Ferrand. [With his eyes on Hoxton—softly.] Monsieur, something tells me it is time I took the road again.
Wellwyn. [Fumbling out a sovereign.] Take this, then!
Ferrand. [Refusing the coin.] Non, Monsieur. To abuse ’ospitality is not in my character.
Bertley. We must not despair of anyone.
Hoxton. Who talked of despairing? Treat him, as I say, and you’ll see!
Calway. The interest of the State——
Hoxton. The interest of the individual citizen sir——
Bertley. Come! A little of both, a little of both!
[They resume their brushing.]
Ferrand. You are now debarrassed of us three, Monsieur. I leave you instead—these sirs. [He points.] ‘Au revoir, Monsieur’! [Motioning towards the fire.] ’Appy New Year!
[He slips quietly out. Wellwyn, turning, contemplates the three reformers. They are all now brushing away, scratching each other’s backs, and gravely hissing. As he approaches them, they speak with a certain unanimity.]
Hoxton. My theory——!
Calway. My theory——!
Bertley. My theory——!
[They stop surprised.
Wellwyn makes a gesture of discomfort,
as they speak again with still more unanimity.]
Hoxton. My——! Calway. My——! Bertley. My——!
[They stop in greater surprise. The stage is blotted dark.]
It is the first of April—a white spring day of gleams and driving showers. The street door of WELLWYN’s studio stands wide open, and, past it, in the street, the wind is whirling bits of straw and paper bags. Through the door can be seen the butt end of a stationary furniture van with its flap let down. To this van three humble-men in shirt sleeves and aprons, are carrying out the contents of the studio. The hissing samovar, the tea-pot, the sugar, and the nearly empty decanter of rum stand on the low round table in the fast-being-gutted room. Wellwyn in his ulster and soft hat, is squatting on the little stool in front of the blazing fire, staring into it, and smoking a hand-made cigarette. He has a moulting air. Behind him the humble-men pass, embracing busts and other articles of vertu.
Chief H’MAN. [Stopping, and standing in the attitude of expectation.] We’ve about pinched this little lot, sir. Shall we take the—reservoir?
[He indicates the samovar.]
Wellwyn. Ah! [Abstractedly feeling in his pockets, and finding coins.] Thanks—thanks—heavy work, I’m afraid.
H’MAN. [Receiving the coins—a little surprised and a good deal pleased.] Thank’ee, sir. Much obliged, I’m sure. We’ll ’ave to come back for this. [He gives the dais a vigorous push with his foot.] Not a fixture, as I understand. Perhaps you’d like us to leave these ’ere for a bit. [He indicates the tea things.]