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Truth : a play in four acts / by Clyde Fitch. Fitch, Clyde, 1865-1909. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images University of Kentucky, Electronic Information Access & Management Center Lexington, Kentucky 2002 b92-203-30752402 Electronic reproduction. 2002. (Beyond the shelf, serving historic Kentuckiana through virtual access (IMLS LG-03-02-0012-02) ; These pages may be freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. Truth : a play in four acts / by Clyde Fitch. Fitch, Clyde, 1865-1909. Samuel French, New York : c1907. 211-441 p. ; 20 cm. Coleman Microfilm. Atlanta, Ga. : SOLINET, 1994. 1 microfilm reel ; 35 mm. (SOLINET/ASERL Cooperative Microfilming Project (NEH PS-20317) ; SOL MN04501.06 KUK) Printing Master B92-203. IMLS This electronic text file was created by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). No corrections have been made to the OCR-ed text and no editing has been done to the content of the original document. Encoding has been done through an automated process using the recommendations for Level 1 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Digital page images are linked to the text file. The Truth A PLAY IN FOUR ACTS By CLYDE FITCH 1,1 NEW YORK SAMLEL FRENCH P 18( SHER R AVEST 3OTH STREET LONDON SAMUEL FRENCH, LTD. 26 SOUTHAMPTON ST. STRAND Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown Company This page in the original text is blank. THE TRUTH A eAYIN FOUR A C7S This page in the original text is blank. NEW YORK SAMUEL FRENCH PUBLISHER 28 WEST 38TH STREET LONDON SAMUEL FRENCH, LTD. 26 SOUTHAMPTON ST. STRAND Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown Company The Truth A PLAY IN FOUR ACTS By CLYDE FITCH COPYRIGHT, 1907, BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This play is fully protected by the copyriphr !sw, all requirements of which have been complied with. In its present printed form it is dedi- cated to the reading public only, and no performance of it, either pro- fessional or amateur, may be given without the written permission of the owner of the acting rights, who may be addressed in care of the publishers, Little, Brown, and Company. TO MARIE TEMPEST WITH GRATEFUL ADMIRATION FOR HER TRIUMPHANT BECKY ON APRIL 6, 1907 C. F. This page in the original text is blank. THE TRUTH ACT I. AT THE WARDERS', NEW YORK Thursday Afternoon. ACOL II. AT THE WARDERS'. Saturday After-noon,yust after lunch. ACT III. AT STEPHEN ROLAND'S, BALTIMORL Saturday ANight. ACT IV. AT STEPHEN ROLAND'S. Monday Morning. This page in the original text is blank. THE PERSONS IN THE PLAY WARDER. ROLAND. LINDON. SERVANT AT THE WARDERS' BECKY WARDER. EVE LINDON LAURA FRASER. MRS. GENEVIEVE CRESPIGNY. MESSENGER BOY. This page in the original text is blank. Produced in Cleveland, Ohio, October, 1906, and later played at The Criterion and Lyceum Theatres, New York, with the following cast: - Warder . Roland Lindon. Servant at the Warders' Becky Warder . . Eve Lindon . . . Laura Fraser. Mrs. Genevieve Crespigny Messenger Boy ... . . William J. Kelly ... ... J. E. Dodson ... . . . George Spink Hodgson Taylor . . . . . Clara Bloodgood .M.. .. rs. Sam Sothern Elene Fraser ... . . . .Zelda Sears . . Frederick Harrison Played in New York by William B. Mack, and also by John Emerson. This page in the original text is blank. Produced at the Comedy Theatre, London, April 6, 1907, with the following cast:- Warder Roland Lindon Servant at the Warders' . Becky Warder . . Eve Lindon . Laura Fraser . Mrs. Genevieve Crespigny Messenger Boy . . . . . Allan Aynesworth ... . . .Dion Boucicault Dawson Milward ... . . .Horton Cooper ... . . . Marie Tempest .... . . . . Grace Lane ... . . . .Sybil Carlisle .. . . . . Rosina Filippi . . . .Donald Calthrop This page in the original text is blank. Revived by Winthrop Ames at The Little Theatre, New York, on April il, 19I4, with the following cast: - Warder. Roland. Lindon. Servant at the Warders' Becky Warder . Eve Lindon Laura Fraser . Mrs. Genevieve Crespigny. Messenger Boy . . Sydney Booth Ferdinand Gottschalk ... . . .Conway Tearle . . . . . Lionel Ifogarth Grace George Isabel Irving Fanny Hartz ... . . . .Zelda Sears Guthrie McClintic This page in the original text is blank. ACT I Al MRS. WARDER'S. An extremely attractive room, in the best of taste, gray walls with dull soft green mouldings, old French chintz curtains, furniture painted to match the walls and covered with the same chintz. Some old colored engrav- ings are on the mantel shelf and a couple of eighteenth-century French portraits on the wall. On the Left is a mantel, and near it a large writ- ing table agains.' the back c,' a low sofa whitch laces the audience; on the taole a telephone; an armchair and a smal; taole on th.i Lelt; a Bab-y Grand piano in the upperJeft corner n; the room. Some consols and tables in the room; four windows at the back, through which one sees the 211 THE TR U TH park. Doors, Right and Left; books, photo- graphs, flowers, etc., on the tables and consols. A smart, good-looking man-servant, JENKS, shows in MRS. LINDON and LAURA FRASER. The former is a handsome, nervous, overstrung woman of about thirty-four, very fashionably dressed; Miss FRASER, on the conti ary, a matter-of-fact, rather commonplace type of good humor- wholesomeness united to a kind sense of humor. MRS. LINDON is the sort of woman warranted to put any one on edge in the course of a few hours' consecutive association, while /riction -udth MISS FR ASER is equally certain to smooth down the raw edges. MRS. LINDON. [Coming in to a chair near the Centre witk quick determination.] You have no idea when Mrs. Warder will be in SERVANT. No, madam. 212 THE TRUT H2 MRS. LINDON. She was lunching out SERVANT. Yes, madam. LAURA. [With a movement to go.] Come! She may be playing bridge and not come home for hours. MRS. LINDON. [Firm, though irritable.] I will wait till half-past five. [To SERVANT.] If Mrs. Warder comes in before that, we will be here. [Nervously picks up check-book Irom the writ- ing-table, looks at it but not in it, and puts it down. SERVANT. Very good, madam. [Goes out Left. LAURA. [Goes to EVE.] My dear, you must control yourself. That man, if he has half a servant's curiosity, could easily see you are ex- cited. MRS. LINDON. Yes, but think! She's been 2.3 THE TRUTH meeting Fred probably every day for the last two months, although she knew I had left his house, and always pretended to me she never saw him! [Sitting beside the writing-table. LAURA. [Sitting Left.] You shouldn't have come here at once. You should hav. waited till you had time to think over your information and calm yourself a little. MRS. LiNDoN. I couldn't wait! Becky! One of my oldest friends! One of my bridesmaids! LAURA. What! MRS. LINDON. No, she wasn't, but she might have been; she was my next choice if any one had backed out. LAURA. Probably Fred's appealing to her sympathy,-you know your own husband! MRS. LINDON. [With a disagreeable hald-laugh.] 214 THE TR UTH 215 Yes, I know him better than she does! What I don't like is her secrecy about it after I'd made her the confidante of my trouble! LAURA. I thought I was that MRS. LINDON. You are - another! But you mustn't forget that I have gone to Becky in hys- terics and begged her to make it up for me with Fred. LAURA. Were you perfectly frank with her MRS. LINDON. Perfectly! I told her the truth, and more too! I told her I loved Fred in spite of his faults -Good Heavens! if a woman had to find a faultless man to love! -I've asked her advice. [Rising nervously and going to the so/a. LAURA. You haven't taken it! MRS. LINDON. That doesn't make any differ- ence! Who ever does [Sitting on the so/a.] She 216 THE TRUTH owed me her loyalty instead of flirting with Fred behind my back. [She opens the cigar box on the writing-table behind her and then bangs it shut. LAURA. Perhaps she's really trying to make peace between you in her own way! MRS. LINDON. Does it look like it Actually telling me yesterday she wouldn't trust herself in his presence for fear she'd lose her control and tell him what she thought of him! -and all the time she had an appointment to meet him this afternoon -in the Eden Ml uste, if you please! LAURA. [With comic disgust.] Oh! Horrors! MRS. LINDON. Yes, in the chamber of them! If that isn't compromising! LAURA. Eve! MRS. LLNDON. And Tom Warder so nice! Everybody likes him! THE TRU TH [Picks up stamp box and bangs it down. LAURA. Including Becky. That's the point. Becky loves her own husband. What does she want of yours MRS. LLNDON. She loved Tom Warder when she married him, but that was in I903! Besides, Becky always liked having men fond of her whether she cared for them or not. LAURA. Nonsense! MRS. LINDON. She's what the French call an "allumeuse"-leads them on till they lose their heads, then she gets frightened and feels in- sulted ! LAURA. But you claim she does care for Fred! MRS. LINDON. My dear, a magnetic man like Fred has a way of winding himself around a woman and keeping himself wound as long as he wishes I even when she doesn't wish, -look 217 THE TRUTH at me! I'd give anything to throw him off for good, but I can't stop being in love with him! LAURA. [Who has moved over to the chair beside the so/a, pats EVE'S hand.] Poor old Eve! Well, when she comes, what are you going to do MRS. LINDON. Give her one more chance to tell me the truth! I'll ask her outright when she saw Fred last. LAURA. But if she keeps on with her "bluff" of not seeing him, you can't tell her she lies with- out making a horrid scene, and what good would that do AMRS. LINDON. Exactly! She'd never acknowl- edge she was lying but just go on! I may appeal to Tom Warder himself! [Rises and goes to mantel, looking at the fly-leaves o0 two books on a table which she passes. LAURA. NO I 218 THE TR UTH MRS. LINDON. Why not We've been friends since babies. LAURA. You wouldn't I MRS. LINDON. I don't accuse Becky of any- thing dreadful! Besides, it will be for his good too, as well as mine, - he knows Fred, and I'll wager anything he'll be as eager as I to stop any excess of friendship with him. [Goes up to the window.] Sh! here she is! and a man with her ! LAURA. [Rises, excited, and joins her.] Who MRS. LINDON. [Going to the other window.] I can't see. LAURA. [Joining her at the second window.] Suppose it should be - MRS. LINDON. Exactly! If she hears I'm here, she'll never let him in. [She starts with a new idea and goes to the door Right.] The window in 21( 220 THE TR UTH that hall juts out; perhaps we can see the front door from there. Come quickly! [Tries to pull LAURA out Right. LAURA. I don't approve of what you're doing at all. MRS. LINDON. Oh, come! [They go out and close the door behind them. [The SERVANT shows in BECKY and LINDON, Left. BECKY is a pretty, charming, volatile young woman, sprightly, vivacious, lovable. She is dressed ultra smartly, and in the best of taste. LINDON is dapper, rather gool- looking, though not particularly strong in character, and full of a certain personal charm. He also wears very fashionable clothes. He is a man whose chief aim in life is to amuse himself. SERVANT. Mrs. Lindon and Mfiss Fraser were THE TRUTH22 waiting to see you, madam; they must have gone. BECKY. [With a humorous raising of the eye- brows and a look to LINDON.] Oh! - I'm so sorry! [The SERVANT goes out. LINDON. Gee! wliat a narrow escape. LAURA. [Off stage Right, pleading loudly.] Eve! Eve!! Come'!! MRS. LINDON. [Ofi stage Right, loudly.] I ill not. I will run my own affairs my own way. BECKY. [rho has heard this, with an amused, mischievous expression.] They are there! Do you suppose thcy saw you [They lower their voices slightly. LINDON. Vell, - Eve can see through most things, but not through the walls! Good-by. [He starts to hurry out, but BECKY stops him. BECKY. You must come back! That's what I 221 THE TRUTH brought you home with me to-day for -to talk about Eve. This estrangement has gone on long enough. I've come to the conclusion you're as much to blame as she is, - or more. LINDON. I like that from you ! BECKY. I mean it, and if she wants you back, you've got to go. LINDON. Well, let me get a cocktail first. BECKY. I'm serious. LINDON. So'Hl I be if Eve comes in and catches me. [Going. BECKY. [Going with him.] I'll let you out - but I expect you here again in half an hour. Do you understand [They go out Left. Of stage.] You're to come back at six. LI.NDON. [Of stage, at a distance.] All right. rEVE comes in excitedly from the Right. 222 THE TRUTH 223 MRS. LINDON. I think it is Fred! Watch from the window! I'll stay here in case Becky comes in. [She comes to the uriting-table.] I'd like to scratch her eyes out! [LAURA comes in and goes to right of the so/a. LAURA. It was Fred. MRS. LINDON. [Gives a tigerish, hal/-controlled, hashed cry of rage.] The wretched little beast [BECKY comes in with a start o/ surprise. She beams. BECKY. My dears! What a pleasant surprise! Why didn't Jenks tell me Where in the world did you drop from Laura, darling! [She kisses LAURA, who is very unresponsive, having pressed MRS. LLNDON'S hand as she passed her. MRS. LINDON. We heard you come in, -we thought with some one, -and as I'm rather upset, THE TRUTTH we went in there till you should be alone. If you are busy, don't let us interrupt. [BECKY shows that she is relieved when she hears they don't know FRED was there. BECKY. 0 dear, no, I'm not busy. I came home alone,-you must have heard me talking with the servant. I've been playing bridge since luncheon. [BECKY and LAURA sit on the so/a. MRS. LINDON. WI here BECKY. Clara Ford's, our usual four. [LAURA and EVE exchange glances. MRS. LINDON. Why! I saw her lunching at Sherry's. BECKY. [Quickly, after only a second's hesi- tation.] Yes, she couldn't play to-day, but it was her turn at her house, so we went all the same - and - er - er - Belle Prescott took her place. 224 THE TRUTH2 [Another surreptitious look passes between LAURA and MRS. LINDON. LAURA. Did you win BECKY. Yes, a hundred and fifty! LAURA. A hundred and fifty Good! MRS. LINDON. [Who has seated herself in the chair beside the sofa.] Becky, Laura knows all my troubles; she's the bosom I weep them out on. BECKY. Oh, come, I've gathered a few dewey diamonds off my laces! Well, how is Fred be- having Has he shown any sign yet MRS. LINDON. Not one. I thought perhaps you'd have some news. BECKY. [Looking away.] I How should I have [Leans over and smooths her skirt. MRS. LINDON exchanges a look with LAURA. MRS. LINDON. You said two days ago for me 225 226 THE TRUTH to keep silent and wait, and Fred would make an advance. BECKY. And so he will, I'm sure! unless you do what you threatened. [To LAURA.] I tell Eve if she starts a suit for separation or does anything of that sort publicly, Fred may be furious and accept the situation, no matter how much of a bluff it might be on Eve's part. LAURA. Very likely. MRS. LINDON. I thought perhaps you meant to see Fred and have a talk with him BECKY. No! [MRS. LINDON and LAURA ex- change glances, as BECKY, rising, rings bell Right.] INhat good would that do To have the recon- ciliation mean anything it must be of his own volition. He must come for you, Eve, because he misses you, because he wants you back. [MRS. LLNDON joins LAURA on the sola and talks in a THE TRUTH 227 loud and excited whisper to her as to BECKY'S very evAdent prevarication. SERVANT enters Right; BECKY speaks to him aside, amiusedly watching them, and then comes above table. As she comes back.] WellI MRS. LINDON. I believe there's another woman in it! BECKY. [Laughing.] I knew she was jealous! [To MRS. LINDON.] That's just the sort of thing that has made quarrels all along between you and Fred. [She comes to her. MRS. LINDON. Well, if you knew all I've had to forgive Fred, and all I have forgiven, you'd realize I had good reason always for my share of the quarrels. BECKY. Listen to me, Eve. You're a luckier woman than you know! THE TRUTH MRS. LINDON. [Startled.] How do you mean [LAURA puts her hand on EVE'S shoulder to calm her. BECKY. Because, instead of having the for- giveness always on his side, you have the blessed privilege of doing the forgiveness yourself. [AIRS. LINDON gives a falsetto snort.] You may smile if you like - MRS. LINDON. [Interrupting.] Oh, no, thank you. I don't fccl at all like smiling! BECKY. Well, honestly, I envy you. LTakes EVE'S hands in hers. MIRS. LINDON looks once at LAURA questioninglv, and tack again quickly to BECKY.] You know I love Tom with my whole heart -and it's a big heart for a little woman -and yet I keep him forgiving me -forgiving me something or other all the time. I'd be afraid his forgiveness would wear out, only it's in his 22S THE TRUTH 229 soul instead of his body, and if our bodies wear out, our souls don't -do they Already at the very beginning of our life together I owe him more dear forgiveness than I can ever repay, and believe me, Eve, such a debt would be unbear- able for a woman unless she adored her husband. AIRS. LINDON. You've too much sentiment- I'm practical. BECKY. [Sitting down in the chair at Centre.] Does being practical give you one-half the happi- ness my "sentiment" gives me AIRS. LLNDON. Nonsense! My sympathies are with the one who has the forgiving to do. BECKY. You mean, like all selfish people, you sympathize with yourself, so you'll never be happy, even if you get Fred back. MRS. LINDON. [Startled, angry.] If What do you mean by that 230 THE TRUTH [Looks at BECKY, then at LAURA, sharply, then back at BECKY. BECKY. [Smiling.] Say when instead! when you get Fred back. Trust me, teach yourself to be grateful that it is you who have to forgive, and not the other way round. MRS. LINDON. [Rises, facing her, almost tri- umphantly, lully persuaded that BECKY is in the wrong.] I knew when I came here you'd make excuses for him. BECKY. [Smiling.] You've misunderstood me. I'm trying to make them for you. MRS. LINDON. Thank you. You need excuses more than I do. LAURA. [Rises, alarmed.] Eve! MRS. LINDON. I am perfectly well aware that I made a very serious mistake in coming to you of all women! THE TR U TH 231 BECKY. [Rises.] In that case I think it best to consider the matter closed between us. MRS. LINDON. You can think what you please, but I have no such intention! LAURA. Eve! [She sits again on the so/a. Really Becky has shown herself reasonable and kind, and you've said enough to-day. We'd better go. BECKY. I should have to ask you to excuse me in any case, as I have an engagement in a few minutes. [MRS. LINDON looks meaningly at LAURA. AIRS. LLNDON. [To BECKY.] I intend to have the whole thing out now! [WARDER enters left. [WARDER is a strong and sensible, unsuspicious man, -no nerves and no "temperament," noth- THE TR UTH ing subtle about him; he is straightforward and lovable. WARDER. Oh, excuse me! BECKY. No, come in, Tom; it's Laura and Mrs. Lindon. [LAURA and MRS. IINDON say " How do you do," as WARDER comes into the room. He greets them in turn. BECKY writes in pencil on a sheet of paper on the desk. Tom. I wanted to ask Becky if she wished to go to a theatre to-night. BECKY. Yes, I should like to. [She indicates to Tom that she wants EVE and LAURA to go, and having finished writing, comes to him.] I'm sorry, but you really must excuse me. [Slipping into WARDER'S Ihand the note she had secretly written.] Mrs. Lindon and Laura are going. What are you going to do now 232 THE TR UTH2 [M\IRS. LINDON looks again meaningly at LAURA. WARDER. I thought I'd go round to the club till dinner. BECKY. [Relieved.] That's right. I shall be engaged till half-past six, - er - AIrs. Clayton is coming to see me about the Golf Club at Ros- lyn - and - lots of things. You needn't hurry back. [She gives him an affectionate little squeeze of the arm and goes out Right. He looks down at the paper slyly and reads it. MRS. LINDON. [Rises and goes to Tom.] Tom, if Xou've nothing in particular on at the club, would you give me half an hour LAURA. [Rises and goes to EVE.] Eve, you haven't the time yourself; you must come with me. WARDER. [Suppressing a smile as he finishes 2R3 234 THE TRUTH reading the note, he is a little embarrassed.] WeR -really - Eve -I don't know, - I'll tell you how it is- MRS. LINDON. Oh, I don't mean here! I know Becky wrote you a note telling you not to let me stay, didn't she XWARDER. [Laughing.] She did - you