Squirrel's Cage

The following are the chief characters together with the artists who played in 
the original production by the B.B.C. in 1929:
 
HENRY WILSON            Michael Hogan
JOHN, his father        Laurence Bascombe
ROSE, his mother        Mabel Constanduros
MARY, his aunt          Eleanor Eldor
IVY, his wife           Billie Sinclair
LEADER OF CHORUS        Caleb Porter
 
Overture and Closing Music were written by OWEN MASE.
 
There is no "Narration"; scene and interlude follow one another without a 
break. After the end of each episode there should be one stroke of a bell, 
then the scream of a siren, suggesting a rush through time and space. The 
"Scenes" should be played very intimately--in rather a low key; in contrast to 
the "Interludes," which are to be bold and reverberating, each one working up 
to a thunderous climax.
____________________________________

SCENE 1
 
JOHN  Mary. 

MARY  Yes.
 
JOHN  What time is it?

MARY  Mm?
 
JOHN  What time is it?
 
MARY  About three I think. It'll be dawn soon.
 
JOHN  Dawn. (A pause.)
 
MARY  You might turn the lamp up higher, I can hardly see to read.... Thanks.
 
JOHN  Cold, isn't it?
 
MARY 	Mm?

JOHN  I said it's cold! 
 
MARY  Yes. Why don't you put on some more coal?
 
JOHN  What are you reading?
 
MARY  Robert Elsmere, by Mrs. Humphry Ward.
 
JOHN  That's not a very nice book, is it? ... I don't know what mother would 
have said if she knew you were reading a book like that ...
 
MARY  (Absently) What?

JOHN  I don't know what mother would think of your reading Robert Elsmere--at 
a time like this too.
 
MARY  Oh?

JOHN  Mother would have been reading the Bible.
 
MARY  John, it's funny, isn't it, to think that you and I are brother and 
sister--we're so different. Shall I make some more tea?
 
JOHN  No thanks. I can't understand you---
 
MARY  Quite evidently not, dear. 
 
JOHN  You sit here as cool as you please while Rose is lying upstairs ...

MARY  Quiet John. What is the good of getting into a state about nothing. Sit 
down and rest.
 
JOHN  Rest!

MARY  There's nothing to be done--your getting excited doesn't help Rose.
 
JOHN  I'm going upstairs to see if...
 
MARY  You're doing nothing of the kind. The nurse said she wasn't to be 
disturbed.
 
JOHN  But I'm not going to disturb her. I'm only going to ... Oh, very well.
 
MARY  That's right, let's have some more tea. I'll put on the kettle. Do turn 
the lamp up again, John. I simply can't see to read.
 
JOHN  What's wrong with you, Mary, is that you're all brain and no heart--
you've no feeling.
 
MARY  And you've no sense of proportion.
 
JOHN  How d'you mean?
 
MARY  You'd think Rose was the first woman to go through this--that no one had 
ever had a baby before.
 
JOHN  Well, Rose never has.
 
MARY  I know that. Oh John, I know it's awful for you to think that she is 
suffering--but other women go through it too. Think of it--all over the world 
at every hour of the day and night new babies arriving. Hundreds of thousands 
of little new bodies and souls like--like flowers or--drops of rain. Drops of 
rain, that's it--each one crystal clear and fresh and absolutely individual.
 
JOHN  You don't seem to think of Rose.
 
MARY  Rose? Suffering for her now but afterwards what triumph and what joy. 
You don't know, John, how I envy Rose. (Pause.)
 
JOHN  Ssh! Listen! Do you hear?
 
MARY  What?

JOHN  Listen--that's Rose. She's crying out--oh God!

MARY  I can't hear.

JOHN  There! There again! I must go to her...
 
MARY  No--no---

JOHN  The pain--oh God, make it less hard for her, the pain, (whispers) God 
make it easier for Rose--help her--let her get better. (Pause. He is heard to 
breathe deeply, quickly.)
 
MARY  How hot it is--I'll open the window. Oh John, come! Come here and look 
out. It's lovely--drops of rain tinkling in the leaves. Smell the damp earth.
 
JOHN  Yes, it's good.
 
MARY  Listen to the rain--hundreds of little children whispering--rustling 
about.
 
JOHN  It is like that--rather ...
 
MARY  And each one absolutely separate--its own life apart.
 
JOHN  There's the kettle boiling.
 
MARY  So it is. Let's have tea--no, that's my cup; yours is the one with the 
blue rim ... The sugar's on the mantelpiece.
 
JOHN  Everything topsy turvy--I wish we could get back to normal--Rose is so 
tidy.
 
MARY  Yes. I wonder where the tea is?
 
JOHN  Isn't it in the cupboard?
 
MARY  Oh yes, here it is. (Suddenly) Oh! John!
 
JOHN  What is it?

MARY  It's--why it's a--a squirrel.
 
JOHN  Oh that--yes, that's a squirrel--it's a pet you know--somebody gave it 
to Rose.
 
MARY  What a dear little thing--what a dear little thing--and what a horrid 
cage.
 
JOHN  Oh no, the cage is all right--they always keep them in cages like that.
 
MARY  If it were mine I should set it free.
 
JOHN  It's all right--it's quite nice. When it's asleep it lives in the little 
box-place and when it's awake it runs round and round in the wire wheel.
 
MARY  Round and round?
 
JOHN  Yes. Round and round.
 
MARY  How awful.

JOHN  It likes it--it thinks it's getting somewhere.
 
MARY  And all the while it's just sending the cage spinning round and round. 
(Pause.) It runs fast and works furiously and thinks it's doing splendidly and 
all that happens ... Oh John, set it free! Let it out of the cage and set it 
free in the garden!
 
JOHN  No! No!

MARY  Why not?

JOHN  You can never set them free after they've been tamed.

MARY  Why can't you?

JOHN  They get so used to captivity that freedom makes them afraid.
 
[Pause.

MARY  Poor squirrel. Poor little thing. The kettle will be boiled dry--I'll 
make the tea. Your child, John, I wonder if it will be a boy or a girl.
 
JOHN  Girl, I'm sure.

MARY  Oh, why?

