HANDS ACROSS THE SEA
A Light Comedy in One Scene
by Noel Coward
LADY MAUREEN GILPIN (Piggie)
COMMANDER PETER GILPIN, R.N., her husband
THE HON. CLARE WEDDERBURN
LIEUT. COMMANDER ALASTAIR CORBETT, R.N.
MAJOR GOSLING (Bogey)
The actions of the play takes place in the drawing room of the GILPIN'S flat in London.
TIME: Present Day
The scene is the GILPIN's flat in London. The room is nicely furnished and rather untidy. There is a portable gramophone on one small table and a tray of cocktail things on another; apart from these, the furnishings can be left to the discretion of the producer.
When the curtain rises the telephone is ringing. WALTERS, a neat parlourmaid, enters and answers it. The time is about six p.m.
WALTERS (at telephone): Hallo -- yes -- no, her ladyship's not back yet -- she said she's be in at five, so she ought to be here at any minute now. -- What name, please? -- Rawlingson -- Mr and Mrs Rawlingson -- (She scribbles on the pad.) Yes -- I'll tell her --
She hangs up the receiver and goes out. There is the sound of voices in the hall and LADY MAUREEN GILPIN enters, followed at a more leisurely pace by her husband, PETER GILPIN. MAUREEN, nicknamed PIGGIE by her intimates, is a smart, attractive woman in the thirties. PETER is tall and sunburned and reeks of the Navy.
PIGGIE (as she comes in): -- and you can send the car back for me at eleven thirty -- it's quite simple, darling, I wish you wouldn't be so awfully complicated about everything --
PETER: What happens if my damned dinner goes on longer than that and I get stuck?
PIGGIE: You just get stuck, darling, and then you get unstuck and get a taxi --
PETER (grumbling): I shall be in uniform, clinking with medals --
PIGGIE: If you take my advice you'll faint dead away at eleven o'clock and then you can come home in the car and change and have time for everything --
PETER: I can't faint dead away under the nose of the C.-in.-C.
PIGGIE: You can feel a little poorly can't you -- anybody has the right to feel a little poorly -- (She sees the telephone pad.) My God!
PETER: What is it?
PIGGIE: The Rawlingsons.
PETER: Who the hell are they?
PIGGIE: I'd forgotten all about them -- I must get Maud at once -- (She sits at the telephone and dials a number.)
PETER: Who are the Rawlingsons?
PIGGIE: Maud and I stayed with them in Samolo, I told you about it, that time when we had to make a forced landing -- they practically saved our lives -- (At telephone.) Hullo -- Maud -- darling, the Rawlingsons are on us -- what -- the RAWLINGSONS -- yes -- I asked them today and forgot all about it -- you must come at once -- but,, darling, you must -- Oh, dear -- no, no, that was the Frobishers, these were the ones we stayed with -- mother and father and daughter --you must remember -- pretty girl with bad legs -- No -- they didn't have a son -- we swore we'd give them a lovely time when they came home on leave -- I know they didn't have a son, that was those other people in Penang -- Oh, all right -- you'll have to do something about them, though -- let me ask them to lunch with you tomorrow -- all right -- one-thirty -- I'll tell them -- (She hangs up.) -- she can't come --
PETER: You might have warned me that a lot of Colonial strangers were coming trumpeting into the house --
PIGGIE: I tell you I'd forgotten --
PETER: That world trip was a grave mistake --
PIGGIE: Who can I get that's celebrated -- to give them a thrill?
PETER: Why do they have to have a thrill?
PIGGIE: I'll get Clare, anyway -- (She dials another number.)
PETER: She'll frighten them to death.
PIGGIE: Couldn't you change early and come in your uniform? That would be better than nothing --
PETER: Perhaps they'd like to watch me having my bath!
PIGGIE (at telephone): I want to speak to Mrs Wedderburn, please -- yes -- (to PETER) I do wish you'd be a little helpful -- (at telephone) Clare? -- This is Piggie -- I want you to come round at once and help me with the Rawlingsons -- no, I know you haven't, but that doesn't matter -- Mother, father, and daughter -- very sweet -- they were divine to us in the East -- I'm repaying hospitality -- Maud's having them to lunch tomorrow and Peter's going to take them round the dockyard --
PETER: I'm not going to do any such thing --
PIGGIE: Shut up, I just thought of that and it's a very good idea -- (At telephone.) All right, darling -- as soon as you can -- (She hangs up.) I must go and change --
PETER: You know perfectly well I haven’t time to take mothers and fathers and daughters with bad legs round the dockyard --
PIGGIE: It wouldn't take a minute, they took us all over their rubber plantation.
PETER: It probably served you right.
