Act II
 

Minister Anderson's house is in the main street of Websterbridge, not far from the town hall. To the eye of the eighteenth century New Englander, it is much grander than the plain farmhouse of the Dudgeons; but it is so plain itself that a modern house agent would let both at about the same rent. The chief dwelling room has the same sort of kitchen fireplace, with boiler, toaster hanging on the bars, movable iron griddle socketed to the hob, hook above for roasting, and broad fender, on which stand a kettle and a plate of buttered toast. The door, between the fireplace and the corner, has neither panels, fingerplates nor handles: it is made of plain boards, and fastens with a latch. The table is a kitchen table, with a treacle colored cover of American cloth, chapped at the corners by draping. The tea service on it consists of two thick cups and saucers of the plainest ware, with milk jug and bowl to match, each large enough to contain nearly a quart, on a black japanned tray, and, in the middle of the table, a wooden trencher with a big loaf upon it, and a square half pound block of butter in a crock. The big oak press facing the fire from the opposite side of the room, is for use and storage, not for ornament; and the minister's house coat hangs on a peg from its door, showing that he is out; for when he is in it is his best coat that hangs there. His big riding boots stand beside the press, evidently in their usual place, and rather proud of themselves. In fact, the evolution of the minister's kitchen, dining room and drawing room into three separate apartments has not yet taken place; and so, from the point of view of our pampered period, he is no better off than the Dudgeons.

But there is a difference, for all that. To begin with, Mrs. Anderson is a pleasanter person to live with than Mrs. Dudgeon. To which Mrs. Dudgeon would at once reply, with reason, that Mrs. Anderson has no children to look after; no poultry, pigs nor cattle; a steady and sufficient income not directly dependent on harvests and prices at fairs; an affectionate husband who is a tower of strength to her: in short, that life is as easy at the minister's house as it is hard at the farm. This is true; but to explain a fact is not to alter it; and however little credit Mrs. Anderson may deserve for making her home happier, she has certainly succeeded in doing it. The outward and visible signs of her superior social pretensions are a drugget on the floor, a plaster ceiling between the timbers and chairs which, though not upholstered, are stained and polished. The fine arts are represented by a mezzotint portrait of some Presbyterian divine, a copperplate of Raphael's St. Paul preaching at Athens, a rococo presentation clock on the mantelshelf, flanked by a couple of miniatures, a pair of crockery dogs with baskets in their mouths, and, at the corners, two large cowrie shells. A pretty feature of the room is the low wide latticed window, nearly its whole width, with little red curtains running on a rod half way up it to serve as a blind. There is no sofa; but one of the seats, standing near the press, has a railed back and is long enough to accommodate two people easily. On the whole, it is rather the sort of room that the nineteenth century has ended in struggling to get back to under the leadership of Mr. Philip Webb and his disciples in domestic architecture, though no genteel clergyman would have tolerated it fifty years ago.

The evening has closed in; and the room is dark except for the cosy firelight and the dim oil lamps seen through the window in the wet street, where there is a quiet, steady, warm, windless downpour of rain. As the town clock strikes the quarter, Judith comes in with a couple of candles in earthenware candlesticks, and sets them on the table. Her self-conscious airs of the morning are gone: she is anxious and frightened. She goes to the window and peers into the street. The first thing she sees there is her husband, hurrying here through the rain. She gives a little gasp of relief, not very far removed from a sob, and turns to the door. Anderson comes in, wrapped in a very wet cloak.

JUDITH [running to him]
Oh, here you are at last, at last! [She attempts to embrace him.]

ANDERSON [keeping her off]
Take care, my love: I'm wet. Wait till I get my cloak off. [He places a chair with its back to the fire; hangs his cloak on it to dry; shakes the rain from his hat and puts it on the fender; and at last turns with his hands outstretched to Judith.] Now! [She flies into his arms.] I am not late, am I? The town clock struck the quarter as I came in at the front door. And the town clock is always fast.

JUDITH
I'm sure it's slow this evening. I'm so glad you're back.

ANDERSON [taking her more closely in his arms]
Anxious, my dear?

JUDITH
A little.

ANDERSON
Why, you've been crying.

JUDITH
Only a little. Never mind: it's all over now. [A bugle call is heard in the distance. She starts in terror and retreats to the long seat, listening.] What's that?

ANDERSON [following her tenderly to the seat and making her sit down with him]
Only King George, my dear. He's returning to barracks, or having his roll called, or getting ready for tea, or booting or saddling or something. Soldiers don't ring the bell or call over the banisters when they want anything: they send a boy out with a bugle to disturb the whole town.

JUDITH
Do you think there is really any danger?

ANDERSON
Not the least in the world.

JUDITH
You say that to comfort me, not because you believe it.

