Poor soul! What'll 'e du now, I wonder? [Under
her breath] 'E's cumin'!
[She goes hurriedly. BURLACOMBE, with a startled look back,
wavers and makes to follow her, but stops undecided in the inner
doorway. STRANGWAY comes in from the darkness. He turns to the
window and drops overcoat and hat and the church key on the
windowseat, looking about him as men do when too hard driven,
and never fixing his eyes long enough on anything to see it.
BURLACOMBE, closing the door into the house, advances a step.
At the sound STRANGWAY faces round.]
I wanted for yu to know, zurr, that me an' mine 'adn't
nothin' to du wi' that darned fulishness, just now.
STRANGWAY [With a ghost of a smile] Thank you, Burlacombe. It
doesn't matter. It doesn't matter a bit.
I 'ope yu won't take no notice of it. Like a lot o'
silly bees they get. [After an uneasy pause] Yu'll excuse me
spakin' of this mornin', an' what 'appened. 'Tes a brave pity it
cam' on yu so sudden-like before yu 'ad time to think. 'Tes a sort
o' thing a man shude zet an' chew upon. Certainly 'tes not a bit o'
yuse goin' against human nature. Ef yu don't stand up for yureself
there's no one else not goin' to. 'Tes yure not 'avin' done that 'as
made 'em so rampageous. [Stealing another look at STRANGWAY] Yu'll
excuse me, zurr, spakin' of it, but 'tes amazin' sad to zee a man let
go his own, without a word o' darin'. 'Tea as ef 'e 'ad no passions-
[The outer door is opened and IVY BURLACOMBE appears, and,
seeing him, stops. Then, coming softly towards him, she speaks
Oh! Mr. Strangway, MRS Bradmere's cumin' from the Rectory. I
ran an' told 'em. Oh! 'twas awful.
[STRANGWAY starts, stares at her, and turning on his heel, goes
into the house. Ivy's face is all puckered, as if she were on
the point of tears. There is a gentle scratching at the door,
which has not been quite closed.]
VOICE OF GLADYS [Whispering] Ivy! Come on Ivy. I won't.
I should think so. I must see him--at once.
I doubt bed's the best place for 'un, an' gude 'ot
drink. Burlacombe zays he'm like a man standin' on the edge of a
cliff; and the lasts tipsy o' wind might throw un over.
MRS BRADMERE [To BURLACOMBE] You've seen him, then?
Yeas; an' I don't like the luke of un--not a little bit,
MRS BURLACOMBE [Almost to herself] Poor soul; 'e've a-'ad to
much to try un this yer long time past. I've a-seen 'tis sperrit
cumin' thru 'is body, as yu might zay. He's torn to bits, that's
'Twas a praaper cowardly thing to hiss a man when he's
down. But 'twas natural tu, in a manner of spakin'. But 'tesn't
that troublin' 'im. 'Tes in here [touching his forehead], along of
his wife, to my thinkin'. They zay 'e've a-known about 'er a-fore
she went away. Think of what 'e've 'ad to kape in all this time.
'Tes enough to drive a man silly after that. I've a-locked my gun
up. I see a man like--like that once before--an' sure enough 'e was
dead in the mornain'!
Nonsense, Burlacombe! [To MRS BURLACOMBE] Go and
tell him I want to see him--must see him. [MRS BURLACOMBE goes
into the house] And look here, Burlacombe; if we catch any one, man
or woman, talking of this outside the village, it'll be the end of
their tenancy, whoever they may be. Let them all know that. I'm
glad he threw that drunken fellow out of the window, though it was a
Aye! The nuspapers would be praaper glad of that, for a
tiddy bit o' nuse.
My goodness! Yes! The men are all up at the inn.
Go and tell them what I said--it's not to get about. Go at once,
Must be a turrable job for 'im, every one's knowin'
about 'is wife like this. He'm a proud man tu, I think. 'Tes a
funny business altogether!
Horrible! Poor fellow! Now, come! Do your best,
[BURLACOMBE touches his forelock and goes. MRS BRADMERE stands
quite still, thinking. Then going to the photograph, she stares
up at it.]
[STRANGWAY has come in noiselessly, and is standing just behind
her. She turns, and sees him. There is something so still, so
startlingly still in his figure and white face, that she cannot
for the moment fond her voice.]