see, she has an engagement. [Reading from the paper, good-naturedly.] "Get rid of Eve, I want the room." MRS. LINDON. At six o'clock. [Glances meaningly at LAURA. WARDER. [Casually.] Is it MRS. LINDON. To see Fred in! LAURA. Eve! be sensible! WARDER. NO, it's for Mrs. Clayton about Roslvn. MRS. LrNDON. Then why must she be rid of THE TR U TH 235 me Georgia Clayton and I are the best of friends, and I have as much to do with Roslyn as Becky. WARDER. [Still pleasantly.] I suppose Beck has a good reason, if she cared to tell us. MRS. LINDON. I know Becky has an appoint- ment here, at six, with Fred. LAURA. You don't know it, Eve! MRS. LLNDON. I do. WARDER. [Still pleasantly.] In any case that is Becky's and Fred's business, isn't it MRS. LINDON. You know Fredl WARDER. Yes! MRS. LINDON. Well WARDER. You don't want my opinion of Fred, at this late day! I also know Becky! MRS. LINDON. Becky and Fred meet every single day. 236 THE TRUTH LAURA. [Interpolates.] She thinks so. WARDER. What are you talking about MRS. LINDON. What I know! And if you'll wait here with me a few minutes now, in spite of what Becky said, you'll see Fred and not Mrs. Clayton arrive. WARDER. If your husband s really coming, it was probably to spare you that Becky spoke of Mrs. Clayton, and I shouldn't think of embarrass- ing her by waiting. MRS. LINDON. [Disagreeably, irritatingly.] Oh, you don't mind, then WARDER. Almost any man, my dear Eve, would mind your husband meeting his wife every day! I only think you've been misinformed, or only half informed, that's all. MRS. LINDON. You are aware that Fred and I have been separated for two months THE TR U 2J7 WARDER. Yes, Becky told me. LAURA. [Looking at her watch.] It's almost six now. Come, Eve. WARDER. [Going toward the door, Le/t.] Yes, I'm afraid I must ask you - [Rings electric bell on wall beside the door. MRS. LINDON. [Going to him.] Tom, for the sake of our boy and girl friendship, walk home with me, and let me speak plainly. LAURA. [On the other side of WARDER.] Mr. Warder, please don't go. MRS. LINDON. [To LAURA, angry.] What do you mean [To WARDER, pleadingly.] I've no other man in the world to go to; I need advice. Won't you give me yours WARDER. [Looks at her a moment, hesitates, then says.] My advice Of course, if you wish that. [The SERVANT appears in the doorway in 2;7 238 THE TR UTH answer to the bell. To SERVANT.] My hat and coat - and say to Mrs. Warder I'm walking home with Mrs. Lindon. [He goes out Left. SERVANT. Yes, sir. [Follows him out. [LAURA looks significantly at MRs. LINDON. LAURA. If you keep on, there soon won't be a soul left in New York whose advice you haven't asked and not taken ! MRS. LINDON. Well, it's my own trouble; I can do what I like with it. What are you going to do now [She sits in the armchair at the Left. LAURA. [Going to her.] Don't tell him all you think you know about Becky. MRS. LLNDON. Think / LAURA. It will be a very great mistake. THE TRU TH3 MRS. LINDON. Laura, I'll tell you the truth; I've had Fred watched by private detectives for over a month, and I have a list of dates and places of their meetings to more than prove what I say. LAURA. How dreadful of you! MRS. LINDON. Oh, wait till you get a hus- band, and then you'll sympathize more with a woman who is trying to keep one! LAURA. But these places where they meet MRS. LINDON. Are respectable so far as I know. But daily meetings my dear, daily! LAURA. And you'll tell Mr. Warder MRS. LINDON. I don't know yet how much I shall tell. What are you going to do now LAURA. Wait till to-morrow! Give yourself time to recover, to consider. MRS. LINDON. [Simply repeals.] What are you going to do now 239 THE TR UTH LAURA. [Deliberately crosses to the chair at Centre and sits.] Stay and see Becky. MRS. LINDON. [Rises, delighted.] Oh, do! Stay till Fred comes, and catch her! LAURA. No, no! I've finished with this now. I don't sympathize with what you're going to do. WARDER. [With hat and coat, in the doorway Left.] Ready MRS. LINDON. Yes. WARDER. Good-by, Laura. LAURA. Good-by. [MRS. LINDON goes out Left with WARDER. After the outside door is heard to close BECKY comes into the room hurriedly. She stops suddenly on seeing LAURA, turns and tries to steal out. Just as she gets to the door, LAURA catches her.] Becky! [BECKY turns and their eyes meet. BECKY laughs, realizing she is caught. 240 THE TR UTH4 BECKY. Oh, you didn't go with them LAURA. No! BECKY. Had enough of Eve to-day LAURA. Not enough of you. BECKY. [Sings instead of speaks.] "Thank you ! " [She puts her arm around LAURA, and they sit on the so/a. LAURA. Becky, why won't you be frank with Eve BECKY. I was. LAURA. No, you didn't tell the truth about see- ing Fred. BECKY. Oh, that! LAURA. Yes, that! BECKY. I may have seen him once or twice, that's all. LAURA. Exactly what Eve says -you don't tell the truth! 241I 242 THE TRU TH BECKY. It's false! I never told a malicious lie in my life. I never told a fib that hurt any one but myself! LAURA. Tell Eve the truth. Make her have confidence in you. She says if you cross the ferry to Jersey City, you say you've been abroad. BECKY. [Laughing.] Well, so I have! Laura! I'm doing my best to make Eve happy. I can't do any more than my best, and if I do it at all, I must do it my own way! LAURA. You've seen Fred to-day. BECKY. No, I haven't. LAURA. Becky! He came home with you just now! BECKY. What makes you think so LAURA. I saw his back on the steps with you. BECKY. Oh, I see - spying on me Well, you made a mistake in the back. 7HE TR UTH 243 LAURA. I know it was Fred Lindon. BECKY. And I know it wasn't. LAURA. You're not seeing him every day BECKY. Certainly not! But what affair is it of yours, if I do LAURA. We're all friends, and you're making Eve wildly jealous. BECKY. That is entirely her own fault, not mine. [The SERVANT enters Lelt with a bill on a small silver tray. SERVANT. Pardon me, madam, a man with a box and a bill to collect. BECKY. [Taking bill.] A bandbox [She opens bill. SERVANT. Yes, madam. BECKY. [To LAURA.] Oh, my dear, such a duck of a hat! And only sixty-five dollars. I 244THE TR UTH saw it on my way here and couldn't resist buying Are hats a passion with you LAURA. [Uninterested.] Yes, rather. BECKY. I told them to send it C.O.D., but I didn't suppose it would come till to-morrow and I haven't a cent! LAURA. I thought you said you wor a hundred and fifty at bridge BECKY. No, no, my dear, you misunderstood me, I lost. [To SERVANT.] Tell the man if he can't leave the box, to take it back and call later; say Mrs. Warder is out. SERVANT. Yes, madam. [Goes out with the bill, Lelt. LAURA. You said you won at bridge! BECKY. Oh, you tedious person! You hang on to anything like a terrier, don't you! I said I won because I didn't want Eve to think I'd lost; 244 THE TRUTH24 I never can bear to own up I've lost anything before Eve. [Laughs, pulls LAURA by the arm.j] Good-by! LAURA. I won't go yet. BECKY. [Urging her.] You must. I have an engagement. LAURA. With Fred Lindon! BECKY. It is not. [SERVANT enters and an- nounces "MR.LINDON." LINDON follows in. He is surprised to see LAURA, bzst instantly covers his surprise. Going to LINDON, quickly.] Oh, what a surprise I LINDON. Surprise Am I early BECKY. [Indicating LAURA.] ShI Yes, sur- prise. [LINDON sees LAURA and makes an amused grimace.] But I can only give you a very few minutes. I have an engagement, haven't I, Laura 245 THE TR U TH [As they shake hands. LINDON. Oh, hello, Laura! LAURA. [Very dryly.] How d'you do, Fred LINDON. How's Eve LAURA. [Embarrassed.] Very well -at least not very - yes, she is of course very well ! She's just left here. [She adds this pointedly. LINDON. Oh! sorry I missed her! Give her my regards when you see her, and say I'm glad she's well. [He goes to the piano, sits on the bench, and plays. LAURA. [Rises indignant.] I shaHl do nothing of the kind. [She starts to leave the room. LINDON runs what he is playing into "Good-by, little girl, Good- by." 246 THE TR U 24 BECKY. [Offering her hand.] Good-by. LAURA. [Pretends not to see BECKY'S hand.] Good-by. [She goes out Left. BECKY. [Going to the piano.] They both saw you come back with me / LINDON. [Still playing, improvising. Laugh- ing.] No! Did they' BECKY. [Laughing.] Yes, but it's no laughing matter! Eve is jealous. LINDON. [Stops playing.] What right has she Did she expect me to sit alone in the drawing- room for two months straining my ears to hear her ring the front door bell [He continues playing. BECKY. They know we've been meeting every day, -at least they think so. Have we LINDON. [Still playing.] No! 247 248 THE TR UTH BECKY. Yes, we havel Haven't we LINDON. [Stops playing.] Well, yes, if you wAant the truth. BECKY. [Goes to sofa and sits.] There's no use telling a story about it. I've nothing to be ashamed of, -I did it with the best of motives. LINDON. [Goes to BECKY.] Oh, don'. spoil it all, Becky, with motives! [He leans over the arm of the sofa to talk to her. BECKY. [Laughs.] You know Eve mustn't be jealous of me ! LLNDON. [Earnestly.] Now you're not going to let her break up our little - BECKY. [Interrupting.] Fred, how much do you like me LINDON. [Smiling.] I daren't tell youl BECKY. No, I mean reallyl LINDON. So do I I THE TR U 249 BRECKY. I believe you are fond of me. LINDON. I am I BECKY. And I like you to be. LINDON. [Placing his hand on hers on the sofa's atrm.] Because BECKY. [Slowly drawing her hand Irom his.] I like men to like me, even though it really means nothing. LINDON. Nothing [Rather chagrined. BECKY. [Amused.] I like it for myself, and besides I think it's a compliment to Tom! LINDON. [M11ockingly.] Oh! Oh! I say! Becky! [He moves to the chair Right beside BECKY and drawing it nearer sits facing her. BECKY. But with you there was a special reason. LINDON. [Is encouraged. Draws a little nearer to her.] Yes 249 THE TR U T BECKY. Of course you have perfectly under, stood why I've seen so much of you. LINDON. You've been my friend. BECKY. I've sympathized with you. LINDON. You've been the only real glimpse of happiness I've had for months in my life. BECKY. Don't be rhetorical! no mai sounds sincere, when he talks pictures. I'll tell you why I wanted you to come back this afternoon. LINDON. [Taking her two hands.] To make me happy! BECKY. [Pulling her hands away, and palling his half seriously.] Yes, [He leans over toward her.] by making you realize it's time you went to Eve and asked her to come back. LINDON. [Sinking back in his chair.] Non- -ense; Eve's made a row and frightened you. BECKY. How frightened me I always meant 250 THE TRUTH2 when I'd got you where I wanted you, to in. fluence you to make it up with Eve. She adores you ! LINDON. She has an odd way of sho-ting it. [He rises and leans against the mantel beside the so/a. BECKY. You don't want every woman to show her love in the same way. LINDON. I don't want any other woman to show me she loves me in Eve's way. BECKY. Come now, you're unfair to Eve! I'm going to sympathize with her a little. Granted that she is jealous, granted that she doesn't always control her temper! -what woman worth while does ! LINDON. [Laughing.] But she ought to trust me-as you do. BECKY. [Laughing.] Oh, I'm not your wife. 251 252 THE TRUT7H1 I wouldn't trust you for a minute if I were married to you ! LINDON. How about Tom BECKY. Of course I trust Tom. LINDOM. And I trust Eve. [Laughing. BECKY. Oh! but it's not the same thing. You trust Eve because vou don't care enough. I trust Tom because- well, in one little word, he is per- fect and I adore him! LINDON. Sounds boring! BECKY. Eve's proved she loves you with a big love! She's proved it by forgiveness. That's the proof of a love it's not easy to get and even harder to deserve! You've got it- [He moves towzrd her.] we won't go into the deserving part! But if only half that she says and one quarter of what every one else says of you is true, you ought THE TR U 23 to go on your knees to her in gratitude if she is will- ing to take you back. LINDON. [Sits on the arm of sofa, hall laugh- ing.] She will! She's left before. BECKY. You love her, Fred LINDON. [Casually.] No, I love you! BECKY. Nonsense! I mean really!, Promise me you'll go to Eve to-morrow and ask her to come back. LINDON. [Slides down on to sofa.] Not yet - give me another month! BECKY. You'll lose her! LINDON. No, there are certain things you can't lose - try as hard as you like! BECKY. That isn't funny. LINDON. She's been urging you to do this. BECKY. Nothing of the sort! She's too proud. And she mustn't dream I've had anything to do 2;3 254 THE TRUTH with your going to her. No woman really wants to accept her happiness like a pauper at the Lady Bountiful hands of another woman. She might think she was grateful to me, but she wouldn't be! With a disposition like Eve's you'd have another quarrel inside a fortnight. No! Eve must think you've come to her spontaneously because you can't live without her. [Ile whistles. She rises.] You can whistle, but you'll never get another woman half so good to you as Eve! Make her think you want her back. Make yourself think you want her back, and you don't know how happy you'll be - first in making her happy, and second in finding you are yourself. [He takes hold of her hand; she draws it away quickly and sits in the armchair on the opposite side of the room. LINDON. What are you doing away over there THE TR UTH2 BECKY. Oh, I thought it was getting a little crowded on the sofa. LINDON. And must I give up my visits with you BECKY. Of course. LLNDON. Oh, well, if that's the price, I don't want happiness, it costs too much! BECKY. You won't need sympathy any more. You can write me a little note and say: "Becky, I thought I loved you, but it was only a heart being caught on the rebound. Thank you for being sensible and pitching the heart back! Thank you for seeing my real happiness was in making Eve happy." LINDON. You know that doesn't sound like me! BECKY. Not like your foolish old you, but like your sensible new you, who has found out you can have a woman friend without getting 255 THE TR UTH sued for damages, -which has been your usual experience, I believe! LINDON. Becky I Don't rob the graves I BECKY. Well, will you go to Eve and beg her to come back LINDON. [Rises.] No! BECKY. Fred! The price of my friendship is your peace with Eve! LINDON. [Going to BECKY.] But if I consent, I may come to see you BECKY. Yes. LINDON. Eve, my darling wife, forgive me! Come to my arms and stay there -for five minutes-consider it done! Where, to-mor- row BECKY- The Metropolitan LLNDON. No, let me come here to-morrow and what time 256 THE TRi7'IT 257 BECKY. [Rises.] Four -but to say Good-by! [She means it.] The last visit! LINDON. Oh! wvell, we won't cross that bridge till we come to it! and I'll make you a bet if you ever do send me away for good, do you know what will happen BECKY. [Amnused.] No, what LINDON. In a day or two you'd send for me to come again after all! BECKY. [Laughing.] Why LINDON. Because you like me better than you think you do! BECKY. [Going to the writing-table.] Oh, really! I LINDON. [Following her.] Yes, really! and you know - though you may not acknowledge it to yourself, still you know just how strong my feeling is for you. 2THE TRUTH BECKY. [Turning toward him.] But I do ac- knowledge it, and I am grateful and pleased to have you care for me. [She pulls the air beside the table in Irom o) her. LLNDON. [Pushing chair away.] "Care for you! " BECKY. [Pulling chair back.] Yes! and I want to show my appreciation by making you happy. LINDON. Eve's jealousy has frightened you, but you'll forget it to-morrow! BECKY. [Really not understanding.] How do you mean [She looks at him questioningly, innocently. He looks back knowingly with a hall smile, not believing her. A pause. WARDER comes 258 THlE TR U TH 259 in Left. He looks from one to the other, then speaks pleasantly. WARDER. Oh! How are you, Lindon LINDON. Good evening, Warder. [Both men stand; an awkward pause. BECKY. [Sitting in the armchair Right.] Sit down, Tom. [He does so on the chair by the table. LINDON sits on the sofa. A moment's pause.] LrNDON. Do you come up town generally as late as this WARDER. Oh, no, I've been up some time. [Second awkward pause. BECKY. Did you get the theatre tickets WARDER. No, I forgot; I didn't go to the club. I'll telephone from here. [Very casually Has Mrs. Clayton gone BECKY. Who 60 THE TRUTH WARDER. Mrs. Clayton. You said - [BECKY interrupting. BECKY. Mrs. Cl- Oh! Yes! She's gone. [Awkward pause. LINDON. Have you been to the club WARDER. [Very casually.1 No, I walked back with your wife to her mother's. [Awkward pause. BECKY and change glances. LINDON. [Half humorously.] I looking very well. LINDON ex- hear Eve is [Pause. WARDER. By the way, will you have a whiskey and soda, a cocktail or something BECKY. Or tea LINDON. Tea poison to me I No, thanks, I must be getting on. [All rise; then, after a moment of embarrassment, WARDER speaks. 2( THE TRUTH6 WARDER. Yes LINDON. I've an early, melancholy, bachelor's dinner at seven. BECKY. It's your own faultl Think how well Eve looks in a dinner dress, and what a delight- ful hostess she always is. LINDON. Yes, Eve's all right in a crowd I LShaking hands. To WARDER.] Forgive my domestic affairs intruding. Mrs. Warder has been kind enough to advise me a little ! Good-by I [Going. WARDER. I'm sure her advice is good. You'd better take it! LINDON. Perhaps! - but in homeopathic doses I [To BECKY.] Good-by ! [To WARDER.] Bye, Warder. [Laughing, he goes out Left. WARDER and 261 THlE TRUTH BECKY, alone, look at each other, - BECK' questioningly, WARDER half puzzled. BECKY. Well ! Has Eve been weeping on your bosom, too WARDER. No, I think she scratched it, if she did anything! BECKY. [Half amused, half worried.] How do you mean [The SERVANT enters with a letter which he gives to BECKY.] When did this come SERVANT. A little while ago, but madam gave orders not to be interrupted. [He goes out. WARDER gives BECKY a quick, sharp look, which, however, she doesn't notice. BECKY. From father! He can't want more money already! WARDER. You sent him how much two days ago 262 THE TRUTH26 BECKY. [Goes above the writing-table as she opens the letter.] You sent him, you generous darling, three hundred dollars. I had given him his allowance the beginning of the month. WARDER. And gone already! Of course, he's been at the races this week! No more. Becky, -is it true you've been seeing Lindon every day lately BECKY. [While she reads her letter.] No !- yes! [Looks up at him.] I mean no, certainly not! WARDER. [Smiling.] Which is it or do I take my choice BECKY. [With a little laugh.] I've seen some- thing of him. I'm sorry for him.