ANDERSON
My dear: in this world there is always danger for those who are afraid of it. There's a danger that the house will catch fire in the night; but we shan't sleep any the less soundly for that.

JUDITH
Yes, I know what you always say; and you're quite right. Oh, quite right: I know it. But--I suppose I'm not brave: that's all. My heart shrinks every time I think of the soldiers.

ANDERSON
Never mind that, dear: bravery is none the worse for costing a little pain.

JUDITH
Yes, I suppose so. [Embracing him again.] Oh how brave you are, my dear! [With tears in her eyes.] Well, I'll be brave too: you shan't be ashamed of your wife.

ANDERSON
That's right. Now you make me happy. Well, well! [He rises and goes cheerily to the fire to dry his shoes.] I called on Richard Dudgeon on my way back; but he wasn't in.

JUDITH [rising in consternation]
You called on that man!

ANDERSON [reassuring her]
Oh, nothing happened, dearie. He was out.

JUDITH [almost in tears, as if the visit were a personal humiliation to her]
But why did you go there?

ANDERSON [gravely]
Well, it is all the talk that Major Swindon is going to do what he did in Springtown--make an example of some notorious rebel, as he calls us. He pounced on Peter Dudgeon as the worst character there; and it is the general belief that he will pounce on Richard as the worst here.

JUDITH
But Richard said--

ANDERSON [goodhumoredly cutting her short]
Pooh! Richard said! He said what he thought would frighten you and frighten me, my dear. He said what perhaps [God forgive him!] he would like to believe. It's a terrible thing to think of what death must mean for a man like that. I felt that I must warn him. I left a message for him.

JUDITH [querulously]
What message?

ANDERSON
Only that I should be glad to see him for a moment on a matter of importance to himself; and that if he would look in here when he was passing he would be welcome.

JUDITH [aghast]
You asked that man to come here!

ANDERSON
I did.

JUDITH [sinking on the seat and clasping her hands]
I hope he won't come! Oh, I pray that he may not come!

ANDERSON
Why? Don't you want him to be warned?

JUDITH
He must know his danger. Oh, Tony, is it wrong to hate a blasphemer and a villain? I do hate him! I can't get him out of my mind: I know he will bring harm with him. He insulted you: he insulted me: he insulted his mother.

ANDERSON [quaintly]
Well, dear, let's forgive him; and then it won't matter.

JUDITH
Oh, I know it's wrong to hate anybody; but--

ANDERSON [going over to her with humorous tenderness]
Come, dear, you're not so wicked as you think. The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity. After all, my dear, if you watch people carefully, you'll be surprised to find how like hate is to love. [She starts, strangely touched--even appalled. He is amused at her.] Yes: I'm quite in earnest. Think of how some of our married friends worry one another, tax one another, are jealous of one another, can't bear to let one another out of sight for a day, are more like jailers and slave-owners than lovers. Think of those very same people with their enemies, scrupulous, lofty, self-respecting, determined to be independent of one another, careful of how they speak of one another--pooh! haven't you often thought that if they only knew it, they were better friends to their enemies than to their own husbands and wives? Come: depend on it, my dear, you are really fonder of Richard than you are of me, if you only knew it. Eh?

JUDITH
Oh, don't say that: don't say that, Tony, even in jest. You don't know what a horrible feeling it gives me.

ANDERSON [Laughing]
Well, well: never mind, pet. He's a bad man; and you hate him as he deserves. And you're going to make the tea, aren't you?

JUDITH [remorsefully]
Oh yes, I forgot. I've been keeping you waiting all this time. [She goes to the fire and puts on the kettle.]

ANDERSON [going to the press and taking his coat off]
Have you stitched up the shoulder of my old coat?

JUDITH
Yes, dear. [She goes to the table, and sets about putting the tea into the teapot from the caddy.]

ANDERSON [as he changes his coat for the older one hanging on the press, and replaces it by the one he has just taken off]
Did anyone call when I was out?

JUDITH
No, only--[someone knocks at the door. With a start which betrays her intense nervousness, she retreats to the further end of the table with the tea caddy and spoon, in her hands, exclaiming] Who's that?

ANDERSON [going to her and patting her encouragingly on the shoulder]
All right, pet, all right. He won't eat you, whoever he is. [She tries to smile, and nearly makes herself cry. He goes to the door and opens it. Richard is there, without overcoat or cloak.] You might have raised the latch and come in, Mr. Dudgeon. Nobody stands on much ceremony with us. [Hospitably.] Come in. [Richard comes in carelessly and stands at the table, looking round the room with a slight pucker of his nose at the mezzotinted divine on the wall. Judith keeps her eyes on the tea caddy.] Is it still raining? [He shuts the door.]