MRS BRADMERE [At last] This is most distressing. I'm deeply
sorry. [Then, as he does not answer, she goes a step closer] I'm an
old woman; and old women must take liberties, you know, or they
couldn't get on at all. Come now! Let's try and talk it over calmly
and see if we can't put things right.
You were very good to come; but I would rather not.
I know you're in as grievous trouble as a man can be.
MRS BRADMERE [With a little sound of sympathy] What are you--
thirty-five? I'm sixty-eight if I'm a day--old enough to be your
mother. I can feel what you must have been through all these months,
I can indeed. But you know you've gone the wrong way to work. We
aren't angels down here below! And a son of the Church can't act as
if for himself alone. The eyes of every one are on him.
STRANGWAY [Taking the church key from the window.] Take this,
No, no, no! Jarland deserved all he got. You had
It's not Jarland. [Holding out the key] Please take it
to the Rector. I beg his forgiveness. [Touching his breast]
There's too much I can't speak of--can't make plain. Take it to him,
Mr. Strangway--I don't accept this. I am sure my
husband--the Church--will never accept----
MRS BRADMERE [Almost unconsciously taking it] Mind! We don't
accept it. You must come and talk to the Rector to-morrow. You're
overwrought. You'll see it all in another light, then.
STRANGWAY [With a strange smile] Perhaps. [Lifting the blind]
Beautiful night! Couldn't be more beautiful!
MRS BRADMERE [Startled-softly] Don't turn sway from these who
want to help you! I'm a grumpy old woman, but I can feel for you.
Don't try and keep it all back, like this! A woman would cry, and it
would all seem clearer at once. Now won't you let me----?
Live it down, man! You can't desert your post--and let these
villagers do what they like with us? Do you realize that you're
letting a woman, who has treated you abominably;--yes, abominably
--go scot-free, to live comfortably with another man? What an
I must! This great Church of ours is based on the
rightful condemnation of wrongdoing. There are times when
forgiveness is a sin, Michael Strangway. You must keep the whip
hand. You must fight!
Fight! [Touching his heart] My fight is here. Have you
ever been in hell? For months and months--burned and longed; hoped
against hope; killed a man in thought day by day? Never rested, for
love and hate? I--condemn! I--judge! No! It's rest I have to
find--somewhere--somehow-rest! And how--how can I find rest?
MRS BRADMERE [Who has listened to his outburst in a soft of coma]
You are a strange man! One of these days you'll go off your head if
you don't take care.
STRANGWAY [Smiling] One of these days the flowers will grow out of
me; and I shall sleep.
[MRS BRADMERE stares at his smiling face a long moment in
silence, then with a little sound, half sniff, half snort, she
goes to the door. There she halts.]
And you mean to let all this go on----Your wife----
[At his slow gait, with his feeble smile, he comes in, and
standing by the window-seat beside the long dark coat that still
lies there, he looks down at STRANGWAY with his lost eyes.]
Yu threw un out of winder. I cud 'ave, once, I cud.
[STRANGWAY neither moves nor speaks; and JIM BERE goes on with
his unimaginably slow speech]
They'm laughin' at yu, zurr. An' so I come to tell 'ee how to du.
'Twas full mune--when I caught 'em, him an' my girl. I caught 'em.
[With a strange and awful flash of fire] I did; an' I tuk un [He
taken up STRANGWAY'S coat and grips it with his trembling hands, as a
man grips another's neck] like that--I tuk un. As the coat falls,
like a body out of which the breath has been squeezed, STRANGWAY,
rising, catches it.
JIM [At last] I come to tell yu. They'm all laughin' at yu. But
yu'm strong--yu go over to Durford to that doctor man, an' take un
like I did. [He tries again to make the sign of squeezing a man's
neck] They can't laugh at yu no more, then. Tha's what I come to
tell yu. Tha's the way for a Christian man to du. Gude naight,
zurr. I come to tell yee.
[STRANGWAY motions to him in silence. And, very slowly, JIM
BERE passes out.]
[The voices of men coming down the green are heard.]
[TRUSTAFORD'S laugh, and the rattling, fainter and fainter, of
wheels. A spasm seizes on STRANGWAY'S face, as he stands there
by the open door, his hand grips his throat; he looks from side
to side, as if seeking a way of escape.]