VICAR. I am in the darkness. I don’t know what to do. God has left me stranded.
[MANSON re-enters. They look at him inquiringly.]
MANSON. It isn’t the Bishop of Benares, ma’am.
AUNTIE. Well, who is it?
MANSON. I didn’t ask his name, ma’am.
AUNTIE. T-t-t! How is he dressed?
MANSON. Rather oddly, ma’am: I noticed that his legs . . .
AUNTIE. William, it’s James! I can’t be seen like this. Shew him in. I can slip out this way.
[MANSON goes out.]
William, try and treat him like . . .
VICAR. How? Like a brother?
AUNTIE. I was going to say, like a Priest and a Christian, William.
VICAR. Like a Christian, then.
AUNTIE. My dear!
[She goes out by the door to the right, as MANSON begins to turn the handle of the other door.]
MANSON [outside]. This way, if you please.
[The VICAR, braces himself up and turns towards the door with an effort at cordiality.]
VICAR. Just in time for breakfast, my lord.
[Enter ROBERT SMITH and MANSON. ROBERT’S costume is a navvy’s, the knees tied With string.]
ROBERT [grimly]. Thanks, Bill Awlmighty, don’t mind if I do. My belly’s fair aching.
ROBERT. Yus, it’s me, my ’oly brother!
VICAR. Didn’t you—didn’t you get my wire?
ROBERT. Yus, I gorit-: Drains wrong, eh? Thought I’d like to ‘av’ a look at ’em—my job, yer know, drains! So you’ll excuse the togs: remind you of old days, eh what?
VICAR. Robert, what have you come here for?
ROBERT. You arsk me that?
VICAR. Yes, I do. Bob . . .
ROBERT. Why, to see my little gel, o’ course—Gawd curse you! . . .
Now go an tell your ole woman.
[The VICAR stands as though stricken.]
Did you ’ear me speak? Tell ’er!
[The VICAR wavers a moment, and then staggers out silently through the door, right. ROBERT watches him off with a look of iron. He pays no heed to MANSON, who stands quite close to him, on the left.]
See that blighter? That’s the bloke as was born with no bowels! ‘E might a-made a man o’ me once, if ’e’d tried; but ’e didn’t—’im and ’is like. Hm! Dam foolish, I call it, don’t you?
MANSON. Yes, both: foolish and—damned!
[ROBERT turns and looks into his face for the first time as the curtain slowly falls on the First Act.]
As the curtain rises, the scene and situation remain unchanged. Presently, Robert, having completed his inspection of the other’s face and costume, moves away with a characteristic interjection.
ROBERT. Oh, Jeeroosalem! . . .
’Ere, ‘elp us orf, comride: I’m wet through. Rainin’ cats an’ dorgs dahn at the Junction! ’Ere, I cawn’t . . . Wot oh! The very identical! . . .