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The Skin Game

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ACT I HILLCRIST'S study. A pleasant room, with books in calfbindings, and signs that the HILLCRIST'S have travelled, suchas a large photograph of the Taj Mahal, of Table Mountain, andthe Pyramids of Egypt. A large bureau [stage Right], devotedto the business of a country estate. Two foxes' masks.Flowers in bowls. Deep armchairs. A large French window open[at Back], with a lovely view of a slight rise of fields andtrees in August sunlight. A fine stone fireplace [stage Left].A door [Left]. A door opposite [Right]. General coloureffect—stone, and cigar-leaf brown, with spots of brightcolour.[HILLCRIST sits in a swivel chair at the bureau, busy withpapers. He has gout, and his left foot is encased accord: Heis a thin, dried-up man of about fifty-five, with a ratherrefined, rather kindly, and rather cranky countenance. Closeto him stands his very upstanding nineteen-year-old daughterJILL, with clubbed hair round a pretty, manly face.]

JILL. You know, Dodo, it's all pretty good rot in these days.

HILLCRIST. Cads are cads, Jill, even in these days.

JILL. What is a cad?

HILLCRIST. A self-assertive fellow, without a sense of other people.

JILL. Well, Old Hornblower I'll give you.

HILLCRIST. I wouldn't take him.

JILL. Well, you've got him. Now, Charlie—Chearlie—I say—the importance of not being Charlie——

HILLCRIST. Good heavens! do you know their Christian names?

JILL. My dear father, they've been here seven years.

HILLCRIST. In old days we only knew their Christian names from their tombstones.

JILL. Charlie Hornblower isn't really half a bad sport.

HILLCRIST. About a quarter of a bad sport I've always thought out hunting.

JILL. [Pulling his hair] Now, his wife—Chloe—-

HILLCRIST. [Whimsical] Gad! your mother'd have a fit if she knew you called her Chloe.

JILL. It's a ripping name.

HILLCRIST. Chloe! H'm! I had a spaniel once——

JILL. Dodo, you're narrow. Buck up, old darling, it won't do. Chloe has seen life, I'm pretty sure; THAT'S attractive, anyway. No, mother's not in the room; don't turn your uneasy eyes.

HILLCRIST. Really, my dear, you are getting——

JILL. The limit. Now, Rolf——

HILLCRIST. What's Rolf? Another dog?

JILL. Rolf Hornblower's a topper; he really is a nice boy.

HILLCRIST. [With a sharp look] Oh! He's a nice boy?

JILL. Yes, darling. You know what a nice boy is, don't you?

HILLCRIST. Not in these days.

JILL. Well, I'll tell you. In the first place, he's not amorous.

HILLCRIST. What! Well, that's some comfort.

JILL. Just a jolly good companion.


JILL. Well, to anyone—me.


JILL. Anywhere. You don't suppose I confine myself to the home paddocks, do you? I'm naturally rangey, Father.

HILLCRIST. [Ironically] You don't say so!

JILL. In the second place, he doesn't like discipline.

HILLCRIST. Jupiter! He does seem attractive.

JILL. In the third place, he bars his father.

HILLCRIST. Is that essential to nice girls too?

JILL. [With a twirl of his hair] Fish not! Fourthly, he's got ideas....