1Same scene 9 A.M. next morning.
Discovered at rise of curtain. CROWLEY coming downstairs.
He is in white flannel trousers, pumps, and grey tweed coat with cricket scarf round the neck. As CROWLEY comes downstairs whistling, GOLDBY enters from door up L. He has the morning papers on his arm.
CROWLEY: Hallo, Goldby! Full of runs?
GOLDBY: Oh, my lord, I’d rather not play to-day. My nerves are all shook, and I never was a masterpiece at it.
CROWLEY: Rot! You’ll flick ’em all over the parish. Breakfast going?
GOLDBY: In a minute, my lord.
CROWLEY: Who’s down?
GOLDBY: Mr. Bedford was down before me, my lord. Mr. Raffles and Mr. Manders are on the terrace with his lordship.
CROWLEY: Manders! I’ll stay where I am.
GOLDBY: Thank you, my lord.
(GOLDBY exits. Enter BEDFORD windows in immaculate morning dress.)
BEDFORD: Oh! Good morning, Lord Crowley.
CROWLEY: I hear you were an early bird- wonder what’s happened to the worm.
BEDFORD: I have still to gather my worm, Lord Crowley.
CROWLEY: You really think he had nothing to do with the Cracksman?
BEDFORD: Crawshay? I don’t think about him at all. I know all about him, as a dangerous criminal of the old school, as different from the man I want as a blunderbuss from a Mauser.
CROWLEY: But it seems such a coincidence- quite unique.
BEDFORD: So I thought until I saw the perfectly priceless specimen of the antique British constable who took Crawshay into custody. Then I could understand this neighbourhood being a happy hunting-ground for all sorts and conditions of crooks.
(Enter LORD AMERSTETH from window.)
LORD AMERSTETH: Good morning, Mr. Bedford. Ah, Monty I wish you would help me to dissuade Raffles -he’s going up to town.
CROWLEY: To town- to-day? He’s quite unique! Why, we’ve no one else to bowl!
CROWLEY: Try myself at one end? Good idea! What train does he want to catch?
GWENDOLINE (goes to LORD AMERSTETH and kisses him): Good morning everybody! Who’s catching trains?
LORD AMERSTETH: I am, for one.
GWENDOLINE: Not, you, Mr. Bedford?
BEDFORD: Don’t know so much about trains, guess I shall be fully occupied endeavouring to catch some person unknown.
GWENDOLINE: But you’ll miss that match; it’s our eleven with A.J. Raffles, against what ought to be another village club; but they’ve scoured half the country for their side, and much good it’ll do them against our A.J.
BEDFORD: Exceedingly sorry -fear I shan’t see it.
ETHEL: You must see Mr. Raffles.
LORD AMERSTETH: I’m sorry to say it’s a question whether any of us will see Raffles in his element to-day.
(Enter MRS. VIDAL downstairs.)
CROWLEY: Never mind, you’ll see me. I’m goin’ to have a bowl, girls, I’m goin’ to have a bowl!
ETHEL: Heaven help us! Why?
CROWLEY: Raffles has got to go up to town – I’ve just looked up his train. (Throws time-table on table.)
(Enter RAFFLES through window- not in flannels.)
GWENDOLINE: Mr. Raffles?
ETHEL: To town?
RAFFLES: Oh, there you are! Crowley, I’m awfully sorry, but I’m afraid I must ask you to find a sub. for me to-day. (Goes to GWENDOLINE and shakes hands with her.)
CROWLEY (rises): Never mind, old chap! Train goes 12.30.Not too much time.
(Swings right arm as though bowling, meets MRS. VIDAL at foot of stairs and shakes hands with her, then bowls again.)
ETHEL: Dad, let me have my necklace out of the safe, please.
(LORD AMERSTETH goes to safe, taking out his keys.)
Oh, Mr. Raffles, think of the runs you would have made!
GWENDOLINE: And the wickets you would have taken.
RAFFLES: Well, you never know.
