , equippe d for suc h cases. Alan is take n bu t th e do g slips ou t of thei r clutches . Alan is take n away; in a closed van with two mal e nurses . Bu t t h e do g escapes . You shall see th e sequel .

Act I I S c e n e 1 \yVestland. A room in a lunatic asylum. At the back of the stage is a large portrait of a man in uniform: beneath which is written "Our Leader". The man has a loudspeaker instead of a face. The room is full of lunatics, male and female, who sit on their beds absorbed in various occupations or wander up and down the stage. On meeting each other, they exchange the Westland Salute: bringing the palm of the right hand smartly against the nape of the neck. Their manner is furtive and scared.] 1S T M A D LAD Y [wanders across the stage, singing]. See n whe n nigh t was silent , T h e bean-shape d islan d A n d o u r ugly comi c servan t Who is observant . Ο th e v e r a n d a h an d th e fruit T h e tin y steame r in th e bay Startlin g s u m m e r with its hoot . You have gon e away. 1ST L U N A T I C [whispering with 2 N D L U N A T I C in a corner]. H e a r d an y ru mours ? 2 N D L. H e a p s !

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1ST L. O h , d o tell me! 2 N D L. Ssh! not so loud. I think they may be watching us. 1 S T L. I tell you what: I've got a plan. We'll say goodbye now a n d then meet later, as if by accident. 2 N D L. All right. But d o be careful. [They exchange the Westland Salute and separate to their respective beds.] [Enter T w o M E D I C A L O F F I C E R S with A L A N in a

strait-waistcoat, in a wheeled chair.] 1ST M . O . T h e Ostnia Frontier wasn't it? They've sent us several beauties. M . O . Yes. 1ST M . O . What d o they say? 2 N D M . O . Travelling with a dog. 1ST M . O . H m . Canophilia. 2 N D M . O . States h e is looking for someone h e doesn't know. 1ST M . O . Phantasy Building. Go on. 2 N D M . O . Doesn't know the Westland Song. 1ST M . O . Amnesia. Pretty serious. [To ALAN.] NOW you. Have you ever been to the North Pole? 2ND

ALAN. N O .

1ST M . O . Can you speak Chinese? ALAN. No!

2 N D M . O . Do you dye your hair? ALAN. No!

1ST M . O . Was your m o t h e r a negress? ALAN. NO!!

2 N D M . O . Do you drink your bathwater? ALAN. NO!!!

1 S T M . O . D o you like my face? A L A N [losing his temper and yelling]. No!!!! 1ST M . O . J u s t as I feared. A typical case of negativism. A L A N . What are you going to do? Let m e out of here. 2 N D M . O . T h e gag, I think, don't you? 1ST M . O . Yes, 1 think so. [They gag A L A N . ]

2 N D M . O . Quite classic. He'll be an o r n a m e n t to o u r collection. [Exeunt M E D I C A L O F F I C E R S . ]

2 N D M A D L A D Y [promenading with 3 R D M.L.]. T h e Leader says that next year he's going to p u t all us women into coops, like hens. A n d if we don't lay properly we shall be fattened for the Christmas Market.

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3 R D M.L. O h , what a lovely idea! 2 N D M.L. Yes, isn't it? A n d so beautiful, too. I mean, it will really make Motherhood sacred. A n d so away with all this horrible unwomanly nonsense about girls being independent. I'm sure I never wanted to be independent! 3 R D M.L. I should think not, indeed! [Shivers.] Ugh, the idea! [Several L U N A T I C S surround a L U N A T I C who is

naked except for a bath-towel round his waist and has covered his body with smears of ink.] N A K E D L U N A T I C . I a m the President of the newly-formed League of t h e

Forefathers of Westland, which the Leader himself has officially approved. After careful historical investigations, I have discovered that this is the exact costume worn by the inhabitants of Westland two thousand years ago. All m o d e r n dress is effeminate a n d foreign. T h e L.F.W. will lead Westland back to the manly customs of o u r ancestors. Down with Machinery! Down with knives a n d forks! Down with bathrooms a n d books! Let us take to the woods a n d live on roots! [The other LUNATICS, in great excitement, begin tearing off their clothes and scratching on the floor, as if to dig up plants from the ground. Meanwhile, the 1ST and 2 N D L U N A T I C S leave their beds and greet each other with much ceremony.] 1ST L. Ah, good morning, my dear Baron! 2 N D L. Your Worship, this is indeed a pleasure! 1ST L. Remarkably mild weather, is it not? 2 N D L. [in the same tone of voice, nodding his head slightly in the direction of one of the other L U N A T I C S ] . I hear the Admiral is going to be denounced. 1ST L. [obviously delighted]. O h , I'm so sorry! Poor fellow! What for? 2 N D L. T h e usual. Byzantinism, of course: a n d Disaffection a n d Hoarding. 1ST L. T u t , tut! I should never have believed it of him! 2 N D L. O h , he's got a bad record. T h e y say there's more than two thousand anonymous letters been written complaining about him to the Secret Police. And all in invisible ink! 1ST L. Whew, that's nasty! [Gleefully.] What d o you think they'll d o with him? 2 N D L. Send him to the Lead Mines, I expect. 1ST L. [rubbing his hands together]. Poor fellow!

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[ L U N A T I C , who has just fastened a flag to the end of his bed, shouts across to the L U N A T I C sitting on the bed opposite.] F L A G - L U N A T I C . Hi, you! Why haven't you got your flag out? Don't you know what today is? L U N A T I C W I T H O U T F L A G . O f course I do! It's the Day of National Re-

joicing. F L A G - L . T h e n why don't you hang o u t your flag? If your flag isn't out, you can't be rejoicing. L. W I T H O U T F. O f course, I'm rejoicing. I was just sitting rejoicing quietly by myself when you disturbed m e . F L A G - L . I don't believe you're rejoicing a bit! You don't look as if you were rejoicing. L. W I T H O U T F. Well, neither d o you, for that matter. F L A G - L . It doesn't matter how I look. I've got my flag out. Everyone knows I'm rejoicing. L. W I T H O U T F. What are you rejoicing about? F L A G - L . I shan't tell you. What are you? L W I T H O U T F. I shan't tell you either. F L A G - L . O h yes you will! L W I T H O U T F. N O I won't! F L A G - L . Will! L W I T H O U T F. Won't!

[The two L U N A T I C S adopt threatening attitudes and make horrible faces at each other.] [A trumpet.] 1ST L U N A T I C . Silence everybody! T h e Leader is going to speak to us! [All the L U N A T I C S stand up and give the Westland Salute.] T H E V O I C E O F T H E LEADER [through the loud-speaker in the picture]. A short time ago, I was spending a week-end at a little village in the mountains. I sat o n the verandah of the simple old Westland inn, looking out across the street to the meadows a n d the mountains beyond, those snow-capped peaks already flushed with the sunset glow. Westland swallows swooped in a n d out of the eaves overhead. In a doorway opposite, a young mother looked down at h e r suckling babe with ineffable Westland tenderness. In another, a Westland granny gazed out into t h e dusk with perfect serenity on h e r beautiful old face. Sturdy rosy-cheeked Westland youngsters r o m p e d in the new-mown

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hay a little further off. A n d presently down the street came the ret u r n i n g cattle, all their bells a-chiming in a sweet symphony, followed by the peasants, so honest, so thrifty, so frugal, wedded to the d e a r Westland earth in an eternal, holy marriage. [The L U N A T I C S have been much affected by this part of the speech. They sigh, shed tears and embrace each other with loud smacking kisses. One of the male lunatics takes flowers from a vase and distributes them among the ladies, who put the flowers in their hair.] V O I C E OF T H E LEADER [continuing]. My eyes filled with tears. I could not speak just then. Perish the m a n , 1 thought, who can imagine this people capable of any base or unworthy deed! Westland! Our Westland! My Westland! All, all mine! BUT: A chill struck my heart. T h e r e was a shadow! Not two h u n d r e d miles from where I stand, there is a Nation: trained to arms from infancy, schooled in military obedience a n d precision, saluting even in the cradle, splendidly equipped with every invention of m o d e r n science, able, resolute, taught to regard the individual as nothing and the State as all, scorning treaties as m e r e scraps of p a p e r to be rent asunder when the interests of the State d e m a n d . My mind's eye saw the long silent grey ranks. I heard the shouting of the captains, the brazen call of the t r u m p e t a n d the pawing of the chargers. A n d a voice said: Woe, woe to the u n p r e pared: For their inheritance shall be taken away and their home be left desolate! [The L U N A T I C S are now violently agitated. Some of them moan and shiver with fear, he flat on the floor or crawl under the beds. Others blow trumpets, wave toy swords and strike doiun imaginary enemies.] From how slight a cause may proceed terrifying results! A piece of p a p e r left by a picnic party which has inadvertently strayed over the frontier, a rash word in a letter about the superiority of Westland beer or a h u m o r o u s sketch in a revue misunderstood: a n d in a mom e n t it is too late. Destruction might come upon us like a thief in the night: while you are innocently dozing in your chair, or making an omelette or washing dishes at the kitchen sink. A secret cabinet meeting, a word whispered into the telephone and within half an hour, within twenty minutes, the black hordes of death are darkening the Westland air with their horrible shadows.

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Picture the scene, O h mothers! Your baby's face, pinched a n d puckered: N o t by hunger, n o . Sated with poison from the air it breathes, its t e n d e r little m o u t h agape, choking u p froth a n d green bile. Sons, see your aged father who has taught you to reverence truth and purity: see him caught as the house collapses, his skull smashed like an egg before your eyes by a falling beam! Think, teachers, of the bombs falling suddenly in the playingfield! T h e r e goes that splendid young forward . . . ah! he's down: collapsing even as h e reaches the goal-post, his beautiful hinged limbs contracted in agony! [Most of the L U N A T I C S are now staring up at the

ceiling in fascinated horror, as though awaiting the aeroplanes' arrival.] V O I C E O F T H E L E A D E R [continuing]. N o r is this all. T h e flame once lit

would spread into a universal conflagration. England, Iceland, Ecu a d o r a n d Siam would flare a n d within a week o u r civilisation, all that o u r statesmen a n d thinkers, o u r poets a n d musicians, have travailed for down the ages of history, would lie a smoking ruin! No, this must not be! Westland is the guardian of Europe. We love peace (I say it in absolute confidence) more than any other country. Let us b e ready a n d able to enforce it. We must build an air force of such a magnitude that any enemy, however ferocious, will think twice before daring to strike. Within three weeks we must have a million planes, not o n e less! We must make a stupendous effort. N o sacrifice is too great. I expect every man, woman a n d child in Westland to help. Give u p that cigar after lunch, d o without an extra lipstick, abstain from your favourite sweets. Is that too much to ask when the safety of the Homeland is at stake? O u r responsibilities a r e vast: Let us be worthy of them. A n d God help us all. [Tremendous enthusiasm. The L U N A T I C S jump up and down in their delight, cheer, embrace, pillowfight, and box each other's ears.] THE

L U N A T I C W I T H T H E F L A G . Let's build a great big p l a n e for o u r

Leader! L U N A T I C S . O h , yes! Let's!!

[The L U N A T I C S begin dragging beds together and piling furniture upon them. The din is tremendous. Suddenly, at the window, appear the heads of the

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T w o J O U R N A L I S T S and the D O G . They peer cautiously into the room, looking for ALAN. After a moment, they hastily withdraw.] 1ST L U N A T I C [who evidently considers himself the most important of them all and is rather piqued that the plane-building should have been suggested by someone else, stands on a chair and begins clapping his hands to command attention; after some time, he succeeds in getting the L U N A T I C S to stop working and listen to him]. M a d m e n of Westland! In this h o u r of s u p r e m e crisis, I feel called u p o n to say a few words. This is my message to you all. Let us never forget that we are Westlanders first a n d m a d m e n second. As Westlanders, we have a great tradition to uphold. Westland has always produced ten percent m o r e lunatics than any other country in Europe. A n d are we going to show ourselves inferior to o u r forefathers? Never! [The J O U R N A L I S T S reappear at the window, try the strength of the bars and shake their heads. The D O G IS seen arguing with them in dumb show and indicating that they come with him. They all disappear.] 1ST L U N A T I C [continuing]. Of recent years, there have a p p e a r e d in o u r midst, masquerading as m e n of science, certain Jews, obscurantists and Marxist traitors. These m e n have published e n o r m o u s books, attempting to provide new classifications and forms of lunacy. But we a r e not deceived. No foreign brand of madness, however spectacular, however noisy or pleasant, will ever seduce us from the grand old Westland Mania. What was good e n o u g h for o u r forefathers, we declare, is good e n o u g h for us! We shall continue to go mad in the time-honoured Westland way. A L U N A T I C . T h r e e cheers for the Westland Loonies! ALL. Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! A N O T H E R L U N A T I C [suddenly seeing A L A N ] . Hullo, you! Why don't you

cheer?

[All the L U N A T I C S stop shouting and look at ALAN. At this moment, unseen by any of them, the T w o JOURNALISTS enter the room by a door on the right of the stage.] A N O T H E R L U N A T I C . His mouth's tied u p ! He's got the toothache! [Begins to giggle.] A N O T H E R L U N A T I C . He's been sent here to spy on us! A N O T H E R . He's been h o a r d i n g butter!

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A N O T H E R . He's insulted the Leader! ANOTHER. ANOTHER. ANOTHER. ANOTHER.

Rumour-monger! Non-Aryan! Separatist! Grumbler!

[All this time, they draw closer to him, rushing forward in turns to tug at his hair, tweak his nose or pull his ears.] A L U N A T I C . Squirt water at him! A N O T H E R . Put a rat in his bed!

A N O T H E R . Tickle his toes! A N O T H E R . Shave off his eyebrows! A N O T H E R . I say, chaps! Let's do something really exciting' Let's p u t lavatory p a p e r u n d e r his chair and b u r n it! [They seem about to make a final rush at ALAN, when the 1ST J O U R N A L I S T speaks, in a very loud and impressive voice, like a conjurer.] 1ST J. Ladies a n d Gentlemen! [All the L U N A T I C S turn round to stare at him.] I a m about to show you a simple but extremely interesting scientific experiment. [Holds up his hand.] Now, watch the duck's head and please keep absolutely still while I count a h u n d r e d . O n e . T w o . Three. . . . [While the 1ST J O U R N A L I S T IS counting, the 2 N D JOURNALIST, on all fours, worms his way through the crowd to ALAN'S side and begins hastily undoing the ropes and straps.] 2 N D J. [in a low voice, to A L A N ] . Gosh, that was a close shave! A L A N . H O W on earth did you find me? 2 N D J. Your Dog guided us here. T h a t animal is better than the whole of Scotland Yard p u t together. He's outside now, keeping guard over the warders until we get you loose. . . . Curse these knots! [Meanwhile, the 1 S T J. continues to count. But the L U N A T I C S are becoming less attentive Those who are standing close to ALAN begin to take an interest in the 2 N D J.'s activities.] L U N A T I C . What a r e you doing that for? 2 N D J. Can't you see? I'm tying him u p tighter. T h e ropes had got loose. See this one? [He holds it up.] It had slipped right off. [He throws it

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away.] N o goo d at all. [He continues to unfasten the other ropes and straps.] L U N A T I C . I'll help you . [Begins to refasten the straps.] 2 N D J . Don' t bother , old boy. I ca n manag e by myself. [Unfastens them again.] L U N A T I C . It' s n o bother . I like helpin g people . I' m a Boy Scout . 2 N D J . Well, d o you r day' s goo d dee d by leavin g m e alone , see? L U N A T I C . I don' t thin k tha t would be a goo d deed , would it? 2 N D J . You be t it would ! L U N A T I C . Perhap s you'r e right . Bu t I' d bette r j u st ask th e other s wha t the y think . [In a very loud voice.] I say! [All the L U N A T I C S turn round to look at him.] 2 N D J . Hol y Moses , that' s tor n it! 1S T L U N A T I C . Wha t ar e you doin g with o u r prisoner ? 2 N D L. Where' s you r warrant ? 3R D L. Habea s C o r p u s ! 4 T H L. It' s a rescue ! 5 T H L. Stan d by th e doors ! O T H E R S . Fire ! M u r d e r ! T r e a s o n ! [The 1S T J. , now disregarded, rushes to the Leader's picture and gets behind it.] 1S T J . [through the loud-speaker]. Company ! Fal l in ! [The L U N A T I C S immediately form a double rank, facing the Leader's picture. 2 N D J . continues feverishly with the work of untying ALAN. ] 1S T J . Slooop e H y p p p ! [The L U N A T I C S go through the motion of sloping arms.] 1S T J . O d d a h H y p p p ! [ L U N A T I C S order arms.] I s ι J . Slooop e H y p p p ! [They do so.] O d d a h H y p p p ! [They do so.] 2N D J . [to A L A N ] . That' s all th e dril l h e knows ! [Undoing the last strap.] T h e r e ! Com e on , thi s is wher e we scoot ! [They rush out.] 1ST J . C o m p a n y ! Ma n th e aeroplane ! Fal l out ! [The L U N A T I C S rush to the structure of beds and scramble upon it. The 1ST J . slips from behind the picture and runs out after the others.]

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1ST L U N A T I C . Start h e r u p !

[The L U N A T I C S imitate the roaring of the engines.] 1ST L. Off we go! Faster! Faster! She's left the ground! We're rising! Higher! Higher! [The L U N A T I C S wave their handkerchiefs and grimace at the audience.] A M A D LADY. Isn't the view gorgeous! 2 N D M A D LADY. Look, there's the asylum. Just a tiny little speck! A M A D LADY. I'll spit down the chimney! [Spits.] T H E P I L O T . Hold on tight! I'm going to loop the loop! [Shrieks of dismay. The L U N A T I C S heave the beds up on end until the whole structure colfapses. General confusion. A L A N , the J O U R N A L I S T S and the D o c

peep in for a moment at the window and disappear laughing.] CURTAIN

Chorus Paddington. King's Cross. Euston. Liverpool Street: Each hiding behind a gothic hotel its gigantic greenhouse And the long trains groomed before dawn departing at ten, Picking their way t h r o u g h slums between the washing a n d the privies T o a clear r u n t h r o u g h open country, Ignoring alike the cathedral towns in their wide feminine valleys, a n d the lonely junctions. In such a train sit N o r m a n a n d his d o g Moving backwards t h r o u g h Westland at a mile a minute And playing hearts with their two friends on an open mackintosh: Picture the Pullman car with its deft attendants A n d the usual passengers: the spoilt child, the corridor addict, T h e lady who expects you to admire h e r ankles: the ostentatious peruser of important papers, etc. etc. T h e y have been travelling all day, it is late afternoon. Outside the windows of the warm sealed tube, as a background to their conversation,

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Imagine a hedgeless country, the source of streams; Such as the driver, changing u p at last, sees stretching from Hartside east and south, Deadstones above Redan, Thackmoss, Halfpenny Scar, T w o T o p and Muska, Pity Mea, Bullpot Brow: Land of the ring ousel: a bird stone-haunting, an unquiet bird.

Act I I S c e n e 2 [In a railway-train.

A L A N , the T w o J O U R N A L I S T S and the D O G are playing

cards. A little distance off sits the FINANCIER, at present half hidden by his newspaper.] 1ST J . Your lead, Alan. [ A L A N plays.]

[ 1 ST J. plays a card.] A L A N [to 2 N D J . ] . Eight to beat.

2 N D J . [looking at D O G ] . H m . . . shall I risk it? No, I don't think so. [He plays a card. The D O G aho plays a card.] 1ST J . [suspiciously]. Hullo, you short-suited? H e r e , let's see your h a n d . [He reaches out to take the DOG'S cards. The D O G growls and refuses to show them.] A L A N . Show them to me, Francis. Good Dog! [ D O G reluctantly hands over the cards.] But you've got Slippery Anne here, look! 2 N D J . Darned if he hasn't been cheating again. A L A N [indignantly]. H e wasn't cheating! He just doesn't u n d e r s t a n d the rules, d o you Doggy? 1ST J . If you ask me, that Dog of yours understands a d a m n sight too much. He's too smart by half. [Yawns.] Well, gentlemen, you've cleaned me out. I'll go and stretch myself a bit. [Standing up, he catches sight of the F I N A N C I E R : sits down abruptly: to 2 N D J., in a whisper.] Great God, man, look! 2 N D J . Where? 1ST J . T h e r e ! 2 N D J . Snakes! It i s n ' t . . .? 1ST J . Bet you a fiver it is! 2 N D J . T h e papers say he's in Manchukuo. 1 S T J . J u s t eyewash!

236 2N D J A L AN 1ST J 2N D J A L AN 1ST J A L AN

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Boy I believe you'r e right ' [loudly] What' s all t h e fuss a b o u t ' Ssh ' Sssh " You migh t tell a fellow' [stage whisper] G r a b s t e i n ' S i t t i n g j u s t behin d you ' 1

Grabstein ?

J Ssh ' A L AN Who' s h e whe n he' s at h o m e ' 1 S T J O h boy, wher e were you educated ? [Wearily, to 2 N D J ] G o on , you tell hi m 2 N D J Presiden t of th e Χ Υ Ζ l S T J C h a i r m a n o f th e Pan-Asiati c 2 N D J Practicall y own s Sout h Americ a 1 S T J T h e biggest croo k in E u r o p e Go t his finger in everythin g What ever h a p p e n s , he' s in o n th e g r o u n d floor Why, h e even gets to hea r of thing s befor e we do , sometimes ' A L AN I say' No t really' I w o n d e r if h e know s wher e Franci s is? 2 N D J Mos t likely h e doe s T h e questio n is would h e tell you? 1 S T J [winking at 2 N D J ] G o an d ask hi m A L AN Shal l 1 really? 2 N D J [winking at 1 S T J ] Atta boy' A L AN [doubtfully] All righ t I f you don' t thin k he' d mind ? 1S T J Hell ' Why shoul d he ? 2 N D J He'l l welcom e you with o p e n a r m s 1S T J [artfully] By th e way, you migh t ask hi m a few othe r question s while you'r e abou t it Fin d ou t wha t holding s h e ha s in Sahar a Elec tric s 2 N D J A n d ho w m u c h it cost hi m t o star t th e war in Spitsbergen ? 1S T J A n d wha t becam e of th e Cloagua n Prim e Ministe r afte r th e Plati n u m Scandals ? A L AN I say, hol d o n a m i n u t e I shall neve r r e m e m b e r all that ' Just give m e tim e t o write it dow n 2N D

[He takes a piece of paper from his pocket and makes notes The JOURNALIST S whisper instructions into his ear ] A L AN Bu t won' t h e thin k m e awfully inquisitive ? 2 N D J O h , h e loves bein g asked question s Just go u p to hi m a n d say "Potts " T h a t ' s th e n a m e of a very d e a r frien d of his It'l l p u t hi m in a goo d t e m p e r at onc e A L AN [doubtfully] Right o

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[He approaches the F I N A N C I E R . The J O U R N A L I S T S

shake hands with each other in ecstasies of delight.] 1ST J. O h boy, I wouldn't have missed this for a thousand pounds! [During the following scene, the J O U R N A L I S T S take photographs and make notes.] A L A N [rather nervously]. Potts. [The FINANCIER looL· up from his newspaper, stares at him for a moment, turns deadly pale. Then, with a shrug of his shoulders, he takes a cheque-book from his pocket and unscrews the cap of his fountain-pen.] F I N A N C I E R [with a deep sigh]. How much d o you want? A L A N . I beg your p a r d o n , sir. I don't quite understand. F I N A N C I E R [more firmly]. I'll give you a thousand: Not one penny more. A n d you u n d e r s t a n d that I'm doing it because I don't choose to be annoyed at this particular moment. I have reason for remaining incognito. I suppose you counted on that? Very well. . . . But let me warn you, if you're fool enough to imagine that you can play this game twice, you were never more mistaken. I have ways of dealing with gentry of your sort. Understand? A L A N . I'm awfully sorry, sir. But I think you must be making some mistake. . . . I only wanted to ask you a few questions. . . . It's frightful cheek of me, I know. . . . FINANCIER. Oh, a journalist, eh? That's bad enough. Still, as you're here, I suppose I can let you have five minutes. Ask away. . . . A L A N [consulting his notes]. First of all, did you forge the report on the d i a m o n d mines on Tuesday Island? [The F I N A N C I E R gasps.]

A L A N [continuing hurriedly]. Secondly, is it true that you staged the fake attempt on the Prince of the Hellespont in o r d e r to corner the rubber market? F I N A N C I E R . Do you seriously expect me to answer that? A L A N . Well, no sir. T o be quite candid, I don't. Please don't be angry. . . . Thirdly, did you have the men m u r d e r e d who were going to show u p the Bishop of Pluvium? F I N A N C I E R [laughs]. Young man, you amuse me. Very well, since you're the first newspaper man who's ever dared to talk to me like this, I'll tell you the truth. T h e answer to all your three questions is: "Yes. I did." T h e r e ! Now you've got a grand story, haven't you? Go and ask

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your editor to print it a n d he'll kick you o u t into the street What's your paper, by the w a y ' T e n to one, I own it A L A N T h e Pressan A m b o Parish Magazine F I N A N C I E R Never heard of it But I'll buy it to-morrow, lock stock a n d barrel How much would your boss take, d o you suppose? A L A N I'm afraid I couldn't tell you that, sir You see, I only write for it occasionally A bit of poetry now and then Awful rot, I expect you'd think it F I N A N C I E R [groans] Good G o d ' Don't say you're a poet too' A L A N O h r a t h e r not, sir'

F I N A N C I E R Glad to hear it Of course, mind you, I've nothing against poets, provided they make good T h e y say that o n e or two fellows at the t o p of the tree a r e earning as much as four thousand a year I doubt it myself But the fact remains that most of them are moral degenerates or Bolsheviks, or both T h e scum of t h e earth My son's a poet A L A N I'm sorry, sir

F I N A N C I E R [sentimentally] It's been the greatest disappointment of my whole life W h o have I got to work for, to be p r o u d o P Nobody A n d my wife encourages him, the bitch As long as she's got h e r cocaine and h e r gigolos, we can all go to hell as far as she's concerned 1 don't know why I'm telling you all this A L A N [politely] It's rotten luck for you, sir F I N A N C I E R Look here I've taken a fancy to you Will you be my secretary? Starting at five thousand a year, with all extras Yes or no? A L A N It's most awfully kind of you, sir b u t I'm afraid I can't F I N A N C I E R [emotionally] T h e r e , you see' I knew it' You don't like m e N o n e of them like m e Wherever I go I see it I can't so much as get a really friendly smile out of a railway-porter, though Heaven knows I tip t h e m e n o u g h [Sings Accompaniment by dining car attendant with gong] W h e n I was young I showed such application, I worked the whole day long, I h o p e d to rise above my station, T o rise j u s t like a song I did so want to b e a h e r o In just a rich man's way But I might just as well b e Nero, And this is all I have to say

T H E DO G B E N E A T H T H E C H O R U S [with A T T E N D A N T and

SKI N

239

JOURNALISTS] .

Why ar e the y so r u d e to { ϊ){™>' I t seem s so c r u d e t o

{|" ' m

H e want s 1 t o b e f r i e r i d l y I wan t I ' Bu t it's n o good , for N o on e ha s love for | J ^ m ' Onl y a shove for { £ j m ' T h e y bait { h j m }

a n d hat e

| g ^ '

Misunderstood . FINANCIER .

I've f o u n d e d hospital s a n d rest-homes , Subscribe d to publi c funds , P r o m o t e d scheme s for plannin g Best H o m e s A n d buil t a schoo l for nuns . I've studie d all th e Italia n Masters , I've trie d to rea d Frenc h books , Bu t all m y effort s seem disasters : I onl y get such nast y looks.

CHORUS .

Why ar e the y so r u d e to me . . . . etc.

F I N A N C I E R . NO W wha t is it? Tel l m e straigh t out ; don' t be afraid . I s it m y face? I s it m y voice? I s it m y m a n n e r ? O r ar e you all j u st jealou s of m y d a m n e d money ? A L A N . I t isn' t that , sir. Reall y it isn't . Bu t you see . . . I' m no t free. I've got a kin d of j o b . . . if you ca n call it a job . . . . F I N A N C I E R . Chuc k it. I'll give you six thousand . A L A N . You see, sir, it's no t tha t kin d of j o b : tha t you ca n chuc k u p , I mean . . . . I've got to loo k for someone . He' s Sir Franci s Crewe , Bart . At least, he' s Bar t if he' s alive. . . . That' s wha t I reall y cam e to ask you about . . . . H e r a n away fro m h o m e te n years ago. I t h o u g h t you migh t h a p p e n to kno w wher e h e is. F I N A N C I E R . Wha t d o you tak e m e for? A nursemaid ? [The tram stops. A P O R T E R looks in at the window.] P O R T E R . All chang e for Malaga , Reykjavik a n d Omsk ! F I N A N C I E R . I mus t get ou t here . Will you tak e te n thousand ? Yes o r no ? It' s m y last word .

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A L A N . I'm truly most terribly sorry, but. . . . FINANCIER. You're more of a fool than I took you for. [Sentimentally.] Write to m e sometimes a n d tell m e how you're getting on. It would be so lovely to get a letter which had nothing to d o with business! A L A N . R a t h e r , sir!

FINANCIER. O h , by the way, a good place to look for that Baronet of yours would be Paradise Park. This train'll take you there. It's where most wasters a n d cranks land u p sooner or later, if they've still got some cash to be swindled o u t of. You'll meet my dear Son, a m o n g others. Perhaps you'll be able to knock some sense into him. Tell him I offer him a h u n d r e d thousand if he'll stop writing his drivel a n d clean a sewer. Goodbye. A L A N . Goodbye, sir. T h a n k s awfully. [The F I N A N C I E R , with the help of A L A N and the

PORTER, descends from the tram.] 1ST J . [to 2 N D J.]. Quick, we mustn't lose sight of him! If we follow him now, maybe we'll get the d o p e on that Dripping Merger, after all! [They leave the train.] 2 N D J . [to A L A N ] . YOU coming, Kid?

A L A N . I can't, I'm afraid. I've just got a new clue. 1 S T J . Well, good luck. 2 N D J . T a ta. A L A N . Goodbye, a n d thanks most awfully for all you've done. [The train moves on. ALAN waves from the window. Then he turns to the OOG.] A L A N . Well, Doggy. We're all alone, now. Just you a n d me. [He puts his arm round the DOG'S neck.] I wonder what Iris is doing? O h dear, I wish we weren't such a long way from home. . . . [He gazes sadly out of the window.] CURTAIN

Chorus H a p p y the h a r e at morning, for she cannot read T h e H u n t e r ' s waking thoughts. Lucky the leaf Unable to predict the fall. Lucky indeed

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T h e r a m p a n t suffering suffocating jelly B u r g e o n i n g in pools, lapping the grits of the desert, T h e elementary sensual cures, T h e hibernations a n d the growth of hair assuage: O r best of all the mineral stars disintegrating quietly into light. But what shall m a n d o , who can whistle tunes by heart, Knows to the bar when death shall cut him short, like the cry of the shearwater? We will show you what he has done. How comely are his places of refuge and the tabernacles of his peace, T h e new books u p o n the m o r n i n g table, the lawns and the afternoon terraces! H e r e are the playing-fields where he may forget his ignorance T o operate within a gentleman's agreement: twenty-two sins have here a certain licence. H e r e are the thickets where accosted lovers combattant May warm each other with their wicked hands, H e r e are the avenues for incantation and workshops for the cunning engravers. T h e galleries are full of music, the pianist is storming the keys, the great cellist is crucified over his instrument, T h a t n o n e may h e a r the ejaculations of the sentinels N o r the sigh of the most n u m e r o u s a n d the most poor; the t h u d of their falling bodies Who with their lives have banished hence the serpent a n d the faceless insect.

Act II Scene 3 [The gardens of Paradise Park. A beautifully-kept lawn. Numbers of people are walking about the stage in sports clothes of various kinds or propelling themselves hither and thither in invalid chairs. Some he on the grass absorbed in books. In the background are two large trees. In one of the trees sits the P O E T , smoking cigarettes: In the other are two LOVERS dressed in nursery-teapot-Dutch costumes. In the distance, the band plays a waltz.] CHORUS.

W h e n you're in trouble, W h e n you get the air, When everything returns your ring Do not despair, because although

242

TH E

DO G B E N E A T H T H E SKI N

Friend s ma y forsake you A n d all skies ar e d a r k You ca n b e gay if you just ste p thi s way Int o Paradis e Par k Was it a tirin g da y O n you r office stool ' Ha s you r wife all you r life Mad e you feel a foo P Don' t cry, for t h o u g h Landlord s perple x you A n d all bosses frown , I n Paradis e Par k you ca n feel a youn g spar k A n d d o t h e m down ' [Enter A L AN and the D O G They approach the POET' S tree ]

A L AN [to P O E T ] Excus e me , sir I s thi s Paradis e P a r k 5 P O E T έστι ν θάλασσα , τί ς δ ε νι ν κατασβέσε ι A L AN I be g you r p a r d o n ' P O E T Ni l n i m i u m studeo , Caesar , tibi velle placer e ne e scire u t r u m sis albu s a n ate r h o m o A L AN I' m awfully sorry, bu t I don' t u n d e r s t a n d D o you spea k English ' P O E T Nessu n maggio r dolor e ch e n c o r d a r s i de l t e m p o felice A L AN I kno w a littl e G e r m a n , if tha t will d o Entschuldige n Sie, bitt e K o e n n e n Sie mi r sagen , o b die s ist d e r Garte n von P a r a d i e s ' P O E T Dan s l'an trentiem e d e m o n age [ALAN begins to move off] O h well, if you insist o n talkin g o u r filthy nativ e language , I suppos e I mus t Giv e m e a cigarett e I've finished min e A L AN I' m so sorr y O f cours e Is t h e n a m e Sir Franci s Crew e Know n by an y chanc e to y o u ' P O E T Di d you like i t ' A L AN

Er

'

P O E T I' m so glad you d i d ' I wrot e it' A L AN Wrot e w h a t ' P O E T "Advance s New" , of cours e No w tell me , whic h sectio n di d you like t h e b e s t ' Mandrake is th e best technically , of cours e Bu t Cinders is m o r e t h e rea l me , I thin k A L AN I' m afrai d you misunderstoo d m e I said Sir Franci s Crew e I've bee n lookin g for hi m P O E T "Your chas e ha d a beast in view " A L AN YOU kno w wher e h e i s'

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P O E T . Well of course. ALAN. Where?

P O E T [tapping his forehead]. Here. Everything's here. You're here. He's here. This park's here. This tree's here. If I shut my eyes they all disappear. A L A N . A n d what h a p p e n s if I shut my eyes? Do you disappear, too? P O E T [crossly]. No, of course not! I'm the only real person in the whole world. A L A N . Well, suppose your tree was cut down? It wouldn't be there when you looked for it. P O E T . Nonsense! T h e axe wouldn't exist unless I thought of it. T h e woodcutter wouldn't exist either. A L A N . Isn't your Father the famous financier? P O E T . I used to think so. But I got tired of that a n d forgot him. Give m e another cigarette. [As he leans down, the D O G jumps up and bites his hand.] P O E T [nursing his hand]. Why can't you keep your blasted d o g in order? O h , my poor hand! A L A N . I'm most dreadfully sorry. But you see, he's never seen a real person before. W h e n you're only an imaginary d o g and have been eating imaginary biscuits all your life, a real hand must taste simply delicious. You couldn't resist it, could you, Francis old boy? [To P O E T . ] Never mind. J u s t shut your eyes a n d you'll forget all about us. P O E T [with his eyes shut]. O h , I've forgotten you long ago! It's my hand I keep r e m e m b e r i n g ! [ A L A N and D O G move to the L O V E R S ' tree.]

1ST LOVER. Little white dove, it's you that I love, Fairer than hollyhocks far! How nice a n d how neat Are your dear little feet! You make my heart beat! How terribly sweet, how terribly sweet, How terribly sweet you are! [They hug each other, taking no notice of ALAN.] A L A N . Excuse me, please, disturbing you: But have you heard of Sir Francis Crewe? 2 N D L. Have you, darling? 1 ST L. O h , pretty starling!

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Say that again A n d again and again' I love to watch your cheek Move when you speak' 2 N D L O h dearest, you mustn't go on so' T h e r e ' s a nice m a n down below And there is something he wants to know 1ST L Good m o r n i n g Let me introduce my wife We're going to be lovers all o u r life T w o as o n e a n d o n e as two Is there anything we can d o ? A L A N Have you heard of Sir Francis Crewe ? 1 S T L Sir Francis C r e w e ' Do you know, sweet' Was that the funny old m a n on the seat Who looked so cross when I gave you a kiss ? 2 N D L You were so naughty' O h ' 1ST L [embracing her] Just like this' A L A N N O , he's not very old

1 ST L Darling, you're cold Put my coat on What dear little shoulders' [ALAN begins to move off] Don't go, old m a n You mustn't scold us We'd ask you u p , but there isn't room But when we've a large tree you must come [ A L A N moves off]

2 N D L Wonderful boy, you're all my j o y ' 1 S T L I'd like to eat you for tea' 2 N D L You're so t e n d e r a n d strong' 1ST L You're just like a song' 2 N D L T O you I belong' B O T H YOU cannot d o wrong, you cannot do wrong, You cannot d o wrong with m e ' [Two FEMALE INVALIDS in bath chairs move to the front of the stage ] 1ST INVALID H O W many stitches have you got ? 2 N D I [proudly] Four 1 S T I O h d o let m e see' 2 N D I Not now, wait till the dressing 1ST I O h please' Just o n e p e e p '

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2 N D I Very well [Shows wound ] 1ST I O h , what a beauty' 2 N D I Don't tell Alice Promise' She's terribly jealous T h e y only put two in h e r When they told h e r after she'd come r o u n d , she cried 1ST I Betty's a lucky girl She's got tubes 2 N D I She hasn't' 1ST I Yes' Only it's a secret She told m e all about it at breakfast My dear, they took o u t everything* She even thinks they may give h e r a real silver set' 2 N D I How too marvellous' Won't h e r T e d be proud? A L A N [approaching them] Excuse m e Is the n a m e Sir Francis Crewe Known p e r h a p s to either of you? 1ST I What's he got? ALAN

Got?

l ST I What illness has he got? A L A N W h a t ? Is h e ill?

1ST I Of course h e is, silly if he's here Aren't you? A L A N N O I d o n ' t t h i n k so

B O T H INVALIDS [turning their chairs away] How disgusting* [Enter a C O L O N E L in a bath chair, with an eartrumpet ] A L A N Excuse me, sir, but is Sir Francis Crewe Known by any chance to you? C O L O N E L Can't hear a word, sir Stone deaf, thank G o d ' [ALAN wanders off asking various other people The two I N V A L I D S return ]

1ST 2ND 1 ST 2ND 1ST 2ND 1ST

I Have you ever noticed his hands? Just like a violinist's I I wonder who he'll choose for the operation today? I [blushing] Well, I don't like to be presumptuous, b u t I think I No? Not really' I [complacent] H m , h m I My dear, I do congratulate you' I It was only a look, mind you b u t you can't mistake him when he looks at you like that Made m e feel quite goosey' O h look, there he is coming out of the ward' Quickly, dear, lend m e your powder-puff I must look my best when I go u n d e r Ooh, the b r u t e ' He's chosen that new case' It isn't fair' [Bursts into tears ] 2 N D I T h e r e , there, darling' Don't take on so' It's sure to be you next time

246

T H E DOG B E N E A T H T H E SKIN

1ST I. [blubbering]. I don't care! I was counting o n it to-day. It's too bad! H e only came in this morning. [The INVALIDS move away as the S U R G E O N and

A N A E S T H E T I S T enter, followed by a N U R S E pushing

CHIMP

EAGLE,

the patient,

on a wheeled

stretcher.] SUR. What d o you think, Doctor? Intraspinal or general? A N . O h , general in this case. SUR. You're playing o n Saturday, aren't you? A N . Yes, I h o p e so. SUR. Good m a n ! We can't d o without you in the deep. Young Waters is playing too. He's n o snyde at the game. [Exeunt S U R G E O N and A N A E S T H E T I S T . ]

C H I M P E A G L E [recognizing A L A N ] . Hullo, Alan!

A L A N . Why, it's C h i m p Eagle! What's the matter with you, old man? C H I M P . A strike down at the Docks. T h e Police h a d a machine-gun. Got m e in the guts. . . . I say, you aren't in with o u r lot too, a r e you? A L A N . N O , I ' m looking for Francis. C H I M P . Francis: T h e missing heir! [Smiles.] How long ago that seems. I'd forgotten all about him. ALAN. C h i m p . . . did you ever find out anything? C H I M P . I can't remember. . . . No. . . . T h a t is, yes. . . . I. . . . [He is too exhausted to say more.] N U R S E [coming forward]. Now then, sir: That's enough. You're tiring the patient. A L A N [withdrawing to the other side of stage, to D O G ] . O h Doggy, what shall I do? T h e y ' r e coming to take him away. A n d I must speak to him again somehow. . . . O h dear . . . ! [The D O G gives A L A N a glance, as much as to say: Watch me! Then it runs across the stage and begins fawning on the N U R S E . ]

N U R S E . What a lovely doggie! May I pat him? [The D O G jumps at her and begins tearing off her uniform.] O h ! Oh! Help! ALAN. What o n earth a r e you doing! Naughty dog! Stop it this minute! [Suddenly understanding.] No, don't stop! Splendid! Good dog! I'll help. [They strip the N U R S E of her uniform and tie her up. The D O G IS dressed by A L A N in the N U R S E ' S uni-

T H E DOG B E N E A T H T H E SKIN

247

form. They dump the N U R S E in a disused bath-chair and cover her with a rug. Scarcely are they ready when the S U R G E O N returns.]

SUR. Nurse, what t h e Dickens are you waiting for? Bring t h e patient at once, please. [The D O G wheeh C H I M P E A G L E out. A L A N follows

at a discreet distance.] CHORUS.

There's consolations here to suit Every mood a n d means: Skating-rinks, booths for drinks, Gambling-machines a n d switchbacks a n d Art for the Highbrow And Sport for the Low-: Life is a lark at Paradise Park; For the fast a n d the slow. CURTAIN

Chorus Seeding a n d harvest, t h e mating of lions, the divergent migrations Are themes for a n o t h e r occasion than this: In this white world of o r d e r a n d professional attentions Of airy wards, the smell of iodoform, T h e squeak of rubber-tyred stretchers: solar time is unreal. Against these walls the waves of action a n d charity must wash in vain. 1600 beds 10 theatres magnificently equipped A special wing for infectious cases A chapel, a mortuary, labs for research, a n d really adequate nursing accommodation And, o p e n e d last year, a solarium for the convalescent. 1600 beds: in each o n e patient, apparently alone; O n e who has forsaken family a n d friends; to set u p house h e r e with his hostile shadow. You who are amorous a n d active, pause here an instant. See passion transformed into rheumatism; rebellion into paralysis; power into a t u m o u r .

248

T H E DOG B E N E A T H T H E SKIN

T h a t which was hated, become hateful, that which was creative, a stalking destruction, that which was loving, a tormenting Hame For those who reject their gifts choose here their punishment

Act I I S c e n e 4 [Paradise Park The operating theatre Railed off, at the side of the stage, are benches for students Two S T U D E N T S are already seated there The theatre itself is empty ] 1ST S T U D E N T But surely you know that one? 2 N D S It is about the Italian a n d the two goats? 1 S T S No, n o This is about a m a n who wanted to buy a bird-cage [Whispers ] H e said There's a stigma About the letter sigma 2 N D S [laughing] That's d a m n good' Damn good, that is' [ALAN enters shyly and sits down in the corner, looking round him ] 1 S T S [indicating A L A N ] Who's that johnny? Don't know him 2 N D S A sweat-pot from one of the other hospitals, probably 1ST S [to A L A N ] Hullo Are you from St Gag's? A L A N [nervously] Er, yes

1ST S What did you score this afternoon against Bullocks'? 2 N D S Who's batting? A L A N Er, I t h i n k

[At this moment, a 3 R D S T U D E N T comes in He is struggling to get a white coat over his dinner-jacket ] 3 R D S T h a n k God I'm not late' T h e old man h a d it in for m e to-day 2 N D S Hullo, Sandy Were you at the Boat Club Supper? 3 R D S Was I not' Just my luck to have to leave when things were getting lively' They're just starting to wreck the hall Patty's smashed his collar-bone already a n d Roy's lost a tooth It's going to be a ripping rag 1 S T S Let's h o p e this case doesn't take long [Turning to A L A N ] By the way, what did you say the score was? 2 N D S Ssh' T h e y ' r e coming' [An harmonium begins to play a voluntary S T U D E N T S and A L A N rise to their feet

The

Procession

T H E DO G B E N E A T H I H E SKI N of

NURSE S

PATIEN T

(including

D O G ) , DRESSERS ,

on his stretcher, A N A E S T H E T I S T

249 the and

S U R G E O N . The S U R G E O N takes up a position at the

end of the table with his back to the audience. The note is given, ff subito. Flavour of Bach in his dramatic mood.] A L L S T U D E N T S [heavy 4-part harmony]. We see deat h every da y Bu t d o no t u n d e r s t a n d him . SUR . I believe A L L . in t h e physica l causatio n o f all p h e n o m e n a , materia l o r mental : a n d in t h e ger m theor y o f disease . A n d in Hippocrates , th e fathe r o f Medicine , Galen , Ambros e Pare , Listo n of t h e e n o r m o u s h a n d s , Syme , Liste r wh o discovere d t h e use of antiseptics , H u n t e r a n d Sir Frederic k Treves . A n d I believe in surgica l t r e a t m e n t for d u o d e n a l ulcer , cerebra l abscess, pylori c stenosis , aneuris m a n d all form s of e n d o c r i n e disturbance . SUR . Le t no t th e patien t reac t unfavourabl y t o th e anaesthetic . A L L . Bu t let it save hi m fro m pain . SUR . Le t t h e r e b e n o unforesee n complications . A L L . N e i t h e r let sepsis hav e th e advantage . SUR . Ma y m y skill no t deser t me . A L L . Bu t guid e you r h a n d s . SUR . Gentlemen , we hav e befor e u s a case of abdomina l injury , cause d by a bulle t piercin g t h e bowel. I inten d therefor e t o mak e a five-inch m e d i a n incision , dividin g t h e Rectu s Abdominus , brin g t h e bowel forward , resec t it, wash o u t t h e p e r i t o n e u m with war m salin e a n d inser t a tub e for drainage . I s it clear ? ALL.

I t is. [ S U R G E O N turns to wash his hands. During this process, the S T U D E N T S sing the following C of Ε chant.]

D E C . T h e surgeo n is great : Le t his n a m e a p p e a r in th e birthda y h o n o u r s . C A N . I was in d a n g e r o f death : A n d h e delivere d me . D E C . I was in fever a n d I coul d no t sleep : T h e pai n assailed m e all da y long . C A N . I g r o a n e d in t h e darkness : I was in terro r for m y life: I too k n o pleasur e in women , neithe r in th e innocen t pastime s of children , m y food h a d lost its flavour.

250

T H E DOG B E N E A T H I H E SKIN

D E C . T h e physicians shook their heads: they consulted together in the next room and were perplexed. C A N . T h e y prescribed diets, carthartics, drugs and all m a n n e r of salves and ointments: but no one of them relieved me. U N I S O N . E u t the surgeon, he relieved me: he removed the emphasis of my trouble and I was healed. S U R G E O N [adjusting his gloves and picking up a scalpel]. It's a terrible thing, nurse, to keep wicket for a man's life. A L A N . Who's the surgeon? 1ST S T U D E N T . Sir William Spurgeon, T h e famous a m a t e u r cricketer: H e captained the Hospital's team last year. O T H E R STUDENTS.

Ssh!

[Roll of drums, as if before a tight-rope act in the circus. The SURGEON begins to operate. Suddenly the lights go out.] S U R G E O N . Lights! Nurse! Dresser! You dresser next to that d a m n e d dresser! For God's sake get a torch! Light, give me a bloody light! Christ, is there no one in this bloody theatre who understands plain English? Someone go and find out what it's all about. [Electric torches are brought. One of the N U R S E S goes out.] S U R G E O N . Scalpel, nurse. Not that one, idiot! Forceps. More forceps! More! More! More! I have cut the mesenteric! Death has declared! [Throws instruments about the room.] A N A E S T H E T I S T . He's sinking, sir. I'd better give him an injection of adrenalin. S U R G E O N [to DRESSER]. God man, don't chatter! Do something! How the hell d o you think I can see if you stand a mile away? Hold the torch nearer! Get out of my way! SISTER [returning]. It was the Boat Club, Sir William. They're having a s u p p e r to-night, you know. O n e of the students fused the lights. H e says he's very sorry. They'll be on again in a few minutes. S U R G E O N . O h , he's sorry, is he? That's good. That's very good. I'll make him sorry he was ever born. I'll break him! I'll break the Hospital Boat! I'll have rowing forbidden in this Hospital for ever! [He utters a terrible roar and rushes out.]

T H E DO G B E N E A T H I H E SKI N

251

3 R D S T U D E N T J u s t o u r luck ' I f it h a d bee n his preciou s cricketers , he' d hav e bee n as mee k as a lam b A N U R S E Something' s t h e matte r T h e patient' s comin g to ' Hol y Mothe r of all t h e Saints , hav e mercy ' [ C H I M P E A G L E sits up

The music of the ensuing

duet should be in the style of Wagnerian opera ] CHIM P

Ο Pressa n Fell s Ho w beautifu l you a r e ' I hea r you r bells Alas I canno t com e T o Pressa n h o m e I hav e wandere d to o far

CHORU S

(Pai n make s hi m w a n d e r in his mind , T h e r e ' s nothin g audibl e of an y kin d )

A L AN

Ο m y Eagle '

CHIM P

I hea r a voice T h a t make s m e rejoic e Who is it standin g there ? I canno t see you clea r

A L AN

Eagle , it is I ,

CHIM P

I c a n n o t see

Alan N o r m a n standin g by Twixt you a n d m e Death' s grea t tire d face H a n g s in spac e CHORU S

(Deat h make s hi m wande r in his mind , T h e r e ' s nothin g visible of an y kin d )

A L AN

I am nea r

CHIM P A L AN CHIM P

D o no t fear Sh e gives m e lovin g glance s Wher e is Francis ? Whe n th e Midge t die d I was by his side H e said to m e t h e n O u t of his pai n " R e t u r n again T o Englan d I swear T h a t Franci s is t h e r e "

252 ALAN . CHIMP .

ALAN . CHIMP .

ALAN . CHIMP .

T H E DO G B E N E A T H T H E SKI N

A n d you forgot Your choic e a n d lot ? N o I di d no t Bu t for m e Was a n o t h e r destin y Chanc e m a d e it clea r My wor k was h e r e Fo r m e th e single-hande d Searc h was e n d e d Bu t for you I see I t is still necessar y T o continu e you r lookin g Fo r wha t is lacking . Mor e I canno t tell. Darknes s assails m e a n d I fail: Farewell . Ο Eagl e stay. I will tak e you h o m e . Nay , d e a t h ha s come . Sh e beckon s m e away. Beast s an d flowers ar e in h e r keeping , I n h e r arm s I woul d be sleeping . You shall no t die ! No , Alan, no . T h e surgeo n no w Is i g n o r a n t as a dove . T o Iri s m y love. [Dies.] [The lights go on again. The S U R G E O N come s in. ]

S U R G E O N . T h a t ' s settle d 'em , I think . . . . Well, Sister, how' s th e patient ? SISTER . T h e patien t is dead , Sir William. S U R G E O N . D e a d ! Ho w d a r e you let hi m die ? Grea t God , couldn' t a doze n of you kee p hi m alive for five minutes ? Thi s is th e sort of thin g whic h invariabl y h a p p e n s wheneve r m y bac k is t u r n e d . Typical . Typ ical. . . . Wha t abou t thi s injectio n you gave th e patient ? Sho w m e th e bottle . [ N U R S E gives it him.] A n d you ca n loo k m e in th e face a n d say you t h o u g h t thi s was Adrenalin ? Why, you blin d miserabl e cow, thi s is hydrochlori c acid ! S I S T E R [in tears]. T h e ne w probatione r gave it me , Sir William. S U R G E O N . T h e ne w probationer , eh ? Thi s is becomin g amusing ! Brin g m e th e ne w probationer .

T H E DOG B E N E A T H T H E SKIN

253

[The N U R S E S push the D O G forward.]

S U R G E O N . SO you're t h e culprit, eh? Well, let m e tell you, my good girl, if I ever see you in this theatre again, I'll . . . [He becomes aware that he is staring into a DOG'S face. There is an awful pause. The SURGEON makes some inarticulate sounds as if about to have afit.The D O G utters a long-drawn howl. Then it turns and bolts for the door, its cap flying from its head. General dismay, confusion, screams, laughter, pursuit. A L A N rushes out after the others.] CURTAIN

Act I I S c e n e 5 [Night. The Highroad. In the middle of the stage stands a milestone.] C H O R U S . Night. A n d crooked E u r o p e hidden in shadow: T h e Rhine catching the moonlight for h u n d r e d s of miles, watched by lovers: Night in England: Over Lincolnshire a n d the great churches: Glimpses of the constellations between their pinnacles a n d flying buttresses: A n d h e r e Alan a n d his companion, on foot on road, a forest on either side: A strong moon pitches their shadows forward: Sounds of their footsteps break against the woody masses But the tide in the tall trees is taciturn, another life: Alan lifting his eyes sees the Bear, the Waggoner, the Scales A n d Algol waxing a n d waning as his hope, n o life at all. [Enter A L A N and D O G . ]

ALAN.

Night has fallen, we have lost o u r way. You are tired a n d so am I. Let us wait till it is day. Against this milestone let us lie A n d sleep as best we may. [They both lie down behind the milestone.]

254

T H E DOG B E N E A T H T H E SKIN

C H O R U S . Dear Sleep, the secretary of that strange club W h e r e all are members u p o n o n e condition, T h a t they forget their own importance; W h e r e Lord a n d Link-Boy leave themselves with others A n d night after night for nothing are refreshed: May o u r names from your register never be struck off! [Enter, from behind the milestone, ALAN'S L E F T and R I G H T F O O T . The R I G H T F O O T speaks in a cultured voice, the L E F T F O O T has a Cockney accent.]* R I G H T F O O T . Why a r e you p u s h i n g m e , Left?

L E F T F. COS yer tiking u p all the room, that's why. R I G H T F. Well, that's n o reason to push. Pushing won't make things better for either of us. L E F T F. It's bleedin' cold. Scratch me back for me, will yer, Right? Naow, a bit 'igher u p . R I G H T F. IS that better?

L E F T F. That's fine. Hell, I'm tired! R I G H T F. S O a m I. It's b e e n a tiring day.

L E F T F. I always feels tired now. Proper d o n e in. T h e c r a m p keeps gettin' me. It gets m e bad, sometimes. R I G H T F. You o u g h t to see a doctor.

L E F T F. Corse I ort. But the Boss won't let me. Jest let 'im wyte. O n e o' these dys I'll 'ave 'is guts fer garters. R I G H T F. I don't think you should talk like that, after all he's d o n e for us. L E F T F. A n ' wot's 'e d o n e fer us, I'd like ter know? Works us daown ter ther b o n e without so much as T h a n k You. And fer wot, I arsks yer? Fer wot? Chysin' abaht after some bloke wot's been dead fer years. A lot I care whether the Boss finds 'im. I 'aven't seen the inside of a carpet slipper fer weeks. Wot wouldn't I give fer a bath? Cor! I don't 'alf whistle! R I G H T F. Yes, the o d o u r is unpleasant, certainly. Especially to feet like us, who've always been brought u p to regard cleanliness as next to godliness. . . . Still, I must say, I don't see that grumbling does much good. A n d , look here, old chap, I d o wish you wouldn't speak of the Master in that way. It makes such a bad impression when other people are about. O f course, I know you and I know quite well you don't mean a word of it. . . . * In a performance the ensuing dialogue should probably be cut

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L E F T F. Don't I, j e s t ' That's all you knows' Look 'ere, wot'd you a n d yer precious Boss d o if I was ter tell yer I wasn't goin' a step f u r t h e r ' You'd 'ave ter carry me! O w ' d yer like that, eh? R I G H T F. [coldly] Of course, you're perfectly entitled to act as you think best We can't stop you. I might just as well take the same attitude myself. . . It's a matter of loyalty either one appreciates that kind of thing, o r o n e doesn't L E F T F. YOU a n d yer Public School edjerkytion! O r t ter 'ave bin a sky pilot, you ort! R I G H T F. It's very easy to sneer. But the fact remains that without some kind of standards a fellow just goes to pieces. O n e saw e n o u g h of that in the War. W h o were the best officers? T h e boys who h a d been captains of their school fifteens. A n d the more o n e knocks about the world, the m o r e o n e comes to realise. . . L E F T F. OW, lay o r f it! Yer mikes m e sick! I ain't goin' ter listen ter another of yer lectures on the T e a m Spirit, an' that's stryte! R I G H T F. Sorry, old chap. I didn't mean to jaw. Let's change the subject, shall we? . . . You said just now that Sir Francis Crewe was dead. Well, I'm sure he's not. . . A n d what's more, I'm on his track at last! L E F T F. G O on! You're kiddin'.

R I G H T F. O h n o , I'm not I'll prove it to you I've been working o n the case for months, now: I didn't want to say anything till I'd got it watertight . . . A n d it's all so beautifully simple, really. . . . Do you know what gave m e the first clue? L E F T F. Wot?

R I G H T F I h a p p e n e d to notice, o n e morning, that the Master's brown shoes h a d a little indentation o n either side of the toe-cap, about half an inch long. At the time, I thought no more about it It wasn't till the other day, fitting the facts together a n d trying them this way a n d that, that the whole thing flashed upon me. Do you know what h a d m a d e those marks? [Dramatically.] Roller-skates! L E F T F. But wot's that got ter d o with Sir Francis Crewe? R I G H T F. I'll give you all the stages of my reasoning later: B u t it was really those skate-marks which led m e to his hiding-place L E F T F. Yer means you've seen ' i m ' R I G H T F. O h n o . I've never seen him yet How could I? T h e Master never lets us go o u t alone. L E F T F. B u t yer knows w h e r e 'e i s ' R I G H T F. I d o . L E F T F. G o o n t h e n , spit it aht!

R I G H T F. [impressively]. At this very moment, Sir Francis Crewe is . . .

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[glances round htm] No Better not tell you here T h e r e may be spies about C o m e b e h i n d the milestone [The F E E T disappear ] Two

C H O R U S LEADERS

Now t h r o u g h night's caressing grip Earth a n d all her oceans slip, Capes of China slide away From h e r fingers into day A n d the Americas incline Coasts towards h e r shadow line Now the ragged vagrants creep Into crooked holes to sleep Just a n d unjust, worst and best, Change their places as they rest Awkward lovers lie in fields W h e r e disdainful beauty yields While the splendid and the p r o u d Naked stand before the crowd And the losing gambler gams A n d the beggar entertains May sleep's healing power extend T h r o u g h these hours to o u r friend U n p u r s u e d by hostile force, Traction engine, bull or horse O r revolting succubus, Calmly till the m o r n i n g break Let him he, then gently wake CURTAIN

Act I I I Chorus A m a n a n d a d o g are entering a city They are approaching a centre of culture First the suburban dormitories spreading over fields, Villas on vegetation like saxifrage on stone, Isolated from each other like cases of fever A n d uniform in design, uniform as nurses

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To each a lean-to shed, containing a well-oiled engine of escape. Section these dwellings: expose the life of a people Living by law and the length of a reference, See love in its disguises and the losses of the heart, Cats and old silver inspire heroic virtues And psychic fields, accidentally generated, destroy whole families. Extraordinary tasks are set: a ploughman's hand acquires the most exquisite calligraphy, A scheme is prepared for draining the North Sea, with the aid of books from the local library: One has a vision in the bathroom after a family quarrel: he kneels on the cork mat: A naturalist leaves in a cab in time for the breaking of the meres. A youth with boils lies face down on bed, his mother over him; Tenderly she squeezes from his trembling body the last dregs of his childhood. Writer, be glib: please them with scenes of theatrical bliss and horror, Whose own slight gestures tell their doom with a subtlety quite foreign to the stage. For who dare patiently tell, tell of their sorrow Without let or variation of season, streaming up in parallel from the little houses And unabsorbed by their ironic treasures Exerts on the rigid dome of the unpierced sky its enormous pressures? But look: While we were talking, they have not stood still, They have passed up the parade, the site of shops: Goods are displayed: behind plate glass One satin slipper austerely arranged On an inky background of blackest velvet: A waxen sandboy in skiing kit Dumb and violet among vapour lamps. High in the air, in empty space, Five times a minute a mug is filled And in ten-foot letters, time after time, Words are spelt out and wiped away. He moves amazed among the well-fed multitudes; They glance at the stranger with the glance of those Who have paid their allowance to be left alone. And now they reach the Nineveh Hotel; Consider this hotel: its appointments and fittings: Five hundred bedrooms, with h and c,

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T h r e e h u n d r e d bathrooms: 375 W.C.s: Inspect the dining-hall: seating 2000: T h e waiters scuttling from side to side Like goldfish feeding the valuable people: Admire the shining silver a n d cutlery Stamped with the mark of that sombre town Which fouls the Don still fresh from the moor And the beautiful glassware blown on the Danube: And stand in the vestibule spacious a n d gilded As o u r h e r o enters to sign his name. Old m e n afraid of reflections in glass Are ushering ladies o u t to their cars, Veiled a n d valued, t h r o u g h revolving doors. Paid to b e pretty, p u m p e d into cloth, Ranked by pillars pages wait, At signals, like gulls from a nesting stack, T o rise o n their toes a n d tear away. Come in:

Act I I I Scene I [The vestibule of the Nineveh Hotel. P O R T E R . PAGES. Enter A L A N and D O G . ]

P O R T E R . I'm glad you've come, sir. You want a room, sir? A L A N . Please. P O R T E R . I ' m sorry to be a trouble, sir:

A single o r a double, sir? A L A N . A single, please. P O R T E R . I'm still in d o u b t , sir.

With b a t h r o o m o r without, sir? A L A N . With bathroom, please. P O R T E R . J u s t sign your name, sir. And date the same, sir. H e r e , quickly, page boy, O r you'll p u t m e in a rage, boy. Show this gentleman u p to Room 132. P A G E . Let m e take y o u r bag, sir.

It'll save you fag, sir.

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259

Please follow me, sir. I've got the key, sir. C H O R U S . Make way, m a k e way:

This gentleman has come to stay. H e wants a r o o m where h e may rest, But not the best, but not the best: He's only a provincial guest. P O R T E R [sees D O G ] . I'm sorry, dogs are not allowed, sir, I didn't see him in the crowd, sir. A L A N . B u t that's a b s u r d , my d o g a n d I

Are never parted: tell m e why, If not I'll give you back my keys A n d leave this moment, if you please! [Enter the T w o J O U R N A L I S T S . The 2 N D J O U R N A L -

IST IS very drunk.] 2 N D J O U R N A L I S T [singing].

T h e bluebells bloomed on the Baltic shore W h e n Kit was Schneider-Creusot's love. 1ST J . Why look, there's Alan! 2ND J. My dear old boy! T o see you once more is indeed a joy! [ 2 N D J. throws his arms round ALAN'S neck.] 1ST J . H e means n o evil But he's tight as the devil. A L A N . I always h o p e d we should meet again. 1ST J . What about your search? Has it been in vain? A L A N . H e never left England at all, it appears. 2 N D J . [who has wandered off into a corner, sings]. Alice is gone a n d I'm alone, Nobody understands How lovely were h e r Fire Alarms, How fair h e r G e r m a n Bands! 1ST J . [to 2 N D J . ] . Stop! Stop! You make My stomach ache! [To A L A N . ] A r e you staying here?

A L A N . I'd h o p e d to. But they won't allow the dog. 1ST J . T h e y won't? I'll settle that: You see if I don't! Porter!

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P O R T E R . Wha t ca n I do , sir? T o satisfy you , sir? [ 1 S T J . whispers something in his ear.] PORTER . Ο Ο

Sir,

I didn' t know , sir! [To A L A N . ] I' m so sorry , sir.

I m a d e a mistake , sir. I was in a hurry , sir. Don' t worry, sir. Of cours e we'll take , sir, Your d o g too , sir, As well as you , sir. [To P A G E . ] Thi s d o g you mus t take , boy. And feed o n cake , boy. [Exeunt P O R T E R , P A G E and

DOG. ]

ALAN . Whateve r di d you say? 1S T J . Ah, that' s a secre t I can' t give away! Let' s com e a n d eat . [They go out. 2 N D J . lingering behind, sings, out of tune and with great pathos:] 2 N D J . [singing].

Ο ho w I crie d whe n Alice die d T h e da y we were t o hav e wed! We neve r ha d o u r Roaste d Duc k And no w she' s a Loa f of Bread ! [He staggers out.] CURTAIN

Act

I I I Scen e 2

[The restaurant of the Nineveh Hotel. In the foreground are tables with diners: including ALAN and the T w o J O U R N A L I S T S . In the background is a small stage for cabaret. The entire setting of this scene should convey an impression of brutal, noisy vulgarity and tasteless extravagance. Band music] V O I C E S . A n d as for h e r hat , m y d e a r . . .