PIGGIE: You're so disobliging, darling, you really should try to conquer it -- it's something to do with being English, I think -- as a race I'm ashamed of us -- no sense of hospitality -- the least we can do when people are kind to us in fa-off places is to be a little gracious in return.
PETER: They weren't kind to me in far-off places.
PIGGIE: You know there's a certain grudging, sullen streak in your character -- I've been very worried about it lately -- it's spreading like a forest fire --
PETER: Why don't you have the down for the week-end?
PIGGIE: Don't be so idiotic, how can I possibly? There's no room to start with and even if there were they'd be utterly wretched --
PETER: I don't see why.
PIGGIE: They wouldn't know anybody -- they probably wouldn't have the right clothes -- they'd keep on huddling about in uneasy little groups --
PETER: The amount of uneasy little groups that three people can huddle about in is negligible.
ALASTAIR CORBETT saunters into the room. He is good-looing and also distinctly Naval in tone.
ALLY: Hallo, chaps.
PIGGIE: Ally, darling -- how lovely -- we're in trouble -- Peter'll tell you all about it --
The telephone rings and she goes to it. The following conversations occur simultaneously.
ALLY: What trouble?
PETER: More of Piggie's beach friends.
ALLY: Let's have a drink.
ALLY: No, a long one, whisky and soda.
PETER: (going to drink table) All right.
ALLY: What beach friends?
PETER: People Maud and Piggie picked up in the East.
PIGGIE (at phone): Hullo! -- Yes -- Robert, dear -- how lovely! (To others) It's Robert.
ALLY: Piggie ought to stay home more.
PIGGIE (at phone): Where are you?
PETER: That's what I say.
PIGGIE (on phone): Oh, what a shame! -- No-- Peter's going to sea on Thursday -- I'm going down on Saturday.
ALLY: Rubber, I expect -- everybody in the East's rubber.
PIGGIE (on phone): No -- nobody particular -- just Clare and Bogey and I think Pops; but he thinks he has an ulcer or something and might not be able to come.
PETER: We thought you might be a real friend and take them over the dockyard.
ALLY: What on earth for?
PETER: Give them a thrill.
PIGGIE (on phone): All right -- I'll expect you -- no, I don't think it can be a very big one -- he looks as bright as a button.
ALLY: Why don't you take them over the dockyards?
PETER: I shall be at sea, Thursday onward -- exercises!
PIGGIE (on phone): No, darling, what is the use of having her -- she only depresses you -- oh -- all right! (Hangs up.) Oh, dear --
PETER: It's quite easy for you -- you can give them lunch on board.
ALLY: We're in dry dock.
PETER: They won't mind. (To PIGGIE) What is it?
PIGGIE: Robert -- plunged in gloom -- he's got to do a course in Greenwich -- he ran into a tram in Devonport -- and he's had a row with Molly -- he wants me to have her for the week-end so that they can make it up all over everybody. Have you told Ally about the Rawlingsons?
PETER: Yes, he's taking them over the dockyard, lunching them on board, and then he's going to show them a submarine --
PIGGIE: Marvellous! You're an angel, Ally -- Imust take off these clothes, I'm going mad --
She goes out of the room at a run. There is a sound of the front-door bell.
PETER: Let's go in my room -- I can show you the plans --
ALLY: Already? They've been pretty quick with them.
PETER: I made a few alterations -- there wasn't enough deck space -- she ought to be ready by October, I shall have her sent straight out to Malta --
ALLY: Come on, we shall be caught --
They go off on the left as WALTERS ushers in MR and MRS WADHURST on the right. They are pleasant, middle-aged people, their manner a trifle timorous.
WALTERS: Her ladyship is changing, I'll tell her you are here.
MRS WADHURST: Thank you.
MR WADHURST: Thank you very much.
WALTERS goes out. The WADHURSTS look around the room.
MRS WADHURST: It's a very nice flat.
MR WADHURST: Yes -- yes, it is.
MRS WADHURST (scrutinizing a photograph): That must be him.
MR WADHURST: Who?
MRS WADHURST: The Commander.
MR WADHURST: Yes -- I expect it is.
MRS WADHURST: Sailors always have such nice, open faces, don't they?
MR WADHURST: Yes, I suppose so.
MRS WADHUURST: Clean-cut and look you straight in the eye -- I like men who look you straight in the eye.
MR WADHURST: Yes, it's very nice.
MRS WADHURST (looks at another photograph): This must be her sister -- I recognize her from The Tatler -- look -- she was Lady Hurstley, you know, then she was Lady MacFadden and I don't know who she is now.
MR WADHURST: Neither do I.
MRS WADHURST: What a dear little boy -- such a sturdy little fellow -- look at the way he's holding his engine.
