Fanny. Then why dont you play for it?
Trotter. I do play for it—short, of course, of making myself ridiculous.
Fanny. What! not make yourself ridiculous for the sake of a good cause! Oh, Mr Trotter. Thats vieux jeu.
TROTTER. [shouting at her] Dont talk French. I will not allow it.
FANNY. But this dread of ridicule is so frightfully out of date. The Cambridge Fabian Society—
TROTTER. I forbid you to mention the Fabian Society to me.
FANNY. Its motto is “You cannot learn to skate without making yourself ridiculous.”
TROTTER. Skate! What has that to do with it?
FANNY. Thats not all. It goes on, “The ice of life is slippery.”
TROTTER. Ice of life indeed! You should be eating penny ices and enjoying yourself. I wont hear another word.
The Count returns.
THE COUNT. We’re all waiting in the drawing-room, my dear. Have you been detaining Mr Trotter all this time?
TROTTER. I’m so sorry. I must have just a little brush up: I [He hurries out].
THE COUNT. My dear, you should be in the drawing-room. You should not have kept him here.
FANNY. I know. Dont scold me: I had something important to say to him.
THE COUNT. I shall ask him to take you in to dinner.
FANNY. Yes, papa. Oh, I hope it will go off well.
THE COUNT. Yes, love, of course it will. Come along.
FANNY. Just one thing, papa, whilst we’re
alone. Who was the
THE COUNT. The Stagirite? Do you mean to say you dont know?
FANNY. Havnt the least notion.
THE COUNT. The Stagirite was Aristotle. By the way, dont mention him to Mr Trotter.
They go to the dining-room.
In the dining-room of a house in Denmark Hill, an elderly lady sits at breakfast reading the newspaper. Her chair is at the end of the oblong dining-table furthest from the fire. There is an empty chair at the other end. The fireplace is behind this chair; and the door is next the fireplace, between it and the corner. An arm-chair stands beside the coal-scuttle. In the middle of the back wall is the sideboard, parallel to the table. The rest of the furniture is mostly dining-room chairs, ranged against the walls, and including a baby rocking-chair on the lady’s side of the room. The lady is a placid person. Her husband, Mr Robin Gilbey, not at all placid, bursts violently into the room with a letter in his hand.
GILBEY. [grinding his teeth] This is a nice thing. This is a b—
MRS GILBEY. [cutting him short] Leave it at that, please. Whatever it is, bad language wont make it better.
GILBEY. [bitterly] Yes, put me in the wrong as usual. Take your boy’s part against me. [He flings himself into the empty chair opposite her].