Le T o u q u e t was lousy thi s year. Hav e you rea d The Virgin Policeman?

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2b 1

Yes we di d We got righ t to th e Dock s T h e r e ' s his ne w o n e T h e r e were lot s o f childre n withou t an y socks ? You m e a n th e blu e o n e I t was divin e We foun d a dive I' m flying nex t week to t h e Bahama s A n d d a n c e d with th e sailor s I felt so alive Wha t I say is d a m n a m a n with hole s in his pyjamas ' Darling , you loo k wonderfu l to-night ' O n e of thos e school s o n e ha s neve r h e a r d of C A B A R E T A N N O U N C E R Ladie s a n d G e n t l e m e n ' T h e r o m a n c e of foreign land s ha s bee n celebrate d by every song-write r Bu t we feel tha t in sufficient justic e ha s bee n d o n e to o u r own countr y We ar e present in g therefor e t o you to-nigh t M a d a m e Bubbi , in a ne w son g entitle d Rhondda Moon Whe n you hav e h e a r d her , I' m sur e you will be con vinced , as we are , that , in th e opportunitie s whic h sh e offers to t h e T e n d e r Passion , Britai n is secon d to n o n e ' M a d a m e Bubbi ' [Enter M A D A M E B U B B I , an immense woman in a

sequin dress ] Μ Β [sings] I com e with a message t o th e farmer s a n d th e cities , I've simpl e slogan , it's j u st Love British ' Britis h Romance , Britis h joys, Britis h choru s girls a n d choru s boys T h e Sahar a make s heart s t o pit-a-pat , Glamorganshir e ca n d o bette r tha n that ' Whereve r you go, be it east o r west, R e m e m b e r Britis h Love is quit e th e best Peopl e sing songs abou t Tennesse e Bu t foreign m e n won' t d o for m e I d o n ' t wan t a dago , I don' t wan t a Greek , I've got wha t I wan t a n d that' s a British Shei k CHORU S

O n th e R h o n d d a

M y tim e I s q u a n d e r Watchin g for m y m i n e r boy H e ma y be r o u g h an d toug h Bu t h e surel y is ho t stuff A n d he' s slender , to-me-tender , He' s m y onl y joy Lovers ' meeting , Lovers ' greeting ,

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Ο hi s arm s will be a r o u n d m e soon ! Fo r I a m growin g fonde r Ou t y o n d e r as I w a n d e r An d I p o n d e r 'neat h a R h o n d d a m o o n ! V O I C E S O F D I N E R S . I b o u g h t five yards . I always use Corp s d e F e m m e myself. He' s in th e G u a r d s . Oh , she' s alread y o n th e shelf. I tol d hi m I couldn' t d o withou t it. Hav e you rea d The Virgin Policeman} T h e custom s officer was perfectl y sweet abou t it. [Enter the N I N E V E H G I R L S . All that is mechanical, shallow, silly, hideous and unbearably tragic in the antics of a modern cabaret chorus should be expressed here in its most exaggerated form. Crude lighting. Rowdy music.} N I N E V E H G I R L S [smg]. We ar e girls of differen t ages. All sort s o f girls at all sort s of stages, we've C o m e to deligh t you, C o m e to excit e you, C o m e to presen t o u r revue ! Fai r girls, d e a r girls, Dar k girls, star k girls, Gla d girls, ba d girls, Poo r girls, we've-met-before-girls , we All woul d welcom e you . Desires , ambitions , anxietie s fill us, We com e fro m bric k rectorie s a n d s h a m - T u d o r villas, It' s o u r professio n T o cur e you r depressio n A n d banis h thos e melanchol y blues. Ol d girls, bol d girls, Sh y girls, fly girls, Kiss-girls, sis-girls, Lea n girls, do-you-get-what-I-mean-girls , you Onl y hav e t o choose . We lift o u r legs for you r masculin e inspection , You ca n a d m i r e u s withou t o u r correction , we D o thi s nightly ,

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263

We h o p e we're not unsightly O r all o u r labours are vain! Neat girls, sweet girls, Gym girls, slim girls, Meek girls, technique girls, Pat girls, come-up-to-my-flat-girls, we H o p e to see you again! [Applause. A solitary D I N E R with an eye-glass beckons the W A I T E R . ]

D I N E R . Waiter! W A I T E R . At once, sir!

You want, sir? D I N E R . Bring m e t h e third girl from t h e right. [The W A I T E R blows a signal on his whistle and the chosen girl comes down from the stage. The W A I T E R catches her head under his arm as though she were a fowl and holds her so that the D I N E R can pinch her thigh. The girl does not offer the least resistance.] W A I T E R . Will she d o , sir? O r will you choose anew, sir? D I N E R . N O . I'll have this one. W A I T E R . Will you have h e r roast, sir. O r o n J a p a n e s e Toast, sir? With Sauce Allemagne, sir, O r stewed in white wine, sir? D I N E R . Stewed, I think. But I'll have the finger-nails served separately as a savoury. O h , a n d don't forget to remind the Chef to stir t h e pot with a sprig of rosemary. It makes all the difference. [ W A I T E R bows and retires, carrying the girl over his shoulder.] C A B A R E T A N N O U N C E R . O u r next item is Destructive Desmond! [Deafening

applause.

DESTRUCTIVE

DESMOND

comes on to the stage, followed by attendants carrying a large oil painting. D E S M O N D IS dressed as a schoolboy, with ink-stains on his cheeks, a crumpled eton collar, a striped cap, broken bootlaces, dishevelled stockings and shorts. He is a stocky, middle-aged man, with an inflamed, pugnacious face and very hairy knees.]

264 ONE

T H E DOG B E N E A T H T H E SKIN O F T H E D I N E R S T O A N O T H E R . H a v e n ' t you seen him before? O h ,

he's marvellous! I saw him last winter in New York. H e b u r n t an entire first folio Shakespeare, page by page. I've never laughed so much in all my life. D E S M O N D . Hullo, fellows! H e r e we are again! Has anyone got a nice old poetry-book for m e to read? I d o love a bit of poetry! [Loud laughter from the audience.] You haven't? Never mind! This evening, I've got a real treat for you. But, first of all, is there any gentlemen in t h e audience w h o knows anything about painting? n o , not painting t h e greenhouse. [Laughter.] Pictures! Comes on, don't be shy. T h a n k you, sir. Will you step u p on the stage a moment? [An A R T E X P E R T , a nice, rather ineffective man in pince-nez, comes up. He is evidently a bona-fide member of the audience and not in the conspiracy. He does not at first understand what is going to happen.] D E S M O N D [winking at the audience]. So you're an Art expert, sir? A R T E X P E R T . Well, er, without wishing to be immodest, I think I have some claim to that title, yes. I a m the curator of the gallery at Barchester. D E S M O N D . Excellent! J u s t t h e m a n I wanted to meet! You see, sir, I wanted to ask your advice about a picture I've just bought. Would you care to look at it? A.E. [adjusting his pince-nez]. Certainly, certainly. If I can be of any service . . . [ D E S M O N D signs to the attendants to uncover the picture. The A R T E X P E R T bends down to examine it. After a moment, he utters an exclamation, takes a magnifying glass from his pocket and studies every inch of the canvas with great care. The audience titters with delight: everybody else in the room seems to know exactly what will happen.] A.E. [standing up, evidently very much excited]. Do you know, Mr, er Desm o n d . . . it's a very remarkable thing, very remarkable indeed . . . this picture is a Rembrandt! D E S M O N D . A r e you s u r e of that?

A.E. Quite positive. T h e r e can be n o doubt whatever. DESMOND [playing always to the audience, and mimicking the over-cultured tones of the A R T E X P E R T ] . N O doubt whatever? Fancy that, now! A n d will you be so kind as to tell these ladies a n d gentlemen how much this R e m b r a n d t of mine is worth?

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A.E. O h , speaking offhand, I should say about sixty thousand p o u n d s . D E S M O N D [as before]. Isn't that a lot of money! Dear, O h dear! A n d suppose something were to happen to my beautiful picture [unseen by the A R T E X P E R T , but visible to the audience, he produces an enormous penknife: the audience are delighted] d o you think Mr R e m b r a n d t would paint m e another o n e like it? A.E. [smiling]. No, h e couldn't, I'm afraid. He's dead. D E S M O N D . O h , he's dead, is he? I am sorry! I must send some flowers. What did h e die of? [The A R T E X P E R T doesn't quite know what to make of this fooling. He has become aware of the curiously hostile mood of D E S M O N D and the audience towards himself. He stands there awkwardly, smiling but uneasy.] D E S M O N D . Well, well [he flourishes the knife] if Mr Rembrandt's dead, h e won't be angry with me: that's one comfort. A n d anyhow, I suppose I can d o what I like with my own picture. . . . A.E. [suddenly realising what D E S M O N D is going to do]. Mr Desmond! . . . You're not going to . . . ? D E S M O N D . N o t going to what?

A.E. [gasping]. T o . . . destroy this picture? D E S M O N D [now openly sneering at him]. A n d why shouldn't I destroy it, may I ask? Isn't it mine? A.E. . . . Yes, er, of course. . . . B u t I mean. . . . You can't . . . it's a masterpiece! D E S M O N D . O h , it's a masterpiece, is it? And how would you define a masterpiece, Mr A r t Expert? A.E. Something unique . . . a work of genius . . . which can't be replaced . . . priceless . . . [He stammers, amidst the merriment of the audience, and cannot go on.] D E S M O N D [signs to the attendants to uncover a second picture]. Is this a masterpiece? A.E. [contemptuously]. No, most certainly not! D E S M O N D . Why isn't it?

A.E. I n t h e first place because it's a completely tasteless piece of thirdrate Victorian landscape painting of which you'll find examples in every boarding-house in England: A n d secondly, because it isn't even a n original. You could get as many copies as you wanted from the publishers for a shilling a piece. D E S M O N D . Well, all I can say is: I think it's a very nice picture. I like it m u c h better than Mr Rembrandt's, which you say is so valuable.

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[Pointing to the Rembrandt.] Why, this is all brown\ More like a chest of drawers! U g h , how I hate you! [Raises knife to slash the Rembrandt canvas.] A.E. [almost in tears]. Stop! I protest against this disgraceful exhibition! I appeal to the ladies a n d gentlemen of the audience. Surely you won't allow this to go on? D E S M O N D . Aha! So you appeal to the audience, d o you? Very well! [To the audience.] Ladies a n d gentlemen, I leave it entirely in your hands: which picture would you rather see cut to bits, this landscape which Mr Expert so much despises, o r old mahogany Rembrandt? ALL

THE DINERS. Rembrandt! Rembrandt!

D E S M O N D [brutally, to A R T E X P E R T ] . YOU hear what they say? A n d now, get off my platform! If you don't like it, you can d o the other thing! A.E. [putting his hands to his head]. Either these people a r e mad, o r I am! [He jumps down from the stage and runs out of the restaurant.] [ D E S M O N D waves an ironic goodbye after him. The drums begin to roll. The audience groan with delight. D E S M O N D , standing before the Rembrandt, works himself up into a state of hysterical fury. He makes faces at the canvas, shows his teeth, shakes his fist, spits.] D E S M O N D [as the drums reach their climax]. Grrrr! Take that, you brute! [slashes canvas with his knife] a n d that! a n d that! [Finale of trumpets. The attendants hold up the slashed picture and D E S M O N D puts his arm through it several times. Then he strikes it from their hands and tramples on it on the floor. Terrific applause. D E S M O N D bows and exits.]

[A trumpet.] A V O I C E . H e r e comes Miss Lou Vipond, T h e star of whom the world is fond! [All the diners jump up and rush towards the entrance, to get a peep. A L A N IS one of the first. As M I S S V I P O N D passes across the stage, she is com-

pletely hidden by the crowd.] 1 S T J O U R N A L I S T . Alan, old boy, come back! come back! Don't you cross that harpy's track! 2 N D J . If you fall for that dame, it'll be your undoing: She's b r o u g h t e n o u g h good m e n to their ruin.

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267

A L AN [who is standing on a table in order to see better]. You fellows tal k t h e mos t u t t e r rot ! All o t h e r w o m e n ca n go to p o t ! I' m t r u e t o Iris . [He catches sight of M i s s V I P O N D . ] By Jove , she' s a s t u n n e r ! Wha t a face! I' m dazzled ! [He jumps down from his table into the middle of the crowd.] 1 S T J . [covering his eyes]. T h e kid' s a g o n n e r ! V O I C E S FRO M T H E C R O W D ROUN D ALAN .

She' s stoppe d t o spea k to a stranger ! T h e n he' s in d a n g e r ! Loo k at he r eyes! Wha t a lovely surprise ! Sh e p r e t e n d s sh e feels tired ! Ο she' s inspired ! Sh e lean s o n hi s a r m ! Sh e know s h e r c h a r m ! She' s goin g to speak ! I t make s his knee s weak! Sh e ha s asked hi m t o visit h e r r o o m ! H e goes to his d o o m ! [ALAN , his face transformed by joy, breaks through the crowd and rushes forward.] A L AN [ίο J O U R N A L I S T S ] .

W h e r e ca n I get som e So lon g afte r hours ?

flowers [Without waiting for an answer, he runs out.]

C H O R U S . I n f o r m t h e Press , infor m th e Press , Miss Vipond' s h a d o n e m o r e success! It' s in t h e air, it's in th e air, She' s goin g t o hav e a ne w affair! Mak e way, mak e way, T h i s gentlema n ha s com e to stay! H e want s t h e best, h e want s th e best, He' s m o r e t h a n a provincia l guest ! H e quickl y fell, h e quickl y fell, H e lost his h e a r t in o u r hotel !

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He's going to start, he's going to start, He's starting now to break his heart! CURTAIN

Act I I I Scene 3 [Before the curtain. Enter simultaneously A L A N (left) and the D O G (right). They meet in the middle of the stage. A L A N IS in taus. He carries an immense bouquet of flowers.] A L A N [in a great hurry]. Hullo, Doggy! How's life? [The D O G fawns on him.] Not now, there's a good dog! I'm in an awful hurry. J u s t think, in a n o t h e r minute I shall be with her! I believe, if I didn't see her again, I should go crazy! But you can't understand that, can you, Doggy? As long as you get your food a n d a nice warm mat to lie on, you're perfectly happy. I wish I were a dog! No, I'm d a m n glad I'm not! [He pats the DOG'S head absent-mindedly.] Well, I must be off. [The D O G puts its paws on ALAN'S shoulders.] H e r e , I say! That's enough! Let me alone, can't you? What's the matter with you this evening? Down, sir! [He pushes the D O G roughly aside.] Now you've m a d e my coat dirty I shall have to get it brushed. Silly fool! [He takes a step forward. Immediately, the D O G jumps up and drags the flowers from his hand, scattering them in all directions.] Francis, how dare you! You clumsy brute! [ A L A N gives the D O G a kick.] Get out! [The D O G does not move. There is a pause.] I say, Francis, old boy, I didn't mean to do that! Honestly I didn't! I've never kicked you before, have I? You just m a d e me angry with you for the moment. I'm sorry. . . . Why d o you look at me like that? You can't p r e t e n d I really h u r t you: Now, can you? Let me see. . . . [He moves his hand towards the D O G . The D O G retreats a little.] O h , very well, if you'd rather not. H e r e : Shake a paw! [The D O G does not move.] All right, then: sulk if you want to. I've said I'm sorry. I can't d o any more, can I? And anyhow, it was all your fault. [Pointing to the flowers.] J u s t look at them: all ruined! Now I shall have to get some more, and they cost five shillings each. What made you d o it, Francis? Ha ha ha! I believe you're jealous again! Was that why? Well, you are a queer dog! But you wait till you see her, Francis. She's the most marvellous creature in the world! Goodness knows what she can see in a chap like me! H e r eyes, why, you've no idea. . . . [But the D O G has turned and, with great dignity, slowly walked off the stage.] He's gone! Funny! I expect he'll be all right tomorrow. . . .

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A n d now! [ A L A N straightens his coat and smooths his hair.] I must get those flowers. [Looks at his watch.] Good God! I'm five seconds late already! [He rushes out.]

Act I I I Scene 4 [The Nineveh Hotel. The stage is divided in half. The right-hand scene represents Miss V I P O N D ' S bedroom. The left-hand scene is the corridor outside it. When the curtain rises, the bedroom is in darkness. The corridor is illuminated. The D O G IS sitting on a chest outside the bedroom door. A grandfather clock stands in the corner. Enter the M A N A G E R , with a chorus of W A I T E R S , P A G E S and C H A M BERMAIDS.]

MANAGER.

W h e n he gets his bill to-morrow What will M r N o r m a n say? Will h e shoot himself for sorrow All on a summer's day?

CHORUS.

Perhaps he'll only lose his mind, Go wild a n d feed among the lilies: Tell us, if you'd be so kind, Tell us what the bill is.

MANAGER.

CHORUS. MANAGER.

20 cases of c h a m p a g n e ,

A finest pedigree Great Dane, Half a dozen Paris frocks, A sable fur, a silver fox, Bottles of scent a n d beauty salves, An MG Midget with overhead valves, 1 doz pairs of shoes a n d boots, 6 lounge, 1 tails a n d 3 dress suits, A h a n d s o m e two-piece bathing-dress, An electric razor, a trouser-press, A cutter for cigars, two lighters, 10 autographs of famous writers, Berths a n d tickets in advance For a trip r o u n d Southern France: A d d to this his bed a n d board. It's m o r e than one m a n can afford. This we'll keep until the morning. Remember, d o not give him warning. [Exit.]

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[Song and Step Dance.] WAITERS.

If we're late O r break a plate H e won't be r u d e . If we served him n u d e Would h e know? No No No! He's in love!

PAGES.

If we lose All his shoes, Say Go to Hell When he rings the bell, H e won't know: No N o No! He's in love!

CHAMBERMAID.

If I stops Emptying the slops, Leaves a dead Mouse in the bed, H e won't know: No No No, He's in love! [A bell rings. The C H O R U S arrange themselves undei the H E A D W A I T E R . ]

H E A D W A I T E R . T h e Nineveh Hotel holds the copyright

Of the Epithalamium we are going to recite. C H O R U S [reciting, with a background of eighteenth-century music]. You who r e t u r n to-night to a narrow bed With o n e n a m e r u n n i n g sorrowfully through your sorrowful head, You w h o have never been touched, a n d you, pale lover, Who left the house this m o r n i n g kissed all over, You little boys also of quite fourteen Beginning to realise just what we mean, Fill u p glasses with champagne a n d drink again. It's not a new school o r factory to which we summon, We're h e r e to-day because of a m a n a n d a woman. O h Chef, employ your continental arts T o celebrate the union of two loving hearts!

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Waiters, b e deft , a n d slip, you pages, by T o h o n o u r th e god t o n a m e who m is t o lie: Fil l u p glasses with c h a m p a g n e a n d d r i n k again . [The corridor begins to darken.] Alread y h e ha s b r o u g h t th e swallows past th e Scillies T o chas e eac h o t h e r skimmin g u n d e r Englis h bridges, Ha s loose d t h e u r g e n t polle n o n th e glitterin g countr y T o find th e pistil, forc e its burglar' s entry , H e move s u s also a n d u p th e marbl e stair H e lead s t h e figures matche d in beaut y a n d desire : Fil l u p glasses with c h a m p a g n e a n d drin k again . [The corridor is now completely dark. M i s s V I P O N D ' S bedroom is illuminated. ALAN stands embracing M i s s V I P O N D , who is a shopwindow dummy, very beautifully dressed. When the dummy is to speak, A L AN runs behind it and speaks mfahetto.] A L A N . M y swan, so beautifu l t o m y five senses, W h e n I loo k o n you , in a m o m e n t I lose m y defences , M y clums y hear t forget s hersel f an d dances . D U M M Y . Ο lion , Ο sun , encompas s m e with power , Fee d lion , shin e sun , for in you r glory I flower, Creat e t h e h u g e a n d gorgeou s s u m m e r in a n hour . V O I C E S O F W A I T E R S ' C H O R U S [outside in the corridor].

Wha t woul d you give tha t she migh t live? A L A N . I woul d give t h e N e t h e r l a n d s with all thei r canals , T h e e a r t h o f t h e Ukraine , t h e Niagar a Falls , T h e Eiffel T o w e r also a n d th e D o m e o f St Paul's . C H O R U S O U T S I D E . Wha t woul d you d o t o kee p h e r true ? A L A N . I woul d h u n t t h e e n o r m o u s whale in t h e Arcti c lowlands , I woul d coun t all th e starling s in th e Britis h Islands , I woul d r u n t h r o u g h fighting E u r o p e in absolut e silence . D U M M Y . Bu t m e n ar e treacherous , I know , as th e North-Eas t wind , T h e y spea k o f lovin g bu t a n o t h e r is in thei r mind , A n d you will leave m e to-morro w m o r n i n g for a n o t h e r find. A L A N . T r u e , t h e r e was o n e I t h o u g h t I loved beyon d measure . H e r e is h e r picture , I destro y it t o give you pleasure . For , love, in you r arm s I find t h e onl y treasure .

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[He tears up the photograph of I R I S and scatters the pieces at the dummy's feet.] D U M M Y . O u r sails ar e set. Ο launc h u p o n love's ocean , Fea r ha s n o mean s t h e r e of locomotio n A n d d e a t h canno t exhaus t u s with hi s endles s devotion . [ALAN begins to embrace and undress the dummy. The bedroom slowly darkens. From the complete darkness of the corridor, the voices of the W A I T E R S ' C H O RU S are heard, gradually receding.] CHORUS Let Let Let Th e Th e Fill

. It' s no t onl y thi s we praise , it's th e genera l love: cat' s me w rise to a screa m o n th e tool-she d roof , son com e h o m e to-nigh t to hi s anxiou s mother , t h e vicar lea d th e choirbo y int o a d a r k corner . orchi d shall flower to-nigh t tha t flowers every h u n d r e d years, boot s a n d t h e slavey be foun d dutch-kissin g o n th e stairs: u p glasses with c h a m p a g n e a n d d r i n k again .

Let thi s be kep t as a generou s h o u r by all, Thi s onc e let th e uncl e settl e hi s nephew' s bill, Let t h e nervou s lady's tabl e gauchenes s b e forgiven, Let t h e thief' s explanatio n of th e thef t be taken , T h e boy caugh t smokin g shall escap e th e usua l whipping , To-nigh t t h e expensiv e whor e shall give hersel f for n o t h i n g : Fil l u p glasses with c h a m p a g n e a n d d r i n k again . T h e landlocke d stat e shall get its por t to-day , T h e midnigh t worke r in th e laborator y by th e sea Shal l discove r u n d e r th e cross-wire s tha t whic h h e look s for, To-nigh t t h e asthmati c cler k shall d r e a m he' s a boxer , Let t h e col d heart' s wish be granted , th e desir e for a desire , Ο give to t h e cowar d no w his h o u r of power : Fill u p glasses with c h a m p a g n e a n d drin k again . [The bedroom is now completely dark. In the corridor, spotlights suddenly illuminate the chest and the grandfather clock. Beside the chest the D O G IS lying with its paws crossed.] D O G ' S SKIN . Ticker ! Ticker ! Are you awake? [The Clock strikes one.] It' s onl y m e , th e dog' s skin tha t hide s tha t eccentri c youn g m a n . I h o p e you a d m i r e m y accent ? I've lived so lon g with them , I hav e all th e emigre' s prid e at havin g forgotte n m y own . I' m quit e deracine , as

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the y say in Bloomsbury . When I first paid the m a visit, before I gave u p my nationalit y an d was still an Irish Wolfhound , I was very romantic . Th e odou r of a particula r arm-chair , th e touc h of certai n fingers, excited me to rash generalisation s which I believed to be profound . I compose d poem s tha t I imagine d highly idiomatic , on th e words "walk" an d "dinner" . And it was in this romanti c moo d tha t I decide d to thro w in my lot with their s an d sever all ties with my past. My deares t ambitio n was to be accepte d naturall y as on e of them . I was soon disillusioned ! T o the m I was only a skin, valued for its association s with tha t very life I ha d hope d to abandon . Small childre n misunderstoo d by thei r parent s rubbe d tearfu l cheek s against me an d whispere d secret s to thei r doggie. I ask you . . . Doggie! Young me n wore me at charade s to arous e in other s undisguise d huma n amusemen t an d desire. Talkin g abou t charades , Ticker , are you intereste d in literatur e at all? [The Clock strikes two.] You are? So am I. I n th e old days, before I becam e a skin, I used to be th e pet of a very famou s author . H e talked all day to yours truly. H e suffered terribl y from indigestion , poo r fellow, an d wrote what was called "virile" poetry . H e was knighte d for it durin g th e war. Well, I'll tell you a story abou t him . On e nigh t (it was nearl y on e o'cloc k in th e morn ing, as a matte r of fact) he was prett y tight on whisky an d we ha d a real heart-to-heart . George , he says (I was called Georg e in thos e days), George , he says, com e here . I came , rathe r crossly, to tell you th e truth , I was sleepy an d wishing he' d go to bed. George , look at me . D o I mak e you sick? (By th e way, I forgot to tell you tha t it was durin g th e war, at th e tim e of th e big Germa n offensive in Marc h of Ί8) . Less tha n a hundre d miles from here , youn g me n are bein g blown to pieces. Listen , you can hea r th e guns doin g it. (I t was quit e true , you could . We lived on th e Sout h Down s an d it was a still night. ) Every tim e I hea r that , I say to myself: You fired tha t shell. It isn't th e cold genera l on his white horse , no r th e owne r of th e huge factory, no r th e luckless poor , but you. Yes, I an d thos e like me . Invali d poet s with a fountai n pen , undersize d professor s in a classroom , we, th e sedentar y an d learned , whose schoolin g cost th e most , th e least conspicuou s of the m all, are th e assassins. (I' m giving you his own words. Whisky always mad e him a bit rhetorical. ) We have conjure d u p all th e vigours an d all th e splendors , skilfully transforme d ou r envy int o an image of th e universa l mother , for which th e lad of seventee n whom we have always sent an d will send again against ou r terrors , gladly immolate s himself. Me n are falling throug h th e air in flames an d chokin g slowly in th e dar k recesses of

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the sea to assuage o u r pride. O u r pride! W h o cannot work without incessant cups of tea, spend whole days weeping in o u r rooms, immoderately desire little girls on beaches and buy them sweets, cannot pass a m i r r o r without staring, for whom a slight cold is e n o u g h to create a day-dream of o u r deathbed with appropriate organ-music. . . . Now wasn't that queer? It was the last talk I ever h a d with him. H e couldn't bear t h e sight of m e after that evening a n d sold m e as soon as h e could. J u s t like a m a n ! You know, Ticker, I think the important thing to r e m e m b e r about Man is that pictures mean m o r e to him than people. Take sex, for instance. Well, you've seen what it was like this evening. Sometimes it's funny a n d sometimes it's sad, b u t it's always h a n g i n g about like a smell of drains. T o o many ideas in their heads! T o t h e m I'm an idea, you're a n idea, everything's an idea. That's why we're here. Funny thing, Ticker, that we should both b e in the same play. T h e y can't d o without us. If it wasn't for me, this young m a n of mine would never be able to get a good night's rest: a n d if it wasn't for you he'd never wake u p . A n d look what we d o to the audience! W h e n I come on, they start sighing, thinking of spring, meadows and goodness knows what else: While you make them d e m a n d a tragic ending, with you they associate an immensely complicated system of awards a n d punishments. [During this speech, the corridor has been gradually illuminated.] Heavens, it's getting light a n d you've forgotten to strike! H u r r y up! [The Clock strikes six.] I think someone's coming a n d my lodger is waking u p . So long! Abyssinia. [The D O G stretches. F R A N C I S C R E W E gets out of the

skin, lays it on the chest, looks cautiously round and tip-toes out.] [ M A N A G E R , W A I T E R S , P A G E S , etc. enter singing

(Air: John Peel).] MANAGER. T h e sun has risen a n d it shines through the blind, This lover must awaken and recall to mind T h o u g h the pillow be soft a n d the lady be kind, Yet the m a n has to pay in the morning. C H O R U S . For in Nineveh Hotel the most humble guest, Be h e old, be h e young, he may take a good rest,

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275

H e ma y smok e cigars, h e ma y o r d e r th e best, Bu t we h a n d hi m th e bill in th e morning . [The M A N A G E R knocks loudly at the bedroom door. ALAN appears in pyjamas.] A.LAN. What' s all thi s row? I can' t see you now . C H O R U S . We're sorry, sir, T o be a worry, sir, Bu t we're in a h u r r y , sir. We wan t o u r money , sir. H e r e is o u r bill, sir. [They give him the bill. Pause.] Oh , d o n ' t be ill, sir! \ L A N . Fiftee n h u n d r e d ! It' s absurd ! T h i s will hav e t o b e deferred . I' m sorry, g e n d e m e n , t o say J u s t at thi s m o m e n t I canno t pay. You shall hav e you r mone y a n o t h e r day. C H O R U S . Till we hav e o u r d u e , we stay. \ L A N . Here' s a to-do ! I mus t borro w fro m Lou . [He speaks into the bedroom, which is in darkness.] Darling , I' m sorr y t o b e suc h a b o t h e r Bu t som e stupi d tradesma n is makin g a p o t h e r (It' s n o t h i n g really) abou t m y account : So will you len d it me , darlin g Lou ? Fiftee n h u n d r e d p o u n d s will d o . [No answer.] Darling , please , Don' t be a tease , T h e y ' r e waitin g h e r e , T h e y will fetc h th e Police . Pleas e be a d e a r ! [No answer.] Say somethin g d o ! I wan t help , L o u ! [No answer.]

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Why don't you answer 5 I tell you, I'm in d a n g e r ' [No answer ] Last night you spoke This is n o j o k e ' [No answer ] 5

What is the matter, what have I d o n e Last night you called me your lion a n d your sun Speak to me, please, just o n e little word, I don't u n d e r s t a n d you' Oh, this is absurd' [A pause ] I a m your lover' Don't say that's over' T h a t can't be what you m e a n ' [A pause ] I won't believe it' [A pause ] AH right, I'll leave it O h , I'm in hell' [He turns to the MANAGER and others outside in the corridor} MANAGER

WelP

A L A N Gentlemen, what can I say 5 I cannot pay' M A N A G E R This is a most regrettable occasion I must go at once to the police station Alphonse A L P H O N S E Yes s a h 5 M A N A G E R Tell t h e P o r t e r he's not to let

This m a n go o u t a n d don't forget' [Exeunt M A N A G E R and others ] ALAN Lou' Lou'

T h e r e is only o n e thing left to d o Something that the Romans knew, In a bath I'll o p e n a vein

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A n d e n d my life with little pain. I'll go at once a n d t u r n T h e water on a n d then r e t u r n For t h e razor to relieve Me for ever of my grief. [He enters the darkened bedroom and disappears. FRANCIS C R E W E comes into the corridor, takes the skin from the chest and hastily begins getting into it. While he is doing so, ALAN reappears at the bedroom door.] A L A N . What are you doing to my dog? You've killed him! O h , this is t h e end of everything! F R A N C I S . Alan!

A L A N . You know my name? W h o a r e you? What do you want? F R A N C I S . I ought to know your name by this time. I've been with you long e n o u g h . A L A N . My Goodness! You don't mean . . . ? F R A N C I S . Yes, I'm your faithful doggy. This is how I look in mufti. But you can go on calling me Francis. It's my real name. A L A N . My God, who a r e you? You're n o t . . . ? F R A N C I S [mimicking ALAN'S voice].

"Is t h e name Sir Francis Crewe, English, known perhaps to you?" A L A N . Francis! At last! [They embrace.] O h , this is the happiest m o m e n t of my life! Everything's all right now! F R A N C I S . I'm glad you think so. A L A N . Well, isn't it? F R A N C I S [nodding towards the bedroom door]. What about Miss Vipond? A L A N . O h , that's all over. I was m a d , I think. She's the most utter bitch. F R A N C I S . I could have told you that. A L A N [laughing]. You did try to, didn't you? I say, Francis, I'm most awfully sorry I kicked you. F R A N C I S . That's all right. It was my fault, really. My attempts at dissuasion were somewhat crude. You've no idea what self-control it took not to answer you back, though. You'd have got a shock if the d o g had spoken! A L A N . Yes, shouldn't I? . . . I say, Francis, there's so much I want to ask you, I don't know where to begin! Whatever made you dress u p as a dog, at all? F R A N C I S . I'll tell you all about that, but not now. T h e first question is, what a r e we going to do?

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A L A N . Well . . . go back to Pressan Ambo, of course. F R A N C I S . You really want to? A L A N . Of course I want to. FRANCIS. A n d marry my charming sister? A L A N . Yes . . . r a t h e r !

FRANCIS. YOU don't sound quite so enthusiastic as you were. Still, a promise is a promise, isn't it? Let's h o p e it won't be broken. . . . You're longing to be back in Pressan again, I suppose? You know, you may find it rather changed. A L A N . Rot! Dear old Pressan will never change. F R A N C I S . Places sometimes look different when o n e comes back to them. . . . However, we'll go there together and you shall j u d g e for yourself. A L A N . That's ripping! My word, won't they be delighted to see you! F R A N C I S . Yes, I can j u s t picture Hotham's face; streaming with tears of joy. A n d the d e a r Vicar. A L A N . YOU sound as if you didn't like them much. F R A N C I S . Perhaps I don't. A L A N . What a queer sort of chap you are, Francis! I can't make you out at all. You're not a bit like I imagined you would be. . . . You must have led a funny sort of life, all these years. Did you often go o u t by yourself, like last night? FRANCIS. Not often, n o . I h a d to be very careful. T h e last few weeks I've been m o r e reckless, because I knew you'd catch m e sooner o r later. In fact, I was considering whether I oughtn't to reveal myself. It was selfish of m e not to, I know; but I've enjoyed o u r trip so much I didn't want it to e n d . . . . T h a t reminds me, here are your shoes. I always h a d to borrow them. You can't wear shoes in this skin, you see. V O I C E S O F T H E W A I T E R S are heard singing, off.

For in Nineveh Hotel the most humble g u e s t . . . etc. A L A N . Great God! I quite forgot! Francis, I'm in the most awful fix! T h e y ' r e coming to arrest m e for not paying my bill. Whatever shall I do? F R A N C I S . Don't worry. I'd thought of that. H e r e , get into t h e dog's skin. I'll m a n a g e the rest. [He helps A L A N to put on the dog's skin. Enter the M A N A G E R , with P O L I C E M E N , W A I T E R S , etc.]

F R A N C I S . Waiter, I've lost my way. How d o I get to t h e Roof Garden? W A I T E R . T a k e t h e lift on the right, sir. At t h e Fifth you alight, sir. [Bows.]

T H E DO G B E N E A T H

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SKI N

M A N A G E R [seeing D O G ] . T h a t ugly b r u t e ! I've a n itc h in m y foot ! [Kich it.] Thi s is th e door , officer. A L AN [rubbing himself with his paw, in a low voice to FRANCIS] . T h e swine! F R A N C I S . H a ha ! No w you kno w ho w it feels! P O L I C E S E R G E A N T [at bedroom door]. O p e n thi s d o o r I n t h e n a m e of t h e Law! [Knocks.] F R A N C I S [in a low voice to A L A N ] . We'll tr y an d find you r two Journalis t friend s a n d tak e t h e m with us t o Pressan . T h e y ma y as well see ho w thi s busines s ends . [Exeunt F R A N C I S and [The

ALAN. ]

M A N A G E R , W A I T E R S , P O L I C E M E N all stand

round the door. The POLICEMA N knocks for the second time.] CURTAI N

Choru s So, u n d e r t h e loca l image s you r bloo d ha s conjured , We sho w you m a n caugh t in t h e t r a p of his terror , destroyin g himself . F r o m hi s favourit e poo l betwee n t h e yew-hedg e a n d th e roses, it is n o fairy-tal e hi s lin e catche s B u t grey-whit e a n d h o r r i d , th e monste r of his childhoo d raises its h u g e d o m e d forehea d A n d d e a t h move s in t o tak e his i n n e r luck , L a n d s o n t h e beache s of hi s love, like Coghlan' s coffin. D o no t spea k of a chang e of heart , m e a n i n g five h u n d r e d a year a n d a r o o m of one' s own , As if tha t were all tha t is necessary . I n thes e island s alon e t h e r e ar e som e forty-seve n millio n hearts , eac h of fou r chambers : You c a n n o t avoid t h e issue by becomin g simpl y a communit y digger, Ο you wh o prattl e abou t th e wonderfu l Middl e Ages: you wh o expec t th e millenniu m afte r a few triflin g adjustments . Visit fro m hous e t o house , fro m countr y to country : conside r th e population s B e n e a t h t h e c o m m u n i o n s a n d th e coiffures : discove r you r image . Ma n divide d always a n d restless always: afrai d an d unabl e t o forgive: Unabl e t o forgive hi s p a r e n t s , o r his first voluptuou s recta l sins,

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Afraid of the clock, afraid of catching his neighbour's cold, afraid of his own body, Desperately anxious about his health and his position calling upon the Universe to justify his existence, Slovenly m posture and thinking the greater part of the will devoted To warding off pain from the water-logged areas, An isolated bundle of nerve and desire, suffering alone, Seeing others only in reference to himself as a long-lost mother or as his ideal self at sixteen Watch him asleep and waking Dreaming of continuous sexual enjoyment or perpetual applause, Reading of accidents over the breakfast-table, thinking "This could never happen to me " Reading the reports of trials, flushed at the downfall of a fellow creature Examine his satisfactions Some turn to the time-honoured solutions of sickness and crime some to the latest model of aeroplane or the sport of the moment Some to good works, to a mechanical ritual of giving Some have adopted an irrefragable system of beliefs or a political programme, others have escaped to the ascetic mountains Or taken refuge in the family circle, among the boys on the bar-stools, on the small uncritical islands Men will profess devotion to almost anything, to God, to Humanity, to Truth, to Beauty but their first thought on meeting is "Beware'" They put their trust in Reason or the Feelings of the Blood, but they will not trust a stranger with half-a-crown Beware of those with no obvious vices, of the chaste, the non-smoker and drinker, the vegetarian Beware of those who show no inclination towards making money there are even less innocent forms of power Beware of yourself Have you not heard your own heart whisper "I am the nicest person in this room" ? Asking to be introduced to someone "real" someone unlike all those people over there' You have wonderful hospitals and a few good schools Repent The precision of your instruments and the skill of your designers is unparalleled

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281

Unite Your knowledge a n d your power are capable of infinite extension Act

Act I I I S c e n e 5 [The Garden of the Vicarage at Pressan Ambo The stage decorated, as for a wedding, with streamers, etc Enter A L A N , F R A N C I S and the T w o J O U R N A L ISTS ]

A L A N Whatever can have h a p p e n e d ' T h e r e are decorations all down the street 1ST J O U R N A L I S T Looks like a wedding to m e A L A N D O you think old Mrs Luce has married again? She couldn't have Won't they get a surprise when we a p p e a r F R A N C I S Yes, they will A L A N H e r e are some people coming Let's see if they guess who you are F R A N C I S Not yet Better wait a bit Look here We'll hide behind these bushes [To the J O U R N A L I S T S ] You two can ask a few questions a n d find out what's h a p p e n i n g Come along, Alan [ A L A N and

F R A N C I S hide

The T w o

JOURNAL-

ISTS retire to the side of the stage Enter

VIL-

LAGERS ]

A V I L L A G E R [putting up decorations] You can say what you like H e may be clever but I don't like him He's got eyes like bootbuttons and flat feet a n d what's m o r e I don't think she likes him either Effie says she h e a r d h e r last night crying h e r eyes out A N O T H E R Still thinking of h e r beautiful blue-eyed boy I suppose Well, you can't have everything H e may be common but he knows where to get it A N O T H E R Yes, a n d I shouldn't be surprised if the General's mortgage h a d n ' t something to d o with his enthusiasm As old Horseface says, "Of course he's not quite quite, you know, but my dear, so able a n d generous, a n d in these days o n e is more broadminded, isn't o n e ? " A N O T H E R T h e Vicar's delighted too He's telling everyone that he's promised him a new parish hall By the way, there hasn't been any news of Alan, has t h e r e 5 A N O T H E R Of course not He's found something nice and cosy abroad, you can be sure A n d I don't blame him I wouldn't come back to this dead-alive hole if I were in his shoes A L A N [hidden] Well, you're wrong

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T H E SKI N

F R A N C I S [to A L A N ] S h u t u p .

V I L L A G E R S . Wha t was t h a t I' m sur e I h e a r d voices. Where ? Ove r t h e r e . P e r h a p s it was t r a m p s . ?

[They start to look Enter VILLAG E O R G A N I S T before they can find them.] V I L L A G E O R G A N I S T [to V I L L A G E R S ] . Ah, h e r e you a r e

I' m so sorr y t o

hav e kep t you waiting . O n e of t h e pedal s o n t h e orga n was stickin g an d I h a d t o p u t it right . H e r e a r e you r copie s [handing out music]. We'll j u st r u n t h r o u g h t h e words , speakin g the m first, t o mak e sur e you kno w t h e m befor e we tr y t h e music . Remember : every syllable as distinctl y as you can . All togethe r with m e ALL

Ο Da y o f Jo y in happines s a b o u n d i n g Stream s in t h e hills with laughte r a r e resoundin g Fo r Pressa n is delighte d T o see you t h u s united . Handsom e h e Lovely sh e Riches , children , every blessing Be t o you for you r possessin g Love be r o u n d you everywher e H a p p y , H a p p y , H a p p y Pair .

V . O. Good . No w we'll tr y it with t h e music . 1S T J O U R N A L I S T . Excus e m e , sir. We're fro m The Thunderbolt a n d The Evening Moon. P e r h a p s you' d car e t o tell u s somethin g abou t you r interestin g celebrations ? V.O. Certainly . Miss I n s Crew e is bein g marrie d thi s afternoo n t o M r R u d o l p h T r u n n i o n - J a m e s . I've writte n a little madriga l for t h e oc casion . P e r h a p s you would like t o hea r it? 1S T J . Ο no t j u st now , t h a n k you . I' m no t th e musi c critic , you kno w V.O. Well, in tha t case if you'l l excuse me , we'll be gettin g alon g t o t h e church , as time' s gettin g short . T h e Vicar will b e c h a r m e d t o give you an y furthe r detail s you want , I' m sur e [Exeunt

V I L L A G E R S and

O R G A N I S T . A L AN

and

F R A N C I S come out ]

A L A N . I d o n ' t believe it I n s wouldn' t d o a thin g like tha t F R A N C I S . I' m sorry, Alan, abou t this . 1S T J O U R N A L I S T . T r u n n i o n - J a m e s . No w wher e hav e I h e a r d tha t n a m e before ?

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2 N D J . Sure . He' s in with th e Shetlan d Buildin g Societ y crowd . 1 S T J . No t o u r littl e Nationa l I n d e p e n d e n t m e m b e r for L u n d y East . Well, well. [To A L A N . ] Your girl friend' s got h e r hea d screwed o n . Boy, tha t kid will go a long , lon g way. 2 N D J . A n d h e r e come s th e bride . A L A N . I'l l sto p thi s now . F R A N C I S . Bette r not , Alan . Wait a little . Com e back . [They all hide again.] 2 N D J . Well, sh e doesn' t loo k as if sh e was goin g t o a schoo l treat . [Enter I R I S in tears, with G E N E R A L and G E N E R A L ' S W I F E . ]

M R S H O T H A M . N O W dear , pul l yoursel f together . It' s nearl y tim e for church . I R I S . I d o n ' t wan t t o go. I wish I was dead . M R S H O T H A M . You mustn' t say suc h naught y things . I t will soo n b e over. [To GENERAL. ] Ernest , give h e r a d r o p from you r flask. G E N E R A L . Can' t u n d e r s t a n d it. All thi s fuss. Nerves , I suppose . M R S H O T H A M [to I R I S ] . T h e r e , there . I u n d e r s t a n d exactl y ho w you feel. I was j u st t h e sam e befor e I marrie d t h e General . H e r e , us e m y hanky . A n d no w j u st a spo t o f powde r o n th e nose . You loo k lovely. [Enter V I C A R . ]

V I C A R . Well, I thin k everything' s read y now . I'l l go off t o th e vestry a n d robe . I R I S . Alan—why hasn' t h e com e back ? M R S H O T H A M . NO W dear , we d o n ' t wan t t o go over all tha t again , d o we? You kno w h e won' t com e back . Besides, you agree d yoursel f tha t it woul d b e m u c h bette r if h e didn't , a n d promise d t o forget h i m , didn' t you ? Rudolph' s twice t h e m a n h e is. A L AN [hidden]. I s he ?

I R I S . What' s that ? M R S H O T H A M . What' s what ? I R I S . I t h o u g h t I h e a r d something . M R S H O T H A M . Nonsense , dear . You'r e overwrought . V I C A R . Well, we'd bette r b e moving . [Enter M I L D R E D L U C E . ] M I L D R E D L U C E . Stop !

Ο thin k on e m o m e n t wha t you d o Hav e you n o eyes O r hav e caresse s so debauche d you r j u d g e m e n t

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T h a t life seem s splendi d as a skivvy's d r e a m ? Are you so n u m b e d o r naught y you d a r e thin k T o o r d e r chao s with t h e c o m m o n kiss? Ο loo k Sho w m e o n e virtu e that' s no t lethal , on e vice T h a t ' s n o t contagiou s as th e itch . Look , look , look , Loo k at you r flowers; th e sweaty crowd s T h a t mak e t h e beache s stin k in th e s u m m e r O r crawl ou t dail y t o thei r ding y labours . Loo k at you r grea t m e n T h a t befor e thei r mirror s falsify thei r faces. Well, will you marr y a n d multipl y for thes e Blandl y give girls an d boys a n introductio n T o m a d m e n , footpads , m u r d e r e r s a n d whores , T h e force d c o m m a n d e r s of thi s fraudulen t sta r Deliberatel y creat e thei r rosy beaut y A n d t h e n watc h sorro w like a n awful cold Makin g it hideous ? Becaus e I kno w My son s were lovely a n d the y die d of it Ο tha t t h e sun woul d splutte r a n d go ou t A n d all b o n e crumbl e in th e universa l frost O r tha t a ree f woul d suddenl y rise u p Ou t o f t h e col d a n d infinit e abyss O u r aimles s cruisin g t o arres t at last A n d o u r shi p c r a m m e d with all its bestia l carg o Plung e roarin g int o nothing . V I C A R . Mildre d dear , go h o m e a n d rest . [To IRIS. ] M y dear , I' m so sorry— A L AN [emerging]. H e r e ! I say! V I C A R . I' m so s o r r y —

A L A N . Stop ! You've got to listen to m e ! G E N E R A L . C o n f o u n d it, sir! Can' t you hea r t h e Vicar is speaking ? Who th e devil ar e you ? A L A N . Alan N o r m a n . Iris , wha t doe s thi s mean ? IRIS . Ο Alan —

M R S H O T H A M . R e m e m b e r you r promise , dear . A L A N . Iris , why didn' t you wait? I R I S . Ο go away. I hat e you all. I hat e you ! G E N E R A L [to A L A N ] . A n d why th e blazes have you com e back ? A L A N . Becaus e I've foun d Francis . Francis ! Com e h e r e ! [Huge sensation. FRANCI S emergesfrom hiding.]

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285

V I C A R AND G E N E R A L [together equally dismayed] Sir Francis' U p o n my soul' F R A N C I S Hullo, General Fight back those unmanly tears Vicar, you needn't kiss me if you don't want to [Looking round ] Well, isn't anybody pleased to see me? G E N E R A L And where d o you come from? F R A N C I S Look [Shows his skin ] A L L What' T h e Dog' You were the Dog' F R A N C I S Yes, I am, or rather was, the Dog, and here you all are, looking extremely uncomfortable—as well you may, considering that you know I've had a dog's-eye view of you for the last ten years At first I only intended to keep my new shape for a week or two but after the first six months I didn't really want to come back You see, I had begun to regard you in a new light I was fascinated and horrified by you all I thought such obscene, cruel, hypocritical, mean, vulgar creatures had never existed before in the history of the planet and that it was my peculiar duty to record what you were like I began to keep a diary As a dog I learnt for the first time with what a mixture of fear, bullying and condescending kindness you treat those you consider your inferiors, but whom you d e p e n d on for your pleasures It's an awful shock to start seeing people from underneath T h e diary became my greatest friend I worked away at it like a scientist, polishing, punctuating, searching for the exact epithet, devoting months a n d even years to each one of you, noting every gesture, every intonation I even managed to take photographs to illustrate my records, and very remarkable some of them are And then slowly, the h o r r o r and the pseudo-scientific interest began to wear off I began to feel that I had been foolishly wasting my time Wasn't it life itself I was afraid of, hiding in my dogskin? I think that soon I should have gone away anyhow But as it happ e n e d , Alan N o r m a n was chosen I'd always liked him, a n d so I took the opportunity of leaving you when I did A n d now since I've been away from you, I've come to u n d e r s t a n d you better I don't hate you any more You are significant but not in the way I used to imagine You are not the extraordinary monsters I thought You are not individually important You are just units in an immense army, and most of you would probably die without knowing either what your leaders are really fighting for or even that you are fighting at all T h a t is why I have come back T h a t ignorance at least I can do some-

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thing to remove. I can't dictate to you what to d o and I don't want to either. I can only try to show you what you are doing a n d so force you to choose. For choice is what you are all afraid of. Every technical invention, every advance of knowledge, has slowly eaten away your old d e p e n d e n c e on nature. T h e life of the peasant whose behaviour was largely regulated by the seasons and the soil is over for ever. You can grow wheat in winter and make the fields b a r r e n in J u n e . W h e t h e r you visit New York next week or speak with a friend in Hammerfest before dinner is cooked depends now on nothing but your own wish. T h a t is what terrifies you. "Anything", you cry, "anything for the old feeling of security and harmony; if n a t u r e won't give it, give us a dictator, an authority who will take the responsibility of thinking a n d planning off o u r shoulders." Well, it is too late. You were already separated from nature before civilisation began a n d you can no m o r e retrace history than the perturbed adolescent can re-enter his mother's womb. If as a whole you are unpleasant, you are unpleasant like an invalid. You are fighting your own nature, which is to learn a n d to choose. Fear of growth is making you ill. V I C A R . Don't listen to him. H e is trying to destroy religion. Satan will destroy us all. F R A N C I S . YOU, Vicar, for example, speaking Sunday after Sunday about the good life, telling us to love God and each other and all o u r troubles will be solved. Why is it you will not lift a finger to destroy a social system in which o n e m a n can only succeed at the expense of injury to another? Sorrows, poverties, temptations are sent to try us, you say. Perhaps. Is that any excuse for refusing to reduce them. T o send a liner into an iceberg-infested sea, equipped with only one lifeboat, may afford a splendid test of self-sacrifice but we should accuse the owners of criminal negligence. Your preaching voice betrays you. You d o not speak with the only authority there is, the authority of experience. Your faith in a loving God is not real to you, like your feeling that m a n is evil. Goodness a n d happiness are not real to you, or you would know that when people are happy they are good, and that self-interest as a motive is the refuge of the miserable. T h e y are not real to you as your sense of guilt is real. Only that is as real to you as the early gothic work in your church and this beautiful ivycovered vicarage. Happiness is not real to you, only comforts. T h a t is why you are afraid of losing them, for no one gives u p what is real to them for what is not. G E N E R A L . Insolent young puppy. H e wants a good hiding. You've got to have law a n d order. It's common sense.

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287

F R A N C I S . A n d you, General, what are you fighting for? Once wealth was real. T h e world did not produce enough to go r o u n d and there was necessarily a struggle over the sharing of it. But now it is possible for everyone to have all they can require. What are you afraid of, then? This. You've lost belief in yourself. T h e r e will always be clever and stupid people, successes and failures in the world, you say. You can't change h u m a n nature. Men are not equal. Precisely. You are terrified that p e r h a p s after all you are not a superior person. Take away the visible signs of superiority, take away Conyers Hall and the peacocks, or let everybody else have them, and is there anything about Mrs H o t h a m that will still command respect? Suppose no one was to call you Sir, would you still exist as a personality? T h a t is the question you d a r e not answer. M I L D R E D L U C E . Traitor! I hear the infamy before you say it. T h a t Germans should be loved. God strike you d u m b ! F R A N C I S . Yes, Mrs Luce. T h a t too. Your grievance is just, but it is neither what Pressan thinks it is nor what you dare not admit to yourself. W h e n I stayed with you as a dog (and may I take this opportunity of thanking you. You were kinder and more understanding than any of the others), when I stayed with you, I thought the photographs on your b u r e a u seemed vaguely familiar and one day when you were away, I took them to the p h o t o g r a p h e r whose name was on them. H e identified t h e m at once as two young actors who had some success in juvenile leads about thirty years ago. Later I paid a visit to the village where you lived before you came to Pressan and discovered something else. You lived at h o m e helping your m o t h e r with the house. She was poor and could not afford a maid. Were you ever married, I asked. No, they said, but there was talk at one time of an engagement to a young German cavalry officer. But you hadn't the heart to leave your mother alone. A doctor would say you hate the Germans because you dare not hate your m o t h e r a n d he would be mistaken. It is foolish and neurotic to hate anybody. What you really hate is a social system in which love is controlled by money. Won't you help us to destroy it? M R S H O T H A M . Mildred, dear, d o you hear what he's saying? Answer him. G E N E R A L . He's trampling the h o n o u r of your dead boys in the m u d . V I C A R . He's insulting your mother. H e should be stopped. S E V E R A L V O I C E S . Answer

him.

Make him ashamed of himself. Tell him he's a liar.

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M R S H O T H A M . YOU kno w wha t peopl e will say, don' t you , dear ? As a matte r o f fact, I' d ofte n w o n d e r e d abou t thos e p h o t o g r a p h s myself. You p o o r thing . M I L D R E D [to F R A N C I S ] . You beast ! [Stabs him with a hat-pin; suddenly appalled.] Ο Ticker , wha t have I done ? [Starts screaming.] G E N E R A L [taking command of the situation]. Don' t let t h e ladie s see. [To V I C A R . ] T a k e Mr s Luc e h o m e a n d get t h e docto r t o h e r a n d brin g hi m o n h e r e at once . V I C A R . H o w is h e , General ?

G E N E R A L . Sh . [To M R S H O T H A M . ] M y dear , tak e t h e other s indoor s at once . [To J O U R N A L I S T S . ] YOU two guar d th e gate , please , a n d don' t let anyon e in . I' m goin g t o get t h e police . [ J O U R N A L I S T S to side of stage. The others exeunt, leaving A L AN alone with FRANCIS. ]

A L A N . Francis , a r e you badl y hurt ? F R A N C I S . Alan , m y frien d M y life is no w at e n d Griev e n o t for m e a t all My life is nothin g especia l Onl y r e m e m b e r whe n I a m gon e All we hav e seen d o n e All we hav e h e a r d said R e m e m b e r whe n I a m dea d T h e plai n a n d t h e extraordinar y O n o u r deviou s j o u r n e y Remember . N o longe r in ignoranc e O f its significanc e Bu t t h r o u g h knowledg e o f eac h fact Able m o r e clearl y t o ac t Man' s histor y t o fulfill A n d sinc e it is impossibl e I n Pressa n t o stay Slip quickl y away Withou t thei r knowin g T h a t you a r e goin g A n d whereve r circumstanc e Ma y p e r m i t you residenc e L o n g ma y you live Your power s t o give I n every season Fo r justic e a n d for reason .

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289

A L A N Wait till t h e police come I'll tell them everything F R A N C I S N O , d o as I say

And go away For h e r e is nothing you Can usefully d o Go now a n d d o not wait Go before it is too late [Dies ] A L A N Francis' Francis'

S E M I - C H O R U S I Love, loath to enter T h e suffering winter Still willing to rejoice With the u n b r o k e n voice At the precocious charm Blithe in t h e d r e a m Afraid to wake, afraid T o doubt o n e term Of summer's perfect fraud, Enter a n d suffer Within the quarrel Be most at home, A m o n g the sterile prove Your vigours, love S E M I - C H O R U S I I M o u r n not for these, these are ghosts who chose their pain, M o u r n rather for yourselves, a n d your inability to make u p your minds Whose h o u r s of self-hatred a n d contempt were all your majesty a n d crisis, Choose therefore that you may recover both your charity and your place Determining not this that we have lately witnessed b u t another country W h e r e grace may grow outward a n d be given praise Beauty a n d virtue be vivid there S E M I - C H O R U S I W h e r e time flows on as chalk stream clear And lovers by themselves forgiven T h e whole d r e a m genuine, the charm mature Walk in the great a n d general light In their delight a part of heaven Its furniture a n d choir

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C H O R U S . T o eac h his n e e d : fro m eac h his power . [ALAN gets up and goes down through the audience.] 1 S T J O U R N A L I S T . H e r e , wher e ar e you off to ? A L A N . Tel l t h e m I' m gon e a n d won' t b e back . 2 N D J O U R N A L I S T . O.K . Com e u p a n d see u s sometime . [Exit A L A N . ] [Enter V I C A R and G E N E R A L . ]

G E N E R A L . T h e sergeant' s j u st coming . Where' s th e doctor ? V I C A R . He' s seein g Mildred . He'l l be alon g in a m o m e n t . G E N E R A L [looking at F R A N C I S ] . Well, there' s no t m u c h for hi m t o do . V I C A R . Dead ? Poo r p o o r Mildred . What'l l h a p p e n to her ? G E N E R A L . She'l l hav e t o be certifie d afte r this , of course . You realise that . V I C A R . Yes. B u t wha t ar e we goin g t o say to th e police ? G E N E R A L . O h , they'l l u n d e r s t a n d . Mildred , you know . Overwrought . V I C A R . Bu t wha t will Alan say? Wher e is he ? J O U R N A L I S T S . M r N o r m a n asked u s t o say tha t he' s gon e a n d won' t be back . [Singing.] H e won' t be bac k H e won' t be bac k He' s chasin g H a n n a h dow n t h e railroa d track . T h e y ' r e startin g soo n Thei r honeymoo n I n a n e n o r m o u s yellow gas balloon . G E N E R A L . D a m n e d goo d j o b too . C o n f o u n d his i m p u d e n c e , comin g bac k like that . [Enter G E N E R A L ' S W I F E . ]

M R S H O T H A M . I've left Coo k with Iris . What' s h a p p e n e d ? V I C A R . Dear , Ο dear . I n Pressa n o f all places . It' s like a n i g h t m a r e . I t can' t hav e h a p p e n e d . J O U R N A L I S T S [comingforward; as they talk they sew FRANCI S up again into his dogskin]. You'r e quit e right , sir. I t hasn' t h a p p e n e d . V I C A R . Hasn' t h a p p e n e d ? B u t — 2 N D J O U R N A L I S T . I entirel y agre e with m y colleague . Dozen s o f thing s occu r every day, curious , embarrassing , shockin g incidents : b u t ho w few o f t h e m h a p p e n ! T h e Pres s disregard s them : therefor e the y can no t hav e take n place ! T h e Pres s is a n Artist: I t ha s a certai n pictur e to paint . Whateve r fails t o harmonis e with tha t picture , it discards ; regretfull y p e r h a p s , bu t firmly.

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291

1 S T J O U R N A L I S T T h e Press has n o use for the incident you believe yourselves to have just witnessed It has no place in o u r scale of values Long-lost Baronets d o not disguise themselves as dogs, or at any rate, only for erotic reasons T h e behaviour of Sir Francis Crewe falls into n o artistic category which we recognize therefore it cannot be represented in o u r picture of the day's events 2 N D J O U R N A L I S T A n d since all events are recorded by the Press, what the Press does not record cannot be an event fAs they work, it dawns on the others what they are doing ] [Enter P O L I C E S E R G E A N T ] ?

SERGEANT NOW what's all this V I C A R I'm so sorry to have bothered you, Sergeant, but I thought you o u g h t to know Something very disagreeable has h a p p e n e d This d o g was wandering about the garden and savagely attacked Mrs Luce She defended herself with a hat-pin and killed it S E R G E A N T H m I'd like a word with Mrs Luce V I C A R I'm afraid that's impossible She can't see anyone just now She's in a state of complete nervous prostration S E R G E A N T Well Does anyone know who this animal belongs t o ? No collar o r anything It strikes m e I've seen it before somewhere I've got it It's uncommonly like the one Mr N o r m a n took with him H e hasn't come back, has he? V I C A R Of course not, Sergeant But there must be a lot of dogs like that one It's a c o m m o n breed you know A L A N ' S V O I C E [from the back of the auditorium] Liar' S E R G E A N T H I W h o was t h a t ?

G E N E R A L I heard nothing Did you, Vicar'" V I C A R N o , n o Must have been a bird [Enter D O C T O R ]

D O C T O R NOW what's all this about a body a n d Francis I've just seen Luce T h e old girl's raving Always was V I C A R She must have been too upset to know what she was saying She was attacked by this dog D O C T O R Well, that settles it I won't have it T h e woman's a public menace I'll get h e r certified She ought to have been long ago V I C A R Poor Mildred She had such a terrible time in the war H e r sons, you know You will find h e r a really good nursing home, where they treat them properly, won't you ? D O C T O R Who's going to pay for it ? She hasn't got a bean

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V I C A R I' m sur e th e Genera l an d I — G E N E R A L O f cours e Delighte d D o anythin g I ca n Anythin g you thin k p r o p e r , Docto r D O C T O R Well t h e n , I'll a r r a n g e it V I C A R [looking at watch] Goo d graciou s We're te n minute s lat e for th e weddin g alread y T h e b r i d e g r o o m will be in a fever [Enter I R I S , appearing dazed support her ]

The others rush to

I R I S Where' s A l a n ' M R S H O T H A M A l a n ? What d o you mean , d e a r 5 He' s bee n away a lon g tim e a n d that' s all over I R I S Bu t h e foun d Franci s M R S H O T T A M O h , n o d e a r What ca n hav e pu t tha t ide a int o you r silly littl e head ? [Aside to GENERA L ] Don' t let he r see it [To I R I S ] You mus t hav e ha d a ba d d r e a m Bu t you'r e awake no w Everything' s goin g t o be alrigh t You'r e a m o n g friend s J O U R N A L I S T S [producing camera] Allow m e T h a n k you I f you will be so kin d M R S H O T H A M Look , d e a r T h e p h o t o g r a p h e r s J O U R N A L I S T S [to I R I S ] A little brighter , pleas e M R S H O T H A M Smile , darlin g V I C A R Le t t h e villagers in Bette r hav e th e hrework s no w o n th e way to churc h Music , quickl y [The VILLAGER S rush in Fireworh go off Balloons rise Β elk toll I R I S IS borne off to church ] A L L [singing] Ο Da y o f Jo y m happines s a b o u n d i n g Stream s t h r o u g h th e hills with laughte r ar e resoundin g Fo r Pressa n is delighte d T o see you t h u s unite d Handsom e he Lovely she Riches , children , every blessing Be t o you for you r possessing Love be r o u n d you everywher e H a p p y , H a p p y , H a p p y Pai r CURTAI N

The Ascent of F 6 A Tragedy in Two Acts

BY W. H. A U D E N CHRISTOPHER

AND

ISHERWOOD

[1936]

TO JOHN

BICKNELL

AUDEN

Ghosts whom Honour never paid, In the foolish battle made, Wandering through the stricken grove Pluck the bitter herb of Love.

CHARACTERS in the order of their appearance M I C H A E L FORSYTH RANSOM SIR JAMES RANSOM

his twin brother LADY ISABEL WELWYN GENERAL DELLABY-COUCH LORD STAGMANTLE DAVID GUNN IAN SHAWCROSS EDWARD LAMP DOCTOR THOMAS WILLIAMS MRS RANSOM

mother of Michael and James T H E ABBOT M R A.

ANNOUNCER

M R S A.

