[There is a sudden chime of bells. The Stage is blotted dark.]
It is four o’clock in the afternoon of New Year’s Day. On the raised dais Mrs. Megan is standing, in her rags; with bare feet and ankles, her dark hair as if blown about, her lips parted, holding out a dishevelled bunch of violets. Before his easel, Wellwyn is painting her. Behind him, at a table between the cupboard and the door to the model’s room, Timson is washing brushes, with the movements of one employed upon relief works. The samovar is hissing on the table by the stove, the tea things are set out.
Wellwyn. Open your mouth.
[Mrs. Megan opens her mouth.]
Ann. [In hat and coat, entering from the house.] Daddy!
[Wellwyn goes to
her; and, released from restraint, Mrs. Megan
looks round at Timson and grimaces.]
Wellwyn. Well, my dear?
[They speak in low voices.]
Ann. [Holding out a note.] This note from Canon Bentley. He’s going to bring her husband here this afternoon. [She looks at Mrs. Megan.]
Wellwyn. Oh! [He also looks at Mrs. Megan.]
Ann. And I met Sir Thomas Hoxton at church this morning, and spoke to him about Timson.
[They look at Timson.
Then Ann goes back to the door, and
Wellwyn follows her.]
Ann. [Turning.] I’m going round now, Daddy, to ask Professor Calway what we’re to do with that Ferrand.
Wellwyn. Oh! One each! I wonder if they’ll like it.
Ann. They’ll have to lump it.
[She goes out into the house.]
Wellwyn. [Back at his easel.] You can shut your mouth now.
[Mrs. Megan shuts her mouth, but opens it immediately to smile.]
Wellwyn. [Spasmodically.] Ah! Now that’s what I want. [He dabs furiously at the canvas. Then standing back, runs his hands through his hair and turns a painter’s glance towards the skylight.] Dash! Light’s gone! Off you get, child—don’t tempt me!
descends. Passing towards the door of the model’s
room she stops, and stealthily looks at the picture.]
Timson. Ah! Would yer!
Wellwyn. [Wheeling round.] Want to have a look? Well—come on!
[He takes her by the
arm, and they stand before the canvas.
After a stolid moment, she giggles.]
Wellwyn. Oh! You think so?
Mrs. Megan. [Who has lost her hoarseness.] It’s not like my picture that I had on the pier.