MRS. VIDAL (shakes hands with RAFFLES): I understand, Mr. Raffles, after last night, an honest game of cricket would fall rather flat.
(MRS. VIDAL shakes hands with GWENDOLINE – then ETHEL. CROWLEY practises bowling.)
RAFFLES: The finest contrast in the world- as a matter of fact a hard day’s cricket would be the very thing.
BEDFORD: Didn’t you sleep well last night?
RAFFLES: Never better in my life. It would take more than the clumsy attempt of a pro. like Crawshay to keep me awake.
BEDFORD: It was deuced clumsy.
(LORD AMERSTETH opens safe, hands necklace to ETHEL who takes it and twists coral necklace round her arm.)
LORD AMERSTETH: I really wish my safe might have had a test.
(CROWLEY bowls. MANDERS appears outside window. ETHEL talks to him, shakes hands.)
RAFFLES: I’m only sorry to have to go, though by the look of the sky I shall be surprised if there’s much play to-day.
MRS. VIDAL: I said so.
CROWLEY: Oh, but you’re all unique! (Practising below stairs.) I’m goin’ to have a bowl.
LORD AMERSTETH (taking jewel-case from safe, opens it): Bedford!
BEDFORD: Nothing wrong, I hope?
LORD AMERSTETH: The jewels!
(ETHEL down to back of LORD AMERSTETH. MRS. VIDAL to L. of RAFFLES. CROWLEY stops bowling abruptly. GWENDOLINE rises. Enter MANDERS from window, semi-flannels4, goes down stage above LORD AMERSTETH R. of GWENDOLINE. MANDERS is above ETHEL.)
OMNES: The necklace! What’s wrong- etc.
LORD AMERSTETH: They are gone.
(GWENDOLINE looks sharply at MANDERS, and remains looking at him during the dialogue.)
LORD AMERSTETH: The diamonds – the necklace – it is gone! The case is empty.
(Throws case on table. MRS. VIDAL examines case, looks at RAFFLES.)
CROWLEY: Then Crawshay –
BEDFORD (coolly): No, he didn’t.
(BUNNY comes down to R. of GWENDOLINE at head of table. “All of a sudden Peggy”5 scene. LORD AMERSTETH gets round below piano, crosses to R. of it to get below it.)
CROWLEY: Then who?
BEDFORD (enjoying the situation): The jewels were not in the safe last night.
LORD AMERSTETH: But I-
BEDFORD: Locked up the empty case.
LORD AMERSTETH: I don’t understand.
BEDFORD: Lady Melrose has had the necklace itself in her own keeping all night.
(Sensation for everybody, all laugh.)
I fear I am to blame, Lady Melrose consulted me.
(MRS. VIDAL gives LORD AMERSTETH jewel case and sits on sofa. LORD AMERSTETH opens safe, replaces empty jewel case in safe, leaves bookcase door to safe open.)
CROWLEY: Bit rough on the governor.
ETHEL: He thought it was gone.
GWENDOLINE: Thank Heaven it was not!
RAFFLES: No danger with him in the house. (Jerks head towards BEDFORD, who is standing by fireplace.)
BEDFORD: And the jewels could not have been taken without detection.
CROWLEY: Jolly scare all round- quite unique! and I’m ready for my breakfast.
(Cry from LADY MELROSE’S room. Everybody stops.)
OMNES: What’s that?
(MARIE comes down a few stairs, to widest part of staircase just above landing.)
MARIE: It is milady.
(Enter LADY MELROSE in appropriate negligee; she can hardly speak.)
MRS. VIDAL: Lady Melrose.
ETHEL AND GWENDOLINE: Aunt Jenny.6
LADY MELROSE: The necklace- it is gone!
(This announcement paralyses everyone except BEDFORD -pause.)
BEDFORD: Gone? Impossible?
LADY MELROSE: I locked it up in my jewel case myself; it is gone.7
(MARIE comes down to the landing.)
ETHEL (running to foot of stairs to MARIE, pushes past MARIE, goes upstairs): Marie!