RICHARD
Raining like the very [his eye catches Judith's as she looks quickly and haughtily up]--I beg your pardon; but [showing that his coat is wet] you see--!

ANDERSON
Take it off, sir; and let it hang before the fire a while: my wife will excuse your shirtsleeves. Judith: put in another spoonful of tea for Mr. Dudgeon.

RICHARD [eyeing him cynically]
The magic of property, Pastor! Are even you civil to me now that I have succeeded to my father's estate?

Judith throws down the spoon indignantly.

ANDERSON [quite unruffled, and helping Richard off with his coat]
I think, sir, that since you accept my hospitality, you cannot have so bad an opinion of it. Sit down. [With the coat in his hand, he points to the railed seat. Richard, in his shirtsleeves, looks at him half quarrelsomely for a moment; then, with a nod, acknowledges that the minister has got the better of him, and sits down on the seat. Anderson pushes his cloak into a heap on the seat of the chair at the fire, and hangs Richard's coat on the back in its place.]

RICHARD
I come, sir, on your own invitation. You left word you had something important to tell me.

ANDERSON
I have a warning which it is my duty to give you.

RICHARD [quickly rising]
You want to preach to me. Excuse me: I prefer a walk in the rain. [He makes for his coat.]

ANDERSON [stopping him]
Don't be alarmed, sir; I am no great preacher. You are quite safe. [Richard smiles in spite of himself. His glance softens: he even makes a gesture of excuse. Anderson, seeing that he has tamed him, now addresses him earnestly.] Mr. Dudgeon: you are in danger in this town.

RICHARD
What danger?

ANDERSON
Your uncle's danger. Major Swindon's gallows.

RICHARD
It is you who are in danger. I warned you--

ANDERSON [interrupting him goodhumoredly but authoritatively]

Yes, yes, Mr. Dudgeon; but they do not think so in the town. And even if I were in danger, I have duties here I must not forsake. But you are a free man. Why should you run any risk?

RICHARD
Do you think I should be any great loss, Minister?

ANDERSON
I think that a man's life is worth saving, whoever it belongs to. [Richard makes him an ironical bow. Anderson returns the bow humorously.] Come: you'll have a cup of tea, to prevent you catching cold?

RICHARD
I observe that Mrs. Anderson is not quite so pressing as you are, Pastor.

JUDITH [almost stifled with resentment, which she has been expecting her husband to share and express for her at every insult of Richard's]
You are welcome for my husband's sake. [She brings the teapot to the fireplace and sets it on the hob.]

RICHARD
I know I am not welcome for my own, madam. [He rises.] But I think I will not break bread here, Minister.

ANDERSON [cheerily]
Give me a good reason for that.

RICHARD
Because there is something in you that I respect. and that makes me desire to have you for my enemy.

ANDERSON
That's well said. On those terms, sir, I will accept your enmity or any man's. Judith: Mr. Dudgeon will stay to tea. Sit down: it will take a few minutes to draw by the fire. [Richard glances at him with a troubled face; then sits down with his head bent, to hide a convulsive swelling of his throat.] I was just saying to my wife, Mr. Dudgeon, that enmity--[she grasps his hand and looks imploringly at him, doing both with an intensity that checks him at once] Well, well, I mustn't tell you, I see; but it was nothing that need leave us worse friend-- enemies, I mean. Judith is a great enemy of yours.

RICHARD
If all my enemies were like Mrs. Anderson I should be the best Christian in America.

ANDERSON [gratified, patting her hand]
You hear that, Judith? Mr. Dudgeon knows how to turn a compliment.

The latch is lifted from without.

JUDITH [starting]
Who is that?

Christy comes in.

CHRISTY [stopping and staring at Richard]
Oh, are you here?

RICHARD
Yes. Begone, you fool: Mrs. Anderson doesn't want the whole family to tea at once.

CHRISTY [coming further in]
Mother's very ill.

RICHARD
Well, does she want to see me?

CHRISTY
No.

RICHARD
I thought not.

CHRISTY
She wants to see the minister--at once.

JUDITH [to Anderson]
Oh, not before you've had some tea.

ANDERSON
I shall enjoy it more when I come back, dear. [He is about to take up his cloak.]

CHRISTY
The rain's over.

ANDERSON [dropping the cloak and picking up his hat from the fender]
Where is your mother, Christy?

CHRISTY
At Uncle Titus's.

ANDERSON
Have you fetched the doctor?

CHRISTY
No: she didn't tell me to.

ANDEBSON
Go on there at once: I'll overtake you on his doorstep. [Christy turns to go.] Wait a moment. Your brother must be anxious to know the particulars.