MR WADHURST: Is that his engine?
MRS WADHURST: He has rather a look of Donald Hotchkiss, don't you think?
MR WADHURST: Yes, dear.
MRS WADHURST: I must say they have very nice things -- oh, how lovely to be well off -- I must write to the Brostows by the next mail and tell them all about it.
MR WADHURST: Yes, you must.
MRS WADHURST: Don't you think we'd better sit down?
MR WADHURST: Why not?
MRS WADHURST: You sit in that chair and I'll sit on the sofa.
She sits on the sofa. He sits on the chair.
MR WADHURST: Yes, dear.
MRS WADHURST: I wish you wouldn't look quite so uncomfortable, Fred, there's nothing to be uncomfortable about.
MR WADHURST: She does expect us, doesn't she?
MRS WADHURST: Of course. I talked to her myself on the phone last Wednesday, she was perfectly charming and said that we were to come without fail and that it would be divine.
MR WADHURST: I still feel we should have telephoned again just to remind her. People are always awfully busy in London.
MRS WADHURST: I do hope Lady Dalborough will be here, too -- I should like to see her again -- she was so nice.
MR WADHURST: She was the other one, wasn't she?
MRS WADHURST (irritably): What do you mean, the other one?
MR WADHURST: I mean not this one.
MRS WADHURST: She's the niece of the Duke of Frensham,her mother was Lady Merrit, she was a great traveler too -- I believe she went right across the Sahara dressedas an Arab. In those days it was a very dangerous thing to do.
MR WADHURST: I shouldn't think it was any too safe now.
WALTERS comes inand ushers in MR BURNHAM, a nondescript young man carrying a longish roll of cardboard.
WALTERS: I'll tell the Commander you're here.
MR BURNHAM: Thanks -- thanks very much.
WALTERS goes out.
MRS WADHURST (after a slightly awkward pause): How do you do?
MR BURNHAM: How do you do?
MRS WADHURST (with poise): This is my husband.
MR BURNHAM: How do you do?
MR WADHURST: How do you do?
They shake hands.
MRS WADHURST (vivaciously): Isn't this a charming room -- so -- so lived in.
MR BURNHAM: Yes.
MR WADHURST: Are you in the Navy, too?
MR BURNHAM: No.
MRS WADHURST (persevering): It's so nice to be home again -- we come from Malaya, you know.
MR BURNHAM: Oh -- Malaya.
MRS WADHURST: Yes, Lady Maureen and Lady Dalborough visited us there -- my husband has a rubber plantation up country -- there's been a terrible slump, of course, but we're trying to keep our heads above water -- aren't we, Fred?
MR WADHURST: Yes, dear, we certainly are.
MRS WADHURST: Have you ever been to the East?
MR BURNHAM: No.
MRS WADHURST: It's very interesting, really, although the climate is rather trying until you get used to it, and of course the one thing we do miss is the theater --
MR BURNHAM: Yes -- of course.
MRS WADHURST: There's nothing myhisband and I enjoy so much as a good play, is there, Fred?
MR WADHURST: Nothing.
MRS WADHURST: And all we get is films, and they're generally pretty old by the time they come out to us -- (she laughs gaily)
MR WADHURST: Do you go to the theater much?
MR BURNHAM: No.
There is silence, which his broken by the telephone ringing. Everybody jumps.
MRS WADHURST: Oh, dear -- do you think we ought to answer it?
MR WADHURST: I don't know.
The telephone continues to ring. CLARE WEDDERBURN comes in. She is middle-aged, well-dressed and rather gruff. She is followed by 'BOGEY" GOSLING, a Major in the Marines, a good-looking man in the thirties.
CLARE: Hallo -- where's the old girl?
MRS WADHURST (nervously): I -- er -- I'm afraid I --
CLARE (going to the telephone): Mix a cocktail, Bogey -- I'm a stretcher case -- (at telephone) Hallo -- no, it's me -- Clare -- God knows, dear -- shall I tell her to call you back? -- allright -- no, it was bloody, darling -- a gloomy dinner at the Embassy, then the worst play I've ever sat through and then the Café de Paris and that awful man who does things with a duck -- I've already seen him six times, darling -- oh, you know, he pinches its behind and it quacks "Land of Hope and Glory" -- I don't know whether it hurts it or not -- I minded at first but I'm past caring now, after all, it's not like performing dogs, I mind about performing dogs terribly -- all right -- good-bye -- (She hangs up and turns to MRS WADHURST.) Ducks are pretty bloody anyway, don't you think?
MRS WADHURST: Idon't know very much about them.
CLARE: The man swears it's genuine talent, but I think it's the little nip that does it.