GWENDOLINE: I’ll hunt for it.
(Going up staircase.) It shall be found.
BUNNY: Of course it’ll be found. Crawshay didn’t collar anything and nothing else happened in the night.
GWENDOLINE (turning on landing): How do you know?
BUNNY: I-I- I never slept a wink.
(GWENDOLINE faces BUNNY suddenly. MARIE exits upstairs.)
LORD AMERSTETH: It must be found.
GWENDOLINE: Did you win last night?
BUNNY: No-I-I-I lost.
BEDFORD (his face lighting up as he opens and glances at telegram): Say!
One moment, Lady Melrose, there may be hope.
LADY MELROSE: My necklace!
BEDFORD: Lady Melrose, we may hope for the best, but we musn’t figure on it. The man Crawshay has escaped.8
BEDFORD (exultantly): Got clean away. I judged he might when I handed him over to that obsolete model of an Early Victorian police officer, so I sent my man over to Shillingbridge an hour or two ago to inquire; here’s his telegram- “Crawshay escaped in night- on his tracks, Merton.”
LORD AMERSTETH: I can’t for the life of me see any cause for satisfaction in that.
BEDFORD: No, Lord Amersteth, I guess you can’t, but I can.
LORD AMERSTETH: Well, at any rate, we must search the house.
BEDFORD: No. If you wish me to recover the missing diamonds, I must ask you to leave the field to me during the few minutes I propose to remain in your charming house.
RAFFLES: He’s right, you leave it to him, he knows where they are.
(LORD AMERSTETH bows.)
BEDFORD: That new car of yours, can she travel?
LORD AMERSTETH (sadly, but with humour, shaking his head): My licence was endorsed.9
BEDFORD: I propose to run round in that car.
LORD AMERSTETH: Tell Hardy at once.
GOLDBY: Yes, my lord. (Going.)
BEDFORD: One moment. See that the lower part of the house is closed as at night. Let no person leave the house before I do.
GOLDBY: Very well, sir.
(GOLDBY bows haughtily and exits.)
BEDFORD: Mr. Manders, will you kindly shut that window?
(BUNNY going up to French windows.)
It was open last night.
LORD AMERSTETH: What are we to do?
BEDFORD: Go in to breakfast and give me time to think. May I presume to ask Mr. Raffles to lend me his valuable assistance?
RAFFLES: With the greatest pleasure.
BEDFORD: May I trouble you to set that burglar alarm?
RAFFLES: No trouble – only like locking the stable door behind the stolen steed.
BEDFORD: The thief may still be in the house, or a confederate.
RAFFLES: Ah! or a confederate; I suggest that everybody be put under arrest and searched.
GWENDOLINE: What fun! Turn the cellar into a Black Hole of Calcutta.10
CROWLEY: Make it the wine cellar- and I’m there.
MRS. VIDAL: If you need my assistance
RAFFLES: Thank you, I think not.
(Enter LADY MELROSE.)
LADY MELROSE: They cannot be found. Marie has searched everywhere. What are you going to do?
LORD AMERSTETH: Leave the problem to Mr. Bedford.
LORD AMERSTETH: It’s absolutely astounding!
BEDFORD: Lady Melrose, those jewels shall be returned within twenty-four hours, I promise you. And I never break a promise. (Shakes LADY MELROSE’S hand.)
(During this speech RAFFLES is very busy looking up trains in A.B. C. which is on small table at head of chesterfield.)
LADY MELROSE: Oh! thank you so much.
(Exit MRS. VIDAL, with LADY MELROSE, then BUNNY reassuring her. LORD AMERSTETH at fire.)
RAFFLES: How are you going to keep this one?
BEDFORD: Find the diamonds.
RAFFLES: In twenty-four hours?
BEDFORD: By midnight.
RAFFLES: Mr. Bedford, a charity I’m interested in is sadly in need of funds. I should awfully like to bet you a £100 that you don’t.11
BEDFORD: Not really?