JOHN  I don't know, but I'm certain it'll be a girl--I thought we'd call her 
Rosemary after you and Rose.

MARY  But how nice. What a lovely "fancy" name--so unlike you, John--I'd have 
expected Jane or Lizzie.
 
JOHN  No, Rosemary.

MARY  But suppose after all it is a boy.
 
JOHN  It won't be--it's going to be a girl called Rosemary.

MARY  Another cup of tea?
 
JOHN  Please. You know those cups always remind me of Rose--they were on the 
table at breakfast the day after we'd got back from our honeymoon. It was 
sunny, I remember, and Rose had on a pink dress. Sort of frilly it was and I 
thought I'd never loved her as much--never.
 
MARY  Yes--go on.
 
JOHN  Well, it wasn't anything really--just the way she held the cup and we 
were talking of bacon at the time.
 
MARY  Bacon?
 
JOHN  Yes--Rose said, "Do you like it well fried?" and I said "Yes," and she 
said "All right, dear, I'll tell Cook always to make it frizzly," and she 
always has--and now ... (He gulps with emotion.)
 
MARY  There, John--don't worry--don't worry, my dear. I'm sure she'll be all 
right. John, isn't it funny to think of a new soul arriving into the house--a 
perfectly brand new being---            

JOHN  Is it?

MARY  An absolutely empty mind waiting like an empty room to be furnished, or 
like snow without footmarks. And the first impression your baby will get, 
instead of being pure and noble and lovely will be that awful wallpaper in 
Rose's bedroom and that ugly old beast of a nurse with a wart on her chin---
 
JOHN  Mary, she isn't--she hasn't ...
 
MARY  She has--she's as ugly as sin.
 
[Knock.

JOHN  Yes--yes--come in. What is it? Oh, Nurse, it's you--Well?

NURSE  Congratulations, sir.
 
JOHN  What? Who? You mean ...
 
NURSE  A lovely biby sir, and both doin' well.

MARY  A girl, nurse? Is it a girl?
 
NURSE  A girl! No miss--a boy--a lovely great big biby boy.
 
MARY  (Laughing) Rosemary--that's for remembrance!

____________________________________

INTERLUDE I
 
MANY DIFFERENT VOICES  (Very rapidly) Don't baby ... Baby you're not to ... 
Stop it baby ... Baby you're very naughty ... How often have I got to tell you 
that you're not to ... Don't baby ... put it down baby ... leave it alone ... 
you're not to ... you mustn't ... that's forbidden ... I've told you before 
you're not to ... if you do that I shall be very angry ... if you do that I 
shall smack you ... There! I told you not to ... don't baby ... Baby you're 
not to ... not to ... not to . .. don't baby ... you mustn't... you're not to 
... that's forbidden ... forbidden ... (Many voices far off repeat together) 
Forbidden, forbidden, forbidden.
 
ONE DOMINATING VOICE  Don't baby.
 
ALL  Don't baby.
 
THE ONE  Baby you're not to. 

ALL  Not to.
 
THE ONE  Don't go there.
 
ALL  Don't go there.
 
THE ONE  Don't touch that.
 
ALL  Don't touch that.
 
THE ONE  Don't listen to that.
 
ALL  Don't listen to that.
 
THE ONE  Don't smell that. 

ALL  Don't smell that. 

THE ONE  Don't taste that. 

ALL  Don't taste that.
 
THE ONE  Don't look at that.
 
ALL  Don't look at that.
 
THE ONE  Don't baby. 

ALL  Don't baby.
 
THE ONE  Baby you're not to.
 
ALL  Not to.
 
THE ONE  (Shouting) How many times have I got to tell you that you're not to.
 
ALL  (Shouting) Not to--not to--not to--

[Pause.

ALL  (Quietly echo) Not to--not to--not to.
____________________________________

SCENE II
 
MARY  Henry's getting quite a big boy now.
 
ROSE  (Absently) Yes, isn't he ... purl four, plain four and cast on up to 
sixty-five ... yes he's getting quite a big boy ... he's nearly seven.
 
JOHN  We're sending him to school next autumn.
 
MARY  Really, John; where?
 
JOHN  Oh just a little day-school.
 
ROSE  Such a nice little school ... quite select really.
 
MARY  Where is it?
 
JOHN  Oh just down the road. Saint Christopher's; it's just at the corner of 
Linden Park and Tibbetts Road.
 
ROSE  Such a nice little school ... it's kept by a clergyman.
 
MARY  That is nice.
 
ROSE  Yes, isn't it ... it makes it all ... well ... quite different, doesn't 
it ... and Henry's beginning to talk quite common; it's time he went to 
school.
 
MARY  Yes, I suppose it is.
 
JOHN  Of course it is. I believe in catching 'em young ... bring a boy up in 
the way he should go.
 
MARY  Yes, quite. But which way should he go? There are so many alternatives.
 
JOHN  That's so like you, Mary. Always trying to be clever.

ROSE  John dear, don't be cross.
 
JOHN  I'm not, only Mary will be so ...
 
MARY  Well, I only asked a perfectly reasonable question.

JOHN  Reasonable question! Reasonable fiddlestick! ... The answer's obvious.
 
MARY  Is it?
 
JOHN  Of course.
 
MARY  Well tell me, John, what good do you think this nice little school is 
going to do Henry?
 
JOHN  Well.... Well it'll put some discipline into the boy for one thing ... 
that's the great thing school does for a boy ... it teaches him discipline, 
teaches him to jump to the word of command.
 
MARY  Well I suppose that has advantages ... yes, I admit it has; and I 
suppose perhaps they counterbalance the drawbacks.
 
JOHN  Drawbacks? There aren't any as far as I can see.
 
MARY  Isn't discipline apt to undermine initiative?
 
JOHN  Good Lord no ... why, look at the army.
 
MARY  I am looking at it,
 
JOHN  Well?
 
MARY  Well I think it proves my point.
 
JOHN  Well really!!
 
ROSE  It's just all in the way you look at things, isn't it.... I shall get to 
the narrowing by tea-time.
 
MARY  If I had a son I should send him abroad to be educated.

ROSE  Would you, dear? Oh, I wouldn't like that.
 
MARY  Why not?

