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The First and the Last

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It is six o'clock of a November evening, in KEITH DARRANT'S study. A large, dark-curtained room where the light from a single reading-lamp falling on Turkey carpet, on books beside a large armchair, on the deep blue-and-gold coffee service, makes a sort of oasis before a log fire. In red Turkish slippers and an old brown velvet coat, KEITH DARRANT sits asleep. He has a dark, clean-cut, clean-shaven face, dark grizzling hair, dark twisting eyebrows.

[The curtained door away out in the dim part of the room behindhim is opened so softly that he does not wake. LARRY DARRANTenters and stands half lost in the curtain over the door. Athin figure, with a worn, high cheek-boned face, deep-sunk blueeyes and wavy hair all ruffled—a face which still has a certainbeauty. He moves inwards along the wall, stands still again andutters a gasping sigh. KEITH stirs in his chair.]

KEITH. Who's there?

LARRY. [In a stifled voice] Only I—Larry.

KEITH. [Half-waked] Come in! I was asleep. [He does not turn his head, staring sleepily at the fire.]

The sound of LARRY's breathing can be heard.[Turning his head a little] Well, Larry, what is it?LARRY comes skirting along the wall, as if craving its support,outside the radius of the light.[Staring] Are you ill?LARRY stands still again and heaves a deep sigh.

KEITH. [Rising, with his back to the fire, and staring at his brother] What is it, man? [Then with a brutality born of nerves suddenly ruffled] Have you committed a murder that you stand there like a fish?

LARRY. [In a whisper] Yes, Keith.

KEITH. [With vigorous disgust] By Jove! Drunk again! [In a voice changed by sudden apprehension] What do you mean by coming here in this state? I told you—— If you weren't my brother——! Come here, where I can we you! What's the matter with you, Larry?

[With a lurch LARRY leaves the shelter of the wall and sinks intoa chair in the circle of light.]

LARRY. It's true.

[KEITH steps quickly forward and stares down into his brother'seyes, where is a horrified wonder, as if they would never againget on terms with his face.]

KEITH. [Angry, bewildered-in a low voice] What in God's name is this nonsense?

[He goes quickly over to the door and draws the curtain aside, tosee that it is shut, then comes back to LARRY, who is huddlingover the fire.]

Come, Larry! Pull yourself together and drop exaggeration! What on earth do you mean?

LARRY. [In a shrill outburst] It's true, I tell you; I've killed a man.

KEITH. [Bracing himself; coldly] Be quiet!

LARRY lifts his hands and wrings them.

[Utterly taken aback] Why come here and tell me this?

LARRY. Whom should I tell, Keith? I came to ask what I'm to do— give myself up, or what?

KEITH. When—when—what——?

LARRY. Last night.

KEITH. Good God! How? Where? You'd better tell me quietly from the beginning. Here, drink this coffee; it'll clear your head.

He pours out and hands him a cup of coffee. LARRY drinks itoff.

LARRY. My head! Yes! It's like this, Keith—there's a girl——