MONKS

A ct I S c e n e 1 [The Summit of the Pillar Rock, above Wastdale Late afternoon ] [ M I C H A E L RANSO M IS seated, reading a pocket volume of Dante ] R A N S O M [reads] " Ό b r o t h e r s ' ' I said, 'who t h r o u g h a h u n d r e d thousan d d a n g e r s hav e reache d th e West, den y not , to thi s brief vigil of you r sense s tha t remains , experienc e of th e u n p e o p l e d world behin d t h e Su n Conside r you r origin ye were no t forme d t o live like brutes , bu t t o follow virtu e a n d knowledg e ' " [Putting down the book ] Virtue an d Knowledge ' O n e ca n pictur e Ulysses' audienc e a croo k speak in g t o crook s Seed y adventurers , of whose expensiv e educatio n n o t h i n g r e m a i n e d b u t a few grammatica l tags a n d certai n gesture s of th e head , refugee s fro m th e consequence s of vice o r eccentri c a n d conceite d opinions , natura l m u r d e r e r s who m a peacefu l winte r h a d r e d u c e d to palsie d wrecks, th e ugly a n d cowardl y wh o foresaw in a virgin lan d a n er a of unlimite d an d effortless indulgence , teacher s withou t pupils , t o r m e n t o r s withou t victims , parasite s withou t hosts , lunati c missionaries , o r p h a n s A n d glad the y mus t hav e bee n to believe it, d u r i n g th e lon g un eventfu l voyage westward yes, even u p to th e very e n d , whe n t h e last deception s were choke d fro m eac h in t u r n by th e stranglin g Atlanti c Who was D a n t e — t o who m th e Univers e was people d onl y by his aristocrati c Italia n acquaintance s an d a few classical literar y char acters , th e fruit of a n exile's r e a d i n g — w h o was Dante , to spea k of Virtue a n d Knowledge 5 I t was no t Virtue thos e lips, whic h involun tar y privatio n h a d m a d e so bitter , coul d pra y for, it was no t Knowl edge , it was Powe r Powe r to exact for every snub , every headache , every unfalle n beauty , an absolut e revenge , with a strok e of th e p e n to mak e a neighbour' s vineyar d a lake of fire an d to creat e in hi s privat e deser t t h e auster e musi c of th e angel s o r th e h a p p y extrava ganc e o f a fair Friend s who m th e world h o n o u r s shall lamen t thei r eterna l losses in th e profoundes t of crevasses, while h e o n t h e gree n mountain s converse s gentl y with hi s unapproachabl e love Virtue Knowledg e We hav e h e a r d thes e word s before , an d we shall h e a r t h e m a g a i n — d u r i n g th e nurser y luncheon , o n t h e prize giving afternoon , in th e quac k advertisement , at th e conferenc e of general s o r industria l captain s justifying every basenes s an d excusin g every failure , comfortin g th e stilte d schoolbo y lives, c h a r m i n g th e wax-like a n d baroque , inflamin g th e obstinat e a n d t h e o d d a n d all thos e h u n g r y a n d cheerfu l person s who m th e holida y no w dis-

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THE ASCENT OF F 6

charges into these lake-filled valleys radiating from the rocky h u b o n which I sit Beyond t h e Isle of Man, behind the towers of Peel Castle, the sun slides now towards the creasing sea, and it is into a Wastwater utterly m shadow that t h e screes now make their unhalting plunge Along the lake shores lovers pace, each wrapped in a disturbing a n d estranging vision I n the white house among the pines coffee will be d r u n k , there will be talk of art at the week-end U n d e r I cannot tell how many of these green slate roofs, the stupid peasants are making their stupid children Nevertheless, let me receive such vigour as the impassive embraces of this sullen rock afford, from which no mastery can elicit a gratifying response, n o r defeat sighs capable of despairing misinterpretation H e r e is no knowledge, no communication, n o possession, nothing that a bishop could justify, a stockbroker purchase or an elderly scientist devote years to explaining—only the voluntary homage paid by t h e living to the unqualified a n d dangerous dead Let m e pay it, then, pay it now, before I descend to the valley and all its varieties of desperation the calculations of shopkeepers u n d e r the gas-flares and the destructive idleness oi the soldier, the governess in the dead of night giving the Universe nought for behaviour and the abandonment of t h e p r o p h e t to the merciless curiosity of a d e m o n , the plotting of diseases to establish an epoch of international justice a n d the struggle of beauty to master and transform the most recalcitrant features, t h e web of guilt that prisons every upright person a n d all those thousands of thoughtless jailers from whom Life pants to be delivered—myself not least, all swept a n d driven by the possessive incompetent fury and the disbelief O, happy the foetus that miscarries a n d t h e frozen idiot that cannot cry "Mama"' Happy those r u n over in the street to-day o r drowned at sea, o r sure of death tomorrow from incurable diseases' They cannot be made a party to the general fiasco For of that growth which in maturity h a d seemed eternal it is now n o tint of thought o r feeling that has tarnished, b u t the great o r d e r e d flower itself is withering, its life-blood dwindled to an u n i m p o r t a n t trickle, stands u n d e r heaven now a fright and ruin, only to crows and larvae a gracious refuge V O I C E O F S H A W C R O S S [from below] W h e r e are you, M F

J

V O I C E O F G U N N When you've finished saying your prayers, we should like to go down' V O I C E OF S H A W C R O S S It'll be dark soon, if we don't make a start R A N S O M [shouting back] All right' I'm coming' [He begins to descend as the CURTAIN falh ]

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[The STAGE-BOX, right, is illuminated. M R S A. is discovered cooking.] M R S A. Evening. A slick and unctuous Time Has sold us yet another shop-soiled day, Patently rusty, not even in a gaudy box. I have dusted the six small rooms: T h e parlour, once the magnificent image of my freedom, A n d the b e d r o o m , which once held for me T h e mysterious languors of Egypt and the terrifying Indias. T h e deli very-vans have paid their brief impersonal visits. I have eaten a scrappy lunch from a plate on my knee. I have spoken with acquaintances in the Stores; U n d e r o u r treble gossip h e a r d the menacing t h r o b of o u r hearts As I h e a r them now, as all of us hear them, Standing at o u r stoves in these villas, expecting o u r husbands: T h e d r u m s of an e n o r m o u s and routed army, T h r o b b i n g raggedly, fitfully, scatteredly, madly. We are lost. We are lost. [Enter M R A. from work.] M R A. Has anything h a p p e n e d ? M R S A. What should happen? T h e cat has died at Ivy Dene, T h e Crowthers' pimply son has passed Matric, St Neots has p u t u p light blue curtains, Frankie is walking out with Winnie And Georgie loves himself. What should happen? Nothing that matters will ever happen. M R A. N O , nothing that matters will ever h a p p e n ; Nothing you'd want to put in a book; Nothing to tell to impress your friends— T h e old old story that never ends: T h e eight o'clock train, the customary place, Holding the p a p e r in front of your face, T h e public stairs, the glass swing-door, T h e peg for your hat, the linoleum floor, T h e office stool a n d the office jokes A n d the fear in your ribs that slyly pokes: Are they satisfied with you? Nothing interesting to do, Nothing interesting to say, Nothing remarkable in any way; T h e n the j o u r n e y h o m e again

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In the hot suburban train To the tawdry new estate, Crumpled, grubby, dazed and late: Home to supper and to bed. Shall we be like this when we are dead? MRS A. It's time for the news, John. Turn on the wireless. MR A. I'm sick of the news. All you can hear Is politics, politics everywhere: Talk in Westminster, talk at Geneva, talk in the lobbies and talk on the throne; Talk about treaties, talk about honour, mad dogs quarrelling over a bone. What have they ever done, I ask you? What are they ever likely to do To make life easier, make life happier? What have they done for me or for you? MRS A. Smiling at all the photographers, smoking, walking in top hats down by the lake, Treating the people as if they were pigeons, giving the crumbs and keeping the cake. When will they notice us? When will they flatter us? When will they help us? When there's a war! Then they will ask for our children and kill them; sympathise deeply and ask for some more. MR A. Night after night we have listened to the ignoble news. MRS A. We have heard The glib justification of the sorry act. MR A. The frantic washing of the grimy fact. MRS A. But nothing to bring a smile to the face. MR A. Nothing to make us proud of our race. MRS A. Nothing we should have been glad to have done In a dream, or would wish for an only son. MR A. Nothing to take us out of ourselves, Out of the oppression of this city, This abstract civic space imposed upon the fields, Destroying that tie with the nearest which in Nature rules. MRS A. Where we are unable to lose sight of the fruits of our extraordinary industry. MR A. And everything is emphatically provided: The Dial Exchange and the voice of the lift. We must accept them all and there is no one to thank. MRS A. Give us something to be thankful for.

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M R A. Give it quickly. I have read "Too Late" in the hands of the office clock. M R S A. I have received singular warnings: In the eyes of the beggar I have experienced the earthquake and the simoom. M R A. Sitting in the crowded restaurant, I have overheard the confabulations of weasels. M R S A. Give us something to live for. We have waited too long. [The STAGE-BOX is darkened.]

Act I Scene 2 [ S I R J A M E S RANSOM'S room at the Colonial Office. On the wall at the back of the stage, hangs a large boldly-printed map showing British Sudoland and Ostnian Sudoland, coloured respectively pink and blue. The frontier between the two colonies is formed by a chain of mountains: one peak, prominently marked F 6 , is ringed with a red circle to emphasise Us importance.] [At a table covered with papers, maps and books of reference are seated, from L. toR., L O R D STAGMANTLE,

SIR JAMES RANSOM, GENERAL DELLABY-

C O U C H and L A D Y I S A B E L W E L W Y N . ]

[As the curtain rises, J A M E S lays down a document from which he has been reading aloud to the others.] J A M E S . T h a t , briefly, is the position. I think you'll all agree with me that it is deplorable. ISABEL. But surely, surely the report exaggerates? My poor darling Sudoland—it's still like home to me, you know! No, I simply can't believe it! J A M E S . We all appreciate your feelings, Lady Isabel. They are most natural. Unfortunately I have reason to believe that this report, so far from exaggerating, may even underestimate the gravity of the situation. . . . From other sources—not official, it is true, but as a rule absolutely reliable—we hear that the whole southern province is in a state of uproar. Government stores have been burnt, British officers have been attacked. In a few hill stations, the women of the European settlements have been grossly insulted— ISABEL. T h e cowardly fiends! How they can darel In my Father's time— G E N E R A L . In your Father's time, Lady Isabel, a British Governor was required to rule, not to coddle a native population according to the

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sentimental notions of a gang of home-bred politicians T h e Sudoese hillman has not changed since your Father's day take him for what he is, he's a fine fellow He's a m a n and he expects to be ruled by m e n H e u n d e r s t a n d s strength and he respects it H e despises weakness and h e takes advantage of it Show him the business end of a machine-gun and he'll— J A M E S [acidly] I think, General, you can hardly complain that the Gove r n m e n t of which I am a m e m b e r shows any lack of respect for your great practical experience in administration Otherwise you would not have been invited to attend this conference to-day But I should like to suggest that, in your wholesale condemnation of politicians, you are apt to forget that we are only the servants of the Public Public opinion has changed greatly, during the last twenty years, with regard to the native populations of the Empire T h e r e have been unfortunate incidents which unscrupulous party agitators have not hesitated to misrepresent T o take your own case, that most regrettable contretemps at Bolo-Bolo ISABEL Really, Sir J a m e s , is it necessary, at a time like this, to stoop to personalities ? J A M E S [smoothly] My dear Lady Isabel, I'm sure I had no intention of hurting the General's feelings General, please accept my apologies I only wished to remind you—not, alas, that any of us need reminding—how grossly a valued public servant can be maligned in the performance of a painful duty by the venom of the popular press— STAGMANTLE [beginning to laugh wheezily] British General Butchers Unarmed Mob' Children Massacred In Mothers' Arms' Murder Stains The Jack' J A M E S [hastily] Yes, yes T h e nauseating cliches of gutter socialism— STAGMANTLE Socialism my foot' Why, that's out of the Evening Moori Splashed it all over the front page—nearly doubled o u r sales, that week' No offence, General We were out to smash the Labour Gove r n m e n t , you know and, by God, we did' Your little stunt came in handy any stick's good enough to beat a dog with, you know' Ha, ha, h a ' ISABEL Of all the utterly low and contemptible things I ever heard J A M E S [hastily intervening] As Lord Stagmantle quite rightly observes, the tactical problems raised by a great democratic electorate are exceedingly complex O n e must try to see things in perspective I'm sure nobody doubts Lord Stagmantle's loyalty in this present crisis H a d it not been for his assistance in presenting the events of the last m o n t h to the public in their true proportions— STAGMANTLE Look here, Ransom, that's just what I came to tell you today We can't keep this u p for ever, you know The Thunderbolt has

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been featuring the Sudoland revolts now for a week or more. How much longer d o you expect us to play hush-hush? It's beginning to affect o u r circulation already You've got to d o something, quick. ISABEL. But surely, Lord Stagmantle, all this suppression and misrepresentation of facts is a very mistaken policy? Why can't you have m o r e courage? Why not let the Public j u d g e for itself? I should have t h o u g h t that the truth— STAGMANTLE. T h e truth, Lady Isabel, is that the natives of British Sudoland would like us to go to hell—pardon my language—and stay there T h e truth is that we've got fifty millions invested in the country and we don't intend to budge—not if we have to shoot every nigger from one e n d of the land to the other T h e t r u t h is that we're under-garrisoned a n d under-policed and that we're in a blue funk that the Ostmans will come over the frontier and drive us into the sea. Already, they've spent thousands on propaganda a m o n g o u r natives, promising reforms which neither they nor we nor any other colonial power could ever carry out This revolt is the result. . . T h e r e ' s the t r u t h for you: and you want me to tell that to the Public! What d o you take me for—a bolshevik? J A M E S . Lord Stagmantle is perfectly right: though, with his characteristic flair for essentials, he over-simplifies the situation, perhaps, a little . H e asks m e to do something I shall not disappoint him I did not call this meeting merely in order to alarm you His Majesty's Government has a plan. [He rises and points dramatically to the map on the wall, indicating F6.] T h e key to the problem lies there! ISABEL. Why, but that's the H a u n t e d Mountain! I used to be able to see it from my b e d r o o m window at the Residency, when the weather was clear. Let me think, now, what did the natives call \X? J A M E S . T h e mountain has, I understand, many local names; most of t h e m unpronounceable T h e survey refers to it simply as F 6 STAGMANTLE. A h a u n t e d mountain, eh? What's the story in i t ' J A M E S . Merely that the mountain is said to be haunted by a guardian d e m o n . For this reason, no native will set foot u p o n it As you will notice, it stands exactly on the frontier line Both Ostnia and ourselves claim it; but, u p to the present, no European has ever visited the district at all. ISABEL I remember, when I was a little girl, being afraid that the d e m o n would come and carry me away with him to the top! Aren't children absurd? G E N E R A L . May I ask if we came h e r e this m o r n i n g to discuss fairy-tales? J A M E S . A fairy-tale, General, is significant according to the n u m b e r of people who believe in it This one is credited by several millions of

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natives on both sides of the frontier Also, the legend has lately developed a sequel which may appeal more strongly to your imagination T h e natives have begun telling each other that the white m a n who first reaches the summit of F 6, will be lord over both the Sudolands, with his descendants, tor a thousand years STAGMANTLE Aha, so that's their little game' T h e Ostnians started this yarn, of course 5 J A M E S YOU are very quick to follow me, Lord Stagmantle And perfectly correct Yes, the Ostnian agents have been propagating this story for the past six months We've traced it right down into the plains G E N E R A L But, Ransom, you don't seriously suggest that the Ostnians expect to gain anything by spreading this absurd nonsense 5 T h e hillm e n may believe them, I admit—the Sudoese are credulous beggars—but, h a n g it all, what good can it d o Ostnia 5 None whatever If you ask me, this is just another Ostnian bluff Bluffing's their strong suit J A M E S I wish I could agree with you, General But this m o r n i n g this telegram reached us, t h r o u g h the Intelligence {Reads ] Expedition u n d e r Blavek left Ostnia for Ostnian Sudoland yesterday great secrecy intending attempt ascent of F 6 ISABEL Monstrous'

G E N E R A L T h e beggars are mad as coots' STAGMANTLE Not so mad as you may think, General I ought to know something about p r o p a g a n d a stunts this is one of the best I ever struck If the Ostnians get to the top of F 6 , your natives are going to make big trouble Whether you like it or not, you'll have to start shooting And Ostnia will intervene, in the name of the poor oppressed subject races They'll have world opinion on their side, into the bargain You're in a cleft stick ISABEL Can't we send a cruiser to stop this expedition 5 STAGMANTLE Certainly If you care to start a European war G E N E R A L At any rate, these chaps will never reach the summit J A M E S We can't be too sure of that, I'm afraid There's a great deal at stake ISABEL You sit here calmly and say so' Oh, if only I were a m a n ' What are you going to do> J A M E S H I S Majesty's Government proposes to send an expedition to Sudoland without delay ISABEL O h , good' Good' STAGMANTLE NOW you're talking' G E N E R A L Never heard such d a m n e d tomfoolery in all my life' S T A G M A N T L E I must congratulate you, Ransom You're on to a big

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thing—a big thing for all of us! The Evening Moon will subscribe two thousand to t h e funds of the expedition . . . J A M E S [shaking hands with him]. I knew we could rely on your public spirit, Lord Stagmantle! STAGMANTLE. . . . provided, of course, that we get the exclusive rights— pictures, film, lecture-tours, story. We can discuss details later. . . . J A M E S [rather taken aback]. Er, yes, quite so, of course— ISABEL. A n d now, there's not a m o m e n t to be lost! We must think quickly: who are you going to send? How will you find t h e right m a n to lead them? J A M E S . I a m happy to say that I have found him already. ISABEL. You've found him! O h , Sir James, I think you're wonderful! W h o is he? J A M E S . My brother.

ISABEL. YOU have a brother! A n d we never even knew! J A M E S . My brother Michael is considered, by competent experts, to be one of the best climbers in this country. ISABEL. H O W I should adore to meet him—the m a n who can save Sudoland! J A M E S . We'll go to him at once. My car is waiting. [To G E N E R A L and S T A G -

MANTLE.] You'll come with us, I hope? G E N E R A L . I refuse to be a party to this wild goose chase. W h e n you have ceased to occupy yourselves with demons and need some serious advice, you will find m e at my club. Good morning. ISABEL. O h , General!

[The GENERAL, taking no notice, goes out.] STAGMANTLE. Never mind him, Lady Isabel. . . . A remarkable old gentleman, b u t conservative: no vision. He'll come r o u n d to the idea in time. . . . [Rubbing his hands gleefully.] Well, Ransom, let's see this brother of yours! I'll write the interview myself! By George, what a day for the Evening Moonl ISABEL [reprovingly]. What a day for England, Lord Stagmantle! STAGMANTLE. O h , England—yes, quite so, of course. . . . [Looking up at map.] T h e Ascent of F 6 ! [ A L L three of them stand regarding the map in reverent silence as the—] CURTAIN F A L L S

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[The STAGE-BOXES, left and right, are illuminated In the right BOX, M R A sits listening to the radio A N N O U N C E R , who speaks from the BOX on the left ] A N N O U N C E R If you drink coffee for breakfast, you will be familiar with Sudoland as the n a m e of one of the most delicious brands in the world, said by connoisseurs to be equal even to Blue Mountain and only half the price But, unless you have a brother or a nephew there, I don't expect you know much more about this beautiful and exciting country It is about as big as Ireland and embraces a wide variety of scenery and climate, from the moist hot river-plams in the n o r t h to the magnificent escarpment of mountains on the southern b o r d e r T h e natives are delightful people, of wonderful physique and very h u m o r o u s and artistic T h e i r villages consist of m u d huts and they live very simply, chiefly on boiled bamboo shoots, which they call K H A Most of them are employed on the coffee estates, where they make excellent workmen You may have read recently, in some of the papers, of riots in Sudoland, but from personal experience I can tell you that these stones have been grossly exaggerated T h e y were confined to a very small section of irresponsibles egged on by foreign agitators Hospitals, clinics and schools have d o n e m u c h to raise the standard of personal hygiene and education a m o n g the Sudoese and the vast majority are happy and contented [At this point, M R S A enters the STAGE-BOX, right, bringing coffee ] If ever I make e n o u g h money to retire from journalism, it is to a small hill-station in Sudoland called Fort George that I should like to go, to spend the evening of my days I have knocked about the world a good deal and seen most of the famous views, but never have I seen anything to compare with the one you get from the English Cemetery there From this point you see the whole mountain range which culminates in that terrifying fang of rock and ice called so prosaically on o u r maps "F6", but in the native tongue "Ghormopuloda"—that is, the H a u n t e d Mountain T h e r e are many legends about this mountain and the troll who lives on the summit a n d devours all h u m a n beings who d a r e approach it No Europeans have, so far, ventured into this region, which is barren to a degree and inhabited only by monks who resent foreigners These monks practise a mysterious cult which is believed to be descended from the religion of Ancient Egypt, and there are wonderful tales current of their mystical and psychic powers Be that as it may, I d o not think it likely that it will be long before our young climbers will discover a

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new ground for their sport, offering more magnificent opportunities for their skill and their love of nature, than even those afforded by the Alps or the Himalayas [Exit ] MRS A It's all very well for him, he can travel MR A Cousin Bertie's boy was there, Poor lad, he had to come home last year They've reduced the staff on his coffee estate He said that the people and country were great MRS A Why do you never take me abroad? MR A Darling, you know that we can't afford MRS A Afford' It's always the same excuse— Money, money' MR A Dear, what's the use Of talking like this? MRS A You don't really care, If you did, we shouldn't be here Why don't you do something, something that pays, Not be a clerk to the end of your days? A dreary little clerk on a dreary little screw— Can't you find something proper to do? But you don't care, it's the same to you Whether I live or whether I die I wish I were dead' MR A Mary, don't cry' You never know, perhaps one day Better luck will come our way It might be to-morrow You wait and see But, whenever it happens, we'll go on the spree' From the first-class gilt saloon of channel-steamer we shall peer, While the cliffs of Dover vanish and the Calais flats appear, Land there, take the fastest train, have dinner in the dining-car, Through the evening rush to Pans, where the ladies' dresses are Nothing your most daring whisper praved for in the night alone— Evening frocks and shoes and jewels, you shall have them for your own Rome and Munich for the opera, Murren for the winter sports, See the relics of crusaders in the grey Dalmatian ports, Climb the pyramids in Egypt, walk in Versailles' ordered parks, Sail in gondolas at Venice, feed the pigeons at St Mark's MRS A O, what's the use of your pretending? As if life had a chance of mending' There will be nothing to remember

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But the fortnight in August o r early September, T h e boarding-house food, the boarding-house faces, T h e rain-spoilt picnics in the windswept places, T h e camera lost and the suspicion, T h e failure in the putting-competition, T h e silly performance on the pier— A n d it's going to h a p p e n again next year! M R A. Mary! M R S A. Don't touch me! Go away! Do you hear? [She bursts into tears; he shrugs his shoulders and goes out, slamming the door. The BOX IS darkened.]

Act I Scene 3 [Parlour of a public house in the Lake District. Shabby late Victorian furniture. A window at the back gives a view towards the fells. By the door, L.,is a telephone. On the right, a cottage piano. After supper.] [At a large table, in the centre of the stage, M I C H A E L R A N S O M and the D O C T O R are playing chess. At a

smaller table, L., L A M P IS bending over a microscope. In an armchair, R.,

S H A W C R O S S IS writing in a

notebook. G U N N IS at the piano, strumming and singing. As he writes, SHAWCROSS frowns with suppressed annoyance.] G U N N [singing].

T h e chimney sweepers Wash their faces a n d forget to wash the neck; T h e lighthouse keepers Let the lamps go out and leave the ships to wreck; T h e prosperous baker Leaves the rolls in h u n d r e d s in the oven to b u r n ; T h e undertaker Pins a small note on the coffin saying "Wait till I return, I've got a date with Love!" A n d deep-sea divers Cut their boots off and come bubbling to the top, And engine-drivers Bring expresses in the tunnel to a stop;

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307

T h e village rector Dashes down the side-aisle half-way t h r o u g h a psalm; T h e sanitary inspector Runs off with the cover of the cesspool on his a r m — T o keep his date with Love! [Jumps up from the piano and goes over to S H A W CROSS.]

Still sweating at that old diary? S H A W C R O S S . I was doing my best to, in spite of your filthy row. G U N N . So glad you enjoyed it, dearie. I'll play you something else. [Goes back to piano.,] R A N S O M . Shut u p , David. [To D O C T O R . ] Check. G U N N [leaving piano and looking over SHAWCROSS' shoulder]. Hullo, what's all this? [Reads.] ". . . followed u p a splendid short pitch to the north summit. G u n n , as u s u a l . . ." S H A W C R O S S [snatching book]. Leave that alone, d a m n you! G U N N [grabs book back and reading]. ". . . G u n n , as usual, fooling about, completely irresponsible. I can never understand M.F.'s patience with him. . . ." [SHAWCROSS tries to snatch book. G U N N dodges round the chair.] S H A W C R O S S . Give it here, blast your eyes! G U N N . Ha, ha! Wouldn't you like it! Why can't you be patient with me, like M.F.? S H A W C R O S S . YOU little fool! Do you want me to h u r t you? RANSOM. Give it back, David. [To D O C T O R . ] Check. G U N N . Sorry, Ian. You're not cross with me, are you? Come and have a drink? S H A W C R O S S . Surely you ought to know by this time that I never drink the day before a climb. G U N N . T O h e a r you talk, one'd think we were a lot of monks. S H A W C R O S S . It just h a p p e n s that I take climbing seriously. You don't. G U N N . All right. Keep your hair on. No offence. [Strolls over to LAMP.] Let's have a squint, Teddy. [Looks into microscope.] What's this stuff that looks like mouldy cheese? L A M P . If I were to tell you, you wouldn't be any the wiser. G U N N . N O , I expect I shouldn't. [He wanders over to watch the chess players.] S H A W C R O S S . M.F., may I take your climbing boots? I'd like to oil them for you.

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R A N S O M . It's very kind of you, Ian; but I gave them to the maid. S H A W C R O S S . I wish you wouldn't, M.F. How can you expect a girl to oil boots? I'll just d o them over again, myself. R A N S O M [smiling]. You spoil me, Ian. O n e day, you'll regret it. I shall become as helpless as a baby without its nurse. S H A W C R O S S [blushing]. It's no trouble at all. I like to keep things decent. G U N N [yawning and stretching himself]. Gosh, I'm bored! If I had a thousand p o u n d s , I'd buy an aeroplane and try to fly across the Atlantic: if I had five h u n d r e d pounds, I'd go to Africa and shoot lions. As it is, I've got seven and elevenpence, so I suppose I'd better get d r u n k . [As he moves towards the door, the telephone rings.] SHAWCROSS. I expect that'll be the man about the new ropes. [Goes to telephone.] Hullo. . . . No, it's a call from London. [To G U N N . ] For you. G U N N . Ask who it is. Wait a minute. . . . Don't, for Heaven's sake, say I'm here! R A N S O M [to D O C T O R ] . Look out for that castle, T o m . S H A W C R O S S . Who's speaking? [To G U N N . ] It's a lady. A Mrs da Silva. G U N N . Gosh, that's torn it! Tell her I've gone away! Tell her I'm dead! S H A W C R O S S [listening]. She says she knows you're here and that it's n o good saying you aren't. [Holding out receiver to G U N N . ] H e r e , take it! I'm not going to d o your dirty work for you. G U N N [after making frantic signah, advances gingerly to the telephone]. Oh, hullo, darling—how lovely to hear your voice! No, of course not! How could you think so! Well, you know, I'm terribly busyjust now. I could get u p to town this week-end, if it's really absolutely necessary. . . . No, darling, I swear there isn't! Listen, here comes a kiss! Good-bye! [Hanging up receiver and mopping his forehead.] A n d now she's on the track again! Says h e r husband's going to divorce her! Oh, whatever shall I do? S H A W C R O S S . I hardly see what else you can expect, when you've got about as much self-control as a tom-cat. . . . What we do object to is the way you involve us all in your nasty little intrigues. G U N N . Everybody seems to be finding out my address. This morning, I had five m o r e bills. . . . Oh, if only I could get right out of England for six months, they might forget about me. R A N S O M . Check.

D O C T O R [making a move]. Aha, M.F., that's got you! . . . No, it hasn't. . . . O h , dear! R A N S O M . Mate. T h a n k you, T o m . D O C T O R . Why d o I always d o something silly when I play with you? It's n o good. You get me every time. [Rising.] Oh, I'm so fat, I'm so fat! G U N N . Doc, I believe you forgot your exercises this morning!

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D O C T O R . A S if I ever forgot them! As if I ever could forget them! [Sighs.] Perhaps it would be better if I stopped them altogether. But I haven't the nerve. G U N N . Poor old Doc! Come a n d have a drink. Whisky shrivels u p your flesh. D O C T O R . Do you really think so? I've got to a stage where I can believe almost anything. [A knock at the door.] I S A B E L ' S V O I C E . May we come in?

G U N N . A n o t h e r woman! Don't open it, for the Lord's sake! Let m e hide! [Dives under the larger table.] [ S H A W C R O S S opens the door. Enter L A D Y ISABEL, followed by S T A G M A N T L E and S I R J A M E S R A N SOM.]

ISABEL [to J A M E S ] . I told you they'd be in here! RANSOM [unpleasantly surprised]. J a m e s ! J A M E S . A h , Michael, there you are! Very glad to find you at h o m e . I t h o u g h t I'd pay you a surprise visit. I've brought some friends who were anxious to meet you. . . . May I introduce my brother—Lady Isabel Welwyn, Lord Stagmantle. R A N S O M [with a rather stiff bow]. How d o you do? These a r e my friends— Doctor Williams, Mr Shawcross, Mr Lamp. . . . David, come out. . . . [ G U N N scrambles out from under the table.] Mr G u n n . G U N N [politely]. How d o you do?

J A M E S [to R A N S O M ] . I've been telling Lady Isabel a n d Lord Stagmantle about your climbing exploits. T h e y were greatly interested. ISABEL. YOU know, Mr Ransom, you're not a bit like Sir J a m e s ! I should never have taken you for brothers, at all! STAGMANTLE. It's a great pleasure to meet you, Mr Ransom. I'm always glad to make contacts with prominent personalities, in any walk of life. Sir J a m e s tells m e that you have many sidelines. You're a scholar, I believe? Well, now, that intrigues me. Scholar a n d m a n of action: a n unusual mixture, eh? J A M E S . As I never fail to observe, my brother has all the brains of o u r family. I n all humility I say it—my brother is a great m a n . R A N S O M [who has listened to the above remarks with growing uneasiness, now turns on J A M E S and blurts out]. Why have you come here? What d o you want? J A M E S [smiling awkwardly]. Hardly very friendly, are you, Michael? How

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d o you know that I want anything—beyond the pleasure of seeing you again after so long 5 RANSOM. How often, when we were boys, you used to come to me as you come to-day, with that peculiar smile on your face, half impudent, half timid! What d o you want this time—my toy engine, my cricket bat, my r a r e West Indian stamps? O r shall I d o you a favour—run that e r r a n d to the butcher's, correct your Latin verses, clean the motor-bicycle? Let's hear what it is, James, we're grown men now J A M E S [with a change of manner]. You are quite right, Michael. I shall not waste words. T h e r e is n o time to lose. [Lowering his voice.] Isn't it possible for me to speak to you alone? RANSOM. If you have n o secrets from your friends, I have n o n e from mine. J A M E S Very well, since you wish it. . . . [Clearing his throat.] In the name of His Majesty's Government, I have come to make you a most imp o r t a n t proposition— R A N S O M . Which I unconditionally refuse. J A M E S [taken aback] But—Michael—I haven't even told you what it is' R A N S O M . You have told me quite e n o u g h I know your propositions, J a m e s : they are all alike T h e y are exceedingly convincing. T h e y contain certain reservations. T h e y are concerned with prestige, tactics, money a n d the privately pre-arranged meanings of familiar words I will have nothing to d o with any of them Keep to your world. I will keep to mine J A M E S . YOU are not being fair to me, Michael You have never been fair to me. What I am offering you is an opportunity—the greatest of your whole life—to d o something after your own heart We want you to lead an expedition which will attempt the ascent of F 6. RANSOM [startled]. F 6 ! What have you and your world to d o with F 6 ? J A M E S . Ah, you see, Michael, I told you you would be interested! R A N S O M . Since boyhood, in dreams, I have seen the huge north face. O n nights when I could not sleep I worked u p those couloirs, crawled along the eastern arete, planning every movement, foreseeing every hold. T h r o u g h how many thousand years have those virgin buttresses been awaiting me! F 6 is my fate . . But not now. Not like this! No, no, n o ' I refuse 1 J A M E S . But, Michael, this is sheer caprice' I must explain: the future of England, of the Empire, may be at stake Weighty political considerations, the Government— RANSOM. A n d your own career? Be honest, James, and add the heaviest weight to the scales. . No, I am sorry, but F 6 is more important to me even than that. I will not go

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311

ISABEL. Mr Ransom, if you lead this expedition—no matter whether you succeed or fail: and of course you will succeed—there is not a woman in England who will not feel p r o u d of you—more than p r o u d ! I appeal to you, as an Englishwoman, in the n a m e of all Englishwomen. You refused your brother. Can you refuse me} R A N S O M . I can refuse you, Lady Isabel. ISABEL. YOU disappoint me, Mr Ransom. Sir James made me h o p e great things of you. He was too generous. I had never expected this. I see it in your eyes. You are afraid. R A N S O M . I am afraid of a great many things, Lady Isabel. But of nothing which you in your worst nightmares could ever imagine; and of that word least of all. STAGMANTLE. Look here, Ransom; let's understand each other. I'm not going to talk a lot of blarney to you about England and Idealism. I'm a practical man. You're a practical man—of course you are! Only failures are idealists. My d e a r fellow, think what this climb will mean to you! Cash, and lots of it! You need cash to p u r s u e your hobby? Of course you do! Look at it in a sensible light. [Lowers his voice.] Between ourselves, this expedition's nothing more or less than a political racket. You know that. So d o I. Well, who cares! Leave the dirty work to your brother and me: we're used to it. Forget about us. Go out to F 6 and enjoy yourself. Make climbing history. By God, I envy you! If I were twenty years younger, I swear I'd ask you to take me along! R A N S O M . I like your reasons best, Lord Stagmantle. And I respect you. You talk like a man. I'd rather have you in front of me on a r o p e than behind me with a loud-speaker. . . . I am sorry. I know you won't u n d e r s t a n d my refusal. But I do refuse. STAGMANTLE. IS that your last word? R A N S O M . It is.

[There is a knock at the door.] STAGMANTLE. T o o bad. . . . Well, Ransom, it seems we shall have to look elsewhere. J A M E S [triumphantly]. 'Npt yet! [He goes to the door, opens it and speaks to someone outside.] Ah, splendid! So you got my telegram? Yes, he's here! [Enter M R S R A N S O M . ]

H e r e is somebody who may be able to persuade you, Michael! R A N S O M [with a cry of dismay]. Mother! M O T H E R [advancing to RANSOM]. Michael, I am so p r o u d —

312

TH E

ASCL N Γ O F F 6

R A N S O M [recoiling] You too ' No , it is impossible ' You c o m e so late , it is a n acciden t Your shado w add s to theirs , a tric k of th e light I f thi s was p u r p o s e d — [In the course of the following dialogue, the light becomes entirely concentrated upon RANSO M and his M O T H E R The rest of the stage is darkened the other figures being seen only as indistinct shapes in the background ] M O T H E R I hav e n o p u r p o s e bu t to see you happy , A n d d o you find tha t so r e m a r k a b l e 5 Wha t m o t h e r coul d den y it a n d be honest ? I kno w m y son t h e greates t climbe r in th e world , I kno w F 6 th e greates t m o u n t a i n in th e world Ma y no t a m o t h e r com e at onc e to brin g H e r onl y gift, h e r love? Whe n th e news came , I was in bed , for latel y I've no t bee n very well Bu t what' s a headach e W h e n I ca n stan d beside m y son a n d see hi m I n t h e h o u r of hi s t r i u m p h ? R A N S O M I f I hav e t r i u m p h e d I t is no t as you thin k I hav e refuse d it M O T H E R Refuse d it? Why? Bu t n o — I mus t no t questio n My grown-u p son You hav e you r reasons , an d I Shal l tr y t o trus t t h e m always James , I remember — R A N S O M J a m e s ' Was t h e r e n o o t h e r n a m e you coul d remember , N o niec e o r cousin ? Eve r sinc e we were bor n I hav e h e a r d t h e not e of preferenc e in you r voice A n d mus t I h e a r it now ? Whe n we coul d barel y walk, I watche d hi m r o m p i n g t h r o u g h th e children' s party , Whe n we were boys at school , I saw hi m c h a r m his way to every hear t A n d idly win t h e prize s T h a t woul d no t matter , we ar e olde r no w A n d I hav e foun d myself Bu t J a m e s who ha s T h e gapin g world t o ogle with his speeche s Mus t fill t h e last gap in his grea t collectio n A n d p o t - h u n t for hi s b r o t h e r Years ago H e stole m y shar e of you , a n d mus t h e no w Estrang e m e even fro m mysel P

THE ASCENT OF F 6 MOTHER.

Michael,

There is a secret I have kept so long My tongue is rusty. What you have said I knew and I have always known. Why do you start? You are my Michael and I know my own: A mother has no heaven but to look. That was your secret; there is also mine: From the good day when both of you were born, And I first held you both in my two arms, James, bigger, prettier, the doctor's pride, Responding promptly to the nurse's cluck, And you, the tiny, serious and reserved, I knew your natures. You never knew your father: But I can never see James toss his head Or laugh, or take a lady's arm, but I Must see your father in his popular pulpit. Everyone thought your father wonderful And so did I, until I married him And knew him for a shell: James is like him. He cannot live an hour without applause. No one can say that I have stinted it. But you, you were to be the truly strong Who must be kept from all that could infect Or weaken; it was for you I steeled my love Deliberately and hid it. Do you think that it was easy To shut you out? I who yearned to make My heart the cosiest nook in all the world And warm you there for ever, so to leave you Stark to the indifferent blizzard and the lightning? How many nights have I not bit my pillow As the temptation fought to pick you out of bed And cover you with kisses? But I won. You were to be unlike your father and your brother You were to have the power to stand alone; And to withhold from loving must be all my love. I won, I said—but was the victory real? There was a mother crucified herself To save her favourite son from weakness, Unlike his twin, his brother who depended Upon the constant praises of the little. She saved him nothing: he must have them too Because his brother had them. She had died

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314

T o make him free; but when the m o m e n t came T o choose t h e greatest action of his life H e could not d o it, for his b r o t h e r asked him A n d h e was padlocked to a brother's hatred— R A N S O M . Mother, stop! MOTHER. Michael! You mean— RANSOM. Yes. Go to J a m e s and tell him that you won. A n d may it give him pleasure. M O T H E R . My boy!

[She attempts to embrace him. He turns away.] BLACK O U T

[MUSIC. The darkness is filled with VOICES of NEWS-

BOYS, screaming like cats.]

Evening Special! Evening Special! Ransom to lead Expedition! Famous Climber's Decision! Evening Moon: Late Night Final! Young English Climber's Daredevil Attempt! T h e H a u n t e d Mountain: Full Story a n d Pictures! Monasteries in Sudoland: Amazing Revelations! [The STAGE-BOX on the right is illuminated. M R S A. is reading a morning paper.] M R S A. I read the papers; there is nothing there But news of failure a n d despair: T h e savage train-wreck in the dead of night, T h e fire in the school, the children caught alight, T h e starving actor in t h e oven lying, T h e cashier shot in the grab-raid a n d left dying, T h e y o u n g girl slain upon the surgeon's table, T h e poison-bottle with the harmless label, T h e workman fallen in the scalding vat, T h e father's strained heart stopping as h e sat, T h e student driven crazy by his reading, T h e roadside accident hopelessly bleeding, T h e b a n k r u p t quaking at t h e postman's knock, T h e moaning m u r d e r e r baited in the dock— [Enter M R A. with evening paper.]

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THE ASCENT OF F 6

M R A. Look, Mary! Read this! [As they read, VOICES are heard from the darkness of the stage.] V O I C E S . Michael Forsyth Ransom. Eight stone six. Aged twenty-eight years. Short a n d blue-eyed. His first experiences the rectory elms and the garden quarry. Kept a tame rook. Was privately educated, By a H u n g a r i a n tutor. Climbed the west buttress of Clogwyn Du'r A r d d u While still in his teens. T h e late Colonel Bow said: " T h a t boy will go far." Visited Switzerland; in a single season Made a new traverse on the Grandes Jorasses, Did t h e Furggen Shoulder and the Green Needle of Chamonix. Studied physiology in Vienna u n d e r Niedermeyer. Went to the Julian Alps, C o n q u e r e d Triglav, mastered the Scarlet Crag. Disappeared into Asia Minor, appeared in the Caucasus O n two-headed Ushba, r e t u r n e d to England, In an old windmill near the m o u t h of the Nen Translated Confucius during a summer. Is u n m a r r i e d . Hates dogs. Plays the viola d a gamba. Is said to be an authority on Goya. Drinks and eats little but is fond of crystallised apricots. . . . [The S T A G E - B O X on the left is illuminated.

LORD

STAGMANTLE IS seen at the microphone.]

STAGMANTLE. It goes without saying that the other members of the Expedition a r e t h e finest flower of English Mountaineering; a n d , in hands as capable a n d brilliant as these, the h o n o u r and prestige of Britain, may, I a m sure, be safely left. In this machine-ridden age, some people are tempted to suppose that Adventure is dead; but the spirit of Man has never refused to respond to t h e challenge of the u n k n o w n and men will always be found ready to take u p the gauntlet, mindless of worldly profit, u n d a u n t e d by hardship and risk, unheeding t h e dull spirit which can only sneer: Cui bono? From such pioneers, the m a n in the street may learn to play his part in the great game of life, small though it may be, with a keener zest and daring— [Exit.]

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THE ASCENT OF F 6

[Meanwhile, the A.'s have been cutting photographs and articles out of the paper and pinning them to the walh of the BOX.] M R A. C u t out the photos and pin t h e m to the wall, Cut out the m a p and follow the details of it all, Follow the progress of this mountain mission, Day by day let it inspire o u r lowly condition. M R S A. Many have come to us often with their conscious charms, T h e y stood u p o n platforms a n d madly waved their arms, At the top of their voices they promised all we lack, T h e y offered us glory but they wanted it back. M R A. But these are p r e p a r e d to risk their lives in action In which the peril is their only satisfaction. T h e y have not asked us to alter o u r lives O r to eat less meat o r to be more kind to our wives. [ L A D Y I S A B E L appears at the microphone in the STAGE-BOX, L.]

ISABEL. T h e Englishman is reserved. H e does not wear his heart o n his sleeve nor put his best goods in his shop-window. He smokes his pipe a n d answers in words of one syllable. So that those who d o not know him think that h e is stupid a n d cold. But every now a n d then, now in this part of t h e world, now in that, something generous, something brave o r beautiful, just happens. And when we start to investigate it we shall generally find that, at the bottom of it all, is a n Englishman. I have h a d the privilege of meeting Mr Ransom a n d his companions o n this expedition personally; a n d I can say with absolute sincerity that never in my life have I come away feeling so exalted, so p r o u d that I belonged to the same country a n d the same race as these gallant men. . . . [Exit.] M R S A. T h e y make n o promise to improve o u r station, At o u r weakness they make n o show of indignation, T h e y d o not offer contemptuously to lend a hand But their courage is something the least can understand. M R A. T h e corner tobacconist and the booking-clerk, T h e naked miner hewing in the dark, T h e forge-hand sweating at the h u g e steam-hammer, T h e girl imprisoned in the tower of a stammer— M R S A. T h e invalid, sheep-counting all the night, T h e small, the tall, the black-haired a n d the white See something each can estimate, T h e y can read of these actions and know them great.

T H E A S C E N T OF F 6

317

[ G U N N appears at the microphone in the STAGE-

BOX, left ]

G U N N I don't really know exactly what to say We n o n e of us know what F 6 is going to be like If you ask me, I think she's probably an ugly old maid I'm scared stiff, but Ransom will hold o u r hands, I expect We shall be ajolly party, at least, I h o p e so I've been on one or two of these expeditions and no one's m u r d e r e d me yet They say that there's a ghost at the top, but I've made Doctor Williams p r o m ise that if we see anything he'll let me hide behind him Well, I don't think I've got anything else to say, so I'll tell you a limerick I've just made up T h e r e was an old man of F 6 W h o had some extraordinary tricks H e took off— [An A N N O U N C E R comes hastily into the BOX, pushes G U N N aside and speaks into the microphone ] A N N O U N C E R We are all most grateful to Mr G u n n for his very interesting talk Listeners will no doubt join us in wishing the party every success T h e r e will now be a short interval in the p r o g r a m m e [Exit BOTH STAGE-BOX, left, is darkened ] M R S A J o h n , I'm so h a p p y ' Can't we do something to celebrate 7 M R A Let's go away for the week-end Let's go now' M R S A But it's seven o'clock and supper's nearly ready' M R A O, bother the s u p p e r ' Let it b u r n ' M R S A Let's go away and never r e t u r n , Catch the last train to— M R A W h e r e to? M R S A What does it matter? Anywhere out of this rush and this clatter' Get your toothbrush, get your pyjamas, Fetch your razor and let us be gone, H u r r y and pack, may we never come back, For Youth goes quickly a n d Age comes o n ' [ T H E Y begin to put on their outdoor clothes, pack, etc ] M R A Dover would like us, Margate would welcome us, Hastings and Folkestone would give us a part, Hove be excited and Brighton delighted, Southend would take us warm to her heart B O T H Moments of happiness d o not come often,

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Opportunity's easy to miss. O, let us seize them, of all their joy squeeze them, For Monday returns when n o n e may kiss! [Exeunt.] [After the A.'s have departed for Hove, the STAGEBOXES are darkened. A sudden penumbra of light on the stage shows M R S RANSOM seated in a highbacked chair facing the audience.] M R S R A N S O M [talking to herself in a hoarse and penetrating whisper]. Michael . . . Michael darling . . . can you hear me? T h e r e , there. . . . It's all right. . . . There's nothing to be frightened about. Mother's with you. Of course she won't leave you alone, Michael, never. Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, whether you know it or not, she's near you with her love; for you belong to her always. She's with you now, at sea, on board the ship with your foolish companions, and she'll be with you on the mountain, too. . . . Of course you'll get to the top, darling. Mother will help you. She'll always help you. Wasn't she with you from the very beginning, when you were a tiny baby? Of course she was! And she'll be with you at the very end. . . . R A N S O M [voice heard, very far off, frightened]. It's the Demon, Mother! MRS

R A N S O M [sings].

Michael, you shall be renowned, When the Demon you have drowned, A cathedral we will build When the Demon you have killed. When the Demon is dead, You shall have a lovely clean bed. You shall be mine, all mine, You shall have kisses like wine, When the wine gets into your head Mother will see that you're not misled; A saint am I and a saint are you It's perfectly, perfectly, perfectly true. BLACK O U T

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Act I I Scene 1 [F 6. Room in a Monastery on the Great Glacier. A high, gloomy, vaulted chamber, with doors L. into the courtyard and R. into the interior of the building. In the back wall, arches open into a cloister, beyond which the greenish, faintly glowing ice of the glacier is visible.] [ M I C H A E L R A N S O M and S H A W C R O S S are seated at

a table in the foreground, on which stand three silver candlesticks with church candles of coloured wax. RANSOM and SHAWCROSS both have notebooks and pencils; they are checking stores.] R A N S O M . H o w many tins of malted milk? S H A W C R O S S . Fifty. R A N S O M . H O W are we off for pemmican?

SHAWCROSS. T h r e e two-pound tins. R A N S O M . We must r e m e m b e r to ask the monks for yak butter. . . . How about the petrol for the primus? SHAWCROSS. God, that reminds me! [He jumps up and goes to the door L. Looks out into the courtyard.] T h e porters haven't finished unloading it yet\ [Shouts.] Hi! Sing ko, pan n o ah! T e n g fang! Naga! Naga! [Returns to table.] Lazy devils! A n d it'll be dark in a few minutes. . . . That's what comes of leaving things to G u n n . H e treats this whole business like a picnic. [He glances quickly at RANSOM, who does not, however, respond.] R A N S O M . Have we got e n o u g h soup cubes? SHAWCROSS. T h r e e large packets. [Hesitates.] Look here, M.F., I've been wanting to talk to you about G u n n for a long time now. . . . You know, I hate to bother you with this sort of thing. . . . I've tried to keep you from noticing . . . R A N S O M [smiles]. Have you? SHAWCROSS. YOU mean, you did see something? Well, in a way, I'm glad. Because, if you hadn't, you mightn't have believed m e — RANSOM. I saw that G u n n teased the yaks and scared the porters a n d played tricks on T o m and Teddy—and on you, too, Ian. I agree that he's often an intolerable nuisance; a n d I think that without him this expedition would be much more businesslike a n d very gloomy indeed. S H A W C R O S S [exasperated]. T h e thing I admire most about you, M.F., is your wonderful broadmindedness. It's an example to me. I'm not very tolerant, I'm afraid. If G u n n amuses you and the others, I'm glad. I h o p e I can see a j o k e as well as anyone. . . . But that wasn't

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quit e wha t I meant , j u st no w Thi s is somethin g quit e differen t I hardl y like t o tell y o u — R A N S O M I f you h a d n ' t m e a n t to tell me , Ian , you wouldn' t hav e starte d thi s conversatio n at all S H A W C R O S S [blurting it out] Well t h e n — G u n n steals' R A N S O M [laughs] O h , that ' S H A W C R O S S S O you did know '

RANSO M I' m surprise d tha t you've onl y j u st notice d it H e steals like a magpie , bits of m d i a r u b b e r , chiefly, bu t also watches , pencils , a n d , occasionally , mone y T h a t r e m i n d s me , I expec t he' s take n m y camer a I was imaginin g I' d lost it dow n in th e gorge, while we were fordin g t h e river S H A W C R O S S But , Μ F , you can' t tolerat e thi s kin d of thing ' Wha t ar e you goin g t o d o ? RANSO M

Ask

hi m if he' s got

it

S H A W C R O S S Bu t surel y there' s m o r e t o it tha n that ? Ho w ca n you tak e a ma n with you who' s just a c o m m o n t h i e P O n e ha s to hav e som e s t a n d a r d s of decency , I s u p p o s e 5 R A N S O M [smiles] You haven' t change d much , hav e you , Ian , sinc e you were captai n of you r school ? S H A W C R O S S [bitterly] You'r e always laughin g at m e I suppos e you thin k I' m j u st a priggish foo P R A N S O M I certainl y d o n ' t thin k you'r e a fool You kno w tha t I rely o n you r hel p m o r e t h a n anybody' s to mak e thi s expeditio n a success S H A W C R O S S T h a n k you , Μ F You mak e m e feel ashame d As lon g as you trus t me , t h e n I don' t give a d a m n wha t anybod y else says o r think s You kno w I' d follow you anywher e We all would Th e wonderfu l thin g abou t a m a n like you is tha t you ca n use all kind s of peopl e a n d get t h e best ou t of eac h I thin k I u n d e r s t a n d better , now , wha t it is you get o u t of G u n n I don' t wan t to r u n hi m down—just becaus e hi s b r a n d of h u m o u r ' s a bit to o subtl e for m e [With increas mg bitterness ] He' s no t a ba d sor t in his way, he' s all righ t to have abou t t h e place , I suppose , as lon g as there' s n o specia l difficult y o r d a n g e r He' s a d a m n goo d climber , too , I admit—onl y h e simpl y hasn' t got th e t e m p e r a m e n t I' m wonderin g wha t he'l l be like u p there , o n th e n o r t h face You r e m e m b e r ho w h e screamed , tha t da y in t h e Coohns , a n d wouldn' t b u d g e for a n hour ? I t was pitifu l R A N S O M David' s always frightene d whe n h e climb s Otherwise , h e wouldn' t clim b Bein g frightene d is his chie f pleasur e in life He' s frightene d whe n h e drives a racing-ca r o r seduce s somebody' s wife At presen t h e prefer s m o u n t a i n e e r i n g becaus e it frighten s hi m mos t of all

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321

S H A W C R O S S H O W well you u n d e r s t a n d him , Μ F ' Now , that' s just t h e poin t I wante d t o mak e wouldn' t it be better , whe n we get t o C a m p A, to leave G u n n behind ? R A N S O M [smiles] T o d a m a g e all th e instrument s an d ea t u p all t h e stores ? S H A W C R O S S Well, but , I mean , he'l l have t o be d r o p p e d somewhere , won' t he ? [Pause ] D o you really thin k it's wise t o tak e hi m as far as C a m p B? RANSO M I shall decid e whe n th e tim e come s S H A W C R O S S I mean , it's quit e settled , isn' t it, tha t onl y two of us shall tr y to reac h t h e summit ? R A N S O M Yes There'l l be onl y two of u s S H A W C R O S S A n d you can't , for a m o m e n t , be thinkin g of takin g G u n n ? [Pause ] M y G o d , it' d be madness ' Μ F — y o u couldn't ' R A N S O M Hav e I said I shall? S H A W C R O S S [with growing excitement] If I t h o u g h t such a thin g was possible, I ' d — I d o n ' t kno w wha t I' d d o ' G u n n , tha t miserabl e littl e r o t t e r ' Why, he' s no t a climbe r at all' He'sjus t a neurotic ' H e pose s H e doe s everythin g for effect' J u s t a beastly little posin g coward ' [Pause ] O h , I kno w you thin k I' m simpl y jealous ' [Enter L A M P and

the D O C T O R , L ]

L A M P [excited] T h e flora h e r e is amazing , simpl y amazing ' I've ha d o n e of t h e mos t wonderfu l afternoon s of m y life' I tell you what , Doc t o r — [Sees the others ] Oh , h e r e you are , Μ F ' Didn' t see you in t h e dar k [SHAWCROS S silently lights the candles ] I was j u st tellin g th e Doctor , I've ha d a field-day ' Extraordinaril y interesting ' Μ F , I' m convince d tha t Hawkin s is wron g whe n h e de nie s t h e possibility of a five-leaved Polu s Naufrangia ' An d what' s m o r e , I d o n ' t m i n d bettin g you I shall find on e here , o n F 6 RANSO M Let' s see wha t you got thi s afternoo n L A M P [opens his vasculum] Here' s Stagniu m Menengiti s a n d Frustra x Abominu m Isn' t it a beauty ' An d loo k here , here' s somethin g t o surpris e you you tol d m e t h e r e wasn't a Rossu s Monstren s with blu e petals ' Well, wha t d o you say t o this ? R A N S O M [examines flower] Thi s is interestin g [Enter G U N N , L ]

G U N N Ah, h e r e you all a r e ' T h a n k goodness ' I've bee n h u n t i n g for you everywhere ' I bega n to thin k somethin g ha d h a p p e n e d t o you [Sits down and mops his forehead ]

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T H L ASCLNT OF F b

D O C T O R What's the matter with you, David? You look rattled G U N N You'd be rattled if you'd been hanging r o u n d this place all the afternoon U g h ' It gives me the creeps' D O C T O R Why, what's wrong with it 5 G U N N T h o s e beastly monks Don't they make you feel d a m n e d queer, with those cowls over their faces? I've been watching t h e m for hours, out there they never seem to speak or make any signs, they just stand facing each other, like this—and yet you have a nasty sort of feeling that they're talking, somehow I shouldn't wonder if they d o it by telepathy or something D O C T O R T h e y seemed quite friendly and harmless when we arrived G U N N Don't you believe it They're plotting to d o us in while we're asleep, I bet you they are This afternoon, when I was sitting watching the porters unload, I kept imagining there was somebody standing j u s t behind m e Several times I t u r n e d r o u n d quickly to try and catch him, but there was nothing there And then I saw a m o n k a n d I thought I'd ask him which room we could use for the stores So I went over to him and made signs and he seemed to understand all right H e t u r n e d r o u n d and went to one of the doors and o p e n e d it and went inside Naturally, I followed him But when I got into the room, there was nobody there And there wasn't even a window h e could have got out of No, I don't like this place' D O C T O R I tell you what, David, you've had a touch of the sun I'll give you something to make you sleep well to-night R A N S O M O h , by the way, David, where's my camera? You've got it, haven't you? G U N N [with a charming smile] Yes It's in my room I thought I'd look after it for you for a bit S H A W C R O S S Well, of all the blasted—' R A N S O M T h a t was very kind of you Would you bring it here now, please? G U N N Very well—if you'd rather— [As he moves towards the door, L , a low chanting begins from the courtyard outside This chant continues throughout the following scene Its words are ] Go Ga, m o r u m tonga tara Mi n o tang h u m valka vara So so so kum mooni lara Korkra ha C h o r m o p u l o d a Antifora lampisoda Kang ku gar, b a n baroda

TH E ASCEN T

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OF F 6

Min g tin g isht a sokloskaya N o r u m ga ga, n o r u m gaya N o n g C h o r m o p u l o d a saya G U N N M y G o d ' What' s t h a t ' [Retreats hastily behind RANSOM' S chair ] SHAWCROS S [goesto door, L , and looks out] T h e y ' r e all g a t h e r e d ou t t h e r e in t h e courtyar d T h e y ' r e startin g a processio n No w they'r e begin nin g to go r o u n d in circle s They'v e got torche s an d b a n n e r s G U N N Loc k tha t door , for Heaven' s sake' Suppos e the y com e in h e r e ' SHAWCROS S D O you ever thin k of anythin g excep t you r own beastl y littl e skin ' [Meanwhile the others have joined him at the door G U N N comes last, unwillingly, curious in spite of himself ] D o c TO R F r o m th e way the y walk it migh t be a funera l L A M P I believe it is a funera l Loo k wha t they'r e carryin g G U N N A coffin' Gosh , di d you s e e ' D O C T O R C h e e r u p , David , there' s onl y o n e ' Perhap s the y won' t choos e you G U N N It' s mos t likely som e wretche d travelle r they'v e m u r d e r e d D O C T O R Very curious , thos e mask s A pit y it's to o d a r k for a photo grap h SHAWCROS S N O W they'r e goin g I w o n d e r wher e tha t d o o r lead s t o ' Probabl y int o th e templ e precinct s [The chanting dies away ] L A M P [as they close the door and return downstage to the table] What did you mak e of it, Μ F ' RANSO M I've rea d abou t thes e rites , somewher e T h e y ' r e suppose d t o propitiat e t h e spirit s which g u a r d th e hous e of th e d e a d G U N N Anyhow , I h o p e ther e won' t be an y m o r e ' Phew ' Thi s plac e is abou t as cheerfu l as Wokin g Cemetery ' [As he speaks, the door on the R opens noiselessly and a cowled M O N K enters, carrying in his hands a crystal which glowsfaintly with a bluish light ] You chap s didn' t reall y thin k I was scared , di d y o u ' I was onl y raggin g I t take s m o r e tha n a few old monk s to frighte n me^ [Turns and suddenly sees the M O N K Screams ] O h , God ' [As the M O N K advances towards the front of the stage, G U N N retreats backwards before him ]

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TH L ASCLN T OF F 6

Wha t doe s h e want ? H e l p ' D o something , somebody ' Μ F , you spea k t o h i m ' 5 R A N S O M O m n o h u m , n o n a n u m se [Pause ] N o n u m sen g ka, gan g se 5 5 g a n g [Pause ] Kin g t'san g po , ka n o a h [Pause ] Eithe r h e doesn' t u n d e r s t a n d an y of t h e t h r e e hill-dialects , o r h e isn' t allowed t o an swer D O C T O R F u n n y kin d o f a lam p he' s got ther e [Approaches] G U N N I say' D o be careful ' H e ma y hav e a knife u p hi s sleeve' D O C T O R Extraordinar y thing—it doesn' t seem to be a l a m p at all I t just shine s [Bends over the crystal ] Why, it's a kin d of m i r r o r — I ca n see myself in it' Am I really as fat as t h a t 5 Gracious , I' m quit e bald ' Hullo , what' s t h i s 5 I' m sittin g in a n arm-chai r I seem t o kno w tha t roo m Yes, it's t h e Refor m Club ' I say, I thin k I mus t hav e got a touc h of th e sun like Davi d Am I just seein g t h i n g s 5 H e r e , T e d d y , you com e a n d look ' L A M P [looks] Polu s Naufrangia ' As plai n as anythin g all five leaves By Jove , wha t a beauty ' [Rubs his eyes ] I mus t be goin g m a d ' G U N N He' s hypnotisin g you , that' s wha t it is' Whe n we're all in a trance , we shall probabl y be m u r d e r e d I say, I mus t hav e a look ' L A M P [excited] I saw it as plai n as tha t candle ' Five distinc t leaves' G U N N [looks] Why, there' s m y old Alfa R o m e o ' A n d someone' s sittin g in it—it's a woman , dresse d all in black ' Sh e seem s t o be at a crossroad s 1 see th e sign-post , bu t I can' t rea d what' s writte n o n it No w she' s t u r n i n g h e r hea d M y God , it's T o m — M r s d a Silva' [Comes away ] D o you thin k tha t mean s he r husband' s die d a n d no w she'll follow m e ou t h e r e 5 C o m e on , Ia n Your t u r n ' S H A W C R O S S [takes a pace towards the crystal, stops, bursts out violently] I' m no t goin g to hav e anythin g t o d o with thi s d a m n e d business ' You other s pleas e yourselves I t isn't righ t We aren' t m e a n t to kno w thes e thing s [Calmer ] It' s probabl y som e kin d of trick , anyho w Μ F, I' m goin g t o get th e wireless read y It' s nearl y tim e to pic k u p th e weathe r r e p o r t fro m For t Georg e [Takes up one of the candles and exits, L ] G U N N You'll hav e a look , won' t you , Μ F 5 RANSO M [hesitates a moment] Very well [Looks into crystal ] [As he does so, VOICE S are heard from the darkened STAGE-BOXE S ]

V O I C E S Giv e m e brea d Restor e m y d e a d I a m sick H e l p m e quic k

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TH E ASCEN T OF Γ 6

Giv e m e a ca r Mak e m e a star Mak e m e nea t Guid e m y feet Mak e m e stron g Teac h m e wher e I belon g S t r e n g t h e n m y will Mak e m e still Mak e m e a d m i r e d Mak e m e desire d Mak e m e j u st [Together.]

Coo l m y lust. Mak e u s kin d Mak e u s of on e min d Mak e u s brave Save Save Save Save.

D O C T O R . Well, wha t is it thi s time ? Motor s o r flowers o r L o n d o n clubs? G U N N . T r y a n d see somethin g useful. Ask it to tell you th e best rout e u p F6 . R A N S O M [after a long pause]. I ca n see nothing . G U N N . N o t h i n g at all? O h , M.F. ! D O C T O R . T h a t all goes t o s u p p o r t you r hypnotis m theory . M.F . was a bit to o stron g for him . [The M O N K turns silently and goes out by the door, R.] G U N N . O u g h t we to hav e tippe d him , o r anything ? Gosh , you know , tha t crysta l ha s given m e quit e a h e a d a c h e ! I can' t u n d e r s t a n d you r no t seein g anything , M.F . O r was it so awful tha t you won' t tell us? D O C T O R . I feel I coul d d o with a chang e of air. Let' s go an d see if Ian' s got For t George . G U N N . Righ t you are . Coming , M.F. ? R A N S O M . N O . I'll stay here . T h e Abbot ma y wish t o spea k t o me . [ G U N N and

D O C T O R go out,

L.]

R A N S O M . Brin g bac k th e crystal. Le t m e loo k again an d prov e m y vision a p o o r fake. Was it t o m e the y t u r n e d thei r r o d e n t faces, thos e ragged denizen s o f th e waterfronts , a n d squeale d so piteously : "Restor e us ! Restor e u s to o u r uniquenes s an d o u r h u m a n condition. " Was it

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T H E ASCEN I OF F fa

for m e the prayer of the sad artist on the crowded beaches was indeed intended? "Assassinate my horrible detachment My love for these bathers is hopeless a n d excessive Make me also a s e r v a n t " I thought I saw the raddled sick cheeks of the world light u p at my approach as at the home-coming of an only son How could I tell them that? [Enter the A B B O T and T w o A C O L Y T E S , R ]

A B B O T [makes sign of benediction] Only God is great R A N S O M [kneeh and kisses his hand] But His power is for mercy A B B O T I h o p e everything has been arranged to your satisfaction- 1 R A N S O M It is perfect

A B B O T I a m glad Please be seated, Mr Ransom Will you d o m e the h o n o u r of taking a glass of wine with m e ' In these mountains, I fear we can offer b u t poor hospitality, but I think you will not find this wine totally unworthy of your palate Your health, Mr Ransom [Toast ] [The A C O L Y T E S exeunt R ]

Now tell me You wish to start soon on your ascension of o u r mountain? R A N S O M To-morrow If H e permit it, Whose will must be d o n e A B B O T You know t h e legend? R A N S O M I have read the Book of the Dead A B B O T Such interest, M r Ransom, is u n c o m m o n in o n e of your race I n that case, you will have c o m p r e h e n d e d the meaning of the ceremony that was p e r f o r m e d this evening out in the courtyard the office for the souls of the dead a n d the placation of the Demon I am afraid that you, with your western civilisation, must consider us here excessively superstitious No, you need not contradict me out of politeness I u n d e r s t a n d You see t h e painted mask a n d t h e h o r n s and the eyes of fire a n d you think "This Demon is only a bogey that nurses use to frighten their children I have outgrown such nonsense It is fit only for ignorant Monks and peasants With o u r factory chimneys a n d o u r furnaces a n d o u r locomotives we have banished these fairy-tales I shall climb the mountain a n d I shall see nothing " But you would be wrong T h e peasants, as you surmise rightly, are simple a n d uneducated, so their vision is simple a n d uneducated T h e y see the truth as a c r u d e a n d coloured picture Perhaps, for that reason, they see it m o r e clearly than you or I For it is a picture of truth T h e Demon is real Only his ministry a n d his visitation are unique for every nature T o the complicated and sensitive like yourself, Mr Ransom, his

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disguises are m o r e subtle. H e is—what shall I say?—the formless terror in the d r e a m , the stooping shadow that withdraws itself as you wake in the half-dawn. You have heard his gnashing accusations in the high fever at a very great distance. You have felt his presence in the sinister contours of a valley o r the sudden hostility of a copse o r the choking apprehension that fills you unaccountably in the middle of the most intimate dinner-party. I did you an injustice just now when I said that you expected to see nothing on the mountain. You d o expect to see something. T h a t is why you are intending to climb it. You d o not make that foolish, that terrible mistake so common a m o n g your fellow-countrymen of imagining that it is fortunate to be alive. No. You know, as I do, that Life is evil. You have conquered the first temptation of the Demon, which is to blind Man to his existence. But that victory exposes you to a second a n d infinitely more d a n g e r o u s temptation; the temptation of pity; the temptation to overcome the Demon by will. Mr Ransom, I think I u n d e r s t a n d your temptation. You wish to conquer the Demon a n d then to save Mankind. A m I right? RANSOM. SO you know of my vision in the crystal? A B B O T . Ah, you saw it there, too? T h a t is not strange. For all m e n see reflected there some fragment of their nature a n d glimpse a knowledge of those forces by whose free operation the future is forecast and limited. T h a t is not supernatural. Nothing is revealed but what we have h i d d e n from ourselves; the treasure we have buried a n d accursed. Your temptation, Mr Ransom, is written in your face. You know your powers and your intelligence. You could ask the world to follow you a n d it would serve you with blind obedience; for most m e n long to be delivered from the terror of thinking and feeling for themselves. A n d yours is the nature to which those a r e always attracted in whom the desire for devotion a n d self-immolation is strongest. And you would d o them much good. Because m e n desire evil, they must be governed by those who understand the corruption of their hearts, a n d can set bounds to it. As long as the world endures, there must be order, there must be government: b u t woe to the governors, for, by the very operation of their duty, however excellent, they themselves are destroyed. For you can only rule men by appealing to their fear a n d their lust; government requires the exercise of the h u m a n will: a n d the h u m a n will is from the Demon. R A N S O M . Supposing you a r e right. Supposing I abandon t h e mountain. What shall I do? Return to England and become a farm labourer o r a factory h a n d ? A B B O T . YOU have gone too far for that. R A N S O M . Well t h e n —

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A B B O T . T h e r e is an alternative, Mr Ransom; and I offer it you. R A N S O M . What?

