Capt. H. (Impressively). Go your way. (Waves one hand loftily?) What’s that to you. Go your way. (Agitated?) Go your way.
Harry. There, there. I am not trespassing in the street—where I stand—am I? Tell you what, I fancy there’s something wrong about your news. Suppose you let me come in—for a quiet chat, you know.
Capt. H. (Horrified). Let you—you come in!
Harry (Persuasive). Because I could give you some real information about your son. The—very—latest—tip. If you care to hear.
Capt. H. (Explodes). No! I don’t care to hear. (Begins to pace to and fro, spade on shoulder. Gesticulating with his other arm.) Here’s a fellow—a grinning town fellow, who says there’s something wrong. (Fiercely.) I have got more information than you’re aware of. I have all the information I want. I have had it for years—for years—for years—enough to last me till to-morrow! Let you come in, indeed! What would Harry say?
(Bessie Carvil appears at cottage door with a white wrap on her head and stands in her garden trying to see).
Bessie. What’s the matter?
Capt. H. (Beside himself). An information fellow. (Stumbles.)
Harry (Putting out arm to steady him, gravely). Here! Steady a bit! Seems to me somebody’s been trying to get at you. (Change of tone.) Hullo! What’s this rig you’ve got on?... Storm canvas coat, by George! (He gives a frig, throaty laugh.) Well! You are a character!
Capt. H. (Daunted by the allusion, looks at coat). I—I wear it for—for the time being. Till—till—to-morrow. (Shrinks away, spade in hand, to door of his cottage.)
Bessie (Advancing). And what may you want, sir?
Harry (Turns to Bessie at once; easy manner). I’d like to know about this swindle that’s going to be sprung on him. I didn’t mean to startle the old man. You see, on my way here I dropped into a barber’s to get a twopenny shave, and they told me there that he was something of a character. He has been a character all his life.
Bessie (Wondering). What swindle?
Capt. H. A grinning fellow! (Makes sudden
dash indoors with the spade.
Door slams. Affected gurgling laugh within.)
(Bessie and Harry. Later Capt. H. from window).
Harry (After a short silence). What on earth’s upset him so? What’s the meaning of all this fuss? He isn’t always like that, is he?
Bessie. I don’t know who you are; but I may tell you that his mind has been troubled for years about an only son who ran away from home—a long time ago. Everybody knows that here.
Harry (Thoughtful). Troubled—for years! (Suddenly.) Well, I am the son.