Maud. [Aghast, but hiding it] Oh! It’s—it’s no good, father. She won’t.
Builder. We shall see that. I’ve quite got over my tantrum, and I expect she has.
Maud. [Earnestly] Father! I do really assure you she won’t; it’s only wasting your time, and making you eat humble pie.
Builder. Well, I can eat a good deal this morning. It’s all nonsense! A family’s a family.
Maud. [More and more disturbed, but hiding it] Father, if I were you, I wouldn’t-really! It’s not-dignified.
Builder. You can leave me to judge of that. It’s not dignified for the Mayor of this town to have an unmarried daughter as young as Athene living by herself away from home. This idea that she’s on a visit won’t wash any longer. Now finish that letter—“worthy, but you may rest assured that I shall do my best to sustain the—er—dignity of the office.” [Maud types desperately.] Got that? “And—er—preserve the tradition so worthily—” No— “so staunchly”—er—er—
Builder. Ah! “—upheld by yourself.—Faithfully yours.”
Maud. [Finishing] Father, you thought Athene went off in a huff. It wasn’t that a bit. She always meant to go. She just got you into a rage to make it easier. She hated living at home.
Builder. Nonsense! Why on earth should she?
Maud. Well, she did! And so do— [Checking herself] And so you see it’ll only make you ridiculous to go.
Builder. [Rises] Now what’s behind this, Maud?
Maud. Behind—Oh! nothing!
Builder. The fact is, you girls have been spoiled, and you enjoy twisting my tail; but you can’t make me roar this morning. I’m too pleased with things. You’ll see, it’ll be all right with Athene.
Maud. [Very suddenly] Father!
Builder. [Grimly humorous] Well! Get it off your chest. What’s that letter about?
Maud. [Failing again and crumpling the letter
behind her back]
Builder. Everything’s nothing this morning. Do you know what sort of people Athene associates with now—I suppose you see her?
Maud. Nobody much. There isn’t anybody here to associate with. It’s all hopelessly behind the times.
Builder. Oh! you think so! That’s the inflammatory fiction you pick up. I tell you what, young woman—the sooner you and your sister get rid of your silly notions about not living at home, and making your own way, the sooner you’ll both get married and make it. Men don’t like the new spirit in women—they may say they do, but they don’t.
Maud. You don’t, father, I know.
Builder. Well, I’m very ordinary. If you keep your eyes open, you’ll soon see that.