ROSE  Well they might bring him up to be a pro-German ... or like those horrid 
little French boys at Yarmouth, do you remember John?
 
JOHN  Yes ... effeminate little Muffs! They were boys of ten or eleven if you 
please, and wore little white socks.

ROSE  And when some of the English boys asked them to play cricket on the 
sands the little beasts said they didn't know how.
 
MARY  Oh yes, that's one thing about English schools, the boys learn to play 
cricket.
 
JOHN  The playing-fields of Eton--what?--and the battle of Waterloo.
 
MARY  All the same I would send my son abroad.
 
JOHN  But whatever for?

MARY  Well ... it might broaden his mind.

JOHN  Hm... broaden his mind and loosen his morals. I'm told the "tone" 
amongst continental boys is something awful.

MARY  Really? How dreadful! What does that mean ... the "tone"?
 
JOHN  Oh well ... sex and all that.
 
ROSE  John dear, I don't think we need discuss that now.... (With a little 
laugh) Aren't men awful, Mary? Do you think I should make the crochet border 
blue or pink? I'm fonder of blue but I think a nice soft pink would tone in 
with the brown.

MARY  Good gracious me! It's nearly four. I must fly ...

JOHN  Oh, don't go yet.

MARY  I must.

ROSE  Oh, but you'll stay to tea, I'm expecting you.
 
MARY  My dear I'd love to, but I've promised to go to tea with the Palissers.
 
JOHN  We hardly see anything of you these days ... just an occasional lunch on 
a Saturday.
 
MARY  That's the worst of being in business ... no time to be social.
 
ROSE  I don't know how you stand it, dear.
 
MARY  Oh, it's not so bad. I rather enjoy it really ... it's a bit monotonous.
 
ROSE  I think you're awfully plucky ... I do really.
 
MARY  Plucky? There's no pluck about it ... it's just a safe stodgy 
respectable way of earning a living. I'd do something more adventurous if I 
could, but beggars can't be choosers.
 
JOHN  You and your adventures!
 
MARY  John thinks I'm mad ... perhaps I am. Anyway I must fly. Good-bye, my 
dear, thank you for lunch.
 
ROSE  Good-bye, dear, come again soon.
 
MARY  Give my love to the infant. Good-bye, John.
 
JOHN  I'll see you to the door.
 
MARY  (Going) I've an umbrella in the hall. It looked like raining when I was 
starting so I ... (Fade out).
 
ROSE  (To herself) Plain four, purl four, cast on up to sixty-five.
 
JOHN  (Far-off) Good-bye. (Door) Well! She's gone. Poor old Mary... it's talk, 
talk, talk--I wonder her tongue doesn't go on strike.
 
ROSE  Oh John, how can you be so naughty! You're the naughtiest old thing! Oh 
I do love Saturday when you're at home.
 
JOHN  Darling! ... Hallo, hallo, hallo! Where have you been all this time?
 
HENRY  Upstairs.
 
JOHN  What were you doing upstairs?
 
HENRY  Playing trains.
 
ROSE  Did you play with the new lines Aunt Mary brought you?

HENRY  No, I like Daddy's lines best.
 
JOHN  (Pleased) Do you old man?
 
HENRY  Mm.
 
JOHN  Why?

HENRY  Aunt Mary's lines is all straight bits, but Daddy's lines go round in a 
circle.
 
JOHN  Is that nice? 
  
HENRY  Mm ... you can make them into a circle and then the trains can go round 
and round.
 
JOHN  Round and round.
 
ROSE  Round and round.
 
HENRY  Round and round.
 
JOHN  I say Henry, how'd you like to go to school?
 
HENRY  I don't know.
 
ROSE  School's lovely, Henry.
 
HENRY  Is it?
 
ROSE  Of course it is, isn't it John?
 
JOHN  Of course it is ... all boys go to school.
 
HENRY  Why do they?
 
JOHN  Why to learn things ... stupid.

HENRY  Why do they learn things?

JOHN  So's they can earn a living.
 
HENRY  Is that what schools are for?
 
JOHN  Of course.
 
HENRY  Oh.
____________________________________

INTERLUDE II

MANY DIFFERENT VOICES  The earth moves in a circle round the sun ... How can 
you possibly tell he's L.B.W. when you're standing at square-leg.... I say, 
heard about Cleaver Major? He's been sacked ... why?
 
ALL  Ssh!!!!
 
ONE VOICE  Don't ask!

ALL  (Snigger.)

MANY  Coo-er Wilson's got his "colours." ... How's that? ... Not out ... Write 
it out, boy, 150 times ... the earth moves in a circle round the sun.... I 
say, heard about Cleaver Major? He's been sacked ... why?
 
ALL  Ssh!!!!
 
ONE VOICE  Don't ask!

ALL  (Snigger.)

MANY  The earth moves in a circle round the sun ... Coo-er Wilson's got his 
colours ... Mary, a bigoted catholic she, fifteen hundred and fifty-three. 
Elizabeth, never a queen so great, fifteen hundred and fifty-eight.... The 
earth moves in a circle round the sun ... don't argue, write it out 150 times 
... don't argue.... Don't argue, your business is to obey not argue.... It 
hurts me more than it hurts you ... put him on for a couple of overs.... 
Ireland is a boggy country; the Irish are a merry people and fond of pigs ... 
write it out 150 times and don't argue.... I say, heard about Cleaver Major, 
he's been sacked ... why?
 
ALL  Ssh!!!!
 
ONE VOICE  Don't ask!

ALL  (Snigger.)
 
ONE DOMINATING VOICE  Write it out 150 times.
 
ALL  150 times.
 
THE ONE  Write it out 200 times.
 
ALL  200 times.

THE ONE  Don't argue.

ALL  Don't argue.

THE ONE  The earth moves in a circle round the sun.
 
ALL  Circle round the sun.
 
THE ONE  I say, heard about Cleaver Major?
 
ALL   What?
 
THE ONE  He's been sacked. 

ALL  Why?

THE ONE  Don't ask!
 
ALL  Ssh!!!!
 
THE ONE  (Snigger very quietly.)
 
ALL  (Suddenly loud) Don't argue.
 
THE ONE  Your business is to obey not argue.
 