A B B O T . T o remain h e r e and make the complete abnegation of the will. RANSOM. A n d that means—? A B B O T . You saw the corpse in the procession? RANSOM.

Yes.

A B B O T . In the course of your studies you have become acquainted, no doubt, with the mysteries of the rites of Chod? T h e celebrant withdraws to a wild and lonely spot and there the corpse is divided and its limbs scattered. T h e celebrant, sounding on his bone trumpet, s u m m o n s the gluttonous demons of the air to their appointed feast. At this m o m e n t there issues from the crown of his head a terrible goddess. This goddess is his Will, and she is a r m e d with a sword. And as the ghouls of the mountain and of the sky and of the waters u n d e r the glacier assemble to partake of the banquet, the goddess with her sword cuts off the limbs of the celebrant's esoteric body, scatters t h e m and apportions his entrails among the d e m o n guests. And the celebrant must wish them good appetite, urging them to devour every morsel. These rites, Mr Ransom, are so terrible that frequently the novices who witness them foam at the mouth, or become unconscious or fall dead where they stand. And yet, so tedious is the path that leads us to perfection that, when all these rites have been accomplished, the process of self s u r r e n d e r can hardly be said to have begun. . . . Well, Mr Ransom, I must leave you now. Do not make u p your mind at once. T h i n k my proposal over. RANSOM. Before you go, may I ask you a question? As Abbot, you rule this monastery? A B B O T . T h a t is a wise observation. Mr Ransom, I am going to tell you a secret which I have never told a living soul. We have spoken of your temptation. I am now going to tell you of mine. Sometimes, when I am tired or ill, I am subject to very strange attacks. T h e y come without warning, in the middle of the night, in the noon siesta, even during the observance of the most sacred religious rites. Sometimes they come frequently, sometimes they d o not occur for months or even years at a time. W h e n they come I am filled with an intoxicating excitement, so that my hand trembles and all the hairs on my body bristle, a n d there comes suddenly into my mind strange words, snatches of song and even whole poems. These poems sing always of the same world. A strange world. T h e world of the common people. T h e world of blood and violent death, of peasant soldiers and m u r derers, of graves a n d disappointed lust. And when I come to myself again a n d see these monastery walls a r o u n d me, I am filled with horror a n d despair. For I know that it is a visitation of the Demon. I

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kno w that , for me , nothin g matter s an y m o r e it is to o lat e I a m alread y a m o n g th e lost Goo d night , M r Ranso m [Exit R ] R A N S O M I s it to o lat e for m e ' I recogniz e m y p u r p o s e T h e r e was a choic e once , in t h e Lakelan d I n n I m a d e it wrong , a n d if I choos e again now , I mus t choos e for myself alone , no t for thes e other s O h , You wh o ar e t h e histor y a n d t h e creato r of all thes e form s in whic h we ar e c o n d e m n e d to suffer, to who m th e necessar y is also th e just, sho w me , sho w eac h of u s u p o n thi s morta l star th e d a n g e r tha t un de r hi s h a n d is softly palpitatin g Save us, save us fro m th e destruc tive elemen t of o u r will, for all we d o is evil [Enter G U N N , L ]

G U N N You alone ? Goo d I was afrai d I migh t be buttin g in , b u t Ia n a n d th e other s thre w m e ou t A n d I didn' t m u c h like th e ide a of sittin g by myself in th e dark , with all thos e Monk s a r o u n d [Pause ] Are you busy, M F ' Would you r a t h e r I didn' t talk? [RANSO M IS deep in his thoughts He doesn't answer G U N N , after regarding him for a moment in silence, begins again ] T h e wireless is comin g t h r o u g h beautifull y N o atmospheric s at all I h e a r d th e weathe r report , first class We'll be able t o star t to m o r r o w for a cer t RANSO M YOU s o u n d please d G U N N O f cours e I' m pleased ' Who wouldn' t be—after all thes e weeks of messin g about ? To-morro w we shall be o n th e ice' RANSO M Tel l me , David , wha t is it tha t make s you so kee n t o clim b thi s mountain ? G U N N [laughs] Wha t is it tha t make s on e kee n to clim b an y mountain ? RANSO M F 6 IS no t like an y m o u n t a i n you hav e ever climbe d G U N N Why not ? It' s got a top , hasn' t it? An d we wan t to get to it, d o n ' t we? I d o n ' t see anythin g very unusua l in tha t RANSO M You've t h o u g h t e n o u g h abou t th e ascen t of F 6 n o d o u b t , abou t th e couloir s a n d th e n o r t h buttres s an d th e aret e Hav e you t h o u g h t abou t t h e descent , to o th e descen t tha t goes dow n a n d dow n int o t h e plac e wher e Stagmantl e a n d m y B r o t h e r a n d all thei r g a n g ar e waiting ? Hav e you t h o u g h t abou t th e crowd s in th e street s dow n there , a n d th e loud-speaker s an d th e posin g a n d th e photo g r a p h i n g a n d th e hack-writte n article s you'll be pai d thousand s to sign? Hav e you smel t th e smell of thei r ceremonia l banquets ? Hav e you loathe d t h e m , a n d even as you were loathin g t h e m , begu n t o like it all? [Becomes hysterically excited ] Hav e you? Hav e you ? G U N N [scared] Μ F , wha t o n eart h d o you mean ?

330

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RANSO M Don' t h e to m e now , Davi d Are you corrupt , like th e rest of us? I mus t kno w [Seizes G U N N by the wrists and stares into his face ] Yes Yes I see it ' You to o Ho w horrible ' [Throws him violently aside ] Ge t ou t of m y sight' [Enter S H A W C R O S S , D O C T O R and

L A M P , all

far

too excited to notice that anything unusual has been happening ] S H A W C R O S S Μ F ' A message ha s j u st com e t h r o u g h Blavek a n d hi s part y ar e o n th e m o u n t a i n already ' G U N N Bu t it's impossible ' Whe n we last heard , h e was still o n th e o t h e r side of t h e T u n g Desert ' S H A W C R O S S Well, thi s is official H e mus t have bee n makin g force d marche s T h e s e fellows aren' t mountaineer s at all—they'r e soldiers ' T h e r e ' s a whol e r e g i m e n t of t h e m ' D o you know , Μ F , wha t they'r e doing ? T h e y ' r e h a m m e r i n g th e whol e sout h face full of piton s a n d haulin g eac h o t h e r u p like sacks' Goo d God , they'l l be usin g fireescape s befor e they'v e finished' Well, tha t settle s it' We haven' t a mo m e n t t o lose' RANSO M A n d you ar e all anxiou s to play thei r gam e th e rac e t o th e summit ? T h i s won' t be m o u n t a i n e e r i n g It'l l be a steeplechas e Are you so sur e t h e priz e is wort h it? Ian , you'r e th e puris t is thi s you r ide a of climbing' ' N o tim e for observations , n o tim e for reconnoitr e T e d d y , h a d n ' t you bette r stay ou t of this ? We can' t wait a week, you know , while you loo k for you r flowers L A M P I'll tak e m y chanc e of tha t late r We've got to bea t Blavek' RANSO M Blavek is onl y a n o t h e r victim of th e m o u n t a i n A n d you , T o m ? D O C T O R YOU d o n ' t expec t m e to stay here , d o you , Μ F ? Why, thi s make s m e feel twent y year s younge r already ' R A N S O M YOU , to o Stagmantle' s latest conver t H e shoul d be hon oure d S H A W C R O S S What' s t h e poin t of all thi s talk? T h e peopl e in Englan d expec t u s to get to th e to p befor e th e Ostnian s T h e y believe in us Are we goin g to let t h e m down ? G U N N I thin k thi s make s it all th e m o r e excitin g Goo d old Blavek' R A N S O M Very well t h e n , sinc e you wish it I obe y you T h e summi t will be reached , th e Ostnian s defeated , th e E m p i r e saved A n d I hav e failed We star t at daw n CURTAI N

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[The STAGE-BOX on the right is illuminated. The A.'s are having breakfast.] M R S A. Give me some money before you go T h e r e are a n u m b e r of bills we owe And you can go to the bank to-day D u r i n g the lunch-hour. M R A. I d a r e say; But, as it h a p p e n s , I'm overdrawn. M R S A. Overdrawn? What on earth have you d o n e With all the money? Where's it gone? M R A. H O W does money always go? Papers, lunches, tube-fares, teas, Tooth-paste, stamps and doctor's fees, O u r trip to Hove cost a bit, you know. M R S A. Can we never have fun? Can we never have any A n d not have to count every single penny? Why can't you find a way to earn more? It's so d e g r a d i n g and dull to be poor. Get another j o b . M R A. My j o b may be small But I'm d a m n e d lucky to have one at all. W h e n I think of those I knew in the War, All the fellows about my age: How many are earning a decent wage? T h e r e was O'Shea, the middle-weight champion; slouches from bar to bar now in a battered hat, cadging for drinks; T h e r e was Morgan, famous for his stories; sells ladies' u n d e r w e a r from door to door; T h e r e was Polewhele, with his university education; now Dan the Lavatory Man at a third-rate night-club; A n d Holmes in o u r office, well past fifty, was dismissed last week to bring down expenses; Next week another: who shall it be? It may be anyone. It may be me. [A newspaper is dropped through the door into the back of the BOX. M R A. goes to fetch it.] M R S A. It's all this foreign competition: Czechoslovakia, Russia, J a p a n , Ostnia a n d Westland do all they can T o ruin o u r trade with their cheap goods, D u m p i n g t h e m on o u r market in floods.

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T H E A S C E N T OF F 6

It makes my blood boil! You can find No British goods of any kind In any of the big shops now. T h e G o v e r n m e n t o u g h t to stop it somehow— M R A. Listen to this. [Reads.] O u r Special Correspondent reports that the Ostnian Expedition to F 6 , headed by Blavek, has crossed the T u n g Desert a n d is about to commence its final assault on the mountain. Blavek is confident of success a n d , in mountaineering circles, it is believed that the British climbers will have to make very strenuous efforts indeed if they are to beat their formidable opponents. . . . M R S A. You see? T h e foreigner everywhere, Competing in trade, competing in sport, Competing in science and abstract thought: A n d we j u s t sit down and let them take T h e prizes! There's m o r e than a mountain at stake. M R A. T h e travelogue showed us a Babylon buried in sand. M R S A. And books have spoken of a Spain that was the brilliant centre of an Empire. M R A. I have found a spider in the opulent boardroom. M R S A. I have d r e a m e d of a threadbare barnstorming actor, a n d h e was a national symbol. M R A. England's h o n o u r is covered with rust. M R S A. Ransom must beat them! H e must! H e must! M R A. O r England falls. She has h a d h e r h o u r And now must decline to a second-class power. [Puts on his bowler hat and exit, brandishing his newspaper. The S T A G E - B O X IS darkened.]

Act I I S c e n e 2 [On F 6. At the foot of the West Buttress. The back of the stage rises slightly, suggesting a precipice beyond. A magnificent panorama of distant mountains. On the right of the stage, the wall of the buttress rises, with an overhang.] [Mid-day. R A N S O M , S H A W C R O S S and L A M P .stand

roped on the edge of the precipice, assisting the D O C T O R and G U N N , who are still out of sight, be-

low. The rope is belayed round a rock.] R A N S O M [looking down]. There's a hold to your left, Tom. No, a little higher u p . Good. Now you're all right.

333

T H E A S C E N T OF F 6

G U N N ' S V O I C E [from below]. Look out, Doc! Don't tread on my face! R A N S O M . NOW t h e n . . . .

[After a moment, the D O C T O R hoists himself into view, panting.] Now you take it easy, Tom. Fifteen minutes' rest, here. L A M P . We've made good time, this morning. RANSOM [looking down]. You all right, David? G U N N ' S V O I C E [from below]. I think so. . . . No! Ooh, er! Gosh, this rock is soft! H e r e we come! [He appears.] D O C T O R . Well, thank goodness, that couloir's behind us, anyhow. T h o u g h how we shall ever get down it again is another matter. R A N S O M . You were splendid, T o m . Never known you in better form. D O C T O R . I must have lost at least two stone. That's one comfort. G U N N . While we were in the chimney, I felt his sweat d r i p p i n g on to me like a shower-bath. . . . I say, isn't there anything more to eat? RANSOM. I'm afraid we must keep to o u r rations, David. We're only carrying the m i n i m u m , you know. S H A W C R O S S . I should have thought you'd eaten enough to satisfy even your appetite—considering you had all my chocolate, as well. G U N N . Well, you needn't make a grievance out of it. You didn't want it, did you? D O C T O R . Still feeling sick, Ian? S H A W C R O S S [crossly]. I'm all right. D O C T O R . YOU don't look any too good. S H A W C R O S S . Anyhow, I don't see that it helps much to keep fussing about trifles and thinking of one's comfort. [A pause.] L A M P . Well, if we've got another ten minutes to spare, I think I'll be taking a look r o u n d . Might spot a clump of Polus Naufrangia. You never know. It's about the right altitude, now. [He goes to the back of the stage and looks over, through his binoculars.] G U N N [following him]. See anything? [ L A M P shakes his head.] Gosh, that's a d r o p ! [He balances on the edge and pretends to wobble.] O o h , er! Help! R A N S O M . Come away from there, David. [ G U N N obeys and begins wandering about the stage.]

334

THi .

ASCLN T OF F 6

D O C T O R [pointing upwards] Ho w high d o you mak e tha t buttress ? RANSO M Abou t seventee n h u n d r e d feet We shall be o n it all thi s after n o o n We o u g h t to reac h th e ridg e easily by sunse t G U N N [poking about] Hullo , what' s this ? [Picks up a skull ] Docto r Livingstone , I presume ? [The others, except LAMP , who continues to peer through his binoculars, collect round G U N N ] Ho w o n eart h di d h e get here ? D O C T O R Goodnes s know s Ma y hav e fallen fro m above See thi s crack ? It' s hardl y likely to hav e bee n m u r d e r , u p her e S H A W C R O S S Anyhow , h e mus t hav e bee n a prett y useful climbe r t o hav e got as far as h e di d I suppos e there' s n o d o u b t it's a nativ e skull? D O C T O R Impossibl e t o say I t ma y hav e bee n som e ma d E u r o p e a n who t h o u g h t he' d hav e a sho t at F 6 o n hi s own , bu t that' s scarcel y possible Som e h e r d s m a n , probabl y What d o you think , Μ F ? [Hands him the skull ] L A M P [shouting excitedly] C o m e h e r e ' Look 1 G U N N What' s t h e matter , Teddy ? L A M P Polu s Naufrangia 1 Five-leaved 1 A b e a u t y ' O n l y j u s t spotte d it A n d it was righ t u n d e r m y nose ' [He begins lowering himself over the edge ] D O C T O R Wait a m o m e n t , T e d d y Bette r d o tha t o n t h e r o p e G U N N [looking over] He'l l be all righ t It' s a broa d ledge Onl y abou t twent y feet dow n D O C T O R [looking over] Careful , T e d d y Carefu l Tak e you r tim e L A M P ' S V O I C E [from below] I' m all righ t [The others, except RANSOM , stand looking over the edge ] RANSO M [to skull] Well, Master , th e novice s ar e h e r e Hav e you r dr y bone s n o rustl e o f advice to give them ? O r ar e you d o n e with climb ing? Bu t that' s improbabl e Imaginatio n sees th e range s in th e Coun tr y o f t h e Dead , wher e thos e t o w h o m a m o u n t a i n is a m o t h e r find an eterna l playgroun d T h e r e Antoin e d e Ville scales pinnacle s with subtl e engines , Gesne r drink s water , share s his d r e a m s with Saussure , whose passio n for Mon t Blan c becam e a kin d of illness, Paccar d is reconcile d with Balmat , a n d B o u r n t , th e cathedra l precentor , n o longe r falsifies thei r stor y Mane-Coutet t still keep s his nicknam e of T h e Weasel, Donki n a n d Fo x ar e talkin g of th e Caucasus , Whympe r goes climbin g with hi s friend s again an d Hadow , who m a d e th e slip of inexperience , ha s n o fault s While, o n th e strictes t buttresses , th e y o u n g e r shadow s loo k for freshe r route s T o m Schmid t is t h e r e a n d

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the Bavarian cyclists; and that pair also whom Odell saw on the step of Everest before the cloud hid them for ever, in the gigantic shadow of whose achievement we pitch o u r miserable tent— [The roar of an approaching avalanche is heard.] D O C T O R . An avalanche! My God!

[RANSOM runs to join the others.] Look out Teddy! Look out! G U N N . Quick, m a n !

SHAWCROSS. Stay where you are! G U N N . J u m p for it! D O C T O R . O h , God! He's d o n e for!

[The roar of the avalanche drowns their voices; then gradually dies away.] SHAWCROSS. H e was just stooping to pick the flower, when the first stone got him. D O C T O R . It was all over in a moment. H e was probably knocked right out. S H A W C R O S S . A S he went over the edge, you could see the flower in his hand. G U N N . Gosh, I feel beastly! [Sits down on a rock.] SHAWCROSS. H e was a d a m n good man! D O C T O R . I'm glad h e found the Naufrangia, anyway. We must tell t h e m that in L o n d o n . Perhaps the five-leaved kind will be named after him. H e ' d like that, I think. S H A W C R O S S . I just can't believe it. Five minutes ago, he was standing here. D O C T O R [looking at LAMP'S rucksack, which is lying on a rock]. What d o you think we ought to d o with this? His people might like to have it. S H A W C R O S S . We can't very well take it with us now. I think we'd better bury it here. We can pick it u p on o u r way down. D O C T O R . Right you are. I'll help you. [Begins collecting stones.] [SHAWCROSS picks up the rucksack.] G U N N . Poor old Teddy! [To SHAWCROSS.] Half a minute! [FeeL· in the pocket of the ruchack.] O h , good! [Pulls out apiece of chocolate and begins eating it.] S H A W C R O S S [horrified]. My God! Haven't you any decency left in you at all? G U N N [with his mouth full]. Why, what's the matter now?

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SHAWCROSS. Of all the filthy callousness! G U N N . But, honestly, I don't see anything wrong. H e doesn't want it now, does he? SHAWCROSS. If that's the line you take, I suppose there's n o m o r e to be said. . . . Get some stones! [While the others are burying the rucksack, RANSOM stoops and picks up LAMP'S snow-glasses, which he has left lying on the rocks at the back of the stage.] RANSOM. T h e first victim to my pride. If I had never asked him, he would not have come. T h e Abbot was perfectly right. My minor place in history is with the aberrant g r o u p of Caesars: the dullard m u r d e r e r s who hale the gentle from their beds of love and, with a quacking d r u m , escort them to the drowning ditch and the death in the desert. . . . [To the others.] You have forgotten these. [Gives glasses.] H u r r y u p . We must be getting on, Ian, will you change places with David? [Music. They rope up in silence. RANSOM begins the traverse round the buttress, as the CURTAIN slowly

falls.]

[Both STAGE-BOXES are illuminated. In the left-hand box, STAGMANTLE is at the microphone. In the right-hand box, the A.'s sit, listening. M R A. w playing Patience. M R S A. is darning socks.] STAGMANTLE. It is with the deepest regret that we have to a n n o u n c e the death of Mr Edward Lamp, a m e m b e r of the F 6 Expedition. H e was climbing along a ridge on the n o r t h face after a rare botanical specimen when he was caught by an avalanche and killed. H e was twentyfour years of age. In Edward Lamp, Science has lost one of her most brilliant recruits. At Cambridge he carried everything before him; and his career, so tragically cut short, promised to be of the highest distinction. H e died as he had lived: in the service of his austere mistress. This is as h e would have wished; and n o man can do more. Nor could one design him a m o r e fitting grave than among the alpine flowers he loved so passionately and with such understanding. . . . [Exit.] M R S A. [moved]. Death like his is right and splendid; T h a t is how life should be e n d e d ! H e cannot calculate nor dread

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T h e mortifying in the bed, Powers wasting day by day While the courage ebbs away. Ever-charming, he will miss T h e insulting paralysis, Ruined intellect's confusion, Ulcer's patient persecution, Sciatica's intolerance And the cancer's sly advance; Never hear, a m o n g the dead, T h e rival's brilliant p a p e r read, Colleague's deprecating cough And the praises falling off; Never know how in the best Passion loses interest; Beauty sliding from the bone Leaves the rigid skeleton. M R A. If you had seen a dead man, you would not T h i n k it so beautiful to lie and rot; I've watched men writhing on the dug-out floor Cursing the land for which they went to war; T h e j o k e r cut off halfway t h r o u g h his story, T h e coward blown involuntary to glory, T h e steel butt smashing at the eyes that beg, T h e stupid clutching at the shattered leg, T h e twitching scarecrows on the rusty wire; I've smelt Adonis stinking in the mire, T h e p u d d l e stolid r o u n d his golden curls, Far from his precious mater and the girls; I've h e a r d the gas-case gargle, green as grass, And, in the guns, Death's lasting animus. Do you think it would comfort L a m p to know T h e British Public m o u r n s him so? I tell you, he'd give his rarest flower Merely to breathe for one m o r e hour! What is this expedition? H e has died T o satisfy o u r smug suburban pride. . . . [The S T A G E - B O X E S are darkened.]

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Act II Scene 3 [On F 6 . Camp B. The left of stage is occupied by a tent, which is open at the end facing the audience. Behind it, to the right, the ground rises to a platform of rock, overhanging a precipice. It is early evening, during the dialogue which follows, the stage slowly darkens. Wind-noises.] [RANSOM and the D O C T O R are inside the tent, preparing a meal. The D O C T O R IS cooking on the Primus stove.] D O C T O R . T h e wind's getting u p again. It's going to be a bad night. . . . I wish those two would turn u p . RANSOM. We can't expect them just yet. They're loaded, r e m e m b e r ; and the going isn't easy. D O C T O R . What was the psychrometer reading? RANSOM.

6-5.

D O C T O R . We're in for a lot m o r e snow. RANSOM. It looks like it. D O C T O R . A n d if it's bad down here, what's it going to be like u p there on the arete? R A N S O M [smiling]. Worse. D O C T O R . M.F.—you can't start to-morrow! R A N S O M . I must.

D O C T O R . If you try it in this weather, you haven't a chance! RANSOM. We shall have a better chance to-morrow than the day after. T h r e e days from now, there'd be n o n e at all. We can't h a n g on here for m o r e than four days: we haven't the stores. D O C T O R . T O try the arete in a blizzard is sheer madness! R A N S O M . Hasn't this whole climb been madness, Tom? We've d o n e things in the last week which ought to have been planned and prep a r e d for months. We've scrambled u p here somehow, and now we must make a rush for it. . . . Whatever the weather is, I must leave for the summit to-morrow. D O C T O R . Very well, M.F. You didn't bring me u p h e r e to argue with you. I won't. J u s t tell me what you want me to do. RANSOM. To-day is Tuesday. You'll wait for us here till Friday, at dawn. If we aren't back by then, you'll descend at once to C a m p A, rest t h e r e as long as necessary and then carry out the evacuation of the mountain, as we arranged. . . . You understand, Tom? At once. T h e r e is to be n o delay of any kind. D O C T O R . YOU mean: no search party?

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R A N S O M N o t h i n g I f you like, I'll p u t tha t in writin g I forbi d all useless risks [Smiling ] I o r d e r you to r e t u r n to Englan d alive D O C T O R [smiling] You'd bette r repea t tha t o r d e r to Davi d personall y RANSO M

David '

D O C T O R He'l l be secon d in c o m m a n d now , I suppose ? [ R A N S O M looks at him, smiles slightly and is silent ] Michael—yo u aren' t thinkin g of takin g hi m with you to t h e s u m m i t 5 RANSO M

W h a t if I am ?

D O C T O R T h e n you've chose n already ? R A N S O M Pleas e don' t questio n m e now , T o m Perhap s I hav e chose n P e r h a p s I haven't , yet We'll spea k abou t it late r I can' t tell you an y m o r e no w D O C T O R Very well, Michae l J u s t as you wish [A pause ] R A N S O M I kno w wha t you'r e thinkin g Ia n is steady , reliable , a hrst-clas s climbe r Davi d is onl y a brillian t amateur , a novic e with a n extraor dinar y flair, u n s o u n d , uneven , liable to m o m e n t s of panic , withou t stayin g powe r Yes, it's all tru e D O C T O R lan' s wante d to d o thi s clim b with you m o r e tha n he' s ever wante d t o d o anythin g in his whol e life R A N S O M I kno w I've felt that , ofte n All thes e weeks, he' s bee n o n edge , strainin g every muscl e an d every nerve , neve r relaxing , t o r t u r i n g himself , denyin g himself , watchin g m e like a do g waitin g for a sign Alread y he' s utterl y exhausted , he' s a feverish invalid T a k e thi s sicknes s of hi s as lon g as I've know n him , lan' s neve r bee n sick o n a m o u n t a i n befor e You see, T o m , th e ascen t of F 6 represents , for Ian , a kin d of t r i u m p h whic h h e no t onl y desire s bu t of whic h he' s desperatel y afrai d H e can' t face it H e want s m e to o r d e r hi m to face it Bu t if I d o , it will destro y hi m D O C T O R [after a pause] P e r h a p s you'r e right , Μ F Yes, I thin k you ar e B u t surely—you've admitte d it yourself—David is afraid , too ? R A N S O M Davi d is afrai d of precipices , avalanches , cornices , falling stone s H e is afrai d of bein g killed, no t of dyin g H e is no t afrai d of F 6, n o r of himsel f D O C T O R Μ F — T h e boys hav e thei r whol e lives befor e t h e m T a k e m e R A N S O M [after a pause] Yes, I' d t h o u g h t of that , to o T h a n k you for askin g me , T o m I a m very h o n o u r e d D O C T O R O h , I kno w it's impossible , of cours e I' m a fat old m a n T h e crysta l was righ t I shall di e in m y be d

340

T H E ASCLNT OF F 6

RANSOM. YOU will die at the end of a long a n d useful life. You will have helped a great many people a n d comforted all whom you could not help. . . . But the Demon d e m a n d s another kind of victim— [Whistling from G U N N , off. Enter G U N N and SHAWCROSS, R. Both of them are carrying stores. They cross the stage and enter the tent.] G U N N . Hullo, M.F.! Hullo, Doc! Are we late for supper? D O C T O R . N o , it's just ready now. [ G U N N and SHAWCROSS put down their loads. SHAWCROSS IS much exhausted: G U N N fresh and lively. R A N S O M lights the tent lantern.] G U N N . Gosh, I'm hungry! T h e altitude doesn't seem to affect my appetite. W h a t is t h e r e to eat? D O C T O R . Cocoa a n d oatmeal. [Hands round rations.] G U N N . Oatmeal again! D O C T O R . Perhaps you'd prefer a mutton chop? G U N N . Don't, T o m , you swine! You make my mouth water! T h e hrst thing I'll d o when I get back, I'll stand you dinner at Boulestin's. We'll start with two dozen Royal Whitstables— D O C T O R . O h , but David, Danish a r e much better! G U N N . J u s t as you like. What about soup? Minestrone, I think? D O C T O R . You have that. I prefer a really good tomato to anything. G U N N . A n d now, what would you say to Lobster Newberg? D O C T O R . I o u g h t n ' t to, really; b u t I can't resist. G U N N . Good Lord! We've forgotten the wine! S H A W C R O S S [bitterly]. Must you always be talking about food? G U N N . Was I? Sorry.

S H A W C R O S S . Well, for God's sake, shut u p then! [A pause.] D O C T O R . You're not eating anything, Ian. SHAWCROSS. I don't want any, thanks. D O C T O R . T a k e just a little. You must eat something, you know. S H A W C R O S S [angrily]. You heard m e say No once. Are you going deaf? RANSOM. Doctor's orders, Ian. S H A W C R O S S . All right, M.F. If you say so—

R A N S O M [handing him his mug of cocoa]. T r y this. It's good. [SHAWCROSS sips listlessly, putting the mug down almost at once.]

TH E ASCEN T OF F 6

341

G U N N T h a n k Go d for m y goo d d i n n e r ' Pleas e ma y I get down ? [Pretending to strum on mandolin, sings ] Som e hav e tennis-elbo w A n d som e hav e housemaid' s knee , A n d som e I kno w hav e got Β Ο Bu t thes e ar e no t for m e T h e r e ' s love th e whol e world over Whereve r you ma y be , I h a d a n aun t wh o loved a p l a n t — Bu t you'r e m y c u p o i tea ' D O C T O R [laughing and applauding] Bravo ' [ G U N N bows ]

You know , Μ F , thi s remind s m e of o u r first clim b together , o n t h e Mey e D o you r e m e m b e r tha t hut ? R A N S O M A n d o u r Primu s tha t wouldn' t light? Shal l I ever forget it? D O C T O R A n d th e fleas in th e straw? Extraordinar y t h e altitude s fleas ca n live at ' F u n n y things , fleas I f a flea were as big as a man , it coul d j u m p over St Paul' s G U N N Whe n I was at school , I trie d to kee p a flea circu s Bu t I coul d neve r trai n t h e m to d o anythin g at all T h e y ' r e no t really very intel ligen t D O C T O R P e r h a p s you didn' t go th e righ t way abou t it A m a n tol d m e onc e tha t if— S H A W C R O S S [passionately] O h , for Christ' s sake, shu t u p ' D O C T O R Why, what' s t h e matter , Ian ? S H A W C R O S S D O you expec t m e t o sit listenin g t o you r dnve l th e whol e night ? Why d o we kee p p r e t e n d i n g like this? Why d o n ' t we tal k of wha t we'r e all thinkin g about ? Μ F , I've ha d abou t as m u c h of thi s as I ca n stand ' You've got to tell us no w which of us ar e you takin g with you to-morrow ? D O C T O R Steady , I a n ' [Puts a hand on his arm ] S H A W C R O S S [shaking him off] Le t m e alone , d a m n you ' I wasn't talkin g t o you ' Μ F , you've blood y well got to choose ' R A N S O M I hav e chosen , Ia n I' m takin g Davi d S H A W C R O S S O h , m y G o d ' [Pause ] A n d I kne w it all th e time ' G U N N Rotte n luck , I a n I say, let m e stay behin d I don' t mind , so very m u c h S H A W C R O S S [shouting] M y God , d o you thin k I' m goin g to crawl for favour s to you, you little swine' You were always hi s favourite ' I don' t kno w ho w I've kep t m y h a n d s off you so long ' [He tries to throttle GUN N

the D O C T O R seizes him ]

342

T H E ASCENT OF F 6

D O C T O R . I a n , that's enough! S H A W C R O S S [strugglingfree]. O h , I know—you're on his side, too! Do you think I haven't h e a r d you whispering behind my back? RANSOM. Is this what all your talk of loyalty amounts to, Ian? T o m a n d David have nothing to d o with this. I am in charge of this expedition. If you have anything to complain of, be m a n enough to say so to me. SHAWCROSS. I'm sorry, M.F. Forgive me. You're quite right. I'm no d a m n good: I realize that now. You're all better m e n than I am. I had a pretty fine opinion of myself, once. I imagined I was indispensable. Even my admiration of you was only another kind of conceit. You were just an ideal of myself. But F 6 has broken me; it's shown m e what I am—a rotten weakling. . . . I'll never give orders to anybody again. RANSOM. N O , Ian. You're wrong. F 6 hasn't broken you. It has made a m a n of you. You know yourself now. Go back to England with T o m . O n e day you will do something better worth while than this fool's e r r a n d on which David a n d I are going. I am giving you a h a r d e r j o b than mine. S H A W C R O S S [hesitating]. If I only could—! But you don't really believe it: I see you don't! N o one will ever— [With ruing excitement.] They'd look at m e a n d think—No, I couldn't bear it! H e failed—I can't—no, no—I'll never let them! Never! [He turns to rush out of the tent.] D O C T O R . I a n ! [They struggle at the tent flap; SHAWCROSS breaks free and runs across to the rock above the precipice; the others following.] R A N S O M . Stop him!

G U N N . Ian, you fool, come back! [SHAWCROSS, with a loud cry, springs over the precipice. The others reach the rock and stand peering down into the darkness. Gale noises and music] CURTAIN

[Both STAGE-BOXES are illuminated.] [In the right-hand BOX, the A.'s are listening. M R S A. is adjusting the wireless: M R A. stands restlessly cleaning his pipe. In the left-hand BOX, the A N NOUNCER IS at the microphone.]

A N N O U N C E R . T h e r e is still no news of the British Expedition to F 6 . Fort

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343

George reports that a severe blizzard is general over the whole range. T h e gravest anxiety is felt as to their safety— M R A. T u r n off the wireless; we are tired of descriptions of travel; We are bored by the exploits of amazing heroes; We d o not wish to be heroes, n o r are we likely to travel. We shall not penetrate the Arctic Circle A n d see the N o r t h e r n Lights flashing far beyond Iceland; We shall not h e a r the prayer from the minaret echoing over Arabia N o r the surf on the coral atoll. M R S A. N o r d o we h o p e to be very distinguished; T h e embossed card of invitation is not for us; No p h o t o g r a p h e r s lurk at o u r door; T h e house-party a n d the grouse-moor we know by hearsay only; We know of all these from the lending library and the super cinema. M R A. T h e y excite us; but not very much. It is not o u r life. M R S A. For the skidding car and the neighbours' gossip Are m o r e terrifying to us than the snarling leap of the tiger; A n d the shop-fronts at Christmas a greater marvel than Greece. M R A. Let o u r fears a n d o u r achievements be sufficient to o u r day. M R S A. T h e luck at the bargain counter: M r A. T h e giant marrow grown on the allotment. M R S A. O u r moments of exaltation have not been extraordinary But they have been real. M R A. In the sea-side hotel, we experienced genuine passion: M R S A. Straying from the charabanc, u n d e r tremendous beeches, We were amazed at the profusion of bluebells and the nameless birds; A n d the Ghost T r a i n and the switchback did not always disappoint. M R A. T u r n on the wireless. T u n e in to another station; T o the tricks of variety or the r h y t h m of jazz. Let us roll back the carpet from the parlour floor A n d dance to the wireless t h r o u g h the open door. [They turn on the wireless and a dance band is heard. The A's leave the BOX.] A N N O U N C E R [sings].

Forget the Dead, what you've read, All the errors and the terrors of the bed; Dance, J o h n , dance!

344

TH E ASCEN T OF F 6

I g n o r e th e Law, it's a bore , Don' t e n u m e r all th e r u m o u r s of a war; Dance , J o h n , dance ! Chi n u p ! Kiss m e ! Atta Boy! Danc e till daw n a m o n g th e ruin s of a b u r n i n g Troy ! Forge t th e Boss whe n he' s cross, All th e bills a n d all th e ills tha t mak e you toss: Dance , J o h n , dance ! Som e get disease , other s freeze , Som e hav e learne d th e way t o t u r n themselve s to trees ; Dance , J o h n , etc. [The STAGE-BOXE S are darkened.}

Act I I S c e n e 4 [On F 6 . The Arete. Hurricane. Late afternoon. RANSO M supporting G U N N . ] RANSOM . Steady . Lea n o n me . G U N N . N O , it's n o use. I can' t go an y further . Hel p m e dow n there , ou t of thi s blood y blizzard . [They descend to a ledge.] [Collapsing.] T h a n k s . Bu t h u r r y . G o on , now , an d reac h th e top . F 6 is a househol d wor d already . T h e nursemaid s in th e par k go int o raptures . T h e barber' s chatter' s full of nothin g else. You mustn' t disappoin t them . I n Lon d o n now , the y ar e unlockin g th e entrance s to tubes . I shoul d be still asleep b u t no t alone . T o n i was nic e bu t very difficult. . . . No w n o policema n will s u m m o n s m e again for careles s driving . . . . T h e y ' r e flagging fro m th e pits . . . . I canno t stop . . . . T h e brake s ar e gone . . . . I a n woul d be feelin g as sick as a cat . . . . Wher e is tha t brake ? T w o h u n d r e d . . . . Christ , wha t banking ! [Dies.] R A N S O M . YOU always h a d goo d luck ; it ha s no t failed you Eve n in this , you r brightes t escapade , Bu t extricate s you no w F r o m th e mos t crue l c u n n i n g t r a p of all, Set s you at large a n d leaves n o trac e behind , Excep t thi s d u m m y . Ο senseless hurricanes , T h a t waste yourselves u p o n th e unvexe d rock , Fin d som e employmen t p r o p e r to you r powers ,

T H E A S C E N T OF F 6

345

Press on the neck of Man your m u r d e r i n g thumbs A n d earn real gratitude' Astrologers, Can you not scold the fated loitering star T o r u n to its collision and o u r e n d 5 T h e C h u r c h a n d Chapel can agree in this, T h e vagrant a n d the widow mumble for it A n d those with millions belch their heavy prayers T o take away this luggage Let the ape buy it O r the insipid h e n Is Death so busy T h a t we must fidget in a draughty world That's stale a n d tasteless, must we still kick o u r heels A n d wait for his obsequious secretaries T o page Mankind at last a n d lead him T o the distinguished Presence 5 CURTAIN

[The STAGE-BOXES remain darkened A voice from each is heard, in duet They are like people speaking in their sleep ] LEFT BOX

RIGHT BOX

No news T o o late

Snow on the pass Nothing to report Fought t h r o u g h the storm, T h u n d e r a n d hail

Yes T h e y will die T h e y fade from o u r mind But Death

Useless to wait T h e i r fate We do not know Alas Caught in the blizzard Warm in o u r beds we wonder Will they fail 5 Will they miss their success 5 We sigh We cannot aid T h e y find no breath

346

THE ASCENT OF F 6

Act I I Scene 5 [F 6. The stage rises steeply, in a series of rock terraces, to the small platform at the back which forms the summit of the mountain Blizzard. Gathering darkness.] [In the front of the stage RANSOM is struggling upwards. After a few numbed movements, he falls exhausted. Music throughout. The light now fades into complete darkness. The voices of the C H O R U S , dressed in the habit of the monks from the glacier monastery, are heard.] C H O R U S . Let the eye of the traveller consider this country and weep, For toads croak in the cisterns; the aqueducts choke with leaves: T h e highways are out of repair and infested with thieves: T h e ragged population are crazy for lack of sleep: O u r chimneys are smokeless; the implements rust in the held A n d o u r tall constructions are felled. Over o u r empty playgrounds the wet winds sough; T h e crab and the s a n d h o p p e r possess o u r abandoned beaches; U p o n o u r gardens the dock and the darnel encroaches; T h e crumbling lighthouse is circled with moss like a muff; T h e weasel inhabits the courts and the sacred places; Despair is in o u r faces. [The summit of the mountain is illuminated, revealing a veiled, seated F I G U R E . ]

For the Dragon has wasted the forest and set fire to the farm; H e has mutilated o u r sons in his terrible rages And o u r daughters h e has stolen to be victims of his dissolute orgies; H e has cracked the skulls of o u r children in the crook of his arm; With the blast of his nostrils h e scatters death t h r o u g h the land; We are babes in his hairy hand. O, when shall the deliverer come to destroy this dragon? For it is stated in the prophecies that such a one shall appear, Shall ride on a white horse and pierce his heart with a spear; O u r elders shall welcome him h o m e with t r u m p e t and organ, Load him with treasure, yes, and o u r most beautiful maidenhead H e shall have for his bed. [The veiled FIGURE on the summit raises its hand.

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347

There is a fanfare of trumpets. The D R A G O N , in the form O/JAMES RANSOM, appears. He wears full ceremonial dress, with orders. He is illuminated by a spot-light. The C H O R U S , throughout the whole scene, remain in semi-darkness.} [As J A M E S appears, the C H O R U S utter a cry of dismay. J A M E S bows to the F I G U R E . ]

J A M E S . I am sorry to say that o u r civilising mission has been subject to grave misinterpretations. O u r critics have been unhelpful and, I am constrained to add, unfair. T h e powers which I represent stand unequivocally for peace. We have declared o u r willingness to conclude pacts of non-aggression with all of you—on condition, of course, that o u r d e m a n d s are reasonably met. During the past few years we have carried unilateral disarmament to the utmost limits of safety; others, whom I need not specify, have unfortunately failed to follow o u r example. We now find ourselves in a position of inferiority which is intolerable to the h o n o u r and interests of a great power; a n d in selfdefence we are reluctantly obliged to take the necessary measures to rectify the situation. We have constantly reiterated o u r earnest desire for peace; but in the face of unprovoked aggression I must utter a solemn warning to you all that we are p r e p a r e d to defend ourselves to the fullest extent of our forces against all comers. [ J A M E S IS seated. Duet from the darkened STAGEBOXES.]

D U E T . Him who comes to set us free Save whoever it may be, From the fountain's thirsty snare, From the music in the air, From the tempting fit of slumber, From the o d d unlucky number, From the riddle's easy trap, From the ignorance of the m a p , From the locked forbidden room, From the Guardian of the T o m b , From the siren's wrecking call, Save him now a n d save us all. [Flourish on the wood-wind. M I C H A E L

RANSOM

steps into the light which surrounds the Dragon JAMES. He still wears his climbing things but is without helmet, goggles or ice-axe.]

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T H E A S C E N T OF F 6

J A M E S . Michael! Why have you come here? What d o you want? RANSOM. Hardly very friendly, are you? J A M E S . What is it this time? We are grown men now. RANSOM. T h e r e is n o time to lose. I have come to make you a most important proposition. J A M E S . Which I accept—on my own conditions. [At his signal a complete set of life-size chessmen appear. The chief pieces on J A M E S ' side are S T A G MANTLE,

I S A B E L and

the

G E N E R A L ; and

M I C H A E L ' S , S H A W C R O S S , G U N N and

LAMP.

on All

have masks which partially disguise them.] Before we continue, if any of you have any questions you would like to put either to my colleagues or myself, we shall be delighted to d o o u r best to answer them. [As each character answers his question, he or she removes the mask.] M R A. [from stage-box]. Why is my work so dull? G E N E R A L . T h a t is a most insubordinate remark. Every man has his j o b in life, and all he has to think about is doing it as well as it can be done. What is needed is loyalty, not criticism. T h i n k of those climbers u p on F 6 . No decent food. No fires. No nice warm beds. Do you think they grumble? You ought to be ashamed of yourself. M R S A. Why doesn't my husband love me any more? ISABEL. My dear, I'm terribly sorry for you. I d o understand. But aren't you being just a teeny-weeny bit morbid? Now think of those young climbers u p there on F 6. They're not worrying about their love affairs. [Archly.] And I'm sure they must have several. Of course, I know people like you and me can't do big things like that, but we can find little simple everyday things which help to take us out of ourselves. T r y to learn Bridge or get a book from the lending library. Reorganise your life. I know it won't be easy at first, but I'm sure if you stick to it you'll find you won't brood so much. And you'll be ever so much happier. M R A. Why have I so little money? STAGMANTLE. Ah, I was expecting that one! I'm a practical m a n like yourself, a n d as it happens I'm a rich one, so I ought to know something about money. I know there are far too many people who have too little. It's a d a m n e d shame, but there it is. That's the world we live in. But speaking quite seriously as a business man, I can tell you

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349

that money doesn't necessarily bring happiness. I n fact, the more you worry about it, the u n h a p p i e r you are. T h e finest a n d happiest m a n I ever met—he's leading the expedition u p F 6 at t h e moment— doesn't care a brass button for money, a n d never has. So my advice is: Get all the cash you can a n d stick to it, but don't worry. M R A . AND M R S A. Why were we born? J A M E S . That's a very interesting question, a n d I'm not sure I can answer it myself. But I know what my brother, the climber, thinks. When we take, h e said to m e once, the life of the individual, with its tiny circumscribed area in space a n d time, a n d measure it against the geological epochs, t h e gigantic movements of history a n d the immensity of t h e universe, we a r e forced, I think, to the conclusion that, taking the large view, t h e life of the individual has n o real existence o r importance apart from the great whole; that h e is here indeed b u t to serve for his brief m o m e n t his community, his race, his planet, his universe; a n d then, passing o n the torch of life undiminished to others, his little task accomplished, to die a n d be forgotten. RANSOM. You're not being fair to me. J A M E S . Keep to your world. I will keep to mine. [The chess game begins Complete silence, accompanied only by a drum roll. At intervals J A M E S or M I C H A E L says: "Check!"] J A M E S . Check!

R A N S O M [looking for the first time towards the summit and seeing the F I G U R E ] . Look!

J A M E S . Mate! I've won!

[The F I G U R E shakes its head.] R A N S O M [his eyes still fixed upon it]. But was the victory real? J A M E S [half rues to his feet, totters; in a choking voice]. It was not Virtue—it was n o t Knowledge—it was Power! [Collapses.] C H O R U S . What have you done? What have you done? You have killed, you have m u r d e r e d h e r favourite son! [Confusion. During the following speeches, S T A G MANTLE, the G E N E R A L and

I S A B E L jostle each

other, jump on each other's shoulders to get a better hearing and behave in general like the Marx brothers.] STAGMANTLE. T h e whole of England is plunged into m o u r n i n g for o n e

350

T H E A S C E N T OF F 6

of her greatest sons; but it is a sorrow tempered with pride, that once again Englishmen have been weighed in the balance a n d not found wanting. ISABEL. At this hour, the thoughts of the whole nation go out to a very brave a n d very lonely woman in a little South country cottage; already a widow and now a bereaved mother. G E N E R A L . I am n o climber; but I know courage when I see it. He was a brave m a n and courage is the greatest quality a man can have. STAGMANTLE. Sport transcends all national barriers, and it is some comfort to realize that this tragedy has brought two great nations closer together. ISABEL. In the face of this terrible tragedy, one is almost tempted to believe in the grim old legend of the Demon. [A figure having the shape of the A B B O T , wearing a monk's habit and a judge's wig and holding the crystal in his hands, is illuminated at a somewhat higher level of the stage.] A B B O T . I am truly sorry for this young man, but I must ask for the Court to be cleared. [Exeunt S H A W C R O S S , L A M P and

GUNN.]

[A Blues. M O N K S enter with a stretcher, J A M E S ' body is carried in slow procession round the stage and away into the darkness.] S T A G M A N T L E AND I S A B E L .

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, Prevent the d o g from barking with a juicy bone, Silence the pianos and with muffled d r u m Bring out the coffin, let the m o u r n e r s come. Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead Scribbling on the sky the message: He is dead. Put crepe bows r o u n d the white necks of the public doves. Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves. Hold u p your umbrellas to keep off the rain From Doctor Williams while he opens a vein; Life, h e pronounces, it is finally extinct. Sergeant, arrest that man who said he winked! Shawcross will say a few words sad and kind T o the weeping crowds about the Master-Mind,

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351

While L a m p with a powerful microscope Searches their faces for a sign of hope. And G u n n , of course, will drive the motor-hearse: None could drive it better, most would drive it worse. He'll o p e n u p the throttle to its fullest power And drive him to the grave at ninety miles an hour. A B B O T . Please be seated, Mr Ransom. I hope everything has been arr a n g e d here to your satisfaction? RANSOM. I didn't d o it! I swear I didn't touch him! It wasn't my fault! [Pointing to F I G U R E . ] T h e Demon gave the sign! T h e Demon is real! A B B O T . In that case, we will call the victims of his pride. Call Ian Shawcross! C H O R U S . Ian Shawcross!

[SHAWCROSS appears. He is bloodstained and pale.] R A N S O M . I've h a d about as much of this as I can stand. You've got to tell them! I hate to bother you with this sort of thing. SHAWCROSS. I'm afraid you haven't succeeded very well. RANSOM. You mean, you did see something? If you hadn't, you mightn't believe me. S H A W C R O S S . O h , for Christ's sake, shut u p ! If what you've d o n e amuses you, I'm glad. I'm not very tolerant, I'm afraid. [£x?/.] A B B O T . Call David G u n n ! C H O R U S . David G u n n ! [Enter D A V I D G U N N , pale and covered with snow. His face is entirely without features.] R A N S O M . David, you saw what h a p p e n e d ? G U N N . Didn't I just? You did it beautifully. It was first class! R A N S O M . You sound pleased! G U N N . Of course I'm pleased! W h o wouldn't be! R A N S O M . David, there's something I must tell you— [Exit G U N N . ]

A B B O T . Call Edward Lamp! C H O R U S . Edward Lamp! Edward Lamp! Edward Lamp! L A M P ' S V O I C E [far away, off]. I'm all right.

R A N S O M [shouts]. T e d d y , what did you see? L A M P ' S V O I C E . If I told you, you wouldn't be any t h e wiser. RANSOM. You're on their side, too! Is this all your talk of loyalty amounts to?

T H E ASCENT OF F 6

352

M R S A. O, what's the use of your pretending As if Life had a chance of mending? T h e r e will be nothing to r e m e m b e r But the fortnight in August or early September. M R A. H o m e to supper and to bed. It'll be like this till we are dead. [ D O C T O R appears.] RANSOM.

Tom!

D O C T O R . J u s t tell me what you want me to do. RANSOM. I can't face it! D O C T O R . Perhaps you are right. T h e Demon demands another kind of victim. Ask the crystal. [Exit D O C T O R . ] A B B O T . You wish to appeal to the crystal, Mr Ransom? Do not ask at once, but think it over. RANSOM. We haven't a m o m e n t to lose. I appeal to the crystal. A B B O T . Very well, since you wish it, I obey you. [Looks into crystal.] [Music. Duet from STAGE-BOXES, the A.'s sing.] M R S A. AND M R A. Make us kind, Make us of one mind, Make us brave, Save, save, save, save. A B B O T . Mr Ransom, I did you an injustice. I thought I understood your temptation, but I was wrong. T h e temptation is not the Demon. If there were no Demon, there would be no temptation. R A N S O M . What have I said? I didn't mean it! Forgive me! It was all my fault. F 6 has shown me what I am. I'm a coward and a prig. I withdraw the charge. A B B O T . Such altruism, Mr Ransom, is u n c o m m o n in one of your race. But I am afraid it is too late now. T h e case is being brought by the Crown. [Turning to the FIGURE on the summit.] Have you anything to say in your defence? [Pause.] You realise the consequences of silence? [Pause.] As long as the world e n d u r e s there must be law and order. [To C H O R U S . ] Gentlemen, consider your verdict. C H O R U S . At last the secret is out, as it always must come in the end, T h e delicious story is ripe to tell to the intimate friend; Over the tea-cups and in the square the tongue has its desire; Still waters r u n deep, my dear, there's never smoke without fire. Behind the corpse in the reservoir, behind the ghost on the links, Behind the lady who dances a n d the man who madly drinks,

T H E ASCENT OF F 6

353

U n d e r the look of fatigue, the attack of migraine a n d the sigh T h e r e is always another story, there is more than meets the eye. For t h e clear voice suddenly singing, high u p in the convent wall, T h e scent of the elder bushes, the sporting prints in the hall, T h e croquet matches in summer, the handshake, the cough, the kiss, T h e r e is always a wicked secret, a private reason for this. A B B O T . Have you considered your verdict? R A N S O M . Stop!

[He rushes up to the summit and places himself in front of the FIGURE, with his arms outstretched, as if to protect it.] R A N S O M . N O one shall ever—! I couldn't bear it! I'll never let them! Never! A B B O T [to C H O R U S ] . Guilty or not guilty? C H O R U S [all pointing to the F I G U R E ] . Guilty! G E N E R A L . Die for England! ISABEL. H o n o u r ! S T A G M A N T L E . Service! G E N E R A L . Duty! ISABEL. Sacrifice!

A L L . Die for England. V O I C E . Ostnia.

A L L . England. England. England. M R S A. AND M R A. Die for us! [Thunder and the roar of an avalanche are heard. All lights are extinguished below; only the FIGURE and RANSOM remain illuminated. RANSOM turns to the FIGURE, whose draperies fall away, revealing M R S RANSOM as a young mother.] R A N S O M . Mother! M O T H E R [ M R S R A N S O M ] . My boy! At last!

[He falls at her feet with his head in her lap. She strokes his hair.] C H O R U S . Acts of injustice d o n e Between the setting a n d the rising sun In history lie like bones, each one.

354

T H E ASCENT OF F 6

M R S R A N S O M . Still the dark forest, quiet the deep, Softly the clock ticks, baby must sleep! T h e Pole star is shining, bright the Great Bear, Orion is watching, high u p in the air. C H O R U S . Memory sees them down there, Paces alive beside his fear That's slow to die and still here. M R S RANSOM. Reindeer are coming to drive you away Over the snow on an ebony sleigh, Over the mountain and over the sea You shall go happy and handsome and free. C H O R U S . T h e future, h a r d to mark, Of a world turning in the dark W h e r e ghosts are walking and dogs bark. M R S RANSOM. Over the green grass pastures there You shall go h u n t i n g the beautiful deer, You shall pick flowers, the white and the blue, Shepherds shall flute their sweetest for you. C H O R U S . T r u e , Love finally is great, Greater than all; but large the hate, Far larger than Man can ever estimate. M R S RANSOM. And in the castle tower above, T h e princess' cheek b u r n s red for your love, You shall be king and queen of the land, H a p p y for ever, h a n d in hand. C H O R U S . But between the day and night T h e choice is free to all, and light Falls equally on black and white. [During the first verse of the Chorale which follows, the light fades from the summit, so that the stage is completely darkened. Then, after a moment, the entire stage is gradually illuminated by the rising sun. The stage is empty, except for the body of RANSOM, who lies dead on the summit of the mountain.} H I D D E N C H O R U S . Free now from indignation, I m m u n e from all frustration H e lies in death alone;

THE

A S C E N T OF F 6

Now he with secret terror And every minor error Has also made Man's weakness known. Whom History hath deserted, These have their power exerted, In one convulsive throe; With sudden drowning suction Drew him to his destruction. [Cresc] But they to dissolution go. SLOW C U R T A I N

355

On the Frontier A Melodrama in Three Acts BY W. H. A U D E N CHRISTOPHER

AND

ISHERWOOD

[1937-38]

TO BENJAMIN

BRITTEN

The drums tap out sensational bulletins; Frantic the efforts of the violins To drown the song behind the guarded hill: The dancers do not listen; but they will.

DRAMAI1S PERSONAL· DR

OLIVER THORVALD:

HILDA THORVALD: ERIC THORVALD: MARTHA THORVALD: COLONEL HUSSEK: LOUISA VRODNY: ANNA VRODNY: OSWALD VRODNY: VALERIAN: LESSEP: MANNERS: STAHL: T H E LEADER: STORM-TROOPER GRIMM: A C H O R U S OF E I G H T :

lecturer at a Westland university his wife their son Dr Thorvald's sister late of the Ostnian Army his daughter her daughter brother-in-law to Mrs Vrodny head of the Westland Steel Trust his secretary his butler a director of the Westland Steel Trust of Westland of the Leader's Bodyguard five men and three women

NOTES ON THE CHARACILRS (All the Chorus must be able to sing) D R T H O R V A L D : Middle-aged, pedantic, would have been a liberal u n d e r a democratic regime. H I L D A T H O R V A L D : Good-natured, a bit slatternly. Has been the butterfly type. Hates rows. Wears dressing-jackets, kimonos, arty clothes. E R I C T H O R V A L D : Untidy, angular. About twenty. M A R T H A T H O R V A L D : Violently repressed, fanatical. Wears glasses. Not to be played too broadly: r e m e m b e r that, beneath her fanaticism, she is an educated, intelligent woman. She is conscious of having a better brain than h e r sister-in-law. C O L . H U S S E K : An old lobster.

M R S V R O D N Y : Embittered by poverty and household responsibilities; but with considerable reserves of power. T h e Vrodny-Hussek family has aristocratic traditions. A N N A V R O D N Y : Must not be played as a mouse. She has character, but has hardly realised it. O S W A L D V R O D N Y : A cheerful ne'er-do-well. Might even speak with an Irish accent.

V A L E R I A N : Tall, suave, courteous, sardonic. Speaks precisely, with a slight foreign accent. About forty-five. L E S S E P : About twenty-seven. Intriguing. Can be spiteful. In dress and m a n n e r slightly pansy. M A N N E R S : A stage butler. S T A H L : T h o u g h , with Valerian, h e plays second fiddle, he is a m a n of considerable presence and power. He is not quite as tall as Valerian, but broader. About fifty-five. T H E LEADER: T r y to avoid resemblances to living personages. T h e Leader wears a beard. H e is about forty-five, anxious and ill. In the first act, he plays very stiffly, like a newsreel p h o t o g r a p h of himself. His platform voice is like a trance-voice, loud and unnatural. H e wears uniform throughout. G R I M M : About twenty-five. Pale and tense. Wears uniform throughout. IIME ACT

Prologue: Scene One: Interlude: Scene Two:

ACT

Scene One: Interlude: Scene Two: Interlude: Scene Three:

PRLSLNI

O N E : EARLY SUMMER

At the gates of the Valerian Works Valerian's Study A prison in Westland T h e Ostnia-Westland Room ACT

Scene One: Interlude: Scene Two:

I HE

T W O : A WEEK LATER

T h e Ostnia-Westland Room A dance-hall in Westland Valerian's Study T H R E E : N I N E M O N T H S LATER

T h e Ostnia-Westland Room In the Westland Front Line Valerian's Study (a fortnight later) T h e War Correspondents T h e Ostnia-Westland Room

Act I (Before the Curtain) [Slow music Eight workers—three women and five men—are grouped as if wailing for the gates of a factory to open They sing in turn the following couplets ] The clock on the wall gives an electric tick, I'm feeling sick, brother, I'm feeling sick The sirens blow at eight, the sirens blow at noon, Goodbye, sister, goodbye, we shall die soon Mr Valerian has a mansion on the hill, It's a long way to the grave, brother, a long way still The assembly-belt is like an army on the move, It's stronger than hate, brother, it's stronger than love The major came down with a pipe in his face, Work faster, sister, faster, or you'll lose your place The major wears pointed shoes, and calls himself a gent, I'm behind with the rent, brother, I'm behind with the rent The missus came in with her hair down, a-crying "Stay at home, George, stay at home, for baby's dying'" There's grit in my lungs, there's sweat on my brow, You were pretty once, Lisa, but oh, just look at you now' You looked so handsome in your overalls of blue, It was summer, Johnny, and I never knew My mother told me, when I was still a lad "Johnny, leave the girls alone " I wish I had The lathe on number five has got no safety-guard It's hard to lose your fingers, sister, mighty hard Went last night to the pictures, the girl was almost bare, The boy spent a million dollars on that love-affair [The factory siren sounds The workers begin to move across the stage and exit L The last verses are punctuated by the sound of clocking in ] When the hammer falls, the sparks fly up like stars, If I were rich, brother, I'd have ten motor-cars

ON T H E F R O N T I E R

362

Pass t h e word, sister, pass it along the line: There's a meeting tonight at n u m b e r forty-nine. Oil that bearing, watch that dynamo; When it's time to strike, brother, I'll let you know. Stoke u p t h e fires in furnace n u m b e r three; T h e day is coming, brother, when we shall all be free!

Act I S c e n e 1 [VALERIAN'S study. VALERIAN'S house is supposed to stand on high ground, overlooking the capital city of Westland. At the back of the stage there is a deep bay-window. The furniture is chiefly modern, but there are a number of statuettes and valuable etchings. A desk with telephones. A radiogram. Doors L. and R.] [When the curtain rises, MANNERS IS arranging the chair-cushions, while LESSEP puts papers in order on the desk. It is a fine morning in early summer.] LESSEP. O h , by t h e way, Manners . . . your Master will be lunching on the terrace, this morning. M A N N E R S . Indeed, Sir? Are those Mr Valerian's orders, Sir? LESSEP [sharply]. Of course they're Mr Valerian's orders. What did you suppose? M A N N E R S . I beg your p a r d o n , Sir. I mention it only because Mr Valerian has been accustomed to leave the management of this household entirely in my hands. This is the first time, in twelve years, that he has t h o u g h t it necessary to say where he wished to lunch. LESSEP. Well, it won't be t h e last time, I can assure you! M A N N E R S . N o , Sir? LESSEP. N O !

[Enter V A L E R I A N , L.]

VALERIAN. Good morning, Lessep. L E S S E P . Good morning, Mr Valerian. VALERIAN. A r e those ready for me to sign? [Sees MANNERS is waiting.] Yes, what is it? M A N N E R S . Excuse m e , Sir. A m I to take it that you ordered lunch to be served on the terrace? VALERIAN. Since when, Manners, have I given you orders about my meals? I am t h e master of this house, not the mistress.

ON T H E F R O N T I E R

363

M A N N E R S . Exactly, Sir. To-day I had thought of serving lunch in the Winter Garden. T h e terrace, in my humble opinion, would be too hot in this weather. T h e Leader, I am given to understand, dislikes the heat. But Mr Lessep said— VALERIAN. Mr Lessep was mistaken. We bow to your judgment, Manners. T h e Winter Garden. M A N N E R S . T h a n k you, Sir.