-Father's in more trouble. WARDER. That's an old story, and this is something new. Eve is jealous of you. 263 THE TRUTH BECKY. [Looks up at him.] Are you, of Fred Lindon WARDER. No! BECKY. [Goes quickly to him and kisses him and pushes him down on to the so/a.] Bless you! You're right, and that's my answer to Eve! - Father does want more money! WARDER. We send no more till next month, not one penny. Come here! [He makes her sit on the arm of the so/a beside him. She puts her arm about his neck and hugs him. WARDER continues.] You haven't seen Lindon almost daily for the past month, have you BECKY. No. WARDER. You haven't met him by appoint- ment at the Metropolitan, Eden Musee, or any such places BECKY. Eve's jealousy gives her the most 264 THE TRLR Lr rf6 ridiculous ideas! When I have been with Mr. Lindon, it has been principally to talk about Eve, and entirely with the desire to try and reconcile them. WARDER. Grant that! But it's not true about all these appointments BECKY. No! WARDER. [With his arm about her waist.] I believe you love me better than all the world BECKY. Than all the world, and every world, and all the planets put together, Mars, Saturn, and Venus. Yes. I love you even more than Venus! [Laughing and giving him another caress. WARDER. I have every confidence in you and your motives. But I have none in Lindon's- so I want to-day's visit to be his last, my dear. 265 THE TR UTH BECKY. [Rising, a little uncomfortable.] All right. WARDER. Own up, now, hasn't he tried to make love to you BECKY. [Leaning on the back of the chair, facing him.] No! WARDER. Not a bit BECKY. [Smiling.] Well - maybe - just a tiny bit - but not in earnest. WARDER. [Rising, angrily.] I was sure of it ! the damn puppy! Becky, I've heard him swear there's no such thing as a decent woman if a man goes about it in the right way! BECKY. Oh, you men are always hard on another man whom women like. WARDER. I know what I'm talking about this time, and you don't. BECKY. [TWith dignity.] I judge by his be- 266 THE TR U TH havior to me. He may have led me to believe he likes me very much, - he ought to like me, I've been very nice to him, - and I suppose it flattered me - [Smiling.] it always does flatter me when men like me, -and I think one feeling I have is pride that you have a wife whom other men admire! If Mr. Lindon has made-er-re- spectful love to me, that's a compliment to you. [WARDER laughs, sincerely amused.] But he has not insulted me. WARDER. [Smiling.] That's your fault. You are the kind of woman he doesn't believe exists, and he can't make up his mind just what tactics to adopt. BECKY. He knows perfectly, unless he's deaf and blind, that my seeing him -a few times only - has been solely to reconcile him with Eve. 267 THE TRUTH WARDER. That sort of man is deaf and blind except to his own rotten mental suggestions. He is incapable of believing in your philanthropic motive, so let it go, dear. BECKY. [Places the letter on the writing-table and sits behind it.] Eve has frightened you! WARDER. [Walks away.] Not a bit; I laughed at her fears that you were fascinated by her pre- cious worm! But I do consider that unwittingly you have been playing a dangerous and - for- give me, darling - [Going to her.] a very fool- ish game. Already some one believes you've been seeing Lindon every day. You haven't! But that doesn't make any difference! Every one will believe you have seen him twice a day in another month if you continue seeing him at all. No woman can have the "friendship" of a man like Lindon for long without - justly or unjustly 268 THE TR UTH2 - paying the highest price for it. [He places his hand tenderly on her shoulder.] You wouldn't know what the price was till the bill came in, - and then no matter how well you knew and those who love you knew you had not danced, all the same the world would make you pay the piper! BECKY. I do your sex greater justice than you! I don't believe there's any man, no matter what he has been, whom some sincere woman can't waken to some good that is in him! WARDER. [Smiling.] That's all right, but you please let Eve wake up Lindon! [He moves away.] Had you made any arrangements to ring a little friendly alarm on him to-morrow BECKY. No! And that, of course, was Eve's suggestion ! WARDER. Well, never mind so long as it's understood his visits here are at an end. You 269 THE TRUTH don't expect him to-morrow, and should he come, you won't see him, eh BECKY. Exactly! [Smiling.] When I told him to-day his visits were over, what do you think he said WARDER. I couldn't guess. BECKY. He said I'd change my mind and send for him! WARDER. And if you did, do you know what he would do BECKY. No, -what WARDER. Consider it a signal of capitulation. - o- - -- - - -- - ----- - - -and ten to one take you in his arms and kiss you! BECKY. [Rises.] He wouldn't dare! WARDER. I'm not sure, but at any rate I am serious about one thing in this discussion. BECKY. [Goes to him and places her hands 270 THE TRU TH2 lovingly on his arms.] Our first "domestic row.," WARDER. [Turns her about and holds her in his arms, - she leans against him.] And last BECKY. Amen ! WARDER. [Very seriously.] And I echo the sentiment, I know, of every sane husband in New York-Lindon's attentions to a mran's wife are an insult, and as your husband I won't have them. BECKY. [Leaving his arms, pushes him play- fully into a chair and sits near him in the corner of the so/a.] Well, give me my woman's last word. I still think you are unfair to him - but I love you all the same ! ! WARDER. You'd better! BECKY. I'm so afraid you'll get - not tired, but - well - too used to me I 271 272 THE TRUTH WARDER. Not till I find you twice the same I Now, -what about your father BECKY. He only wants fifty dollars, and says he must have it; let's send it. WARDER. No, that's the way it's been always. Our "no" has always ended "yes," so of course he hasn't believed in it. This time it must stay " no.' BECKY. [Plaintively.] You won't send it WARDER. No, and you mustn't. BECKY. Oh, I haven't got a cent. But he says he's in real trouble and he must have it. WARDER. It's always the same thing! And we must put a stop to his inveterate, indiscriminate gambling. If we don't teach him the lesson he needs soon, before we know it he will be in real trouble that ten thousand times fifty dollars mightn't get him out of. THE TRUTH27 BECKY. But he promises not to - WARDER. [Interrupting.] My dear! He has given his word over and over again, and broken it twice as many times! If it isn't a race course, it's a bucket shop - or some cheap back door roulette table, and it's got to stop! Stop now! BECKY. But, Tom - WARDER. [Interrupting.] Now, Becky ! You know how hard it is for me to refuse you. BECKY. It's only - WARDER. [Interrupting.] You must trust my judgment, and your father must learn, and a small matter of fifty dollars is a good chance to begin; it can't be so very serious! so that's ended. BECKY. [Half humorously, half discouragedly.] Yes, I guess it's ended! WARDER. Now, will you try to realize that I only want to do what's best and right 273 274 THE TR UTH BECKY. [Kisses him.] Yes, but I can't help feeling sorry for father. [Smiling. [The SERVANT enters Left with a bill and a bandbox. SERVANT. Beg pardon, madam, but the man has come back. BECKY. [Takes the bill.] Oh, my hat! Very well, I'll ring when I'm ready. Leave the box on the chair. SERVANT. [Puts bandbox on the chair at Left.] Very good, madam. [He goes out. BECKY. [Smiling, embarrassed.] I'm nearly as bad as father! WARDER. Lose at Bridge to-day BECKY. No, I didn't play to-day, but I couldn't resist a hat, my dear, the most adorable hat! THE TRUTH 275 [WARDER laughs "Oh, Becky"] No, honestly! Much more beautiful than the one I bought day before yesterday I'm ashamed, but I did order it to come home, and I haven't a penny. WARDER. [Teasing her.] Send it back! BECKY. Oh, you wouldn't be so heartless! and what would they think at the shop WARDER. [Getting out his pocketbook.] How much is it BECKY. [Hesitates a moment.] Fifty dollars! WARDER. [With a slight quizzing look.] Just what your father wants. BECKY. Yes! Give the money to father and I'll send back the bonnet. WARDER. No, my darling. You know it isn't the money with your father, it's the principle of the thing. I've not got the money, I must write a check. 276 7HE TRUTH [He looks for the check book. She quickly gels a check book from table and hides it behind her back. BECKY. Your check book's upstairs. [She rings the bell on the desk. WARDER. I thought perhaps yours was here BECKY. No, mine's used up, as usual WARDER. All right. [He goes out Right, as the SERVANT enters. BECKY. [Opening the bandbox.] Send the maD here, Jenks. SERVANT. Yes, madam. [He goes out, Left. BECKY. [Takes out the hat and looks at it ad- miringly.] What a duck! [Heaves a great sigh and puts it back and starts to re-tie the strings, as the MAN enters.] I want you to take this back to Mme. Flora, and say Mrs. Warder is extremely THE TRUTH2 sorry, but Mr. Warder has taken a violent dislike to the hat, so she cannot have it. She will be in later to choose another. MAN. Yes, ma'am. [He goes out uith the bandbox, Left. BECKY sits down and starts to write a letter hurriedly. WARDER comes in with check. BECKY hides the letter she is writing. WARDER. [Coming to the table.] Here's the check, all but the name of the payee. Where's the bill BECKY. Make it out to me, and I'll endorse it. WARDER. Why BECKY. 0 dear! [Hall worried, hall smiling.] I told you a sort of fib! The hat was only thirty- five dollars, but I wanted the extra fifteen for some- thing else. Please don't be angry - WARDER. [Laughing.] I'm not angry, though 277 278 THE TRUTH you know I dislike even little fibs. Why didn't you tell me if you're hard up I'll give you this and make out another for the bonnet shop. BECKY. No, you needn't do that; the man's gone now for the change, - I told him. WARDER. [Finishes the check and gives it to her.] Becky! you're not going to sena this to your father I forbid that. BECKY. No, no, darling! [Takes the check.] And now you get dressed. I'll be up in a minute. You know it always takes you twice as long as it does me when you wear a white tie! It's a long play and begins early. WARDER. I'll bet you I'll be dressed before you start! [He hurries out, Right. BECKY. [Rings the telephone on the desk.] Hello! Hello, 6304-72d. [Writes on her inter- THE TRUTH rupted letter with one hand and listens with the receiver in the other. A/ter a moment.] Hello! 6304- 72d Is Mr. Lindon -yes, ask him to come to the 'phone and speak to 2759-38th. [Listens as she writes.] Hello! Is that you Yes - yes - Oh, [Laughs.] don't be silly! I called you to say I am very sorry, but our engagement for to- morrow is off ! 0 double f! No, for good! For Good! [She adds very quickly.] Good-by! [Hangs up the receiver and writes. In a moment the telephone bell rings /furiously; at first she ignores it; then she makes a grimace at it; then she takes up the receiver.] Hello! No, Central, I wasn't cut off. No, I don't want the number back, thank you, I hung up the receiver. I can't help that! You needn't re-connect us - say the line is busy! [Hangs up the receiver.] Mercy! when you don't want them!! [Rings the electric bell on 279 THE TR UTH the desk, endorses the check, puts it in Hte tetter, and seals the envelope. The SERVANT enters as she addresses letter.] I want you to take this at once and put a special delivery stamp on it. I want it to reach my father in Baltimore to- night. SERVANT. Yes, madam. BECKY. Have you any idea whether it would be delivered there to-night or to-morrow morning SERVANT. One or the other, madam. BECKY. [Smiling.] That I know! Make haste. [The SERVANT goes out Lelt, as WARDER, all dressed, save that his tie hangs loose, rushes in, Right. She rises quickly. WARDER. Who's ready first BECKY. [Laughing.] Oh, you've raced! But while you're tying your tie I'll- 280 THE TRUTH 281 WARDER. [Interrupts.] No, I came down purposely to get you to tie it for me! [He stands ready. BECKY. [Ties it during the /ollowing speeches.] You forgive me for telling you that little fib WARDER. Yes, if it's to be your last one. BECKY. My very last. WARDER. No more of those wicked little white lies, even, that you know you do amuse yourself with, and distress me BECKY. No, no! Really I I've opened the cage door and let all the little white mice fibs out for good ! WARDER. And you do love me BECKY. Do you want to know how much I love you WARDER. Yes, how much 282 7HE TRUTH BECKY. How deep is the ocean in its deepest spot WARDER. As deep as your love for me. BECKY. Oh, that isn't fair! You're stealing my thunder! There! [The tie is finished, and she pushes him play/idly into the chair by the writing-table.] One good turn deserves another. [With her arms about his neck she slides on to his knee, like a child.] I've let Perkins go out, and you must hook me up the back. [A nd both laugh gayly as he embraces her and THE CURTAIN FALLS ACT If The same scene as Act I. BECKY and WARDER are sitting on the so/a, both drinking coffee alter lunch. WARDER Puts his coffee cup on the table as the curtain rises. BECKY. Aren't you going to smoke, darling [Putting her coffee on the table behind her. WARDER. Yes. [Getting out cigar. BECKY. Give it to me. [She takes it, and cuts the lip with a gold jewelled cutter which she wears on a chain about her neck.] For six years you've not smoked a cigar in my presence that I haven't clipped, have you 283 THE TRUTTH WARDER. No. And how about anybody else's cigars That hasn't cut off any tips for - Lin- don, I hope! BECKY. No indeed! He only smokes cigar- ettes. WARDER. [Amused.] Is that the only reason BECKY. Oh, you darling! I belie-e you are a little jealous of Lindon and I adore you for it. [Hugging and kissing him. WARDER. Well, you go on adoring, but I'm not a bit jealous of Lindon. [Rises, and lights his cigar with a match /rom the table behind them. BECKY. You're not going back to the office It's Saturday. WARDER. No -I think I'll have a game of racquets with Billy Weld. BECKY. Do! You love it so. I've regretted 284 THE TR U T2 their invitation to dine with them next week, Friday. I said we're going out of town. WARDER. But we're not. We've people din- ing here, haven't we BECKY. Yes, but I think going out of town sounds so much more interesting Besides, then they can't possibly be offended that they aren't asked here. Grace'll be consumed with curiosity, too, as to where we're going! [Amused. WARDER. But if they see us Friday BECKY. They'll think we haven't gone yet. WARDER. But if Billy meets me down town Saturday morning BECKY. He'll think you took an early train back. WARDER. The truth's so simple, so much easier-why not tell it 2S5 THE TR UTH BECKY. Don't worry, it'll be all right. I'm sorry I told you if you're going to worry! [He goes to kiss her; she stops him. WARDER. [Sitting beside her.] What's up BECKY. I've decided I kiss you too often. I'm a shop-keeper with only one line of goods -no variety, and I'm cheapening my wares. [WAR- DER laughs.] I don't want you to feel you're getting a left-over stock of stale, shopworn kisses ! I want you to feel the supply doesn't equal the demand. [She kisses him. The SERVANT enters and they move apart. SERVANT. Mrs. Lindon to see Mr. Warder. BECKY. [To WARDER.] Eve ! [To SERVANT.] Ask her to come in here and have a cup of coffee and a cigarette. SERVANT. Yes, madam. [Goes out. 286 THE TRUTH 287 BECKY. [Beaming.] Come to tell us of the reconciliation! WARDER. Why she didn't let him go and be thankful! I don't see what she can love in a little outsider like Lindon! BECKY. Thank Heaven all women don't love the same kind of a man! [Steals a caress.] Think what an awful fight there'd be! SERVANT. [Coming back.] Mrs. Lindon sends this message -she wishes to see Mr. Warder. [BECKY and WARDER look at each other, surprised and amused. BECKY makes a grimace. WARDER. Very well, show Mrs. Lindon in. SERVANT. Yes, sir. [Goes out. WARDER. More trouble I BECKY. They've quarrelled again already I It must have been his fault. THE TRUTTH [SERVANT shows in MRS. LINDON and goes out. MRS. LINDON. [To WARDER, not noticing BECKY.] How do you do WARDER. How do you do, Eve BECKY. How do you do, Eve I Sit down. MRs. LINDON. I wish to see Tom for a mo- ment, Becky. BECKY. What for MRS. LINDON. I wish to see him alone. BECKY. Why MRS. LINDON. That, Becky, is my affair- and his perhaps! BECKY. Oh, really! I suppose I ought to be- come very jealous now, and do dreadful things. [Smiles.] But don't have me for a moment on your mind, Tom. [Kisses her finger, puts it to Tom's lips, he kisses it, and she goes out Right. 288 THE TR UT 289 WARDER. What is it, Eve You know I have no earthly secrets from Becky. MRS. LINDON. It's about her secrets from you I WARDER. Nonsense I [Hall laughs. MRS. LINDON. [Sitting in the chair by the table near Centre.] I only hinted at things the other day - and only hinted at one-half the truth. WARDER. [Sitting on the sofa.] Excuse me, Eve, but you've got hold of the wrong half. I asked Becky outright-that is our way always. She denied practically all you said. MRS. LINDON. YOU can't make me believe you've lived as long as you have with Becky Roland and not found out - she lies. WARDER. [Rises quickly in anger.] It's because you're a woman you dare say that to me, but you 290 THE TR U TH know I don't have to listen to you, so don't push our old friendship's claim too far. MRS. LINDON. I said Becky and Fred met often on the sly. WARDER. [Sitting again.] Which isn't true ! MRS. LINDON. No! They meet every day! WARDER. Eve, I think your trouble has gone to your brain. MRS. LINDON. [Still quietly, but with the quiet o/ the crater wien the volcano is alive beneath.] Il can prove to you that Becky has seen Fred every day and more than that ! When we had our talk two days ago, they had agreed together that he was to go through a form of reconciliation with me for appearance' sake, and their meetings were to continue. She had an appointment with him for yesterday. THE TRUTH 291 WARDER. That I know isn't true. for she swore to me the opposite. MRS. LINDON. Yes, you frightened her off and she broke the engagement by telephone, which made Fred perfectly furious! WARDER. [Rising, goes to mantel and knocks his cigar ashes into the grate; absolutely uncon- vinced, he continues with a cynical smile.] And how did you obtain this decidedly intimate infor- mation MRS. LrNDON. [In an outburst, the volcano becoming a little active.] From him! I knew they hadn't met for two days - WARDER. [Interrupting.] How [He looks up curiously. MRS. LINDON. [Rises and turns away, a little ashamed.] I've had Fred watched for weeks I 22THE TRUTH WARDER. [Astonished, rises.] You mean you've - [He hesitates. MRS. LINDON. Yes ! [Coming to the desk, ands peak- ing across it to him.] I took their not meeting for a sign that after all Becky had given him up, and I had the impulse to go to him - to go back home. He turned on me like a wolf -said I'd meddled with his affairs once too often -that I'd frightened Becky into breaking off with him, that he had been on the point of making up with me for the reason I've told you, but now it was done for! I'd raised your suspicions, I'd given the whole thing away to everybody, and I could congratulate myself on having broken off his and my relations for good-forever! Oh, how could he insult me so when it was only his love I was asking for 292 THE TR U TH 293 [She sinks down in the chair above the table, and buries her face in her hands and sobs. WARDER. [Forgets himself and exclaims. ] But how can you - how can you still care for him after everything you've gone through It's beyond my understanding! [He throws his cigar angrily into the fireplace. MRS. LINDON. The history of the world is full of women who love like me, but no men - I don't know why; but I suppose that's why you can't understand it. Why couldn't he realize it is for happiness not appearances I've been fighting And now it's over, for I know when he means what he says - and he told me, like a low brute, I could go to-where you can imagine-for all he cares, or for all he'll ever live with me again. [Her voice fills up again 24THE TR U TH WARDER. I should think if you went to the address he proposed, it would insure at least an eventual meeting! MRS. LINDON. [Who has not heard and does not understand.] What WARDER. I beg your pardon! I made a foolish joke! Well [With a heerty long breath of relief.] Now do you feel better MRS. LINDON. [Feebly, not understanding.] Better WARDER. Yes, now you've got it all "off your chest" To-morrow you'll be all right and ready to forgive again. Shall I call Becky [Going toward the bell beside the mantel. MRS. LINDON. [Rises.] You're going to ac- cuse her before me WARDER. [Stops and turns.] Accuse her [Laughs.] No -I don't believe a word you've 294 THE TR UTH told me. I'd take Becky's unspoken denial against Fred's sworn statement any day. MRs. LINDON. [Going to him.] Then here's yesterday's report from the agency! - and Thurs- day's, and Thursday's includes the report of the telephone central who connected Becky with our house when she broke off the appointment with Fred, - that telephone girl has told us many interesting things! WARDER. Stop! Stop this! I won't listen to you-at any rate not behind Becky's back. I'm not a jealous, suspicious woman with good reason to believe the worst. I'm a straightfor- ward, decent man, I hope, and I know I've every reason to believe absolutely in my wife, God bless her! [He moves away and then turns upon her.] Why have you come and told me this, any- way 295 296 THE TR UTH MRS. LTNDON. [Staggered.] Why -why WARDER. [Angry.] Yes, why to me of all people! I was the last person you should have told, as a matter of breeding, as a matter of tact, as a matter of the friendship you talk about. MRS. LINDON. But that was just it! WARDER. Do you dream what it would mean to me to shake even by a miserable tremor my confidence in my wife But you haven't! MRS. LINDON. I thought, and I still think, it's to your advantage to know. WARDER. [With a complete change of voice, from anger to the tone one adopts with a silly child.] My dear Eve, while I don't for a minute excuse him, still I do now understand, perhaps, how even Fred Lindon must have found your ideas of devo- tion at times over the endurance line. MRS. LINDON. You don't understand, - I THE TRUTH27 thought if you knew everything, together we could separate them - could arrange something. WARDER. Eve! believe me, there's nobody to separate in this case; there's nothing, so far as I and mine are concerned, to arrange. [He goes again to the bell by the mantel. MRS. LINDON. Who are you going to ring for WARDER. You know. MRS. LrNDON. [Stopping him quickly.] Not be- fore me! I don't want to see her humiliated. I don't want a public revenge or triumph; that's not the feeling I have. WARDER. What in the world do you mean [He rings.] Becky will deny the- MRS. LrNDON. [Interrupting.] Very likely! But these proofs are incombatible, and if that's her attitude, I shall go straight from your door to the divorce court. 