MRS GILBEY. When he does anything right, hes your son. When he does anything wrong hes mine. Have you any news of him?
GILBEY. Ive a good mind not to tell you.
MRS GILBEY. Then dont. I suppose hes been found. Thats a comfort, at all events.
GILBEY. No, he hasnt been found. The boy may be at the bottom of the river for all you care. [Too agitated to sit quietly, he rises and paces the room distractedly].
MRS GILBEY. Then what have you got in your hand?
GILBEY. Ive a letter from the Monsignor Grenfell. From New York. Dropping us. Cutting us. [Turning fiercely on her] Thats a nice thing, isnt it?
MRS GILBEY. What for?
GILBEY. [flinging away towards his chair] How do I know what for?
MRS GILBEY. What does he say?
GILBEY. [sitting down and grumblingly adjusting his spectacles] This is what he says. “My dear Mr Gilbey: The news about Bobby had to follow me across the Atlantic: it did not reach me until to-day. I am afraid he is incorrigible. My brother, as you may imagine, feels that this last escapade has gone beyond the bounds; and I think, myself, that Bobby ought to be made to feel that such scrapes involve a certain degree of reprobation.” “As you may imagine”! And we know no more about it than the babe unborn.
MRS GILBEY. What else does he say?
GILBEY. “I think my brother must have been just a little to blame himself; so, between ourselves, I shall, with due and impressive formality, forgive Bobby later on; but for the present I think it had better be understood that he is in disgrace, and that we are no longer on visiting terms. As ever, yours sincerely.” [His agitation masters him again] Thats a nice slap in the face to get from a man in his position! This is what your son has brought on me.
MRS GILBEY. Well, I think it’s rather a nice letter. He as good as tells you hes only letting on to be offended for Bobby’s good.
GILBEY. Oh, very well: have the letter framed and hang it up over the mantelpiece as a testimonial.
MRS GILBEY. Dont talk nonsense, Rob. You ought to be thankful to know that the boy is alive after his disappearing like that for nearly a week.
GILBEY. Nearly a week! A fortnight, you mean. Wheres your feelings, woman? It was fourteen days yesterday.
MRS GILBEY. Oh, dont call it fourteen days, Rob, as if the boy was in prison.
GILBEY. How do you know hes not in prison? It’s got on my nerves so, that I’d believe even that.
MRS GILBEY. Dont talk silly, Rob. Bobby might get into a scrape like any other lad; but he’d never do anything low.
Juggins, the footman, comes in with a card on a salver. He is a rather low-spirited man of thirty-five or more, of good appearance and address, and iron self-command.