RICHARD
Psha! not I: he doesn't know; and I don't care. [Violently.] Be off, you oaf. [Christy runs out. Richard adds, a little shamefacedly] We shall know soon enough.

ANDERSON
Well, perhaps you will let me bring you the news myself. Judith: will you give Mr. Dudgeon his tea, and keep him here until I return?

JUDITH [white and trembling]
Must I--

ANDERSON [taking her hands and interrupting her to cover her agitation]
My dear: I can depend on you?

JUDITH [with a piteous effort to be worthy of his trust]
Yes.

ANDERSON [pressing her hand against his cheek]
You will not mind two old people like us, Mr. Dudgeon. [Going.] I shall not say good evening: you will be here when I come back. [He goes out.]

They watch him pass the window, and then look at each other dumbly, quite disconcerted. Richard, noting the quiver of her lips, is the first to pull himself together.

RICHARD
Mrs. Anderson: I am perfectly aware of the nature of your sentiments towards me. I shall not intrude on you. Good evening. [Again he starts for the fireplace to get his coat.]

JUDITH [getting between him and the coat]
No, no. Don't go: please don't go.

RICHARD [roughly]
Why? You don't want me here.

JUDITH
Yes, I--[wringing her hands in despair] Oh, if I tell you the truth, you will use it to torment me.

RICHARD [indignantly]
Torment! What right have you to say that? Do you expect me to stay after that?

JUDITH
I want you to stay; but [suddenly raging at him like an angry child] it is not because I like you.

RICHARD
Indeed!

JUDITH
Yes: I had rather you did go than mistake me about that. I hate and dread you; and my husband knows it. If you are not here when he comes back, he will believe that I disobeyed him and drove you away.

RICHARD [ironically]
Whereas, of course, you have really been so kind and hospitable and charming to me that I only want to go away out of mere contrariness, eh?

Judith, unable to bear it, sinks on the chair and bursts into tears.

RICHARD
Stop, stop, stop, I tell you. Don't do that. [Putting his hand to his breast as if to a wound.] He wrung my heart by being a man. Need you tear it by being a woman? Has he not raised you above my insults, like himself? [She stops crying, and recovers herself somewhat, looking at him with a scared curiosity.] There: that's right. [Sympathetically.] You're better now, aren't you? [He puts his hand encouragingly on her shoulder. She instantly rises haughtily, and stares at him defiantly. He at once drops into his usual sardonic tone.] Ah, that's better. You are yourself again: so is Richard. Well, shall we go to tea like a quiet respectable couple, and wait for your husband's return?

JUDITH [rather ashamed of herself]
If you please. I--I am sorry to have been so foolish. [She stoops to take up the plate of toast from the fender.]

RICHARD
I am sorry, for your sake, that I am--what I am. Allow me. [He takes the plate from her and goes with it to the table.]

JUDITH [following with the teapot]
Will you sit down? [He sits down at the end of the table nearest the press. There is a plate and knife laid there. The other plate is laid near it; but Judith stays at the opposite end of the table, next the fire, and takes her place there, drawing the tray towards her.] Do you take sugar?

RICHARD
No; but plenty of milk. Let me give you some toast. [He puts some on the second plate, and hands it to her, with the knife. The action shows quietly how well he knows that she has avoided her usual place so as to be as far from him as possible.]

JUDITH [consciously]
Thanks. [She gives him his tea.] Won't you help yourself?

RICHARD
Thanks. [He puts a piece of toast on his own plate; and she pours out tea for herself.]

JUDITH [observing that he tastes nothing]
Don't you like it? You are not eating anything.

RICHARD
Neither are you.

JUDITH [nervously]
I never care much for my tea. Please don't mind me.

RICHARD [Looking dreamily round]
I am thinking. It is all so strange to me. I can see the beauty and peace of this home: I think I have never been more at rest in my life than at this moment; and yet I know quite well I could never live here. It's not in my nature, I suppose, to be domesticated. But it's very beautiful: it's almost holy. [He muses a moment, and then laughs softly.]

JUDITH [quickly]
Why do you laugh?

RICHARD
I was thinking that if any stranger came in here now, he would take us for man and wife.

JUDITH [taking offence]
You mean, I suppose, that you are more my age than he is.

RICHARD [staring at this unexpected turn]
I never thought of such a thing. [Sardonic again.] I see there is another side to domestic joy.

JUDITH [angrily]
I would rather have a husband whom everybody respects than--than--

RICHARD
Than the devil's disciple. You are right; but I daresay your love helps him to be a good man, just as your hate helps me to be a bad one.

JUDITH
My husband has been very good to you. He has forgiven you for insulting him, and is trying to save you. Can you not forgive him for being so much better than you are? How dare you belittle him by putting yourself in his place?

RICHARD
Did I?