297 THE TR U TH [She places the envelope of reports on the table with a blow. WARDER. rGoes to her.] You're mad! If your proofs are all right, then Becky'll not deny, she'll explain them. You forget you can only see everything red now, but I'm sane and quiet and sure [Smiling.l. and I see things in their true colors. You must be guided by me in this. [He takes her hand almost cruelly and speaks strongly, with the manner and voice o/ the man who is and means to remain master.] Do you understand that [She draws her hand away as i in pain.] I beg your pardon. I am afraid you are one of those dangerous "well-meaning" persons who do more harm than the people who are purposely malicious. You are to take no step without my sanction. [BECKY comes in with a certain air o/ bravado. 298 THE TR UTH 299 BECKY. Excuse me, I heard the bell and I was waiting -am I right WARDER. [Goes to her.] Come right in, dear. BECKY. Well! has Eve thrown a bomb, or a trump card Am I to be taken into the secret or conspiracy or what WARDER. [After a second's pause, in which he thinks how to begin.] Eve has convinced herself, and would convince me, of some very - [He thinks for the word.] wrong -worse than wrong things, but I prefer to be convinced of the contrary by you. And I prefer to come to you with my con- fidence, my conviction complete. And together we'll try to keep Eve from harming others as well as herself and Lindon - the latter seems unavoid- able. [EVE pushes her papers on the desk point- edly nearer to him. He ignores them.] Eve says you've not been seeing Lindon often, but every day. THE TRUTH BECKY. Do you want me to deny it WARDER. [Indulgently.] I want you to tell the truth. BECKY. Of course the accusation and the idea behind it are absurd. [WARDER turns and looks at MRS. LINDON, who meets his glance and then looks down at the evidence on the table, pushing the papers a little farther toward him. He does not follow her glance. BECKY hall laughs.] It's like a trial, isn't it By what right does Eve - MRS. LINDON. [Interrupting.] The supreme right of any married woman who cares for her husband. Shall I be more explicit BECKY. No, you needn't trouble! What next, Tom WARDER. Eve claims you had an engagement with Fred - [Hesitates, trying to remember the day. 300 THE TRUTH30 MRS. LINDON. [Quickly.] Day before yester- day. WARDER. Which you broke off over the tele- phone. BECKY. How does she know that Does she tap our wire Merciful Heavens, Eve, you've become so morbid over your trouble your mind's diseased on the subject of Fred-and everybody else apparently. MRS. LINDON. Ha! WARDER. But is this true, Becky BECKY. [To gain time.] Is what true WARDER. About this appointment with Fred which you broke over the - BECKY. [Interrupting.] Of course not! WARDER. [Who begins to doubt her.] If it were, you could easily explain it, I'm sure. [Hoping to suggest this course to her. 301 THE TRUTH BECKY. [Her head lost.] Of course - but there's nothing to explain! The whole thing's false! What do you take me for, Eve If you think I'm a home destroyer, you've made a mis- take in the bird! And what do you mean by coming into my precious home and trying to make trouble for me [Sitting on the sofa, frightened and almost in tears. WARDER. Wait a minute, Becky, it's partly my fault. BECKY. It is not! I know whose fault it is, and I must say that, at last, I don't blame Fred Lindon! MRS. LINDON. Oh! BECKY. There! I'm sorry I said that. When I'm excited like this I speak the truth straight out, no matter what happens! 302 THE TR UTH 303 WARDER. Well really it was I who insisted on your joining us, against Eve's will. [To MRS. LINDON.] Your way was best. It was my man's point of view - [To BECKY.] and you are right, under the circumstances, no doubt, to answer as you do. BECKY. My dear Tom, there's no other way to answer. WARDER. [Looks at her, then takes up the envelope containing the detective reports and holds them tightly in his hand. He comes down to MRS. LnmON.] If you will leave us alone, I will go over the whole matter with Becky, - by ourselves will be much better. MRS. LINDON. I need hardly tell you those papers are most valuable to me. BECKY. [Looking up, her curiosity aroused.] What papers THE TRUTH [Nobody answers her. She tries to see. MRS. LINDON. Will you promise me not to 'set them out of your hands till you put them back Vito mine WARDER. I will. MRS. LINDON. [As she moves to go, stops.] You will find the entries which are of particular interest to you marked on the margin with a red cross! WARDER. [Satirically.] Thank you! [BECKY rises and rings for the SERVANT. MRS. LINDON goes out. BECKY. [Coming to meet WARDER.] I think I'm a pretty good-natured woman to let Eve- WARDER. [Stands before BECKY with his hands on her shoulders, making her look straight into his eyes.] Now be careful, dearest. You've married a man who doesn't understand a suspicious nature 304 THE TRUTTH 305 - who has every confidence in you and the deep- est - a confidence that couldn't be easily dis- turbed; but once it was shaken, every unborn suspicion of all the past years would spring to life fullgrown and strong at their birth, and God knows if my confidence could ever come back. It never has in any of the smaller trials of it I've made in my life. So you'll be careful, won't you, dearest I mean even in little things. My faith in you is what gives all the best light to my life, but it's a live wire - neither you nor I can afford to play with it. [Goes to the writing table and takes the papers out of EVE'S envelope. BECKY. Tom, you frighten me! Eve has made you jealous again. [Goes to him and puts both arms about his neck.] Now, my darling, I give you my word of honor I love only you and never 306 THE TRU TH have loved Fred Lindon and never could! Say you believe me! WARDER. Haven't I always believed you BECKY. Ye - - - - s. WARDER. But if I find your word of honor is broken in one thing, how can I ever trust it in another BECKY. Of course you can't, - but you needn't worry, because it won't be broken. WARDER. Then, now we're alone, tell me the truth, which you didn't tell me when you said you'd not seen Lindon often. BECKY. [Turns away.] It was the truth. I haven't - so very often. WARDER. Not every day BECKY. [Sits in the chair by the writing-table.] How could I WARDER. Nor telephoned him Thursday, break- THE TRUTH ing off an engagement alter you told me abso- lutely you'd parted with him for good-ana. had no appointment BECKY. Of course not! The idea! [But she shows she is a little worried.] Eve Lindon never could tell the truth! WARDER. The telephone girl must have lied too or else the statement was made out of whole cloth. [Throwing the envelope on the desk. BECKY. What statement WARDER. [Sitting on sofa.] From these detec- tives. [He begins to look through the papers. BECKY. Detectives! [Stunned.] What detec- ti ,es [Picks up envelope and looks at it, puts it back on desk. 307 308 THE TR UTH WARDER. Eve's, who have shadowed her hus- hand for the past two months. BECKY. [Thoroughly alarmed.] You don't mean - WARDER. [Interrupts, not hearing what BECKY says; his thoughts on the papers which he is read- ing, he speaks very quietly.] These certainly do make out a case of daily meetings for you two. BECKY. It's not true! WARDER. Though not so very many here. [Turning over a fresh paper. BECKY. [Rises, gets above desk.] All! All the meetings there have been,-practically. This is simply awful ! Eve is capable of making the most terrific scandal for nothing. Don't let her, Tom, will you Tear those things up! WARDER. [Smiling indulgently, not taking her seriously.] Becky! THE TRUTH30 BECKY. [Leaning over the table, stretches on: her hand toward him.] Well, let me! Let me take them from you without your noticing till it's too late ! WARDER. [Seriously.] You're not serious BECKY. I am! WARDER. You heard me give Eve my word BECKY. To a mad woman like that it doesn't count. WARDER. I wonder just how much your word does count with you, Becky! BECKY. [With great and injured dignity.] It counts everything! WARDER. They seem to have hit on some very out-of-the-way places for your rendezvous. [He smiles.] Where is Huber's museum BECKY. Why, it's down on Fourteenth - [She interrupts herself quickly.] I don't know where it isI 309 THE TR UTH [She moves away to collect herself. WARDER. [Still smiling.] And why the Wash- ington Heights Inn in February Or the Eden Musee ever BECKY. Of course some one else has been mistaken for me. WARDER. [Looks up.] Ah! yes, that's a very possible idea. BECKY. [Goes to the sofa and sits beside him.] Tom, don't read any more of the horrid things! Listen to me, don't let Eve go on. She'll ruin everything if she does. He'll never forgive her, never take her back. WARDER. [Reading and smiling.] I didn't know you skated! BECKY. I always loved skating. I only gave it up because it bored you. But I didn't skate then I 3110 THE TR UTTH WARDER. When BECKY. I - I don't - oh, whenever that beast says! WARDER. St. Nicholas Rink, Friday, February eighteenth. [Ile has noticed the slip she made, but hides the fact; he speaks as he goes on read- ing.] Eve and her husband have had a big row, and he swears he'll never see her again, not even in the other place, that she's come be- tween you ar.d him and that he'll never forgive. [He finishes seriously, his bantering manner gone. BECKY. Oh, how untrue! I don't believe he said any such thing. Eve's jealous mind has distorted something else. The reason for our friendship - [He rises with a hall-angry move- ment, goes above the table looking for the envelope.] such as it is - was to bring Eve and him together. WARDER. From your point of view. 311 3tPHE TR UTH BECKY. No, believe me, he isn't as bad as you think. WARDER. [Showing the papers.] And what about these They agree with me. BECKY. If you believe those papers about him, then you must believe them about me. WARDER. [Coming to her.] Heaven forbid, Becky! They would prove you a liar and a terrible one-which you're not, are you BECKY. How can you ask WARDER. If these were true - if I thought you had deceived me to such an extent - I could never trust you again so long as I lived, Becky. BECKY. Shall you speak to Mr. Lindon about them WARDER. No, I wouldn't insult you by dis- cussing you with Lindon, unless I was convinced every word and more here was true. I will see 3P2 THE TR UTH 313 Eve to-morrow and perhaps get hold of these detectives myself. BECKY. [Almost trembling with dread.] And now go and have your game. You need it! You're getting morbid. You'll be believing these beastly things if you don't get some exercise. WARDER. What time is it BECKY. [She looks at clock on the mantel, and speaks with her lace still away irom him.] Three. When will you be back [She conceals her anxiety to hear his answer. WARDER. Oh, six, I suppose. BECKY. [Facing him with a certain reliel.] Not till six - you're sure WARDER. Yes, you know your father's coming and there's no necessity of my seeing him. BECKY. Oh! I forgot all about father's tele- gram! If it's money, I'm to be firm THE TRUTH WARDER. Absolutely. BECKY. [Taking hold of the envelope which he has in his left hand away from her.] What are you going to do with those WARDER. You heard me tell Eve they shouldn't go out of my hands except into hers. [He gently but firmly removes her hand from the envelope. BECKY. And you meant it WARDER. Don't you mean a promise you give like that BECKY. Yes, of course. . .. WARDER. [Taking out his keys.] I'm going to put them away in my room. I want to have a thorough, careful look through them later. Of course I can't let it rest here. The detectives must learn their mistake at once. 314 THE TR UTH3 BECKY. Yes, of course. But you are going to the Welds' now for your game WARDER. Yes, good-by. [Presses her hand. Gives her a tender but questioning look, but does not kiss her, and then goes out. BECKY. He's begun to distrust me already. Dear God in Heaven, if I ever get out of this, I'll never tell another lie so long as I live! [She turns to the window. Smiles to WARDER outside and throws him o kiss, but afterward her face at once assumes its frightened look. Coming from the window, she sinks upon the piano stool.] He's got to save me! Now he can prove that he is worthy a decent woman's friendship. [She goes to the telephone and calls.] Hello! Hello! [She suddenly reali2es.] But I can't use the telephone! Central has told things already! [She hangs up the receiver. 3T5 316 THE TR UTH The telephone bell rings.] I must write him. [The bell rings again. She takes up the receiver and speaks angrily.] Hello . . No, I didn't ring. You've made a mistake. [Hangs up the receiver.] You telltale toad you! [She writes.] "If this note reaches you in time, please come over "- I ought to be able to get rid of father in half an hour - [She looks up at the clock.] "at half-past three." [Seals note and addresses it.] "Impor- tant." [Which she underlines. SERVANT. [Entering Left, announces.] Mr. Ro- land. [ROLAND is an elderly, dried-up little man with an air of the dandy jockey still clinging to him underneath his gray hairs and dyed mous- tache. A vivid carnation is in his buttonhole and a somewhat rusty springiness in his gait. THE TRU TH3 ROLAND. [Coming in jauntily.] Hello, Beck! BECKY. With fictitious spirit.] Father! [He starts to kiss her, forgetting the ever present cigarette in his mouth; then he stops to re- move it, and does kiss her. ROLAND. How are you BECKY. I'm awfully glad to see you, but you can't stay long. Excuse me just a moment. Jenks, I want you to ring for a messenger and give him -[Stops.] no, when he comes, send him to me. [She has started to give JENKS the note, but changes her mind. JENKS bows and turns to leave. ROLAND. I say, Becky, might I have a glass of brandy I took coffee after lunch on the train and it's poisoned me. 'Must have been canned coffee ! 317 318 THE TRUT7H BECKY. Very well, Jenks. [The SERVANT goes out Left. ROLAND. [Lolling on the sofa.] What the devil did you mean by sending me fifty dollars instead of five hundred BECKY. [Surprised.] I read it fifty! I never dreamed you'd ask for five hundred mnore! [Going toward him. ROLAND. I wrote five hundred and I must have it! BECKY. My dear father, it's impossible. I tried as it was to get a little more from Tom, but he said "no," to send you the fifty dollars, with his love, but not one penny more, and to make you understand - and, father, he means it - that for the future you must keep within your allowance. THE TR UTH3 [The SERVANT enters with the brandy on a salver, and pours out a liqueur glass /ull. ROLAND. But you'll help me BECKY. [Sitting on the opposite end ol the so/a.] No, he forbids it, and in the future I'm going to do what Tom wishes, and never deceive him even in a little thing again. [To the SERVANT who hands the glass o/ brandy to ROLAND.] The mes- senger boy hasn't come yet SERVANT. No, madam. BECKY. If he doesn't come in five minutes, ring again. SERVANT. Yes, madam. [Starting to go, ROLAND stops him. ROLAND. Not so fast! [He points to the glass which he has emptied and the SERVANT pours out another glass. ROLAND takes it and puts it on the table behind him. 319 THE TRUTH The SERVANT busies himself with gathering up the alter-dinner coffee cups and trying to overhear all that he can. BECKY. How is Mrs. Crespigny ROLAND. That woman will be the death or the marriage of me! BECKY. Don't be absurd, father! She's given you the most comfortable home you've had for years. In that letter she wrote me she said she'd been a real mother to you. ROLAND. The mother is a blind, a false lead to hide her hand! her trumps are marriage. BECKY. Nonsense! Mrs. Crespigny must real- ize the difference in your positions. ROLAND. You haven't lived with her social souvenirs as I have for four years! [The SERVANT starts to take up the glass which ROLAND has put aside, but the latter stops him. The SERVANT has 320 THE TRUTH 321 delayed over his work as long as lhe dares in his desire to listen, and now goes out Left.] Becky, are you and Tom hungering for a mother-in-law BECKY. I don't know what you mean ROLAND. It's a question of five hundred dollars for me or a new Mrs. Roland! BECKY. [Astounded.] You don't mean you owe Mrs. Crespigny that money ROLAND. Well, I've not paid my board bill as regularly as I might have wished. BECKY. [Rises, indignant.] I'm ashamed of you I ROLAND. I'm ashamed of myself, but shame won't pay bills; if it would, there'd have been many an unpaid debt washed off the slate in this world. [The SERVANT returns with a messenger boy. SERVANT. The messenger, madam. THE TRUThT [BECKY goes to the boy. During BECKY'S talk with the messenger, ROLAND fills his pocket with cigars from the box on the table. BECKY. I want you to take this note to its ad- dress, but only leave it in case the gentleman is in. Do you understand MESSENGER. Yes, ma'am. BECKY. And come back and tell me. MESSENGER. Yes, ma'am. [He goes out with the SERVANT, who has waited /or him. ROLAND. I confess, my child, I have flirted a little with the dame in question. BECKY. Father! ROLAND. I have, in a way, led her on! BECKY. And you always told me my mother's memory was the one precious thing left, that you meant to keep always untouched by your life ! 322 THE TRUTH 323 ROLAND. I don't deny, Becky, I'd be ashamed of it. I don't pretend Mrs. Crespigny would be a solace or a substitute; she would, at the best perhaps, be a resource,-but what she threatens to become unless I pay is a legal necessity! BECKY. Could she do that ROLAND. I have been obliged at times by des- perate need of ready money to suggest to her cer- tain things as probabilities which were barely remote possibilities! And unfortunately - un- /orlunately - once or twice in writing. BECKY. She has compromising letters of yours ROLAND. She has a large collection of illus- trated postal cards from every place I've been since I've lodged with her,-they are her chief ar- tistic dissipation - and a double set of Baltimore Duplicates, which I am afraid are the most foolish; as I am in the habit of making up with her in that THE TRUTH way after little tiffs when she takes the stand of not being on speaking terms with me. BECKY. Father! You've been a terrible idiot. ROLAND. I have, my dear! BECKY. Can't you get those cards back ROLAND. The rent due is "Mother's" price f or the.L [Rising.] You will make Tom give it to me, won't you and I'll promise not to make such a fool of myself again. [Sitting on the arm of the sofa, drawing BECKY toward him and putting both his arms about her. BECKY. Tom's idea now is that you deserve all you get. He'll say you deserve Mrs. Cres- pigny. [Leaving him, she goes above the table. ROLAND. Oh, come, she's not so bad as that! BECKY. How old is she 324 THE TR U TH 325 ROLAND. She has told me several ages. The general average would make her about forty-seven and a quarter. BECKY. Pretty ROLAND. A fine figure of a woman and plays an A-one game of piquet. BECKY. I see! When did her husband die ROLAND. He didn't die. He stole from the bank in which he was employed and went to jail, and she says for social reasons she was naturally obliged to take advantage of the divorce law. I have a suspicion myself he may have preferred jail! BECKY. [Comes quickly to him.] Father, I would never forgive you if you did such a thing! It's degrading to me and to my mother's memory for you to accept any sort of indulgence at that woman's hands! When we get her paid, you must leave her house. 