MRS WADHURST: It sounds rather cruel.
CLARE: It's a goomy form of entertainment anyhow, particularly as I've always hated "Land of Hope and Glory."
CLARE (taking off her hat): Thank God!
BOGEY hands round cocktails, the WADHURSTS and MR BURNHAM accept them and sip them in silence.
BOGEY: I suppose Piggie's in the bath.
CLARE: Go and rout her out.
BOGEY: Wait till I've had a drink.
CLARE (to MRS WADHURST): Is Peter around or is he still darting about the Solent?
MRS WADHURST: I'm afraid I couldn't say -- you see --
BOGEY: I saw him last night with Janet --
CLARE: Hasn't she had her baby yet?
BOGEY: She hadn't last night.
CLARE: That damned baby's been hanging over us all for months --
The telephone rings -- CLARE answers it.
(At telephone) Hallo -- yes -- hallo, darling -- no, it's Clare -- yes, he's here -- No, I really couldn't face it -- yes, if I were likely to go to India I'd come, but I'm not likely to go to India -- I think Rajahs bumble up a house-party so terribly -- yes, I know he's different, but the other one's awful -- Angela had an agonizing time with him -- all the dining room had to be changed because they were leather and his religion prevented him sitting on them -- all the dogs had to be kept out of the house because they were unclean, which God knows was true of the Bedlington, but the other ones were clean as whistles -- and then to round everything off he took Laura Merstham in his car and made passes at her all the way to Newmarket -- all right, darling -- here he is -- (to BOGEY) It's Nina, she wants to talk to you --
She hands the telephone to BOGEY who reaches for it and lifts the wire so that it just misses MRS WADHURST's hat. It isn't quite long enough so he has to bend down to speak with his face practically touching her.
BOGEY (at telephone): Hallo, Nin -- I can't on Wednesday, I've got a Guest Night -- it's a hell of a long way, it'd take hours --
PIGGIE comes in with a rush.
PIGGIE: I am so sorry --
BOGEY: Shut up, I can't hear --
PIGGIE (in a shrill whisper): Who is it?
BOGEY (at telephone): Well, you can tell George to leave it for me -- and I can pick it up.
PIGGIE: How lovely to see you again!
BOGEY (at telephone): No, I shan't be leaving till about ten, so if he leaves it by nine-thirty I'll get it all right --
PIGGIE: My husband will be here in a minute -- he has to go to sea Thursday, but he's arranged for you to be taken over the dockyard at Portsmouth --
BOGEY (at telephone): Give the old boy a crack on the jaw.
PIGGIE: It's the most thrilling thing in the world.. You see how torpedoes are made -- millions of little wheels inside, all clicking away like mad -- and they cost thousands of pounds each --
BOGEY (at telephone): No, I saw her last night -- not yet, but at any moment now -- I should think -- All right -- Call me at Catham -- if I can get away I shall have to bring Mickie, too --
PIGGIE: How much do torpedoes cost each, Clare?
CLARE: God knows, darling -- something fantastic -- ask Bogey --
PIGGIE: Bogey --
PIGGIE: How much do torpedoes cost each?
BOGEY: What? -- (at telephone) -- wait, Piggie's yelling at me --
PIGGIE: Torpedoes -- (she makes a descriptive gesture.)
BOGEY: Oh thousands and thousands -- terribly expensive things -- ask Peter -- (at telephone) -- If I do bring him you'll have to be frightfully nice to him, he's been on the verge of suicide for weeks --
PIGGIE: Don't let her go, I must talk to her --
BOGEY (at telephone): Hold on a minute, Piggie wants to talk to you -- all right -- I'll let you know -- here she is --
PIGGIE leans over the sofa and takes telephone from BOGEY who steps over the wire and stumbles over MRS WADHURST.
BOGEY: I'm nost awfully sorry --
MRS WADHURST: Not at all --
PIGGIE (to MRS WADHURST): It’s so lovely you being in England -- (at telephone) Darling -- what was the meaning of that sinister little invitation you sent me?
BOGEY: You know what Mickey is.
PIGGIE (at telephone): No dear, I really can't -- I always get so agitated --
CLARE: Why does he go on like that? It's so tiresome.
PIGGIE (at telephone): I'll come if Clare will -- (to CLARE) Are you going to Nina's Indian ding-dong?
CLARE: Not without an anesthetic.
PIGGIE (at telephone): She's moaning a bit, but I'll persuade her -- what happens after dinner? -- The man with the duck from the Café de Paris -- (To the room in general.) She's got that sweet duck from the Café de Paris --
CLARE: Give me another cocktail, Bogey, I want to get so drunk that I just can't hear any more.