[Bows and exit, R.] L E S S E P . Mr Valerian . . . I h o p e you'll forgive me. . . . VALERIAN. I can forgive anything, Lessep—except incompetence. Just now you behaved officiously, and tactlessly. Never mind. I am quite fairly satisfied with you, at present. As long as you continue to be competent, I shall not have to bother the Ostnians for another secretary. . . . LESSEP [staggered]. I . . . I don't think I quite understand. . . . VALERIAN. N O ? T h e n I will speak more plainly. You are in the employ of the Ostnian Steel Combine. . . . Oh, pray don't suppose that you are the first! Despite the general identity of o u r interests, it is a regrettable fact that the Ostnian industrialists d o not trust us—and that we, I am sorry to say, do not entirely trust the Ostnians. So we both prefer to rely on inside information. . . . It is an a r r a n g e m e n t which suits me very well. All I ask is that the employees the Ostnians send us (always by the most devious routes) shall be efficient. We also have sent t h e m some admirable secretaries. . . . Now, d o we u n d e r s t a n d each other? L E S S E P . Mr Valerian, on my word of honour— VALERIAN [signing papers]. Very well. I have no time for arguments. I am not asking for a confession. . . . Oh, one more little point: yesterday, you took from my safe the plans of the new Valerian tank and phot o g r a p h e d them. Clumsily. You are not accustomed to this kind of work, I think? It requires practice. LESSEP. I'm ready to swear that I never touched— VALERIAN [still writing]. Yes, yes. Of course. . . . But in o r d e r that you shall not commit a gaffe which might seriously prejudice your prospects with your employers, let me tell you that we have already sold this tank to the Ostnian War Office. . . . You didn't know? T o o stupid, isn't it? Lack of departmental co-operation, as always. It will be the ruin of both o u r countries. . . . L E S S E P [collapsing]. I'd better leave at once. . . . VALERIAN. Nonsense! You will learn. . . . No tears, I beg! T h e y bore me

364

ON T H E F R O N T I E R

indescribably We have wasted four minutes on an exceedingly dull subject A n d now tell me, please what are my appointments for to-day ? L E S S E P [pulling himself together with an effort] Mr Stahl is coming in to see you at twelve-thirty He will remain to meet the Leader, at lunch This afternoon you will accompany the Leader on his inspection of the Works And you wanted, if possible, to get away m time for the Poussin auction, at four forty-five VALERIAN Ah, to be sure—the Poussins' T h e one bright m o m e n t of a dreary day' I mustn't miss them on any account And the Leader will speak for an hour, at least Please arrange an interruption At the first opportunity, o u r operatives are to burst spontaneously into the National H y m n Spontaneously, mind you It's the only known method of cutting short the Leader's flow of imperatives L E S S E P I'll see to it, Mr Valerian

VALERIAN You'd better go down there now, and talk to some of o u r foremen T h e y ' r e accustomed to organise these things L E S S E P IS t h e r e anything else ? VALERIAN Nothing, thank you L E S S E P [prepares to go, hesitates] Mr Valerian—I just want to say I shall never forget your generosity VALERIAN My d e a r boy, I am never generous—as you will very soon discover, to your cost Please d o not flatter yourself that your conscience and its scruples interest me in the very slightest degree In this establishment, there is no joy over the sinner that repents Very well You may go [Exit LESSEP, R VALERIAN goes thoughtfully upstage to the window, and stands looking out over the city ] VALERIAN T h e Valerian Works How beautiful they look from h e r e ' Much nicer than the cathedral next door A few people still go there to pray, I suppose—peasants who have only been in the city a generation, middle-class women who can't get husbands Curious to think that it was once the centre of popular life If I had been born in the thirteenth century, I suppose I should have wanted to be a bishop [Factory sirens, off, sound the lunch-hour ] Now my sirens have supplanted his bells But the crowd down there haven't changed much T h e Dole is as terrifying as Hell-Fire—probably worse R u n along, little m a n Lunch is ready for you in the Valerian Cafeteria Why so anxious 5 You shall have every care You may spoon in the Valerian Park, and buy the ring next day at the Valerian Store

ON T H E F R O N T I E R

365

Then you shall settle down in a cosy Valerian Villa, which, I assure you, has been highly praised by architectural experts. The Valerian School, equipped with the very latest apparatus, will educate your dear little kiddies in Patriotism and Personal Hygiene. A smart Valerian Family Runabout will take you on Sundays to picnic by the waterfall, along with several hundred others of your kind. The Valerian Bank will look after your savings, if any; our doctors will see to your health, and our funeral parlours will bury you. . . . And then you talk about Socialism! Oh yes, I am well aware that university professors, who ought to know better, have assured you that you are the heir to all the ages, Nature's last and most daring experiment. Believe them, by all means, if it helps you to forget the whip. Indulge in all the longings that aspirin and sweet tea and stump oratory can arouse. Dream of your never-never land, where the parks are covered with naked cow-like women, quite free; where the rich are cooked over a slow fire, and pigeons coo from the cupolas. Let the band in my park convince you that Life is seriously interested in marital fidelity and the right use of leisure, in the reign of happiness and peace. Go on, go on. Think what you like, vote for whom you like. What difference does it make? Make your little protest. Get a new master if you can. You will soon be made to realise that he is as exacting as the old, and probably less intelligent. . . . The truth is, Nature is not interested in underlings—in the lazy, the inefficient, the self-indulgent, the People. Nor, for that matter, in the Aristocracy, which is now only another name for the Idle Rich. The idle are never powerful. With their gigolos and quack doctors, they are as unhappy as the working classes who can afford neither, and a great deal more bored. The world has never been governed by the People or by the merely Rich, and it never will be. It is governed by men like myself—though, in practice, we are usually rich and often come from the People. [He moves away from the window to the desk and picks up a signed photograph of the Leader.] No, not by you, dear Leader. You're one of the People, really, which is why they love you, you poor muddle-headed bundle of nerves, so over-worked and so hypnotised by the sound of your own voice that you will never know what's happening nor who pulls the strings. Do you think, my modern Caesar, that the Roman emperors were important? They weren't. It was the Greek freedmen, who kept the accounts, who mattered. The cardinals mattered in the Middle Ages, not those dreary feudal barons.

ON T H E F R O N T I E R

366

[He picks up a statuette.] No, p e r h a p s that's wrong, too. Real political power is only made possible by electricity, double entry a n d high explosives. Perhaps, after all, the hermits a n d the artists were wiser. Nothing is worth while except complete mastery, and, in those days, that could only be achieved over t h e Self. I wonder what it felt like to be St Francis Stylites o r Poussin. Well, times have changed. T h e arts haven't been important since the eighteenth century. To-day, a creative m a n becomes an engineer or a scientist, not an artist. H e leaves that career to neurotics a n d h u m b u g s who can't succeed at anything else. [Back at the window.] This is probably t h e last period of h u m a n history. T h e political regimes of t h e future may have many fancy names, but never again will the common m a n be allowed to rule his own life or j u d g e for himself. T o be an artist or a saint has ceased to be m o d e r n . . . . Yes, for the m a n of power, there can now be but one aim—absolute control of mankind. [Enter M A N N E R S , R.] M A N N E R S . Mr Stahl, Sir. [Enter S T A H L , R.]

VALERIAN. Ah, my d e a r Stahl, welcome home! [Exit M A N N E R S , R.]

S T A H L . H O W a r e you, Valerian? You're looking well. [Looh round the room.] It seems strange to be in this room again. . . . You've bought a new etching, I see? VALERIAN. O h , I have a great deal to show you. But that can wait. You had a pleasant j o u r n e y , I hope? STAHL. T h a n k s , yes. Excellent. VALERIAN. You only got back yesterday morning? S T A H L . A n d I've been r u n off my feet ever since! VALERIAN. Your wife is well, I trust? S T A H L . Not as well as I should like. She's been suffering a lot with h e r migraine, lately. Extraordinary thing, migraine. Nobody really understands it. She stayed on in Paris to see that new Swedish m a n ; he's discovered a special injection. I hope it'll d o h e r some good. VALERIAN. I a m truly sorry to hear this. . . . A n d your boy? I h o p e his studies a r e progressing favourably? S T A H L . Well . . . yes a n d n o . Igor works h a r d enough, but he's so u n d e cided. H e wants to give u p engineering a n d read Icelandic. . . . I suppose it's just a phase. . . .

ON T H E F R O N T I E R

367

VALERIAN. My dear Stahl, you are indeed the model family man! Your worries never cease! STAHL. U p o n my word, Valerian, I sometimes envy you. When one sees you in this c h a r m i n g house, s u r r o u n d e d by your treasures, with no wife to r u n u p milliner's bills! T h e world looks black enough, these days, Heaven knows—but at least a bachelor has only himself to think of. . . . VALERIAN. Always the pessimist! Which reminds me that I haven't yet thanked you for all those admirably lucid and exceedingly depressing letters. . . . STAHL. Well, I'm glad, at any rate, that you found them lucid! VALERIAN. SO much so that, as soon as I heard you were returning, I a r r a n g e d for the Leader to come and hear the worst from Cassandra's own lips. T h e r e is nothing he so much enjoys as bad news— about foreign countries: England doomed, Germany bankrupt, the United States heading for her last and greatest slump. . . . Mind you lay it on thick! A n d with particular emphasis on the contrast between decadent, anarchical Ostnia and our own dear Westland—that paradise of solvency a n d order. STAHL. I only h o p e the food won't choke me as I say it! VALERIAN. My d e a r friend, you can have confidence in my chef: Ananias himself could lunch h e r e with perfect impunity. . . . T h o u g h really it's a wonder I wasn't suffocated myself, the other evening: I h a d to spend an h o u r praising the works of the new National Academy of Art—Putensen, d e Kloot, and those exquisite little landscapes (or should I say "cowscapes"?) of Ketchling. . . . STAHL. Ketchling? But surely he's the m a n who does the hair-tonic advertisements? VALERIAN. What a memory you have! A rather dangerous memory, if I may say so, for these times. . . . Yes, it all h a p p e n e d about three months ago. You were in Brazil, I believe? Poor Milnik was so unfortunate as to offend the Minister of Propaganda. Next morning, he was discovered to possess an Ostnian great-grandmother, and, within a week, Ketchling had stepped into his shoes. . . . Ketchling's wife, I may add, had been having an affair with our respected Postmaster-General. . . . STAHL. T h e Postmaster? But surely Madame Korteniz . . . ? VALERNIAN. T h e reign of Madame Korteniz has ended, quite suddenly, u n d e r rather amusing circumstances. . . . But that's a long story, which will keep. H e r e I am, gossiping away like an old concierge, a n d you have told me nothing about your journey! First of all, how does Westland a p p e a r to a r e t u r n e d traveller—sadly provincial, I fear? T h e r e have been changes since you left, a n d n o n e of them for

368

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the better. Since the Leader's newest statue was unveiled, it has become necessary to walk down Victory Avenue with one's eyes tightly closed. I always tell my chauffeur to make a detour. . . . S T A H L . Yes, I've seen that monstrosity already. . . . But I'm sorry to say that, since my r e t u r n , I've received even worse shocks— VALERIAN. Ah, you mean the neo-Egyptian portico of the new Culture House? Well, it's a nice point. T h e Leader, you'll admit, is the uglier of the two; but the Culture House is so much larger. . . . S T A H L . T h e r e ' s m o r e wrong with this country than its architecture, Valerian. You know that better than I do. Coming back like this, after six months, one's appalled, simply appalled by the way things are going. Of course, I haven't had time to make detailed enquiries, yet; but I talked to the works managers early this morning, and yesterday I was at the Stock Exchange and a r o u n d the clubs. People are afraid to say much, naturally; but I drew my own conclusions. VALERIAN. Which were, no doubt, as gloomy as usual? I shall listen to them with the greatest interest. But not, my dear Stahl, not before lunch! You will ruin both our appetites. S T A H L . I know that it amuses you to be flippant. But these are facts. You can't pass them by, like the Leader's statue, with your eyes shut. . . . Something must be done, and d o n e quickly. We're in for really big trouble. Conditions at the labour camps are getting worse all the time. T h e men are complaining quite openly: six months ago, they wouldn't have d a r e d . T h e food isn't fit for an African village. T h e buildings leak—what can you expect from that Army contract stuff? T.B. is definitely on the increase. As for the Shock Troops—if even fifty per cent of what I hear is true—the whole organisation's rotten from top to bottom; and the commandants are responsible only to the Leader—which means to nobody at all. If you want to see them on business, you must search the night-clubs and the brothels; they never go near their offices. At the barracks, you'll hear the same story: the Leader has broken every promise he ever made. T h e same thing down at the Works. Agitators have been getting at the men, secret unions are being formed. I even heard r u m o u r s of a stay-in strike. . . . VALERIAN. My d e a r friend, your sojourn in the democratic countries seems to have confused your ideas, a little! Surely you are aware that here, in o u r happy Westland, the Leader has declared all strikes illegal? S T A H L . An illegal strike is simply an insurrection. VALERIAN. Which can be dealt with as such. S T A H L . Which cannot be dealt with! You know as well as I do that the

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troops would refuse to fire Why, the General Staff wouldn't even d a r e to give the o r d e r ' VALERIAN Aren't we becoming rather melodramatic 5 Do you, seriously, in your heart of hearts, believe that things could ever come to shooting 5 In Russia, yes In Spain, yes Never in Westland You know o u r countrymen, a nation of grumblers—and grumblers are never dangerous T h e situation is bad, of course—disgraceful, appalling, but hardly serious W h e n you have been at home a week or two, you will recapture that peculiar Westland sense of proportion—as lop-sided as Putensen's nudes—and you will agree with me S T A H L Perhaps I shall Yes that'sjust what I'm afraid of But now, before I begin to squint like the rest of you, let me tell you that, in my considered opinion, this country is on the verge of a revolution' VALERIAN Revolution' Revolution' Eternally that bogey word' When the old E m p e r o r abdicated, everybody predicted a revolution, and what did we get 5 A cabinet of shopkeepers in ill-fitting top hats, who misquoted Marx a n d scrambled to cultivate the society of effete aristocrats, whose titles they themselves had just abolished by decree T h e workers were impressed by their socialist speeches, and tried to act u p o n them—so the shopkeeper-marxists called them bolsheviks and traitors, dissolved parliament, suppressed the unions and established a dictatorship which lacked nothing but a dictator T h e n came the Leader, in his fancy-dress uniform, and these same shopkeepers rejoiced, because the National Revolution was to make an end of the Valerian Works and all the big business concerns and o p e n the gard e n of paradise to the small trader And what did the Leader d o 5 Crying "Revolution'" he obligingly ruined a n u m b e r of o u r lesser competitors and business rivals H e did not dare to touch the Valerian T r u s t H e did not want to touch it Without us, he could not exist for a fortnight As for the workers, who you so much dread— they play at secret meetings, of which I am informed, and at printing illegal pamphlets, which litter my desk at this m o m e n t T h e workers are all patient sheep, or silly crowing cockerels, or cowardly rabbits [Enter M A N N E R S , R ]

M A N N E R S I beg your p a r d o n , Sir T h e Leader's Bodyguard has arrived T h e y wish to make the—ah, usual inspection S T A H L Good Heavens' Whatever for 5 VALERIAN Oh, you will soon get used to these little formalities A m o n t h ago, there was another attempt on the Leader's life H u s h e d u p , naturally But I thought the foreign press would have got hold of it 5

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Since then, precautions have been doubled. T h e Leader never visits a strange house without assuring himself that there are no assassins hiding on t h e premises. . . . Very well. Let one of them come in. [ M A N N E R S exits for a moment and re-enters with Storm-Trooper G R I M M . ]

G R I M M [giving Westland Salute]. For Westland. . . . I have orders to search this floor. VALERIAN. By all means. Please make yourself quite at home. G R I M M [indicating door, L.]. W h e r e does that door lead to? VALERIAN. T o my bedroom, my bathroom, and the back staircase. . . . But, surely, you've been here before? G R I M M . I only j o i n e d the Bodyguard last week. VALERIAN. I see. . . . Strange. I seem to r e m e m b e r your face. G R I M M [quickly]. That's impossible. I come from the eastern province. VALERIAN. Well, we all make mistakes. . . . Pray don't let m e detain you from your duties. A n d don't forget to look u n d e r the bed. [ G R I M M salutes and exit, L.] VALERIAN [to M A N N E R S ] . You'd better go with him, I think. H e might take a fancy to my silver hairbrushes. [MANNERS bows and exit, L.] VALERIAN. T h e r e goes o n e of the rulers of o u r country! S T A H L . C o m m o n gangsters! VALERIAN. After all, there is a good deal to be said for gangsters. One's dealings with t h e m are so charmingly simple. T h e y u n d e r s t a n d two things: money a n d t h e whip. T h e y know where their bread a n d butter comes from. T h e Leader is much safer with these boys than with a pack of crooked politicians. STAHL. By t h e way, how is the Leader, nowadays? I n Paris, there was a lot of talk about his—health. VALERIAN. With good reason, I'm afraid. You know, three weeks ago, he had a very serious breakdown. I'm told Pegoud was sent for. . . . S T A H L . Whew! So he's really m a d , at last! VALERIAN. My d e a r friend, the Leader has always been m a d . T h e really alarming symptom is that he's beginning to recover. T h e crises are becoming isolated, less predictable, much more violent. H e is no longer t h e roaring waterfall, whose power could be utilised a n d whose noise was harmless. H e is the volcano which may suddenly destroy cities a n d m e n . . . . I ought to warn you: if any little disturb-

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ance occurs d u r i n g lunch, please appear to take n o notice And, when it is over, behave as if nothing had h a p p e n e d S T A H L A nice party you've let me in for, I must say' I'm beginning to feel quite scared I've only spoken to the Leader twice in my life I'd n o idea you knew him so intimately VALERIAN I've been seeing a good deal of him, lately He interests me I have been studying, as the Americans say, the secret of his success S T A H L A n d what is this secret' VALERIAN T h e Leader, you see, is o u r national martyr We Westlanders are a stolid, insensitive race we need someone to do o u r suffering for us T h e Leader bears u p o n his shoulders all the wrongs, all the griefs that Westland ever suffered—and many more besides When the fat placid housewives attend his meetings, and see him rave and wring his hands, a n d tremble and weep, they shake their heads in their motherly way, and m u r m u r "Poor Leader—he is going t h r o u g h all this for t « ' " T h e n they r e t u r n to their tea, with whipped cream and apple cakes, p u r g e d and ennobled, by proxy S T A H L But what beats me is how one can have any kind of personal relationship with him Why, he isn't a m a n at all' He's a gramophone' VALERIAN No doubt But even a g r a m o p h o n e can be made to play better a n d m o r e harmonious records As a matter of fact, your mentioning g r a m o p h o n e s was unintentionally apt T h e Leader often d r o p s in to listen to mine S T A H L YOU mean to say that you actually play to him' VALERIAN O h yes, indeed Like O r p h e u s Whenever he seems tired and dispirited, or the conversation flags I flatter myself that I am educating him, slowly but surely We started with Narcissus and the Melody in F After a fortnight, he was getting tired of them, so I prescribed The War March of the Priests—all too successfully 1 think even Mendelssohn himself would have wished he had never written it At length, we passed on to the Pathetic Symphony, and, I am happy to say, outgrew it at the end of a weary month At present, Rameau's Tambourin is the favourite It seems likely to last t h r o u g h the s u m m e r S T A H L Really, Valerian, you've missed your vocation' You should have been a lion-tamer' [Enter M A N N E R S , R ]

M A N N E R S T h e Leader has arrived, Sir S T A H L Good Gracious' H e nearly caught us talking high treason'

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[Noises off. Someone shouts: "Guard! Attention!" T H E LEADER' S voice is heard, saying: "For Westland!" Enter T H E LEADER , R. M A N N E R S exits, R., behind him.] L E A D E R [salutes]. Fo r Westland ! [Shakes hands.] Ho w ar e you , Valerian ? VALERIAN . Delighte d t o see you , Sir. . . . I believe you kno w M r Stahl , on e o f o u r directors ? S T A H L . You will hardl y r e m e m b e r me , m y Leader . We me t last at th e Industria l Banquet . L E A D E R . I neve r forget a face. [Salutes.] Fo r Westland ! VALERIAN . I h o p e we see you in goo d health ? [Enter M A N N E R S , with cocktaih, R.] LEADER . M y healt h is at th e service of m y country . T h e r e f o r e it is good . [ M A N N E R S hands round cocktaih, and exit, R.] VALERIAN . Ma y it lon g continu e so! M r Stahl , as I tol d you in m y letter , ha s j u st r e t u r n e d fro m a busines s tou r of E u r o p e an d America . I wante d you to h e a r hi s impressions . S T A H L . T h e r e ar e certai n point s whic h migh t possibly interes t you , m y Leader . L E A D E R . Everythin g interest s me . Whe n I stud y an y subject , I acquain t myself with its smallest details . [Raising his glass.] Westland ! ϊ [both drinking]. Westland ! L E A D E R [to S T A H L ] . Tel l me , is it tru e that , in L o n d o n , negroe s ar e even permitte d t o play in th e danc e orchestras ? S T A H L . Well—yes, certainly . LEADER . I was right ! Onl y a dyin g rac e coul d sho w such tolerance . Eng lan d is becomin g a foreign colony . Very soon , they'l l be havin g Ostnian s in t o drive t h e trams ! Ha , ha , ha ! [ V A L E R I A N and S T A H L laugh dutifully.]

[Enter M A N N E R S , R.]

M A N N E R S . L u n c h is served, Sir. [Exit, R.] LEADER . I a m in goo d spirits, to-day ! What beautifu l weather ! We shall hav e a rea l Westlan d s u m m e r ! Valerian , I hav e a surpris e for you . After inspectin g you r Works, I shall tak e you for a drive in th e park . VALERIA N [suppressing a groan]. T h a t will be delightful ! Shal l we go down stairs?

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L E A D E R [ignoring him]. I want to have young faces a r o u n d me—youth, health, springtime. T h e perfume of the flowers. T h e smell of the trees. T h e lithe active bodies of o u r splendid Westland children. . . . Ah, it does one good! VALERIAN. I can imagine n o more charming way of spending the afternoon. . . . Perhaps you'd like to have lunch? T h e n we can start earlier on o u r p r o g r a m m e . . . . LEADER [as before]. I was thinking, too, that we might visit your model cottages. I am never so happy as when I can spare a few moments from my work to spend a m o n g the common people. How delighted and surprised they will be to have their Leader a m o n g them! I love to watch their contented smiles as they bend over their humble tasks, working proudly, for Westland, each in his own sphere. How well I u n d e r s t a n d them! How well I know their wants! I know what they are thinking even before they know it themselves. It is my mission to restore to every Westlander the dignity of labour, to put good honest tools into his hands, to guard him from crafty, u n d e r h a n d foreign competition. Westland must awake! Westland must throw off h e r fetters! Westland must raise the heavy load of poverty from the shoulders of the groaning poor. [He picks up a paper-weight from the desk]. Westland must— VALERIAN [tactfully taking the paper-weight from T H E LEADER'S hand]. Bravo, Sir! Bravo! I h o p e you'll say that to our operatives, this afternoon. It will inspire them. . . . Lunch is ready. Shall we go down? L E A D E R [suddenly cut short in the middle of his enthusiasm, stares stupidly, for a moment, at his empty hand. Then, as if coming to earth, he says quietly]. Ah, yes—lunch. . . . CURTAIN

(Before the Curtain) [A ray of light, barred with shadow, as if through a prison window, illuminates four prisoners, two women and two men. They are squatting on the ground, handcuffed. Their faces are ghastly.] [Air: "Sweet Betsy from Pike".] F I R S T P R I S O N E R [sings]. Industrialists, bankers, in comfortable chairs Are saying: "We still have control of affairs. T h e Leader will have all our enemies shot".

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A L L . T h e y would like to forget us, but, O, they cannot! S E C O N D P R I S O N E R . T h e idle, the rich, a n d the shabby genteel A n d the clever who think that the world isn't real Say: " T h e forces of o r d e r have triumphed! We're safe!" A L L . But the world has its own views on how to behave! T H I R D P R I S O N E R . T h e j u d g e sits on high in a very fine wig, H e talks about Law and he talks very big, A n d chaplains in church say: "Obedience is best". A L L . We've h e a r d that before and we're not much impressed! F O U R T H P R I S O N E R . T h e Leader stands u p on his platform and shouts: "Follow me and you never need have any doubts! Put on my uniform, wave my great flag!" A L L . But when the wind blows he shall burst like a bag! F I R S T P R I S O N E R . "If you're foolish enough", they declare, "to resist, You shall feel the full weight of fieldboot and fist". T h e y beat us with truncheons, they cast us in jail, A L L . But all their forms of persuasion shall fail! S E C O N D PRISONER. T h e y boast: "We shall last for a thousand long years", But History, it happens, has other ideas. "We shall live on for ever!" they cry, but instead A L L . T h e y shall die soon defending the cause of the dead! T H I R D P R I S O N E R . T h e y talk of the mystical value of Blood, Of War as a holy and purifying flood, Of bullets and bombs as the true works of art. A L L . They'll change their opinion when shot t h r o u g h the heart! F O U R T H PRISONER. Perhaps we shall die by a firing-squad, Perhaps they will kill us, that wouldn't be odd, But when we lie down with the earth on our face A L L . There'll be ten more much better to fight in o u r place! A L L . T h e night may seem lonely, the night may seem long, But T i m e is patient and that's where they're wrong! For T r u t h shall flower and Error explode A n d the people be free then to choose their own road!

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BLACK O U T

A L L [softly]. A n d the day is approaching and soon will begin, W h e n the Leader n o longer will take Westland in. A n d Westland will waken and reach for her gun, A n d the years of oppression be over and done.

Act I Scene 2 [The Ostnia-Westland Room. It is not to be supposed that the Frontier between the two countries does actually pass through this room: the scene is only intended to convey the idea of the Frontier—the L. half of the stage being in WesUand: the R. half being in Ostnia. The furnishing of the two halves should suggest differences in national characteristics, and aho in the nature of the two families which inhabit them: the Thorvalds' (Westland) home is academic; the Vrodny-Hussek (Ostnian) home is comfortable, reactionary, bourgeois. Each home has a door and window, L. and R. respectively. On the back wall of each hangs a big portrait, with a wireless-set standing beneath it. The Thorvalds have a portrait of the Westfand "Leader", who is bearded and ferocious-looking: the Vrodny-Hussek family have a portrait of the King of Ostnia, very suave and gracious, with orders and much gold braid. The chairs are arranged in two semi-circles, and the concentration of lighting should heighten the impression of an invisible barrier between the two halves of the stage. The two groups of characters (with the exceptions to be noted later) seem absolutely unaware of each other's existence.] [It is evening. When the curtain rises, D R O L I V E R THORVALD, the University professor, is writing at his desk. M R S T H O R V A L D IS laying cards at a table, and E R I C their son, who is a student, sits writing in an armchair with a bookrest.] [On the other side of the stage, M R S V R O D N Y IS darning socks, seated on the sofa. Her father, C O L O NEL HUSSEK, sits reading the newspaper in an invalid wheel-chair.] D R T H O R V A L D [pausing to read aloud what he has written]. "Professor J o n g d e n appears to have modelled his style u p o n the more sensational articles in the popular press of his country. For his scholarship, however, we can discover no precedent. His emendations would not convince a commercial traveller. T h e authorities he quotes, and as frequently misquotes, are most of t h e m out of date. Beyer's great work on the Ionian Laws he does not so much as mention; no doubt he is

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unwilling to acknowledge that any contribution to culture could be m a d e by a nation which he has always been taught to regard as barbarian " C O L H U S S E K [readingfrom newspaper] " T h e Minister for Propaganda has b a n n e d the sale in Ostnia of the Westland Sunday Sun for one month—as the result of the insulting caricatures of His Majesty, published in last Sunday's issue " I can't think what the country's coming to' Thirty years ago, they wouldn't have d a r e d ' T h e old King must turn in his grave H e would never have allowed our hono u r to be— M R S V R O D N Y [bitterly] Nobody cares about honour, these days' All they think of now is Self C O L H U S S E K You're right, Louisa' O u r young people have no sense of Ostnian loyalty M R S V R O D N Y You've no idea, Father, how r u d e the shopgirls are, nowadays' I could smack their faces sometimes, they're so insolent And the prices' Mother would have had a fit' [Holds up a sock with an enormous hole in it ] J u s t look at that' How Oswald manages to wear his socks into such holes I can't imagine' D R T H O R V A L D [reading aloud] "We strongly advise the Professor to leave the classics alone and to betake himself to a sphere to which his talents are less unfitted We suggest that the scandals of the Ostnian Court would be a suitable choice " E R I C W h o are you attacking this time, Father? D R T H O R V A L D J o n g d e n has just brought out a book on Ionia—a typical Ostnian piece of work All superficial brilliance and fluff, with nothing behind it No Ostnian ever m a d e a scholar They think it vulgar to take trouble E R I C But isn't he the m a n who's been offered a chair at Yale ? D R T H O R V A L D J u s t because he can make amusing little speeches after dinner, they prefer him to a real scholar, like Beyer' It's preposterous' H e can't hold a candle to him' M R S T H O R V A L D YOU know, dear, it's only because Beyer is a Westlander And they believe all the lies their newspapers spread about us I can't u n d e r s t a n d why they're allowed to print such stuff T h e Leader ought to put a stop to it C O L H U S S E K T c h a ' Another lightning strike at the Docks' If they'd only shoot a few of them, it'd put a stop to all this nonsense' M R S V R O D N Y I'm sure it's only d u e to Westland agitators, Father T h e Ostnian working-man would never behave like that of his own accord He's got too much common-sense H e knows it only puts u p the cost of living

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M R S T H O R V A L D . T h e Ace of Diamonds. . . . Do you think that means I've won a prize in the Sunday Sun Doublets, or only that Martha's o r d e r e d e n o u g h vegetables to go r o u n d ? She so seldom does. . . . Eric dear, I do wish you wouldn't work so hard! I'm sure it can't be good for you. Why don't you go out and do field-exercises, like the other students? D R T H O R V A L D . Leave the boy alone, Hilda. You can't become a scholar without keeping your nose to the grindstone, eh Eric? [Rises from desk and comes over to ERIC'S chair, lighting his pipe.} What are you writing on, this time? [Looks over ERIC'S shoulder.] " T h e chances of E u r o p e a n peace"! What a ridiculous subject! Surely Professor Bluteisen never set you that? E R I C . N O . I'm doing it for a few of my friends. Some of us are trying to think these things out. D R T H O R V A L D . You're wasting your time, my boy. What chances are there of peace—with the Ostnians arming to the teeth? I tell you, Europe's a powder-magazine. It only needs a spark. M R S T H O R V A L D . Martha says the war's coming this year. It's all in Revelations, she says. She tried to explain it to me, but she's so difficult to u n d e r s t a n d : her false teeth fit so badly. E R I C . Don't talk like that, Mother! Of course there'll be a war if we all go on saying and thinking there will be, and doing nothing to stop it. Why are we all so frightened? None of us want war. M R S T H O R V A L D . We don't, but what about the Ostnians? C O L . H U S S E K . Notes. Negotiations. . . . We're too polite to them; that's o u r trouble! M R S V R O D N Y . T h e Westlander's a bully. Always has been. D R T H O R V A L D . After the last war, when we were weak, they bullied us. And it's only now, when the Leader's shown them that Westland won't stand any nonsense, that they've learnt to mind their ps and qs a bit. C O L . H U S S E K . T h e only thing the Westlander understands is the stick. We o u g h t to have finished the j o b properly, last time. E R I C . How d o you know the Ostnians want war? M R S T H O R V A L D . Haven't they always hated us? Haven't they always been jealous of us? Especially since o u r national revolution. D R T H O R V A L D . T h e y ' r e jealous of o u r liberty and power of creative progress. M R S V R O D N Y . T h e trouble is, they've no traditions. That's why they're jealous of us. T h e y always have been. They're spoilt children, really. D R T H O R V A L D . A decadent race is always jealous of a progressive one. M R S V R O D N Y . YOU may say what you like; tradition and breeding count.

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M R S T H O R V A L D . You may say what you like, Eric. You can't wipe out the history of a thousand years. C O L . H U S S E K . D a m n e d bolsheviks! E R I C . Well, I think that if people—the ordinary decent people in both countries—would only get together, we could . . . [Enter A N N A VRODNY, R., with a shopping basket. The effect of her presence upon E R I C IS instantly noticeable. He breaks off in the middle of his sentence, as though he had forgotten what it was he had meant to say. Throughout the rest of the scene he follows ANNA'5 movements eagerly with his eyes. A N N A , abo, is watching E R I C , but more timidly and covertly. Nobody ehe on the stage appears to notice this.] M R S V R O D N Y . O h , there you are at last, Anna! Whatever have you been doing all this time? D R T H O R V A L D . Could what, Eric? A N N A . I'm sorry, Mother. T h e r e was such a queue at Benets'. [Begins to take parceh out of basket and lay them on the table.] D R T H O R V A L D . Well, go on! What could you do? M R S T H O R V A L D . O h , don't argue so, Oliver! It makes my head ache! D R T H O R V A L D . Sorry, my dear. I was only trying to make him see how woolly-minded h e is. A n d Westland has no use for woolliness, these days. I've got to go now to a meeting of the tutorial board, to consider t h e case of those so-called pacifist demonstrators yesterday. And I don't mind telling you, Eric, that I shall vote for their expulsion from t h e University. Let that be a warning to you, my boy! [Exit D R T H O R V A L D , L.]

M R S V R O D N Y [risingfrom the sofa to inspect ANNA'5 purchases]. You call that a chicken? Why didn't you go to Litvaks? A N N A . But, Mother, you said Litvaks was so expensive! M R S V R O D N Y . O h , it's hopeless! I can't trust any of you to do the simplest things! I work my fingers to the bone for you all, a n d nobody helps me in t h e least! M R S T H O R V A L D . T h e Q u e e n of Hearts! Well I never! At my age! It must be for you, Eric! How exciting! M R S V R O D N Y . Don't stand there dawdling. Anna! We've got to get supper ready. It'll be late as it is. [ M R S V R O D N Y and A N N A collect the parceh and

exeunt, R. During the scene which follows, C O L . HUSSEK falls gradually asleep.]

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M R S T H O R V A L D . T h e cards never lie! Eric, I don't believe you're listening! E R I C . Sorry, Mother, I was just thinking about something. [Enter, L., M A R T H A T H O R V A L D , Dr

Thorvald's

sister, with a prayer-book and a bunch of flowers. She pauses solemnly, before speaking, to salute the Leader's portrait.] M A R T H A . Cards again? Really, Hilda, I'm surprised at you, indulging in that sinful nonsense! M R S T H O R V A L D . O h , Martha! It isn't nonsense! M A R T H A [arranging flowers in a vase before the Leader's portrait]. It's wicked superstition. . . . T h e r e ! Don't these look beautiful, u n d e r t h e Leader's picture? T h e y ' r e just the colour of his eyes! Pastor Brock preached a wonderful sermon about him to-day. . . . M R S T H O R V A L D . T h e Pastor's such a fine m a n , but I do wish he wouldn't shout so. H e makes my head ache. M A R T H A . Westland needs more like him! H e took as his text: "I come not to bring peace, b u t a sword!" E R I C . Pastor Brock isn't a Christian at all. H e wants to rewrite the Bible. M A R T H A . Eric! How d a r e you! E R I C . "They that live by the sword shall perish by t h e sword." How does he explain that? M A R T H A . I suppose you think you're clever: sitting there a n d sneering, while every decent young Westlander is out learning to defend his country? If I were your Mother— M R S T H O R V A L D . O h , my poor head! If you two are going to quarrel, I'm off to bed. [Exit M R S T H O R V A L D , L.]

E R I C . I'm sorry, A u n t Martha. I didn't mean to h u r t your feelings. M A R T H A . Don't apologise to me. Apologise to the Leader. It's him you h u r t when you talk like that. H e cares so much for all of us. . . . Goodnight, my Leader! God keep you! [She salutes the picture and exit, L.] E R I C [rises from his chair, goes up to the picture and regards it]. Tell me, what is it you really want? Why d o you make that fierce face? You're not fierce, really. You have eyes like my father's. Are you lonely, are you u n h a p p y , behind that alarming beard? Yes, I see you are. Perhaps you only want love—like me. . . . [He continues to examine the picture.] C O L . H U S S E K [waking up with a violent start]. Extend on the right! Rapid fire! Charge! [Rubbing his eyes.] Louisa! [Enter M R S VRODNY, R.] Where's my supper?

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M R S V R O D N Y . We're waitin g for Oswald. C O L . H U S S E K . Boozin g again , I suppose ! M R S V R O D N Y . It' s always th e sam e thing , whe n h e gets hi s pension money . [OSWALD' S voice is heard singing, outside ] H e r e h e is, at last! [Enter O S W A L D V R O D N Y , drunk, R ]

O S W A L D [singing]. T h e n u p spok e Captai n O'Hara : "It' s a h u n d r e d an d on e in th e shade ; I f you give m e you r Iris h whisky You ca n kee p you r Iris h maid! " Well, Louisa , a n d ho w ar e th e busy little fingers, thi s evening ? Goo d evening , Genera l Fieldboots ! Still fighting to th e last man ? C O L . H U S S E K . You'r e d r u n k , Sir! O S W A L D [producing a bottle] I've b r o u g h t you som e powerfu l reinforce m e n t s ! Gues s wha t thi s is! M R S V R O D N Y [trying to snatch bottle]. Giv e m e tha t at once ! O S W A L D . Naughty ! Mustn' t snatch ' Allow m e to introduc e you t o a n old frien d you haven' t seen for a very lon g t i m e — t h e finest Westlan d whisky! C O L . H U S S E K . H O W d a r e you brin g thei r filthy stuff int o thi s house ! M R S V R O D N Y . It' s so unpatriotic '

O S W A L D . Patriotis m be d a m n e d ! I can' t touc h tha t foul Ostnia n cognac , soone r d r i n k col d tea ! Wha t goo d is it goin g to d o Ostm a if I rui n m y liver? Answer m e that ! You a n d you r patriotism ! T h o s e chap s over t h e r e kno w ho w to mak e whisky, an d I' m gratefu l to t h e m ! Any m a n wh o make s goo d whisky is m y frien d for life! [Drinks ] Here' s to Westland ! C O L . H U S S E K . A n o t h e r word , Sir, an d I'll call th e polic e a n d hav e you arrested , thi s m i n u t e ' M R S V R O D N Y Fathe r a n d I hav e bee n very patien t with you Bu t there' s a limi t t o everything . You've neve r d o n e a hand' s t u r n in you r life' You'r e j u st a d r u n k e n sponger ' [Enter A N N A , Λ E R I C immediately turns from the picture, and begins to watch her, as before, but with increasing agitation ] A N N A . M o t h e r ! M o t h e r ! D o be quiet , please . All th e neighbour s will h e a r you ' C o m e on , Uncl e Oswald Supper' s read y in th e kitche n O S W A L D [taking ANNA' S arm] That' s m y own little girl'

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A N N A . YOU two go on. I'll look after him. [Exeunt M R S V R O D N Y , wheeling C O L . H U S S E K , R. A N N A follows, half-supporting O S W A L D , who is

humming the Wedding March from Lohengrin.]

E R I C [taking a pace forward, exclaims involuntarily, despairingly]. Anna! [But A N N A does not seem to hear him. Exeunt A N N A and O S W A L D , R. E R I C stands looking sadly after her.] CURTAIN

Act I I Scene 1 [The Ostnia-Westland Room. It is evening. As the curtain rises, we see on the L. of the stage, D R T H O R V A L D , M R S T H O R V A L D , M A R T H A and E R I C , drinking

a bed-time cup of tea. E R I C , as usual, is watching A N N A V R O D N Y , who sits sewing on the R. of the stage, with O S W A L D and C O L . H U S S E K . C O L . H U S S E K

has the newspaper O S W A L D IS lazily smoking. Both wireless-sets are switched on, but silent.] A N N A . Please come to bed, Grandpa. It's after eleven. You look tired out. C O L . H U S S E K . Nonsense, my dear! Never felt better in my life! Must wait to hear the news. Westland will have to admit responsibility. She can't get r o u n d the evidence. I tell you, this means war! O S W A L D . T h a n k God I'm fat a n d fifty! N o more wars for us, Colonel! We've d o n e o u r share! C O L . H U S S E K . I never thought I'd hear a nephew of mine confess to being a coward! It's the greatest regret of my life that I— A N N A . O h , Grandfather, don't excite yourself! You know h e doesn't m e a n it. . . . Uncle Oswald, you mustn't b e such a tease! O S W A L D . Well, you don't want G r a n d p a to be killed, d o you? O r even your lazy old Uncle, I hope? T h r o w m e t h e matches, there's a good girl.

[ A N N A does so.]

M R S T H O R V A L D . I think I will have a second cup, Martha, after all. I shan't sleep a wink, in any case. . . . Eric, dear, you haven't touched yours. Don't you want it? E R I C . No, thank you, Mother. M R S T H O R V A L D . Well, it has been a day of excitements! Those poor, poor

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children! I shall never dare to go by bus again! I suppose Ostnia will apologise. . . . D R T H O R V A L D . They'll have to! T h e evidence of their guilt is overwhelming. M A R T H A . YOU can't apologise for m u r d e r ! They must be punished! [Both wireless-sets give the time signal.] D R T H O R V A L D . Ssh! T h e news is coming on! A N N A [calling]. Mother! T h e news! W E S T L A N D R A D I O . Maria Kinderheim, the six-year-old child injured in the b o m b outrage at t h e Iron Bridge, died in hospital this evening. This brings the n u m b e r of the Westland dead u p to nineteen. [Enter M R S V R O D N Y , R.]

O S T N I A N R A D I O . Peter Vollard, the eighty-year-old labourer injured in the b o m b outrage at the Iron Bridge, died in hospital this evening. This brings the n u m b e r of the Ostnian dead u p to twenty. W E S T L A N D R A D I O . T h e Minister for Propaganda a n d the Minister for Air a n d Marine flew to Castle T u b o r g this afternoon to discuss with the Leader what steps should be taken. . . . It is r u m o u r e d that the Ostnian Government is calling u p the nineteen-fourteen a n d nineteen-fifteen classes. O S T N I A N R A D I O . A n emergency meeting of the Cabinet was called this evening to consider what steps should be taken. . . . T h e r e are r u m o u r s that Westland will o r d e r general mobilisation. W E S T L A N D R A D I O . I n view of the extreme gravity of the situation . . . O S T N I A N R A D I O . In view of the extreme gravity of the situation . . . W E S T L A N D R A D I O . T h e Leader . . .

O S T N I A N R A D I O . His Majesty the King . . . W E S T L A N D R A D I O . Has decided . . .

O S T N I A N R A D I O . H a s graciously consented . . . W E S T L A N D R A D I O . T O address t h e nation . . . O S T N I A N R A D I O . T O address his people . . .

W E S T L A N D R A D I O . T h e address will be broadcast from all stations at midnight. O S T N I A N R A D I O . T h e address will be broadcast from all stations at midnight. [Throughout the scene which follows, the two wirelesssets provide a background of faint, disturbing ominous music] M R S V R O D N Y . W h e n I think of that poor old m a n who never did anybody any h a r m , it makes my blood boil!

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[ M A R T H A starts collecting the tea things.] M R S T H O R V A L D . T h e poor mite! She was only a tiny tot! A N N A . It's horrible! How can anyone have been such a brute! M R S V R O D N Y . All Westlanders are brutes, dear. A N N A . Some of t h e m were killed, too; weren't they, Mother? M R S V R O D N Y . H O W d o you know? T h e papers don't say so. T h e Westlanders are such liars, anyhow! M R S T H O R V A L D . T h e demonstration in the market square was enormous. I could hardly push my way through! D R T H O R V A L D . I've never seen the students so moved. We had to susp e n d all lectures for the day. M R S V R O D N Y . T h e r e was a crowd outside Benets' this afternoon. T h e y were smashing the windows. C O L . H U S S E K . Serve t h e m right! We don't want any dirty Westlanders here, cheating us out of o u r money! Most of them are spies! It's high time we cleared out the lot! O S W A L D . Well, I never did care for Westland much. T h e women have thick ankles. All the same, I h o p e they don't sack Freddy from the L o n g Bar. H e mixes the best cocktails in Ostnia. [Exit M A R T H A , L., with tray.] M R S T H O R V A L D . I met Bob Veigel in the street, to-day. Such a nice boy! A n d quite high u p in his shock-troop already. H e was so upset. I could hardly get a word out of him except: "We must avenge the I r o n Bridge!" C O L . H U S S E K . We must have action! You can't bandy words with murderers! We must avenge the Iron Bridge! A N N A . I think I'll be going to bed, Mother. I've got rather a headache. [Re-enter M A R T H A , L.]

M R S V R O D N Y . But aren't you going to stay and hear the King? A N N A . I don't think I will, Mother, if you don't mind. Goodnight. Goodnight, Uncle. Goodnight, G r a n d p a . [She hurries out, R., as if anxious to escape from them all.] M R S V R O D N Y . She's been so quiet all day. I'm afraid she's not well. M R S T H O R V A L D . Eric, dear, you're very silent, this evening. Aren't you feeling well? E R I C [abruptly]. I've got a headache. I'm going to bed. M A R T H A . But Eric, the Leader!

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384

M R S T H O R V A L D . O h , Martha! Don't worry him to-night! You can tell him all about it in the morning. [To E R I C ] You'll find some aspirin in the top drawer of my dressing-table. E R I C . T h a n k s , Mother. Goodnight. [Exit, L.] M R S T H O R V A L D . It must have been a very tiring day for him, with all these demonstrations. D R T H O R V A L D . I wonder. . . . I'm not very happy about him, Hilda. I'm afraid he's making some unhealthy friendships. They play at being radicals, pacifists, goodness knows what. Eric's such a child. H e doesn't realise what this business means. This crime strikes at the whole basis of E u r o p e a n civilisation. M R S V R O D N Y . Did you read Father Ambrose's article on the consequences of heresy? We must defend the Church. T h e C h u r c h is in danger! O S W A L D . I was taken to a service in Westland, once. God, I was bored! All those extempore prayers! M A R T H A . T h e Ostnians aren't civilised! They're savages! T h e y b u r n incense a n d worship idols! [Noise and singing and the tramp of marching feet L. and R. off. All the characters move excitedly towards their respective windows, C O L . H U S S E K propelling himself in his invalid chair. From this moment the acting works up to a note of hysteria.] M R S V R O D N Y [at window, R.]. Look, Father! T h e Air Force cadets! M R S T H O R V A L D [at window, L.]. It's the students! H u n d r e d s of them! O S W A L D . T h e y ' r e tight! M A R T H A . T h e h o u r is at hand! C O L . H U S S E K . Stout fellows! M R S T H O R V A L D . HOW happy they look in their uniforms! I wish Eric was a m o n g them! [The two songs which follow should be sung simultaneously.] W E S T L A N D S T U D E N T S [off,

L.].

Brightly the sun on o u r weapons is gleaming, Brave is the heart and stout is the arm, Gone is the night of talking and dreaming, U p and defend your country from harm! T h e mountain has strength, the river has beauty, Westland Science, Religion and Art

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385

Inspire us with valour and Westland Duty Echoes in every Westland heart! Foremost of all the Leader is riding, Love in his bosom and truth on his brow, Against the whole world in the Leader confiding, Forward to victory follow him now! O S T N I A N A I R C A D E T S [off,

R.].

Wheel the plane out from its shed, T h o u g h it prove my funeral bed! I'm so young. No matter, I Will save my country ere I die! Hark, I hear the engines roar! Kiss me, we shall meet no more. I must fly to north and south. Kiss me, sweetheart, on the mouth! Far from Mother, far from crowds, I must fight a m o n g the clouds W h e r e the searchlights mow the sky, I must fight and I must die! D R T H O R V A L D . It's the spirit of Pericles! T h e poets have not sung in vain! M R S V R O D N Y . I wish I were a man! M A R T H A . O u t of the pit! Out of the mire and clay! O S W A L D . Perhaps I ought to do something! M R S T H O R V A L D . T h e cards did not lie!

C O L . H U S S E K . This makes me feel a boy again! D R T H O R V A L D . Some people have asked the meaning of history. T h e y have their answer! M R S V R O D N Y . T h e y looked like princes! M A R T H A . T h e righteous shall inherit the earth! O S W A L D . I shall drink less and less! M R S T H O R V A L D . My headache's quite gone! M R S V R O D N Y . We shall be very famous indeed! M R S T H O R V A L D . We shall never die! C O L . H U S S E K . I have never lost a battle! D R T H O R V A L D . Everything's perfectly clear, now! O S W A L D . After this, we shall all be much richer! C O L . H U S S E K . We are doing splendidly! M A R T H A . God is very glad!

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O S T N I A N R A D I O This is Ostnia calling the world' W E S T L A N D R A D I O This is Westland calling the world' O S T N I A N R A D I O His Majesty the King' WESTLAND R A D I O T h e Leader'

K I N G ' S V O I C E [through radio, R] It is hard to find words to express LEADER'S V O I C E [through radio, L ] T h e unceasing struggle of my life has been rewarded K I N G H O W deeply touched we have been LEADER Westland is restored to h e r greatness K I N G By all t h e offers of service a n d sacrifice LEADER O n e heart, o n e voice, one nation K I N G Which have p o u r e d in from every corner of O u r country LEADER It is a he to say that Westland has ever stooped to baseness K I N G A n d from every class of people, even the poorest LEADER It is a he to say that Westland could ever stoop to baseness K I N G T h e s e last few days of terrible anxiety have brought us all very close together LEADER It is a he to say that Westland wants war K I N G We all, I know, pray from t h e bottom of o u r hearts LEADER Westland stands in E u r o p e as a great bastion K I N G T h a t this crisis may pass away L E A D E R Against the tide of anarchy K I N G O u r Ministers a r e doing everything in their power L E A D E R Westland lives a n d Westland soil are sacred K I N G T O avoid any irreparable step LEADER Should any h u m a n power d a r e to touch either K I N G But should t h e worst h a p p e n LEADER It will have to face the holy anger of a nation in arms K I N G We shall face it in a spirit worthy of the great traditions of o u r fathers L E A D E R T h a t will not sheathe the sword K I N G T o w h o m h o n o u r was more precious than life itself LEADER Till it has paid for its folly with its blood K I N G We stand before t h e bar of history LEADER For, were Westland to suffer o n e unrequited wrong K I N G Confident that right must t r i u m p h LEADER I should have n o wish to live' K I N G A n d we shall e n d u r e to the e n d ' [The wireless sets play their respective national anthems ]

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387

C O L . H U S S E K [standing up in his chair, in great excitement]. God save t h e King! God save the King! [He collapses.] M R S V R O D N Y . Father! [She runs to him.] Quick, Oswald, the brandy! M R S T H O R V A L D . Dear me, I feel quite exhausted! O S W A L D [looking in cupboard]. There's no brandy left. He'll have to have my whisky. MRS VRODNY. Hurry!

[ O S W A L D gives her the bottle and a glass.] H e r e , Father! [Gives H U S S E K a sip.] Take this. D R T H O R V A L D . T i m e we all went to bed. T h e r e won't be any more news to-night. Come along, Hilda. C O L . H U S S E K [faintly, opening his eyes]. T h a n k you, my d e a r . . . Sorry . . . My heart, again . . . Better now . . . It's been a great day . . . M R S V R O D N Y [to O S W A L D ] . H e l p m e to get him to bed.

M R S T H O R V A L D . You're not staying u p , are you, Martha dear? M A R T H A . I'll follow you in a minute. O S W A L D [pushing the C O L O N E L ' S chair]. U p we go! [Exeunt D R and M R S T H O R V A L D , L.]

Feeling better now? T h a t whisky's wonderful stuff! [Exeunt O S W A L D and C O L O N E L , R., followed by

M R S V R O D N Y who turns out the light, so that the R. of the stage is darkened.] M A R T H A [kneeling before the LEADER'S portrait]. My hero! My Leader! You will fight them, won't you? Say you will! Say you will! [Kneeb for a moment, then rises, salutes and exit, L., turning out light.] [The whole stage is now in complete darkness for some moments. Distant, dreamy music, off. Then a spotlight illuminates a small area in the middle of the stage. The various chairs and tables should have been pushed back, so that they are visible only as indistinct shapes in the surrounding darkness. Enter E R I C and ANNA, L. and R., respectively. They advance slowly, like sleepwalkers, until they stand just outside the circle of light, facing each other.] E R I C . IS that you, Anna? A N N A . Yes, Eric.

[They both take a step forward into the light-circle.]

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E R I C . I kne w I coul d mak e thi s h a p p e n ! A N N A . W h e r e ar e

we?

E R I C . I n th e plac e tha t I hav e foun d for us, T h e plac e tha t I hav e h o p e d for sinc e I was born , Born , as we all are , int o a world full of fear, W h e r e t h e faces ar e no t th e faces of th e happy , W h e r e th e disappointe d hat e th e youn g An d th e disinherite d weep in vain. No t tha t an y ar e wantin g thi s world , any ; T h e truckdriver , th e executiv e settin g his watch , T h e cler k entrainin g for th e office, us, All o f u s wishin g always it were different . All of u s wantin g to be kin d an d honest , Goo d neighbour s a n d goo d parent s a n d goo d children , T o be beautifu l a n d likeable a n d happy . Eve r sinc e I was b o r n I hav e bee n looking , Lookin g for a plac e wher e I coul d really be myself, Fo r a p e r s o n who woul d see m e as I really am . An d I hav e foun d t h e m both , foun d t h e m now, foun d t h e m h e r e . Thi s is th e goo d place . A N N A . I a m afraid . T h e darknes s is so near . E R I C . T h i s is th e goo d plac e Wher e th e air is no t filled with scream s of hatre d No r word s of grea t a n d goo d m e n twisted T o flatter concei t a n d justify m u r d e r . H e r e a r e n o family quarrel s o r publi c meetings , N o disease o r old age. N o death . H e r e we ca n be reall y alone , Alon e with o u r love, o u r faith , o u r knowledge , I've struggled for thi s ever sinc e I saw you . A lon g time , Anna . Di d you kno w that ? A N N A . A lon g time , Eric , yes, I've felt you nea r me . You too k m y a r m in crowde d shops , Helpin g m e choose . Behin d m y chai r as I sat sewing, you stoo d An d gave m e patience . Ofte n you sat Beside m e in th e par k a n d tol d m e storie s O f couple s in th e pantin g unfai r city Who loved eac h o t h e r all thei r lives. Ο whe n I wen t t o dances , all m y partner s Were you , were you . E R I C . Eve r sinc e I r e m e m b e r I've caugh t glimpses of you ,

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389

At first, far off, a n a t u r e o n th e crag , Fa r off dow n t h e lon g popla r avenue , a traveller . I've seen you r face reflecte d in th e river As I sat fishing; a n d whe n I rea d a boo k Your face woul d com e betwee n m e a n d th e prin t Like a n ambition , n e a r e r a n d cleare r every day. A n d now , at last. . . . A N N A . D O T h e y see, too ? E R I C . T h e y d o no t wan t to see. T h e i r blindnes s is T h e i r pride , thei r constitutio n a n d thei r town W h e r e Love a n d T r u t h ar e movement s u n d e r g r o u n d , D r e a d i n g arres t a n d t o r t u r e . A N N A . Ο Eric , I' m so afrai d of t h e m ! E R I C . Locke d in eac h other' s arms , we for m a towe r T h e y canno t shak e o r enter . O u r love Is t h e far a n d unsuspecte d islan d T h e i r prestig e doe s no t hold . A N N A . I wish tha t thi s coul d last for ever. E R I C . I t can , Anna , it can ! Nothin g matter s no w B u t you a n d I . Thi s is th e everlastin g g a r d e n W h e r e we shall walk togethe r always, H a p p y , happy , happy , happy . A N N A . YOU d o no t kno w thei r power . T h e y know , kno w all. T h e y let u s mee t bu t onl y t o t o r m e n t u s W h e n the y hav e prove d o u r guilt. T h e y grin behin d o u r joy, Waitin g thei r time . Ο if we tak e on e step T o w a r d s o u r love, th e grac e will vanish , O u r peac e smas h like a vase. Ο we shall see T h e t h r e a t e n i n g faces s u d d e n at th e window , h e a r T h e furiou s knockin g o n th e door , T h e cry of a n g e r fro m th e high-backe d chair . E R I C . I t can' t be t r u e ! I t shan' t be t r u e ! O u r love is stronge r tha n thei r hate ! Kiss m e . A N N A . Don't , don't ! You'll mak e t h e m angry ! We shall be p u n i s h e d ! E R I C . I d o n ' t care ! I defy t h e m ! [He steps forward to embrace her. The stage is immediately plunged in darkness. Their voices now begin to grow fainter.] V O I C E S [these should be taken by the actors playing D R T H O R V A L D and M R S

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ON T H E F R O N T I E R

VRODNY, and should have the resonant disembodied quality of an echo]. NO! E R I C ' S V O I C E . Anna, Anna. Where are you? A N N A ' S V O I C E . W h e r e are you, Eric?

E R I C . Come back. A N N A . I can't. T h e y ' r e too strong. Help me, Eric. They're taking m e away. V O I C E 1. T a k e h e r away. E R I C . T h e y ' r e holding m e back. V O I C E 2 . Hold him back. A N N A . I shall never see you again. B O T H V O I C E S . Never see { J ^ ? } again.

E R I C . Anna. Can you h e a r me? I swear I'll come back to you. I'll beat them somehow. Only wait for me, Anna. Promise you'll wait. A N N A . I promise, Eric. V O I C E 2 [whispering]. Tradition and breeding count. V O I C E 1 [whispering]. You can't wipe out the history of a thousand years. CURTAIN

(Before t h e Curtain) [Five men, three women. Three couples are waltzing The two remaining men, who are supposed to be left-wing political workers, are watching, in the background.] FIRST MALE DANCER.

T h e papers say there'll be war before long; Sometimes they're right, a n d sometimes they're wrong. SECOND MALE DANCER.

There's a lot of talk in a wireless-set And a lot m o r e promised than you'll ever get. FIRST LEFTIST.

Don't believe them, Only fools let words deceive them. Resist t h e snare, t h e scare Of something that's not really there. T h e s e voices commit treason Against all truth a n d reason, Using an unreal aggression

ON T H E F R O N T I E R

T o blind you to your real oppression; T r u t h is elsewhere. U n d e r s t a n d the motive, penetrate the lie O r you will die. T H I R D MALE DANCER.

T h e Winter comes, the S u m m e r goes; If there's a war, we shall fight, I suppose. FIRST MALE DANCER.

T h e larder is cold, the kitchen is hot; If we go we'll be killed, if we don't we'll be shot. SECOND LEFTIST.

What they can d o d e p e n d s on you, You are many, they are few, Afraid for their trade, afraid Of the overworked and the underpaid. Do not go; they know T h a t t h o u g h they seem so strong T h e i r power lasts so long As you are undecided and divided; U n d e r s t a n d the wrong; U n d e r s t a n d the fact; Unite a n d act. SECOND MALE DANCER.

T h e r e ' r e hills in the north and sea in the south; It's wiser not to o p e n your mouth. T H I R D MALE DANCER.

Soldiers have guns and are used in attack; More of t h e m go than ever come back. F I R S T FEMALE DANCER.

What shall I say to the child at my knee W h e n you fall in the mountains or sink in the sea? SECOND FEMALE DANCER.

What shall we d o if you lose a leg? Sing for o u r supper, or steal or beg? FIRST LEFTIST.

It's weak to submit, T h e n cry when you are hit. It's mad to die For what you know to be a lie. A n d whom you kill Depends u p o n your will. T h e i r blood is on your head.

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392

Choose to live. T h e dead cannot forgive Nor will time p a r d o n the dead. T H I R D FEMALE DANCER.

What is a parlour, what is a bed But a place to weep in when you are dead? FIRST MALE DANCER.

It's goodbye to the bench and goodbye to the wife And goodbye for good to somebody's life. SECOND MALE DANCER.

O u r country's in danger, and our cause is just; If n o one's mistaken, it's conquer or bust. SECOND LEFTIST.

T h e country is in d a n g e r But not from any stranger. Your enemies are h e r e W h o m you should fight, not fear, For till they cease T h e earth will know no peace. Learn to know Your friend from your foe. T H I R D MALE DANCER.

But if some one's mistaken or lying or mad, O r if we're defeated, it will be just too bad. BLACK O U T

Act II Scene 2 [VALERIAN'S study. Just after midnight.} [VALERIAN and STAHL, with brandy glasses before them, are listening to the LEADER'S speech on the radiogram.] LEADER'S V O I C E . . . . it will have to face the holy anger of a nation in arms, that will not sheathe the sword till it has paid for its folly with its blood. For, were Westland to suffer one unrequited wrong, I should have n o wish to live! VALERIAN. Admirable sentiments! A little more brandy, my d e a r Stahl? S T A H L . T h a n k s . . . . I need it. . . . [Pours and drinks.] T h e man's got a voice like a corncrake!

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VALERIAN. Oh, I can't agree with you there! His delivery is really excellent. H e has mastered all the tricks. I'm told that he once took lessons from Sacha Guitry. S T A H L . I didn't like the tone of that speech at all. . . . You know he saw the General Staff again, this evening? You mark my words, this is to p r e p a r e the country for mobilisation. T h e decree's probably signed already. VALERIAN. H a m m e l would never agree to it. STAHL. T h e n he'll override Hammel. We're dealing with a m a d m a n . You said so, yourself. VALERIAN. Very well. Let us suppose that mobilisation is ordered. What does that mean, nowadays? Nothing! We live in an age of bluff. T h e boys shout until they are hoarse, and the politicians h u n t for a formula u n d e r the conference-table. A lot of noise to cover u p an enormous cold funk. S T A H L . Cold funk is an exceedingly dangerous state of mind. A coward often hits first. VALERIAN. But, I ask you, who wants war? Certainly not the industrialists: the arms race is good for another five years at least. Certainly not the politicians: they're far too jealous of the military and afraid of losing their jobs. Even the General Staffs don't want it: they're both perfectly happy playing at mechanisation. . . . Do you seriously imagine that wars nowadays are caused by some escaped lunatic putting a b o m b u n d e r a bridge and blowing u p an omnibus? T h e r e have been worse provocations in the past, and there will be worse in the future. T h e national h o n o u r will swallow them all quite conveniently. It has a very strong digestion. [Enter LESSEP, R., with papers.] LESSEP. H e r e are the latest press bulletins, Mr Valerian. V A L E R I A N . T h a n k you.

[Reads. Exit LESSEP, R.] S T A H L . Anything fresh. VALERIAN. Nothing. Students' demonstrations. Patriotic speeches. All the customary nonsense. . . . O u r operatives gathered outside the Villa Kismet d u r i n g the lunch h o u r and cheered the Leader till it was time to go back to work. T h e n two of the organisers of the illegal trades union were recognized in the crowd, and so roughly handled that the Police had to take them into preventive custody. . . . T h e I r o n Bridge incident has certainly solved some of o u r labour problems—for the moment.

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S T A H L . Yes—for the moment. . . . But, even supposing that there's no war, how will all this end? VALERIAN. It will e n d itself. In ten days there will be a new distraction— an international football match or a girl found m u r d e r e d in her bath. . . . [Reads.] This is rather amusing. An Ostnian journalist has written an article proving conclusively that the Iron Bridge bomb was fired by o r d e r of myself! S T A H L . Haha! T h a n k goodness for something to laugh at, anyway! VALERIAN. " T h e sinister Westland industrialists, realising that they have b r o u g h t their country to the verge of ruin, attempt a desperate gambler's throw". . . . You know, Stahl, a crime of this sort—so pointless, so entirely without motive—is b o u n d to have a curious psychological effect u p o n everybody. Don't you sometimes wake u p in the night, and wonder: W h o did it? Like the reader of a detective story? A n d , of course, the most apparently innocent are the most suspect. Perhaps it was t h e Ostnian archbishop. Perhaps it was the wife of o u r municipal librarian. Perhaps it was my butler, Manners. A n d then, inevitably, o n e begins to wonder: was it I myself, in a m o m e n t of insanity, followed by amnesia? Have I an alibi? O u g h t I to go to the Police a n d confess? Madness is so infectious. S T A H L . I n your list of suspects, you've forgotten the chief m a d m a n . Why shouldn't it have been the Leader, himself? VALERIAN. A h , no, my friend. T h e Leader is the only m a n in all Westland who is quite above suspicion. If he had d o n e it, he would never have been able to resist telling us so! [Listening.] I wonder who that is on t h e stairs? Surely it can't be a visitor, at this hour of t h e night? [Enter M A N N E R S , R.] M A N N E R S . It's the Leader, Sir.

S T A H L . Gracious! I'd better clear out. VALERIAN. N O . Please stay. This will be interesting. [Enter the LEADER and Storm-Trooper G R I M M , R.

The LEADER'S whole manner has changed. He is obviously exhausted. He speaks gently, almost timidly. Storm-Trooper G R I M M takes up his position at the back of the stage. Throughout the scene which follows, he neither moves nor speaks.] L E A D E R . May I come in?

VALERIAN. This is an unexpected honour. LEADER. I saw your light in the window, on my way back from the Broadcasting Station.

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VALERIAN. We have been listening to your speech LEADER [sinking into a chair]. How quiet it is, in here! All day long I have been s u r r o u n d e d by shouting, noise, crowds. I thought - for a few m o m e n t s I shall be able to be quiet S T A H L . Perhaps, my Leader, you'd prefer to be left alone? LEADER. N O , no. I hate to be alone Don't leave me, any of you. VALERIAN. You must be very tired? LEADER. More tired than I have ever been, in my whole life. VALERIAN. You'll take some wine? Something to eat? [The LEADER does not reply VALERIAN makes a sign to MANNERS, who goes out, R ] LEADER [begins to speak quietly, then with rising hysteria]. For five nights I have lain awake, wondering: What shall I do? What shall I do? And n o o n e can decide for me. No one! I alone must make the final choice. Peace or war? It is a terrible b u r d e n to put u p o n the shoulders of o n e man. . . . You think I am strong? No, I am weak, weak I never wished to be the Leader It was forced u p o n me Forced u p o n me, I tell you, by the m e n who said they were my friends, and who t h o u g h t only of their own ambition. T h e y m a d e use of me T h e y m a d e use of my love for my dear country. T h e y never loved Westland as I did . I stood on a platform in a village hall or a table in a little restaurant—when I began to speak, people listened More a n d m o r e people. It was like a d r e a m I was p r o u d of my power. T h e y flattered me . . . And I was so simple; only a poor out-of-work bank-clerk. I believed them. . My parents were country people. T h e y gave their last savings to have me educated. "You mustn't grow u p to be a peasant", they told me And I obeyed them I worked hard. I would have been contented with so little I was afraid of the world, of the rich people in their fine houses. I feared them and I hated them. . . . And then I found that I could speak. It was easy. So easy. I had money, friends They told me "You will be a great man." I learnt their ways. Step by step Climbing higher and higher I had to be cunning. I had to d o horrible things. I had to intrigue and m u r d e r . Nobody knows how I have suffered Nobody knows that I did it all for Westland Only for Westland. . . Don't you believe me? VALERIAN [soothingly]. Certainly we believe you LEADER. In the nights, when my people are all asleep, I he and tremble You would never understand. . It's like some terrible nightmare I—I alone, am responsible. And at the great receptions, when I stand there in my uniform, with all the foreign diplomats and the beautiful well-born women a r o u n d me (the women I used to d r e a m

396

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of when I was a poor boy in an office), I want to scream in all their faces: "Leave me alone! Leave me alone! Let me go back to my parents' cottage! Let me be humble and free!" Some of these women know what I am feeling. I see it in their eyes. How they despise me! [Screaming.] Don't you see how you are all torturing me? I can't bear it! I must bear it! I can't bear it! [Covers his face with his hands and sobs.] No! No! No! No! [VALERIAN goes quietly over to the radiogram, and starts the record of Rameau's "Tambourin". Then he and S T A H L remain motionless, watching the LEADER. During the music, MANNERS comes in, R., silently pfoces a tray of cold supper near the LEADER'S chair, and exit, R.] [As the music proceeds, the LEADER'S sobbing quietens and stops. For some time he remains motionless, his face in his hands. Then, slowly, he raises his head. His expression is now calm and radiant. When the music stops, he is smiling.] LEADER. Ah . . . that music! How clearly I see the way, now! [Rising to his feet.] Listen, all of you. I have made a great decision! To-morrow morning, the whole world will hear that I have withdrawn the Westland troops, unconditionally, ten miles from the frontier. It will hear that I have proposed to Ostnia a pact of non-aggression, guaranteeing the sanctity of the frontier for a thousand years! S T A H L . My Leader, may I congratulate you? This is the finest thing you have ever done! LEADER. T h e y will not sneer at me any more, will they, in England and France and America? They will not be able to say I wanted war. My decision will be famous. It will be praised in the history books. I will make my country the greatest of all gifts—the gift of peace! S T A H L . This is magnificent! LEADER. To-morrow night, you will hear my greatest speech. My Peace Speech. I shall stand before my shock troops and I shall tell them: War is glorious, but Peace is more glorious still! And I shall convince them! I know it! I am strong, now! T h e y may not u n d e r s t a n d at first, but they will obey, because it is my will. T h e will of their Leader. T h e immutable, unconquerable will of the Westland nation. . . . I must speak to General Staff Headquarters, at once! S T A H L [aside]. Valerian, you have saved us all! VALERIAN [aside]. I receive your thanks on behalf of poor Rameau. If only h e were alive! How very surprised he would be!