326 THE TRUTH ROLAND. That I can't and won't do, because I'm far too comfortable! SERVANT. [Entering Left, announces.] Mrs. Crespigny! ROLAND. [Jumps up.] Mrs. who [MRS. CRESPIGNY comes in flamboyantly. She is a woman past the age of uncertainty, dressed gaudily, with an hour-glass figure; she has innumerable bracelets and bangles, and an imita- tion jewelled chain flaznts a heavy pair of lor- gnettes, like a gargoyle hanging over a much- curved bust. Enormous wax pearls in her ears are in direct contrast to the dark begin- nings of her otherwise russet-gold hair. Neither her shoes nor her stays fit, and both are too tight. She is brightly rouged, and yet the very failure of the fafade reveals, somehow, THE TR U7 32 the honest interior of a human if forlornly foolish female. MRS. CRESPIGINY. Excuse me for intruding mvself which I know is not social good form. Ais' Warder, I take it [BECKY bows. ROLAND. [A ngrily.] What do you mean by following me here MRS. CRESPIGNY. [After severe look aS him, turns back to BECKY.] I want you to know the facts as between your father and me, and just how the matter is, and get your support that I done right! [To ROLAND.] I know your daughter is a lady if you ain't, and being a lady myself I have a cer- tain pride. [To BECKY.] I've had a good deal of trouble persuading your father that though a lady sometimes takes in a paying guest she still holds her own in the social scale. I have friends of my 327 328 THE TRUTH own in the New York Smart Set! My niece married a Mr. Gubenhamers and lives in a per- fectly elegant house of her own on Lennox Avenue. Do you know her One thousand two hundred and fifty-three BECKY. No. MRS. CRESPIGNY. Oh, don't you Well, of course I know New York is big. Still, perhaps you know her husband's cousin, who is also in a way a relation You will know her by name - Mrs. Otto Gurtz, President of the West Side Ladies Saturday Afternoon Social Gathering BECKY. No, I'm afraid I don't know her. MRS. CRESPIGNY. Well ! I guess you don't read the Harlem society notes in the papers; if you did, you'd know what she stands for socially. BECKY. Suppose we keep to the reason of your visit - I understand my father owes you money - THE TR UTH 329 [MRS. CRESPIGNY turns sharfily to ROLAND.] and that you insist on being paid, which is natural - MRS. CRESPIGNY. A trumped-up story! [Go- ing to ROLAND.] I guess I done just about the right thing to chase on here after you ! I'm sorry to say it, Mis' Warder, 'specially as it ain't exactly ladylike, but your father, with all his superfine qualities, is a liar! Yes, ma'am, between us two as ladies, he's an ornery liar! [Sinks into a chair in tears. ROLAND lights a cigarette angrily and goes up to the window. BECKY. Mrs. Crespigny, wouldn't it be better to behave more like a lady and talk less about one Why break into the house of a woman you don't know and make a scene over a matter of rent due you - MRS. CRESPIGNY. It ain't the rent ! It's all a question of horses. When he left my house 330 THE TRUTH this morning, he said he was leaving for good un- less I let him have - ROLAND. [Interrupting her.] Mrs. Crespigny ! You're hysterical! You're saying things you'll regret - SERVANT. [Entering, Left.] The messenger has come back, madam. BECKY. Oh, I want to see that boy! Excuse me a minute. [She hurries out and the SERVANIT follows her. ROLAND. I knew you were in the train; that's why I staid in the smoker. And it decided me to keep my word never to go back to your house ! [He sits determinedly in the armchair at Left. MRS. CRESPIGNY. And you told her I was dun- ning you for the rent! ROLAND. She has no more sympathy with my THE TRUTH 331 betting than you have! I wouldn't tell her the money was to put on Wet Blanket, Monday! MIRS. CRESPIGNY. [Rises and goes to him.] No, you'd rather let her think I was a grasping harpy, when you know, if the truth's told, you owe me at least five times five hundred dollars with your borrowings and your losses at cards! ROLAND. [Smilingly.] You haven't won lately. MRS. CRESPIGNY. Do you know why ROLAND. Oh, of course ! You got out of the wrong side of the bed or you dreamed of a black horse! MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Pathetically and a little ashamed.] No. I've let you win a-purpose - because I was ashamed for you to owe me any more money. I'm trying to keep a little pride in you somehow, even if I have to cheat to do it. [She almost breaks down again, and turning THE TRUTH away, takes a powder puff Irom a little gilt box and powders her nose to cover up the traces of tears. ROLAND. Well, do you think it's pleasant for me to owe you money A kind friend like you! [Going to the mantel and flicking his cigarette ash in the fireplace.] One reason I want to take ad- vantage of this tip for Monday is to pay you if I win. MRS. CRESPIGNY. Yes, and then go board somewhere else Is that your idea Or to stay here ROLAND. Well, my daughter and her husband want me. [Leaning on the mantel.] They say their home is my home. MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Going toward him, alarmed.] But you won't stay, will you I left word with Josephine to have your favorite meenoo cooked 332 THE TR UTH 333 for a late supper in case you'd come back. We'll have a game to-night. I'll play you a rubber for the five hundred - it's against my conscience to give it to you outright for horse-racing. ROLAND. Loan it to me! MRS. CRESPIGNY. Yes, of course! I always mean loan. Oh, the flat'd be just too dreadful lonesome without you! Say you'll come back! Quick, before Mis' Warder comes in! Won't you ROLAND. [Coming toward her.] Well, if you make it a personal favor to you in this way, I can't exactly refuse! And that ends the most serious quarrel we've had yet. MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Embarrassedly.] If we was man and wife, there wouldn't be any need of such quarrels. The money'd be yours then to do as you liked with. 334 THE TRUTH ROLAND. Don't tempt me! You know you're a great deal too kind to me as it is and I'm no good to take as much advantage of you as I do. MRS. CRESPIGNY. Oh, pshaw! Say! I wish you'd help me to get on the right side of your daughter. You're too delicate to say anything, but I always suspect it's her that stands between us. BECKY. [Coming back.] I'm very sorry, but you must go at once. I have an important engage- ment here in a few minutes and must change my dress. I wvill promise you, Mrs. Crespigny- ROLAND. [Interrupts.] I have made an arrange- ment with Mrs. Crespigny that is agreeable to her, without Tom's and your assistance - BECKY. [Alarmed.] Father, not- ROLAND. [Shakes his head.] It seems I exag- gerated my indebtedness a little and Mrs. Cres- THE TRUTTH 335 pigny exaggerated her desire to be paid this month and- MRS. CRESPIGNY. Yes, I was just mad clean through and would have said anything! BECKY. Well, I'm glad it's settled, but it seems a pity you couldn't have accomplished it without the railway journey, especially as I must ask you to excuse me at once. [She guides MRS. CRESPIGNY toward the door Left, but MRS. CRESPIGNY, instead of going out, makes a circle around an armchair and settles herself in it. BECKY goes despairingly to ROLAND. MRS. CRESPIGNY. Oh, I don't regret the trip over, because I've been dying to meet you, Mis' Warder, ever since I had the pleasure of knowing your father in a taty taty sort of way. And we can catch the four-fifteen. 336 THE TR U TH BECKY. Good ! [Crossing to her, and holding oDU her hand.] I'm sorry I can't ask you to stay. MRS. CRESPIGNY. Oh, I can come over nearly any day! I've got such a perfectly lovely servant girl now. I give her every night out and she works like a dog all day -and you can trust her with everything! Can't you, Mr. Roland ROLAND. You can trust her with me all right. [MRS. CRESPIGN-Y laughs loudly. BECKY. Father! MRS. CRESPIGNY. Ain't he killing! Do you inherit his sense of humor He can get anything he wants out of me with just one of them witty- cisms. [ROLAND winks aside to BECKY.] Of course, I won't say that he ain't an expensive boarder - [BECKY sinks in the chair near Centre, discouraged.]-but I consider he cuts both ways and at the finish the ends meets. THE TR UTT BECKY. I think I gather what you mean. I'm afraid you'll lose your train! MRS. CRESPIGNY. I mean it's hard for a lady what's got it in her blood, to take boarders, be- cause usually the boarders is beneath what the lady's been accustomed to and she don't feel at home with 'em. Now with your father it's different, because he's a Roland and I'm a Crespigny. BECKY. Oh, is that your own name I thought- ROLAND. [Interrupting.] No, Mrs. Crespigny's maiden name was Ruggles. MRS. CRESPIGNY. Yes, mamma made what we'd call a messyliance, married beneath her, you know. But she never descended, nor allowed us to neither, to papa's social level. Mamma was a O'Roorke. You know, one of them early 337 338 THE TR U TH high-toned families that came over from Am- sterdam in the Mayflower. BECKY. I see! MRS. CRESPIGNY. Mamma often said to me, says she, "Jennie "- BECKY. [With her patience exhausted, jumps up, interrupting her.] I must say good-by now - I've no time to dress. [She hurries out Right. MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Rising.] Well, do you think I made any sort of a hit with her ROLAND. My dear friend, I've told you before, you're not quite my daughter's style. MRS. CRESPIGNY. But why not She seems real refined. [ROLAND groans. WARDER comes in Le/t. He does not see MRS. CRESPIGNY on his entrance. WARDER. Hello, father! I didn't think I was THE TR U TH going to have this pleasure. I had an engage- ment to play racquets with Billy Weld, but he broke down in his motor somewhere betwveen Tuxedo and here and I couldn't wvait. [MRS. CRESPIGNY comes a few steps and beckons to ROLAND to introduce WARDER. ROLAND. Mrs. Crespigny, Mr. Warder. MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Bows.] Pleased to make your acquaintance. [She turns away with a rather grand manner. WARDER looks from her to ROLAND and shakes his head, then goes to the writing-table with some letters he has brought in from the hall. ROLAND. Excuse me one moment. [Beckons t0 MRS. CRESPIGNY and whispers to her aside.] Wait for me! MRS. CRFSPIGNY. In the hall ROLAND. Lord, no! At the station! 339 340 THE TRUTH MRS. CRESPIGNY. Oh! [Going, she turns at door to bid WARDER good-by.] If you should ever be coming over to Baltimore, Mr. Warder, why just drop in! [She goes out Lelt. WARDER. Where's Becky ROLAND. [Going to him.] She's upstairs. I just wanted to thank you for the money you sent me day before yesterday. WARDER. What money ROLAND. The check for fifty dollars Becky mailed me. WARDER. [Starts, but controls it immediately.] Oh, a check for fifty dollars - ROLAND. The joke on me is that what I wanted was five hundred! [Digs Tom in ribs. WARDER. [Looking of where BECKY went, absorbed in his thoughts.] Oh, five hundred! THE TRUTH3 ROLAND. Yes, just five hundred. [He looks at WARDER, and waits; hums a song and dances a Jew steps.] Nothing doing, I suppose WARDER. No. Father, the fact is - ROLAND. Yes, I know, Becky told me. Ex- cuse me, I've got to catch a train. Good-by, my boy. WARDER. [With his thoughts elsewhere.) Good-by! [ROLAND goes out whistling "Waiting at the Church." WARDER stands a moment think- ing, then takes out his key chain. SERVANT. [Entering, shows in LINDON.] Mr. Lindon to see Mrs. Warder, sir. [WARDER looks up with a start, which he im- mediately controls, and disguises completely his thoughts and emotions. LINDON. How are you, Warder 341 THE TRUTH WARDER. [Speaks very casually and pleasantly, writh complete self-control-] Good afternoon, Lin- don. [Sees SERVANT about to go to BECKY, stops him.] Jenks! [JENKS goes to him. WARDER gives him a key from his chain.] Go to my room and get me a large blue envelope from the upper right-hand drawer of the desk. JENKS. Yes, sir. [He goes out Lejt.] WARDER. Excuse me, Mrs. Warder is out. She'll be sorry. LIN-DON. [Surprised.] Out WARDER. Yes. LINDON. But surely there must be some mis- take WARDER. No, I'm sorry. I assure you she's out. LiNDON. Oh! Then do you mind if I wait 342 THE TRUTH 343 WARDER. Is that scarcely worth while I must be off at once, and I imagine Mrs. Warder is out for her usual bridge afternoon. LINDON. I think, on the contrary, she must be surely coming back, and if you don't mind, I'll wait. WARDER. [W1ith an apparently good-natured laugh.] I don't like to insist against your appar- ently superior knowledge - LLNDON. [A/so smiling.] No, no, it's only a note I received a few moments ago at the club. Here it is. [Takes it from his pocket.] That she must see me this afternoon. You know your wife is kindly acting as intermediary between Eve and myself. It is in regard to that. [He hands the note to WARDER, who glances at it and returns it wuthout reading.] As it only came half an hour ago, I feel sure Mrs. Warder must expect to return soon. THE TR U TH SERVANT. [Entering with an envelope, which he gives to WARDER.] That is all I can find, sir. WARDER. [Humorously.] That's all I want, so it's all right. Jenks, am I wrong in under- standing that Mrs. Warder is out SERVANT. Yes, sir. Mrs. Warder is in, sir. WARDER. Oh! I beg your pardon, Lindon. LrNDON. That's all right. WARDER. [To JENKS.] Jenks, say to Mrs. Warder, Mr. Lindon is here. You needn't say anything about me. I'm off. SERVANT. Yes, sir. [Goes out Right. LINDON. I'm not driving you away, I hope. WARDER. Oh, no, I have some important papers to go over. Make yourself comfortable. Good-by. LLNDON. Thanks, old man. Good-by. 34-4 THE TRUTH 345 [He sits on the sofa, as WARDER goes out Left. LINDON. Well! She did send for you, Freddy, old son! Now's your chance ! SERVANT. [Reentering.] Mrs. Warder will be down at once. LINDON. Thank you. [The SERVANT goes out Left. LLNDON goes to the piano and sings a verse of a song, "Everything comes to him who waits," etc. An idea comes to him. He weighs it, ac- ccpts it, smiles, and stops playing.] I will! By George, I will! [He rises. [BECKY hurries in from the Right and goes quickly toward him, crying, "Fred /" in a tone o/ distress and excitement. She leaves the door open behind her. LINDON, before she realizes what he is doing, has met her, taken her in his arms, and kissed her. She forces THE TR UTH herself away from him, standing for a moment speechless with rage and astonishment. LINDbN. I told you, didn't I, Becky [Tries to embrace her again. BECKY. [Slowly and deliberately.] That's just exactly what Torn said you'd do! LINDON. What! BECKY. Ten to one, he said, if I sent for you again, you'd kiss me. LINDON. [In alarm and astonishment.] Yes, but what - BECKY. But I wouldn't believe him! I said, and I believed, he did you an injustice. LINDON. So you talked me all over with him, did you! Then why did you send for me to-day BECKY. Because I was a fool, if you want the true treason ! LINDON. My dear Becky - THE TR U TH 347 BECKY. Oh, you'll hear more and worse than that if you stay to listen! I advise you to go! You can't help me. I don't trust you. You might even make matters worse. It may have been all done purposely as it is. LINDoN. Oh! BECKY. You see I'm ready to believe all I've heard of you, now that you've shown your true silly self to me in that one sickening moment, and I'd rather not be saved at all than be saved by you! [She leans for a second against the corner of the writing-table. LINDON. How saved From what BECKY. Never mind! I only want to say one more thing to you and then go, please. But I want this to ring in your ears so long as you re- member me! There is only one man in this world 4THE TR UTH I love, and that's Tom, and there's only one man I despise and that's you! Lindon, Fred Lindon! You know who I mean! I know now what our friendship meant to you and I wish I could cut out of my life every second of every hour I've spent with you! I've been a fool woman, and you've been a cad, -but thank God, there are men in the world - real men - and one is my husband. Now go, please! Eve's a fool not to jump at the chance of getting rid of you and I shall tell her so. [She turns away from him with a movement of dismissal. I.J-NrcN. [Going toward her.1 Do! For that, at least, I shall thank you, as well as for our delight- ful friendship, which I am sorry to have end so contrary to my expectations. BECKY. [With her eyes down, speaks in a low, 348 THE TR U TH 349 shamed voice.] This room is too small for you and me at this moment,-which leaves [He smiles, hesitates a moment, then sits in the armchair at Left. BECKY gives a kal/- smothered exclamation of rage and starts to leave the room. LINDON rises quickly. LINDON. No, no, I was only joking! I'm sorry you take the whole affair so seriously. Allow me. [He bows and goes out Left. BECKY. [Stands quietly thinking a moment, then makes up her mind.] Eve herself is the one to help me! But I can't go to her till I'm sure she'll listen and understand - Laura! [She sits by the table and takes up the receiver ol the telephone.] Seven eight Plaza. Yes! It's a lady this time, so I hope you won't have to listen! Hello! Is Miss-Oh, is that you, Laura Can you come over at once I am in dreadful trouble! Oh, 350 THE TRUTH well, after dinner, then! No, I was going out, but I won't -it's too important. You were right - and Eve's right too. Never mind, I can't tell you over the 'phone. I'll explain everything to- night, only don't fail me. You can prevent a real catastrophe that has no need to happen. - Oh, that's all right, don't stop another minute, then. Thank you with all my heart. [She hangs up the receiver, gives a long sigh, and sits worriedly thinking. WARDER comes in, serious but calm. Looking at him, half frightened, she makes a great effort to be natural, and to be in a good humor.] Hello, Tom! Your game finished already WARDER. We didn't play. Weld didn't get hack to town. Any callers BECKY. No. WARDER. I thought I saw some one leaving -from the top of the street. THE TRUTH 351 BECKY. Did you Oh ! it was probably father; he came. WARDER. No I spoke with your father some fifteen minutes ago. He told me about the money you gave him. [A second's pause; BECKY looks down and then up at him. BECKY. Are you angry WARDER. You gave me your word you wouldn't. BECKY. But I was so sorry for him - that's why he came to-day, he said he must have it: I couldn't refuse him and you weren't here! WARDER. He said you mailed him my check day before yesterday. [BECKY is silent, trapped, frightened. A pause, then she speaks in a low voice. BECKY. I'm so sorry- [A second's pause. 352 THE TRUTH WARDER It looked to me like Fred Lindon. [BECKY, more frightened, realizing what is hanging over her, like a drowning person who cannot swim, flounders helplessly about in the next Jew speeches, trying to save herself by any and every means that she thinks may help her Jor the moment. BECKY. Well, I'll be honest, it was Fred Lindon! WARDER. [A nger getting the best of him.] After everything - your word of honor, Eve's accusations, my absolute desire - you sent for him to come and see you! BECKY. No, no, you mustn't think that, Tom! He came of his own accord of course,-I suppose to see if I would see him! I didn't know it! WARDER. [fary, suspicious, to lead her on.] Then why did you see him You could easily excuse yourself. THE TR UTTH5 BECKY. No, you don't understand. [She floun- ders hopelessly.] I didn't know it was he! Don't you see WARDER. No, I don't see! [IVatches her with a lace growing harder and harder with each lie she tells. BECKY. But I'm telling you - it was just like this; I was upstairs and Jenks came -and said a gentleman wanted to see me in the draw- ing-room. Just that, don't you see -a gentle- man. [She sees the doubtling look in his lace and mistaking it, tries to make her story more plausible.] I was surprised too, and said "Who" and Jenks said the gentleman gave no name - [He turns sharply away from her, unable to face her as she tells the lies.] Yes, I know it was funny - I thought so then. I suppose Jenks considered it a joke, -and I suppose he didn't give his 353 354 THE TR UTH name for that very reason, for fear I wouldn't see him - [WARDER, looking up as if to stop her, sees the door Right open and quickly closes it.] Of course the moment I came into the room and saw who it was, I excused myself, and he left. WARDER. [In a voice not loud but full of anger and emotion.] Lies! all of it! Every word a lie, and another and another and another! BECKY. [Breathless with fright, gasping.] Tom! WARDER. [Going to her.] You sent for him! [She is too frightened to speak, but she shakes her head in a last desperate effort at denial.] Don't shake your head! I know what I'm talking about and for the first time with you, I believe! [She puts up her hands helplessly and backs away from liim.] I saw your note to him! [She starts with a sense of anger added to her other emotions.] I THE TRUTH read it here, in this room; he gave it to me before you came down. BECKY. The beast! WARDER. [With biting satire.] You're going to misjudge him too! BECKY. No, Tom, I'll tell you the truth and all of it! WARDER. Naturally, now you've got to! BECKY. No - wait! I did send for him - it was to tell him about those papers of Eve's. WARDER. Yes, you must plan your escape together! BECKY. No! because I still believed he was decent. I thought it was his duty, that he would claim it as his right, to prevent such a scandal as Eve threatened to make, which he knew I didn't deserve. WARDER. Hah ! 