PIGGIE (at telephone): But, darling, do you think it's quite wise -- I mean, Maharajahs are terribly touchy and there's probably something in their religion about ducks being mortal sin or something -- you know how difficult they are about cows and pigs -- just a minute -- (to the WADHURSTS) You can tell us, of course --
MR WADHURST: I beg your pardon?
PIGGIE: Do Indians mind ducks?
MR WADHURST: I -- I don't think so --
BOGEY: Do you come from India?
MRS WADHURST: No, Malaya.
PIGGIE: It's the same sort of thing, though, isn't it? -- if they don't mind them in Malaya it's unlikely that they'd mind them in India -- (at telephone) It'll probably be all right, butyou'd better get Douglas Byng as a standby.
CLARE: There might be something in their religion about Douglas Byng.
PIGGIE: Shhh! (at telephone) Everyone's making such a noise! The room's full of the most frightful people. Darling, it definitely is Waterloo Station -- no, I'm almost sure he can’t -- he's going to sea on Thursday -- don't be silly, dear, you can't be in the Navy without going to sea sometimes --
PETER enters, followed by ALLY.
(At telephone.) Here he is now, you can ask him yourself. (to PETER) Peter, it's Nina. She wants to talk to you -- (to the WADHURSTS) This is my husband and Commander Corbett -- he's been longing to meet you and thank you for being so sweet to us -- I told him all about your heavenly house and the plantation --
MRS WADHURST (bridling -- to ALLY): It was most delightful, I assure you, to have Lady Maureen with us --
PIGGIE: Not him, him -- that's the wrong one --
MRS WADHURST: Oh, I'm so sorry --
PETER (shaking hands with MRS WADHURST): It was so kind of you -- my wife has talked of nothing else --
PIGGIE (grabbing him): Here -- Nina's yelling like a banshee --
PETER: Excuse me. (He takes the telephone.) Hallo, Nin -- what for? -- No, I can't, bu Piggie probably can -- (to PIGGIE) Can you go to Nina's party for the Rajahs?
PIGGIE: We've been through all that --
PETER: All right -- I didn't know -- (at telephone) No, I shall be at sea for about three days -- it isn't tiresome at all, I like it --
PIGGIE (to MRS WADHURST): How's your daughter?
MRS WADHURST (surprised): She's a little better, thank you.
PIGGIE: Oh, has she been ill? I'm so sorry.
MRS WADHURST (gently): She's been ill for five years.
PIGGIE (puzzled): How dreadful for you -- are you happy with that cocktail or would you rather have tea?
MRS WADHURST: This is delicious, thank you.
PETER (at telephone): I honestly can't do anything about that, Nina, you might be able to find out from the Admiral -- well, if his mother was mad, too, that is an extenuating circumstance -- he'll probably be sent home -- (to CLARE) Did you know that Freda Bathurst had once been in an asylum?
CLARE: No, but it explains a lot.
PETER: Her son went mad in Hong Kong.
CLARE: What did he do?
PETER: I don't know, but Nina's in a state about it.
PIGGIE: I don't see what it has to do with Nina --
PETER: He's a relation of some sort -- (at telephone) What did he do, Nina? -- Oh. Oh, I see -- Oh -- well, he'll certainly be sent home and a good job too, we can't have that sort of thing in the Service -- If I were you, I'd keep well out of it -- all right -- Good-bye. (He hangs up.)
PIGGIE: What was it?
PETER: I couldn't possibly tell you.
PIGGIE: Poor boy, I expect the climate had something to do with it -- the climate's awful in Hong Kong -- look at poor old Wally Smythe --
ALLY (to the WADHURSTS): Did you ever know Wally Smythe?
MRS WADHURST: No, I'm afraid not.
CLARE: You didn't miss much.
PIGGIE: I adored Wally, he was a darling.
CLARE: He kept o having fights all the time -- I do hate people hitting people -- (to MRS WADHURST) Don't you?
MRS WADHURST: Yes.
There is suddenly complete silence -- PIGGIE breaks it with an effort.
PIGGIE (vivaciously tp the WADHURSTS): Maud was so frightfully sorry that she couldn't come today -- she's pining to see you again and she asked me to ask you if you'd lunch there tomorrow?
MRS WADHURST: How very kind of her.
PIGGIE: She's got a divine little house hidden away in a mews, it's frightfully difficult to find -- (The telephone rings.) I've got millions of questions I want to ask you, what happened to that darling old native who did a dance with a sword? -- (at telephone) Hallo. -- (continuing to everyone in general) It was the most exciting thing I've ever seen, all the villagers sat round in torchlight and they beat -- (at telephone) Hallo -- yes, speaking (continuing) beat drums, and the (at telephone) hallo -- darling I had no idea you were back -- (to everybody) and the old man tore himself to shreds in the middle, it was marvelous -- (at telephone) I can't believe it, where are you speaking from? -- my dear, you're NOT! -- (to everybody) It's Boodie, she's got back last night and she's staying with Norman --
CLARE: Is Phyllis there?