ALL  Obey not argue.
 
THE ONE  Wilson's got his colours. 

ALL  Don't argue.

THE ONE  The Irish are a merry people.

ALL  Don't argue.

THE ONE  And fond of pigs.
 
ALL  Don't argue.
   
[A pause. Silence.
 
THE ONE  (Shouting loudly) The earth ...
 
ALL  Yes?

THE ONE  The earth moves in a circle round the sun.
 
ALL  Hurray!!!!
____________________________________

SCENE III
 
MARY  (Calling) Henry! Henry!
 
HENRY  (Calling) Yes, Aunt Mary. (HENRY'S voice is breaking--his utterance is 
shy, jerky.)
 
MARY  Come out into the garden and talk to me--I'm bored.
 
HENRY  Hullo--good heavens, Aunt Mary, you can't lie there--on the ground.
 
MARY  Why not? It's lovely--the grass is quite clean, isn't it?
 
HENRY  It's not that--it's ...
 
MARY  What then?
 
HENRY  Why not sit in the summer house?
 
MARY  It's full of earwigs--and it smells.
 
HENRY  I'll get chairs then.
 
MARY  But why not lie on the grass?

HENRY  Oh, we couldn't do that.
 
MARY  Why on earth not?
 
HENRY  Well--I mean--we never do.
 
MARY  But it's far more comfortable. I like to stretch right out on the 
ground. Besides, the grass is so cool and nice.

HENRY  I don't think the mater would like it.
 
MARY  But why ever not?
 
HENRY  Well, you see, the people in No. 28 might see us--and No. 24--and the 
maid at Kenilworth can see us if she leans out of her bedroom window....
 
MARY  But why shouldn't they see us? We're not doing any harm.

HENRY  They might think it odd--our lying on the grass.

MARY  Henry, don't be a perfect idiot. If you wish to sit on a chair you may--
but I intend to stay just exactly where I am.
 
HENRY  All right, I'll lie down too.
 
[MARY laughs. 

Were you reading?
 
MARY  Yes.
 
HENRY  Anything exciting?
 
MARY  Yes. It's Bernard Shaw's new play.
 
HENRY  Oh.
 
MARY  Do you like Shaw?
 
HENRY  I don't know--I don't think I've ever read any. 

MARY  Do you read much?
 
HENRY  Oh yes--a good lot--I mean in a way.
 
MARY  Who's your favourite author?
 
HENRY  Oh, I don't know--I don't think I've got one. I like exciting stories 
like--well--like they have in the Scarlet Mag.

MARY  I see. I say, Henry, let's do something exciting this afternoon.
 
HENRY  I say--shall we really! Let's go to the Crystal Palace!

MARY  (Laughs) The Crystal Palace. All right then, we'll go to the Crystal 
Palace.
 
HENRY  I like it when you stay here, Aunt Mary--you're so "go-ey." Are you 
going to stay long?
 
MARY  No--I'm going back to work on Monday.
 
HENRY  Do you like your work?
 
MARY  Yes--I do rather--it's interesting as business goes.
 
HENRY  (Surprised) Don't you like business?

MARY  No.
 
HENRY  What are you exactly? When I asked the mater, said you were "in 
business," but she said it in such a funny way.
 
MARY  Yes. She thinks it's not very nice for a woman to be in public life.
 
HENRY  Public life? What is your business, Aunt Mary?
 
MARY  Oh, it's not as thrilling as all that! I'm secretary in a gramophone 
company.
 
HENRY  (Disappointed) Oh--gramophones aren't much good, are they?
 
MARY  Not yet, but they will be. Now you tell me, Henry--what are you going to 
do?
 
HENRY  What am I going to be?
 
MARY  No, what are you going to do?
 
HENRY  Same thing. I'm going into Dad's office.
 
MARY  So I heard. Is that what you want to do?
 
HENRY  Oh well, I've got to do something I suppose--it might as well be the 
Business as anything else.
 
MARY  Mm--if that's how you feel--but isn't there anything else?

HENRY  Well, I'd rather like to have ... there's a chap at school who's going 
out to South Africa to grow oranges--but of course, as Dad says, you must have 
capital.

MARY  Well, you've got capital----
 
HENRY  I haven't. How do you mean?
 
MARY  Two eyes--two arms--two legs--good health--good temper.

HENRY  (Laughing) Oh! You're being funny, are you?
 
MARY  No--quite serious. (A pause) So you'd like to see the world, Henry?

HENRY  Yes, I would rather--in a way. Only, of course, I realise--I mean--
Dad's right when he says ...
 
MARY  Of course, Dad's right in what he says. Dad's infallible.
 
HENRY  (Angry) What do you mean?
 
MARY  (Hotly) Why don't you face things out for yourself, instead of accepting 
what "Dad" says--why don't you go to Africa if you want to? (A pause) Well, 
why don't you?
 
HENRY  I--I am not sure that I do want to. I think really I'm very happy here.
 
MARY  But wouldn't you be happier there?
 
HENRY  That's just it. I might be--but then I mightn't. I mean you never know, 
do you. It might be awful.

MARY  But surely that's just what makes it so romantic--such an adventure--
it's just because it's such a risk.
 
HENRY  I don't think I like risks--and yet ...
 
MARY  Well?

HENRY  It would be thrilling--I mean--oh, I don't know. Aunt Mary, I believe I 
do want to go there. Ratcliffe would take me, I'm sure.
 
MARY  He's the chap from your school who's going to grow oranges?
 
HENRY  Yes--his uncle has a big place and wants several chaps to go out. Oh, 
it's an opening all right.
 
MARY  (With force) Take it, Henry.
 
HENRY  Should I? You think so? Really?
 
MARY  Yes, yes and yes. It's bigger, more scope, more opportunity.  This 
place--oh,  Henry!--it's so poky and restricted and humdrum. The other....
 
HENRY  You're right, Aunt Mary--the other is glorious. I--I think I've always 
wanted to go there. Ratcliffe says it's glorious--he showed me pictures. I'd 
love to go.
 
MARY  Go, Henry.
 
HENRY  Shall I?
 
MARY  Yes, go.
 