3,55 THE TR U TH BECKY. YOU may sneer, but I don't! Yes, I broke my promise to you-what else could I do You wouldn't let me send for him! And he came! And he did what you said he would. He took me in his arms before I could stop him, and kissed me. [She bends over the back o the chair at Centre on which she is leaning, and sobs. WARDER. [Goes to her, speaking with bitter irony.] Charming! And you turned on him, of course ! Played the shocked and surprised wife and ordered him out of the house! BECKY. Yes. But I did! Why do you speak as if I didn't WARDER. Do you expect me to believe this, too BECKY. [Facing him.] I don't expect, you've got to ! WARDER. Do you think you can go on telling 356 7IE TR U TH 357 lies forever and I'll go on blindly believing them as I have for three years BECKY. Even you couldn't have turned on him with more anger and disgust than I did! WARDER. I couldn't believe you if I wanted to ! You've destroyed every breath of confidence in me! BECKY. It's the truth I'm telling you now! WARDER. In everything - everything that has come up since my eyes were first forced half open -you have told me a lie! BECKY. It's the truth ! It's the truth! WARDER. [Continues, hardly hearing her.] The money to your father, the first lie, and to-day made a double one! All this rotten evidence of Eve's - another dozen I Your promise that Lindon's visit Thursday should be his last, the next ! BECKY. I meant it then - I meant it truthfully 358 THE TRU7Fi WARDER. [Ignoring her interruption.] His visit after all to-day - that led of course to a mass of lies! And then the truth! He kissed you! And then another lie and another dozen to try and save yourself! BECKY. [Quietly, in a hushed, Iriglhtened voice.] By everything in this world ard in the next that I hold dear and reverence, I've told you the truth at last. WARDER. You don't know what's true when you hear it or when you speak it! I could never believe in you again! Never have confidence! How could I Ask any man in the world, and his answer would be the same! [He turns and goes away from her, to control his anger, which threatens to get the best ol him. BECKY. [Sobbing.] No, no, Tom! Don'tt THE TRUTH 359 don't say that! You must believe in me! You must believe in me! WARDER. [After a pause, collects himself and comes to the writing-table.] Becky, you and I must say good-by to each other. We must finish separately. [A silence. She looks at him in dumb horror and surprise.] Do you under- stand BECKY. [In a low voice.] No! WARDER. We must separate. Quietly-no fuss, no divorce unless you wish it. [A pause, she does not answer. He goes toward her and repeats.] No divorce unless you wish it. BECKY. [With simple but deep pathes.] I love you. WARDER. You must stay on in the house for the present, till you can make your plans. That will help keep the thing quiet, too. 36o THE TRUT H BECKY. Tom! Do you really mean all you're saying Do you realize what it must mean for me-for both of us WARDER. Yes. BECKY. To-morrow, perhaps- WARDER. NO. I shall go to Boston to-night for a few days; when I come back, you may have settled on something. If you haven't, I can manage all right. I don't want to press you about that, only - BECKY. I will not stay in your house one single day without you. WARDER. You'll have to! My price for hush- ing up Lindon and Eve, and every one else, is that you on your side act with dignity, and as I think wisest. BECKY. [Going to the armchair at Left.] No! A woman like me whose heart is breaking, whether THE TR U TH 36! she's right or wrong, can't act like that. She can't do it! [She sinks into the chair, bursting into tears. WARDER. [Beside her.] Try. For your sake as well as mine. Good-by, Becky. BECKY. [WVith the tears choking her voice.] I told you the truth the last time. Oh, can't you believe me WARDER. No - good-by. [Going. BECKY. I love you and only you and you always - WARDER. [Turns in the doorway.] The club address will reach me! [He goes out, closing the door behind him. BECKY sits still a moment thinking; then she goes to the writing-table, rings the bell, and takes up a time-tablc. Her hands drop upon the 362 THE TRUTH table in utter dejection and her head lowers as the tears come again last and thick. SERVANT. [Entering Lelt.] Yes, madam BECKY. [Controlling her emotion and hiding as best she can the traces of it.] Tell Perkins to pack my small trunk and hand-bag. I am going to Baltimore to spend a day or so with my father. SERVANT. Yes, madam. BECKY. And then come back, please. SERVANT. Very good, madam. [Goes out. BECKY. [Takes up the telephone.] Hello! 708 Plaza. [As she listens for the answer she looks about the room, the control goes Irom her lace, and the tears come once more; she brushes them away and tries to speak in a conventional tone without displaying her emotion, which is however plainly evident.] Hello, I want Miss Fraser, please. . . THE TR U T3 Oh, ask her to call me the minute she's free, please. Mrs. Warder. [She hangs up the receiver and writes.] "I am leaving now. You will at least believe that I cannot turn you out of your house, nor can I live in it one single day without you. It is ready waiting for you as I shall be all the rest of my life if you can ever again believe -" [She stops as the SERVANT enters and comes to her. SERVANT. Madam [BECKY finishes writing silently. BECKY. [Sealing the note.] Has Mr. Warder gone yet SERVANT. Only just this second went out, madam. He told me to pack his bag and meet him at the station with it. BECKY. [Rising.] Give this to Mr. Warder with his things 363 6THE TR UTH [Gives the note. SERVANT. Yes. madam. [He goes out Left. The telephone bell rings. BECKY. [Going to the table, sits, and takes up the receiver. Again she does her best to keep the emotion out of her voice, but only partly suc- ceeds.] HelloI Laura I'm so sorry, after all, I can't see you to-night. Tom has been called to - Chicago suddenly on business - yes, isn't it too bad And I've had a telegram that father isn't very well, so I am taking the five-twenty train to Baltimore. Yes, I'll write. No, I don't think he's seriously ill. Good-by! [She hangs up the receiver, dropping her head on the table and sobbing heart-brokenly as THE CURTAIN FALLS 364 ACT III MR. ROLAND'S rooms in MRS. CRESPIGNY'S flat in Baltimore. This is the parlor of a cheap flat, with the bedroom, through an arch, originally in- tended for the dining room and lit by a narrow window on a well. There is red paper on the walls and red globes for the electric lights. An ugly set of furniture, with many tidies, a strange conglomeration of cheap feminine "nick-nacks," relieved by a sporting print or two, a frame of prize ribbons, and a few other masculine belong- ings which have been added to the original con- dition of the room, like a thin coat of paint. At back is a bow-window beside a sofa. On the Left 365 THE TR UTH is the opening into the bedroom, and beside this a door leads to the hall. There is a centre-table with chairs on either side and a Morris chair down on the Rig/it. A sideboard in the upper Left corner. ROLAND and MRS. CRESPIGNY are playing piquet at the centre-table. A " Tedd v Bear" with a pink ribbon bow about its neck is sitting on the table near MRS. CRESPIGNY. They play on through part of the scene. ROLAND stops to light a cigarette, and MRS. CRESPIGNY takes advantage of the pause to powder her lace and preen herself in a pocket mirror. MRS. CRESPIGNY. You don't think you smoke too many of them ROLAND. If my smoking is disagreeable to you, I might spend my evenings at the club. MRS. CRESPIGNY. You know different! You 366 THE TRUTH3 can't make that an excuse for skinning out of spending your evenings at home. I only wish't I smoked 'em myself. I've read in the papers that real ladies do now - but I guess it's the fast set, and I always was conservative. ROLAND. [Playing.] Don't talk; study your cards. If you don't take care, you'll win! MRS. CRESPIGNY. Will I Excuse me, I wasn't thinking. [She plays a card, and as Ro- LAND takes the trick she takes up her mirror and examines wrinkles 1 I believe I'll have massage. I heard of a fine massoor yesterday. ROLAND. Masseuse, you mean, I hope. MRS. CRESPIGNY. Massoor! Massoose is plu- ral. The singular is massoor. You forget I was educated in New Orleans. [She rises and goes to the sideboard and pours out a brandy and soda. 367 33THE TR UTH ROLAND. Where's my brandy and soda MRS. CRESPIGNY. I'm getting it. [Bringing the glass down to the table. ROLAND. That's a good girl. Thank you, Mrs. Crespigny. MRS. CRESPIGNY. Ain't it funny, good friends as we've been for so long now, we've kep' on calling each other "Mr." and "Mrs." S'pose it wouldn't be etiquay to call each other by our first names. ROLAND. Etiquette. MRS. CRESPIGNY. Etiquay I You can correct my English when you want to, but my French I've kep' pure since school, and I remember perfeckly-all words ending in e-t you per- nounce A. ROLAND. What is your first name MRS. CRESPIGNY. Genevieve, but I was always 368 THE TR UTH 369 called Jenny by my first h -! I mean -I wvas always called Jenny by my schoolgirl friends. ROLAND. [Playing.] Very interesting. MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Playing.] I think your first name's real pretty! ROLAND. [Taking the trick.] Tut, tut! You're getting too skittish, Mrs. Crespigny. [She laughs a little embarrassedly. MIRS. CRESPIGNY. It's your fault! ROLAND. [Playing card, and laughing.] Then I apologize! AIRS. CRESPIGNY. [Playing card, and giggling.] Oh, you needn't! ROLAND. [Laughing more at her than with her, but realizing that she will not know the difference.] I insist. [He takes the trick. MRS. CRESPIGNY. Anybody'd think we was THE TR UTh engaged to be married or something of that sort, wouldn't they ROLAND. I hope not! MRS. CRESPIGNY. Oh, I don't know! I re- member some postal cards what I've read that might be construed to lean that way. [ROLAND rises and gets a cigarette /rom the box on the table in the bow-uwindow.] There was one from Atlantic City that was just too sweet for anything! You sent it after we had that ridickerlous quarrel on the board walk. ROLAND. What about MRS. CRESPIGNY. I lost my self-respect and asked you to kiss me, 'cause you said you was grateful for the fifty dollars I gave you for your poker losses the night before. And you handed me back my money and said if that was the price of the loan - oh, how you hurt my feelings 370 THE TRUTH 371 [With a touch of futile emotion. ROLAND. [Coming back to his chair.] That was only a bluff! Come along, I'll play you a game for the whole bunch of postal cards. [Takes up the second deck and shuffles. MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Rising, speaks rather grandly.] Nobody won't never get them postal cards from me except over my dead body. [Culs the cards, and ROLAND deals.] And I intend to refer to 'em every chance I get in hopes that some day - just in a desperate fit, maybe - you'll up and marry me to stop me. [Sits again. ROLAND. Go on, play. MRS. CRESPIGNY. You've owned up you're comfortable in my cute little flat -and I don't nag. [Both lake up their hands, both play, and she takes trick. 372 THE TR UTH ROLAND. You haven't the right, but as my wife - nay, nay, Pauline. MRS. CRESPIGNY. You've got the best rooms here, and if you ever do pay any board, don't I lend it right back to you the next day ROLAND. Isn't it a little indelicate to remind me of that, Mrs. Crespigny [Playing. MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Getting a little angry.] WTell, I guess the indelicacy's even! [She plays and starts to take the trick. He stops her and takes it himselj.] Oh, excuse me, I'm at your beck and nod, and I've even so far forgot my family pride as to hint that you wasn't unacceptable to me in a nearer relation. ROLAND. There you go again! Keep off the thin ice! MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Throws down her cards and THE TRU TH 373 loses her temper outright.] Well, why won't you marry me I may have forgot my pride, but I never forget myself. You know you wouldn't dare step over the invisible line between the dumb- waiter and the bath-room, what separates your apartment from mine in the flat. ROLAND. One moment, please. Have I ever even hinted at taking the slightest advantage of your unprotected position in this house [He rises in mock dignity.] Who's kept further from that invisible line, you or I MRS. CRESPIGNY. Well, I must say you've always behaved toward me like a perfect gentle- man. [Ile sits again and takes another cigarette.] But jes' let's speak the truth - if you can about anything! [He jumbles in his vest pockets.] Matches [She rises, goes to the sideboard, and finding a box o/ matches, brings it back to the table. 374 THE TR UTH During the first part of the following speech she, makes nervous and ineflectual efforts to strike matches, in each case breaking off the heads without any result.] You know you ain't wanted at your clubs; that's why you first took to playin' even- ings with me - that, and 'cause I was easy! You know that here in Baltimore you're called a tout, a broken-down gambler, and a has-been, but I've always hoped you was a will-be for me. [Irri- tated by her repeated failures, he takes the match- box from her and lights his cigarette with the first match he strikes.] You know your old friends'd rather go 'round the block than stop and talk to you in the street. Yes, you know it as well as I do! And you've lived off me, borrowed money of me, led me to caring for you, let me take care of you as if you was - my own child, and I've saved you from bein' a drunken sotI [Her voice THE TRUTH 375 fills with tears, but her anger gets the best of her, and sihe finishes strongly, striking the table with her beringed hand as she leans across toward him.] Now, why ain't I good enough for you ROLAND. [Rising, really angry, and his dig- nily oflended.] Mrs. Crespigny - MIRS. CRESPIGNY. Oh, you needn't get on your lhigh horse or I'll win this rubber for the five hun- dred ! I know you're worthless, and I know you don't alNays, tell the truth, but through it all you've been a real gentleman to me, and I realized yesterday, when I thought you was gone for good, what it meant to me. I'm a decent -woman, Mr. Roland, if I am a fool, and I swear I'm good enough for you! ROLAND. So far as that goes, you're too good for me, but I've got others to consider. SMy daughter - 36THE TRUTH MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Interrupting him.] Yes, I know she's against me. [She sits again, and with determination.] Well, I'm against her, and per- haps some day I'll have a chance to pay her back! ROLAND. That's talking foolishly! In the first place, my allowance would stop the day I married. MRS. CRESPIGNY. Well, haven't I got enough for two It's looked mighty like it the last couple a years. [She nervously takes the "Teddy Bear" from the table to hide her embarrassment at her bold- ness, and laying it flat on her knee, lace down- ward, reties the pink bow on its neck. ROLAND. [Sitting, he gathers the cards together and shuffles them.] Come, come, here we are again on one of those useless discussions. Come along, give me another brandy and soda. MIRS. CRESPIGNY. [Resignedly.] All right. 376 THE TRUTH 7 [Rises, and takes his glass, replacing the "Teddy Bear" on the table.] This will be your second before twelve o'clock and it's got to be a little weakish. [She goes to the sideboard. The front door-bell is heard ring.] My goodness! who can that be [The bell rings again. ROLAND. Don't know, old girl, but go on, I'll deal for you. [He deals. MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Going to the table, cuts the cards.] I just love to have you call me "old girl"- it seems so nice and familiar. [The bell rings again, and MRS. CRESPIGNY, taking the "Teddy Bear" with her, places it on the side table at Left and goes out. Ro- LAND deals. Alter a moment's pause BECKY comes in, carrying a hand-bag. She- enters with an air of bravado, which fades instantly 377 THE TR U TH that she observes ROLAND does not see her. But her pathetic, timid look vanishes im- mediately when he looks up. ROLAND. [Going on dealing, without looking up.] Who was it BECKY. [lI'ith forced gayety.] Hello, father! ROLAND. Good Heavens! BECKY. [Putting her bag on the table at Lelt.] Aren't you surprised ROLAND. [Dryly.] Very. BECKY. And pleased ROLAND. W'here in the world did you come from BECKY. New York; the next train after you. Give me a kiss. How are you [Kisses him. ROLAND. What have you come for Where are you stopping 378 THE TR UTH BECKY. Here! ROLAND. At what hotel BECKY. No hotel-here with you! ROLAND. Nonsense! There's no place for you in the flat. BECKY. Why not I gave my check to the expressman and my trunk will be around in the morning. ROLAND. These two rooms are all I have. [Showing the opening to the Left.] Take a look at the bedroom-a beastly, dark little hole with one window that doesn't look out,-it looks in! The bedroom of the flat we use for a dining room. Mrs. Crespigny sleeps in the servant's room - so she tells me. BECKY. Father ! ROLAND. Now you can see what nice sort of 379 THE TRUTH surroundings your poor old father's had to put up with these last years. BECKY. [Takes off her hat and cloak and puts them on sola at Right.] You have only yourself to blame! You could live splendidly on the al- lowance Tom makes you in the one club you've got left. ROLAND. You needn't take off your things, vou can't stay here. BECKY. Oh, can't I I've come to pay you a little visit, and here I stay to-night and several nights. [Comes to the centre-table and starts to collect cards. ROLAND. Be careful! That's Genevieve's hand and we must finish this sometime - I'm well ahead. [Care/ully places the cards, properly di- vided, on the table at Left.] And really, Becky, THE TR U TH you can't stay here. You can go to a hotel if you want to, or back to New York. You're in the way here! I'm an old man; this sort of thing up- sets me! There's no room and there's no bed for you. [Crosses to the Morris chair and sits.] What the devil do you mean, turning up here well toward midnight, and threatening to stay, when for years I've been trying to get you to come to Baltimore, and you know you were ashamed to come BECKY. [Sitting in the chair Left of the centre- table.] That isn't true, father; I always said I'd come if you'd give up certain things. ROLAND. Well, I haven't given them up, so why have you come What's the joke And where's Tom BECKY. [Alter a second's pause.] That's just it. Tom has been called to - San Francisco -- 391 382 THE TRUTH suddenly -just after you left, on business -and the idea came to me, at last I'll make that visit to father! It'll be a good chance for me to settle Mrs. Crespigny, too! ROLAND. You couldn't have come at a more inopportune time! I was very busy this evening. BECKY. Yes, I know,-piquet with Mrs. C. I I'll finish it with you. [Rises and goes to get the cards. ROLAND. No, you won't! You'll go to a hotel for the night and I'll come and have a decent lunch with you to-morrow. BECKY. I can't go to a