PIGGIE (at telephone): Is Phyllis there? -- She's away? -- (to CLARE) She's away.
PETER (to MR WADHURST): That's the best joke I've ever heard.
CLARE: It's made my entire season that's all, it's just made it.
PIGGIE (at telephone): You'd better come and dine tonight -- I'm on a diet, so there's only spinach, but we can talk -- Yes, she's here -- absolutely worn out -- we all are -- Oh, yes, it was pretty grim, it started all right and everything was going beautifully when Vera arrived, unasked, my dear, and more determined than Hitler -- of course there was the most awful scene -- Alice flounced upstairs with tears cascading down her face and locked herself in the cook's bedroom -- Clare tried to save the situation by dragging Lady Borrowdale on to the terrace --
CLARE (sibilantly): That was afterwards! --
PIGGIE (at telephone): Anyhow hell broke loose -- you can imagine -- Janet was there, of course, and we were all worried about her -- no, it hasn't arrived yet, but the odds were mounting -- (to everybody) She hasn't had it yet, has she, Peter?
PETER: If she has it was born in the gramophone department at Harrods -- I left her there at four-thirty --
PIGGIE (at telephone): No, it's still what’s known as on the way -- I'll expect you about eight-thirty -- I've got to do my feet and then I'm going to relax -- all right -- yes, she's here -- (to CLARE) Here, Clare, she wants to talk to you. --
CLARE in order to reach the telephone comfortably has to kneel on the sofa.
CLARE: Excuse me.
MRS WADHURST: I'm so sorry.
CLARE (to telephone): Darling -- I'm dead with surprise --
PIGGIE (to MRS WADHURST): Now you must tell me some more --
MRS WADHURST: Well, really, I don't --
CLARE: Shhh! I can’t hear a word! -- (at telephone) He what? -- When? -- He must be raving --
PIGGIE (whispering): Have you still got that sweet dog?
MRS WADHURST (also whispering): Yes, we've still got Rudolph.
PIGGIE (to everybody): Rudolph's an angel, I can never tell you how divine he was -- he used to come in every morning with my breakfast tray and jump on the bed --
MRS WADHURST (horrified): Oh, you never told me that, how very naughty of him -- he;s seldom allowed in the house at all --
PIGGIE (puzzled): But -- but --
MR WADHURST: Perhaps you are thinking of some other dog, Lady Maureen -- Rudolph is Great Dane --
PIGGIE (bewildered): Oh, yes, of coursem how idiotic of me --
CLARE (at telephone): -- Well, all I can say is she ought to be deported -- you can't go about making scenes like that, it's so lacking in everything -- all right, darling -- call me in the morning -- I've got a hairdresser in the afternoon, why don't you make an appointment at the same time? -- lovely -- Good-bye. (She hangs up.)
PIGGIE: Do sit down, Clare, and stop climbing abut over everybody. (To MRS WADHURST) You must forgive me -- this is a mad-house -- it's always like this -- I can't think why --
CLARE (in a whisper to PETER, having noticed MR BURNHAM): Why's that man got a roll of music, is he going to sing?
PETER (also in a whisper): I don't know -- he ought by rights to be a lovely girl of sixteen. --
MRS WADHURST: Have you been in London for the whole season?
PIGGIE: Yes, it's been absolutely frightful, but my husband is getting leave soon, so we shall be able to pop off somewhere --
ALLY (to MR WADHURST): I suppose you've never run across a chap in Burma called Beckwith?
MR WADHURST: No, I've never been to Burma.
ALLY: He's in rubber, too, I believe -- or tea -- he's very amusing.
