BURGE [shaking Conrad’s hand] It’s beyond the old man, Doctor. No spiritual side to him: only a sort of classical side that goes down with his own set. Besides, he’s done, gone, past, burnt out, burst up; thinks he is our leader and is only our rag and bottle department. But you may depend on me. I will work this stunt of yours in. I see its value. [He begins moving towards the door with Conrad]. Of course I cant put it exactly in your way; but you are quite right about our needing something fresh; and I believe an election can be fought on the death rate and on Adam and Eve as scientific facts. It will take the Opposition right out of its depth. And if we win there will be an O.M. for somebody when the first honors list comes round [by this time he has talked himself out of the room and out of earshot, Conrad accompanying him].
Savvy and Haslam, left alone, seize each other in an ecstasy of amusement, and jazz to the settee, where they sit down again side by side.
HASLAM [caressing her] Darling! what a priceless humbug old Lubin is!
SAVVY. Oh, sweet old thing! I love him. Burge is a flaming fraud if you like.
HASLAM. Did you notice one thing? It struck me as rather curious.
HASLAM. Lubin and your father have both survived the war. But their sons were killed in it.
SAVVY [sobered] Yes. Jim’s death killed mother.
HASLAM. And they never said a word about it!
SAVVY. Well, why should they? The subject didn’t come up. I forgot about it too; and I was very fond of Jim.
HASLAM. I didn’t forget it, because I’m of military age; and if I hadnt been a parson I’d have had to go out and be killed too. To me the awful thing about their political incompetence was that they had to kill their own sons. It was the war casualty lists and the starvation afterwards that finished me up with politics and the Church and everything else except you.
SAVVY. Oh, I was just as bad as any of them. I sold flags in the streets in my best clothes; and—hsh! [she jumps up and pretends to be looking for a book on the shelves behind the settee].
Franklyn and Conrad return, looking weary and glum.
CONRAD. Well, thats how the gospel of the brothers Barnabas is going to be received! [He drops into Burge’s chair].
FRANKLYN [going back to his seat at the table] It’s no use. Were you convinced, Mr Haslam?
HASLAM. About our being able to live three hundred years? Frankly no.
CONRAD [to Savvy] Nor you, I suppose?
SAVVY. Oh, I don’t know. I thought I was for a moment. I can believe, in a sort of way, that people might live for three hundred years. But when you came down to tin tacks, and said that the parlor maid might, then I saw how absurd it was.