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[Enter LESSEP, R., with envelope.] LESSEP. My Leader, an u r g e n t despatch from General Staff Headquarters. L E A D E R [reads, crumples paper. Furiously]. They have dared! You will bear witness, all of you, that Westland had no hand in this! You will record my decision for the j u d g m e n t of posterity! S T A H L . But—my Leader, what has happened? LEADER. An h o u r ago, the Ostnian troops crossed o u r frontier! Kapra has been bombed by Ostnian planes. Women and children foully, heartlessly m u r d e r e d ! S T A H L . O h , my

God!

V A L E R I A N . T h e idiots!

LEADER. T h e die is cast! T h e n a m e of Ostnia shall be blotted from the m a p of E u r o p e for ever! S T A H L . This is the end of everything! LEADER [in his platform manner]. Confident in the justice of o u r cause, a n d determined to defend our sacred Westland homesteads to the last, we swear— [He is still shouting as the CURTAIN falL·.]

Act I I I Scene 1 [The Ostnia-Westland Room. It is early evening. On the L. of stage, M A R T H A sits rolling bandages. M R S T H O R V A L D IS knitting a muffler. D R T H O R V A L D IS reading the casualty-lists in the newspaper.] [On the R. of the stage sits M R S VRODNY, all in black, alone. She is staring in front of her, with a fixed expression. She looks much older.] [It is noticeable that both homes seem shabbier and poorer than in the earlier scenes. Several pieces of furniture are musing. Indeed, the V R O D N Y - H U S S E K home is almost bare.] M R S T H O R V A L D . Mrs Veigal says it was perfectly wonderful. She could hear Bob's voice just as if he were in the room. He told her not to worry. T h o s e who have passed over are all very happy. He said the O t h e r Side was difficult to describe, but it was like listening to glorious music! M A R T H A . It's wicked, Hilda; and dangerous as well! How does she know she wasn't talking to an evil spirit?

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M R S T H O R V A L D . I don't see that it can do any harm. And it's such a comfort to h e r ' Poor woman, she idolised Bob! D R T H O R V A L D . Well, at least she can be p r o u d of him! Listen to this "Robert Veigal. Killed in action. December the tenth. T h e Blue Order. For conspicuous gallantry in the face of the enemy " T h e casualty-lists this evening are terrible! T h a t offensive on the Slype Canal was a shambles. If they don't make some big changes on the General Staff soon, there'll be trouble! H a m m e l ought to have been retired years ago M A R T H A . T h e r e ' r e too many healthy young men slacking in cushy staff jobs! As for those cowardly pacifists, I can't think why they're allowed to have a soft time in prison' They ought to be sent to the firing-line! M R S T H O R V A L D . Oh, Martha, you're cruel' After all, Eric's your nephew' D R T H O R V A L D . Hilda, I've told you before never to mention his n a m e in this house again! T h e shame of it has almost killed me! M R S T H O R V A L D I suppose you wish he'd been blown to pieces by a shell, like Bob Veigal! Well, perhaps he is dead! They wouldn't tell me anything! D R T H O R V A L D . You didn't go to the prison? M R S T H O R V A L D . Yes I did' So there! He's my son and I want to see him! I don't care about anything, any more. . Eric, my darling boy, what have they d o n e to you? [She bursts into tears.] D R T H O R V A L D . She's overwrought She doesn't know what she's saying . . Martha, could you make some coffee? It would do her good M A R T H A . We haven't any coffee. And we've used u p our week's ration of sugar, already. T h e r e isn't any more firewood, either D R T H O R V A L D . I suppose we shall have to b u r n another of the spareroom chairs. [With an attempt to smile ] Soon we shall be sitting on the floor! M A R T H A . I'll see what I can find. [Exit, L ] D R T H O R V A L D [rising and going over to his wife]. I'm sorry, dear' M R S T H O R V A L D [sobbing] You're not! You don't love Eric' You never did' D R T H O R V A L D . Perhaps I have been rather harsh. I haven't tried to understand what m a d e him act as he did You see, I was b r o u g h t u p to think that a man's greatest privilege was to fight for his country; and it's h a r d to change one's ideas Perhaps we were all wrong. War seems so beastly when it actually happens! Perhaps "country" and "frontier" are old-fashioned words that don't mean anything now. What are we really fighting for? I feel so m u d d l e d ' It's not so easy to r e a r r a n g e one's beliefs, at o u r age For we're both getting on,

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aren't we, dear? You must help me. We've got no one to t u r n to now, but each other. We must try to think of all the happy times we've had together. . . . You r e m e m b e r them too, don't you, Hilda? We must make a new start. . . . I tell you what I'll do—to-morrow I'll go down to the prison myself! Perhaps I shall be able to get something out of them! M R S T H O R V A L D [looks up and smiles]. T h a n k you, dear! D R T H O R V A L D . That's better! Give me a kiss! [They embrace and remain seated together, holding hands.] This is quite like old times, isn't it? [Enter A N N A , also in black, R.] M R S V R O D N Y [without turning her head, in a harsh, croaking voice]. How much did he give you? A N N A . Eight h u n d r e d and fifty. M R S V R O D N Y . That's ridiculous! It cost twelve h u n d r e d ! A N N A . O h , Mother, I know! I argued and argued with him! But it was no use. H e just laughed. I was so afraid he might refuse to take it at all. T h e n he tried to kiss me. . . . It was beastly! M R S V R O D N Y . Your Father gave me that brooch on our engagement-day. A N N A . Why did you d o it, Mother? Wasn't there anything else? M R S V R O D N Y . It was the last I had. But what does it matter? A N N A . You're worn out. Why don't you take a day in bed? I'll look after everything. M R S V R O D N Y . Nonsense! You've got your hospital-work to do. Aren't you o n night-duty this week? You ought to be getting your things on, now. A N N A . Very well, Mother. [Exit, R.] [Enter M A R T H A , with tray, L.] M A R T H A . I've m a d e you some herbal tea. It's all there is. M R S T H O R V A L D . H O W sweet of you, Martha! [To D R T H O R V A L D . ] I haven't had time to look at the p a p e r yet. Is there any real news? T h e y never tell us anything! D R T H O R V A L D . Nothing much. All the fronts were quiet, this morning. T h e usual r u m o u r s of desertion and mutinies in the Ostnian regiments. Probably nonsense. But there seems no doubt that they're having a very bad time with the Plague. They're dying by thousands, apparently! M A R T H A . It shows there's some justice in the world! M R S T H O R V A L D [notices that there are only two cups on the tray]. Won't you have a cup as well, Martha? You're not looking too grand, you know. Are you all right?

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M A R T H A . I've got a bad headache, that's all. I think perhaps a cup would d o me good. I'm feeling so thirsty! [Exit, L.] D R T H O R V A L D . Of course, the papers have censored it, but I h e a r that there've been one or two cases here, among the prisoners of war. M R S T H O R V A L D . Oliver! How dreadful! Supposing it spreads! D R T H O R V A L D . Oh, we're safe enough! M R S T H O R V A L D . But just suppose it does! What are the symptoms? D R T H O R V A L D . I don't know exactly. A swelling u n d e r the arm, I believe. . . . But you mustn't worry your head about that! [Enter ANNA, R., in nurse's uniform.} A N N A . I'm off now, Mother.

M R S V R O D N Y Keep clear of the office when you go downstairs. T h e y took away the caretaker, this morning. A N N A [hysterically]. Can't they do anything to stop it, before it kills everybody in the whole world? It's taken Grandfather. It's taken Uncle Oswald. It'll take us, too, soon! What have we all d o n e that we should be destroyed like this? Nobody's alive any more! I look at the faces in the streets, and they're not the faces of living people! We're all dead! M R S V R O D N Y . Anna! Control yourself! [L. and R., as in Act II, Scene 1, the sound of marching feet is heard. But this time there is no music, only the tap of a drum.] [ A N N A goes to window, R.] [Enter M A R T H A , L., with her cup.] M R S T H O R V A L D . T h o s e horrible d r u m s ! Oh, shut the window! I can't bear the sound any more! D R T H O R V A L D [going to window, L.]. They're mere boys! How many of t h e m will be alive in a week's time? T h e y used to sing once. . . . Oh God, why can't it stop! [Bangs down window.] M R S V R O D N Y . Listen to them marching! T h i n k what those m e n are going to face. Grandfather was a soldier, and his father before him. We're the only ones left now. Perhaps we shan't be here much longer. But r e m e m b e r that, whatever happens to you, you come of a family of soldiers! Never forget that! [The marching dies away.] D R T H O R V A L D . I must be off to the University. We're working out a new scheme of courses for the blind. Can I get anything for you in town? M A R T H A . Could you get me some linament?

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M R S T H O R V A L D . Linament? What for, Martha? Have you h u r t yourself? M A R T H A . I don't know. I've got such a funny swelling. D R T H O R V A L D [exchanging a quick glance with his wife]. A swelling? M R S T H O R V A L D . H O W long have you had it? M A R T H A . Only since this morning. It came u p quite suddenly. D R T H O R V A L D . Could you have bruised yourself, somehow? M A R T H A . O h no, I'm quite sure I haven't. . . . But it hurts! D R T H O R V A L D [trying to speak calmly]. Where, exactly, is this swelling, Martha? M A R T H A . Here. U n d e r my arm. . . . Why, what's the matter? M R S T H O R V A L D [jumping up with a scream]. She's got it! She's got the Plague! Don't let h e r touch me! Keep her away! We shall catch it! We shall all die! D R T H O R V A L D . Quiet, Hilda! I don't expect it's anything serious, but you'd better go to your room, Martha. . . . I'll p h o n e for the doctor at once! [He and his wife instinctively back away from M A R T H A into a corner of the stage.] M A R T H A [hysterical]. No! No! It can't be! I won't! I've been good! You can't let me die! I've never had a chance! You don't know how I've suffered! You don't know what it's like to be ugly, to see everyone else getting married, to spend your life looking after other people's children! I've sacrificed everything! I had brains! I might have had a brilliant career, but 1 gave it all u p tor you! I've been more loyal t h a n any of them! If you let me die, there's n o point in being good, any m o r e ! It doesn't matter! It's all a lie! I've never been happy! I've been betrayed! A N N A [as if listening to sounds in the very far distance]. Mother . . . can't you hear them, over there? They're crying, they're suffering—-just like us! M R S V R O D N Y [speaking with a kind of terrible obstinacy, which belies her words]. I h e a r nothing! M A R T H A [runs to the LEADER'S portrait]. Oh, my Leader! Say you don't mean it! Say I'm going to live! Speak to me! [She falls on her knees before the picture, and, in doing so, switches on the wireless.] W E S T L A N D R A D I O [tonelessly, like a time-signal]. Kill, Kill, Kill, Kill, Kill! [Continues to the end of scene.] A N N A [with an involuntary despairing cry]. Eric, where are you? CURTAIN

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(Before the Curtain) [Three Westland soldiers are grouped, L., behind some kind of simplified construction to represent a parapet. They stare across the stage into the darkness, R., where the Ostnian trenches are supposed to he. The Ostnians remain invisible, throughout, but their voices are represented by the two remaining male members of the chorus, off. One of the Westland soldiers has an accordion, to which he sings:] F I R S T SOLDIER. Ben was a four foot seven Wop, H e worked all night in a bucket-shop O n cocoa, a n d sandwiches, And bathed on Sunday evenings. In winter when the woods were bare H e walked to work in his underwear With his hat in his hand, But his watch was broken. H e met his Chief in the U n d e r g r o u n d , H e bit him h a r d till h e turned r o u n d In t h e neck, a n d the ear, And the left-hand bottom corner. H e loved his wife though she was cruel, H e gave h e r an imitation jewel In a box, a black eye, And a very small packet of Woodbines. O S T N I A N [off]. T H E ONLY BRAND! S E C O N D S O L D I E R . Ssh! Did you h e a r that?

F I R S T SOLDIER. T h e bleeders! I'll show 'em. [Picks up rifle.] T H I R D SOLDIER. Sit down, yer fool. You'll start something. [Shouts across stage.] H U L L O ! O S T N I A N [off]. H U L L O ! T H I R D SOLDIER. W O T ' S I T LIKE, YOUR SIDE? O S T N I A N [off]. W E T . T H I R D S O L D I E R . SAME H E R E .

O S T N I A N [off]. G O T ANY CIGARETTES? S E C O N D S O L D I E R . YES. B U T N O RUDDY M A T C H E S .

O S T N I A N [off]. WE'VE G O T M A T C H E S . SWOP? S E C O N D SOLDIER. R I G H T . C O M I N G OVER. [Throws matches.] O S T N I A N [off]. T H A N K S . C O M I N G OVER. [The packet of cigarettes flies out of the darkness but falls short, outside the parapet.] SORRY! F I R S T SOLDIER. C H R I S T , YOU O S T N I A N S T H R O W LIKE A PACK O F S C H O O L - G I R L S ! [To the others.] Wait a mo. Gimme a torch.

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S E C O N D S O L D I E R . T a k e care!

F I R S T SOLDIER. O h , they're all right! [Climbs over parapet and looks for cigarettes.] O S T N I A N [off]. MORE T O T H E LEFT. F U R T H E R . T H E R E , MAN! R I G H T UNDER YOUR NOSE! F I R S T SOLDIER. Got 'em. T H A N K S , BOYS. [Picks up packet and climbs back.] O S T N I A N [singing, off]. What are we fighting for? What are we fighting for? T H I R D S O L D I E R [joining in]. Only the sergeant knows. [To F I R S T SOLDIER.] Come on, Angel. Get yer squeeze-box. [ F I R S T S O L D I E R begins to play the accordion. Air: "Mademoiselle from Armentiers" The three Westland soldiers sing the first six verses in turn, all joining in the chorus.] T h e biscuits are h a r d a n d the beef is high, T h e weather is wet a n d the drinks are dry, We sit in the m u d a n d wonder why. With faces washed until they shine T h e G.H.Q. sit down to dine A h u n d r e d miles behind the line. T h e Colonel said he was having a doze; I looked t h r o u g h the window; a rambler rose Climbed u p his knee in h e r underclothes. T h e chaplain paid us a visit one day, A shell came to call from over the way, You should have heard the bastard pray! T h e subaltern's heart was full of fire, Now h e hangs on the old barbed wire All blown u p like a motor-tyre. T h e sergeant-major gave us hell. A bullet struck him a n d h e fell. W h e r e did it come from? Who can tell? [The O S T N I A N S now join in. O S T N I A N S and W E S T -

LANDERS sing the following six verses alternately, joining in the last.]

ON T H E F R O N T I E R

404

Kurt went sick with a pain in his head, Malingering, the Doctor said Gave him a pill Next day h e was dead Fritz was careless, I'm afraid H e lost his heart to a parlour-maid Now he's lost his head to a hand-grenade Karl married a girl with big blue eyes H e went back on leave, to his surprise T h e hat in the hall was not his size Oh, N o Man's Land is a pleasant place, You can lie there as long as you he on your face Till your uniform is an utter disgrace I'd l a t h e r eat turkey than humble pie, I'd l a t h e r see mother than lose an eye, I'd l a t h e r kiss a girl than die We're sick of the rain a n d the lice and the smell, We're sick of the noise of shot and shell, And the whole bloody war can go to hell' BLACK O U T

Act I I I Scene 2 [ V A L E R I A N ' S study

V A L E R I A N IS nervously pacing the room L E S S E P IS seated

by the desk, at the telephone It is night ] VALERIAN Call the hospital again T h e r e must be some news by now' L E S S E P [dials and speaks into phone] Hullo Is that the Central Hospital? Mr Valerian wishes to enquire for his butler, Mr Manners T h a n k you VALERIAN I told him not to go into the city, a n d h e disobeyed me—for the first time' H e risked his life, Lessep a n d d o you know why ? T o try a n d find m e a pot of caviare' Ridiculous, isn't it? [Going to window ] Tell me, is the Plague really so bad, down t h e r e 5 L E S S E P It's much worse than they admit T h e newspapers are still ord e r e d to minimise it, a n d they're burying all the dead by night VALERIAN Extraordinary U p here, we inhabit another world' L E S S E P But, Mr Valerian, there's always the d a n g e r of infection Even for us' Forgive my speaking of it again, but don't you think it would b e wiser to m o v e 5 You could go to your villa at Konia

ON T H E F R O N T I E R

405

VALERIAN. If you are frightened you have my permission to go there— alone. LESSEP. Of course, I'm only thinking of your safety. . . . [Into telephone.] Yes? Yes. . . . O h . . . I am very sorry. . . . T h a n k you. . . . VALERIAN. Well, what d o they say? L E S S E P . Manners . . . I'm afraid he's dead. . . . Half-an-hour ago. T h e fever didn't break. VALERIAN. Dead. . . . So. . . . I'm sorry. . . . Well, there's nothing I can do about it now. [To LESSEP.] Have any more reports come in? LESSEP. Only a telegram from the T a r n b e r g Colliery. T h e eight o'clock shift refused to go down, and are threatening to destroy the plant. T h e m a n a g e r doesn't think the police are reliable. VALERIAN. Nothing from Headquarters? LESSEP. There's been no news of any kind from the front all day. T h e storm must have broken down the wires. [Buzzer on desk sounds.] V A L E R I A N . See who that is.

LESSEP [into the house telephone]. Hullo. Speaking. Yes, Mr Valerian is here. V A L E R I A N . Who

is it?

LESSEP. It's Mr Stahl. He's coming upstairs now. [Enter STAHL, R. He is haggard and exhausted. His clothes and raincoat are splashed with mud.] S T A H L . Valerian! T h a n k God you're safe! VALERIAN. My dear Stahl, this is a pleasant surprise. I thought you were visiting o u r gallant boys in the trenches. Oh dear, where did you get that cap? It makes you look like a racing tout. And you're wet t h r o u g h . What have you been doing? How did you get here? S T A H L . I managed to find the airfield. T h a n k God, most of the pilots are still loyal. We landed in the meadows, a couple of miles from the house. In the pitch darkness. . . . We were lucky not to crash. VALERIAN. What a state you're in! Lessep, the brandy. S T A H L . T h a n k s . . . . [Drinks.] I'm quite exhausted. Ran most of the way t h r o u g h woods, over ploughed fields . . . didn't dare show myself on the road. . . . VALERIAN. I say, Stahl, are you tight? What is the matter? S T A H L . You mean, you don't know? VALERIAN. There's been no news all day. T h e telegraph wires are down. S T A H L . Cut, you mean. . . . W h e n we were only a few miles from the front the car was stopped by a couple of private soldiers, we were

406

ON T H E F R O N T I E R

told to get out, and taken along to a sort of barn. T h e y wouldn't answer any questions, but there were a lot of officers in the barn, prisoners like myself, and I soon learnt what was h a p p e n i n g . T h e whole N o r t h e r n sector has mutinied and are fraternising with the enemy. All officers who tried to stop them were shot out of h a n d . J a n s e n was bayoneted in his own headquarters. . . . And that's not all. T h e r e was a revolution in the Ostnian capital this morning. T h e King's hiding somewhere in the mountains; to-morrow he will have abdicated, if he's alive. T h e Ostnians have got loudspeakers in the front line, calling on their soldiers to make an armistice and revolt against their own government! VALERIAN. Excellent! Nothing could be better. T h e new Ostnian government is certain to be incompetent and full of intrigue. It will be o u r big chance to finish things off. But I'm interrupting you. How did you get away? S T A H L . I managed to bribe one of the guards with a cigarette case. VALERIAN. Not the one your wife gave you for a silver wedding present? My word, you'll catch it! S T A H L . Valerian, this isn't funny. This h u m o u r of yours is becoming a pose. We've got to get out of here. There's nothing either of us can do. VALERIAN. A n d where d o you propose that we should go? S T A H L . You know I had a cable the other day from Quinta in Rio, asking me to help him build u p the South American Trusts? I'm going to accept his offer, and I want you to come too. We need you, Valerian. VALERIAN. My d e a r friend, I am too old for carpet-bagging. Quinta would impose his own conditions. He'd use us like office boys. S T A H L . This is no time for false pride. Do you realise, man, that if you stay h e r e you'll see your life-work ruined before your eyes? VALERIAN. Steady, steady. Don't get hysterical. Listen, what you tell me doesn't surprise me in the least. I only wonder it hasn't h a p p e n e d before. What can you expect? T h e war should have been over in three weeks if o u r friend H a m m e l had the brains of a fifth-rate actor. It's gone on for nine months. T h e plague was bad luck certainly, but if o u r public health authorities had ever learnt to co-operate with each other, it could have been kept within bounds. Of course, there're mutinies and strikes; there'll be more before we're done. T h e r e were plenty in the Great War. . . . A lot of people will have to be arrested, a n d a few of them shot. T h e Leader will visit the trenches again in person. There'll be an advance of a h u n d r e d yards somewhere, the papers will predict an immediate victory, and the workers and the soldiers will go back to their jobs. As for Ostnia. . . . STAHL. YOU don't understand. You don't want to. You're crazy with con-

ON T H E F R O N T I E R

407

ceit! It wasn'tjust a little local trouble I saw T h e officers told me that only F r o m m e r ' s 18th route army is still completely loyal. I tell you, it means civil war! VALERIAN Very well Suppose it does Do you seriously think that a rabble of half-baked townees and farm labourers without any officers can stand u p against Frommer, who is certainly the best general we've got? I'm afraid they'll be sorry they were ever b o r n Frommer's not a kind old gentleman, and has rather old-fashioned ideas about the sanctity of private property S T A H L . It's no use arguing. I know what I saw. T h e y tore the tabs off a colonel and shot him in the stomach before my eyes. It was horrible! This is the end V A L E R I A N . If you think so, then it's no good my talking, is it? I'm sorry that o u r long partnership should come to such a sudden conclusion. S T A H L But what are you going to do? VALERIAN. What should I d o ? Stay here, of course LESSEP. Mr Valerian—What's the use? I beg you to go VALERIAN. My d e a r Lessep, do not alarm yourself. I shall not ask you to stay h e r e with me. Indeed, I o r d e r you to accompany Mr Stahl. You would not be the least use to me just now—merely a hindrance. Take him, Stahl, with my warmest recommendation. S T A H L . Valerian, this is suicide Within twenty-four h o u r s there'll be street fighting here. You know as well as I who they will try to m u r d e r first. VALERIAN. We shall see. If it gets too uncomfortable I suppose I shall have to join F r o m m e r for a while, though I shall dislike that intensely. T h e man's a bloodthirsty old bore. L E S S E P [beginning to cry] I can't leave you here, Mr Valerian. VALERIAN. O h yes, you can. Quite easily. . . . Please spare me these heroics, they d o not become you. S T A H L [looking at his watch] Heavens, it's late. We must go at once. If we can't cross the frontier before dawn, we may be fired at. Valerian, for the last time, will you come' 1 VALERIAN. N O .

S T A H L . Very well, then. . . Good-bye VALERIAN. Good-bye, my dear Stahl. I shall look forward to your letters about the evils of South America Please r e m e m b e r me to your wife. LESSEP [sobbing]. Good-bye, Mr Valerian VALERIAN. Before we part, Lessep, I've one more j o b for you. Buy Mr Stahl a new hat. S T A H L [with a burst of nervous impatience, to LESSEP]. For God's sake, man, come—if you're coming! Don't waste your pity on him. He's mad! [Exit S T A H L and L E S S E P , R ]

408

ON T H E

FRONTIER

VALERIAN. T h e r e goes marriage! Poor Stahl! Always the subordinate, staggering u n d e r the luggage of a social-climbing wife and a playboy son. . . . He'll dislike South America even more than I should. . . . I wonder if he secretly hopes to be taken back, if things go right, here? If h e does, he's mistaken. T h e family is a charming institution, but one has to pay for it. I don't like deserters. [Takes up house-telephone.] Hullo

Hullo [Goes to door, L., opens it and calls.]

Schwarz! [No answer. Crosses to door, R., opens it and calls.] Schwarz! Frederick! Louis! Kurt! [No answer. Comes back to centre of stage.] Bolted. . . . Well, I can't blame them. . . . Gone to a demonstration, I suppose, to shout stickjaw slogans with the rest, and listen to their gibbering prophets who promise the millennium in a week. [Goes to window.] You poor fish, so cock-a-whoop in your little h o u r of comradeship a n d h o p e ! I'm really sorry for you. You don't know what you're letting yourselves in for, trying to beat us on our own ground! You will take to machine-guns without having enough. You will imagine that, in a People's Army, it is against your principles to obey orders—and then wonder why it is that, in spite of your superior numbers, you are always beaten. You will count on foreign support and be disappointed, because the international working-class does not read your mosquito journals. It prefers o u r larger and livelier organs of enlightenment, which can afford snappier sports news, smarter features, a n d bigger p h o t o g r a p h s of bathing lovelies. We shall expose your lies and exaggerate your atrocities, and you will be unable to expose or exaggerate ours. T h e churches will be against you. T h e world of money and political influence will say of us: "After all, they are the decent people, our sort. T h e others are a rabble." A few of the better educated may go so far as to exclaim: "A plague on both your houses!" Your only open supporters abroad will be a handful of intellectuals, who, for the last twenty years, have signed letters of protest against everything from bi-metallism in Ecuador to the treatm e n t of yaks in Thibet. . . .

ON T H E F R O N T I E R

409

[As he speaks these last lines, he returns to the desk and helps himself to a sandwich from a plate which is lying there. Enter Storm-Trooper G R I M M , very quietly, L. VALERIAN turns and starts slightly, on seeing him.] VALERIAN. T o what d o I owe this unexpected pleasure? G R I M M . I startled you, didn't I? VALERIAN. Yes, for a moment, I confess you did. G R I M M . That's what I wanted. VALERIAN. YOU came u p the back staircase? How did you get in? G R I M M . T h e doors are standing open. VALERIAN. My servants have all r u n away, it seems. G R I M M . I knew that. I met one of them in the city. VALERIAN. S O you came to keep me company? Most considerate. . . . You've b r o u g h t a message, I suppose? G R I M M . Yes. I've b r o u g h t a message. VALERIAN. Excellent. Does the Leader want m e to join him? G R I M M . My message isn't from the Leader. But you may join him. Sooner than you think. VALERIAN. This all sounds very mysterious. . . . W h e r e is he now? Still in the capital? O r has he gone to Frommer? [ G R I M M does not answer.] Come, come! We haven't the whole night to waste! G R I M M . What I have to say to you won't take long. VALERIAN. SO much the better. . . . But first let me offer you one of these excellent sandwiches. . . . [Moves his hand towards the plate. G R I M M whips out a pistol and covers him.] G R I M M . Keep away from that telephone! VALERIAN [after recovering from the shock]. My dear child, you mustn't wave that thing about! It might go off. G R I M M . Get back over there. Against the wall. VALERIAN [obeying]. You little fool! It was the Leader who told you to d o this, I suppose? G R I M M . T h e Leader will never tell me to do anything, again. If you want him, go and look in his study. You'll find him with his face on the table, and twenty bullets in his back, and the blood all over that fine T u r k e y r u g you gave him. . . . VALERIAN. SO? My dear boy, d o stop trembling and slobbering at the m o u t h in that disgusting m a n n e r ! T o tell you the truth, your news doesn't surprise me quite as much as you'd suppose. I always sus-

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pected that you a n d your gang of hooligans would rat, when you t h o u g h t the time h a d come. Only, the time hasn't come, you see. That's where you show a deplorable lack of political foresight. . . . G R I M M . I didn't come here to talk about the Leader. VALERIAN. I can very well imagine why you came here, my m u r d e r o u s little g u n m a n . Having lost o n e master, you're in search of another. . . . Well, as it h a p p e n s , I can use you quite conveniently. . . . You have a car with you, I suppose? G R I M M . What if I have? VALERIAN. A n d plenty of petrol? Petrol, in these days, is worth rubies. My chauffeur seems to have disappeared. I want you to drive me to General Frommer's headquarters, at once. G R I M M . A n d if I refuse?

VALERIAN. O h , I hardly expect you to refuse. . . . After your little shooting-party, I've no doubt that you a n d your colleagues stuffed your pockets with all the bank-notes in the Leader's safe? You're feeling quite rich? Well, let m e tell you that, across the frontier, where you will be obliged to travel, very fast a n d soon, those notes a r e practically worthless. . . . Now I am p r e p a r e d to give you ten thousand gold francs. . . . G R I M M . I don't want your money! VALERIAN. Fifteen thousand! [ G R I M M is silent.] Twenty thousand! [ G R I M M is silent.] O h , you needn't be suspicious! They're really here, in this room, in a safe behind the panelling. . . . I'm ready to trust you, you see. Aren't you being rather unwise to refuse? T h i n k of the alternative. If Frommer's m e n catch you—as, without my protection, they probably will—you will be hanged, or possibly b u r n t alive. G R I M M . Valerian, t h e first time we met you thought you recognized me. VALERIAN. A n d you assured me that it was impossible. G R I M M . I was lying.

VALERIAN. SO? Your c a n d o u r does you credit. G R I M M . Don't you want to know my name? VALERIAN. Yes. I think you really d o owe me an introduction. G R I M M . It's G r i m m .

VALERIAN. Grimm? Grimm? T h e r e a r e so many Grimms in this country. . . . I seem to r e m e m b e r something. . . . G R I M M . Five years ago, a boy got a j o b in your office. A week later, some stamps disappeared. H e was t h e latest employee, so they dismissed him, on suspicion. H e appealed to you. You said that you could not reverse your head clerk's decision, and that, in any case, guilty or not, an example must be made. . . . VALERIAN. Ah, I r e m e m b e r now! An unfortunate case. . . . Well, it may

ON T H E F R O N T I E R

411

please you to know that the head clerk himself was dismissed a few weeks afterwards. H e had been cheating us for years. G R I M M . Yes, I knew that, too. VALERIAN. I am delighted to be in a position to make you some tardy amends. . . . Shall we say twenty-five thousand? G R I M M . YOU said: "An example must be made." VALERIAN. Yes. A n d I should say the same to-day. G R I M M . You haven't changed, Valerian. I'm glad of that. I was afraid.. . . VALERIAN. Fascinating as these reminiscences are, don't you think we had better be starting? We can continue this discussion much more conveniently in your car. G R I M M . I took a lot of trouble to get that post in your office. I had to have it. I h a d to see what you were like—the man who sent my parents to their graves. VALERIAN. My d e a r boy, this is sheer persecution mania! You should see a doctor. I assure you that I never set eyes on either of your parents in my life! G R I M M . N O , you never set eyes on them. Probably you never set eyes on any of the people who kept those little shops along G r a n d Avenue. But your big store undersold them, and ruined them all. My father went bankrupt. H e shot himself. My mother died soon after. VALERIAN. I am truly sorry to hear it. G R I M M . W h e n I was sacked from your office, without references, I couldn't get a j o b . O n e day, I was sitting in the park, your park; I h a d n ' t eaten anything for twenty-four hours. T h e r e was a meeting going on; a speaker from the Leader's Party. I listened. A night or two later, I heard the Leader himself. He told us how he would smash the big businesses, the chain-stores, the Valerian Trust. H e told us how he would help the small men, people like my father. I believed him. I joined the Party. . . . And then came the National Revolution. We were in power. And it was all lies. T h e Leader betrayed us. W h e n I realised that, I knew what I had to do. Never mind. T h a t score was settled, at last—to-night. . . . VALERIAN. Most interesting. . . . And now, may I ask, why do you come h e r e to tell me all this? G R I M M . I have come to give you a message. A message from my father a n d mother, a n d all those others. . . . VALERIAN. And the message is—? G R I M M . YOU must die.

VALERIAN. I must die. . . . How curious. . . . G R I M M . Say your prayers, Valerian. If you know any. VALERIAN. How very curious this is! It's quite true. You are actually able

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to kill me\ And you will! Oh, I don't doubt you're in earnest. I know that pale, hatchet-faced look of yours. When I said that I recognized you, I meant, perhaps, that I recognized that look. I recognized Death. We all know him by sight. G R I M M . Kneel down, d a m n you! Pray! Pray for forgiveness! Squeal for your life! Kneel, you swine! VALERIAN. N O , my little man. T h e r e you are asking too much. I'm afraid I can't give you the pleasure of humiliating me. It simply isn't in you. Be content with what you have. You can kill the great Valerian. What a treat! Don't tremble so, or you'll miss me altogether and hit that statuette, which would be a real disaster. Come on. Don't be afraid. I am waiting. Shoot. G R I M M [panting, near to collapse]. I—I can't! VALERIAN. YOU can't? Ah, now, I'm afraid, you're beginning to bore me. I over-estimated you, you see. I have no interest in weaklings. G R I M M . Get out of my sight, do you hear? Get out! VALERIAN. Not so fast. You and I have still a good deal to talk about. . . . Put that pistol away and get yourself a drink. You look as if you were going to faint. G R I M M . Get out, I tell you!

VALERIAN. YOU think, perhaps, that you might screw u p the courage to shoot me in the back? I shall give you no such opportunity. I am quite well aware of the power of the h u m a n eye. . . . Now, d o pull yourself together. Put it away and let us talk. [ G R I M M does not move.] VALERIAN. Very well. Have it your own way. I can be as patient as you. Probably m o r e so. I think you'll soon get tired of this nonsense. [A pause.] Let us pass the time agreeably. Shall I tell you about my crimes? T h e n u m b e r of widows I have starved to death? T h e babies I have trampled u n d e r foot? Do I a p p e a r to you as a monster with horns? I suppose I do. How strange. . . . H e r e we are, united, for the moment, by a relationship more intimate than the most passionate embrace, and we see each other as mere caricatures. . . . Are you a h u m a n being, too, u n d e r your dangerous little reptile skin? No doubt. Have you a sweetheart? I don't think so. In any case, you would soon lose her. Your dreary death-cult is hardly likely to amuse a young lady. . . . Tell me about your mother, though. That's always interesting. I expect you were an only child. H e r pet. Born rather late in the marriage. T h e son who was to achieve wonders. What did she teach you, at nights, beside the cot? What did she whisper?

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G R I M M [screams and shoots] Leave my mother alone, you bastard' [He fires three more shots into VALERIAN'S prostrate body, kicks it savagely, looks wildly round the room, and rushes out, R ] CURTAIN

(Before t h e Curtain) [Four J O U R N A L I S T S (no 3 is a woman) are discovered studying a map on the ground One has a camera, one a pair of field gtosses, another a typewriter Lighting as for the witches in Macbeth ] F I R S T J O U R N A L I S T W h e r e have you b e e n ' SECOND JOURNALIST

Watching the frightened die

As bombs fell from the Asiatic sky, A n d untrained peasants facing hopeless odds F I R S T J O U R N A L I S T T h e rattle of Spain's execution squads Rings in my d r e a m s T H I R D JOURNALIST

A n d t h r o u g h my m i n d

Stumbles the Abyssinian, blistered, blind F O U R T H J O U R N A L I S T Beside the Danube I have seen despair S E C O N D J O U R N A L I S T Well met

FOURTH JOURNALIST FIRST JOURNALIST

Well m e t in Westland Welcome h e r e

T o famine, plague, and civil war We have seen them all before S E C O N D J O U R N A L I S T When by telephone a n d wire Come reports of flood or fire T H I R D J O U R N A L I S T W h e r e the wounded's frantic cry Crawls u p o n the midnight sky F O U R T H J O U R N A L I S T W h e r e the words of hate a r e spoken A n d t h e will of children broken F I R S T J O U R N A L I S T W h e r e the homeless stare aghast T h i t h e r must we travel fast F O U R T H J O U R N A L I S T A n d where terror's famished d r u m Swallows reason, we must come T H I R D J O U R N A L I S T Visit violence for your sake F I R S T J O U R N A L I S T Read o u r columns when you wake Justify your party creeds

ON TH E

414

FRONTIE R

Eac h accordin g t o hi s needs . T H I R D J O U R N A L I S T . Follo w Freedom' s battle . SECON D JOURNALIST .

All

My millio n reader s daily call Fo r atrociou s act s by Reds , Whit e n u n s stifled in thei r beds . I follow Kro g who lead s th e White s Defendin g O r d e r an d Religion' s rights . T H I R D J O U R N A L I S T . I wher e th e People' s Arm y fights Watch Westlan d strugglin g to be free. F O U R T H J O U R N A L I S T . M y edito r would disagre e H e take s th e nicel y balance d view T o o impartia l to be true . T H I R D J O U R N A L I S T . I thin k tha t we shall win. FIRS T JOURNALIST .

I don't .

You thin k t h e Democracie s will help . T h e y won't . T H I R D J O U R N A L I S T . We coun t o n n u m b e r s for success T h e masse s ar e behin d us. SECON D JOURNALIST .

Yes

Bu t no t t h e few wh o hav e th e powe r Your G o v e r n m e n t will no t last a n hour . F O U R T H J O U R N A L I S T . Kro g will get his gun s an d tank s H e ha s t h e backin g of t h e bank s Your peopl e haven' t got a chance . F I R S T J O U R N A L I S T . I mus t go no w to p h o n e t o France . T H I R D J O U R N A L I S T . I've a n i m p o r t a n t interview . SECON D J O U R N A L I S T . And

I've a n articl e to d o .

Whe n shall we fou r mee t again ? T H I R D J O U R N A L I S T . I n t h e mids t of h u m a n pain . F O U R T H J O U R N A L I S T . W h e r e wome n weep as soldier s di e We shall g a t h e r by a n d by. [Groupfor song.] J O U R N A L I S T S [divide up lines between the four singers]. We fly to a cabine t crisis We m o t o r ou t t o th e wars W h e r e t h e general' s t e m p e r a t u r e rises O r t h e littl e orato r roar s Wher e over th e tyrannou s water s T h e flag of revolt is unfurle d You will find us, th e ace reporter s [Unison.] Presentin g t h e world t o t h e world . π

ON T H E F R O N T I E R

415

W h e n cholera threatens a nation O r troops open fire in the rain Whenever there's want or inflation We meet each other again When t h e bombs bring down babies a n d plaster O r stones at policemen are hurled [Unison.] We meet over death a n d disaster Presenting the world to the world. BLACK O U T

Act I I I Scene 3 [The stage quite bare, with the light-circle, as in the dream-scene in Act II, Scene 1. But with this difference: in the extreme corners of the stage, L. and R., are two dimly illuminated beds, containing motionless, unrecognizable figures, over which, in each corner, a doctor and a nurse are bending. These parts are doubled by the actors playing

D R T H O R V A L D and H I L D A T H O R V A L D , L.; and C O L O N E L

HUSSEK and M R S V R O D N Y , R. There is a screen at the head of each bed.] L E F T D O C T O R . Yes, Sister? W h a t is it?

L E F T N U R S E . This chest-wound case, Doctor. He's h a d another haemorrhage. L E F T D O C T O R . Let m e see. . . . H m . . . . T h e r e ' s n o t h i n g I can d o , I'm

afraid. He's sinking. What's his name? L E F T N U R S E . Eric Thorvald, Doctor. L E F T D O C T O R . Poor fellow. Knew his father slightly. Clever m a n . Bit conceited. R I G H T D O C T O R . What's h e r name?

R I G H T N U R S E . A n n a Vrodny. O n e of o u r best nurses. Do you think she'll pull t h r o u g h , Doctor? R I G H T D O C T O R . Not a chance. She won't last the night. Move h e r out as soon as it's over, Sister. We're terribly short of beds. [ E R I C and ANNA, dressed and made up exactly as in Act II, Scene I, emerge from behind the screens at the heads of the respective beds, and advance into the light-circk. The beds fade into darkness.] E R I C . A n n a , is that you? A N N A . Yes, Eric.

E R I C . C o m e closer. I can't see you clearly.

416

ON T H E F R O N T I E R

ANNA Where are you' Your voice sounds so faint ERIC Standing at the barricade The swift impartial bullet Selected and struck This is our last meeting ANNA Working in the hospital Death shuffled round the beds And brushed me with his sleeve I shall not see you again

[A distant noise of shots and shouting ] Will people never stop killing each other? There is no place in the world For those who love ERIC Believing it was wrong to kill, I went to prison, seeing myself As the sane and innocent student Aloof among practical and violent madmen, But I was wrong We cannot choose our world, Our time, our class None are innocent, none Causes of violence he so deep in all our lives It touches every act Certain it is for all we do We shall pay dearly Blood Will mine for vengeance in our children's happiness, Distort our truth like an arthritis Yet we must kill and suffer and know why All errors are not equal The hatred of our enemies Is the destructive self-love of the dying, Our hatred is the price of the world's freedom This much I learned in prison This struggle Was my struggle Even if I would I could not stand apart And after Sighting my rifle for the necessary wrong, Afraid of death, I saw you in the world, The world of faults and suffering and death, The world where love has its existence in our time, Its struggle with the world, love's source and object ANNA

ANNA I saw it too

Working in the wards Among the material needs of the dying

ON

TH E FRONTIE R

417

I foun d you r love A n d di d no t nee d t o call you E R I C We coul d no t mee t A N N A T h e y were to o stron g We foun d o u r peac e Onl y m d r e a m s E R I C A S irresponsibl e an d generalise d p h a n t o m s I n u s love too k a n o t h e r cours e T h a n th e persona l life A N N A I n sorro w a n d deat h We taste d love E R I C Bu t in th e luck y g u a r d e d futur e O t h e r s like u s shall meet , th e frontie r gone , A n d find t h e rea l world happ y A N N A T h e plac e o f love, th e goo d plac e Ο hol d m e in you r arm s T h e darknes s closes in [The lights fade slowly Background of music ] ERI C

No w as we c o m e t o o u r

end ,

As th e tin y separat e lives Fall , fall t o thei r graves, We begin t o u n d e r s t a n d A N N A A m o m e n t , a n d tim e will forget O u r failur e a n d o u r n a m e Bu t no t th e c o m m o n t h o u g h t T h a t linke d u s in a d r e a m E R I C O p e n th e closin g eyes, S u m m o n t h e failing breath , With o u r last loo k we bless T h e t u r n i n g m a t e r n a l eart h A N N A E u r o p e lies in th e d a r k Cit y a n d flood a n d tree , T h o u s a n d s hav e worke d a n d work T o maste r necessit y E R I C T O buil d th e city wher e T h e will o f love is d o n e A n d b r o u g h t t o its full flower T h e dignit y of m a n A N N A P a r d o n t h e m thei r mistakes , T h e impatien t a n d waverin g will

418

ON T H E F R O N T I E R

They suffer for our sakes, Honour, honour them all. BOTH. Dry their imperfect dust, The wind blows it back and forth. They die to make man just And worthy of the earth. CURTAIN

Coa l Fac e [1935] Ο lurche r loving collier black as night , Follo w your love across th e smokeless hill. Your lam p is ou t an d all your cages still. Cours e for he r hear t an d do no t miss And Kat e fly no t so fast, Fo r Sunda y soon is past, And Monda y come s when non e may kiss. Be marbl e to his soot an d to his black be white.

Night Mail [1935] This is the night mail crossing the border, Bringing the cheque and the postal order, Letters for the rich, letters for the poor, The shop at the corner and the girl next door, Pulling up Beattock, a steady climb— The gradient's against her but she's on time. Past cotton grass and moorland boulder, Shovelling white steam over her shoulder, Snorting noisily as she passes Silent miles of wind-bent grasses; Birds turn their heads as she approaches, Stare from the bushes at her blank-faced coaches; Sheepdogs cannot turn her course They slumber on with paws across, In the farm she passes no one wakes But a jug in a bedroom gently shakes. Dawn freshens, the climb is done. Down towards Glasgow she descends Towards the steam tugs, yelping down the glade of cranes Towards the fields of apparatus, the furnaces Set on the dark plain like gigantic chessmen. All Scotland waits for her; In the dark glens, beside the pale-green sea lochs Men long for news. Letters of thanks, letters from banks, Letters of joy from the girl and boy, Receipted bills and invitations To inspect new stock or visit relations, And applications for situations, And timid lovers' declarations, And gossip, gossip from all the nations; News circumstantial, news financial, Letters with holiday snaps to enlarge in

N I G H T MAIL

Letters with faces scrawled on the margin. Letters from uncles, cousins and aunts, Letters to Scotland from the South of France, Letters of condolence to Highlands and Lowlands, Notes from overseas to the Hebrides; Written on paper of every hue The pink, the violet, the white and the blue The chatty, the catty, the boring, adoring, The cold and official and the heart's outpouring, Clever, stupid, short and long, The typed and the printed and the spelt all wrong. Thousands are still asleep Dreaming of terrifying monsters Or a friendly tea beside the band at Cranston's or Crawford's; Asleep in working Glasgow, asleep in well-set Edinburgh, Asleep in granite Aberdeen. They continue their dreams But shall wake soon and long for letters. And none will hear the postman's knock Without a quickening of the heart For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?

423

Negroes [1935]

T E N O R S O L O . In the Middle Ages there was no contact between E u r o p e and Africa. But before 1500 the Portuguese were beginning to voyage in every direction in search of adventure, of ivory and gold. A sailor called Anton Gonsalves exchanged some Negroes for Moors, and took t h e m to Portugal. This excited the cupidity of his countrymen. H e received ten black slaves and a quantity of gold dust. T h e y sailed down the West Coast of Africa. C H O R U S . Of your charity pray for the soul of Diaz W h o r o u n d e d Cape Verde Alvaro Fernandez W h o reached Sierra Leone Of Cadamosto W h o explored the reaches of Senegal and the Congo O n whose souls as on all Christian souls, May God have mercy. N E G R O C O M M E N T A T O R . T h e y carried us off as slaves.

T E N O R S O L O . T h e n the Portuguese and Spaniards discovered America and were followed by the Dutch, the French, and the English. T h e y forced the American Indians to work for them. But u n d e r forced labour these Indians died. C H O R U S . It is the intention of N a t u r e T o make the bodies of free men and slaves different T o one erect for civil life T h e others robust for their necessary purposes. C O M M E N T A T O R . We were adaptable and strong. T E N O R S O L O . Needing slaves to work their sugar plantations, they imported t h e m from Africa, built ships to carry them and raised forts on the coast where they could collect them together for shipment.

C O M M E N T A T O R . Slave ships swarmed at the m o u t h of every river from the Senegal to the Congo. T E N O R S O L O . Slave traders paid native chiefs to capture Negroes. T h e chiefs t r a d e d the slaves for r u m and firearms. T h e y m a d e war on

NEGROES

425

peaceable tribes. They b u r n t down their villages. T h e y even sold their own tribe. C H O R U S . At the m o u t h of the Senegal, the N u n e and the Sassandra, T h e Komoe a n d the white Bandama O n the T a n o and the Volta T h e y were ambushed. Beside the long Niger T h e y lost their freedom Sanaga and Ogowe saw them no more T h e y disappeared from Kom Blood flowed in Mwibu and Chiloango. In the basin of Congo T h e r e were sounds of shooting. C O M M E N T A T O R . N O Negro was safe.

T E N O R SOLO. T O sail from Africa to Jamaica the fastest ships took seven weeks. With the winds against them the voyage took u p to three months. S O P R A N O SOLO. Space allowed for each man: six foot by one foot six, For each woman: five foot by one foot four, For each boy: five foot by one foot two, For each girl: four foot six by one foot. T E N O R S O L O . W h e n supplies of food ran short, the slaves were often thrown overboard. S O P R A N O SOLO. Twelve die d u r i n g voyage, Four die before being sold Thirty-four die while being acclimatised. C O M M E N T A T O R . O u t of every h u n d r e d Negroes shipped from Africa, Only fifty lived to be effective labourers.

T E N O R S O L O . T h e slaves were the absolute property of their masters. C H O R U S . T h e advantages which we receive from slaves and tame animals Arise from their bodily strength administering to o u r necessities. T E N O R S O L O . Runaway slaves used to hide in remote parts of the islands. T h e y stirred u p the spirit of revolt. And in 1791 the slaves of San Domingo killed two thousand whites a n d b u r n e d one h u n d r e d a n d eighty sugar plantations. S O P R A N O SOLO. T h e rising was p u t down and its leaders killed.

426

NEGROES

C O M M E N T A T O R . O u r bodily strength administered to their necessities.

T E N O R SOLO. T h e more advanced thinkers in E u r o p e began to c o n d e m n the slave trade. In 1807 British ships were forbidden to carry slaves. S O P R A N O S O L O . And we are put on earth a little space T h a t we may learn to bear the beams of love. A n d these black bodies and this s u n b u r n t face Are but a cloud and like a shady grove. C H O R U S . Blessings of civilisation B r o t h e r h o o d of m a n Great objects of humanity! Freedom! Equality! Cannot tolerate! O u r Christian duty! Emancipation! Freedom! T E N O R S O L O . And finally the British Parliament passed a law to free all slaves. C O M M E N T A T O R . We were free.

B A S S R E C I T A T I V E . Still at their accustomed hour T h e cities and oceans swing westward into the segment of eternal shadow T h e i r revolutions unaltered since first to this chain of islands, motionless in the Caribbean Sea like a resting scorpion T h e Captains came, eager from Europe, white to the West. FEMALE V O I C E . To-day nearly all manual work in the West Indies is d o n e by Negroes. Attempts to form settlements of E u r o p e a n labourers have been unsuccessful. Physical necessities are few, few clothes, fuel only for cooking, and food at hand to be picked. Labour is therefore cheap. B A S S R E C I T A T I V E . And still they come, new from those nations to which the study of that which can be weighed and measured is a consuming love. FEMALE V O I C E . T h e principal industries are—bananas, sugar, cocoa, and coffee: T h e principal consumers—America and Great Britain. B A S S R E C I T A T I V E . We show these pictures as evidence of their knowledge; its nature and its power. Power to employ the waters and the winds for their h u m a n and

NEGROES

427

peculiar purposes, power to convert the lives of others to their kind of willing Such as these, in the circuit of whose bodies turns the blood of Africa FEMALE V O I C E Heavy labour such as the loading of the bananas on to ships which is d o n e by hand, is men's work But in the coffee industry women are largely employed During the cutting of the sugar cane the Negro can live by eating the cane and so save money C H O R U S Coffee from the Blue Mountains and cocoa from Trinidad, Bananas from Clarendon a n d Trelawney, A n d sugar from a h u n d r e d islands Sixteen million bunches of bananas Eight million p o u n d s of coffee Thirty-nine million p o u n d s of cocoa 427,000 tons of sugar T o be grown, to be crushed, to be dried, to be shipped from harbour, T o be eaten a n d d r u n k at the ends of the earth FEMALE V O I C E Many own small plots of land on which they can cultivate melons a n d sugar cane Of recent years they have begun to emigrate to Panama a n d elsewhere in search of higher wages Calypso I * FEMALE V O I C E Physically they are not as strong as they seem, being m o r e liable to malaria a n d hookworm than the white races T e m p e r amentally they are small holders, a n d prefer those small-scale industries to which the highly subdivided a n d organised methods of mode r n production are opposed Calypso I FEMALE V O I C E T h e y are skilled in music a n d dancing T h e y sing at work a n d at play Dances frequently last all night Calypso I FEMALE V O I C E Attempts are being made to give the Negro a better education according to Western standard In Jamaica, for instance, t h e r e are 672 elementary schools providing free education from seven to fifteen b u t attendance is not compulsory 400 free places are offered in secondary schools, a n d there is a farm school a n d a technical school giving specialised training * Calypso—local topical song

428

NEGROES

B A S S R E C I T A T I V E . Consider their works, their weeks, their contact with those who can design instruments of precision; And what compels both races into one enterprise—the wish for life: T h e i r concern in these places for the production of foods and beverages. FEMALE V O I C E . Research stations have been set u p to increase the efficiency in the industries in which these are employed. Calypso II. FEMALE V O I C E . Citizens' Associations have been formed by the Negroes themselves to protect their interests, and to enable them to take a larger share in the control of their own affairs. Calypso II. FEMALE V O I C E . T h o u g h industry employs the majority, more and more are entering all kinds of trades and professions. Calypso II. C O M M E N T A T O R . But in sleeping car, in hotel, in dock, in factory, in the fields or on the stage, in the hospital or the law court, in each of us, stronger than o u r will or the accidents of o u r lives, something of Africa lives on. CHORUS.

Acts of injustice d o n e Between the setting and the rising sun In history lie like bones, each one. Memory sees them down there, Paces alive beside his fear, That's slow to die and still here. T h e future h a r d to mark Of a world turning in the dark W h e r e ghosts are walking and dogs bark. But between the day and night T h e choice is free to all; and light Falls equally on black and white.

Beside th e Seaside [1935]

Thi s coast is continuous . Quays where th e small rivers broaden , house s behin d th e shelterin g headlands , construction s on th e en d of low prom ontories , speak of peopl e on whose daily decision s th e swaying soun d of th e sea exerts a stable influence . And when th e shingle scramble s after th e suckin g surf, th e suns grow taller throug h th e seasons of th e turnin g year. Th e excited movement s of fish, th e local transgression s of th e tide , an d th e decorativ e sky are her e matter s of economi c importance . And th e excursion s of th e ships are no t undertake n ou t of a sense of glory or a simple love of departure . Ou r courag e lies in th e deliberat e avoidanc e of danger .

Th e hea t beat s on th e streets . Th e homeles s an d th e vendor s of ice-crea m congratulat e themselves . Th e hand s of office clocks appea r too tire d to move. And in th e thousand s of vehicles which a metropoli s can muste r th e passenger s seem larger an d th e seats smaller. Ο to be a dove in th e oak tree , or th e smoot h fish in a grotto . Unde r thes e roofs on e canno t tell how man y peopl e sigh for th e sea.

T h e Way to the Sea [1936] The line waits, The trains wait, The drivers are waiting: Waiting for Power. On the terminus now every kind of person is converging, each with his own idea of freedom. People who work, People who read adventure stories or understand algebra, People who would like to be rich or brilliant at tennis, People like you and me, liable to catch cold and fond of their food, Are brought all together here by a common wish: A desire for the Sea. They gather, They fight for the corner seat facing the engine. Red changes to green. They're off. A signal box. A power station. We pass the areas of greatest congestion; the homes of those who have the least power of choice. We approach the first trees, the lawns and the fresh paint; district of the by-pass and the season ticket. Power which helps us to escape is also helping those who cannot get away just now, Helping them to keep respectable, Helping them to impress the critical eye of a neighbour, Helping them to entertain their friends, Helping them to feed their husbands, swept safely home each evening as the human tide recedes from London. But we, more fortunate, pass on. We seek the Sea. D

T H E WAY T O T H E SEA

431

White factories stand rigid in the smokeless air. The pylon drives through the sootless field with power to create and to refashion, Power to perform on materials the most delicate and the most drastic operations. Looking forward out into the country, passing the wild and the disciplined lives, The sun has not lost its importance: The growth of the living is, as ever, incalculable. But for all the new power can do to cleanse and to illuminate, To lessen fatigue and to move deep cutters, milkers or separators, It is already available. Up Haslemere Bank—a trial of strength in the years of steam, but to-day of small account, Over the hoop of the hill, and down, Fifty, sixty, seventy miles an hour, To the last straight run to the rolling plain of ships and the path of the gull. We seek the Sea. Nor is power absent from this shore It is here in the lamp on the sea front In the cables above the streets In private homes and places of public amusement and business. Here is a harbour, a dockyard, equipment for the construction of fleets, A scene of pilgrimage to the student of history and the curious stranger, A place of salutes to kings and their councillors Both the dead and the living. We seek an Island. All kinds of people: The married who have begun to get on each other's nerves, The lonely, daring to look for an amazing romance, The consciously beautiful, certain of easy conquests, The careworn, the unrewarded, the childlike: They embark for the pleasant island, each with his special hope: To build sand-castles and dream-castles, To eat out of doors, To hold hands in the shadow of a fort, To exchange confidences with strangers,

432

T H E WAY T O T H E SEA

To read, to relax, Or just to be and not to think at all. Here are all the varieties of pleasure, permission, and condolence: For the body a favourable weather, the caress of sunlight and the gradual doze; For the athletic and beautiful the fullest opportunities to be active and to be admired; For the sedentary the leisure for reminiscence and reverie; For the children the happiness of the immediate present, the romping hours; For all the pleasures of the air, the waters and the places. Do what you will: Be extravagant, Be lucky, Be clairvoyant, Be amazing. Be a sport or an angel, Imagine yourself as a courtier, or as a queen. Accept your freedom. We seek a spectacle. We are all invited to inspect the defences of our dreams, to review the taciturn aggressive devices. Let the day commemorate the successful accomplishment of our past, Let it praise the skill of designers and the anonymous devotion of mechanics, Let it celebrate the artless charm of the far-travelled sailor. Let the fun be furious, Let the intricate ferocious machinery be only amusing, Let the nature of glory be a matter for friendly debate among all these people, Both the just and the unjust, People like you and me—wanting to live. Night. The spectacle fades. The tidy lives depart with their human loves. Only the stars, the oceans and machines remain: The dark and the involuntary powers.

The Londoners [1938?] A city is the creation of the human will. Upon the natural life of the field, Determined by the radiations of the sun and the swing of the seasons, Man imposes a human space, A human skyline, A human time, A human order. A city is not a flower. It does not grow right by itself. A human creation, It needs the human powers of intelligence and forethought. Without them it becomes only a monument to human greed Out of control, like a malignant tumour, Stunting and destroying life.

And the parks and open spaces inside the city: Battersea Park and Bostall Woods, Clapham and Tooting Commons, Peckham Rye and the island gardens of Poplar, The Regent Canal and the Round Pond of respectable Kensington, And pram-covered Hampstead. Areas of light and air where the bands boom on Sunday afternoons. Space for strollers, Liberty for lovers, Room for rest, Places for play.

It belongs to them, to make it what they choose. For democracy means faith in the ordinary man and woman, in the decency of average human nature. Here then in London build the city of the free.

Alfred A Cabaret Sketch (FO R T H E R E S E G I E H S E )

[1936]

[The curtain rises revealing a large and dowdy old woman, who is preparing sage and onion stuffing at a plain deal table, R. L is a large coop in which is a magnificent white gander. The old woman, who has something about her that reminds us of certain prominent European figures, raises the door of the coop and calh.] Alfred. Alfred. C o m e along . Com e along . H u r r y u p now . T h a t ' s right . I d o like obedience . O f cours e I ma y be old-fashione d bu t I d o like obedi ence . Nobod y know s wha t th e wor d mean s nowadays . Whe n I was young , a n o r d e r was a n order . You'd hardl y believe th e way som e of thes e mod e r n childre n answe r thei r mother s a n d father s back . Childre n of goo d family too . I f I were thei r mother , I' d warm thei r bottom s for them . I would . I d o n ' t believe in spoilin g children . I t isn't fair to t h e m really. Well Alfred. What' s th e matte r with you . What d o you want ? Spea k u p . Don' t be shy. Wha t d o you want . What was that ? A nic e littl e piec e of lettuce . Ο so you wan t it d o you? Well ask nicely . Ha s Alfred bee n a goo d boy to-day . A very goo d boy indeed . Well, her e h e is t h e n . [Offers him a piece and snatches it away.] Ah. No w then . Don' t be greedy . Nicely . T h e r e . [Gives him a piece.] No w wha t d o you say. T h a n k you . Say t h a n k you . T h a t ' s better . [Picks him up.] Isn' t h e lovely. Isn' t h e p r o u d of himself . T h a t ' s m y Alfred. Doe s h e love hi s Auntie . O f cours e h e does . Poo r old Auntie . All alon e in th e world with n o on e to car e for he r excep t Alfred, a n d n o o n e else to car e for. [Puts him down.] Bu t wha t doe s it matter . Wha t d o we care , Alfred. T h e y ' r e dirt , they'r e [holds her hand up to the side of her mouth and whispers at him] they'r e that' s wha t the y are . [Laughs loudly.] T h e y shan' t touc h a feathe r of you . [Pich up knife.] T o u c h a feathe r of Alfred. J u s t let t h e m try. See this . J u s t let t h e m try. I'll slit thei r bellies o p e n for them . I'll cu t thei r ear s off th e side of thei r head . T h a t ' d teac h 'em . T h a t ' d teac h 'e m I say. [Puts knife down.] An d there' s m o r e t h a n on e I' d like t o d o it to , too . T h a t fat slut acros s th e road , now . T h e r e ' s a nic e o n e for you . Always talkin g abou t h e r preciou s hens . I' d like to wrin g thei r necks . A n d I will on e of thes e days, mar k m y words . Serve h e r right . Who' s sh e t o be so high a n d mighty , I shoul d like to know , o r tha t daugh te r o f her s wh o think s hersel f so smart , makin g eyes at every tradesman' s

438

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boy in th e village D o you thin k I don' t know how she carrie s on D o you thin k I've no eyes in my head 5 I coul d tell some thing s if I chose , I can tell you I kno w what goes on in Cow bar n on Sunda y night s Miserabl e little brat s The y thin k themselve s so clever an d the y kno w nothin g I coul d teac h the m a thin g or two I coul d tell the m abou t a good tim e There' s no t a ma n amon g th e lot of the m Dic k coul d have shown the m You never knew Dick , did you, Alfred You weren' t bor n Haven' t I ever told you abou t him H e always used to com e when Edwar d went to mar ket Silly old fool—he never notice d anythin g Dic k knew somethin g abou t love, I can tell you Com e her e an d I'll tell you a secret [Goes down on all fours and whispers in Alfred's ear ] D o you know what h e used to do H e [the story is inaudible and interrupted by giggles] You won't find any of the m to-da y who coul d manag e tha t [With growingexcitement and resentment ] And as for you, Miss Hoit y Toity, when your sham e is as plain as th e nose on your face, an d your mothe r throw s you out , you needn' t com e cryin g to me Ge t ou t of my yard, you slut N o decen t perso n would be seen talkin g to you, or your mothe r eithe r if it come s to tha t Ask he r who your fathe r was [Screaming ] She doesn' t know, I tell you She doesn' t kno w Ge t ou t G o back an d die in th e ditc h where you an d your sort belon g [Is taken by a fit of coughing ] [Quieter ] I'll finish the m on e day, an d thei r hen s Would you like to hea r anothe r little secret , Alfred? I'll tell you, if you'r e a good boy [Looks round the stage on tiptoe ] Ssh Ssh Com e closer You remembe r when th e fox got int o he r run , last vear Well, I mad e a hol e in th e fence [Laughs ] Your Aunti e did it, Alfr , all by hersel f What do you say to that ? She' s no t as stupi d as she looks, eh 5 You shoul d have seen he r face in th e mornin g [Convuhed with laughter ] She was nearl y cryin g And nobod y ever guessed [Louder and louder ] No body every guessed No t to this day Nobod y knows but you an d me , Alfred, abou t tha t fox [Dropping her voice suddenly ] But th e fox, Alfred Th e fox Loo k ou t for yourself Tak e care Tak e care Don' t you go straying off at nigh t You keep close to your Aunti e [In a terrifying whisper ] He' s always abou t at night , trippin g softly softly, waiting just roun d th e corner , waitin g his time , an d the n Pounc e And he's got you Alfred Go t you And you squawk an d you try to get away but it's too late To o late [Resuming a normal voice ] Hu h You wouldn' t like that , would you, Alfred N o But that' s what happen s to naught y little geese if the y don' t do what Aunti e tells the m [Another and worse spasm of coughing ] [Sitting down heavily ] Ο dea r I mustn' t get so excited It make s my hear t bad I'm gettin g old That' s what it is Alfred, old I feel terribl y bad sometime s I shan' t be her e muc h longe r Will you be sorry when your old Auntie' s dea d an d buried ? Haven' t I always been good to you I've always trie d to do what' s best, really I have Spea k to me Alfred, tell me you'll be sorry [She rises,

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gradually working herself up into a frenzy.] Ο you don' t car e really. I can just go to hell for all you care . I've toiled an d moile d for you, I've worked my fingers to th e bone , an d you don' t car e abou t that . All you thin k of is self, self, self. I can' t go on . On e day you'll be sorry. I'll han g myself. I can' t go on , d o you hear . You're just like th e rest. You all laugh at me . I know. I've hear d you sneerin g behin d my back. But I'll show you. [Picks up knife.] I'll outlive th e lot of you. I'll mak e you sorry you were ever born . [Begins to stalk Alfred.] Ο Alfred, Alfred. Don' t go away. Com e back. I' m sorry. You mustn' t min d what Aunti e says. She' s just a silly bad-tempere d old woman . I' m sorry. Say you forgive me , Alfred. Com e along. [Seizes Alfred and sits down with him.] That' s better . Just go by-by in Auntie' s lap. Isn' t he a beautifu l Alfred. [Strokes him.] Ther e there . Don' t fret. Auntie' s going to look after you. [She grasps Alfred firmly with her left hand and gets the knife ready in her right.] Aunti e loves he r Alfred. H e knows she wouldn' t hur t him , no t for anythin g in th e world. . . . BLACK OU T

Hadrian's Wall An Historical Survey [1937] From Wallsend to Bowness Over Bluewall Hill and High Seat By Ethels Chair and Cats-Cover Wintergap Cross Stone Gap and High Wall Town By Canbeck and Watchcross By Stanwix By Burgh and Drumburgh Through a desolate country where the curlew cries in the mist The curlew on Robinrock Flothers And aloof over Bellcrag Flow The dark hawk circles in the summer haze. From Tynemouth to Solway Firth Hadrian built a wall. A wall at the uttermost edge of his empire.

