Boy’s voice. ’Allo! What’s the matter wiv you? Why, it’s Johnny Builder’s house! [Gives a cat-call] ’Ere, buy anuvver! ’E’ll want to read about ’isself. [Appealing] Buy anuvver, guv’nor!
Topping. Move on!
He retreats from the window, opening the paper.
Boy’s voice. [Receding] Payper! First edition! J.P. chawged! Payper!
Topping. [To himself as he reads] Crimes! Phew! That accounts for them bein’ away all night.
While he is reading,
Camille enters from the hall. Here!
seen this, Camel—in the Stop Press?
They read eagerly side by side.
Topping. [Finishing aloud] “Tried to prevent her father from forcing her mother to return home with him, and he struck her for so doing. She did not press the charge. The arrested gentleman, who said he acted under great provocation, was discharged with a caution.” Well, I’m blowed! He has gone and done it!
Camille. A black eye!
Topping. [Gazing at her] Have you had any hand in this? I’ve seen you making your lovely black eyes at him. You foreigners—you’re a loose lot!
Camille. You are drunk!
Topping. Not yet, my dear. [Reverting to the paper; philosophically] Well, this little lot’s bust up! The favourites will fall down. Johnny Builder! Who’d have thought it?
Camille. He is an obstinate man.
Topping. Ah! He’s right up against it now. Comes of not knowin’ when to stop bein’ firm. If you meet a wall with your ’ead, it’s any odds on the wall, Camel. Though, if you listened to some, you wouldn’t think it. What’ll he do now, I wonder? Any news of the mistress?
Camille. [Shaking her head] I have pack her tr-runks.
Camille. Because she take her jewels yesterday.
Topping. Deuce she did! They generally leave ’em. Take back yer gifts! She throws the baubles at ’is ’ead. [Again staring at her] You’re a deep one, you know!
There is the sound of a cab stopping.
Wonder if that’s him! [He goes towards the hall. Camille watchfully shifts towards the diningroom door. Maud enters.]
Maud. Is my father back, Topping?
Topping. Not yet, Miss.
Maud. I’ve come for mother’s things.
Camille. They are r-ready.
Maud. [Eyeing her] Topping, get them down, please.
Topping, after a look at them both, goes out into the hall.
Very clever of you to have got them ready.
Camille. I am clevare.
Maud. [Almost to herself] Yes—father may, and he may not.