HENRY  I will--Aunt Mary, I'll go. I'll go.
 
JOHN  Hallo, you two, what's all the excitement? Having an argument or 
something?
 
[Pause.

MARY  Well--no--not exactly an argument, John.
 
JOHN  You were very excited, then. I thought there must be something up.
 
MARY  There was.

JOHN  (Lightly) I thought so. What's it all about? Eh, Henry? (Pause.) Nothing 
wrong, is there?
 
HENRY  N-no, Daddy.
 
JOHN  (With slight tension) Well, what was all the excitement about? You were 
jumping about like a cat on a hot brick.

HENRY  (With a feeble attempt at laughter) Was I, Daddy?
 
JOHN  (Increased tension) Come on--out with it, boy. What on earth's the
matter with the boy? What's the matter with him, Mary?
 
MARY  Nothing's the matter, John. Henry has come to rather an important 
decision, that's all.               

JOHN  Decision? What do you mean?
 
MARY  You'd better explain, Henry. 

[Pause.

JOHN  Well, Henry? 

[Pause.
 
HENRY  I--well--I--I want to go to South Africa, Dad.

JOHN  Do you--indeed--really--just for the week-end, eh? Bit expensive, won't 
it be?
 
HENRY  No Daddy, I mean I--want to go there for good.

[Pause.

JOHN  To South Africa for good? But--what mad idea is this? We've never even  
thought of South Africa.
 
HENRY  No, Daddy--at least that is I've thought of it--in a way.

MARY  There's a boy at Henry's school--

JOHN  Well, what about him?
 
HENRY  Radcliffe, you know, Daddy--

MARY  The boy's uncle has a farm in South Africa, and he would take Henry as 
an ...
 
JOHN  How do you know? I don't know anything about this. Why have I never been 
consulted, eh, Henry?

HENRY  I--I don't know, Daddy.
 
MARY  Perhaps you didn't seem very interested, John.
 
HENRY  I--I thought you wanted me to go into the Business, Father.

MARY  (Unwisely voluble) Henry isn't keen on the Business, you see, John. He'd 
rather try his luck in the colonies--
 
JOHN  Try his luck in the colonies--try his luck.... That's like you, Mary--
try his luck; and who's to pay the piper if he tries his luck and finds he 
hasn't any luck? I see what it is. You've been influencing the boy--you've 
been going behind my back and putting all these silly wild ideas into his 
head.

MARY  No, John.
 
JOHN  Oh, yes you have. You needn't try to deny it.
 
HENRY  Father, it was my idea.
 
JOHN  Was it. Well, the sooner you get idiotic, romantical, tom-fool ideas 
knocked out of your head, the better. Try his luck in the colonies  indeed--I 
suppose, Mary, you're trying your luck in these wretched--phonograms or 
whatever you call them.
 
MARY  Yes, I am--and they're called gramophones.
 
JOHN  Well, we'll see what happens to you--we'll just see; but meantime let me 
tell you that no son of mine is going to try his luck anywhere--he's going see 
what steady hard work means--what sticking in and keeping his mouth shut 
means--and if he doesn't learn sense by the time he's twenty-one, then he can 
go and try his luck somewhere.  
 
MARY  John, how can you talk like that. Can't you realise what sentimental 
silly nonsense you're talking?
 
JOHN  That's it--that's like you women--argue, argue, argue. But reason? No, 
never.
 
MARY  Are you reasonable? You don't know the meaning of the word. You're just 
a stupid, well-meaning, stick-in-the-mud mediocrity. You always were, and you 
always will be.
 
JOHN  I'll thank you, Mary, not to be abusive to me under my own roof--that 
is, in the garden.
 
MARY  Yes, the neighbours might hear. Oh, John, I know you mean well--I know  
you want to do the best you can for the boy--
 
JOHN  Of course I do. That's why I don't want you putting all this nonsense 
into his head.
 
MARY  But I didn't put it there. It was there already.

JOHN  Really, Mary---
 
MARY  Oh John! John! If you'd only realise our heads are all full of 
nonsense--and Henry's nonsense is so much more admirable--so much more 
sensible than yours.
 
JOHN  All right, Mary, all right, let's leave it at that. I'm sorry I lost my 
temper with you, Mary--there! I apologise. Let's say no more about it. The 
incident's closed.
 
MARY  I apologise too, John--but we can't say the incident's closed.
 
JOHN  Why not?
 
MARY  The motion hasn't been put to the house. We haven't arrived at any 
decision.
 
JOHN  Decision?
 
MARY  (Broadly: this is the crisis) Henry, are you going to South Africa or 
are you going to wait until you're twenty-one?
 
HENRY  I--I don't know.
 
MARY  Oh Henry--surely ... You may never have the chance again. It'll be six 
years before you're twenty-one. Six years--up in the train, down in the 
train--office routine, routine, routine--for six years--- By the time you're 
twenty-one you won't want to go to South Africa--you'll be--my God!--you'll be 
A City Man. 

[Gong--the stroke of Doom. 

Well, Henry--which is it to be?
 
JOHN  My dear Mary, I've told you already there isn't any choice. Henry will 
come into my office until he's twenty-one.
 
MARY  (Inflexibly) Well, Henry--what do you say? 

[Pause.

HENRY  I--well I think prob'ly Dad's right. I mean well--South Africa would be 
a bit of a risk wouldn't it?
 
[Gong again.

MARY  Yes, I expect you'll find the City is ever so much less--risky.

ROSE  (Shouting from afar) John. John. Mary. Where are you all?
 
JOHN  (Calling) We're out here in the garden, Mother.
 
ROSE  Here you are--I've been looking for you everywhere. The dinner'll be 
getting cold--the gong's gone twi--- Mary! My dear! Lying on the grass! 
Whatever will the neighbours say.
____________________________________
 
INTERLUDE: III
 
(The rhythmic puffing of a train accompanies the dialogue.)
 