JUDITH
Yes, you did. You said that if anybody came in they would take us for man and--[she stops, terror-stricken, as a squad of soldiers tramps past the window] The English soldiers! Oh, what do they--

RICHARD [listening]
Sh!

A VOICE [outside]
Halt! Four outside: two in with me.

Judith half rises, listening and looking with dilated eyes at Richard, who takes up his cup prosaically, and is drinking his tea when the latch goes up with a sharp click, and an English sergeant walks into the room with two privates, who post themselves at the door. He comes promptly to the table between them.

THE SERGEANT
Sorry to disturb you, mum! duty! Anthony Anderson: I arrest you in King George's name as a rebel.

JUDITH [pointing at Richard]
But that is not-- [He looks up quickly at her, with a face of iron. She stops her mouth hastily with the hand she has raised to indicate him, and stands staring affrightedly.]

THE SERGEANT
Come, Parson; put your coat on and come along.

RICHARD
Yes: I'll come. [He rises and takes a step towards his own coat; then recollects himself, and, with his back to the sergeant, moves his gaze slowly round the room without turning his head until he sees Anderson's black coat hanging up on the press. He goes composedly to it; takes it down; and puts it on. The idea of himself as a parson tickles him: he looks down at the black sleeve on his arm, and then smiles slyly at Judith, whose white face shows him that what she is painfully struggling to grasp is not the humor of the situation but its horror. He turns to the sergeant, who is approaching him with a pair of handcuffs hidden behind him, and says lightly] Did you ever arrest a man of my cloth before, Sergeant?

THE SERGEANT [instinctively respectful, half to the black coat, half to Richard's good breeding]
Well, no sir. At least, only an army chaplain. [Showing the handcuffs.] I'm sorry, air; but duty--

RICHARD
Just so, Sergeant. Well, I'm not ashamed of them: thank you kindly for the apology. [He holds out his hands.]

SERGEANT [not availing himself of the offer]
One gentleman to another, sir. Wouldn't you like to say a word to your missis, sir, before you go?

RICHARD [smiling]
Oh, we shall meet again before--eh? [Meaning "before you hang me."]

SERGEANT [loudly, with ostentatious cheerfulness]
Oh, of course, of course. No call for the lady to distress herself. Still--[in a lower voice, intended for Richard alone] your last chance, sir.

They look at one another significantly for a moment. Than Richard exhales a deep breath and turns towards Judith.

RICHARD [very distinctly]
My love. [She looks at him, pitiably pale, and tries to answer, but cannot--tries also to come to him, but cannot trust herself to stand without the support of the table.] This gallant gentleman is good enough to allow us a moment of leavetaking. [The sergeant retires delicately and joins his men near the door.] He is trying to spare you the truth; but you had better know it. Are you listening to me? [She signifies assent.] Do you understand that I am going to my death? [She signifies that she understands.] Remember, you must find our friend who was with us just now. Do you understand? [She signifies yes.] See that you get him safely out of harm's way. Don't for your life let him know of my danger; but if he finds it out, tell him that he cannot save me: they would hang him; and they would not spare me. And tell him that I am steadfast in my religion as he is in his, and that he may depend on me to the death. [He turns to go, and meets the eye of the sergeant, who looks a little suspicious. He considers a moment, and then, turning roguishly to Judith with something of a smile breaking through his earnestness, says] And now, my dear, I am afraid the sergeant will not believe that you love me like a wife unless you give one kiss before I go.

He approaches her and holds out his arms. She quits the table and almost falls into them.

JUDITH [the words choking her]
I ought to--it's murder--

RICHARD
No: only a kiss [softly to her] for his sake.

JUDITH
I can't. You must--

RICHARD [folding her in his arms with an impulse of compassion for her distress]
My poor girl!

Judith, with a sudden effort, throws her arms round him; kisses him; and swoons away, dropping from his arms to the ground as if the kiss had killed her.

RICHARD [going quickly to the sergeant]
Now, Sergeant: quick, before she comes to. The handcuffs. [He puts out his hands.]

SERGEANT [pocketing them]
Never mind, sir: I'll trust you. You're a game one. You ought to a bin a soldier, sir. Between them two, please. [The soldiers place themselves one before Richard and one behind him. The sergeant opens the door.]

RICHARD [taking a last look round him]
Goodbye, wife: goodbye, home. Muffle the drums, and quick march!

The sergeant signs to the leading soldier to march. They file out quickly.

*****************************************************************

When Anderson returns from Mrs. Dudgeon's he is astonished to find the room apparently empty and almost in darkness except for the glow from the fire; for one of the candles has burnt out, and the other is at its last flicker.

