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ACT I The MARCH'S dining-room opens through French windows on one of thosegardens which seem infinite, till they are seen to be coterminouswith the side walls of the house, and finite at the far end, becauseonly the thick screen of acacias and sumachs prevents another housefrom being seen. The French and other windows form practically allthe outer wall of that dining-room, and between them and the screenof trees lies the difference between the characters of Mr and MrsMarch, with dots and dashes of Mary and Johnny thrown in. Forinstance, it has been formalised by MRS MARCH but the grass has notbeen cut by MR MARCH, and daffodils have sprung up there, which MRSMARCH desires for the dining-room, but of which MR MARCH says: "ForGod's sake, Joan, let them grow." About half therefore are now in abowl on the breakfast table, and the other half still in the grass,in the compromise essential to lasting domesticity. A hammock underthe acacias shows that MARY lies there sometimes with her eyes onthe gleam of sunlight that comes through: and a trail in the longishgrass, bordered with cigarette ends, proves that JOHNNY tramps therewith his eyes on the ground or the stars, according. But all thisis by the way, because except for a yard or two of gravel terraceoutside the windows, it is all painted on the backcloth. TheMARCHES have been at breakfast, and the round table, covered withblue linen, is thick with remains, seven baskets full. The room isgifted with old oak furniture: there is a door, stage Left, Forward;a hearth, where a fire is burning, and a high fender on which onecan sit, stage Right, Middle; and in the wall below the fireplace,a service hatch covered with a sliding shutter, for the passage ofdishes into the adjoining pantry. Against the wall, stage Left, isan old oak dresser, and a small writing table across the Left Backcorner. MRS MARCH still sits behind the coffee pot, making up herdaily list on tablets with a little gold pencil fastened to herwrist. She is personable, forty-eight, trim, well-dressed, and morematter-of-fact than seems plausible. MR MARCH is sitting in anarmchair, sideways to the windows, smoking his pipe and reading hisnewspaper, with little explosions to which no one pays anyattention, because it is his daily habit. He is a fine-looking manof fifty odd, with red-grey moustaches and hair, both of whichstiver partly by nature and partly because his hands often push themup. MARY and JOHNNY are close to the fireplace, stage Right.JOHNNY sits on the fender, smoking a cigarette and warming his back.He is a commonplace looking young man, with a decided jaw, tall,neat, soulful, who has been in the war and writes poetry. MARY isless ordinary; you cannot tell exactly what is the matter with her.She too is tall, a little absent, fair, and well-looking. She has asmall china dog in her hand, taken from the mantelpiece, and facesthe audience. As the curtain rises she is saying in her soft andpleasant voice: "Well, what is the matter with us all, Johnny?"

JOHNNY....