A lady and gentleman are sitting together on a chesterfield in a retired corner of the lounge of a seaside hotel. It is a summer night: the French window behind them stands open. The terrace without overlooks a moonlit harbor. The lounge is dark. The chesterfield, upholstered in silver grey, and the two figures on it in evening dress, catch the light from an arc lamp somewhere; but the walls, covered with a dark green paper, are in gloom. There are two stray chairs, one on each side. On the gentleman’s right, behind him up near the window, is an unused fireplace. Opposite it on the lady’s left is a door. The gentleman is on the lady’s right.
The lady is very attractive, with a musical voice and soft appealing manners. She is young: that is, one feels sure that she is under thirty-five and over twenty-four. The gentleman does not look much older. He is rather handsome, and has ventured as far in the direction of poetic dandyism in the arrangement of his hair as any man who is not a professional artist can afford to in England. He is obviously very much in love with the lady, and is, in fact, yielding to an irresistible impulse to throw his arms around her.
The lady. Don’t—oh don’t be horrid. Please, Mr. Lunn [she rises from the lounge and retreats behind it]! Promise me you won’t be horrid.
Gregory Lunn. I’m not being horrid, Mrs. Juno. I’m not going to be horrid. I love you: that’s all. I’m extraordinarily happy.
Mrs. Juno. You will really be good?
Gregory. I’ll be whatever you wish me to be. I tell you I love you. I love loving you. I don’t want to be tired and sorry, as I should be if I were to be horrid. I don’t want you to be tired and sorry. Do come and sit down again.
Mrs. Juno [coming back to her seat]. You’re sure you don’t want anything you oughtn’t to?
Gregory. Quite sure. I only want you [she recoils]. Don’t be alarmed. I like wanting you. As long as I have a want, I have a reason for living. Satisfaction is death.