VOICES.

73 miles long. 20 feet high. 8 feet thick. Built it by hand With dressed stone used for the facings. And a core of concrete. Built it by hand With the use of the wedge and the hammer Built fourteen forts also Dug a forty foot ditch, constructed a road By the hands of his legions. Eighteen hundred years ago. CHORUS.

Enos lases juvate Neve lue rue marmar sins incurrere in pleores Satur fu fere Mars limen sali sta berber Semunis alternei advocapit conctos Enos marmor juvato Triumpe triumpe triumpe triumpe triumpe.

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N A R R A T O R I n 450 Β C th e futur e master s of th e world were a free re publi c o f self-supportin g small farmers , confine d t o th e tuf a plai n of Latiu m in Ital y Five h u n d r e d year s late r Rom e was th e greates t city in th e world V O I C E I Payin g a n absolut e e m p e r o r divin e h o n o u r s V O I C E I I H e rule d o n e h u n d r e d a n d twent y millio n people , hal f of who m were slaves V O I C E I I I Hi s e m p i r e stretche d fro m th e Severn to th e Euphrates , fro m th e Cheviot s to M o u n t Atlas a n d th e tropi c of Cance r V O I C E I V [spoken] Bu t Rom e 'tis thin e alon e with awful sway T o rul e m a n k i n d a n d mak e th e world obey, Dispensin g peac e a n d war thin e own majesti c way, T o t a m e th e p r o u d , th e fettere d slave to free, T h e s e ar e imperia l art s a n d worth y the e [Music ] N A R R A T O R Lon g know n to th e Phoenicians , Britai n ha d bee n little visite d by anyon e else Pythea s h a d a d m i r e d th e Ken t harvest s a n d th e grea t barns , taste d whey a n d hone y Cicero' s tutor , Posidomus , visite d th e tin mines , saw th e meta l worke d int o knuckle-shape d slabs B u t Juliu s Caesa r was th e first to mak e a rea l expeditio n a n d write a p r o p e r descriptio n V O I C E I T h e populatio n of th e Islan d is very dense , th e house s crow d agains t eac h o t h e r almos t exactl y like thos e in Gau l T h e y hav e man y cattl e T h e h a r e , th e hen , an d th e goose ar e forbidde n food , bu t the y kee p t h e m as pet s I t is a habi t a m o n g th e Briton s to pain t thei r bod ies with blu e whic h gives t h e m a terrifyin g a p p e a r a n c e in battl e T h e y wear lon g hai r a n d shave all th e bod y excep t th e h e a d a n d th e u p p e r lip N A R R A T O R Caesa r di d no t stay Britai n was forgotte n Augustu s calle d thi s polic y Tiberiu s calle d it preceden t T h e m a d Caligul a consid e r e d a n invasio n b u t contente d himsel f with collectin g sea-shell s o n th e F r e n c h sea shor e I n Rome , Vergil san g of shepherds , th e coun try, a n d wars, prophesie d a golde n age of universa l peac e T h e r e were baths , circuses , banquets , vices, graft, assassination s P l u m p little H o r a c e compose d hi s civilised son g V O I C E I V [spoken]

No w is th e tim e t o twin e th e spruc e a n d shinin g hea d with myrtl e No w with flowers escap e th e earthl y fetter , A n d sacrifice t o th e woodlan d god in shad y copse s A lam b o r a kid whicheve r h e likes bette r

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Equally heavy is the heel of white-faced Death on the pauper's Shack, and the towers of Kings; and, O, my dear, T h e little sum of life forbids the swelling of lengthy Hopes. Night and the fabled dead are near And the shadowed land of exile past whose frontier You will find n o wine like this, no boy to admire Like Lycidas, who to-day makes all young men a furnace A n d whom to-morrow girls will find a fire. [Music] N A R R A T O R . But Britain, a land of forests and marshes inhabited by the short dark-haired Iberian a n d the tall red-headed Celt, knew nothing of these things. In Rome the Epicureans asserted that Nature sought only to avoid pain, and the Stoics advised indifference to fate and the contemplation of the stars. At the far end of the Mediterranean a boy was born. But Britain worshipped Ogmius, the bald sea-farer, the goldentongued, Mapon repeller of diseases, Camulus ruler of war and winds, and knew neither J u p i t e r nor Christ. CHORUS.

Fairest Isle all isles excelling Seat of pleasures and of loves Venus here will choose her dwelling And forsake her Cyprian groves.

N A R R A T O R . In 43 A.D. Claudius sent Aulus Plautius with four legions, the Second, the Ninth, the Fourteenth and the Twentieth, some twentytwo thousand regular troops, came over himself soon after and the real conquest of the island began. C H O R U S [male voices only]. Caesar leaned out of his litter, shouted, "How're we doing, boys?" And the legate couldn't stop us, though he didn't like the noise. "How about another province, for the treasury is low, And I'd like another triumph"; so we answered, "Sure, let's go." Down the Rhine or down the Danube, all roads lead away from Rome A n d it's always raining somewhere; We're a d a r n e d long way from home. N A R R A T O R . T h e Second Legion worked towards the West, and m a d e its headquarters at Caerleon-on-Usk. T h e Ninth worked North to York, and the Twentieth north-west to Chester. T h e great administrator

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Agncola conquered Wales, built a road from Carlisle to C o r b n d g e and invaded Scotland C H O R U S [male voices only] T h e king of Silures came out roaring from his woolly tent Wouldn't beat it when we told him so we had an argument, U p a m o n g the wild Bngantes things were looking very bad So we marched from Eboracum and we gave them what we h a d Down the Rhine or down the Danube all roads lead away from Rome And it's always raining somewhere, We're a d a r n e d long way from home N A R R A T O R In t h e wake of the legions flourishing towns sprang u p V O I C E I Colonies of veterans V O I C E I I Villas with corridors V O I C E I I I Heated by flues carrying hot air V O I C E I Mosaic pavements and wall paintings V O I C E II Theatres V O I C E I I I Circuses

V O I C E I W a r m baths V O I C E I I Glazed pottery N A R R A T O R But the conquest was not an easy one T h e r e were frequent rebellions FEMALE V O I C E Have we not been robbed of most of o u r possessions, while for those that remain we pay taxes? Besides pasturing a n d tilling for them, d o we not pay a yearly tribute of o u r very bodies? M A L E V O I C E H e r e you have a general and an army, on the other side lies tribute, labour in the mines, and all the pangs of slavery FEMALE V O I C E Let us do o u r duty while we still r e m e m b e r what freed o m is M A L E V O I C E YOU have it in your power to perpetuate your sufferings for ever, or to avenge them to-day upon this field FEMALE V O I C E I supplicate for victory against insolent a n d unjust m e n , if indeed we ought to call these people men who bathe in warm water, eat artificial dainties, a n d anoint themselves with m y r r h M A L E V O I C E If their enemy have wealth, they have greed, if he be poor, they a r e ambitious T o plunder, butcher, steal, these things they misname Empire they make a desolation and they call it peace N A R R A T O R I n A D 123 after a rebellion which had wiped out the Ninth Legion, a n d caused Scotland to be abandoned, Hadrian, t h e traveller, t h e builder, came to Britain, and set to work to construct a systematic frontier, as he h a d previously done in Germany As a basis he took Agi icola's road from Carlisle to C o r b n d g e

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V O I C E I Fou r gallon s Ho w m u c h is that ? V O I C E I I Six shillings, sir

V O I C E I I s thi s righ t for Housesteads ? V O I C E I I Kee p straigh t o n t h r o u g h Throckley , till you com e t o th e fillin g statio n at Heddon-on-the-Wal l T h e n kee p righ t alon g th e Car lisle roa d You can' t miss it VOIC E I Thank s

V O I C E I I I [female] Don' t go so fast, father , I wan t to see th e countrysid e V O I C E I Sorry , b u t it's a g r a n d straigh t roa d io r speedin g It' s a pit y t h e r e aren' t m o r e R o m a n walls to buil d road s o n th e to p of V O I C E I I I Hav e you got th e book , Joyce ? V O I C E I V [female] No , m o t h e r , I t h o u g h t you ha d it V O I C E I I I Bu t I left it o n th e dining-roo m tabl e for you to brin g VOIC E IV

I d i d n ' t see it

V O I C E I Don' t worr y I've got it in m y pocke t I kne w you' d forget it V O I C E I V Ca n I hav e it, father ? V O I C E I I I Wha t doe s it say, Joyce ? V O I C E I V [reading] T h e fort s were probabl y built first Befor e th e wall p r o p e r was built , H a d r i a n d u g a broa d flat-bottomed ditc h sout h of th e forts, calle d t h e Vallum, t o mar k th e civil frontie r V O I C E I D o you wan t to loo k at Chesters , becaus e if you do , we're j u st comin g to it It' s over t h e r e a m o n g thos e tree s T h e y say th e bath s ar e a wonderfu l sight You ca n see ho w the y buil t th e d r a i n wron g an d h a d to alte r it V O I C E I I I We haven' t time , father , if we're to get to Housestead s for lunc h Let' s see it o n th e way h o m e V O I C E I V [reading] A few year s later , th e wall p r o p e r was built by Ha drian' s legate , Aulu s Nepo s T h e wall run s n o r t h of bot h th e fort s an d t h e Vallum I n fron t a defensive ditc h was dug , a n d a ne w militar y roa d was m a d e betwee n th e wall a n d th e Vallum V O I C E I I be t the v m a d e th e Briton s wor k overtim e lugging thos e stone s abou t N o T r a d e s Union s in thos e days V O I C E I I I Don' t i n t e r r u p t , fathe r It' s very interestin g G o on , Joyc e V O I C E I V [reading] T o construc t it all th e t h r e e legion s in Britai n were calle d in Eac h sectio n of eac h legion was given a sectio n to buil d At interval s of abou t a mile , smal l fort s were built , eac h housin g a h u n d r e d men , a n d half-wa y betwee n eac h mile-castl e a t u r r e t servin g as shelter , signal station , an d staircas e Alon g th e to p was a ram p a r t walk patrolle d by sentrie s Bu t th e Wall was garrisone d by auxiliaries, no t legionarie s V O I C E I Housestead s H e r e we ar e Just loo k at all thos e car s O u t you get V O I C E I V Ο I' m gettin g m y feet wet in thi s lon g grass

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V O I C E I I I Butto n u p you r coat , Joyce , you'l l catc h col d V O I C E I Wha t Sixpenc e eac h to loo k at a hea p of old stone s T h e greed y cheat s V O I C E I V Look , mother , thi s is th e shop , a n d here' s th e in n V O I C E I I I T h e shop' s bigger tha n th e in n Voic Ε I I' m glad the y p u t u p notice s t o tell you what' s wha t I t look s to m e m o r e like a housin g estat e afte r th e builder' s gon e brok e V O I C E I V Mother , loo k at he r ha t V O I C E I I I Ssh, she' s listenin g M I S C E L L A N E O U S V O I C E S Pnncipi a What' s t h a t 5 T h a t ' s wher e the y kep t th e standard s an d th e pa y chest s Hav e a piec e of choc , Jo e My, j u st loo k at thos e rut s T h e r e mus t have bee n a lot of traffic aroun d her e Bit b u m p y , I shoul d say C o m e away fro m th e edg e thi s minute , Albert You'll fall over T h o s e ston e stump s ar e wha t the y pu t th e grain o n It' s a granar y you see Isn' t it lovely You ca n almos t see Scotlan d T h e Wall wasn't buil t to sto p a n invadin g arm y T h e Roma n soldie r coul d onl y fight in th e o p e n I t was mean t to sto p raidin g partie s an d smuggler s H e r e , mother , ho w d o I get d o w n 5 I' m glad I' m no t a R o m a n soldie r [Music ] C H O R U S [male voices only] Caehu s was gaily h u m m i n g whe n we hear d hi m g r u n t a n d fall With a n arro w t h r o u g h his belly t o th e botto m of th e wall Lepidu s t h e fair was a m b u s h e d walkin g on e da y t h r o u g h a woo d It was weeks befor e we foun d him , an d h e didn' t loo k so goo d Dow n th e Rhin e a n d dow n th e Danube , all road s lead away fro m Rom e A n d it's always rainin g somewher e We're a d a r n e d lon g way fro m hom e V O I C E I You seen Augustahs 5 V O I C E I I N o , I ain t seen hi m He' s no t bee n a r o u n d V O I C E I He' s no t b e e n a r o u n d for a fortnigh t I wan t t o see hi m H e don' t pa y hi s debt s V O I C E I I Mayb e h e got a skirt someplac e Giv e m e som e m o r e wine V O I C E I How' s M i t h r a s 5 V O I C E I I You lay off Mithra s

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V O I C E I. What d o you want to go fooling a r o u n d with them stunt religions for, Spot? You'll be turning Christian next. V O I C E I I . Didn't I tell you to lay off it?

V O I C E I. Take it easy, Spot. I was only kidding. But they all sound cockeyed to me. What's the news? V O I C E I I . Nothing. Some smugglers tried to get across at Camboglanna. V O I C E I. Did they catch them? V O I C E I I . Yes, they caught them. V O I C E I. It must b e cold on that Wall at night. V O I C E I I . I'll say it is. It's the watching a n d waiting for something to h a p p e n that gets you down. V O I C E I. Were you in that show at Vindolana? V O I C E I I . No.

V O I C E I. It must have been tough. V O I C E I I . Maybe, b u t I wasn't in that show. Give m e another drink. V O I C E I. You'll be d r u n k . V O I C E I I . I h o p e so.

SONG.

Over the heather the wet wind blows I've lice in my tunic and a cold in my nose. T h e rain comes pattering out of the sky I'm a Wall soldier; I don't know why. T h e mist sweeps over the h a r d grey stone My girl's in Tungria; I sleep alone. Aulus goes hanging a r o u n d h e r place I don't like his manners; I don't like his face. Piso's a Christian; h e worships a fish; T h e r e ' d be n o kissing if he had his wish. She gave m e a ring b u t I diced it away; I want my girl a n d I want my pay. W h e n I'm a veteran with only one eye, I shall d o nothing but gaze at the sky.

N A R R A T O R . T h e Wall was completed in three o r four years. Eighteen years later, Lollius Urbicus, legate of the e m p e r o r Antoninus, built a second wall from the Clyde to the Forth. T h e forts were closer together, but the wall was built of turf. But several risings of the British tribes in Scotland a n d the North of England caused both it and H a drian's Wall to be a b a n d o n e d until the visit of Severus the African in A.D. 208.

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V O I C E I H e saw that the legions were becoming enervated by idleness and his sons wastrels V O I C E I I A thunderbolt struck a statue of himself a n d erased three letters from his name, to signify that he would not r e t u r n V O I C E I H e took with him an immense a m o u n t of money N A R R A T O R Landing near Edinburgh he advanced northwards, carried in a litter H e cut down forests, filled u p swamps, a n d bridged rivers, but could not force an engagement with the native tribes Returning south he repaired a n d regarrisoned Hadrian's Wall A n d so much did he d o that it was long believed that he was the original builder V O I C E I His son Antoninus attempted to m u r d e r him, but he p a r d o n e d him V O I C E I I I If you really want to slay me, p u t me out of the way h e r e , for you are strong, while I am an old m a n and prostrate If you hesitate to m u r d e r m e with your own hands, there is Papiman, the prefect standing beside you, whom you can order to slay me, for surely he will d o anything you command, since you are virtually e m p e r o r CHORUS

Every swain shall pay his duty Grateful every n y m p h shall prove And as these are known for beauty T h o s e shall be renowned for love

V O I C E I H e reached York a dying m a n V O I C E IV Hail, Caesar T h o u hast been everybody, conquered everybody, become a God V O I C E I I I Antoninus T h e crown is yours Pay the soldiers well a n d despise everyone else I was all things a n d they were worthless N A R R A T O R For eighty years the country was peaceful a n d prosperous, and then the Saxon raids on the south-east coast began Garausius, a Belgian admiral, seized Britain with a view to making a bid for becoming Emperor, was m u r d e r e d by one of his officers who in t u r n was defeated a n d killed, by the real e m p e r o r Constantius, father of Constantine the Great H e fortified the coast from Southampton to the Wash, and after his time the mile-castles on the Wall were unoccupied Repeated invasions did p e r m a n e n t damage to the country, a n d attempts of comm a n d e r s of Britain to u s u r p the imperial throne deprived it of troops After 383 the Wall was probably abandoned A n d the Romanised Britons had forgotten how to defend themselves V O I C E I T h e y no longer possessed that public courage which is nourished by the love of independence T h e y received laws a n d governors from the will of their sovereign, a n d trusted for their defence

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to a mercenary army T h e most aspiring spirits resorted to the court or standard of the emperors, and the deserted provinces, deprived of political strength or union, insensibly sank into the languid indifference of private life [Music ] CHANT CHORUS

Help us for the barbarians drive us to the sea T h e sea throws us back on the barbarians We are either slain or d r o w n e d T h e y come forth from their valleys, like worms in the heat of midday T h e i r faces s h r o u d e d in bushy hair, eager for blood We hide in caves in the mountains, we wander in the woods In the middle of the streets, the lofty towers he tumbled to the ground T h e streets are choked with corpses, with the fragments of h u m a n flesh Save us from o u r enemies, for we die N A R R A T O R But Rome had her own troubles, and could send no help Soon villas were blackened ruins Wild fowl nested in the baths T h e Latin tongue was forgotten Roman civilisation in Britain disappeared completely C H O R U S [music]

J a m lucis orto sidere Deum precemur supphces, Ut in diurms actibus Nos servet a nocentibus [Theme Music ]

N A R R A T O R We know little of what h a p p e n e d to the Wall in the Middle Ages Learning and culture kept alive in monasteries t h r o u g h the dark period, m a t u r e d into the international civilisation of the Catholic C h u r c h Latin was the language of religion and learning Rome was still the h o m e of the most powerful man in the world T o control the N o r t h e r n moors the N o r m a n Kings appointed wardens of the marches Much of the land passed into the hands of church houses, the rest to small feudal tenants But Edward the First's invasion of Scotland roused bitter feelings on both sides of the border, and the district r o u n d the Wall became famous for its robbers, its cattle raids, and its bloody feuds At Housesteads lived a branch of the notorious A r m s t r o n g family and until the eighteenth century it was a dangerous country to travel in

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[Bag pipes music] C H O R U S [men only].

Ah lads, we'll fang them a' in a net, For I hae a' the fords o' Liddel set; T h e Dunkin, a n d the Door-loup T h e Willie-ford a n d the Water-Slack, T h e Black-rack a n d the T r o u t - d u b of Liddel; T h e r e stands J o h n Forster wi' five men at his back; Wi' buft coat a n d cap of steil: Boo! ca' at them e'en, Jock; T h a t ford's sicker, I wat weil. Fy lads. Shout a' a' a' a' a' My gear's a' ta'en. V O I C E I. Lord Mangerton complains against H u m p h r e y Musgrace, captain Pikeman a n d his soldiers for taking him prisoner, a n d for oxen, kine, horses, mares, sheep, goats a n d insight £1500 sterling. V O I C E I I . T h e poor widow of Watt's Davie against J o h n Hollas, for the m u r d e r of h e r husband, forty kine and oxen, two horses, insight £100 sterling. V O I C E I I I . T h e y take great pleasure in their own music and rhythmical songs. Besides they think the art of plundering so very lawful that they never say their prayers m o r e fervently or have more devout recurrence to their rosaries as when they have made an expedition, as they frequently do of forty o r fifty miles for the sake of booty. T h e y leave their frontiers in the nighttime in troops, going t h r o u g h impassable places a n d bypaths. In the daytime they refresh their horses a n d recruit their strength in hiding places p r e p a r e d beforeh a n d , until the approach of night when they advance to their destination. Having seized their booty, they r e t u r n in the same way by night t h r o u g h circuits a n d byways to their habitations. If they are taken, their eloquence is so powerful and the sweetness of their language so moving that they can move both judges a n d accusers. [Song.] V O I C E I. Confession of J o h n Weir, Prisoner in Edinburgh u n d e r sentence of Death July 20th 1701. T h a t in the m o n t h of March 1700 J o h n Weir, David Weir and J o h n Parker went to Sir J o h n Duck of Prestfield's stable, broke it open, took thereout a big mare, black colour, h e r neck lyart, a n d one lesser m a r e which they all three rid to Morraly's house. T h a t same

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night J o h n Weir a n d Francis Morraly rode to Housesteads to William Armstrong's a n d sold him the least of the said mares which m a r e A r m s t r o n g did r u m p to make h e r unknown. T h a t in May 1700 J o h n Weir went to Grandiknows to the mother of the four b r e t h r e n the Armstrongs, which Armstrongs a n d William Buckley did cut the tongue and ear out of William T u r n e r for informing they were bad persons, which T u r n e r writ with his blood they were the persons that used him so. T h a t there was a false book kept at Edinburgh by the bookkeeper of the Grassmarket where they booked all horses stolen from Northu m b e r l a n d by William Armstrong. [Song.] N A R R A T O R . Horses were exchanged for brandy, but as law was established on the border, the supply of horses ran out, a n d finally the Armstrongs sold Housesteads to the Gibsons of H e x h a m for £65. T h e Wall began to be an object of interest. Many legends h a d gathered r o u n d it in the course of the centuries. People believed it h a d been built by the Picts, that it had been built in a single night, that King Arthur's treasure was buried in o n e of the Lakes, that there h a d been a brass speaking tube r u n n i n g all along the Wall. Already in Elizabeth's reign C a m d e n had visited a n d described it in detail, but it was Horsley, a presbyterian minister from Morpeth, w h o spent his life in making the first scientific study of Roman remains in Britain. V O I C E I. Some people may be inclined to censure m e for having spent so much time on subjects which by many will be thought of little importance. A n d I must so far own to the charge as to confess that if I h a d foreseen that it would cost so much time as it has done, I believe I should never have u n d e r t a k e n the task; though, when I had once engaged on this work, I thought myself obliged on many accounts to go t h r o u g h with it, and leave nothing u n d o n e that I was capable of doing, in o r d e r to make the whole more complete. I know the virtues of the ancients have been largely applauded by many, a n d r e c o m m e n d e d as very worthy of o u r imitation. T h o u g h I cannot carry my compliment to the ancients in this respect as far as some others have d o n e , yet n o doubt a great many things may be learned from these antique m o n u m e n t s . At least there is nothing that can give a more affecting sense of the vanity of this world. N A R R A T O R . It was Horsley who identified the forts from the names of the legions given in the Notitia. At the e n d of the eighteenth century another clergyman, Anthony Hedley, began excavation.

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V O I C E II It is strange that from the time of Camden down to o u r own, nothing or next to nothing has been done towards systematically clearing the g r o u n d plan of one of the stations Half a dozen labourers for a fortnight at an expense of not more than £5 would clear away much of the rubbish and throw a very desirable light on the stationary economy of the Romans, and the a r r a n g e m e n t of their Castra Stativa N A R R A T O R Hedley caught a chill while excavating a pot a n d died Sir J o h n Clayton, a wealthy solicitor, and a town clerk of Newcastle, not only carried on his archaeological work, but saved the Wall from being destroyed altogether T h e construction of the new NewcastleH e x h a m road by General Wade, after the forty-five rebellion, had destroyed much, and the rest was fast disappearing into held walls and farm buildings Inscribed Stelae were used as paving stones, and centurion stones as angle stones in walls and gates Further it was the best parts of the Wall which were attacked first as labourers naturally preferred taking stones which lay breast high in a standing wall, to stooping down and lifting them u p from the g r o u n d Whenever a piece of wall land came into the market, Sir J o h n Clayton bought it H e had inherited Chesters, but he acquired in this way Borcovicus, Vindolana a n d Procohta Setting aside the Monday of each week for archaeology, he uncovered the Roman bridge at Chollerford, excavated the gateways a n d forum of Cilurnum, d u g out Coventina well, and laid bare the wall gates and streets of Borcovicus Dr Bruce was the first to suggest that the Wall was built by Hadrian, a theory which aroused some opposition V O I C E I T h e learned Doctor has permitted his imagination to be warped out of its p r o p e r track by a new-fangled theory which in the plenit u d e of his pride he calls the Aelian Hypothesis T h e Doctor apparently thinks and assuredly tries to persuade his readers that the Wall was originally built by Hadrian and not by Severus as has been generally stated and believed Although this tractate is by no means a work of small pretensions, yet its style is full of hazy logic and confused nebulous notions, and reminds us of one of Don Quixote's tilts at the windmills It is characterised by a mixture of sophistry, audacious insolence of tone and manner, an utter disregard of the comm o n conventionalities of place and position, and is too full of offensive personalities T h e spectres of wasted time and misappropriated talents are the only ones that await the Doctor at Phihppi N A R R A T O R T h e Wall began to attract tourists In 1801 William H u t t o n at the age of 78 walked from Birmingham to the Wall and back FEMALE V O I C E O u r s u m m e r excursion of 1801 was ardently wished for

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by us both. My father's object was to see the Roman Wall; mine the lakes of Cumberland. We talked it over by o u r fireside every evening the preceding winter. M A L E V O I C E . I was dressed in black, a kind of religious travelling warrant, b u t divested of assuming airs, a n d h a d a budget of the same cloth colour a n d materials, much like a dragoon's cartridge box o r postman's letter pouch, in which were deposited the maps of Cumberland, N o r t h u m b e r l a n d a n d the Wall with its appendages, all t h r e e taken o u t of Cough's edition of the Britannica. Also Warburton's m a p of the Wall with my own remarks. T o this little packet I fastened with a strap an umbrella in a green case. FEMALE V O I C E . I r o d e on a pillion behind a servant. My father informed himself at night how h e could get out of the house the next m o r n i n g before the servants were stirring. H e rose at four o'clock, walked to the e n d of the next stage, breakfasted, a n d waited for me. I set o u t at seven, a n d when I arrived at the same inn, breakfasted also. W h e n my father h a d rested two hours, he set off again. When my horse had fed properly, I followed, passed my father on t h e road, arrived before h i m at the next inn, a n d bespoke dinner a n d beds. His pace looked like a saunter, b u t it was steady, a n d got over t h e g r o u n d at the rate of a full two a n d a half miles an hour. W h e n the horse on which I r o d e saw my father, h e neighed, though at the distance of a q u a r t e r of a mile. H e would then trot gently u p to my father, stop, a n d lay his head o n his shoulder. My father was such an enthusiast for the Wall that h e t u r n e d neither to the right n o r the left, except to gratify m e with a sight of Liverpool. When we reached Penrith, we took a melancholy breakfast a n d parted; h e continued his way to Carlisle, I t u r n e d westward went to Hestbank, a small sea-bathing place near Lancaster. While I remained there, I received two scraps of paper, torn from my father's pocket book, the first dated Carlisle July 20 in which h e told m e h e was sound in body, shoe a n d stocking, a n d h a d just risen from a bed of fleas. T h e second from Newcastle July 23 when h e informed m e he h a d been at Wallsend: that the weather was so h o t h e was obliged to repose u n d e r hedges, a n d that the country was infested with thieves, but, h e added, they were only such as stole the stones from his idol the Wall. O n the fifth m o r n i n g after my arrival at Hestbank, before I was u p , I heard my father cry H e m o n the stairs. I answered by calling out "Father" which directed him to my room, a n d a most joyful meeting ensued. M A L E V O I C E . I envied the p e o p l e in the n e i g h b o u r h o o d of the Wall,

t h o u g h I knew they valued it no m o r e than the soil o n which it stood. I wished to converse with an intelligent resident, b u t never saw o n e .

454

H A D R I A N ' S WALL

FEMALE V O I C E . My father frequently walked with his waistcoat unbuttoned, but the perspiration was so excessive that I have even felt his coat d a m p on the outside, and his bulk visibly diminished every day. T h e pace he went did not even fatigue his shoes. He walked the whole six h u n d r e d miles in one pair, and scarcely made a hole in his stockings. N A R R A T O R . I n 1849 a party of ladies and gentlemen desirous of enjoying an antiquarian ramble resolved u p o n taking the course p u r s u e d by the far famed Roman Wall. V O I C E I. Care will be taken to provide sufficient sleeping accommodation, a n d arrangements will be entered into for sustaining their corporeal vigour. In o r d e r to economise that energy which ought to be e x p e n d e d in mental rather than muscular exertion, some vehicles will keep pace with the Party. V O I C E I I [recitation]. But who can paint the route sublime O'er craig and glen, t h r o u g h fen and fields? T h e motley g r o u p who dive and climb T o Busy Gap and Sewing Shields. A n o t h e r march—a halt—and now O n Borcovicus walls we stand. Hail, splendid ruin—famous thou— Great T a d m o r of o u r native land. While Bruce who heads our troop to-day, A mild invasion to confer, Instructs his pilgrims by the way, Evangelist, interpreter. W h e r e Pilgrims meet, 'tis common g r o u n d , O n e b r o t h e r h o o d they seem to be; No odious difference is found: T h e squire a n d peasant—one to me; T h e priest his vestments cast aside Can gaily chat and blandly smile. Someone the Doctor's horse may ride And he still t r u d g e on foot the while. Away the travellers' waggons wend Mayor, Clerk a n d Corporators here, And t h e r e a modest female friend Like Mercy follows in the rear. V O I C E I I I . T o the Editor of the Gateshead Observer. Sir, We have had a packet of pilgrims here from your town and

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Newcastle scrambling along the Wall I only wish to say that although there were some RUM'UNS amongst them, they were all treated much better, I suspect, than the Ancient Britons treated their forerunners, the builders I am, Mr Editor, O n e who has treated them N A R R A T O R Times a n d Manners have changed in both travel and archaeology Parts of the Wall now belong to T h e National T r u s t or T h e Office of Works But digging and research continue [Hepple's talk ] N A R R A T O R A n d still the tourists come, 15,000 of them a year [Davison's talk ] N A R R A T O R Latin is now a dead language, a school subject and no longer even a compulsory one T h e Roman Empire has disappeared, but other empires have taken its place, and the virtues and the vices of Imperialism, its ideals and its scandals, are as great a problem now as then V O I C E I R e m e m b e r that the Almighty has placed your hands to the greatest of his ploughs, in whose furrows the nations of the future are germinating a n d taking shape, to drive the blade a little further in your time, a n d to feel that somewhere among those millions you have left a little justice or happiness, or prosperity, a sense of manliness and moral dignity, a spring of patriotism, a dawn of intellectual enlightenment or a stirring of duty where it did not exist before T h a t is e n o u g h All other triumphs are tinsel and sham V O I C E II T h a t m a n is born a savage, there needs no other proof than the Roman Wall It characterises both nations as robbers and m u r derers O u r old historians always termed the Scots barbarians T o this I assent T h e y surprised the innocent, m u r d e r e d them, laid waste the country and left the place Julius Caesar, Agncola, Antoninus, Severus, etc , went one step further than the Scots T h e y surprised, m u r d e r e d , plundered, and kept possession O u r venerable ancestors too, the Saxons, Danes, and Normans who came over in swarms, butchered, robbed and possessed, although they had no m o r e right than I have to your coat Whoever deprives an unoffending m a n of his right, is a barbarian

APPENDIX I

Auden and Isherwood's "Preliminary Statement" §1 T H E " P R E L I M I N A R Y

STATEMENT"

A dramatic and psychological manifesto, written out by Auden and revised by Isherwood, survives in manuscript It almost certainly dates from the spring or summer of 1929, and may have been intended as a preface to The Enemies of a Bishop The title "Preliminary Statement" (in Isherwood's hand) replaces the deleted title "Preface" (in Auden's) The verses and some of the prose entries in the statement also appear in a notebook Auden used from April through July 1929 and possibly for some time thereafter During this time he planned to write a play titled The Reformatory, and then he collaborated with Isherwood on The Enemies of a Bishop While it seems likely that the statement is connected with that play, the connection is not certain enough to justify printing the statement and play together The statement's references to perversions, psychoanalysis, and White Slave Traffic argue for the connection, the references to cancer, facial resemblance, old age, and military virtues argue against It is at least conceivable that the statement was intended for a play that was never written The manuscript is in the possession of Fowke Mangeot, who inherited it from his brother Sylvain, Isherwood's friend in the late 1920s and afterward The text printed below follows the order of Auden's original text, with Isherwood's revisions, but retains in square brackets passages Isherwood deleted After making his deletions Isherwood recopied the opening paragraphs in this order 'Classical tragedy ", "Dramatic plot ", "He was a housemaster ", "Cancer is "Symptoms are ", etc The verses "Smith likes butcher boys" and "In the lokal" and the line "The friends of the born nurse" were added in Isherwood's hand, but were originally composed by Auden PRELIMINARY

STATEMENT

[Dramatic action is ritual "Real" action is directed towards the satisfaction of an instinctive need of the actor who passes thereby from a state of excitement to a state of rest Ritual is directed towards the stimulation of the spectator who passes thereby from a state of indifference to a state of acute awareness ] ["Realistic" Art It is important because it has h a p p e n e d to myself ] [Dramatic "characters" are always abstractions ] Dramatic plot is the assertion that God could not exist without Satan

460

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

Classical tragedy the conflict between two courses of action, both of them evil Elizabethan tragedy the failure of individual effort Modern tragedy the fall of man Satan [the type of the modern tragic hero,] the hero of the tragedy of waste [The tragic emotion of this kind is aroused by the awareness that what is evil is potential good, that hate is love t u r n e d against itself,] T h e heroic self-immolation of a mistaken society H e was a housemaster and a bachelor But refused to keep dogs, So he is dying of cancer Cancer is the individual's version of the moral tragedy of society [Every fault is a virtue of the age before ] Symptoms are an attempt at cure Neurotic pain is hatred of compensation [Over the gates of Hell "Fecemi La Somma Sapienza e ll p n m o Amore "] Projection Identification Substitution

It wasn't me, sir T h e pleasures of the T h i r d Baboon T h o s e fatal expeditions to escape danger T h e referred pain

Perversions are d u e to a desire for justice, not pleasure T h e spirit naturally chooses the difficult rather than the easy [Parents a n d education have m a d e the wrong difficult ] T h a t is why Repression is so easily induced T h e interdependence of the Cop and the Street-Arab A child asks the way to heaven T h e parents gladly direct it—to the H a n g m a n ' s Shed, the clinic, or the p a d d e d room [Of those carefully p r e p a r e d and instructive prefaces T h e soul reads between the lines ] Smith likes butcher boys And is therefore a conservative J o n e s is a Socialist Because he likes duchesses J o n e s can't have duchesses So Smith is nicer Facial resemblance is the result of mental imitation T h e mother had wanted T o be a missionary in Africa

"PRELIMINARY STATEMENT"

461

So the son's novel Must be published in Paris. Old age is believing that parents are ideal. Repression preserves narcissism; a part of the self is always unexplored. Hence the prosperity of Messrs Cook. In the lokal the married Englishman With the Chauffeur on his knee Said: "I hear the parties at Cambridge Are hot stuff nowadays." He cannot forgive himself; therefore he cannot forgive others. This man, the prey to fugues, irregular breathing, and alternate ascendencies, after some haunted migratory years, disintegrates on an instant in the explosion of mania, or lapses for ever into a classic fatigue. The joke includes its own contradiction. It is therefore the only form of absolute statement. People are in a room. Each is talking and listening. Part of what he hears makes him more like a saint, part more like a devil. The first is psychological truth, the second psychological falsehood. There is no other criterion. "Have you heard this one?" Sometimes his younger brother laughs, sometimes he opens the window, and sometimes he has one of his own to tell. That is psychoanalysis. There is nothing else. The intellect can only choose the modes of gratification. It cannot choose the objects. "I'm going right away. I'm going to see no one." In a week he cut his throat in the bathroom. The substitution of intellectual for natural laws: White Slave Traffic. Promiscuity: A sign of impotence. Eugenists are already sterilised. The chief cause of unsatisfactory relationships: Lying about one's age. The deadly influence of the phantom Bradshaw. Wars are engineered by virgins or dwarfs. Pick a quarrel, go to war Leave the hero in the bar, Hunt the lion, climb the peak No one guesses you are weak.

462

'PRELIMINAR Y STATEMEN T

Medicine s a n d ethica l code s ar e as demoralisin g as mercenarie s T h e friend s o f t h e b o r n n u r s e ar e always falling ill O u r mora l virtue s ar e thos e of a militar y stat e [Militar y virtue s ar e no t th e onl y one s ] General s ar e notoriousl y astrologer s I n a militar y stat e infectiou s disease take s th e plac e of brotherl y love an d hygien e of t h e forgiveness of sins T h e militar y type s of friendshi p T w o t o on e Seven agains t T h e b e s O f Repressio n A colone l capture s a position , afte r receivin g severe wound s a n d losin g t h r e e quarter s of his regiment , onl y to find tha t th e enem y ar e hi s own side §2

A U D E N ' S " S U G G E S T I O N S FO R T H E

PLAY"

At some tim e aroun d 1929 or 1930 Auden sent Isherwoo d a list of scene s an d motif s for a play the y planne d to write The list written on th e letterhea d of Auden' s parents ' hom e in Birmingham , is undate d but th e handwritin g an d con tent s provid e some indicatio n of th e tim e at which it was written N o othe r surviving lette r or manuscrip t refers to thi s projec t

SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR ΓΗΕ PLAY As th e pla y is for two actor s I thin k t h e r e mus t be a centra l dualit y linkin g u p scene s I suggest t h e ς Υ Cycloi d Schyzoi d

J } personalitie s (see Kretschmer )

Fa t a n d shor t Tal l a n d thi n

manic-depressiv e Dementia-praeco x

h e r o worshi p col d

T h i s is t h e basis of "Pa t a n d Patachen " who m you hav e probabl y seen in th e films Fo r externa l event s wha t abou t a continuou s railway motiv e Magi c Basilisk motiv e (symbo l for th e m o t h e r a n d th e unworth y thin g ) Connecte d with th e railway a power-statio n for electrificatio n Usefu l for wate r a n d libido symbolism Schoo l scene , a n educationa l p a m p h l e t Pubert y initiatio n ceremonie s Universit y Blac k magi c

"PRELIMINARY STATEMENT"

463

A scene about the stealing of the superseded railway signal. At least one miracle. A railway book-shop. A scheme for beautifying the power station by constructing a pipe line of coloured glass. This bursts. Cycloid

a rising engine-driver. (I connect him with Orpen)*

Schyzoid. dies running away from his wife in express lost in a snow storm. A desert-prayer. * [Christopher Orpen, a friend of Isherwood's at Cambridge; the model for Cunn in The Ascent of F6—Ed ]

APPENDI X II

T h e Fronny : Fragment s of a Lost Play INTRODUCTIO N

In August 1930 Auden wrote to his brothe r Joh n "I am writin g anothe r play which promise s to be quit e fun thoug h I don' t quit e see my way yet" (lette r now in th e Berg Collection ) H e finished writin g th e first act in September , an d sent excerpt s from th e play to Isherwoo d durin g th e autum n On 17 Octobe r he told Stephe n Spende r tha t he ha d "just finished a draugh t of a new play", an d told Naom i Mitchiso n on 28 Octobe r tha t he ha d "nearly finished a new play which I believe will be th e best I can do just now" (letter s in th e Berg Collection , Ne w York Publi c Library) H e sent th e finished work, titled The Fronny, to Γ S Eliot on 8 Decembe r Eliot seems to have returne d it (perhap s at Auden' s request ) withou t consultin g his fellow director s at Fabe r & Faber , but he asked to see it again, in orde r to conside r it for publication , on 23 Septembe r 1931 A few weeks later Fabe r & Fabe r agreed to publish it as par t of a larger book tha t was to includ e The Orators, which Auden was workin g on at th e tim e Then , as Auden told Spende r on 14 Januar y 1932, "Fabe r have now decide d to publish th e Orator s by itself after keepin g th e Fronn y for month s an d lettin g me ['think ] the y were going to do it, so tha t is now on my hand s If th e Hogart h Press want th e poo r thing , now, the y can have it" Apparentl y th e Hogart h Press did no t want it Auden lent th e play to Doroth y Elmhirst , of Dartingto n Hall , in April 1932, an d in Jun e asked he r to retur n it "as it is my only copy" (lette r in Dartingto n Hal l archives) She apparentl y did retur n it, as th e Dartingto n archive doe s no t have th e manuscrip t After Jun e 1932, no furthe r trac e of th e complet e text can be foun d Scattere d section s of th e play survive in preliminar y manuscript s tha t Auden gave Isherwoo d an d others , an d it is possible to guess at some detail s of th e char acter s an d plot "Th e Fronny " was th e nam e Auden an d Isherwoo d used for thei r friend Franci s Turville-Petre , an English archaeologis t from an aristocrati c Cat h olic family whom Auden seems to have met in Berlin in 1928-29 (H e served as th e mode l for "Ambrose" in Isherwood' s Down There on a Visit) Germa n boys called Franci s "De r Franni" , which Auden an d Isherwoo d anglicized to "Th e Fronny " I n Auden' s play th e Fronny' s real nam e is Franci s Crewe Apparentl y he has disappeare d from his hom e village, an d Alan goes off to search for him (I am extrapolatin g to some exten t from th e later versions of this plot in The Chase an d The Dog Beneath the Skin, in thos e plays, an d probabl y also in The Fronny, Alan's surnam e is Norma n ) I n a city tha t seems a stylized version of Berlin , Alan is distracte d from th e search by his infatuatio n with a woma n name d Lou Nea r th e en d of th e play, in th e Alma Mate r bar, th e Fronn y make s his will an d dies, thi s par t of th e plot reappear s in The Dance of Death Th e play apparentl y end s with Alan's marriag e to Iri s Crewe , th e Fronny' s sister Auden too k th e name s

T H E FRONN Y

465

Alan a n d I n s fro m friend s h e ha d m a d e while teachin g at Larchfiel d Academ y in H e l e n s b u r g h , Alan Sinkinso n a n d Iri s Snodgras s Followin g th e exampl e of thei r d r a m a t i c c o u n t e r p a r t s , the y m a r r i e d in Jul y 1931 T h e p o e m s a n d scene s printe d belo w ma y be assigned to The Fronny with varyin g degree s of confidenc e Th e dedicator y poe m a n d th e Fronny' s r h y m e d Last Will a r e self-evidentl y part s of th e wor k (After readin g th e first version of t h e Will, Isherwoo d seem s t o have suggested tha t A u d e n suppres s its casua l refer ence s t o t h e privat e lives of thei r friend s A u d e n replie d "Of cours e wha t I reall y wan t for t h e testamen t woul d vary at every performanc e t o implicat e a n incred ulou s a n d slightly scare d audienc e Howeve r I will d o wha t I ca n ") A u d e n sen t Isherwoo d som e revised stanza s of t h e Will, togethe r with t h e revised partia l text s of th e two scene s of dialogue—th e onl y version s of thes e scene s tha t survive T h e revised scene s eithe r includ e o r call for th e inclusio n of th e t h r e e poem s " Γο ask th e h a r d questio n is simple" , "Love is thi s a n d that" , a n d "What' s in you r mind , m y dove , m y coney " Th e revised text of th e Will calls for th e inclusio n of " T h e Alma song", ι e , th e son g beginnin g "Hail 1 th e strang e electri c writing " A u d e n listed som e o t h e r verse fro m th e play in a lette r t o Isherwood , probabl y in Februar y 1933 Thi s lette r lists th e poem s A u d e n planne d t o includ e in th e revised secon d editio n of his 1930 Poems, it include s thes e four , brackete d as take n fro m The Fronny D o o m is d a r k Th e final snub-nose d winne r What' s in you r m i n d Epithalamio n " T h e final snub-nose d winner " refer s t o "Betwee n attentio n an d a t t e n t i o n " — p r e sumabl y signifying tha t thi s was th e last of th e poem s in whic h A u d e n use d th e p h r a s e "snub-nose d winner " afte r retrievin g it fro m earlie r a n d a b a n d o n e d p o e m s (or , less probably , signifying t h e final version of "Betwee n attention " itself) Th e " E p i t h a l a m i o n " is th e poe m tha t A u d e n late r incorporate d int o The Chase a n d Dogskin, in a heavily revised text beginnin g "You wh o r e t u r n to-nigh t t o a n a r r o w bed" , a n accoun t of its comple x histor y is given in th e textua l note s belo w Becaus e A u d e n sen t t h e m t o Isherwoo d alon g with "Hail ' t h e strang e electri c writing", I hav e include d th e two poem s "I saw t h e m stoo p in workshops " a n d " T h i s R o m a n peac e was b r o k e n " Th e first seem s t o have bee n spoke n by th e Fronny , th e secon d spoke n abou t hi m T h e p o e m "Who will e n d u r e " was writte n at abou t t h e sam e tim e as " D o o m is d a r k " a n d "Between attentio n a n d attention" , in 1932 A u d e n publishe d " D o o m is d a r k " u n d e r th e titl e " C h o r u s fro m a Play", a n d t h e similaritie s of style a n d subject a m o n g all t h r e e poem s suggest tha t t h e o t h e r two were use d as choruse s as well I n thi s editio n th e fragment s of th e play ar e a r r a n g e d in a sequenc e tha t per hap s c o r r e s p o n d s roughl y t o thei r sequenc e in th e play T h i s a r r a n g e m e n t is strictl y editorial , a n d reader s shoul d feel free to choos e an y alternativ e N o t e n o u g h informatio n is available t o p e r m i t a n a r r a n g e m e n t by chronologica l sequenc e of compositio n

466

T H E FRONN Y

Th e italicize d heading s for th e scenes of dialogu e were inserte d by Auden when he sent thes e revised texts to Isherwood . Th e brief explanation s printe d between squar e bracket s are editoria l additions . [FROM ] T H E F R O N N Y DEDICATIO N OF The Fronny τ ο j . B. AUDE N

R u n Favel , Holland , sprightl y Alexis Fo r life o r wha t relation' s t o be ha d As betwee n children , iner t a n d vaguely sad; Your prophecie s for son s secur e in boxe s At d a r k n o o n h o p i n g for snow: N o conversation s bu t h o m a g e no w N o t h i n g t o d o with friendlines s o r tim e N o t h i n g at all abou t integer s o r steam . Dea f h e r e to prophec y o r China' s d r u m Concessiv e still t o circumstanc e Mitre d in Iceland , secula r in Franc e T h e bloo d move s strangel y in its movin g h o m e Usin g t h e mole' s device , th e carriag e O f peacock , o r rat' s desperat e courag e Diverges , musters , t o trave l furthe r T h a n th e lon g still shado w of th e father . I f spac e be overcrowde d a n d we lat e T h e part y ha s no t reache d its height ; D o we confes s t o the m o u r fears, Driv e with t h e m in th e nigh t to fires I t is th e for m th e promis e took , T h e anti c a n d th e social loo k T h e act s of homage , t h e rewar d Powe r t o kee p th e father' s word .

C H O R U S . Betwee n attentio n a n d attentio n T h e first a n d last decisio n I s morta l distractio n O f e a r t h a n d air, A n d t h e fatigue d face T a k i n g t h e strai n O f t h e horizonta l forc e

T H E FRONNY

And the vertical thrust Makes random answer To the crucial test, The uncertain flesh Scraping back chair For the wrong train Falling in slush Before a friend's friends Or shaking hands With a snub-nosed winner. Between the fixed points And the definite dates Are further and nearer The vague wants Of days and nights And personal error: The war of all time In the instant dream, The tiny black figure At the foot of the fall Watching the green glacier water Alive but small. Between completeness and completeness Between the likeness and the likeness Is out-of-reach And the exciting approach, Loving exchange And treacherous lunge, Though different gives Of separate lives Are helpless now: The open window The closing door Opened, close, but not To finish or restore. These wishes get No further than The edge of the town And leaning asking from the car Cannot tell us where we are. D

467

468

THE

FRONNY

Many preceded, many Have poked and wedded A n d spent their money T h e n turning r o u n d Rode off this g r o u n d Leaving insignia Epitaphs and a smell of ammonia. Yet flowers h a n g Upwards from seed and d u n g And so much later Is sometimes better While pupils look More a n d m o r e on the clock More a n d m o r e what time it took O r m o r e breath taking For still m o r e waiting And the divided face Has no grace No discretion No occupation But registering Acreage, mileage, T h e easy knowledge Of the virtuous thing Without pastime In the meantime Between point a n d attention Date and decision Completeness and likeness.

C H O R U S . Doom is dark, d e e p e r than any sea-dingle U p o n what m a n it falls In spring day-wishing flowers appearing Avalanche sliding, white snow from rock face, T h a t he should leave his house No cloud-soft hands can hold him, restraint by women, But ever that m a n goes T h r o u g h place-keepers, t h r o u g h forest trees A stranger to strangers over u n d r i e d sea Houses for fishes, suffocating water. D

THE

FRONNY

T h e r e head falls forward, fatigued at evening, A n d d r e a m s of h o m e Waving from window, spread of welcome, Kissing of wife u n d e r single sheet But awaking sees Bird-flocks nameless to him, t h r o u g h doorway voices Of new men, making another love. Save him o n earth and water from hostile capture F r o m s u d d e n tiger's spring from corner Protect his house His anxious house where days are counted From thunderbolt protect From gradual ruin spreading like a stain Converting n u m b e r from vague to certain Bring joy, bring day of his r e t u r n i n g Lucky with day approaching, with leaning dawn.

C H O R U S . W h o will e n d u r e

T h e heat of the day and the winter danger T h e j o u r n e y from one place to another N o r be content to lie Till evening on t h e headland in the bay Between the land a n d sea N o r smoking wait until the h o u r of food Leaning u p o n the chained-up gate At the edge of the wood? T h e metals r u n Burnished o r rusty in the sun From town to town T h e signals all along are down Yet nothing passes But envelopes between these places Snatched at the gate and panting read indoors And first spring flowers arriving smashed Disaster stammered over wires A n d pity flashed. For should the professional traveller come Asked by the fireside h e is d u m b

469

470

T H E FRONNY

Declining with a small mad smile And all the while Conjectures on the maps that lie About in ships drawn high and dry Grow stranger and stranger Yonder are mountains where the wicked people dwell Misshapen, fearing the devil in the ghyll But these are stranger, spend their lives Running round derricks towering high Against a flaring sky In fights with knives. There is no change of place But shifting of the head To keep the lamp-glare from the face And climbing over to the wall-side of the bed. No one will ever know For what conversion the brilliant capital is waiting What ugly feast the village band is celebrating And no one sees Further than railhead or the end of piers Will neither go nor send his son Further through foothills than the rotting stack Where gaitered gamekeeper with dog and gun Will shout "Go back".

I saw them stoop in workshops I saw them drink in clubs I saw them wash for meetings I saw them pay for cabs I saw them playing cricket And changing into shorts Or offering chairs to ladies I saw them choosing shirts I saw them kiss their mothers I saw them taking digs I saw them play with children I saw them mourn for dogs

TH E FRONN Y

I saw the m pra y for sunshin e I saw the m smokin g pipe s I saw the m cleanin g rifles I saw the m studyin g map s I saw the m ask forgiveness I saw the m going share s I saw the m leave for ever Fro m station s in th e shires I saw the m look at gasworks On th e horizon' s line I saw the m bein g sorry I saw the m use a loan I saw the m lie by lette r I saw the m hid e thei r fears I saw the m gettin g iller I saw the m pokin g fires I saw the m an d said as I too k my ha t "N o docto r in Englan d can cur e all that" .

First scene with whore [revised version of par t of a lost scene ] ALAN. . . . She looks beautifu l an d nice I thin k I'll ask he r for advice. Lou . Who's this. H e seems a nice lookin g ma n H e mus t be quit e youn g an d he' s quit e well dressed . He' s a strange r to me , but I'll risk th e rest As soon as we mee t I'll dro p my fan. ALAN. Excuse me , Madam , but you've droppe d this. Lou . Ο so I have. I am so careless. Than k you. ALAN. I wonde r if you coul d tell Me where to find th e best hotel . Lou . Hm . Let me see. May I suggest Th e Hote l Adlon is th e best. I'm going tha t way. Shall we go together . ALAN. Thank s very much . It' s lovely weather . Lou . Haven' t you been her e the n before .

471

472

TH E

FRONN Y

A L A N . Never .

Lou . T h e n t h e r e [are ] som e surprise s for you in store . A L A N . I know . T h e r e ' s som e wonderfu l Gothi c wor k I h e a r A n d a Mestrovi c g r o u p in Dougla s Square . L o u . I've neve r bee n there . Bu t haven' t you h e a r d O f t h e Alma Mate r o r th e Silver Bird . A L A N . Who ar e the y by?

Lou .

Boy, wher e hav e you bee n T h e y ar e th e place s wher e life's t o be seen . A V O I C E . Who' s tha t lovely kiddy ? Ha s h e coals? L o u . Don' t be coarse , dear . We're goin g t o play bowls. [To A L A N . ] Hav e you an y friend s here . No ? T h e n I say Le t m e sho w som e of o u r city to-day . A L A N . It' s very kin d of you , I' m sur e Bu t won' t you find it a n awful bore ? L o u . Excus e m e bu t let us cros s th e stree t T h e r e ' s someon e comin g I' d r a t h e r no t meet . A L A N . Ο certainly .

Lou .

A n d if you don' t m i n d I thin k We'll go in h e r e a n d have a drink . [Exeunt.]

[ F R O N N Y passes.]

F R O N N Y . You n e e d n ' t tr y t o hide . I saw Wha t you ar e doin g again , you whore . Catchin g all wh o com e you r way You mak e t h e m pa y a n d pa y a n d pay. [Exit F R O N N Y . ] C H O R U S . T O ask th e h a r d questio n is simple ; Asking at meetin g With t h e simpl e glanc e of acquaintanc e T o wha t thes e go A n d ho w thes e d o Is beginnin g histor y easily Withou t histor y t o recall ; T o ask th e h a r d questio n is simpl e T h e simpl e ac t o f t h e confuse d will. Bu t t h e answe r Is h a r d a n d h a r d to r e m e m b e r ; O n step s o r th e shor e T h e ear s h e a r i n g T h e word s at meetin g

THE

FRONNY

T h e eyes looking At the hands helping Are never sure Of what they learn From how these things are done. A n d forgetting to hear o r see Makes forgetting easy Only r e m e m b e r i n g the method of remembering Remembering only in another way Only the strangely exciting lie Afraid T o r e m e m b e r what the fish ignored How the bird escaped or if the sheep obeyed. Till, losing memory, Bird, fish a n d sheep are ghostly A n d ghosts must d o again What gives t h e m pain Cowardice cries For windy skies Coldness for water Obedience for a master. Shall memory restore T h e steps a n d the shore T h e face and t h e meeting place Shall the bird live Shall the fish dive A n d sheep obey In a sheep's way Shall love r e m e m b e r T h e question a n d the answer For love recover What has been dark and rich and warm all over? [Re-enter A L A N and L o u . ]

L o u . Isn't the moonlight lovely. A L A N [embracing her].

Lou.

L o u . You like m e a little? ALAN.

I'll say I d o

Again. Again. That's not e n o u g h

473

474

THE

FRONNY

T h e whistle's blown a n d I a m off After years in a very dark wood I've come out at last and it's very good. V O I C E . T a x i sir.

ALAN.

Yes a n d drive like Hell.

V O I C E . W h e r e to sir?

ALAN.

Any good hotel. [Exeunt.]

C H O R U S . Love is this and that Warms a n d is not fit For natural history a n d wit Having Cannot Cannot Taking

n o heart remain apart r e m e m b e r to forget long over a shortened week

T h e kiss m o r e certain Is less than sure T h e obvious embracing Good because privately obscure. Calling names A n d taking criminal forms By forcing to get ill Weakens and is getting well Never such a d e a r one As when ending has preceded N e e d i n g what is never d o n e Doing what is never needed.

Second scene with whore V O I C E . I've got the Hispano waiting outside T o take us for o u r honeymoon ride My darling Lou. But how much longer. My love is getting stronger and stronger. L o u . Ssh. Patience, Jerry. I'll give you the tip As soon as there's time and we'll give him the slip. [Enter A L A N . ]

A L A N . What shall I do. They'll detain m e for debt.

THE

FRONNY

L o u . You mustn't go frowning like that. Forget. A L A N . But where can I find the cash. Lou. Delice. D E L I C E . Did M o d o m ring?

Lou. T w o cocktails please. Now you're to sit in this comfy chair A n d your little Puss will stroke your hair. D E L I C E . T h e cocktails M o d o m .

Lou. Feeling better already? ALAN.

Now you like this. Give m e a kiss.

Do you like m e a little. Lou. Don't be silly. A L A N . I've got such a h e a d —

Lou. Delice, take this penny T o start the electrical pianola A n d will you remove the master's bowler. A L A N . No, sing m e the song you sang so well T h a t wonderful night in o u r first hotel. L o u [sings]. What's in your mind, my dove, my coney Do thoughts grow like feathers, the dead end of life Is there making of love o r counting of money O r raid o n the jewels, t h e plans of a thief? O p e n your eyes, my dearest dallier Let h u n t with your hands for escaping m e Go t h r o u g h the motions of exploring the familiar Stand o n the brink of the warm white day. Rise with the wind my great big serpent Silence the birds and d a r k e n the air Change m e with terror, alive in a moment, Strike for the heart and have m e there. [ A L A N sleeps. The rest of the scene as before (in the lost earlier version).]

UNISON.

Hail! t h e strange electric writing "Alma Mater" on the door Like a secret sign inviting All the rich to meet the poor

475

476

CHORUS. GIRLS.

THE

FRONNY

Alma Mater, ave, salve, Floreas in saecula. Send us m e n who can be funny

Send us men you know are clean Send us m e n with lots of money T h e n we can be really keen. Always, even though we marry, T h o u g h we wear ancestral pearls This memory we'll always carry We were Alma Mater girls. Chorus. THIEVES.

Let Americans with purses Go for short strolls after dark Let the absent-minded nurses Leave an heiress in the park T h o u g h the bullers soon or later Clap us handcuffed into jail We'll r e m e m b e r Alma Mater We'll r e m e m b e r without fail. Chorus.

BOYS.

T h e French are mean, a n d Germans lazy, Dutchmen leave one in the end Only the Englishman, though he's crazy H e will keep one for a friend. Never, though a king of cotton Waft us hence to foreign parts Shall Alma Mater be forgotten She is written on o u r hearts. Chorus.

BLACKMAILERS. We must thank the mug's relations For o u r income, a n d Man's laws, But the first congratulations Alma Mater, they are yours. C O N - M E N AND C O I N E R S . W h e n the fool believes o u r story

When h e thinks o u r coins are true T o Alma Mater be the glory For she taught us what to do. Chorus.

THE OLD

FRONNY

T R O T S A N D H A C K S . We c a n n o t d a n c e u p o n the table

Now we're old as souvenirs Yet as long as we are able We'll r e m e m b e r bygone years. Still, as when we were the attraction, Come the people from abroad Spending, though we're out of action, More than they can well afford. Chorus.

T H E FRONNY. With n o r t h e r n Winter, snowballing season With weather dangerous for country postmen W h e n t h e poor actor dreads his bills And managers of Switzerland's hotels Begin to supplement their staff With the whole year I leave my life: I cannot count my friends to-morrow T h e r e is a village in the Harz called Sorrow. C H O R U S . Who thinks of Ronny's fatal fractures Sustained in stunts for Gaumont pictures? Scarcely a student now remembers McTaggart's theory of prime-numbers O r Light who thought the earth was hollow. Miss Riding j u m p e d from a third floor window Miss Amy Benson was afraid of bears. It was their show: We're thinking of yours. T H E FRONNY. NOW to another that shall pass Which from the first has d o n e seduce T h e seed to which my father was a mother T o swear allegiance to a new c o m m a n d e r Urging to whale-road from that tropic shore T o take the all-night j o u r n e y u n d e r sea Work west and northward, set u p building, Passes without which I a m nothing. C H O R U S . Piazzi Smythe the Cape Astronomer T o take the Last Day built a camera. O n e Douglas Marshall wrote a chapter

477

478

T H E FRONNY

Of his book "No C a m p can last for ever" Four scouts were drowned at Runswick Bay And Sheila slipped while tying shoe Breaking h e r neck on the wedding night You want to stay but you can't d o that. T H E F R O N N Y . I leave in snow; in coming heat I shall not visit lakes nor sit In s u m m e r u n d e r chestnut trees W h e r e almost always the band plays. Papers are bought and many sing T h e i r favourite tunes but they are far from strong. T h e s e love to go about in troop Rushing to those impossible to help. C H O R U S . T h e sun shall s u m m o n other men From different women to the same machine But never you. You shall not see T h e moon at natural ending of the day Rising like football from behind the hill T h e i r r e a r g u a r d actions ridicule Confound in them with ignorant stare T h e cooled brain wise in an irreverent hour. T H E FRONNY. Firstly u p o n my death I leave My body as earth and air to live As all desires accelerate Towards their little crisis and then d r o p Straight as a bomb or erratic as a bat T o even breathing, level sleep T h e mutinous m o u t h relaxed, i m m u n e From mute frustration's false alarm. Item, the notes of cases that I kept In verse, and every manuscript And all my correspondence including All Pieps' letters and the Willi drawing I leave to Edward and to Christopher Reptonians, writers, pistol pair, Who wrote together the Mortmere stories And divided men into dragoons and dories. Item, to the diffusionist J o h n Layard For having raised me largely from the dead

T H E FRONNY

Nothing but love for only this He says is needed for analysis Of murder or epileptic fit; But add, to stop him from abusing art Next time he crashes in a young man's rooms The complete short stories of Henry James. Item, my three-roomed furnished flat At 40 Chester Square complete To Olive Mangeot the Black Sow To take her darling schoolboys to: And may she find prompt answer to her prayer That her mad husband die this year. To Sylvain her son, a set of spanners To get undone those lower centres. Item, to Robert Moody, that saint, Soaker, bumboy, and medical student I gave my Cadillac saloon To get away from his mother in. To Gabriel Carritt the snub-nosed winner Whom dons were always asking to dinner A pair of boots with studded heels To keep him dry in the Yorkshire Dales. Item, my naval range-finder and case To Captain Edward Gervase Luce With whom on seawall at King's Lynn I talked of bird-migration in the rain. The lighthouse lately condemned at Cley I leave him also to rebuild that he Intent on instruments and figures there May look for truth, alone in tower. Item, to Cushy the unshaven Scot Who showed us the engine at Hackwood Pit The cranks of which still menace me in dreams A weekly pint at the Miners Arms The same to Sargeaunt of the sharpening shed Who made us toys from an iron rod. And may the door of the winding-house Lure other children after us.

