THE BIG DRUM
THE FIRST ACT
The scene is a room, elegantly decorated, in a flat in South Audley Street. On the right, two windows give a view, through muslin curtains, of the opposite houses. In the wall facing the spectator are two doors, one on the right, the other on the left. The left-hand door opens into the room from a dimly-lighted corridor, the door on the right from the dining-room. Between the doors there is a handsome fireplace. No fire is burning and the grate is banked with flowers. When the dining-room door is opened, a sideboard and a side-table are seen in the further room, upon which are dishes of fruit, an array of ice-plates and finger-bowls, liqueurs in decanters, glasses, silver, etc.
The pictures, the ornaments upon the mantelpiece, and the articles of furniture are few but choice. A high-backed settee stands on the right of the fireplace; near the settee is a fauteuil-stool; facing the settee is a Charles II arm-chair. On the left of the room there is a small table with a chair beside it; on the right, not far from the nearer window, are a writing-table and writing-chair. Pieces of bric-Гѓ -brac lie upon the tables, where there are also some graceful statuettes in ivory and bronze. Another high-backed settee fills the space between the windows, and in each window there is an arm-chair of the same period as the one at the fireplace.
The street is full of sunlight.
(Note: Throughout, "right" and "left" are the spectators' right and left, not the actor's.)
[Robert Roope, seated at the writing-table, is sealing a letter. Noyes enters at the door on the left, followed by Philip Mackworth.
[Announcing Philip.] Mr. Mackworth.
[A simple-looking gentleman of fifty, scrupulously attired—jumping up and shaking hands warmly with Philip as the servant withdraws.] My dear Phil!
[A negligently—almost shabbily—dressed man in his late thirties, with a handsome but worn face.] My dear Robbie!
A triumph, to have dragged you out! [Looking at his watch.] Luncheon isn't till a quarter-to-two. I asked you for half-past-one because I want to have a quiet little jaw with you beforehand.
Er—I'd better tell you at once, old chap, whom you'll meet here to-day.
Aha! Your tone presages a most distinguished guest. [Seating himself in the chair by the small table.] Is she a grande-duchesse, or is he a crowned head?
[Smiling rather uneasily.] Wait. I work up to my great effect by degrees. We shall only be six. Collingham Green——
[In disgust.] Oh, lord!
Now, Phil, don't be naughty.
The fellow who does the Society gossip for the Planet!
And does it remarkably neatly, in my opinion.
Pouah! [Leaning back in his chair, his legs outstretched, and spouting.] "Mrs. Trevelyan Potter, wearing a gown of yellow charmeuse exquisitely draped with chiffon, gave a dance for her niece Miss Hermione Stubbs at the Ritz Hotel last night." That sort o' stuff!