RAFFLES: No-a hundred and fifty- a hundred and fifty pounds that you don’t.
BEDFORD: A hundred’s the rounder sum- (Pauses.)
RAFFLES: I can find a better use for a hundred and fifty. Done?
RAFFLES: You have a clue?
LORD AMERSTETH: Mr. Bedford, you must admit me to your confidence.
BEDFORD: Lord Amersteth, frankly, I’d rather not.
LORD AMERSTETH: Why not?
BEDFORD: Because, for the moment, everybody is a suspect.
(RAFFLES lights and smokes a “Sullivan. “)
LORD AMERSTETH: Ridiculous!
BEDFORD: Pardon me, in the detection of crime nothing is too ridiculous for consideration.
LORD AMERSTETH: But you must have some definite theory.
BEDFORD: Certainly, Crawshay had a confederate inside – another outside – perhaps.
LORD AMERSTETH (pause): But the alarm; it didn’t ring- why?
BEDFORD: It wasn’t on.
LORD AMERSTETH: It was very careless of Crowley.
RAFFLES (concurs): Oh, rotten!
BEDFORD: Lord Crowley was outside; he left the window open.
LORD AMERSTETH: Good heavens! (Rises.) Mr. Bedford! You don’t suspect-
RAFFLES: No! No!
BEDFORD: Ssh! I don’t suspect anybody- or rather, to be frank, I suspect everybody.
LORD AMERSTETH (drawing himself up): Even me?
BEDFORD: Lord Amersteth, if you’d only go in and have your breakfast, you’d be a real help to me.
LORD AMERSTETH: You will confer with me before you act?
BEDFORD: Why certainly.
LORD AMERSTETH: I needn’t tell you, Mr. Bedford, I’d rather replace the jewels than know the truth, if any one belonging to me, or any of my friends were guilty even of complicity in this horrible affair.
BEDFORD: Good! now we’ll get to work!
RAFFLES: Good! Now I shall see your method after all-
BEDFORD: Going to be the jolliest case I ever had. Too clever for a professional like Crawshay, though he has a record. If I hadn’t been on the spot, should have said at once, “The Cracksman!”
RAFFLES (opens cigarette case): Have a “Sullivan?”
BEDFORD: No, thanks; I never smoke when I’m at work.
RAFFLES: I say, where were you when Crawshay entered last night?
BEDFORD: Half asleep in that chair. (Nods to armchair above fire.)
RAFFLES: I didn’t see you.
BEDFORD: I wish you’d do me a favour.
BEDFORD (places armchair like last night facing fire, looks to see by position of library door that it was as last night): Sit in this chair, face to fire. Just for the moment you are Bedford, and I – am Raffles.
RAFFLES: Ambitious part for you.
BEDFORD: We shall see if I’m equal to it. You – came from the library.
RAFFLES: That’s right.
BEDFORD: Curious that I didn’t hear you.
RAFFLES: I was wearing shoes.
BEDFORD: Ah yes! that’s so.
BEDFORD: Standing in front of Lord Amersteth’ s wonderful safe.
RAFFLES: I used to have one like it- not a bit of good.
BEDFORD (whistles as CRAWSHAY did): You must have been here when the whistle came?
RAFFLES: Which one? There were two whistles.
BEDFORD: Oh yes! Quite right – on the second whistle –
RAFFLES: You go quickly up to that window and wait.
(BEDFORD moves up, stops in recess, looks at the window, then at the wall in recess and staircase opposite.)
BEDFORD: There should have been a shadow on that wall.
RAFFLES(at ease in chair, greatly enjoying cigarette and situation): No, I stooped low; the shadow fell on the floor.
RAFFLES: Now- the burglar appears outside the window.
BEDFORD (looking out of window): Which is open-
RAFFLES: Just wide enough to admit him without moving it.
BEDFORD: Still no noise.