MANY DIFFERENT VOICES  Tickets please, show your tickets, please. Season, sir? 
All right! ... She's late again. I have to run to the office as it is.... Do 
you mind if we have the window open? ... Care to see the paper, sir? ... Do 
you mind if we have the window shut? ... Tickets please--all tickets ready, 
please. Season, sir? All right.... Do you mind if we have the window open? 
... It simply means I'll have to go on the 8.10.... I don't know what this 
line's coming to ... Do you mind if we have the window shut? ... All tickets 
ready please--Season, sir? All right.... Late again. I don't know what this 
line's coming to ... Do you mind if we have the window open? ... Simply means 
I'll have to go on the 8.10.... Care to see the paper, sir? ... Do you mind 
if we have the window shut? ...
 
ONE VOICE  All tickets ready, please!
 
ALL  Tickets, please!

THE ONE  She's late again.

ALL  Late again.

THE ONE  It simply means I'll have to travel on the 8.10.
 
ALL  Travel on the 8.10.

THE ONE  I do nothing but travel up and down on these suburban trains.
 
ALL  Suburban trains.
 
THE ONE  Up and down--up and down--
 
ALL  Up and down--up and down. Up and down--up and down.
 
THE ONE  Do you mind if we have the window open?
 
ALL  Up and down--up and down. Up and down--up and down. (Chorus continues 
with gathering speed and volume.)
 
THE ONE  Do you mind if we have the window shut?
 
ALL  (Faster still, noisy) Up and down--up and down. Up and down--up and down.
 
THE ONE  (Above the voice of the chorus) Do you mind if we have the window up?

ALL  Up and down--up and down. Up and down--up and down.

THE ONE  (Yelling) Do you mind if we have the window down? 

ALL  (Now at full speed) Up and down--up and down. Up and down--up and down. 
Up and down--up and down--up and down. 

[A whistle blows.
 
THE ONE  (Yelling) All tickets, ready, please!
 
ALL  (Yelling) Tickets please!
 
THE ONE  Season, sir?
 
ALL  All right.
 
N.B.--The Chorus "up and down" must imitate the rhythmic motion of a train at 
speed--"Rum-tum-tum--Rum-tum-tum."
____________________________________

INTERLUDE IV
 
[Many typewriters are heard far off--click, click, click.
 
HENRY  Take this letter for me please, Miss Nemo.
 
NEMO  Yes, Mr. Wilson.

HENRY  Ready, Miss Nemo?
 
NEMO  Yes, Mr. Wilson.

HENRY  To-day is the 25th isn't it, Miss Nemo?
 
NEMO  Yes, Mr. Wilson.
 
HENRY  May 25th. Dear Sir, 

[A typewriter is heard very close at hand. It stops as he resumes.
 
With reference to your esteemed enquiry, I beg to state that we have a good 
selection of... 

(The typewriter resumes, and only an inarticulate hum can be heard of HENRY'S 
voice, till after a time the typewriter stops and he says:)
 
We remain, dear sir, yours faithfully--Gurney, Maxwell and Wilson, per pro 
Henry Wilson. 

(The typewriter clicks again.) 

(This whole dialogue is repeated ad lib., with the alteration only of the 
month. May 25th becomes successively June 25th, July 15th, August 25th and so 
on.) 

(Rapid monotonous utterance for this scene--the repetition is emphatically 
pointless.) 

(At end NEMO repeats 

Yes, Mr. Wilson   Yes, Mr. Wilson   Yes, Mr. Wilson   Yes, Mr. Wilson 

again and again and again. The effect to be like taking an anaesthetic. She 
fades slowly away.
____________________________________

SCENE IV
 
[Dance music.

HENRY  Ivy, may I have this one with you?
 
IVY  Thanks most awfully, Henry, I'd love to.
 
HENRY  (after a time) Jolly floor.
 
IVY  Heavenly.

HENRY  (after some time) Round and round.
 
IVY  Round and round.
 
HENRY  I feel as if we were waltzing on air.
 
IVY  Do you? So do I!
 
HENRY  Do you?

IVY  Yes. Henry, don't--don't look at me that way--people might notice.
 
HENRY  Let's go and sit down somewhere. (Music fainter.) Here on the stairs.

IVY  I hope I shan't dirty my dress.
 
HENRY  I can't believe this is just the old Town Hall. It seems different--
doesn't it? Don't you think so?
 
IVY  Quite, quite different. It's lovely--ever so much nicer and--oh, well, 
it's just quite different.
 
HENRY  You'd never think this was just one of the Subscription Dances--would 
you? It's more like a--well, in a way it's like a ball in a fairy tale--kind 
of.

IVY  (Giggling) Silly! (Suddenly) Don't, Henry!
 
HENRY  Let's go and sit outside somewhere, it's hot here. Come on, it's cooler 
outside.
 
[Music grows fainter.
 
IVY  Oh, Henry--do you think we ought to--out in the park--I don't know what 
mother ... I mean it's dark. What would people think?
 
HENRY  I don't care what people think--I don't care what anybody thinks--
except you, Ivy. 

IVY  (Giggling) Silly! Silly boy!

HENRY  Let's sit down.

IVY  But that lamp--it's so light. People might ...

HENRY  Over here then.
 
IVY  There are lamps by all the seats. They look like moons under the trees.
 
HENRY  We'll lie on the grass then.... Ivy!
 
IVY  Henry, don't-- (squeaky) don't--oh, Henry. (This last with a rapturous 
sigh).
 
HENRY  Darling. Darling, little Ivy. (The music grows louder and then dies 
away again as if borne on a gust of wind.) Ivy, I love you. Do you--could you 
ever--do you think you could ever care for me?
 
IVY  Dear Henry--dear Henry. 

[Music again louder and again fades.

HENRY  (After a moment) Do you remember that day up at the tennis club when 
old Perkins lost his temper? 

IVY  Yes, and Mabel Pargiter said the ball was out when we saw it hit the
line--why the chalk flew right up. I remember that day--oh ever so well. That 
was the day we walked home together.

HENRY  Do you remember the Rogers' blackberry picnic?

IVY  That was the day we nearly got lost on the common.

HENRY  I wanted to get lost.
 
IVY  Did you?
 
HENRY  Did you?

IVY  I don't know.
 
HENRY  Do you remember that day on the river at Richmond?
 
IVY  No I don't. You were beastly, Henry, beastly. 

[Pause.

HENRY  I'm sorry, darling.
 
