[He bounces up to the door, but turns back again for a last word with MANSON.]
And I have one word for you, sir! You are a scoundrel, sir—a cheat, an impostor! And if I could have my way with you, I would have you publicly whipped: I would visit you with the utmost rigour of the law: I would nail you up, sir, for an example!
MANSON. I have encountered similar hostility before, my lord—from gentlemen very like your lordship. Allow me . . .
[He opens the door, his eyes flashing.]
BISHOP. Don’t trouble, sir. I can get my hat and my stick and my portmanteau for myself! I can do very well without your assistance—thank God!
[He stumps out. MANSON closes the door after him, barring it, as it were, with his great left arm. He lifts the other arm slowly, as commanding silence. After a moment the front door is heard slamming noisily.]
[AUNTIE sinks, weeping, upon the settee. The VICAR goes over to comfort her. The uplifted hand of MANSON assumes the BISHOP’S sign of blessing as the curtain slowly falls.]
As the curtain rises, the scene and situation remain unchanged.
[There is heard a Ring of the Bell. All three turn their heads, alert.]
VICAR. If it’s my brother . . .
VICAR. I meant—the Bishop of Benares; but . . .
AUNTIE [hand on his arm, apprehensively]. William . . .
MANSON. It wants ten minutes of the time you said you expected him. [Goes to door: turns.] Only ten minutes.
[He goes out, closing the door softly.]
VICAR. Ten minutes! . . .
AUNTIE. We shall never be able to do it, William! How can we possibly undo the work of all these years in ten minutes? It wants a miracle.
VICAR. We must make the attempt, somehow.
AUNTIE. Yes—yes: how? Oh, I have been blind—blind! [She walks across the room in agitation.] Where has he gone, I wonder? We don’t even know that—where he is!
VICAR [making a movement]. Perhaps Manson . . .
AUNTIE. No, no, no: it must be ourselves . . .
Ten minutest—And no assistance on his side: we can’t expect it, after our treatment of him. He will hate me most of all: there’s the chief difficulty! . . .
VICAR. You would say me, if you had seen his face and heard his voice this morning!
AUNTIE. God help us. God pity us!
VICAR. Amen . . .
Then, there’s the child, too! That difficulty must be faced.
AUNTIE. Yes—no escape! We shall
have to pay the whole debt,
William: I see that.
VICAR. Who knows! Perhaps the child will have to pay most, when all is done.
AUNTIE. The innocent for the guilty—yes
. . . Oh, William,
William, can you ever forgive me?