SCENE: A room in an Intelligence Office. Blind screen in centre, on one side of which Superintendent is seated at desk. Enter Miss Daisy Chizzlehurst. Superintendent rises and curtsies.
MISS C., loq. - Is this Mrs. Flynn? Papa sent me about a coachman -
MRS. F. - Yes, mum, to be sure, mum. And what style?
MISS C. - Oh! he must not be too long, or too short either, so that he will fit John's uniform: - he was the last one we had, you know; - and, - let me see: - yes, I think he'd better have a beard; the Browns' coachman has a beard, - though for my part -
MRS. F. [With reminiscences of her millinery days]. - I have the very thing you wish, I am sure, - a very superior article, mum. If you'll kindly be seated for a moment, mum, I'll send him up. [Exit Mrs. F. Miss C. sits down with back to screen, and takes up a book to read.]
Enter Tom Hathaway at other side of screen, with whip, and dressed as from riding. Soliloq. - "Well, here 's a pretty go! The idea of my being sent on such a wild goose chase! - As if I knew anything about maids! They might as well have told me to hire a howling dervish. Just as I was going off for a day's sport, too! I think mother might have hit on some other time to get sick. Some people are confoundedly inconsiderate, any way. [Notices screen.] Holloa! they cage the animals, do they? [Peeks through blind.] By Jove, there's one of 'em now, I do believe. Wish the old antique downstairs would brace, so I could have the thing through with. Wonder if I had n't better begin operations at once, and have the agony over. I will, so help me Bob. [Passes to other side of screen and seats himself without looking at Miss C., who, noticing his entrance, rises.]
MISS C. [aside]. - Oh! this is the coachman, then. What a handsome fellow! Quite distinguished-looking, I declare. The Browns will be absolutely green with envy. But how ill-bred of him to sit down while I am standing! I suppose I shall have to - [reseats herself].
HE [aside, nervously]. - I'd like to know how the deuce I'm going to begin. Why, what am I thinking of? [Pulls forth a voluminous roll from his pocket.] Here are the "few essential requisites" mother spoke about. I'll fire away at once. Let me see - ah! [to Miss C., but without raising his eyes] - are you married?
SHE [aside]. - Good gracious, what can the man mean! [Aloud, stiffly.] No, sir.
HE. - You have no followers? [She does not answer, and he goes on.] Honest and capable? [Aside.] I suppose the old lady meant me to ask straight ahead.
SHE [aside, catching a glimmer of the truth]. - Oh! I see. Well, I think I'll take my revenge by not enlightening him at present. [Aloud.] I hope so, sir.
HE [with attempted dignity]. - Here are a few of the things that will be required of you. "To wait upon the table, take care of three children, help at the ironing, know how to flute [aside] (though I can't tell, for the life of me, what that is. I suppose its some musical thing for the children), dust the parlors, do the sewing. In the spare moments you will be ready to read aloud to my mother, and to wheel the perambulator. However [slyly], I don't think that will be very hard work, for the policeman on our block is very good-looking and obliging. Then you will - oh, by the way, what is your name?
SHE [after a moment's hesitation, during which he looks up at her for the first time]. - Jane, sir!
HE. - Jane: a pretty name; but 't won't do nowadays. You'll have to change it to Celinda, or some such. [Aside.] Why, what a neat figure she has. I wish she'd raise her eyes. [Aloud.] Are your eyes brown or blue?
SHE [smiling imperceptibly and glancing at him for a moment]. - Brown, so I am told.
HE. - That's lucky. You see the last girl had to go because her eyes did n't match our new china; "looked so shockingly inharmonious," the old lady used to say. [Aside.] Zounds, what glorious eyes she has; and what dimples! She'll do, she'll do.
SHE [demurely]. - Perhaps you will allow me a question or too. What is your father's occupation?
HE [pompously]. - My father? He has n't any; he's a gentleman of leisure.
SHE [ironically]. - Ah! - a tramp?
HE [aside, chuckling]. - A tramp! Egad, that would tickle the old gentleman.
SHE. - You have a grand piano, I suppose? I prefer Steinway, but Chickering will do. And two horses; and a billiard room? And, of course, you allow six nights a week out.
HE [aside, staggered]. - Well, I never. Perhaps she'd like a maid to herself and her own four and six, and - I've heard of such things, but [rises and walks up and down irritably, slashing his boots with his whip].
SHE [quietly]. - That is very annoying. [He pays no attention.] [Peremptorily.] Put down that whip, sir, if you please. [He drops it in sheer amazement.]
HE [aside]. - What impudence! Oh, she'll never do! [Looks at her angrily.] But those dimples! She'll have to do! [After a few moments' silence. Aloud.] You can roll cigarettes?
SHE [aside]. - Dear me. This is more than I bargained for. I wish Mrs. Flynn would come. [Aloud.] Is that necessary?
HE. - Oh! absolutely. [Taking out a tobacco pouch.] You'd better try one now.
SHE [aside]. - What shall I do? I don't see how I can escape? Why does n't that woman hurry? [Takes paper, into which he pours some tobacco. Aloud.] Is this the way? [Begins to roll the cigarette.]
HE [aside]. - What a dainty hand! - Tom, you're a goner! [Aloud.] Not quite. [He encloses her fingers in his.] So; that's better [guiding her fingers in rolling]. Now you must light it for me. Here's a match. [He puts the cigarette between his lips. She strikes the match, and, without waiting for the sulphur to burn off, immediately touches it to the end of the cigarette.]
SHE [with affected innocence]. - Why, what's the matter? Is n't that right?
HE [coughing violently]. - Yes, indeed [cachoo!], charming. [Aside.] Great Caesar! [cachoo! Their eyes meet, and they both begin to laugh. After another pause, during which she looks anxiously towards the door.]
HE. - There is one more thing. You know how to put on a shawl? The old lady is an invalid, and very particular. I don't know but that you'd better practise on me. [Snatches Mrs. Flynn's shawl from the table and, offering it to her, sits down again with his back toward her].
SHE [aside]. - Worse and worse. Daisy Chizzlehurst, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. But [desperately] I can't stop now. Oh! why does n't she come? [Proceeds to place the shawl round his shoulders. As she does so, he seizes her hands and holds her fast, glancing up back at her laughingly. They are in this position, when, suddenly, enter Mrs. Flynn. He drops the hands and springs to the opposite side of the room, where he begins to whistle and tries to look as unconcerned as possible.]
MRS. F. [bustling in]. - Dreadfully sorry to have kept you waiting so long, mum; the coachman is below, mum, if you'll step this way. [Exeunt Mrs. F. and Miss C., the latter letting fall a card from her muff as she goes out. Tom, who has stopped whistling and has been standing dumb-founded, darts forward and clutches card.]
HE [reading slowly]. - Miss - Daisy - Chizzlehurst!!! O Tom! [Collapse.]