RAFFLES: He comes into room- two or three steps; as far, I should say, as the edge of that balustrade, and then-
BEDFORD: One moment-
(He goes outside arranging windows as they were the previous right, comes to window as CRAWSHAY did, advances to edge of balustrade, then looks upstairs, then round to R., where he knows RAFFLES must have been, then with a sudden look at audience, darts a suspicious and searching look at RAFFLES, who is looking into the fire. He has now for the first time connected RAFFLES in his mind with the disappearance of the diamonds, and from this moment he is very wary in his dealings with RAFFLES, suspecting him, but hiding his suspicions from him.)
(Stolidly.) And then? One moment
RAFFLES (turns to him): Oh! let me see- where were we? – oh yes, the burglar is just under edge of the balustrade, and then – he turns to go as he came. Now you’d better be me again.
RAFFLES (rises): The rest is simple. Given the right amount of muscle for a powerful brute like Crawshay, with your knee in the small of his back you catch him by the elbows. Now you call for “lights” and- there you are.
BEDFORD (rubbing his hands): Bully!
RAFFLES: Solved the mystery?
BEDFORD (Pause, slight, to invent false solution): Crawshay had time to throw the jewels through the open window.
RAFFLES: He had to get them first. Well?
BEDFORD: Another confederate inside.
RAFFLES: Who could work it without my seeing. My dear man, you’re off the scent.
RAFFLES: Besides, he had no time to throw anything from the window; I am not so slow as that. Lord Crowley was just outside; he would have seen-
BEDFORD: Exactly! Lord Crowley, he was outside-
RAFFLES: Really, Bedford! Crowley- why you might as well suspect – me!
BEDFORD (looking at him): Someone got the jewels.
GOLDBY: The motor’s at the door, sir.
BEDFORD: Thanks, I shan’t be long.
(Turns, commences writing telegram which is on table.)
RAFFLES: My things gone to the station?
GOLDBY: Yes, sir.
BEDFORD (turns to him): Going on your wheel?
RAFFLES: Yes. Useful old thing, the despised bicycle.
RAFFLES: By the by, Bedford, my rooms are in the Albany; you might look me up and tell me what’s happened!
BEDFORD: Awfully good of you. I’ll take you at your word.
RAFFLES: Do. (Going to dining-room; as he is going he turns and says.) Oh, by the way, good luck! (Makes a face at BEDFORD.)
(Then exits into dining-room. BEDFORD, at his exit, looks off after him, then stands face to audience puzzled, looks from safe to where RAFFLES has gone off, then faces audience.)
BEDFORD: I wonder! I … wonder.
(BEDFORD then goes outside, stooping, looking for footprints. As BEDFORD goes to window MARIE comes downstairs; she looks from landing and sees room apparently empty, then comes to foot of stairs, looks off to see no one is about, listens at door, then turns quickly and goes up to window. When she gets to back of table, she sees BEDFORD, who is standing inside room by window; she stops abruptly with a start. Is dressed in widow’s bonnet, and cloak; with small handbag.)12
BEDFORD: Where are you going?
MARIE: Nowhere- to ze Park, Monsieur.
(MARIE stops, turns.)
Come here. What did you do with those jewels?
MARIE: Moi -monsieur?
BEDFORD: Yes, you-
MARIE: Je ne comprends pas- I have no knowledge of-
(BEDFORD snatches bag from her, opens it on table, runs hand round bag quickly, takes out purse, in it finds ticket, throws it on table; watches her all the time.)
BEDFORD: Your ticket to London.
MARIE: It is ver’ old one.
BEDFORD: They mailed you that, to keep your foreign tongue still at the depot. (Takes out widow’s veil.) A widow, are you?
MARIE: Helas13, m’sieur.
BEDFORD (puts ticket in bag, shuts it up, throws bag to her): You took that necklace from Lady Melrose last night, you stole down those stairs and dropped it into Crawshay’s hands.
MARIE: Crawshay -tell one lie!
BEDFORD: Crawshay never said a word.
MARIE: Nobody say- (takes up bag to go up stage to exit by window) y- y-
BEDFORD. Quite right, you’ll want it in gaol.