ANDERSON
Why, what on earth--? [Calling] Judith, Judith! [He listens: there is no answer.] Hm! [He goes to the cupboard; takes a candle from the drawer; lights it at the flicker of the expiring one on the table; and looks wonderingly at the untasted meal by its light. Then he sticks it in the candlestick; takes off his hat; and scratches his head, much puzzled. This action causes him to look at the floor for the first time; and there he sees Judith lying motionless with her eyes closed. He runs to her and stoops beside her, lifting her head.] Judith.

JUDITH [waking; for her swoon has passed into the sleep of exhaustion after suffering]
Yes. Did you call? What's the matter?

ANDERSON
I've just come in and found you lying here with the candles burnt out and the tea poured out and cold. What has happened?

JUDITH [still astray]
I don't know. Have I been asleep? I suppose--[she stops blankly] I don't know.

ANDERSON [groaning]
Heaven forgive me, I left you alone with that scoundrel. [Judith remembers. With an agonized cry, she clutches his shoulders and drags herself to her feet as he rises with her. He clasps her tenderly in his arms.] My poor pet!

JUDITH [frantically clinging to him]
What shall I do? Oh my God, what shall I do?

ANDERSON
Never mind, never mind, my dearest dear: it was my fault. Come: you're safe now; and you're not hurt, are you? [He takes his arms from her to see whether she can stand.] There: that's right, that's right. If only you are not hurt, nothing else matters.

JUDITH
No, no, no: I'm not hurt.

ANDERSON
Thank Heaven for that! Come now: [leading her to the railed seat and making her sit down beside him] sit down and rest: you can tell me about it to-morrow. Or, [misunderstanding her distress] you shall not tell me at all if it worries you. There, there! [Cheerfully.] I'll make you some fresh tea: that will set you up again. [He goes to the table, and empties the teapot into the slop bowl.]

JUDITH [in a strained tone]
Tony.

ANDERSON
Yes, dear?

JUDITH
Do you think we are only in a dream now?

ANDERSON [glancing round at her for a moment with a pang of anxiety, though he goes on steadily and cheerfully putting fresh tea into the pot]
Perhaps so, pet. But you may as well dream a cup of tea when you're about it.

JUDITH
Oh, stop, stop. You don't know-- [Distracted she buries her face in her knotted hands.]

ANDERSON [breaking down and coming to her]
My dear, what is it? I can't bear it any longer: you must tell me. It was all my fault: I was mad to trust him.

JUDITH
No: don't say that. You mustn't say that. He--oh no, no: I can't. Tony: don't speak to me. Take my hands--both my hands. [He takes them, wondering.] Make me think of you, not of him. There's danger, frightful danger; but it is your danger; and I can't keep thinking of it: I can't, I can't: my mind goes back to his danger. He must be saved--no: you must be saved: you, you, you. [She springs up as if to do something or go somewhere, exclaiming] Oh, Heaven help me!

ANDERSON [keeping his seat and holding her hands with resolute composure]
Calmly, calmly, my pet. You're quite distracted.

JUDITH
I may well be. I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do. [Tearing her hands away.] I must save him. [Anderson rises in alarm as she runs wildly to the door. It is opened in her face by Essie, who hurries in, full of anxiety. The surprise is so disagreeable to Judith that it brings her to her senses. Her tone is sharp and angry as she demands] What do you want?

ESSIE
I was to come to you.

ANDERSON
Who told you to?

ESSIE [staring at him, as if his presence astonished her]

Are you here?

JUDITH
Of course. Don't be foolish, child.

ANDERSON
Gently, dearest: you'll frighten her. [Going between them.] Come here, Essie. [She comes to him.] Who sent you?

ESSIE
Dick. He sent me word by a soldier. I was to come here at once and do whatever Mrs. Anderson told me.

ANDERSON [enlightened]
A soldier! Ah, I see it all now! They have arrested Richard. [Judith makes a gesture of despair.]

ESSIE
No. I asked the soldier. Dick's safe. But the soldier said you had been taken--

ANDERSON
I! [Bewildered, he turns to Judith for an explanation.]

JUDITH [coaxingly]
All right, dear: I understand. [To Essie.] Thank you, Essie, for coming; but I don't need you now. You may go home.

ESSIE [suspicious]
Are you sure Dick has not been touched? Perhaps he told the soldier to say it was the minister. [Anxiously.] Mrs. Anderson: do you think it can have been that?

ANDERSON
Tell her the truth if it is so, Judith. She will learn it from the first neighbor she meets in the street. [Judith turns away and covers her eyes with her hands.]

ESSIE [wailing]
But what will they do to him? Oh, what will they do to him? Will they hang him? [Judith shudders convulsively, and throws herself into the chair in which Richard sat at the tea table.]