479

480

THE

FRONNY

Item, for Mr Gill of H a r b o r n e W h o spoke in April of exploration A single specimen of his table thoughts "It's a waste of life Why look at Oates What a splendid man he'd have been for the war" T h e nastiest thing I've d o n e this year Was shaking your marshy hand I'll tell You can't get away with that, Mr Gill CHORUS

Item, we ask for Squire the less, For Gould, for Douglas of the Daily Express, For Mead and Muskett and all their lot Destroying good and England at the root A s u d d e n sickness, and when they send For the surgeon's pioneering hand May he be d r u n k , they conscious still, For nothing less can make them feel

T H E F R O N N Y Item, the sum of one h u n d r e d p o u n d s At present invested in Government bonds I leave in trust for the Neukolner Otter T a k e n last August at Rothehutte Whose sensitive hands now work in prison, As souvenir of o u r relation A kind I shall not feel again Neither in the mountains, nor Neukoln Item, to L e n n e p the pop-eyed bugger For paying my bill at the Cosy Corner And frequent use of his Chrysler Six Black on the Intermediate Sex, T h e address and a letter of introduction T o G u n t h e r who really prefers old men, Success to his classical researches May boys wave often from passing lorries Item, to Fraulein Lotte Poppe First met by missing my train at Lippe Although she had a squint, in memory Of week-ends spent on the Muggelsee T h e lokal known as the Stinging Nettle Because she never left me for an uncle Because she had the grace to keep T o my name, even when crying in her sleep

T H E FRONNY

Item, my family signet ring To the procuress Louisa During, The contents of my pocket book to pay The cost of treatment for Greta Pauly To cure herself of her offensive breath, To Gypsy conceited about her teeth A sixpenny toy the Faciograph To give her more excuse to laugh In the cool grave when I have signed I shall not listen to a sound Whatever these my heirs shall say, I shall not move again to see Who buys a present nor for whom, I shall not ask although they come When they, through errors of their own Have also made Man's weakness known CHORUS

You've learnt but were yourself unable The old should slowly ripen like an apple, And know man cannot rest until He learn to see his image in the well Neither hermaphrodite nor king he sees Nor wounded hero of the undersized, In England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales Who repeats an action fails

[Revised version of portions of the Fronny's Will ]

From mute frustration's false alarm Item, as sole executor I appoint Miss Ins Crewe, my sister Of my whole fortune and estate To administer as she thinks ht In saving England from heading faster To a great climacteric disaster I shall consider it well spent If seven Englishmen repent Item, my naval range hnder and case etc

481

482

T H E FRONNY

To Harry my servant for wheeling this chair And dressing me in my last year My set of razors and all my suits And a weekly pint at the Goat-in-boots, The same to Cushy the unshaven Scot Who showed me the engines at Hackwood pit And may the door of his winding house To others seem as mysterious. Item, my family signet ring To the procuress Louisa During The contents of my pocket book to pay The cost of treatment for Greta Pauly My watch to be kept for the Neukolner Otter, Taken last August at Rothehiitte. Free drinks to all in Alma here To make their life less hard to bear. (The Alma song [see p. 475].) Item, the orchestra I congratulate On their excellent performance to-night And may they when this play is over Find engagements from Newcastle to Dover To any critics a little sense Patience and absence of pretence And Mr Auden and myself forgive If I have sometimes failed to live. Item, the audience I'm going to tell What one of you said in the interval At the buffet during a conversation On the merits of polar exploration That you all may weep for it at nights "It's a waste of life; why look at Oates What a splendid man he'd have been for the war" That's the nastiest thing I've heard this year. Item, my three-roomed furnished flat At 40 Chester Square complete To the girl in that box there with her mother On condition that she leave her for ever To the fat but rather attractive whore In the pit, the costs of a walking tour And a pair of boots with studded heels To keep her dry in the Yorkshire Dales.

T H E FRONN Y

Item , to th e nervou s studen t in th e stalls Ashame d of himsel f for what he feels An invitatio n to com e u p her e Whom a nigh t in Alma Mate r will cur e We'll quickly get you back your colou r I'll leave a fiver for you with th e waiter Her e Zeppe l ZEPPE L

Sir

Sto p playing card s And find thi s gentlema n what he need s To th e medica l who's com e in tight Th e chandelie r to keep him quie t To th e maste r gettin g up to go A reques t tha t he stop a momen t or so To tell th e boy in, I think , Row Ρ Tha t he' s no t in very good compan y Last, to th e lady who ough t never to have com e A tip for th e attendan t an d he r taxi hom e In th e cool grave when I have signed etc

Thi s Roma n peac e was broke n Nin e month s ere he was bor n When first his angry fathe r knew A quarre l was begun Which no w is don e Th e memorie s ru n backward Like hedge s to th e start And sorro w bloomin g like a bush But her e bone s fall apar t Withou t his hear t N o on e will see repeate d A life he lived alon e No r mak e exactly as he mad e Throug h error s of his own Man' s weakness known

483

484

T H E FRONNY

Of all his foreign travel The diary is hid; No other can interpret what His marching-orders bid, But come he did. His fevered wish permitted In the cool grave to lie, He need not move again: this man Achieved his destiny, Was born to die.

As the magnum is smashed on the stern when the liner is loosed From Clydeside dockyard sliding over the greased Slipway, displacing the water she touches For the first time, equipped for her maiden voyage Trailing the folding furrow over the long sea So let the best be given for the immediate day. Fill up the glasses with champagne and drink again. For this is also the beginning of new living, For Alan and Iris, new ones, of new loving, This is the renewal of living under different names This is the renewal of loving under different forms, To-day these new ones are beginning to be one, These two to-day are beginning to be one new one. Fill up the glasses with champagne and drink again. Let all bring gifts with them these have invite, And over the two prices do not hesitate Let jeweller to-day replace then cheaper drawer Let them phone to warehouse at once for special cigar To honour Alan and Iris, honour the day, To honour the God to name whom is to lie. Fill up the glasses with champagne and drink again. Lord, be here to-day; on whom they call In village leading out the garlanded bull, Who binding leader to his group, from panic protect, Who make the virgin leave her door unlocked, Who please the daughter sitting on her father's knee But after make her leave it; be here to-day.

T H E FRONN Y

Fill up th e glasses with champagn e an d drin k again. Ο give your fullest blessing to thes e two. Fo r you alon e can disciplin e th e valuer's eye And th e too-curiou s hand , interpre t th e command s Of th e four centre s an d th e four conflictin g winds. Interpre t fully to these . Thi s is your hou r You are expecte d here ; be present , sir. Fill u p th e glasses with champagn e an d drin k again. Already you ar e bringin g swallows past th e Scillies To chase each other , skimmin g unde r English bridges, Are loosin g urgen t pollen across countr y T o find th e pistil, force its burglar' s entry , Thi s year Alan an d Iri s are as swal-lows; will you no t bless the m also? We know you will. Fill u p th e glasses with champagn e an d drin k again. We are all her e now, Mildre d th e religious aunt , Thoma s th e groomsman , Na t th e confidante , Morga n th e Welsh cousin ; representative s Of all th e gods who have controlle d th e lives, Th e drugged Princess , or th e jerseyed lighthouse-keeper , We come , some more , some less, but all to honour . Fill up th e glasses with champagn e an d drin k again. It' s no t thi s only we praise, it's th e genera l love. Let cat' s mew rise to a scream on th e tool-she d roof, Let son com e hom e to-nigh t to anxiou s mother . Let vicar lead choi r boy int o a dar k corner ; Orchi d flower to-day , tha t flowers every hundre d years, Boot s an d slavey be foun d dutch-kissin g on stairs. Fill u p th e glasses with champagn e an d drin k again. Let thi s be kept as a generou s hou r by all. Thi s onc e let uncl e pay for nephew' s bill. Let nervou s lady's gauchenes s at tea-tim e be forgiven Let thief' s explanatio n of theft be taken . And fag caugh t smokin g shall escape his usual beating , To-nigh t expensive whor e shall give herself for nothing .

485

486

T H E FRONNY

Fill up the glasses with champagne and drink again Yes, land-locked state shall get its port to-day, And midnight worker in laboratory by sea Shall find beneath cross-wires that he looks for To-night asthmatic clerk shall dream of boxer, Let cold heart's wish be granted, desire for a desire, Give to coward now his hour of power Fill up the glasses with champagne and drink again But approach now, Alan, day is almost done Now you're to meet the private person in the bone, You're going to go a very long way with that— Further than you know now, there will gives out, Those places are not mapped at all, but pass, Ins is ready now do this Fill up the glasses with champagne and drink again Receive him, Ins, now, obey, surrender, Admit the new life from the strange outsider So chance of cancer shall be gone for ever, And days of morning headaches be definitely over Charges pile up in expectant blood, Flash is coming, draw him to the certain good Fill up the glasses with champagne and drink again Attain after years of listening your real wishes Although in classroom you imagined other choices Remembering gladly or not at all each instance The tobacconist in the High Street or the Campbells' dance Not one is here to-day but remember each They could not know all this but taught you much Fill up the glasses with champagne and drink again Let one be made from two, and many from one Make them and go away the life goes on As trees are alive in forest and do not fall Sustained every day by their unconscious columnar will, It shall outlast the tiger his swift motions Its slowness time the heartbeat of nervous nations Fill up the glasses with champagne and drink again

TH E FRONN Y

487

If wishes ar e an y use, althoug h o u r eyes N o furthe r see tha n railhea d o r th e en d of piers , You'r e safe fro m hre , fro m evil eye, fro m spectre , F r o m sneerin g loutis h son of a Scotc h drysalter , We tak e o u r coat s to go, th e single one s in d r e a m T o mee t thei r loves, an d no w for th e last tim e Fil l u p th e glasses with c h a m p a g n e an d drin k again

NOTE S ON TH E T E X T

The fragment s printe d her e represen t various early stages of revision rathe r tha n th e lost text of th e complete d play (On e exceptio n is th e dedicator y poem , which Auden may have sent Isherwoo d after he adde d it to The Fronny ) Som e of th e poem s printe d her e from early manuscript s will be familiar from th e later revised versions tha t Auden include d in th e secon d editio n (1933) of his Poems (1930) an d in later collection s The dedicator y poem , publishe d her e for th e first time , was writte n probabl y in Decembe r 1930, when Auden sent it to Isherwoo d In late 1931 an d early 1932 he used a revised version (dedicate d " Γο my father" ) as Od e VI in th e manuscrip t of The Orators, while correctin g proo f for this book, he replace d th e poe m with anothe r Od e "Between attentio n an d attentio n ' date s probabl y from May 1930 Auden sent this early version to Isherwoo d in tha t mont h or early Jun e A shorte r revised version appeare d in th e 1933 Poems an d in th e collecte d edition s of his poem s tha t Auden publishe d in 1945, 1950, an d 1966 "Doo m is dark ' was written in August 1930 Auden sent this version to Isher wood, togethe r with th e first version of th e Fronny' s Last Will, probabl y in Septembe r Late r veisions appeare d in New Signatures, edite d by Michae l Robert s (1932), in th e 1933 editio n of Auden' s Poems, in th e collecte d edition s he pub lished in 1945, 1950, an d 1966, an d in th e selected edition s he publishe d in 1938, 1958, an d 1968 "Who will endure " was probabl y written durin g th e summe r of 1930, Auden himsel f seems to have been uncertai n of th e exact dat e Annotatin g a copy of th e America n editio n of Poems (1934) for his friend Pete r Salus aroun d 1965, he date d th e poe m August 1931, but it doe s no t appea r in th e noteboo k in which he preserved all th e poem s he wrote from August 1930 to August 1932 Auden sent th e poe m to Isherwoo d in th e form of a manuscrip t fair copy tha t bear s no ind i catio n of its date , but Auden almost certainl y wrote it ou t at aroun d th e same tim e he mad e revisions to th e epithalamio n he used in The Fronny (see below) Amon g th e revisions Auden marke d in th e manuscrip t of th e epithalamio n (which he gave to In s Snodgras s some tim e before he r marriag e in July 1931) is th e deletio n of a stanz a containin g th e words "althoug h ou r eyes I N o furthe r see tha n railhea d or th e en d of piers", in th e manuscrip t of "Who will endure " tha t Auden sent

488

T H E FRONN Y

Isherwoo d t h e line s " A nd n o o n e sees / F u r t h e r t h a n railhea d o r th e e n d of piers " hav e bee n a d d e d at t h e foot of th e page , with thei r i n t e n d e d positio n indicate d by a n arro w Probabl y h e revised bot h poem s abou t th e tim e h e was writin g The Fronny, a n d t h e style of "Who will e n d u r e " suggests a dat e close to tha t of " D o o m is d a r k " If, as hi s n o r m a l practic e at th e tim e suggests, A u d e n kep t a noteboo k in whic h h e preserve d t h e poem s h e wrot e from April t h r o u g h Jul y o r earl y August of 1930, it ha s no w disappeared , "Who will e n d u r e " probabl y date s fro m tha t interva l (I n a cop y of t h e America n editio n of Poems tha t A u d e n a n n o t a t e d for Carolin e Newto n a r o u n d 1940, A u d e n d a t e d th e poe m April 1929 a n d note d tha t it h a d bee n writte n at his parents ' cottag e in th e Lak e Distric t As A u d e n was in Berli n t h r o u g h o u t t h e sprin g of 1929, a n d as th e poe m is absen t fro m th e note boo k in whic h h e preserve d his poem s fro m April 1929 t h r o u g h Marc h 1930, thi s dat e is almos t certainl y a n e r r o r ) A u d e n publishe d th e poe m in his 1933 Poems, in t h e collecte d edition s of 1945, 1950, a n d 1966, an d in th e selecte d editio n of 1958 (see ρ 524) A u d e n sen t Isherwoo d t h e two revised version s of th e scene s of dialogu e prob ably in N o v e m b e r 1930, t h e d a t e of compositio n of th e son g in th e secon d scene , "What' s in you r m i n d " A u d e n indicate d th e two Choruse s in th e first scen e by writin g thei r first lines, followed by " e t c ' , becaus e h e ha d sen t bot h Choruse s to Isherwoo d earlie r as separat e poem s T h e first, " T o ask th e h a r d question" , was writte n probabl y a r o u n d August 1930, t h e text used h e r e is tha t of th e u n d a t e d fair cop y A u d e n sen t Isherwoo d Th e p o e m was publishe d in The Criterion, Jul y 1933, in t h e 1933 editio n of Auden' s Poems, in his collecte d edition s of 1945, 1950, a n d 1966, a n d in his selecte d edition s of 1938 an d 1958 T h e secon d Chorus , "Love is thi s a n d that" , was writte n in Septembe r 1930, th e text her e is tha t of th e fair cop y A u d e n sen t Isherwoo d probabl y in th e sam e m o n t h A u d e n neve r pub lished t h e p o e m A u d e n sen t Isherwoo d a manuscrip t containin g "I saw t h e m stoo p in workshops" , " Thi s R o m a n peac e was broken" , a n d "Hail 1 th e strang e electri c writing " possibly in August o r earl y Septembe r 1930, thi s was whe n A u d e n spen t som e tim e in B i r m i n g h a m , t h e r e t u r n addres s given o n th e manuscrip t "Hail ' th e strang e electri c writing " r e a p p e a r s in The Dance of Death with a n additiona l stanz a T h e o t h e r two poem s ar e unpublishe d A u d e n probabl y sen t Isherwoo d th e first version of th e Fronny' s Last Will in S e p t e m b e r 1930 With t h e lette r in whic h h e r e s p o n d e d t o Isherwood' s criticisms , h e sen t a cop y of "Eliot' s latest", presumabl y th e p a m p h l e t editio n of Marina, pub lished 25 S e p t e m b e r H e sen t t h e revised stanzas , togethe r with th e revised scene s of dialogue , probabl y in Novembe r Mos t of th e name s in th e first version of th e Fronny' s Last Will, o t h e r tha n thos e of familia r publi c o r historica l figures, seem t o be n a m e s of Auden' s friends , an d t h e Fronny' s experience s seem likely to have bee n Auden' s own O n e p s e u d o n y m in th e Will is "Captai n Edwar d Gervas e Luce" , whos e s u r n a m e is t h e sam e as th e fictional Mildre d Luc e in The Chase a n d Dogskin (and , probably , in The Fronny, as "Mildre d th e religiou s a u n t " in t h e epi thalamion ) T h e descriptio n of Luc e seem s t o correspon d t o Auden' s frien d fro m publi c school , Richar d Perceva l Bagnall-Oakle y Whe n A u d e n sen t th e revised

TH E FRONN Y

489

stanza s to Isherwood , he include d this not e beneat h th e line "Item , my naval rang e finder an d case etc" "(I have altere d th e Parson' s nam e to Luc e an d intro duce d some cross-references ) " Auden apparentl y forgot tha t he ha d alread y used th e nam e Luce in th e earlier version Th e "Parson " may have been a characte r similar to th e Vicar in The Chase, whose sister is name d Mildre d Luce (althoug h thi s seems to be he r marrie d name ) The epithalamio n "As th e magnu m is smashed " was probabl y written aroun d th e summe r of 1930, an d revised perhap s later tha t year Althoug h Auden gave th e manuscrip t to Alan Sinkinso n an d In s Snodgras s (it is now in th e Berg Collection) , he evidentl y did no t write it on th e occasio n of thei r wedding, when he was in Berlin "Thoma s th e groomsman " an d "Na t th e confidante " represen t real peopl e (To m Phillips , who was th e best ma n at th e wedding, an d Natali e Gold , on e of th e bridesmaids) , but "Mildre d th e religious aunt " an d "Morga n th e Welsh cousin " seem to be Auden' s inventions—o r were name s take n from other s amon g his acquaintance s Mr s Sinkinso n now has no knowledge of anyon e who would fit thes e name s an d description s The text of thi s editio n combine s th e origina l an d th e revised (an d cut ) versions to presen t th e fullest possible text Tha t is, I have retaine d th e stanza s Auden cut when he revised th e poem , but have also include d th e stanza s he inserte d at th e tim e he mad e th e cut s I have, however, retaine d th e small verbal change s Auden seems to have mad e in th e cours e of his larger revisions It is impossible to say with any confidenc e which of these small change s dat e from th e origina l stage of compositio n an d which from th e revised stage Th e large change s Auden mad e were thes e H e adde d stanz a 13 ("Attain after years"), an d cut stanza s 1 ("As th e magnum") , 2 ("Fo r thi s is also"), 4 ("Lord , be here") , an d 15 ("If wishes are") , at th e same time , apparently , he retaine d th e substanc e of two lines from th e aban done d stanz a 15 by deletin g th e first two lines of stanz a 14 ("Let on e be made" ) an d replacin g the m with "Love shall be safe from evil eye, from spectr e I Fro m sneerin g loutish son of a Scotc h drysalter " To reconstruc t th e final revised text, substitut e th e latte r two lines in th e text printe d her e an d delet e th e four stanza s cut by Auden The smaller change s includ e wholesale deletion s of th e definit e articl e Th e last two lines of stanz a 12, for example , originally read "Th e charge s moun t u p in th e expectan t blood , I Th e flash is coming , dra w him to th e certai n good " Thi s text of th e epithalamio n include s some mino r emendation s an d some doubtfu l reading s In stanz a 3, line 3, Auden doe s seem to have written "the n cheaper " rathe r tha n "thei r cheaper " In stanz a 10, line 4, Auden first wrote "drea m of a boxer", the n delete d "a" an d marke d th e word "of" in a way tha t perhap s suggests tha t he wante d to delet e it or, as a remot e possibility, tha t he wante d to alter it to "as" I have retaine d "of" (Th e rewritte n version in The Chase an d Dogskin has "drea m he' s a boxer" ) Amon g th e part s of th e play now apparentl y lost is on e tha t Isherwoo d recalle d in a lette r to Auden while the y were workin g on Dogskin, see below, ρ 559

APPENDI X II I

Aude n an d th e Grou p Theatr e BY Μ

J . SIDNEL L

AUDE N did mor e for th e Grou p Theatr e tha n write plays As th e Group' s poe t an d "secretar y of ideas"* he suggested plays tha t might be performed , poem s tha t migh t be used for th e trainin g of actors , an d th e name s of author s an d othe r artist s who migh t work with th e Grou p As "propagandist " (th e Grou p s term ) an d copywrite r he wrote pieces for th e short-live d Group Theatre Paper, note s for pro grammes , an d an appea l (in verse) for subscription s Hi s presenc e in th e Grou p was mor e forceful an d pervasive tha n th e occasiona l writings reproduce d her e migh t suggest Hi s ideas on th e theatr e influence d Doon e s, an d his presenc e at rehearsal s ha d a direc t effect on Doone' s theatrica l practic e The Grou p Theatr e was founde d in Londo n in Februar y 1932 It ha d no con nectio n with th e Grou p Theatr e tha t ha d recentl y been forme d in America , an d of whose existenc e th e British Grou p was unawar e The latte r began with thirtee n members , man y of whom ha d first com e togethe r in th e compan y assembled by Tyron e Guthri e at London' s newest theatre , th e Westminster , in 1931 Som e of th e enterprisin g younge r actor s at th e Westminste r began to use thei r free tim e for cooperativ e trainin g an d playreading s Ruper t Doone , a youn g dance r from outsid e th e Westminste r company , joine d th e most coheren t of thes e groups , which ha d been organize d primaril y by a youn g acto r name d Ormero d Green wood This emerge d as th e Grou p Theatre , an d Doon e becam e its leade r an d stage directo r In th e autum n of 1932 th e Group , now muc h enlarged , reorgan ized itself, establishin g Doon e an d Tyron e Guthri e as its artisti c director s or "In tendants " Doon e lived with Rober t Medley , a friend of Auden' s since thei r schoo l years In July 1932 Auden visited Medle y an d Doone , an d was persuade d to advise th e Grou p on literar y matter s an d to begin writin g plays for it to perfor m Auden' s first contributio n was a list of materia l for verse speakin g tha t he sent to Doon e in a lette r of 28 July 1932 (no w in th e Berg Collectio n of th e Ne w York Publi c Library) Dea r Rupert , As a c o r r e s p o n d e n t , I' m th e shit Pleas e forgive m e I haven' t t h e collection s of M u m m e r s ' Plays h e r e bu t I' m sendin g you a boo k whic h contain s on e version T h e y ar e all very m u c h alike even textually , so it will give you th e ide a I f you wan t th e collectio n in a * Ruper t Doone' s phrase , from his article What about the 1 heatre ' in New Verse, Decer n ber 1935

THE GROUP THEATRE

491

hurry, the book is called " T h e Mummers' Play" by Tiddy published by the Oxford University Press T h e Descriptive Poems T h e best work for that sort of thing that I know is that of Vachel Lindsay Something might be d o n e with some of the tales of Chaucer T h e r e are plenty of possibilities in Skelton Of lighter stuff there's things like T h e Pied Piper of H a m e h n a n d the Ingoldsby Legends Can't think of anything else just now T h e ['collection] of stones seems a good idea I'm getting on with the O r p h e u s stuff God knows what it's like I'm finding it r a t h e r like a holiday task, but experience tells me that the pleasure of writing a n d its value have little connection, so hope for the best I've never thanked you for my stay I loved it best love to both Wystan The "Orpheus stuff" was a scenario for a ballet, not for the Group Theatre but for Doone to choreograph independently At the same time Doone had asked Auden to write a play for the Group Doone got neither his ballet scenario nor the kind of play he had in mind Instead, about a year later, Auden provided The Dance of Death, which included some traces of the Orphic theme and a major role for Doone as dancer and choreographer The Group Theatre had its own hand press, which was used to print brochures, prospectuses, theatre programmes, and other material An earlv prospectus (with a list of members dated April 1933) contains a brief manifesto, either written by Auden or put into shape by him from notes by Doone and others It reads 7 P O I N T S about the G R O U P T H E A T R E the GROUP THEATRE is a co-operative It is a community, not a building the GROUP THEATRE is a troupe, not of actors only but of Actors Producers Writers Musicians Painters Technicians etc, etc, a n d AUDIENCE

Because you are not moving or speaking, you are not therefore a passenger If you are seeing and hearing you are co-operating the GROUP THEATRE is a school for actors If you cannot make your gestures as sensible as your speech, if you cannot dance or sing, if you are

492

THE GROUP THEATRE

afraid of making a fool of yourself in public the GROUP THEATRE will take you in h a n d the GROUP THEATRE is neither archaeological nor avant-garde It is prepared to adapt itself to any play ancient o r modern the G r o u p T h e a t r e costs one guinea a year the G r o u p T h e a t r e has premises at 9, Great Newport Street (top floor) A similar set of "8 points about the Group Theatre" appeared in the programme of Croydon Repertory Theatre Presents the Group Theatre in Songs, Dances and a Play, 24 July 1933 The only substantial new point reads "the aim of the GROUP THEA-

TRE IS to create on a co-operative basis a PERMANENT, SELF SUFFICIENT COMPANY

supported by a sympathetic audience and a training school for young members " A second prospectus for the Group, dated January 1934, includes the original "7 Points", preceded by this untitled policy statement

the G R O U P T H E A T R E IS not an ACADEMY, although it trains actors

It is not a PLAY-PRODUCING SOCIETY, although it produces plays It is not a building It is a p e r m a n e n t GROUP of actors, painters, singers, dancers, and members of t h e audience, who d o everything, a n d d o it together, a n d are thus creating a theati e representative of the spirit of to-day It trains actors in the belief that by working together they will evolve a c o m m o n technique with new means of expression It produces plays from any age which are of importance to us to-day It does not quarrel with the commercial theatre, but as the commercial theatre is not able to achieve these ends it sets out to find a new way The first piece for performance by the Group that Auden finished was a microdrama designed to provide continuity in the mixed bill of Songs, Dances and a Play performed at Croydon on 24 July 1933 and the five nights following The play on the bill was the medieval romance Lancelot of Denmark, Auden s contrivance brought the actors of Lancelot onto the stage to play "themselves", involved at cross-purposes in "off-stage" amours Notwithstanding the title on Auden's manuscript (now in the Berg Collection), the piece is an epilogue to Lancelot as well as a kind of prologue to the second half of the bill

TH E GROU P T H E A T R E

493

PROLOGU E [Enter K N I G H T and Launcelot's

S. K. S.

K. S. K.

SERVANT. ]

Let' s go bac k quickly . I' m dyin g for a c u p of cocoa . I wan t to see [using the Christian name of the actress who takes the part of the mother] h o m e first. Again. Why can' t you leave h e r alon e a little . You'll be gettin g h e r int o trouble . Why, d u r i n g rehearsals , you were always so busy talking, sh e was generall y lat e for h e r cues . [sighing]. Luck y Launcelot . Well. I' m goin g o n alon e t h e n . Giv e m e th e key will you . Catch . [Exit S.]

[Enter L A U N C E L O T . ]

L.

K. L. K. L. K. L.

Hullo . No t waitin g for [using C.N of actress who plays the girl] I h o p e . T h e play's over no w you know , an d I allow n o rivals off stage. Luck y devil. I wante d you r par t bu t R u p e r t wouldn' t let m e have it. Is coming . Ο it is m y wicked m a m a you sigh for. O f course . I t is h e r I would gladly di e for. Sweet is m y onl y flame. Sh e w h o m you loved an d lost. T h e same . Loo k the y com e thi s way A n d set o u r heart s o n fire Ma y luc k be our s thi s da y A n d give u s o u r desire .

[Enter M O T H E R and

M.

G. M. G.

GIRL. ]

H u r r y m y d e a r o r we shall be lat e Which is t h e d o o r wher e the y said they' d wait? Di d your s say anythin g very excitin g Le t m e see hi s note . Wha t nic e h a n d writing . Are thos e hi s flowers. He' s got goo d taste . C o m e we haven' t got tim e to waste. D o you thin k tha t Croydo n will rise to wine .

B O T H . H O W a m I looking .

[L. and K. step forward.] K. L.

Superb . Divine .

494

T H E GROU P THEATR E

Κ AN D L [kneeling] Ladie s if you pleas e We be g you o n o u r knee s T h a t we ma y hav e th e righ t T o see you h o m e to-nigh t Μ AN D G I' m afrai d we've bee n alread y invite d Κ AN D L Wha t d o you m e a n ' Who ar e thes e m e n [To audience ] G o away a n d neve r com e bac k again Μ AN D G You mus t no t get so excite d At a modes t invitatio n T o see u s t o th e railway statio n Κ AN D L Bu t you neve r di d thi s [in ] L o n d o n C r o y d o n ha s t u r n e d you r hea d C r o y d o n ha s us u n d o n e We wish tha t we were dea d [Enter P R O M P T E R ]

Ρ

No w t h e n What' s all thi s Wher e ar e you g o i n g ' T h e p r o g r a m m e ' s no t finished yet T H E R E S T H O W d o you k n o w ' You'r e onl y th e p r o m p t e r Ρ I kno w a n d yet th e p r o m p t e r know s Very m u c h m o r e t h a n you suppos e Μ AN D G Bu t two kin d gentleme n in th e audienc e ar e expectin g us It'l l be suc h a disappointmen t L AN D Κ T h e i r wives will hea r of thi s a p p o i n t m e n t G T h e reaso n why you mus t explai n Μ A n d ask t h e m nicel y to remai n Ρ Ladie s a n d Gentlemen , th e pla y is over T h e stor y of a foolish Danis h lover Who lackin g in himsel f belief T o o k ill advic e a n d cam e to grief I f we hav e please d you we ar e glad Fo r we hav e somethin g m o r e to a d d I f not , we ask you still to stay Fo r we ma y pleas e you in a n o t h e r way D o you love musi c Hav e you in you r h o m e A piano , wireless o r h a r m o n i u m T y r o n e G u t h r i e wh o is tall a n d thi n Marrie d a n d lives in Lincoln' s I n n Ha s a r r a n g e d som e songs for you to hea r O f J o h n n y tarryin g at th e fair O f H e r o d a n d his coc k tha t cre w O r if you r choic e is dancing , t h e n for you

T H E GROUP T H E A T R E

495

R u p e r t Doone with his odd-shaped skull Will dance as a Chinaman It won't be dull A n d Mary Skeaping has consented to come A n d dance as a witch to the sound of a d r u m We h o p e that everyone will find O n e of these items to his mind Shout if you like for we shall not be pained Perhaps we look it but we're not refined The actors who would have played the roles in this piece of mumming remembered nothing about it forty years later, so it is possible that it was never performed—but forgiving memories may instead have obliterated all traces of it A more significant document for the development of the Group is the list of plays that Auden recommended to Doone, probably in January 1934 The list is on a letterhead from Auden's family home in Birmingham Classical Aeschylus Agamemnon Seven Against Thebes Aristophanes Any T h e r e are no decent acting translations Louis MacNeice is the person to do them 6 Selby Park Rd Birmingham 1 Medieval T h e Plays of Hrotswitha (published by Chatto ) Everyman T h e World and the Child T h e Play of the Weathers T h e Revesby Plough Play G a m m e r Gurton's Needle Ralph Roister Doyster

ihewSeid}Na^P^ T h e York H a r r o w i n g of Hell

Elizabethan Peele Marlowe Middleton Ben J o n s o n Day 18th Century Lillo

Old Wives Tale Dr Faustus T h e Jew of Malta T h e Changeling Bartholemew Fair T h e Masques (Particularly the Mask of Xmas) T h e Parliament of Bees George Barnwell

496

TH E GROU P THEATR E

19th Century Goeth e Ibse n

Faus t Par t I I Pee r Gyn t

Modern Ber t Brech t

?

Coctea u

Variou s (with musi c by Kur t Weill) N o transla tion s Suggest Christophe r Isherwoo d Guema straa t 24 A m s t e r d a m Marlboroug h Goe s to War [by Marce l Achard ] Variou s

Don' t suppos e thi s list will hel p you bu t her e it is I hav e writte n to MacNeic e abou t his play So sorr y abou t j o b love Wystan Auden' s suggestions had a powerful effect on Doone' s plan s for th e Grou p Loui s MacNeic e did eventuall y translat e th e Agamemnon for th e Group , an d Peer Gynt was performed , as was a monologu e by Coctea u Brecht' s work was never presente d by th e Group , althoug h his influenc e was strongly felt Auden attende d rehearsal s for The Dance of Death an d provide d revisions an d addition s as neede d H e also wrote a synopsis tha t appeare d in th e programm e (see ρ 542) I n it, as in performance , th e structur e of th e work is mad e clear In th e printe d text, by contrast , some divisions are omitted , eithe r carelessly or as a deliberat e sign tha t th e text is no t to be considere d a work in itself but a librett o for a sung, danced , chanted , an d spoken performanc e On th e bill with th e first productio n of The Dance of Death, at th e Westminste r Theatr e on 25 Februar y 1934, was The Deluge from th e Cheste r Cycle Auden may have selected th e mo d ernize d version tha t was used, an d perhap s he revised it somewhat , but no consid erable change s were mad e beyon d th e drasti c updatin g of th e dramatis personae printe d in th e programm e Thi s list, which looks very muc h as if it were Auden' s work, designate s Noa h an d "Mrs Noah " an d thei r sons as "Th e Unemploye d Fam ily" an d name s thei r neighbor s "Mrs Empir e Builder", "Mr Capita l Profiteer" , "Miss Old-Lily" , "Tory Statesma n Esq ", an d th e "Rev Googles " Althoug h th e Grou p had a forma l constitution , its organizatio n was always a matte r of convenienc e an d was largely centre d on th e errati c personalit y of Ruper t Doon e (Tyron e Guthri e detache d himsel f from th e Grou p after co-produc ing with Doon e th e 1934 an d 1935 production s of The Dance of Death) The Group' s financial arrangement s were equally informa l Amon g its man y appeal s for funds, some were writte n in whole or in par t by Auden On e flyer, date d 1 Februar y 1935 an d heade d "URGENT" , was an appea l for subscription s Th e appeal, signed by th e Group' s treasurer , Isobe l Scaife, was followed by unsigne d verses almos t certainl y th e work of Auden Th e initia l lette r of each line was printe d in red in orde r to encapsulat e th e Group' s urgen t message

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497

Poor a n d Prosperous, Pert a n d Proud Living in o u r land a n d loving laughter Ever so often we have asked your help Anxiously we ask for we have had n o answer Send us your SUBSCRIPTION as swift as the swallow Easing o u r overdraft T h e y ' r e o u r only income Pull o u r your purse then, pay or we perish Act on the instant, your onus is ours You shall not h u n g e r at the harvest your efforts yield The programmes for the "First Group Theatre Season (the only full one), at the Westminster Theatre in 1935-36, included short statements by different authors under the general heading "I Want the Theatre to Be " Auden wrote the first of these, for the programme for Sweeney Agonistes and The Dance of Death, 1 October 1935 Transcribed from Auden s manuscript (now in the Berg Collection), it reads D r a m a began as the act of a whole community Ideally there would be no spectators In practice every m e m b e r of the audience should feel like an understudy D r a m a is essentially an art of the body T h e basis of acting is acrobatics, dancing, a n d all forms of physical skill T h e Music Hall, the Christmas Pdntomime, a n d the country house charade are the most living d r a m a of to-day T h e development of the film has deprived d r a m a of any excuse for being documentary It is not in its n a t u r e to provide an ignorant a n d passive spectator with exciting news T h e subject of D r a m a on the other hand, is the Commonly Known, the universally familiar stories of the society or generation in which it is written T h e audience, like the child listening to the fairy tale, ought to know what is going to h a p p e n next Similarly the d r a m a is not suited to the analysis of character, which is the province of the novel Dramatic characters are simplified, easily recognizable, a n d over-life size Dramatic speech should have the same compressed, significant, a n d undocumentary character, as dramatic movement D r a m a in fact deals with the general and universal, not with the particular a n d local, but it is probable that d r a m a can only deal, directly at any

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rate , with th e relation s of h u m a n being s with eac h other , no t with th e relation s o f M a n t o th e rest of n a t u r e * In Decembe r 1935 an d Januar y 1936 Auden worked closely with th e Grou p in its productio n of The Dog Beneath the Skin, again addin g dialogu e an d rewritin g scenes In Jun e 1936, in th e first of seven issues of th e Group Theatre Paper, th e follow ing articl e appeare d above Auden s initial s The text has been edite d from Au den s manuscript , now in th e possession of Joh n Johnso n SELLIN G TH E GROU P THEATR E Art is of secondar y importanc e c o m p a r e d with th e basic need s of H u n g e r a n d Love , b u t it is no t therefor e necessaril y a dispensabl e luxur y It s powe r t o d e e p e n u n d e r s t a n d i n g , t o enlarg e sympathy , to strengthe n th e will t o actio n and , last b u t no t least, t o entertain , give it a n honourabl e functio n in an y p r o p e r communit y T h e conten t a n d structur e of social life affect th e conten t a n d structur e of art , a n d ar t onl y become s decaden t an d a luxur y articl e whe n ther e is n o living relatio n betwee n th e two Bu t becaus e of natura l lazines s an d th e frictio n of opposin g a n d vested interests , developmen t in art , as in society , is no t a purel y unconsciou s proces s tha t h a p p e n s automaticall y I t ha s to be willed, it ha s to be fough t for Experiment s hav e to be made , a n d t r u t h a n d ei ro r discovere d in thei r makin g An experimenta l theatr e o u g h t t o be r e g a r d e d as as norma l a n d useful a featur e of m o d e r n life as a n experimenta l laborator y I n bot h cases no t every e x p e r i m e n t will be a success, t h a t shoul d neithe r be expecte d no r desired , for m u c h is learne d fro m failure , but , in its successes i m p o r t a n t avenue s of developmen t ma y be o p e n e d out , whic h woul d no t otherwis e hav e bee n notice d Researc h scientist s kno w ho w difficult it is to get s u p p o r t for thei r work, unles s immediat e result s of commercia l o r militar y advantag e ar e forthcomin g An d if scientist s find it difficult, ho w m u c h worse is it for artists , sinc e mos t hav e faith in science , a n d very few in ar t I t is all th e m o r e necessar y t h e n to remin d thos e who recogniz e th e value of a n experimenta l theatr e like th e G r o u p T h e a t r e tha t suc h a the atr e d e p e n d s o n thei r support , tha t thei r n u m b e r s ar e small, a n d tha t the y c a n n o t leave th e s u p p o r t to th e o t h e r m a n D u r i n g th e last year, th e G r o u p T h e a t r e ha s p r o d u c e d t h r e e e x p e n * Ί hroug h misreading s of th e manuscrip t th e printe d text of th e secon d to last par a graph read s confessed instea d of compresse d an d th e last paragrap h read s at any rat e directl y instea d of directl y at any rat e

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mental plays, The Dance of Death, The Dog Beneath the Skin, and Fulgens and Lucrece—plays which would not have been handled by the West End or Repertory Theatres; a n d the interest, even passion, aroused by these productions, not only in England, but in America and elsewhere, have m o r e than justified them. So m u c h for the past. In addition to our other activities we are embarking on some new ones. In o r d e r to keep our members in touch not only with o u r own productions but also with any others of special interest, in England or elsewhere, we intend to issue a periodical Bulletin. In addition to news a n d articles on theatrical matters, we h o p e to publish extracts from members' plays. Similarly, with a view to broadening our outlook and contacts, we have j o i n e d the New T h e a t r e League, an association of Dramatic Societies, which will attempt to pool experiences, and co-operate in the organisation of audiences. Finally we are forming a Film G r o u p , u n d e r the direction of Mr Basil Wright of the G.P.O. Film Unit, for showing films of particular interest, a n d ultimately, we h o p e , with a view to making them. Such then are o u r activities, and we do not think that there is another theatrical organisation of this kind in England, which offers ones so many a n d so various. Naturally we think t h e m worth while or we shouldn't d o them. If you don't, come a n d see o u r next production. If you do, then r e m e m b e r that, like everything else in this world, they cost money, and that money does not fall out of heaven, but can only come out of the pockets of those who think as you do. T h e r e f o r e please support the G r o u p T h e a t r e yourself, both financially by subscription a n d actively by patronising its performances, and get others to d o the same. T h a n k you.* Auden made a more desperate and threatening appeal five months later. It appeared in the programme for the Group's production of the Agamemnon of Aeschylus, translated by Louis MacNeice, which opened at the Westminster Theatre on 1 November 1936. ARE YOU D I S S A T I S F I E D W I T H T H I S

PERFORMANCE?

Quite possibly. T h e chorus have rehearsed altogether about three times. Why? Because the actors have had to go to paid engagements. However * In the printed text the opening paragraph omits the word "proper", the sixth paragraph lists four experimental plays, including Sweeney Agontstes, and the third paragraph from the end concludes " this kind in England, activities so many and various " The printed text also shows various obvious misreadings of Auden's hand

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kee n a n acto r ma y be o n a part , h e mus t live. Seven m e n participat e in th e chorus . Seventee n differen t actor s have rehearse d in it. T h e G r o u p T h e a t r e ha s certai n initia l advantages . I t ha s playwright s wh o wish to write plays for it, painter s wh o wish t o design for it, compos er s who wish t o compos e for it. Bu t it suffers u n d e r an overwhelmin g disadvantage . I t ha s to o little cash . T h e r e ar e actor s who woul d like t o play for it, I F the y coul d afford it. T h e r e ar e all th e possibilitie s h e r e for a vital theatre , neithe r drawing r o o m d r a m a , n o r somethin g privat e a n d arty , bu t a social force . We hav e a lot t o learn , b u t ar e willing, we think , t o d o so if we get th e righ t sup port . Unfortunatel y th e ar t of th e theatr e differs fro m literatur e o r paint in g o r music , in tha t it ca n no t be create d by on e o r two peopl e in a room . I t is extremel y expensive . I t ca n go a certai n way o n m e m b e r s h i p of a clu b principle , bu t onl y a certai n way, a n d th e G r o u p T h e a t r e ha s gon e as far as it ca n alon g thes e lines. O f cours e th e greate r th e m e m b e r s h i p th e better . Ge t everyon e you ca n to join . B u t we n e e d somethin g m o r e t h a n that . T h e G r o u p T h e a t r e personne l ca n no t work an y longe r withou t money . We appea l for a p a t r o n o r patrons , for a perso n o r persons , who car e abou t th e t h e a t r e a n d feel tha t wha t we ar e tryin g t o d o is wort h doing , a n d feel tha t sufficientl y strongly , to mak e it, by thei r persona l help , possible for u s t o d o it, a n d mak e a p e r m a n e n t theatre. * Th e productio n of th e Agamemnon mad e use of masks, which Auden explaine d an d defende d in th e fifth numbe r of th e Group Theatre Paper, in Novembe r 1936: A M O D E R N US E O F MASK S An

Apologia

Everythin g we do , everythin g we thin k o r feel modifie s o u r bodies . Start in g as babie s with almos t unlimite d potentia l characters , with every choic e we make , th e futur e possibilitie s becom e m o r e limite d unti l th e individua l is m o r e o r less fixed a n d m o r e o r less unique . Thi s uniquenes s of characte r is reflecte d in a physica l uniqueness , a n d becaus e we wear clothes , we j u d g e peopl e by thei r faces. F u r t h e r m o r e , we all possess, to a greate r o r less degree , th e powe r of posing , th e powe r of adoptin g a n o t h e r character , a n d th e greate r th e powe r t o d o this , th e m o r e powe r we have to chang e o u r faces. * Reprinte d from th e printe d programm e Ί he phras e in th e fourt h paragraph , "on mem bershi p of a club principle" , shoul d perhap s be understoo d as "on th e membership-of-a-clu b principle" .

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It is on the recognition of this relation of the psychical and the physical that the use of the mask in the theatre depends. Taken for granted in the theatre of classical times and the modern circus, it has disappeared in the realistic prose drama, because in the latter almost the whole of the effects are confined to the conversation. The physical attractions and repulsions of the star actors are only their own. They have nothing to do with the play as a play—(farcical characters, of course, by violent make-up, extraordinary clothes, and a comedian's particular talent for distorting his face have always retained physical methods of expression.) The mask then is an attempt on the part of the painter to reinforce and parallel the intellectual effects of the writer, by physical effects which are independent of the particular actors. In the cinema, close-ups, angle shots, and special lighting can do the same thing with the faces of the actors themselves, but in the theatre the great distance between the audience and the actor makes the mask necessary. All art implies selection. Just as the dramatist limits the behaviour and conversation of his characters to the particular end in view, so the maskmaker selects from many facial characteristics the one to which he wishes to draw attention. A mask can be realistic but only in a limited way. Owing to its immobility it must be exaggerated or satirised. Even if the mask is a three quarter mask, as used by the Group Theatre in its productions of Sweeney Agonistes and The Dog Beneath the Skin, the same is true, because of the use which the actor normally makes of his forehead. Incidentally, the masks in these two plays illustrate two opposite uses. In The Dog they were used to exaggerate the obvious, to make the hotel inmates, for example, look more like Hotel Inmates, to emphasize the normal vision. In Sweeney, on the other hand, they were used to reveal the real character behind the actual face, the contrast between inner reality and what we show the world, the hidden terrors behind the normal everyday expression, mask if you like, which meets us as we walk about the streets. Fantastic masks, like those of a Christmas party, or the animal masks in the Group Theatre's production of the Agamemnon, are used for decoration and strangeness; like posing in real life they are play and fancy. Lastly, the chorus masks in Agamemnon show the use of masks for special effects. In presenting a Greek play to a modern audience without a classical education, one of the difficulties of the producer is to prevent the audience regarding it as a quaint costume piece of purely archaeological interest. Just as the Greek has to be translated into modern English, so the visual effects have similarly to be translated. The chorus masks in

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c o m b i n a t i o n w i t h t h e m o d e r n j a c k e t s a r e i n t e n d e d t o give a n effect timeles s formality ,

of

t h e maskin g resemblin g a leade d h e a d in a staine d

glass w i n d o w * Despit e A u d e n ' s apologia , t h e cellophan e mask s use d in th e Agamemnon prove d unsatisfactor y e n o u g h t o be a b a n d o n e d afte r th e first nigh t O n e consequenc e of th e failur e of th e Group' s effort s t o find financial s u p p o r t was its transformatio n fro m a continuin g compan y u n d e r t h e contro l of R u p e r t D o o n e t o loose congerie s o f artist s b r o u g h t togethe r for particula r production s Fo r t h e p r o d u c t i o n of The Ascent ofF6 in Februar y 1937, for example , th e G r o u p T h e a t r e o p e r a t e d "in association ' with Ashley Dukes , wh o hire d t h e actors , arr a n g e d for t h e scener y a n d costumes , pai d a royalt y to t h e authors , a n d m a n a g e d th e p e r f o r m i n g right s Th e interna l dissensio n in t h e G r o u p , neve r far from th e surface , cam e t o a hea d d u r i n g t h e s u m m e r of 1937, whe n A u d e n an d Isherwood , afte r a n n o u n c i n g thei r intentio n t o a r r a n g e a commercia l productio n of thei r nex t play, On the Frontier, in t h e West E n d , agree d t o let it be p r o d u c e d by a reorganize d G r o u p T h e a t r e in whic h D o o n e share d powe r with other s Th e ne w organizatio n tha t e m e r g e d shortl y afterwar d h a d six directors , with Doon e as directo r for production , Step h e n S p e n d e r as literar y director , Benjami n Britte n an d Bria n Easdal e as direc tor s of music , a n d Rober t Medle y a n d J o h n Pipe r as director s of deco r (Se e th e note s t o On the Frontier, ρ 653 ) A u d e n a n d Isherwoo d too k n o par t in t h e ne w organizationa l scheme , a n d in Novembe r 1937 Isherwoo d signalled his opinio n of Doone' s directorshi p in th e titl e of a lectur e h e gave at th e G r o u p Theatr e r o o m s " T h e Min d in Chains , o r Drama-Writin g for D o o n e " J Μ Keyne s m a n a g e d t h e practica l aspect s of th e productio n of On the Frontier at t h e Art s T h e a t r e , Cambridge , in Novembe r 1938 Bot h A u d e n a n d Isherwoo d a t t e n d e d rehearsals , bu t A u d e n seem s t o have left mos t of th e revision t o Isher woo d T h e two a u t h o r s di d thei r last work for th e G r o u p , a revision of th e final scen e for The Ascent of F6, a r o u n d J u n e 1939, afte r the y ha d left Englan d for Americ a Th e G r o u p T h e a t r e cam e t o an e n d shortl y afte r th e outbrea k of war in 1939 a l t h o u g h t h e n a m e was revived in 1950, as G r o u p T h e a t r e Production s Lt d A u d e n decline d t o translat e Brecht' s Mother Courage for thi s postwa r G r o u p , whic h hel d t h e right s t o Brecht' s pla y for several years H e translate d Coctea u s The Knights of the Round Table in 1951 partl y with a view t o a productio n by t h e ne w G r o u p T h e a t r e , bu t thes e plan s fell t h r o u g h , an d t h e translatio n was first p r o d u c e d by t h e BBC * In th e Group Theatre Paper this articl e was unsigne d But a similar version of th e text appeare d in The Times 27 Octobe r 193b (early edition s only) precede d by th e statemen t tha t Mr W Η Auden th e poe t an d playwright has written th e following not e abou t th e use of masks in th e production s of th e Grou p 1 heatr e I he version in The Times is slightly abridged presumabl y by an edito r an d has slightly mor e norma l punctuatio n On e varian t in it tha t probabl y reflects Auden s origina l text is in th e first sentenc e of th e last paragrap h Th e choru s masks in Agamemnon will show I he Group Theatre Paper omitte d will presumabl y becaus e th e productio n was no longer in th e futur e

APPENDI X IV

Aude n an d Theatr e at th e Down s Schoo l IN HI S work as a schoolmaste r Auden foun d frequen t opportunitie s to tur n his dramati c theorie s to practica l effect At Larchfiel d Academy , in Helensburgh , where he taugh t from th e summe r ter m of 1930 throug h th e summe r ter m of 1932, he seems to have don e little mor e tha n organiz e a mummers ' play in De cembe r 1930 an d compos e a brief play, Sherlock Holmes Chez Duhamel, which was performe d by th e fifth form on 25 Jun e 1931 (Thi s lost play, apparentl y designed to display th e boys' prowess in French , portraye d a visit by Holme s to Franc e an d th e attitude s of th e Frenc h towar d Holmes' s method s ) But at th e Down s School , nea r Colwall, where he taugh t from th e autum n ter m of 1932 throug h th e summe r ter m of 1935 an d again in th e summe r ter m of 1937, he organize d production s tha t grew mor e elaborat e an d extravagan t every year The Down s Schoo l magazin e reporte d tha t aroun d Decembe r 1932, as par t of a schoo l entertainmen t in aid of th e Hafor d Schoo l in th e Rhondd a Valley, "Mr Auden got u p a ghost play, with an entranc e fee of 2d It was a great success" (The Badger, Sprin g 1933, ρ 24) I n Decembe r 1933, at th e Downs ' Christma s Sing-Song , again in aid of th e Rhondd a fund , he produce d Cocteau' s Orphee (pre sumabl y in th e translatio n by Car l Wildman publishe d earlier tha t year), takin g his cast from th e school' s sixth form Fo r th e Easte r Sing-Son g in Marc h 1934, he produce d an adaptatio n of The Deluge from th e Cheste r Myster y Plays, in a version probabl y no t unlik e th e on e performe d th e previou s mont h by th e Grou p Theatr e on th e same bill as The Dance of Death (The Badger describe d th e adaptatio n as Auden's , which may well have been tru e even thoug h th e Grou p Theatre' s version apparentl y containe d little of his work, see Appendi x III , above ) Muc h of th e schoo l too k part , th e full cast numberin g fifty-eight Bedsheet s were drape d over th e junio r boys, who rushe d u p an d down to represen t th e waves Auden , hidde n on a platfor m above th e stage, spoke th e par t of Go d An accoun t of th e productio n appear s in The Badger, Sprin g 1934, pp 49-50 Auden' s most elaborat e productio n was th e "Revue" he organize d for th e Downs ' Christma s Sing-Son g in Decembe r 1934 Auden wrote th e music as well as th e lyrics, an d organize d a productio n tha t include d th e entir e schoo l an d staff—"cast of abou t 113", as he wrote his friend Arnold Snodgras s H e dictate d th e tune s to Alexandr a Feild (th e wife of th e Downs ' art maste r Mauric e Feild) , who provide d harmon y She later recalle d some of th e songs from memor y for this editio n Auden accompanie d at th e pian o wheneve r he was no t on stage Th e programm e distribute d at th e performanc e read s

504

THEATR E AT TH E DOWN S SCHOO L Programm e 10 o'c[lock ] Schola r 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Life in th e Ra w Swedish Danc e I n Quarantin e Pedagogi c Passio n Runnin g Commentar y Bonjou r me s Enfant s Interva l Ne w Boy T h e Figh t for th e Cabbag e Duches s of Mai n T h e Ol d Schoo l Ti e R h o n d d a Moo n 8 12

Thes e scene s were precede d by an openin g choru s (printe d below) Most of th e revue is lost or forgotten—o i survives only in draft s wutte n in Au den' s most illegible han d in a manuscrip t noteboo k now at th e Harr y Ranso m Humanitie s Researc h Cente r at th e Universit y of Texas at Austin Som e of th e scene s listed on th e programm e can no longer be identifie d at all Christophe r Pinsent , a pupi l at th e Down s at th e time , suggests tha t Auden probabl y ha d little to do with item 2, tha t item 4 may have include d th e Hobbie s song (printe d below), an d tha t item 6 presumabl y include d th e first act final choru s (printe d below) Ite m 8 was a shor t play largely written by th e boys in a junio r form Ite m 9 was th e scene in Webster's play in which th e Duches s is strangled , Auden include d it in th e 1935 antholog y The Poet's Tongue, which he edited , with Joh n Garrett , for use in school s Ite m 10 was a verse monologue , in five stanza s of eight lines each , tha t survives only as a draft in th e noteboo k in Texas In item 11 Auden , in a dress an d a wig, rod e on stage on a bicycle (to th e delight of his pupils) an d sang th e "Rhondd a Moon " song printe d below, Auden used anothe r version of th e song in The Dog Beneath the Skin * Ite m 12 evidentl y include d th e final choru s printe d below "8 12" allude s to th e 8 12 trai n leaving Colwall for Malvern , Worcester , Oxford , an d Londo n on th e last mornin g of ter m In additio n to "Rhondd a Moon " Auden adapte d two othe r songs from th e revue for The Dog Beneath the Skin, an d used all thre e in th e Nineve h Hote l scene in II I 2 Th e Nineve h Girls ' choru s is a resexed version of a choru s tha t in Auden' s * Rober t Medley, Christophe r Pinsen t and other s suggest that the setting for this song in the revue was the same setting used in Dogskin and that the music was compose d like the othe r music for the play by Herber t Murril l Ί he setting is clearly more sophisticate d than the othe r surviving settings from the revue but since Murril l did not begin work on Dogskm until almost a year afterward, his contributio n seems doubtfu l Possibly he set the song for the revue at Auden s request

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505

draft noteboo k apparentl y precede d th e Openin g Choru s for th e revue, printe d below Madam e Bubbi's song is also derived from a song in th e revue Both original versions survive as largely illegible draft s in th e noteboo k in Texas Som e othe r (unidentifiable ) draft s of songs written for th e revue are also in this note book Th e song texts are based mostly on versions provide d by Mauric e an d Alexandr a Feild , an d have been collate d with th e earlier draft versions in Auden' s note book Th e thre e brief pieces tha t I have arbitraril y titled "Self-Portraits " are tran scribed from th e noteboo k I have adde d th e last six lines of "Rhondd a Moon " from th e version in th e notebook , an d have provide d speech heading s for th e final choru s Th e accoun t of th e productio n by A[ustin] Wfright] in The Badger, Sprin g 1935, ρ 19, conclude s tha t "Ou r only regret is tha t ther e is no manuscrip t of th e revue an d tha t it must fade as ou r memor y dim s " The obviously topica l reference s in th e songs are to peopl e an d thing s at th e schoo l " Tubby" was th e workin g scale-mode l steam engin e for th e miniatur e railway on th e schoo l ground s "Mr Booge" was a maste r name d Ε C Coxwell, who had played th e par t of "Booge" in an earlier Down s sing-son g "Marriage " an d "Bowes", in th e final chorus , were th e name s of pupil s (Joh n Bowes wrote th e verse tha t Auden used as th e epigrap h for The Chase ) Ruper t Doon e teporte d th e scene written by th e boys, "Th e Figh t for th e Cabbage", in a lette r to Joh n Johnso n on 18 Decembe r 1934 I went down to see Wystan's schoo l play, which I enjoyed very muc h indeed , an d I thin k I learne d thing s besides, from th e children , especially in a shor t play tha t Wystan said the y mad e u p themselve s I must say it bor e an uncom mo n resemblanc e to a "Folk Play", so on e can take it tha t th e "master " guided the m It was abou t a cabbage, an d a tree , an d a king an d his son, an d a giant an d a docto r an d an attendan t an d a princes s an d fathe r Xmas an d a har e an d an d an d But very charmingl y don e [quote d by Rober t Medle y in Drawn from the Life, 1983, pp 152-53 ] [FRO M

TH E REVUL ]

Opening Chorus That' s enoug h No w we're off Will thos e with cold s tr y no t to coug h We welcom e you to-nigh t Bryansto n A n d Leighto n Park , Bootham , All school s of m a r k Boys a n d staff

506

T H E A T R E AT T H E DOWN S S C H O O L

Hal f an d half We hop e to mak e you cry an d laugh Here' s the n to your delight Self-Portraits I'm th e hea d of my house , my word is law T o fifty othe r boys or mor e When I have finished with these I shall go to th e colonie s I've got th e face of an angel I've got blue eyes But if you knew th e thing s I do , It migh t well surprise And where ignoranc e is bliss, my dea r It' s folly to be wise I'm a big bad boy I he, I chea t I overea t Bullying junior s is my joy Ο what a trea t To pull thei r hai r To mak e the m fear Mak e the m despai r If master s stare I don' t car e I'm a big bad boy Hobbies Pay your tuppenc e an d take your ride Tubb y will shake you up inside Th e greatest fun, it can' t be denie d Is engineerin g Hav e you rente d an empt y flat? Th e carpenter s will furnish tha t With chair s on which Mr Booge has sat Or a dum b waiter

T H E A T R E AT T H E DOWNS S C H O O L

Can you tell a swallow in flight An Emperor Moth from a Cabbage White Or a Christmas Rose from an aconite? See Natural History. Are you a scoffer? Are you one Who can't believe till you see it done? Come to the Art Room and see your son Paint like Picasso. First Act Final Chorus [Sung by boys looking from tram windows.] We are just the common lot We come, we go, and are forgot Not too good, and not too bad Not too happy, not too sad, We shan't care who falls or rules We shall sit every morning on our office stools, Return every evening to rather plain wives And play for safety all our lives. [Full chorus.] All over Europe Tough dictators shout But at last, as in the past Time shall find them out. So if you're bored, dear listeners, You need not leave the hall We make our bow for it is now The Interval. New Boy New boy, O, it's hard to be a new boy To be no better than a Jew boy Strange terrifying faces Come and ask me my name Until in a corner I hide for shame

507

508

T H E A T R E AT T H E DOWN S S C H O O L

Just a don' t know-what-to-d o boy At a Publi c School . Mothe r O, I want to be with Mothe r Fo r I haven' t any brothe r I feel so lonely I feel empt y inside But fathe r said, remembe r Ho w Nelso n died So thes e feelings I mus t smothe r At a Publi c School . Rhondda Moon On th e Rhondd a My tim e I squande r Waiting for my mine r boy. H e may be roug h an d toug h But be sure he is ho t stuff. H e is slender , to me tender , He' s my only joy. Lovers' meeting , Lovers' greeting , Ο his arm s will be abou t me soon . Fo r I am growing fonde r Ou t yonde r as I wande r And I ponde r 'neat h a Rhondd a moon . Final Chorus BOYS.

Holiday s

Jolly days N o mor e melanchol y days Freedo m is almos t her e Present s for me an d you Turkeys , plum pudding s too Chocolat e bars Ride s in cars Pantomime s an d cinema s Christma s come s onc e a year.

T H E A T R E AT T H E DOWNS S C H O O L MASTERS.

Boys we disparage Boys like Marriage Disappear in a railway carriage, The clever with the dumb. Paris Or Budapest Munich And all the rest Some like this Some like that No one knows what we'll be at Whoopee The cheques have come.

ALL.

There's the flag Now let's rag Bowes has gone and lost his bag, It's great to be alive. Farewell To one and all Happiness To big and small Lots of fun To everyone And before our show is done Good luck To Thirty-five.

509

APPENDIX V

Two Reported Lectures Two OF the occasional lectures Auden delivered in the 1930s on poetry and the dramatic arts have been preserved in reported versions The first, on "Poetry and Film", was delivered probably around January or February of 1936 to the North London Film Society; the report reprinted below appeared in the second (and last) number of the little magazine Janus, May 1936 The second, on " The Future of English Poetic Drama", was delivered in Pans at the Sorbonne on 8 December 1938 to the Association France-Grande Bretagne, at the invitation of its Comite des Relations Intellectuelles The lecture was reported in the Association's journal France—Grande Bretagne, July-August 1939, under the title "The Outlook for 'Poetic Drama' " The text of "Poetry and Film" (subtitled "an authorized report of a lecture to the North London Film Society") seems reasonably accurate, and I have made only trivial emendations In contrast, the French reporter of Auden's talk on poetic drama seems to have been baffled by his speaking style and Oxonian accent, the published text contains some garbled and nonsensical passages that I have emended as best I could Some of the emendations are, by necessity, drastic For example, the reported text has Auden allude to modern studies of culture, such as "Middleton's ' The Links' " No such study exists, and Auden's reference was probably to "the Lynds' Middletown" or "Middletown by the Lynds" (In The Double Man two years later, he quoted from Middletown in Transition, the sequel by Robert S Lynd and Helen Merrell Lynd to their earlier study, Middletown ) Some of the garbled passages I have let stand, but a bracketed "'" marks the points where confusion seems greatest I am unable to make anything satisfactory out of one especially defective sentence in a generally confused passage about dramatic characters—a sentence that in the printed text begins "It is no use calling them, striving in a ravel for something you cannot arouse people's interest, unless those people are real characters " Possibly Auden meant to convey something rather like this "It is no use calling them [by allegorical or collective names like] 'Striving' or 'Rabble' or something, you cannot arouse people's interest unless those people are real characters " Many of the obscure and awkward sections of the text may in fact be accurate transcriptions of Auden's partly improvised lecture, so I have not tried to clean up the informalities of his syntax But I have silently corrected evident errors in transcription, altered and added punctuation for the sake of clarity, and, where the emendation seems doubtful, added or substituted words or parts of words within square brackets I have also added some footnotes This lecture, delivered a few weeks before Auden left England for America, is Auden's retrospective farewell to the dramatic work of his English years, and even a badly defective text is preferable to none at all

TWO REPORTED LECTURES

511

P O E T R Y AND F I L M [1936]

The Industrial Revolution was responsible for the formation of two classes; a class of people composed of employers and employed, those actively employed in industry, and a class of people living apart from industry but supported by its profits—the rentier class. A distinct type of art arose more or less representative of the outlook of this section of public, developing through Cezanne, Proust and Joyce. But co-existent with this rentier art was the art of the masses expressing itself in the musichall. This popular art of the music-hall has been taken over and supplanted by the film. The film's essential factor is its power to concentrate on detail. The stage has to confine itself to stylised make-up, broad gestures and generalised presentation, on account of the distance separating audience from the scene; but the film, by means of the moving camera, close-ups, etc., can characterise its material more thoroughly and minutely without fear of the effect being lost on the audience. If a peasant is photographed at work in a meadow the scene is definite because it is localised naturally by the visual detail present in the shots. To show a similar scene on stage requires a much more broad effect. The film gives the concrete visual fact, while the stage gives an idea, a suggestion, of the fact. Certain disadvantages and advantages result from the second essential characteristic of the film—its continuous forward movement in time. Owing to this particular movement, the success of an attempt to convey factual information by means of film is doubtful. If a suitable test [were] carried out as to the relative educational value of film or book, it would prove films to be valuable as stimulants of interest, but not as substitutes for the kind of factual instruction that a book or a teacher can give. Another danger for the film to guard against is preoccupation with types; for types are generalisations of people and such generalisation does not give a film a chance to use its special power of selecting and emphasising detail to build up a complete character. It is the essence of the camera that it deals with the immediate present. For this reason, a third mistake for films to make is to try to deal with historical material. The proper concern of film is the building up of a general impression by means of particular detail; the analysis of character; and the material that contemporary life offers. The use of sound raises the question of the relation of visual images to word images. The visual image is a definite one, whereas verbal images are not sharp; they have auras of meaning. A visual image cannot be made to mean a number of things, nor can a word image be confined to

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TWO REPORTE D LECTURE S

on e thin g Fo r thi s reason , highly develope d metaphor s canno t be include d in th e film mediu m Where ther e is a combine d image, e g — "Beauty's ensign yet Is crimso n in thy lips an d in thy cheeks , And death' s pale flag is no t advance d there" , th e differen t images would have to be split u p for film presentation , an d th e resultin g effect would be mor e in th e natur e of a simile By puttin g two shot s side by side, a furnac e can be likene d to a chess-ma n But to get over an abstrac t idea, as distinc t from a visual similarity, th e soun d trac k would have to hold th e abstractio n as complemen t of th e concret e visual image In th e him , The Scottish Mailbag [1 e , Night Mail] (on which Mr Auden has recentl y been working) a shot of mail-bag s is accompanie d by th e words, "listen to th e postman' s knock , for who can bear to feel himsel f forgotten " Becaus e th e soun d sense an d th e visual sense of a film have a direc t relatio n to each other , an audienc e finds it easy to follow an intricat e visual continuit y providin g th e soun d doe s no t mak e too man y demand s on its attentio n But a stron g soun d image adde d to a stron g visual image tend s to cance l ou t