[Entering.] Cab, Miss Fullgarney!
[In an altered voice.] Bag. [She takes her bag from MISS LIMBIRD and walks away, rather slowly, with her head down. Quietly, without turning.] See you in the morning, girls.
THE FOUR GIRLS.
Good afternoon, Miss Fullgarney.
[SOPHY goes out.
THE SECOND ACT
The scene represents a portion of an English garden laid out in Italian fashion. At the extreme back—upon ground slightly raised—two dense cypress-hedges, about sixteen feet high, form an alley running from right to left. In the centre of the hedge which is nearer the spectator there is an opening, and at this opening are three or four steps connecting the higher with the lower level. Beyond the alley nothing is seen but the sky and some tree-tops. In advance is an enclosure formed by a dwarf cypress-hedge, about four feet in height, also broken in the centre by an opening, and running off right and left at a sharp angle. On the outside of the dwarf hedge is a walk; and beyond, on the right and left, are trees. Within the enclosure, on the left, is a small fountain; facing the fountain, on the right, a piece of old, broken sculpture. Other bits of antique sculpture are placed in different parts of the garden. In the foreground, on the right towards the centre, stands a stone bench, on the left of which is a table upon which are the remains of “afternoon tea,” with a garden chair. A similar stone bench stands opposite.
The light is that of a very fine evening.
[LADY OWBRIDGE is in the garden-chair, asleep, an open book in her lap. QUEX and MURIEL stand, talking together, by the fountain. On the right-hand stone bench the DUCHESS OF STROOD and MRS. EDEN are seated. The DUCHESS is a daintily beautiful doll of about seven-and-thirty—a poseuse, outwardly dignified and stately when upon her guard, really a frail, shallow little creature full of extravagant sentimentality. Until LADY OWBRIDGE wakes, the conversation is carried on in subdued tones.
[Indicating MURIEL and QUEX.] They make a fascinating couple, don’t they, Duchess?
[With placid melancholy.] To see two people on the threshold of wedlock is always painfully interesting.
I am quite triumphant about it. It is such a delightful engagement, now that the horrid difficulties are smoothed away.
Yes, you were telling me of some sad obstacles—
I nearly perished of them! [Very confidentially.] There’s no doubt, you know, that his past has been exceptionally naughty.