ANDERSON [patting Essie's shoulder and trying to comfort her]
I hope not. I hope not. Perhaps if you're very quiet and patient, we may be able to help him in some way.

ESSIE
Yes--help him--yes, yes, yes. I'll be good.

ANDERSON
I must go to him at once, Judith.

JUDITH [springing up]
Oh no. You must go away--far away, to some place of safety.

ANDERSON
Pooh!

JUDITH [passionately]
Do you want to kill me? Do you think I can bear to live for days and days with every knock at the door-- every footstep--giving me a spasm of terror? to lie awake for nights and nights in an agony of dread, listening for them to come and arrest you?

ANDERSON
Do you think it would be better to know that I had run away from my post at the first sign of danger?

JUDITH [bitterly]
Oh, you won't go. I know it. You'll stay; and I shall go mad.

ANDERSON
My dear, your duty--

JUDITH [fiercely]
What do I care about my duty?

ANDERSON [shocked]
Judith!

JUDITH
I am doing my duty. I am clinging to my duty. My duty is to get you away, to save you, to leave him to his fate. [Essie utters a cry of distress and sinks on the chair at the fire, sobbing silently.] My instinct is the same as hers--to save him above all things, though it would be so much better for him to die! so much greater! But I know you will take your own way as he took it. I have no power. [She sits down sullenly on the railed seat.] I'm only a woman: I can do nothing but sit here and suffer. Only, tell him I tried to save you--that I did my best to save you.

ANDERSON
My dear, I am afraid he will be thinking more of his own danger than of mine.

JUDITH
Stop; or I shall hate you.

ANDERSON [remonstrating]
Come, am I to leave you if you talk like this! your senses. [He turns to Essie.] Essie.

ESSIE [eagerly rising and drying her eyes]
Yes?

ANDERSON
Just wait outside a moment, like a good girl: Mrs. Anderson is not well. [Essie looks doubtful.] Never fear: I'll come to you presently; and I'll go to Dick.

ESSIE
You are sure you will go to him? [Whispering.] You won't let her prevent you?

ANDERSON [smiling]
No, no: it's all right. All right. [She goes.] That's a good girl. [He closes the door, and returns to Judith.]

JUDITH [seated--rigid]
You are going to your death.

ANDERSON [quaintly]
Then I shall go in my best coat, dear. [He turns to the press, beginning to take off his coat.] Where--? [He stares at the empty nail for a moment; then looks quickly round to the fire; strides across to it; and lifts Richard's coat.] Why, my dear, it seems that he has gone in my best coat.

JUDITH [still motionless]
Yes.

ANDERSON
Did the soldiers make a mistake?

JUDITH
Yes: they made a mistake.

ANDERSON
He might have told them. Poor fellow, he was too upset, I suppose.

JUDITH
Yes: he might have told them. So might I.

ANDERSON
Well, it's all very puzzling--almost funny. It's curious how these little things strike us even in the most-- [he breaks of and begins putting on Richard's coat] I'd better take him his own coat. I know what he'll say--[imitating Richard's sardonic manner] "Anxious about my soul, Pastor, and also about your best coat." Eh?

JUDITH
Yes, that is just what he will say to you. [Vacantly.] It doesn't matter: I shall never see either of you again.

ANDERSON [rallying her]
Oh pooh, pooh, pooh! [He sits down beside her.] Is this how you keep your promise that I shan't be ashamed of my brave wife?

JUDITH
No: this is how I break it. I cannot keep my promises to him: why should I keep my promises to you?

ANDERSON
Don't speak so strangely, my love. It sounds insincere to me. [She looks unutterable reproach at him.] Yes, dear, nonsense is always insincere; and my dearest is talking nonsense. Just nonsense. [Her face darkens into dumb obstinacy. She stares straight before her, and does not look at him again, absorbed in Richard's fate. He scans her face; sees that his rallying has produced no effect; and gives it up, making no further effort to conceal his anxiety.] I wish I knew what has frightened you so. Was there a struggle? Did he fight?

JUDITH
No. He smiled.

ANDERSON
Did he realise his danger, do you think?

JUDITH
He realised yours.

ANDERSON
Mine!

JUDITH [monotonously]
He said, "See that you get him safely out of harm's way." I promised: I can't keep my promise. He said, "Don't for your life let him know of my danger." I've told you of it. He said that if you found it out, you could not save him-- that they will hang him and not spare you.

ANDERSON [rising in generous indignation]
And you think that I will let a man with that much good in him die like a dog, when a few words might make him die like a Christian? I'm ashamed of you, Judith.

JUDITH
He will be steadfast in his religion as you are in yours; and you may depend on him to the death. He said so.

ANDERSON
God forgive him! What else did he say?

JUDITH
He said goodbye.

