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Read Complete Plays of John Galsworthy Part 214

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POULDER. [Barring the way] Not so! James, put him up in that empty ‘ock bin. We can’t have dinner disturbed in any way.

JAMES. [Putting his hands on THE PRESS’S shoulders] Look here–go quiet! I’ve had a grudge against you yellow newspaper boys ever since the war–frothin’ up your daily hate, an’ makin’ the Huns desperate. You nearly took my life five hundred times out there. If you squeal, I’m gain’ to take yours once–and that’ll be enough.

PRESS. That’s awfully unjust. Im not yellow!

JAMES. Well, you look it. Hup.

PRESS. Little Lady-Anne, haven’t you any authority with these fellows?

L. ANNE. [Resisting Poulard’s pressure] I won’t go! I simply must see James put him up!

PRESS. Now, I warn you all plainly–there’ll be a leader on this.

[He tries to bolt but is seized by JAMES.]

JAMES. [Ironically] Ho!

PRESS. My paper has the biggest influence

JAMES. That’s the one! Git up in that ‘ock bin, and mind your feet among the claret.

PRESS. This is an outrage on the Press.

JAMES. Then it’ll wipe out one by the Press on the Public–an’ leave just a million over! Hup!

POULDER. ‘Enry, give ‘im an ‘and.

[THE PRESS mounts, a.s.sisted by JAMES and HENRY.]

L. ANNE. [Ecstatic] It’s lovely!

POULDER. [Nervously] Mind the ’87! Mind!

JAMES. Mind your feet in Mr. Poulder’s favourite wine!

[A WOMAN’S voice is heard, as from the depths of a cave, calling “Anne! Anne!”]

L. ANNE. [Aghast] Miss Stokes–I must hide!

[She gets behind POULDER. The three Servants achieve dignified positions in front of the bins. The voice comes nearer. THE PRESS sits dangling his feet, grinning. MISS STOKES appears.

She is woman of forty-five and terribly good manners. Her greyish hair is rolled back off her forehead. She is in a high evening dress, and in the dim light radiates a startled composure.]

MISS STOKES. Poulder, where is Miss Anne?

[ANNE lays hold of the backs of his legs.]

POULDER. [Wincing] I am not in a position to inform you, Miss.

MISS S. They told me she was down here. And what is all this about a bomb?

POULDER. [Lifting his hand in a calming manner] The crisis is past; we have it in ice, Miss. ‘Enry, show Miss Stokes! [HENRY indicates the cooler.]

MISS S. Good gracious! Does Lord William know?

POULDER. Not at present, Miss.

MISS S. But he ought to, at once.

POULDER. We ‘ave ‘ad complications.

MISS S. [Catching sight of the legs of THE PRESS] Dear me! What are those?

JAMES. [Gloomily] The complications.

[MISS STOKES pins up her gla.s.ses and stares at them.]

PRESS. [Cheerfully] Miss Stokes, would you kindly tell Lord William I’m here from the Press, and would like to speak to him?

MISS S. But–er–why are you up there?

JAMES. ‘E got up out o’ remorse, Miss.

MISS S. What do you mean, James?

PRESS. [Warmly] Miss Stokes, I appeal to you. Is it fair to attribute responsibility to an unsigned journalist–for what he has to say?

JAMES. [Sepulchrally] Yes, when you’ve got ‘im in a nice dark place.

MISS. S. James, be more respectful! We owe the Press a very great debt.

JAMES. I’m goin’ to pay it, Miss.

MISS S. [At a loss] Poulder, this is really most—-

POULDER. I’m bound to keep the Press out of temptation, miss, till I’ve laid it all before Lord William. ‘Enry, take up the cooler.

James, watch ‘im till we get clear, then bring on the rest of the wine and lock up. Now, Miss.

MISS S. But where is Anne?

PRESS. Miss Stokes, as a lady—-!

MISS S. I shall go and fetch Lord William!

POULDER. We will all go, Miss.

L. ANNE. [Rushing out from behind his legs] No–me!

[She eludes MISS STOKES and vanishes, followed by that distracted but still well-mannered lady.]

———-

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