MRS WADHURST (to PIGGIE): We did hope you'd come and lunch with us one day -- but I expect you're terribly busy --
PIGGIE: My dear, I'd worship it -- (The telephone rings.) Oh, really, this telephone never stops for one minute -- (at telephone) Hallo -- yes, speaking -- Who? -- Mrs Rawlingson -- Oh, yes, yes, yes -- (she hands the telephone to MRS WADHURST) Here, it's for you --
MRS WADHURST (astonished): For me? How very curious --
PIGGIE: Give me a cocktail, Bogie -- I haven't had one at all yet and I'm exhausted. --
MRS WADHURST (at telephone): Hallo? -- what? -- who? -- I'm afraid I don't quite understand --
BOGEY (giving PIGGIE a cocktail): Here you are -- it's a bit weak --
MRS WADHURST (still floundering): I think there must be some mistake -- just a moment -- (to PIGGIE) It’s for you, Lady Maureen -- a Mrs Rawlingson --
PIGGIE (laughing): Now isn't that the most extraordinary coincidence -- (she takes the telephone) -- Hallo -- yes -- speaking -- (she listens and her face changes) -- Oh, yes, of course, how stupid of me -- ( she looks hurriedly at the WADHURSTS, then at PETER) I'm so awfully sorry, I only just came in -- Oh, whata shame -- no, no, no, it doesn’t matter a bit -- No -- Indeed, you must call me up the first moment he gets over it -- Yes -- I expect it was -- yes -- good-bye.
She slowly hangs up the receiver, looking at the WADHURSTS in complete bewilderment. She makes a sign to PETER over MRS WADHURST's shoulder, but he only shakes his head.
PIGGIE (brightly, but with intense meaning): That was Mrs Rawlingson.
PETER: Good God!
PIGGIE (with purpose, sitting next to MRS WADHURST): Did you ever meet the Rawlingsons out East?
MRS WADHURST: No -- I don't know them.
PIGGIE: Maud and I stayed with them too, you know.
MRS WADHURST: It was in Malaya somewhere, I think -- I do get so muddled.
MRS WADHURST: I think we should have heard of them if they lived in Malaya.
PETER meanwhile has gone to the piano and started to strum idly -- he begins to hum lightly at the same time.
PETER (humming a waltz refrain, slightly indistinctly, but clearly enough for PIGGIE to hear): If these are not them who are they? Who are they? Who are they?
PIGGIE rises and saunters over to the piano.
PIGGIE: Play the other bit, dear, out of the act -- (she hums) -- you know, "I haven't the slightest idea -- Oh, no -- I haven't the slightest idea."
PETER (changing tempo): "Under the light of the Moon, dear -- you'd better find out pretty soon, dear."
CLARE: What on earth's that out of?
PIGGIE: Don't be silly, Clare -- All I ask is that you shouldn't be silly.
CLARE (understanding): Oh, yes -- I see.
There is silence except for PETER's playing-- everybody looks covertly at the WADHURSTS, PIGGIE goes over to MRS WADHURST.
PIGGIE (with determination): What ship did you come home in?
MR WADHURST: The Naldera.
ALLY: P & O?
MRS WADHURST: Yes.
PIGGIE: I suppose you got on at Singapore?
MR WADHURST: No, Penang.
PIGGIE (the light breaking): Penang! Of course, Penang.
MRS WADHURST: Yes, we have some friends there, so we went by train from Singapore and stayed with them a couple of days before catching the boat.
PIGGIE (sunk again): Oh yes -- yes, I see.
PETER (at piano, humming a march time): "When yo hear those drums rat-a-plan -- rat-a-plan -- find out the name of the place if you can -- la la la la la la la la --"
PIGGIE (persevering): How far is your house from the sea? Maud and I were arguing about it for hours the other day --
MR WADHURST: It's right on the sea.
PIGGIE: That's exactly what I said, but you know Maud's so vague -- she never remembers a thing --
CLARE: I suppose it's hell hot all the year round where you are?
MRS WADHURST: Yes, the climate is a little trying, but one gets used to it.
BOGEY: Are you far from Kuala Lumpur?
MRS WADHURST: Yes, a long way.
BOGEY: Oh, I knew some people in Kuala Lumpur once.
MR WADHURST: What were their names?
BOGEY: Damn it, I've forgotten -- something like Harrison --
PIGGIE (helpfully): Morrison?
BOGEY: No, it’s gone --
PIGGIE (irritably): Never mind-- it couldn't matter less, really, could it?
MRS WADHURST (rising): I'm afraid we must really go now, Lady Maureen --
PIGGIE: Oh no -- please --
MRS WADHURST: We have to dress because we're dining and going to the theater -- that's the one thing we do miss in Pendarla -- the theater --
CLARE: We miss it a good deal here, too.
PIGGIE (remembering everything): Pendarla -- oh dear, what a long way away it seems -- dear Mrs Wadhurst -- (she shoots a triumphant glance at PETER) -- it's been so lovely having this little peep at you -- you and Mr Wadhurst must come and dine quietly one night and we'll go to another theater --
MRS WADHURST: That would be delightful -- Fred --
MR WADHURST: Good-bye.
PIGGIE: Peter -- come and say good-bye to Mr and Mrs Wadhurst.
PETER (coming over and shaking hands): Good-bye -- I can never tell you how grateful I am to you for having been so kind and hospitable to my wife --
MRS WADHURST: Next time, I hope you'll come and call on us too.
