The curtain falls.
Before noon a few days later. The open windows of the dining-room let in the sunlight. On the table a number of newspapers are littered. Helen is sitting there, staring straight before her. A newspaper boy runs by outside calling out his wares. At the sound she gets up anti goes out on to the terrace. Hubert enters from the hall. He goes at once to the terrace, and draws Helen into the room.
Helen. Is it true—what they’re shouting?
Hubert. Yes. Worse than we thought. They got our men all crumpled up in the Pass—guns helpless. Ghastly beginning.
Helen. Oh, Hubert!
Hubert. My dearest girl!
Helen puts her face up to his. He kisses her. Then she turns quickly into the bay window. The door from the hall has been opened, and the footman, Henry, comes in, preceding Wreford and his sweetheart.
Henry. Just wait here, will you, while I let Mrs. More know. [Catching sight of Hubert] Beg pardon, sir!
Hubert. All right, Henry. [Off-hand] Ah! Wreford! [The footman withdraws] So you’ve brought her round. That’s good! My sister’ll look after her—don’t you worry! Got everything packed? Three o’clock sharp.
Wreford. [A broad faced soldier, dressed in khaki with a certain look of dry humour, now dimmed-speaking with a West Country burr] That’s right, zurr; all’s ready.
Helen has come
out of the window, and is quietly looking at
Wreford and the girl standing there so awkwardly.
Helen. [Quietly] Take care of him, Wreford.
Hubert. We’ll take care of each other, won’t we, Wreford?
Helen. How long have you been engaged?
The girl. [A pretty, indeterminate young woman] Six months. [She sobs suddenly.]
Helen. Ah! He’ll soon be safe back.
Wreford. I’ll owe ’em for this. [In a lacy voice to her] Don’t ’ee now! Don’t ’ee!
Helen. No! Don’t cry, please!
She stands struggling
with her own lips, then goes out on to the
terrace, Hubert following. Wreford and his girl remain where
they were, strange and awkward, she muffling her sobs.
Wreford. Don’t ’ee go on like that, Nance; I’ll ’ave to take you ’ome. That’s silly, now we’ve a-come. I might be dead and buried by the fuss you’re makin’. You’ve a-drove the lady away. See!
She regains control of herself as the door is opened and Katherine appears, accompanied by Olive, who regards Wreford with awe and curiosity, and by nurse, whose eyes are red, but whose manner is composed.
Katherine. My brother told me; so glad you’ve brought her.