ANDERSON [fidgeting nervously to and fro in great concern]
Poor fellow, poor fellow! You said goodbye to him in all kindness and charity, Judith, I hope.

JUDITH
I kissed him.

ANDERSON
What! Judith!

JUDITH
Are you angry?

ANDERSON
No, no. You were right: you were right. Poor fellow, poor fellow! [Greatly distressed.] To be hanged like that at his age! And then did they take him away?

JUDITH [wearily]
Then you were here: that's the next thing I remember. I suppose I fainted. Now bid me goodbye, Tony. Perhaps I shall faint again. I wish I could die.

ANDERSON
No, no, my dear: you must pull yourself together and be sensible. I am in no danger--not the least in the world.

JUDITH [solemnly]
You are going to your death, Tony--your sure death, if God will let innocent men be murdered. They will not let you see him: they will arrest you the moment you give your name. It was for you the soldiers came.

ANDERSON [thunderstruck]
For me!!! [His fists clinch; his neck thickens; his face reddens; the fleshy purses under his eyes become injected with hot blood; the man of peace vanishes, transfigured into a choleric and formidable man of war. Still, she does not come out of her absorption to look at him: her eyes are steadfast with a mechanical reflection of Richard's stead- fastness.]

JUDITH
He took your place: he is dying to save you. That is why he went in your coat. That is why I kissed him.

ANDERSON [exploding]
Blood an' owns! [His voice is rough and dominant, his gesture full of brute energy.] Here! Essie, Essie!

ESSIE [running in]
Yes.

ANDERSON [impetuously]
Off with you as hard as you can run, to the inn. Tell them to saddle the fastest and strongest horse they have [Judith rises breathless, and stares at him incredulously]-- the chestnut mare, if she's fresh--without a moment's delay. Go into the stable yard and tell the black man there that I'll give him a silver dollar if the horse is waiting for me when I come, and that I am close on your heels. Away with you. [His energy sends Essie flying from the room. He pounces on his riding boots; rushes with them to the chair at the fire; and begins pulling them on.]

JUDITH [unable to believe such a thing of him]
You are not going to him!

ANDERSON [busy with the boots]
Going to him! What good would that do? [Growling to himself as he gets the first boot on with a wrench] I'll go to them, so I will. [To Judith peremptorily] Get me the pistols: I want them. And money, money: I want money--all the money in the house. [He stoops over the other boot, grumbling] A great satisfaction it would be to him to have my company on the gallows. [He pulls on the boot.]

JUDITH
You are deserting him, then?

ANDERSON
Hold your tongue, woman; and get me the pistols. [She goes to the press and takes from it a leather belt with two pistols, a powder horn, and a bag of bullets attached to it. She throws it on the table. Then she unlocks a drawer in the press and takes out a purse. Anderson grabs the belt and buckles it on, saying] If they took him for me in my coat, perhaps they'll take me for him in his. [Hitching the belt into its place] Do I look like him?

JUDITH [turning with the purse in her hand]
Horribly unlike him.

ANDERSON [snatching the purse from her and emptying it on the table]
Hm! We shall see.

JUDITH [sitting down helplessly]
Is it of any use to pray, do you think, Tony?

ANDERSON [counting the money]
Pray! Can we pray Swindon's rope off Richard's neck?

JUDITH
God may soften Major Swindon's heart.

ANDERSON [contemptuously--pocketing a handful of money]
Let him, then. I am not God; and I must go to work another way. [Judith gasps at the blasphemy. He throws the purse on the table.] Keep that. I've taken 25 dollars.

JUDITH
Have you forgotten even that you are a minister?

ANDERSON
Minister be--faugh! My hat: where's my hat? [He snatches up hat and cloak, and puts both on in hot haste.] Now listen, you. If you can get a word with him by pretending you're his wife, tell him to hold his tongue until morning: that will give me all the start I need.

JUDITH [solemnly]
You may depend on him to the death.

ANDERSON
You're a fool, a fool, Judith [for a moment checking the torrent of his haste, and speaking with something of his old quiet and impressive conviction]. You don't know the man you're married to. [Essie returns. He swoops at her at once.] Well: is the horse ready?

ESSIE [breathless]
It will be ready when you come.

ANDERSON
Good. [He makes for the door.]

JUDITH [rising and stretching out her arms after him involuntarily]
Won't you say goodbye?

ANDERSON
And waste another half minute! Psha! [He rushes out like an avalanche.]

ESSIE [hurrying to Judith]
He has gone to save Richard, hasn't he?

JUDITH
To save Richard! No: Richard has saved him. He has gone to save himself. Richard must die.

Essie screams with terror and falls on her knees, hiding her face. Judith, without heeding her, looks rigidly straight in front of her, at the vision of Richard, dying.