IVY  Darling! I shouldn't have minded if I'd known that you ... It's all 
different now.
 
HENRY  Ivy, I'm getting on at the office. Dad's awfully decent, you know, 
about things. It's not a big business or anything--in fact it's only a very 
small affair, but it's as safe as houses. I'm making £250 a year now--and I've 
saved nearly £300.
 
IVY  Have you really, Henry.
 
HENRY  Yes--and I'll be making a bit more as time goes on. It's enough to ... 
Oh, Ivy, I can't do anything for you as I'd like to. I mean I'll never be able 
to get you all the things you ought to have--but--could you ... Ivy, will you 
marry me? Will you? 

[Pause.

IVY  Yes, Henry.

HENRY  Darling--you've made me so happy--you've made me happier than I've 
ever-- Are you happy, darling? Say you're happy.
 
IVY  I'm the happiest, luckiest girl in the world!
 
HENRY  Won't they laugh at us at home!
 
IVY  I don't know what Mother'll say.
 
HENRY  Let's go back and dance.
 
IVY  Young Cis won't half be jealous!
 
HENRY  When shall we get married?
 
IVY  Well, I suppose we'll have to get a house first.
 
HENRY  Ah! I've got my eye on the very place for us. Come on, I'll tell you 
while we dance--- (Music louder) It's one of those new houses on the hill 
beyond the gasworks----
 
IVY  Those dear little red ones?

HENRY  Yes.
 
IVY  They're lovely, so artistic. The windows have stained glass at the tops 
and some of them have lovely little beams and gables just like real antique--
 
HENRY  And they all have electric light--- (Music louder still.)
 
IVY  And the most fascinating little windows--all shapes. Round ones--
square ones--oblong--
 
HENRY  First-rate system of drains.
 
IVY  Sweet little crazy pavements.
 
HENRY  Hot and cold water laid on in kitchen sink and bathroom.

IVY  Adorable little art porches with the quaintest pillars.

HENRY  Waltzing on air--round and round and round. 

[Dance music.
 
A pause. Four seconds.
   
Organ is heard to play a fragment of Mendelssohn's "Wedding March." It fades 
away.
____________________________________

SCENE V
 
IVY  (Calling) All right, Lizzie, we're down now. You can bring breakfast.
 
HENRY  Any letters?
 
IVY  Only two--both for you.
 
HENRY  Mm.

IVY  Anything exciting?
 
HENRY  No--only circulars, I say! We'll have to order a daily paper.
 
IVY  I say! What fun!
 
HENRY  Yes. Doesn't that seem--well! kind of established. The Daily Paper.
 
IVY  You can prop it up against the Coffee-pot--the one Uncle Herbert gave us.
 
HENRY  Jolly morning.
 
IVY  Isn't it nice to have it sunny--kind of welcoming us on our first 
morning.
 
HENRY  This room gets the morning sun, too.
 
IVY  I hope it doesn't fade the paper--the little rosebuddy pattern's so 
sweet.
 
HENRY  The garden's a regular sun-trap--I'll get some penny packets when I'm 
in town. There's a place I know not far from the office. I'll pop round there 
at the lunch hour.
 
IVY  What fun! And we'll put them in together this evening. Henry, come away 
from the window.
 
HENRY  Why?

IVY  That horrid woman over in "Helvellyn" is looking at us. I'm sure she 
knows we're "Newlyweds"--she keeps staring so--horrid thing! All right, 
Lizzie, put it ... No, no, no!!! Not there! You'll take the polish off the 
table. You must stand it on one of those little mats--that's right.
 
HENRY  I say, wasn't it thoughtful of Auntie Flo to give us those little mats.
 
IVY  Do you know, I think this is almost the most thrilling thing of all--the 
first breakfast in our own darling little dining-room.
 
HENRY  Do you know, I believe you're right. Honeymooning's all right, but it 
was kind of... Well it never seemed quite real, somehow. But this--well this 
is the real thing--married life.
 
IVY  Married life.

[They both laugh.
 
HENRY  You dear--you know all your honeymoon clothes were ripping--that blue 
hat was an absolute stunner--the one with the cornflowers--but I like you best 
in that pink dress--I don't think I've ever loved you as much--ever. Kiss me. 
What are we having for breakfast?
 
IVY  Guess!
 
HENRY  Kippers.
 
IVY  Wrong.

HENRY  My word, what a smart entrée dish.
 
IVY  It's only electro--Cousin Edith sent it. But guess!

HENRY  Sausages.

IVY  Wrong again. It's bacon. Look!
 
HENRY  By jove, all frizzly. That's how I like it.
 
IVY  Do you? I'll tell Lizzie to do it like that always.
____________________________________

INTERLUDE V
 
(Fragments of Interludes II and III are repeated.)
 
[They cross-fade one into the other.

The effect should be a composite image of the "Commuter's" Day--trains fading 
into typewriters--railway-lines merging into lines of print--the columns of 
bobbing bowlers into columns of pounds, shillings and pence.... Dissolving 
views.
____________________________________

SCENE VI
 
IVY  (Calling) All right, Lizzie, we're down now. You can bring breakfast. 
Baby, come along--Daddy's waiting. Hurry up! Don't dawdle.
 
HENRY  Any letters?

IVY  Yes, I put them by your plate.
 
HENRY  Mm.

IVY  There you are, Baby. Say good morning to Daddy.

JOHNNY  Morning, Daddy.

HENRY  Morning, old man.

IVY  Now then--up you get. Where's your bib? That's right. Don't fidget about 
so, Baby. Keep still. How can I get your bib on? Anything exciting in the 
post, Daddy?
 
HENRY  No--only circulars. Might pass me the paper, dear. Thanks.
  
IVY  Shall I chop the head off for you, darling?
 
JOHNNY  No, I want to pick it, Mummy.
 
IVY  All right, but don't make a mess with the shell.
 
HENRY  Coffee's awful again--tastes of earth.
 
IVY  I'm so sorry, darling. I'll speak to Lizzie.
 
HENRY  You're always speaking to Lizzie, but it doesn't get any better. 
Really, I should have thought after five years ...