MARIE: I am not going to-
BEDFORD: Oh yes, you are, even if I take the law into my own hands, and you along with me in the car.
MARIE (sitting down on sofa resigned): Very well, all right. They can search, search, search; they find nothing. Bien, monsieur, it is finished, all right, very well!
BEDFORD: Answer me two questions and I’ll let you go.
MARIE: You will-let- me- to go?
MARIE: Deux propositions-
BEDFORD (nods): Did you give the necklace to Crawshay?
MARIE (after pause): Oui, monsieur.
BEDFORD: Had you another accomplice outside?
MARIE (after a pause in which she must show cunning): Oui, monsieur.
BEDFORD: You may go.
MARIE (rises): To London?
BEDFORD: To the devil.
MARIE: Merci bien, monsieur, you are too good, so very good.
BEDFORD: She’s lying, she didn’t. (Looks at watch.) Time enough – watch her – wire both ways. By gosh! This is going to be the jolliest case I ever had! (Sits on chair above table, writes telegram.)
(Enter LORD AMERSTETH.)
LORD AMERSTETH: Raffles tells us you have reached no conclusion.
BEDFORD (pleased, looks at him): Did Raffles say that?
(Rises, puts telegram in pocket and gets hat from small table.)
LORD AMERSTETH: Yes. Going over to Gray Towers?
BEDFORD: No- not necessary now.
LORD AMERSTETH: You might find a clue there.
BEDFORD: One is enough; one clue avoids confusion.
LORD AMERSTETH: Then you have discovered-
BEDFORD: A clue- so to speak.
LORD AMERSTETH: Where?
LORD AMERSTETH: Here? But, Bedford-
BEDFORD: My clue leads straight to the cracksman.
LORDAMERSTETH: The cracksman- here?
LORD AMERSTETH: Crawshay after all.
BEDFORD: No, not Crawshay.
LORD AMERSTETH: Not Crawshay-who then? Speak out, man!
BEDFORD: One you’d never suspect. There! I shan’t say another word now.
LORD AMERSTETH (idea dawning): Good God! Bedford, you don’t suggest that? – my boy!
BEDFORD: Lord Amersteth, I have promised to return the jewels in twenty-four hours from the time they were lost. I shall keep that promise.
LORD AMERSTETH: But by what right do you dare even to suggest that my son-
BEDFORD: Lord Amersteth, for purposes of- my own you must let me suspect- anybody – for the present.
LORD AMERSTETH: Sir, I don’t wish to insult you, but if, instead of using my car to scour this neighbourhood, you would take it to the other end of England, and leave us to fight our own trouble in our own way, I can only say I should be profoundly grateful to you. And I think you must understand me in your heart.
BEDFORD: Perfectly, Lord Amersteth; but I’ve gotten my clue, and I must follow it to the end- however bitter.
(Quick exit at window. Enter GWENDOLINE from dining-room, to discover LORD AMERSTETH seated in despair.)
GWENDOLINE: I thought Mr. Bedford-
LORD AMERSTETH: Just gone, my dear- And I’m thankful for it.
LORD AMERSTETH: Because – suspicion is not a pleasant guest.
GWENDOLINE: I hope he may find the jewels; but with or without them, the world will go on just the same, won’t it?
LORD AMERSTETH: Not quite the same, my child, but it serves me right for inviting an outsider to meddle in our affairs. I should have pinned my faith to Raffles; he’s one of us.
GWENDOLINE (pleased): You think as well as all that of Mr. Raffles?
LORD AMERSTETH: Of course, don’t you?
GWENDOLINE (confused): Of course.
LORD AMERSTETH: I’d pin my faith to him- wouldn’t you?
(Enter GOLDBY with hat, coat, cane.)
If you ever do, my child- if you ever do- it will be with my blessing.
GOLDBY: Carriage is at the door, my lord.
(Enter MRS. VIDAL from dining-room.)