PETER: I should love to.
MRS WADHURST: Good-bye.
CLARE: Good-bye --
Everybody says good-bye and shakes hands, PETER opens the door for the WADHURSTS and they go on a wave of popularity. He goes out into the hall with them closing the door after him. PIGGIE collapses on the sofa.
PIGGIE (hysterically): Oh, my God, that was the worst half an hour I've ever spent --
CLARE: I thought it all went down like a dinner.
PIGGIE: I remember it all now, we stayed one night with them on our way from Siam -- a man in Bangkok had wired to them or something --
ALLY: That was a nice bit you did about the old native dancing with the sword --
PIGGIE: Oh, dear, they must have thought I was drunk.
PETER: Next time you travel, my darling, I suggest you keep a diary.
PIGGIE: Wasn't it frightful -- poor angels -- I must ring up Maud -- (she dials a number) I think they had a heavenly time though, don't you? -- I mean, they couldn't have noticed a thing --
PETER: Oh, no, the whole affair was managed with the utmost subtlety -- I congratulate you --
PIGIE: Don’t be sour -- Peter -- (At telephone) Hallo -- Maude? -- darling, it's not the Rawlingsons at all, it's the Wadhursts -- (to everybody) Good heavens, I never gave them Maud's address. (at telephone) I forgot to give them your address -- how can you be so unkind, Maud, you ought to be ashamed of yourself -- they're absolute pets, both of them --
PETER: Come on, Ally, I've got to dress --
ALLY: All right --
CLARE: Shall I see you on Sunday?
ALLY: Yes -- I'll be over --
PIGGIE (at telephone): -- they had a lovely time and everybody was divine to them --
CLARE: Come on, Bogey, we must go, too --
PIGGIE: Wait a minute, don't leave me -- I've got to do my feet -- (at telephone) -- no, I was talking to Clare -- My dear, I know, she tang me up too -- she's staying with Norman -- Phyllis will be sour as a quince --
PETER and ALLY go off talking.
CLARE: Darling, I really must go --
PIGGIE (at telephone): All right -- I'll try to get hold of them in the morning and put them off -- I do think it's horrid of you though, after all, they were frightfully sweet to us -- I've done all I can -- well, there's no need to get into a rage, I'm the one to get into a rage -- yes, you are, I can hear you -- your teeth are chattering like dice in a box -- Oh, all right! (She hangs up.) Maud's impossible --
CLARE: Listen, Piggie --
PIGGIE: Wait just one minute, I've got to get the things to do my feet --
She rushes out of the room.
CLARE: I really don't see why we should all wait about -- (She suddenly sees MR BURNHAM) Oh -- hallo.
MR BURNHAM (nervously): Hallo.
CLARE: I thought you'd left with you mother and father.
MR BURNHAM: They weren't my mother and father -- I'm from Freeman's. I've brought the designs for the Commander's speed boat -- Mr Driscoll couldn't come --
CLARE: Well, you'd better wait -- he'll be back soon --
MR BURNHAM: I'm afraid I can't wait much longer -- I have to get back to the shop --
CLARE: You should have piped up before --
BOGEY: Listen, Clare, we must push off --
CLARE: All right.
MR BURNHAM retires again into the shadows as PIGGIE returns with several bottles, a towel and a pair of scissors. She sits on the sofa and takes her shoes and stockings off.
PIGGIE: The trouble with Maud is, she's too insular --
CLARE: Are you driving down on Saturday?
PIGGIE: Yes -- I promised to stop off at Goldaming and have a cutlet with Freda on the way -- do you want to come?
CLARE: You know perfectly well I hate Freda's guts.
PIGGIE (beginning on her feet): All right, darling -- I'll expect you in the afternoon --
The telephone rings -- PIGGIE reaches for it with one hand and goes on painting her toe nails with the other -- at telephone:
Hallo? -- yes. Oh, David, I'm so sorry -- I completely forgot --
CLARE and BOGIE hiss good-bye at her, she waves to them, and they go out.
I couldn't help it, I had to be sweet to some people that Maud and I stayed with in Malaya -- Oh! David, don't be so soured up -- yes, of course I do, don't be silly -- No, I'm quite alone doing my feet -- well, I can't help that, I happen to like them red -- well, after all they are my feet, I suppose I can paint them blue if I want to --
MR BURNHAM begins to tip-toe out of the room, he leaves his roll of designs on the table. PIGGIE catches sight of him just as he is gingerly opening the door.
(To MR BURNHAM):Oh, good-bye -- it's been absolutely lovely, you're the sweetest family I've ever met in my life --