[He gives a little snarling
laugh and lurches to the door. His
shoulder rubs against the switch; the light goes out. There is
a sound as of a closing outer door.]
The curtain falls.
The curtain rises again at once.
In the Barthwick’s dining-room. Jack is still asleep; the morning light is coming through the curtains. The time is half-past eight. Wheeler, brisk person enters with a dust-pan, and Mrs. Jones more slowly with a scuttle.
Wheeler. [Drawing the curtains.] That precious husband of yours was round for you after you’d gone yesterday, Mrs. Jones. Wanted your money for drink, I suppose. He hangs about the corner here half the time. I saw him outside the “Goat and Bells” when I went to the post last night. If I were you I would n’t live with him. I would n’t live with a man that raised his hand to me. I wouldn’t put up with it. Why don’t you take your children and leave him? If you put up with ’im it’ll only make him worse. I never can see why, because a man’s married you, he should knock you about.
Mrs. Jones. [Slim, dark-eyed, and dark-haired; oval-faced, and with a smooth, soft, even voice; her manner patient, her way of talking quite impersonal; she wears a blue linen dress, and boots with holes.] It was nearly two last night before he come home, and he wasn’t himself. He made me get up, and he knocked me about; he didn’t seem to know what he was saying or doing. Of course I would leave him, but I’m really afraid of what he’d do to me. He ’s such a violent man when he’s not himself.
Wheeler. Why don’t you get him locked up? You’ll never have any peace until you get him locked up. If I were you I’d go to the police court tomorrow. That’s what I would do.
Mrs. Jones. Of course I ought to go, because he does treat me so badly when he’s not himself. But you see, Bettina, he has a very hard time—he ’s been out of work two months, and it preys upon his mind. When he’s in work he behaves himself much better. It’s when he’s out of work that he’s so violent.
Wheeler. Well, if you won’t take any steps you ’ll never get rid of him.
Mrs. Jones. Of course it’s very wearing to me; I don’t get my sleep at nights. And it ’s not as if I were getting help from him, because I have to do for the children and all of us. And he throws such dreadful things up at me, talks of my having men to follow me about. Such a thing never happens; no man ever speaks to me. And of course, it’s just the other way. It’s what he does that’s wrong and makes me so unhappy. And then he ‘s always threatenin’ to cut my throat if I leave him. It’s all the drink, and things preying on his mind; he ’s not a bad man really. Sometimes he’ll speak quite kind to me, but I’ve stood so much from him, I don’t feel it in me to speak kind back, but just keep myself to myself. And he’s all right with the children too, except when he’s not himself.