LORD AMERSTETH: It will all come right, Gwen; it will all come right for you.
MRS. VIDAL: You are not running away, Lord Amersteth?
LORD AMERSTETH (hurriedly): Only to town for the day. Good-bye.
(Goes out door L. Exit LORD AMERSTETH, then FOOTMAN and BUTLER.)
MRS. VIDAL: My dear! What do you think I have just heard?
GWENDOLINE (nervously): What?
MRS. VIDAL: That- that little idiot Bedford suspects Lord Crowley of complicity in taking the necklace.
GWENDOLINE: Suspects -Crowley –
MRS. VIDAL: Yes, perfectly absurd, isn’t it? When it is so obviously – somebody else.
GWENDOLINE: Not obviously.
MRS. VIDAL: You know who I mean?
GWENDOLINE (to MRS. VIDAL): Yes- no. I can’t believe it!
MRS. VIDAL: So it does make a difference to you?
GWENDOLINE: All the difference.
MRS. VIDAL: Yet even you wouldn’t give him away?
GWENDOLINE: Of course I wouldn’t.
MRS. VIDAL (involuntarily): No more would I.
GWENDOLINE (mystified): Yet you hardly know him.
MRS. VIDAL: Do I? That’s rather nice. My dear, I knew him ages before he met you. Hardly know Arthur Raffles! (Laughs.)
GWENDOLINE: Mr. Raffles. You don’t suspect Mr. Raffles?
MRS. VIDAL: Why, whom did you suspect?
GWENDOLINE: That’s my business. So you and Mr. Raffles are-
MRS. VIDAL: Bosom enemies.
GWENDOLINE: But you weren’t always- that’s why you are now; I see -you hate him!
MRS. VIDAL: With reason.
GWENDOLINE: Perhaps Mr. Raffles returns your feeling with equal reason.
MRS. VIDAL: Possibly- since I happen to know all about him.
GWENDOLINE: I shall ask him to tell me about you.
MRS. VIDAL: You’ll find his history much more thrilling if he’ll tell it you. It’s not the sort of human document to leave about.
GWENDOLINE: Mrs. Vidal, I’m one of those who happen to think more of Mr. Raffles than of most people. I hope you don’t flatter yourself that your silly insinuations are going to change my opinion of him?
MRS. VIDAL: Shall I tell you what you’re doing?
GWENDOLINE: I don’t care.
MRS. VIDAL: You’re defending the man you love.
GWENDOLINE: Am I! Well, I’d rather do that than abuse one who obviously didn’t care a rap for me. I suppose you think I haven’t eyes. Your motives at any rate are not too subtle for me.
MRS. VIDAL (rises): You’ll be sorry you said all this!
GWENDOLINE (contemptuously): Shall I?
MRS. VIDAL: I’ll make you.
GWENDOLINE: You can do what you like.
MRS. VIDAL: Perhaps you don’t know-
(Sees RAFFLES) Good-bye Mr. Raffles.
RAFFLES: You going too?
MRS. VIDAL: Yes, just saying good-bye to dear Gwen. No, on second thoughts, I shall not say it to you. Au revoir, Mr. Raffles.
RAFFLES: Au revoir!
(Exit MRS. VIDAL upstairs.)
GWENDOLINE: That woman makes me cringe. (Shudders.)
RAFFLES: Don’t let us waste our time on her. (Going to GWENDOLINE)
GWENDOLINE: Is it so short?
RAFFLES: Short and precious- to me, I’ve got to go.
GWENDOLINE: But the match?
RAFFLES: I doubt if they’ll play, the rain’s begun.
GWENDOLINE: You will be missed, play or no play.
RAFFLES: I’m glad of that.
GWENDOLINE: None should know it so well. But you speak as though you were not coming back.
RAFFLES: Perhaps I never shall.
GWENDOLINE: Never again? Oh, why?
RAFFLES: Lots of reasons.
GWENDOLINE: Tell me the real one?
RAFFLES: I can’t.
GWENDOLINE: You must.