IVY  I know, dear--I'm sorry--but coffee-making's a gift you know, like second 
sight. Either one can make coffee or one can't. Lizzie can't.
 
HENRY  Evidently not.

IVY  But she has her points.
 
HENRY  Oh she has--she's a nailer at bacon.
 
IVY  Baby, don't point. What is it? Toast? Yes, I'll butter you some. 
Carefully now with that milk--drink slowly. Oh Baby, you are making a mess. 
Henry, he's got egg on the lobe of his ear. No don't, Baby. Don't touch it. 
How do children get themselves into such a mess?
 
JOHNNY  Marmalade, Mummy.
 
IVY  Don't be rude, Baby. Marmalade what?
 
JOHNNY  Marmalade please.
 
IVY  That's better. Don't pick your nose. You can have a little I suppose. A 
little marmalade won't hurt him after egg, will it, Henry?
 
HENRY  (Rustling paper) Mm? No.
 
IVY  All right you can have a little. I suppose a big breakfast's healthy. 
I'll spread it for you--but don't bolt it. Eat slowly--there.
 
BABY  Fanks, Mummy.

IVY  Darling, do you mind moving the paper a second--I want some more coffee. 
Sorry to disturb you. There! That's right. Baby, don't! Don't lick the 
marmalade off the bread. Why, goodness me, you're getting a big boy now; boys 
of four don't do things like that. You must learn to eat nicely. Why when 
Daddy was four he never licked his bread, did you, Daddy?
 
HENRY  Mm?

IVY  It would never do if you grew up a little pig. It would never do if Baby 
grew up a little pig, would it, Daddy?

HENRY  Mm?

IVY  I said it would never do if Baby grew up a little ... Don't, Baby.
 
MANY VOICES  (Afar) Don't, Baby.
 
IVY  Well you can just go straight out to Lizzie and wash it under the tap. Go 
on--you're a perfect little filth. Go on now, or Mummy will be cross. Don't 
look like that. Run along. (Calling) Lizzie, help Baby to wash his face, and 
you'd better rinse his bib under the tap. Now run along, Baby, don't dawdle. 
(Low voice again) Anything in the paper, dear?
 
HENRY  (Rustling the paper as he puts it away) Absolutely nothing at all--
there never is nowadays. Oh Lord, I wish I didn't have to go to town to-day. 
It's too fine. It's the time of the year that gets one, I suppose--spring-
time.
 
IVY  Need you go? Can't I 'phone and say you're ill or something?
 
HENRY  Oh, no, that wouldn't do. We couldn't possibly do that. No, no, I'll 
just have to go--men must work, you know, and women must weep.
 
IVY  All the same I wish we could have gone a picnic or something. There'll be 
primroses up on the common.
 
HENRY  Primroses.
 
IVY  Oh I wish we could go a primrose picnic.
 
HENRY  I wish we could. It's the monotony that gets irksome--the same old 
routine day after day--round and round--like a squirrel in a cage.
 
IVY  Round and round. (Pause.) Cheer up, Henry, good times coming.

HENRY  That's it--that's just what makes it worth while--the feeling that 
we're progressing, not just running round and round--and the feeling that all 
the time one's building up something solid--something sound.
 
IVY  You mean ...
 
HENRY  I mean that we shall be able to give our Baby a really good start. He 
can go to a thoroughly good school and when he comes to begin his career 
there'll be something solid behind him--capital--not much perhaps, but a 
certain amount--and a certain social position. He'll be able to meet Decent 
People and mix with them on an equal footing. That's what I mean by something 
sound and solid.
 
IVY  Sound and solid--they're such lovely safe words--like--like this dear 
little house.
 
HENRY  By Jove, it's five to nine--I'll need to fly--
 
IVY  I'll get your coat. Will you have a scarf?
 
HENRY  No thanks--it's getting so warm these days I hardly think I'll take a 
coat.
 
IVY  Oh you'd better, darling--those horrid trains are so draughty and you 
know you're still coughing a teeny bit. Ah there you are, Baby. Clean again? 
Now don't get in the way. Daddy's got to hurry for his train.
 
HENRY  Where the dickens is my hat? Don't touch those letters, Baby.

IVY  Here's your coat--now button it up well.... Don't, Baby, you're in the 
way. I wish you'd take a scarf, dear. You'll be down on the six?
 
HENRY  Yes.

IVY  Sure?

HENRY  Yes, yes, yes.

IVY  Well, don't forget to call at Wyatts on your way from the station--I must 
have that haddock for to-night.

HENRY  Where is that confounded hat?
 
IVY  Darling, you're not listening--Wyatts for the fish.

HENRY  Yes, yes, I heard, but where is that hat?
  
IVY  Hat, dear?

HENRY  Yes, dear, hat. Baby, leave my umbrella alone--you'll smash it. Put it 
down, Baby. Where the devil is it?

IVY  Isn't it in the hall-stand?
 
HENRY  No.
 
IVY  The porch, perhaps?
 
HENRY  It's not there, either.
 
IVY  I wonder ... Why, of course, Baby had it yesterday. He was playing at 
being grown up--
 
HENRY  With my hat?
 
IVY  Yes, dear.

HENRY  But why did you let him?
 
IVY  I didn't. He took it when I wasn't looking.
 
HENRY  Well, where is it?
  
IVY  I don't know, dear. (Sharply) Baby, where did you put Daddy's hat--don't 
gape, Baby--think!
 
HENRY  Perhaps it's upstairs.
 
IVY  Perhaps Lizzie knows. (Calling) Lizzie, where's the master's hat? Look 
under the chest in the hall--don't sniff, Baby--is it there?
 
HENRY  No--sure it's not on the window ledge? 

[A bell chimes.

IVY  There! It's striking nine. Oh dear! Oh dear!
 
HENRY  Well, I've missed the train now--that's all, that's the result--I've 
missed the train and I shall be late at the office.
 
IVY  Oh dear, it's too bad. Baby, you're very, very naughty.

HENRY  Baby, haven't I told you before that you're not to touch my things. How 
many times have I got to tell you that you're not to--not to--not to,
 
VOICES (Loudly) Not to--Not to--Not to--Not to--Not to (continuing ad lib.).

(Voices cross-fade with Closing Music.)