Evening the same day.
BUILDER’s study is dim and neglected-looking; the window is still open, though it has become night. A street lamp outside shines in, and the end of its rays fall on builder asleep. He is sitting in a high chair at the fireside end of the writing-table, with his elbows on it, and his cheek resting on his hand. He is still unshaven, and his clothes unchanged. A Boy’s head appears above the level of the window-sill, as if beheaded and fastened there.
Boy’s voice. [In a forceful whisper] Johnny Builder!
Builder stirs uneasily. The Boy’s head vanishes. Builder, raising his other hand, makes a sweep before his face, as if to brush away a mosquito. He wakes. Takes in remembrance, and sits a moment staring gloomily before him. The door from the hall is opened and Topping comes in with a long envelope in his hand.
Topping. [Approaching] From the “Comet,” sir. Proof of your interview, sir; will you please revise, the messenger says; he wants to take it back at once.
Builder. [Taking it] All right. I’ll ring.
Topping. Shall I close in, sir?
Builder. Not now.
Builder turns up a standard lamp on the table,
opens the envelope, and begins reading the galley slip. The signs
of uneasiness and discomfort grow on him.
Builder. Did I say that? Muck! Muck! [He drops the proof, sits a moment moving his head and rubbing one hand uneasily on the surface of the table, then reaches out for the telephone receiver] Town, 245. [Pause] The “Comet”? John Builder. Give me the Editor. [Pause] That you, Mr Editor? John Builder speaking. That interview. I’ve got the proof. It won’t do. Scrap the whole thing, please. I don’t want to say anything. [Pause] Yes. I know I said it all; I can’t help that. [Pause] No; I’ve changed my mind. Scrap it, please. [Pause] No, I will not say anything. [Pause] You can say what you dam’ well please. [Pause] I mean it; if you put a word into my mouth, I’ll sue you for defamation of character. It’s undignified muck. I’m tearing it up. Good-night. [He replaces the receiver, and touches a bell; then, taking up the galley slip, he tears it viciously across into many pieces, and rams them into the envelope.]
Here, give this to the messenger-sharp, and tell him to run with it.
Topping. [Whose hand can feel the condition of the contents, with a certain surprise] Yes, sir.
He goes, with a look back from the door.
The Mayor is here, sir. I don’t know whether you would wish
Builder, rising, takes a turn up and down the room.