RAFFLES: Then -because you might be sorry if I did.
GWENDOLINE: If you come back, how could I be?
RAFFLES: Miss Conran, I’ve a thousand things to say to you, and only a minute to say them in, but I wish to thank you for something – something you have done for me.
GWENDOLINE: Something that I have done?
RAFFLES: Yes, Miss Conran, you are the first human being who has made me wish to take my own life differently; of course, it’s too late, but I want to thank you all the same. Mine has been an idle life – and worse – far worse – a rotten, selfish, unsporting innings.
GWENDOLINE: I don’t believe a word you say.
RAFFLES: It’s the truth, though not the whole truth, heaven knows. Yet one might make a decent shot or two before the wicket falls – one might do somebody a good turn.
GWENDOLINE: As if it would be something new.
RAFFLES: You don’t know me a bit – I’ve far fewer friends than you think – far more enemies. One of these days, Miss Conran, the whole world will be my enemy, but even when that day comes there will still be left one dear, good fellow – the loyalest of men14 – whose loyalty you’ll live to appreciate yourself. To whom I must be loyal too.
GWENDOLINE: It may be very wrong of me, but I don’t think I care – much – what my friends have been, as long as they are still -my friends.
GWENDOLINE: Of course.
RAFFLES: Will you act up to it?
GWENDOLINE (faintly): Yes. (Turning away.)
RAFFLES: If there was a man (struggling with emotion) who loved you, who knew – (conquering it) he was unworthy of your love, who was only loyal to you and to his friends, could you for the sake of that loyal love forgive him all the rest?
GWENDOLINE: If I loved him yes.
RAFFLES: Suppose you were his only hope of salvation in this world and the next, would you deny him that hope?
GWENDOLINE: If I loved him – no.
RAFFLES: Could you love him?
RAFFLES: The man I mean loves you and has long loved you with all his heart. When he speaks again – if he is worthier of you then- will you listen?
GWENDOLINE (nods her head- half audibly): Yes-yes!
RAFFLES: Will you promise me that? (Holding out his hands.)
GWENDOLINE (gives him her hands): I promise you-that.
(He kisses her hands, puts them back.)
RAFFLES: It’s a man’s salvation that you have promised.
(Rises.) I told you that you had made life look different to me, that’s why I’m going. There should be some useful work for me somewhere in the world – I mean to see.
GWENDOLINE: And when do you come back?
RAFFLES: I’m not coming back.
GWENDOLINE (amazed- to him): Not coming back?
RAFFLES: No! This is good-bye.
Miss Conran, I shall never forget all that you- have done for me – I have stolen the sunshine of your presence till I, too, am another man.
GWENDOLINE: You, too- (Rises.)
RAFFLES (half bitter laugh): A strange trick of Fate that makes me plead for another, isn’t it?
GWENDOLINE (dazed, swaying): I – don’t – think I understand.
RAFFLES: Dear old Bunny, he’s ten times the man you think him. You’ll make him twenty times the man he is.
(GWENDOLINE totters to end of table.)
RAFFLES: Miss Conran- (Going up a step to her.)
GWENDOLINE: Don’t, don’t- don’t speak to me-
RAFFLES (realising): Great heavens! You didn’t think-
That I would dare -to speak for-
GWENDOLINE: For your friend- you have spoken for him – and – I understand.15
(Enter ETHEL and BUNNY from window)
ETHEL: Gwen, I want you.
GWENDOLINE (conquering her emotion): Coming, dear, coming.
(Crosses up to ETHEL; as she passes BUNNY she stops, then joins ETHEL. ETHEL and GWENDOLINE exit window.)
BUNNY: A.J.! A.J.!
RAFFLES: Bunny, I’ve played your hand – and lost.
BUNNY (sits): Shall I tell you why?
BUNNY: Because she suspects me of taking the necklace. (Bitterly.)
RAFFLES (with a grim smile): What! Then, by God, she shall not suspect you long- She shan’t! She shan’t! She shan’t!