hotel. I've come away without a penny. I had to borrow half the money for my ticket from Perkins. ROLAND. Where is Perkins BECKY. In New York. I knew, of course, there'd be no place for her here. THE TR U TH ROLAND. Any of the hotel people here will trust you. BECKY. I won't ask them. I forgot to get Tom's address, so I can't send to him for any money. I've got to stay weith you, father. [She sits on the armn of the Morris chair and puts her arm about her lather. ROLAND. You're a very boring person! BECKY. That's a kind welcome for a dear and only daughter' ROLAND. And I'm not going to have myself made uncomfortable by you! BECKY. Please let me stay for a day or two, maybe a little longer or maybe not so long. I'll promise not to be any trouble; I'll sleep on the sofa ! ROLAND. Humph! You don't know that sofa! That was made in the antebellum and the ante- THE TR UTH springum days! Even a cat couldn't sleep on it without chloroform. BECKY. Well, I don't expect to sleep, father, and if I don't, you won't know it. I've got to stay. [Rises and goes away and stands by the table with her back toward him. ROLAND. [Looks at her, suddenly suspicious.] Becky, you're not telling me the truth. Some- thing's the matter. BECKY. [Turning toward him, taking a high moral stand.] Really, father! ROLAND. There's something wrong. What is it BECKY. Nothing. ROLAND. Oh, come, I'm your father, and I know the look in your eyes when you're not telling the truth; you get that look from me! You're .84 THE TR U Th 385 telling me a lie - tell me the truth. What does it mean BECKY. [Alter a second's pause, bursts out with all her pent-zp leelings, which she has been trying to hide.] I've left Tom. ROLAND. How do you mean-" Left Tom" BECKY. Left him for good. I'll never live with him again. ROLAND. Nonsense! BECKY. Never! You don't understand. [She sits again beside the table, leaning her elbows upon it and resting her lace between her two hands. ROLAND. No, I don't! and I don't want to! BECKY. I've left his house in New York for good. ROLAND. What's your reason What's he done 6THE TR UTH BECKY. He's deceived me. ROLAND. [Rising.] Tom! Never! BECKY. Father, I can't go back to him; I can't! Don't ask me any more questions, only keep me with you-please, keep me with lou. ROLAND. [Going to her.] You're upset about matters. You've had a quarrel, that's all, and you're going back to-night. BECKY. No. I've told him I'll never come back and I've come to stay - with you. ROLAND. But I won't have it! In the firsi place, Mrs. Crespigny wouldn't have it either. She'd be jealous of your being here-and after all it's her flat. And I don't believe what vou tell me about Tom. BECKY. We can go somewhere else. Who is Mrs. Crespigny [Rises, and going to him takes lho!d of his sleeve.] And I'm your daughter- 386 THE TRUTH 387 Besides, Tom's allowance will stop. From now on you and I must get on together with the little money I have from mother. ROLAND. Nothing of the sort. Even if ou diid leave Tom, you can make him take care of you. BECKY. I won't take any money from Tom! No more money! Do you hear me, father ROLAND. [Becoming more angry.] No, I don't hear you! And I have something to say about my end of all this, which is that you've got to go back to your husband before it's too late for him to take you back, and give him a chance to ex- plain! You'll go back to Tom to-night! [He goes determinedly to the so/a and gets he hat and cloak for her. BECKY. [Takes her hat Iromn him and puts iI 388 TFl TR UVTH on the centre-table with equal determination.] I shall sleep here, in this room, to-night! ROLAND. You'll sleep in a Pullman car and wake up to-morrow, happy and in your right senses, in Jersey City. BECKY. [Moves back from him a little.] You can't turn me out! [A pause. ROLAND reads the real trouble in her lace and becomes serious and sympathetic. ROLAND. Becky, you don't really believe what you say about Tom [She lowers her head in assent.] You know [She lowers her head again.] There must be a mistake somewhere! [Puits the cloak on the Morris chair.] If I ever knew a man who loved his wife! Go back, Becky i BECKY. It's impossible! ROLAND. [Going to her.] I speak to you with THE TR U TH39 years of bitter experience behind me, and it's only what good there is left in me which is urging me to say this to you. I know in the end that you'll be nearer happiness than you ever can be any other way. Go back to Tom. BECKY. No, no, I tell you, father, I've left Tom for good! Keep me with you - [A knock on the door. ROLAND. Come in! [MRS. CRESPIGNY comnes in Left and BECKY sinks down into the Morris chair. MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Worried.] It's getting pretty late! I didn't know as Mis' Warder knew the street car don't run past here after twelve thirty. ROLAND. That's all right. Mrs. Warder is taking the one o'clock train to New York. We'll catch the last car. 389 390 THE 7RU UTH MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Relieved, smiles.] Oh, well, then, you've got plenty of time. I'd better let you have my latch-key, though. I'll leave it on the hall table. [To BECKY.] Would you like anything A glass of raspberry vinegar and a piece of jell cake BECKY. No, thanks. SIRS. CRESPIGNY. [Oflended.] Good evening. BECKY. Good evening. [MRS. CRESPIGNY goes out. Why did you say I was going I'm not! ROLAND. You are. If you love Tom, you'll go. [He goes to her and puts his arm around her shoulder.] Do you love Tom still BECKY. Yes, father. ROLAND. Then go back, Becky! BECKY. No. ROLAND. Your religion teaches you that the THE TR UTH3 greatest love always carries with it the power of forgiveness. BECKY. [Eagerly.] Oh, it's what I want to believe. If it's only true - if it's only true of uts I ROLAND. You've got to make it true by going back! [He moves away.] Good God! you shan't repeat your mother's and my mistake and make a miserable failure of both your lives! [BECKY looks up surprised. BECKY. What mistake ROLAND. [Quietly, ashamed.] Your mother left me, just as you want to leave Tom. BECKY. Mother - [Rises.] left you ROLAND. And for the same reason, do you understand me - that you want to leave Tom. BECKY. But you never told me! ROLAND. No. BECKY. How long before she died 391 392THE TRUTH ROLAND. A year. BECKY. And how long were you and mother happy together ROLAND. A few months - not many. BECKY. Tom and I have been blissfully happy for six years' ROLAND. That's an argument for me! Go back! BECKY. What a lot of lies you've always told me about yourself and mother, -all my life! You always said you were an ideal couple and that it was sorrow over her death that made you what you are! ROLAND. I was ashamed when you found me out - I wanted some excuse to try and keep your sympathy and affection. Besides, what good would it have done to have told you the truth [He crosses to the table Left, and taking up a 39C)2 7HE TRU7H photograph of his wile, stands looking at it. BECKY. If you had always told me the truth about everything, I think it would have saved me this night. I've about decided that the truth in everything is the best for everything in the end- if one could only learn to tell it. ROLAND. YOU must begin young and you didn't. BECKY. By whose fault [ROLAND turns away fromn her, feeling the sting.] Tell me now about you and mother. [She sits again in the Morris chair. ROLAND. [By the centre-table.] Well, your mother accused me as you do Tom. But it wasn't true of me, Becky! it wasn't true - then. BECKY. I'm afraid I don't believe you, father. ROLAND. You don't believe me when, even 393 TILE TR U TH nowv, after all these years, I tell you it wasn't true BECKY. No. I want to believe you, father, but I can't! You've just admitted you've lied to me all my life about you and mother! Why should I believe you would suddenly turn around and tell me the truth now ROLAND. At last, one trait in you like your mother' Do all that I could, swear by everything she or I held holy, I couldn't persuade her I was telling the truth! BECKY. Perhaps you had already destroyed her confidence in you! You can do that, even with some one who loves you, in a day, in an hour, in even less! ROLAND. It did look ugly against me, and your mother was already disappointed in me. I couldn't live up to her standard. [He smiles.] 394 THE TR UTH3 I was sort of good-looking, when she married me, -too foppish, perhaps, -and I rode my own horses, generally to win, too, - and what part of my income I didn't make on the race-track I made with the ace and right bower! I promised your mother to give up the gambling side of it -but I couldn't, it was in my blood; I tried, Becky, but I failed. I lied to her about it and she found me out and began to distrust me. She was a crank on the subject of lying, anyway. One of those straightforward, narrow-minded, New Eng- land women who think everything that isn't the truth ib a lie! I always hated the plain truth. I liked to trim it up a little. BECKY. [With a nervous, pathetic little laugh.] Like me ! ROLAND. Yes. I remember how we used to laugh at you as a child I Almost the first words 395 396 THE TRUTH you spoke were fibs, and gad, the fairy stories you used to tell about yourself! [Goes up to table. BECKY. Yes. Do you remember the time, father, after I'd been reading Grimm's Fairy Tales about the wicked step-parents, how I told all over Baltimore you were my stepfather and beat me It made me a real heroine, to the other children, and I loved it! And you found it out, and gave me my choice of being punished or promising never to tell another story! Do you remember ROLAND. [Sits on the arm of the chair and puts his arm about her.] I could never bear to punish you! BECKY. I always made up stories about every- thing. I didn't see any harm-then - ROLAND. Well, your mother said I'd proved THE TRU TH 397 I couldn't tell the truth ! She didn't often use plain and ugly words, but she called me a liar, and I've never heard the word since without hearing her voice and seeing her face as she said it! BECKY. You loved her! Oh, I know how it must have hurt! ROLAND. She wouldn't believe me, she wouldn't forgive, and she left me! I don't blame her; it was my own fault at bottom! But it's true as land and water, Becky, as true as you're my daughter, God help you, and that I've loved you in my useless, selfish old way, I was true to your mother. I loved her, and no other woman existed for me then. I was willing to own up I had broken my word and was a gambler! I was willing to own up I was a liar, even, and perhaps I deserved all I got, but I loved your mother, 398 THE TR UTH1 and when she went back on me and believed the one thing about me that wasn't true, I gritted mv teeth like a damn fool and said, "To hell with women and to the dogs for me!" BECKY. And it wasn't true! Father! I be- lieve you, it wasn't true! ROLAND. No, but it was true enough soon after! I kept my word to myself and gave her plenty of reasons not to love me afterwards- and that was the beginning of the end of me. BECKY. But if you'd only waited, if you'd only given her a chance, wouldn't she have real- ized ROLAND. [Going to her, puts his hand on her shoulder.] Yes, and that's why you must go back to Tom to-night. Do you want to repeat your mother's and my story Go back, Becky! BECKY. I can't. THE TR UTH 399 ROLAND. Well, I can tell you what Tom'll do if you put off going back to him till it's too late. He'll let you go, and help you to divorce him, so he can marry some other woman, your opposite, and be happy the rest of his life. BECKY. Father! [BECKY shows a new element, jealousy, added to her trouble. ROLAND. Or else he'll grow hard and bitter about all women, and the gold years of a man's life will be brass in his mouth - thanks to you! BECKY. Yes, and I'll live here with you and grow dowdy and slattern, till I'm slovenly all through-body and soul! I won't care how I look or what company I keep in place of the friends who will surely drop me. I'll take up your life here, and my face'll grow flabby and my 400 THE TR UTH heart dry and my spirit fogged, and I'll have nobody to thank for the dead end but myself ! ROLAND. But I won't have it! You've got to go back to Tom to-night! You were happy enough with him this afternoon! He's been a wonderful husband to you and I know the run of them! I don't blame him for not wanting me around,-a father-in-law who was a disgrace to his wife. He did right to keep me here where I'm an old story and nobody cares. I'll own up to this now that you want to turn your back on him. But you shan't do it! You shan't break up his home with a beastly scandal and spoil your whole life and perhaps his, all in one hys- terical hourl Listen! [He goes to her and places his two hands on her shoulders.] It's true that no one was to blame for what I've sunk to but myself. Still, it's also true that in the be- THE TRUTH 401 ginning, perhaps, a great deal of patience, and more forgiveness, might have made both your mother's life and mine a little more worth living! [He turns aside, surprised by a welling up of an almost forgotten emotion. BECKY. You don't dream how every word you say cuts and saws into me! But I can't go back! ROLAND. You will. For if it comes down to this point, I won't keep you here! BECKY. But I can't go to a hotel! I haven't any money. ROLAND. I have enough for your ticket, and I'll take you to the station and send a telegram to Tom to expect you in the morning. BECKY. No, I can't -I can't. ROLAND. [Sternly.] You've got tol You can't stay here and I won't give you a cent to stay anywhere else! THE TRUTH BECKY. You wouldn't turn me out into the streets ! ROLAND. Yes, I will, if I must to force you to go back to your husband. [He gets her cloak. BECKY. [Rises, desperate.] Father! ROLAND. [Struck by her tone, pauses.] Well BECKY. [Drops her head and with a great eflort speaks, her voice sinking almost to a whisper.] I haven't left Tom - it's Tom's left me - [A pause. ROLAND stands looking at her and her cloak drops Irom his hand, as he slowly takes in what she means. ROLAND. What do you say BECKY. Tom has left me-now you know why I can't go back. ROLAND. Wrhat for BECKY. He called me what mother called you. 402 THE TRUTH He's lost confidence in me. He believes - there's some one else. [The last in agony of shame and griel. ROLAND. No wonder you made me worm out the truth! I wouldn't have believed it of you, Becky! I wouldn't have believed it of you! BECKY. [Frightened.] But it isn't true, father! ROLAND. Why didn't you tell me the right story in the beginning BECKY. [Aghast.] Father! don't you believe me ROLAND. You denied it to him, I suppose BECKY. Of course. ROLAND. And he turned you out all the same BECKY. He didn't turn me out; he only refused to stay in the house with me. I came away! ROLAND. Well, if your husband doesn't be- lieve in you, how can you expect me to, who've 40-1 404 TIHE TR U TH known all your life you couldn't tell the truth BECKY. Father, I've told you the truth now! For God's sake, believe me, for if you won't be- lieve me either, what will become of me ROLAND. I can help you better if you'll be honest with me. A man like Tom Warder isn't putting the wife he's been a slave to out of his life without good reason. [He turns away from her. BECKY. You said you knew the look in mi face when I lied, because it was your look. [Goes to him and stands close, lacing him.] Look in my face now and tell me what you see there. [She speaks very simply and clearly.] I love Tom and only Tom and never have loved any other man and have never been anything but faithful and true in my love for him. [ROLAND stands THE TRUTH silently looking into her face, still unconvinced.] I stand with Tom exactly, father, where you stood the day mother left you - [His lace begins to change. A knock on the door Left. MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Outside.] If Mis' Warder wants to catch that train, I hear the car coming! BECKY. [Breathlessly seizing hold of him, with her two hands.] Father! ROLAND. Mrs. Warder's changed her mind. She's stopping here to-night. [Putting his arms about her. BECKY. Father! [Her tension gives way, and she lies limp in his arms, her slender body shaking with the emotion which now masters her as THE CURTAIN FALLS 405 This page in the original text is blank. ACT IV MR. ROLAND'S rooms in MRS. CRESPIGNY'S flat, the following Afonday. The sun pours in through the bo-w-window; folded bedclothes and a pillow are placed neatly on one end of the sofa. BECKY and ROLAND are having coflee together at the centre-table. The cloth is soiled, other things in the room are in disorder, and everything is decidedly unappetizing. ROLAND is wearing a slovenly bathrobe; a newspaper is propped against the cofee pot before him. BECKY. How horrid and messy everything is! ROLAND. [WVho is smoking a cigarette as he 407 408 THE TRUTH eats.] Oh, you'll get used to it. Before you know it you'll like things best this way. BECKY. Not if I can help it. I shall fight against it. ROLAND. You think so now; you've only had one day at it. BECKY. To begin with, my dear father, you mustn't come to breakfast with me in that dis- gusting bathrobe. ROLAND. If you imagine for a minute I'm going to let you come here and upset everything to rob me of my comfort, you'll have your hands full. [MRS. CRESPIGNY is heard playing a piano in a jarther room through most o/ the scene. Her repertoire is varied, and consists oj an old waltz, a coon song, the "Melody in F," and " Waiting at the Church." THE TR U7TH 409 BECKY. [With an effort at a smile.] It will be another fight then, father, such as we used to have. Only this time I'm stronger by six years' life with a splendid character, which will help me bring you and myself up to Tom's level, rather than go down with you to this. ROLAND. [To change the subject.] Have you written Tom BECKY. [Sighing.] A hundred letters, I should think. ROLAND. And no answer BECKY. No, there isn't time. ROLAND. Yes, he could telegraph. BECKY. But I didn't send any of the letters. ROLAND. [Looking up from his newspaper.] You aren't eating anything. BECKY. [Rising in disgust, goes and sits in Morris chair.] Father, we can't live here, can we 410 THE TRU TH You must tell Mrs. Crespigny, and I'll find a little fiat, just for us two - ROLAND. [Irritably.] I knew it would come to that! Not satisfied with upsetting Warder's existence and your own, you've got to come here and upset mine! No, sir! I'll marry Mrs. C. before I'll leave here. BECKY. That's a threat I know you won't carry out. I've had two long, long nights to think things over. I wish I could die, but I know one can't die when one wants to. I know sorrow, however heartbreaking, doesn't kill, - and I'm so horribly healthy I'll probably live forever. I may even have to stand aside and see Tom happy with some one else. Well, all the same I mean to live exactly as I would if I were still with Tom. I'm going to live as if every day, every hour, I was expecting him back. I'm THE TR U TH 411 going to live so that if he ever should come back to me -I will be ready to go home with him. [The music stops for a moment. ROLAND. That's all very well for you, but I don't see why I should have to live a life to please Tom - just so you can leave me in the lurch when he comes back after you. The odds are pretty strong against his wanting me to go home with him too! I've never ridden yet according to his rules, and I don't intend to begin now. [Goes to jar table in the bow-window and takes a fresh cigarette and changes his paper for another. BECKY. [Rising, takes the bedclothes from the sofa.] Don't forget, father, what little money we have is mine, so you'll have to live as I wish. And in the end I believe you'll thank me. [She goes into the bedroom. THE TR U TH ROLAND. But in the beginning I'll damn you, and in the end too! I'm too old a leopard to change my spots. [He makes himself comfortable in the Morris chair. BECKY. [COMing out of the bedroom.] I'm going to try just as hard as I can not to tell even little lies, no matter how small, just to see if I can't get into the habit of always telling the truth. Because he might come back, father, don't you think so Don't you think maybe he'll come back ROLAND. I'm doing my best to make him. BECKY. [Surprised and eager.] How ROLAND. Never mind how. I'll tell you if it vworks. BECKY. [Piling the breakfast dishes on the tray.] I hoped he'd answer the note I sent by 41l2 THE TR U TH 413 Jenks, but he didn't. No; when Tom says a thing, he means it. I'm going out for a little while. [She places the tray on the table Lelt. ROLAND. Where BECKY. There's a small empty flat two doors below here; I'm going to look it over. I think it may do for us. [She goes into the bedroom. ROLAND. Don't be gone long, because I might need you. BECKY. [In the bedroom.] For what ROLAND. To help receive Tom I BECKY. [Coming out quickly.] FatherI ROLAND. Don't get your expectations too high, but I telegraphed him yesterday to come here. [The piano is heard again, bul stops during BECKY's long speech. 