The curtain falls.
It is evening; a full yellow moon is shining through the branches of the hollow tree. The Chinese lanterns are alight. There is dancing in the house; the music sounds now loud, now soft. Miss beech is sitting on the rustic seat in a black bunchy evening dress, whose inconspicuous opening is inlaid with white. She slowly fans herself.
Dick comes from the
house in evening dress. He does not see
Dick. Curse! [A short silence.] Curse!
Miss beech. Poor young man!
Dick. [With a start.] Well, Peachey, I can’t help it [He fumbles off his gloves.]
Miss beech. Did you ever know any one that could?
Dick. [Earnestly.] It’s such awfully hard lines on Joy. I can’t get her out of my head, lying there with that beastly headache while everybody’s jigging round.
Miss beech. Oh! you don’t mind about yourself—noble young man!
Dick. I should be a brute if I did n’t mind more for her.
Miss beech. So you think it’s a headache, do you?
Dick. Did n’t you hear what Mrs. Gwyn said at dinner about the sun? [With inspiration.] I say, Peachey, could n’t you—could n’t you just go up and give her a message from me, and find out if there ’s anything she wants, and say how brutal it is that she ’s seedy; it would be most awfully decent of you. And tell her the dancing’s no good without her. Do, Peachey, now do! Ah! and look here!
[He dives into the hollow
of the tree, and brings from out of it
a pail of water in which are placed two bottles of champagne,
and some yellow irises—he takes the irises.]
You might give her these. I got them specially for her, and I have n’t had a chance.
Miss beech. [Lifting a bottle.] What ’s this?
Dick. Fizz. The Colonel brought it from the George. It ’s for supper; he put it in here because of—[Smiling faintly]—Mrs. Hope, I think. Peachey, do take her those irises.
Miss. Beech. D’ you think they’ll do her any good?
Dick. [Crestfallen.] I thought she’d like—I don’t want to worry her—you might try.
[Miss beech shakes her head.]
Miss beech. The poor little creature won’t let me in.
Dick. You’ve been up then!
Miss beech. [Sharply.] Of course I’ve been up. I’ve not got a stone for my heart, young man!
Dick. All right! I suppose I shall just have to get along somehow.
Miss beech. [With devilry.] That’s what we’ve all got to do.