414 THE TRUTH BECKY. If he wouldn't come for me, he wouldn't come because you asked him. ROLAND. I feel if only you could get face to face with him, Becky, especially now when he's had time to think things over, to realize calmly, away from the heat of anger, that whatever your faults might be- BECKY. [Interrupts eagerly, going toward him.] Yes, yes - ROLAND. Lack of love for him and faithless- ness couldn't be among them. BECKY. Yes, if I could see him! [She kneels on the floor beside him, her arms on the arm of the chair.] I feel that if there's left in the bottom of his heart - no matter how deep down - just a little love for me, if it's only the memory of what he once had, wouldn't my own love be some sort of a magnet to bring his back If I could THE TRUTH 415 sit and talk to him, hold his hand, go back over our life a little, couldn't I make him see that I loved him -and only him, that what I'd done had been foolish - wrong not to do as he wished - but only that wrong - and that I've learned something by this terrible lesson And if I promised to try with all my might and main not to lie any more, if I promised I wouldn't be discouraged with failure if he wouldn't be, but would keep on trying, wouldn't he on his side try to have a little confidence again Wouldn't he let me come back into his life just for that trial anyway . ROLAND. I think so. A man like Warder can't get over loving a woman all in a moment, especially if he finds out before it's too late he's misjudged her. Wrong as you may have been, we know you're not so wrong as he thinks. THE TR UTR BECKY. But he won't come. You see you haven't heard from him-he won't come. [She goes up to the bow-window and looks out. ROLAND. I'm a little worried myself. I told him to telegraph and said it was urgent. BECKY. How - urgent ROLAND. Well, my dear, as you say, if I had simply said, "Come and see Becky," of course he wouldn't have paid any attention. I had to make the telegram so he would come. BECKY. Yes, but how did you ROLAND. It was a stroke of genius! I said, "Becky is dying. Come at once!" BECKY. [Going to the sofa and sitting on it.] But I'm not dying. He'll find out as soon as he gets here. ROLAND. No, he mustn't. My idea was that he would think you had tried to kill yourself - 4i6 THE TR U TH 41 7 don't you see It would rouse his sympathies - perhaps some remorse - and he would hurry on. [Dropping the paper carelessly on the floor, he rises. BECKY. But he hasn't! ROLAND. He couldn't get here till this morning; still, I ought to have had an answer to the tele- gram. [He goes into the bedroom. BECKY. [Rises and goes toward the opening.] And if he should come ROLAND. [Coming out of the bedroom in his shirt-sleeves, without the bathrobe.] Well, you must be careful not to give me away till you are solid with him again. You must be weak and ill -just getting over it-the doctor's saved you! Anyway, I thought that might bring him. BECKY. I don't like it. THE TR U TH ROLAND. [Going back into the bedroom offended.] I did my best! BECKY. But it seems to me as if I would be telling Tom a lie again. ROLAND. Not at all. I'm telling it. And besides, doesn't the end justify the means BECKY. I think Tom'd call it a lie. I don't want to do it! ROLAND. Well, if he comes in answer to my telegram, you've got to do it! BECKY. No, father, I won't! ROLAND. Nonsense! You can't get out of it. And, good Heavens, why should you, if it's going to give you back what you want and prevent a terrible upheaval [The piano is heard again. BECKY. Well, anyway, he hasn't answered, so perhaps he won't come. I'm going out. 418 THE 7TRU7'H 419 [Gets her hat from table Left ROLAND. Don't be long in any case. He might have forgot to send word, or not have time, or even have suspected something and not answered purposely, and be coming all the same on this morning's train ! BECKY. [Putting on her hat.] I'll see the flat and come straight back. [She starts to go, stops and turns in the doorway.] Thank you, father, for trying to help me. If he only will come! [She goes out Left. ROLAND. [Lighting another cigarette.] Move into another flat! To live with everything so filthy clean you can't be easy and let things go! Ta, ta to the bucket-shop, and never a cent to put on anything again! Nothing but cleanth and economy! No, no, Stephen Roland, not at your age. [He stands gazing at a portrait of MRS. CRF4- 420 THE TRUTH PIGNY on the Right wall, with a hal/-humorow3 expression ol resignation, then crosses to the electric bell on the Left wall.] Listen, don't you hear wedding bells [He rings the bell.] Do you hear them, Stephen! [He rings again. The piano of stage stops.] Wedding bells! [He turns and walks toward the portrait again, nodding his head definitely. A knock on the door Left.] Come in - Jennie I [MRS. CRESPIGNY comes in. MRS. CRESPIGNY. Did you ring ROLAND. I believe I did. MRS. CRESPIGNY. What's the matter My piano-playing disturb Mis' Warder ROLAND. Oh, -is the pianola mended MRS. CRESPIGNY. Yes. The man said I worked the pedals too emotionally. ROLAND. I wanted to see you. THE TRUTH MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Pulling her bell down and her marcel wave out.] Well, I'm visible! ROLAND. Mrs. Crespigny, I'm in trouble. MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Going to him.] Now look here, Mr. Roland, true as Gospel I can't let you have another cent, not before the first of the month. Your daughter's here now; you've got to go to her. ROLAND. Not so fast, please ! It isn't money. At least that isn't this moment's trouble. M1y daughter and her husband have quarrelled. MRS. CRESPIGNY. I suspected something was wrong. [She starts, aghast and angry at a new idea which comes to her.] She don't mean to come here and live ROLAND. No, she wants to take me away to live with her. MRS. CRESPIGNY. Didn't I always tell you 421 THE TR UTH she'd separate us if she could! Now show your character! I guess you're your own boss, ain't you You won't go, Mr. Roland ROLAND. But you see if they don't make up their quarrel, my allowance stops and I won't have a cent. I'll have to live where my daughter wants me. MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Taking from the bosom of her shirt-waist a second-hand natural rose with a wired stem, and destitute of green leaves, she twists the wired part nervously about.] Why ain't one woman's money just as good as another's for you to live on ROLAND. Mrs. Crespigny, you've come straight to the point, and you've come pretty bluntly, but that's just as well in view of the poor figure I cut in the matter. [He turns up toward the centre-table and places 422 THE TRUTH 423 on it his newspaper, which he has picked up from the floor. MRS. CRESPIGNY. Why, I think, considering your age, your figger's great! ROLAND. [Looking at her despairingly.] I spoke figuratively! Now I'm doing my best to bring about a reconciliation. Of course, if I succeed, I can keep on living here just as usual - I'll have my allowance. MRS. CRESPIGNY. But if you don't bring about the reconciliation . . . ROLAND. Well, in that case, frankly, I should have to leave you or marry you! MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Going to the table.] Look here, Mr. Roland, I want this in black and white! Are you proposing to me ROLAND. Well, Mrs. Crespigny, in a way - MRS. CRESPIGNY. But there's a string to it 424 THE TR UTH ROLAND. You know you have once or twice delicately suggested that a marriage wouldn't be altogether disagreeable to you, but it's a poor bargain for you, and in case the proposal should ever be definitely made, I want to be sure you know what you're getting! MRS. CRESPIGNY. I guess I know well enough. I ain't lived in the same flat with vou for four solid years without finding out whether or not you was worth it to me. I know your faults, Mr. Roland, but they're swell faults. ROLAND. [He goes to the table in the window to get a cigarette.] Mrs. Crespigny, suppose you keep to the point, which is, if I marry - if you marry me, you do it with your eyes open. I'm to have all the liberty I've ever had. None of my habits are to be interfered with, none of my ways of spending money. THE TR UUTf 425 MRS. CRESPIGNY. All right. I know I won't be marrying a hero, but I'll be getting a high- toned name and the company I want for keeps, for if once we're married, your daughter nor nobody else won't sneak you away from me, and you can't get nothing in this world for nothing. [She sits Right ol the table with, a lugubrious expression on her poor powdered face. ROLAND. Very well, then, [Coming down to her.] if there's no reconciliation to-day, we'll consider it settled without another word. MRS. CRESPIGNY. And if she does make it up with her husband ROLAND. We'll let that stand for the present. I would still have my allowance and I wouldn't have to leave the flat. MRS. CRESPIGNY. Then, so far as I'm concerned, 426 THE TRUTH - and I don't make no bones about saying it, - I'd rather they kep' separate. ROLAND. Don't be selfish ! I think you'll win without that. [He lilts her head tenderly, smiling sweetly; then, as he turns away from her the sweetness jades, and he looks at least twenty years older. MRS. CRESPIGNY, happy but em- barrassed, tears the laded rose to pieces petal by petal.] I don't understand it. I ought to have had a telegram long ago! MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Starts and rises.] A tele- gram! My stars! this telegram came before you was up and I forgot all about it. [Giving him a telegram. RoLAND. That won't do! You'll have to be more thoughtful than that! [Reading the tele- gram.] He's coming I He's due here any minute I THE TRUTH47 And Beck out I Quick I help me make this look like a sick room. MRS. CRESPIGNY. A sick room ROLAND. I'll put this chair here for Becky to sit in I [Moving the Morris chair near to the table. MRS. CRESPIGNY. And I'll put a towel on the table. [Getting one Irom the bedroom.] But why a sick room. Mr. Roland! Who's sick ROLAND. That's how I got him here. Tele- graphed Becky was dying -and it's worked - he's coming! MRS. CRESPIGNY. YOU ought to have some bottles for medicine! ROLAND. Bottles Here's a couple I [Getting a whiskey bottle and a brandy botlle from the sideboard. MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Taking the bottles from 427 428 THEE TR UTH him.] You don't want him to think she's been on a spree, do you [She puts them on the table Left.] Put a glass of water on the table. [He gets a glass from the sideboard.] And I'll put this saucer and spoon on top - that'll look like homeopathic stuff. [She places a -aucer on the table and breathes on the spoon and polishes it on a corner of table-cloth. ROLAND gets a pillow and a blanket from the bed- room and arranges them in the Morris chair.] Do you know what we ought to have on that table An orange on a plate! I don't know why it is, but it always looks like sick folks, having an orange on a plate by 'em! Wait a minute. I've got a marble orange just like real. I'll get it. I'll take the tray. [MRS. CRESPIGNY with the tray at the door Left.] Josephine! Josephine! Oh, never mind if your hands are in the suds! [Ro- LAND gets a hassock, which he places in front of THE TRUTH 429 the Morris chair. He pulls dowm the window-shades, takes the siphon, and fills the glass on the table, putting the saucer and spoon on top of it. MRS. CRESPIGNY enters with an imitation orange on a plate.] Here it is! And I brought a knife with it -don't it look natural [The front bell rings. ROLAND. Becky! MRS. CRESPIc.N'Y. No - I let her take the key I ROLAND. Maybe it's he! And Becky not back! Don't let Josephine open the door yet! MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Opens the Lefl door and calls.] Josephine! Josy! I'll tend door; you go on with your washing! [She shuts the door. ROLAND. Show him here - MRS. CRESPIGNY. Huh, huh ROLAND. And I'll tell him the doctor's with Becky - 430 THE TRU TH MRS. CRESPIGNY. Huh, huh ROLAND. Then you watch for her, and when she comes, knock on the door and tell me the doctor's gone - MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Doubtiully.] Huh, huh - ROLAND. Then I'll go " to find out if she feels able to see him," and bring her .n as if from hei bedroom. [He goes to the Morris chair and arranges 1h, pillow and blanket. MRS. CRESPIGNY. It's lucky I don't have to tell him all that! You know, I haven't got your - imagination I . ROLAND. That's all right - you'll see, - they'll be reconciled! [Gets a Ian jrom behind the book-rack on the back wall and puts it on the table. MRS CRESPIGNY. Reconciled I THE TRUTH ROLAND. Yes, yes, they'll be reconciled' MRS. CRESPIGNY. Our marriage is as good as off then! ROLAND. Yes, yes-I mean we'll see I [The front bell rings again.] Don't keep him waiting - he might get suspicious! MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Turning the matter over in her mind, speaks very abstractedly.] Our mar- riage is as good as off then I [She goes out slowly, weighing this sudden com- plication in her affairs. ROLAND. WeII, you never know your luck I No, no, don't close the door I 'll be here, expecting him. MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Of stage.] How do you do Woti't you come right in [WARDER enters. ROLAND. So you've come, Tom 431 432 THE TR UTH WARDER. [Very serious.] How is she, father ROLAND. The doctor is with her now. Mrs. Crespigny will let me know when he's gone. I haven't let her know I telegraphed you. WARDER. But will she get well Is she no worse ROLAND. We have every hop of her getting well. WARDER. [He turns aside to control a sudden flood of emotion.] Thank God ! ROLAND. I think a good deal now depends upon you. [WARDER laces ROLAND. ROLAND goes to Aim.] Are you ready to take my daughter back WARDER. [Very quietly, soberly.] Yes. ROLAND. For good WARDER. If I can only feel sure Becky will try - only try - to be straightforward and honest THE TRUTH 433 with me, that's all I ask. God knows what I've suffered these two days, and when your message came -oh, to have that on my shoulders too - it would have been more than a man could bear! ROLAND. Whatever Becky's faults may have been, you did her one terrible injustice! WARDER. Yes, I know that now! Becky, - never I Father, hour after hour since the one in which I left her, I've paced up and down my room, or sat and gritted my teeth in the train, and thought - and thought - and thought - till the anger died out of me and I began to see things white and clear both ahead and behind me. And all the time Becky's final words kept ringing in my ears, and they rang true: "I love you, and only you, and you always." . . . And the further away from the excitement and anger I got, the saner I grew. And as I passed over our life to- THE TR UTH gether, second by second of happiness, I found only proof after proof of her love for me! Yes, I did Becky one great injustice, and I want to ask her to forgive me. ROLAND. [His better self moved. Takes Tom's hand.] Tom- WARDER. After all, life is mvade up of com- promises and concessions, and if Becky will only try, and let me help her - ROLAND. I believe you love her still WARDER. I can only answer you by saying that I want more than anything else in the world to believe in her again - to have at least the begin- ning of confidence. [With a knock on the door, MRS. CRESPIGNY comes in, frightened at what she is going to do. ROLAND hesitates one moment, but his old habit soon reasserts itself. 434 THE TRUTH 435 ROLAND. The doctor gone [MRS. CRES- PIGNY nods her head.] Excuse me. [He hurries out Left. MRS. CRESPIGNY stands looking after ROLAND, evidently trying to nerve herself up to the task of telling WARDER the truth. She makes several ineffectual gasp- ing efforts to speak, and finally gets started, rushing her words and not daring to speak slowly for fear she'd stop. MRS. CRESPIGNY. I'm going to do something awful, and I only hope I won't be punished for it all the rest of my life. Lord knows, seems as if I'd been punished enough in advance. Can I trust you WARDER. In what way MRS. CRESPIGNY. As a gentleman. If I tell you something - something that you ought to 436 THE TR U TH know -will you promise to see it through and not let on I told you WARDER. I don't know if I can promise that. Is it anything you have a right to tell me MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Going toward him.] It won't do you no harm to pertect me, and I give you my sacred word of honor it's the truth instead of the lie you've been told ! And all I ask is that you'll per- tect me as regards Mr. Roland. WARDER. [Astounded, bewildered, but his sus- picions rearroused.] What lie Go on. I give you the promise! MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Whispers.] She ain't sick! WARDER. Who MRS. CRESPIGNY. Mis' Warder! She ain't been sick - that was all a story to get you here I WARDER. [Catching her two hands by the wrists THE TRUTH 437 and holding them tight, so she can't get away from him.] No! don't say that! MRS. CRESPIGNY. Ssh! I will say it! It's true! The doctor wasn't here when you came! Mis' Warder was out and only came in when I knocked on the door just now! WARDER. Do you realize what you're saying MRS. CRESPIGNY. Perfeckly! WARDER. And you're telling me the truth MRS. CRESPIGNY. Keep your eyes open and judge for yourself, that's all! Maybe you think that's the truth! [Snatching up the 'imitation orange from the table, she smashes it on the floor. WARDER moves to go; she stands in front of the door to stop him. WARDER. Let me go! I won't stay for this brutal farce! THE TR UTH MRS. CRESPIGNY. You promised to pertect me, and if you go now Mr. Roland'1I catch on, and I want him to marry me! Now you know - WARDER. Was this his idea or hers MRS. CRESPIGNY. His, and she - [Listens. WARDER. [Eagerly.] She what - MRS. CRESPIGNY. [Moving away from the door.] Ssh! they're here! [WARDER controls himself and goes to the other side of the room. ROLAND comes, bringing BECKY, who leans on him. Her eyes are down. WARDER stands immovable and watches. ROLAND. [Pointedly.] Thank you, Mrs. Cres- pigny. [She goes out unwillingly. BECKY looks up and sees WARDER. He stands motionless, watch- ing her. 438 THE TR U TH 439 BECKY. [As she meets WARDER'S eyes, breaks away from ROLAND.] No, father! I can't do it! I won't do it! ROLAND. [Frightened.] Becky! BECKY. No ! I tell you it's only another lie and a revolting one! ROLAND. You're ill I You don't know what you're saying! BECKY. No, I'm not ill, and you know it, and I haven't been I And if I can't win his love back by the truth, I'll never be able to keep it, so what's the use of getting it back at all [The tears fill her eyes and her throat. WARDER. Becky! [He wants to go to her, but still holds himself back. His face shows his joy, but neither BECKY nor ROLAND see this. BECKY. [Continues alter a moment, pathetically.] 440 7'HE TR UTH I thought I might creep back, through pity, first into your life, and then into your heart again. But, after all, I can't do it. [She sits in the Morris chair, hopelessly.] Something's happened to me in these two days - even if I tell lies, I've learned to loathe them and be afraid of them, and all the rest of my life I'll try - WARDER. [In a choked voice.] Thank God! [He goes to her, almost in tears himself. Ro- LAND looks at WARDER, and realizes what it means; a smile comes over his own face, and at the same time his eyes fill with his almost- forgotten tears. BECKY. You can't forgive me! WARDER. We don't love people because they are perfect. [He takes her two trembling hands in his, and she rises. THE TRU TH 44 BECKY. Tom I WARDER. We love them because they are them- selves. [And he takes her in his arms close to him, as the find CURTAIN FALLS