A Kiss For Cinderella Play by James Matthew Barrie
A Kiss For Cinderella Play
CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS
NEW YORK : : : : : : : : 1920
Copyright, 1920, by J. M. BARRIE
All rights reserved under the International Copyright Act. Performance forbidden and right of representation reserved. Application for the right of performing this play must be made to Charles Frohman, Inc., Empire Theatre, New York.
A Kiss For Cinderella Play Act I
The least distinguished person in ‘Who’s Who’ has escaped, as it were, from that fashionable crush, and is spending a quiet evening at home. He is curled up in his studio, which is so dark that he would be invisible, had we not obligingly placed his wicker chair just where the one dim ray from the stove may strike his face. His eyes are closed luxuriously, and we could not learn much about him without first poKing our fingers into them. According to the tome mentioned (to which we must return him before morning), Mr. Bodie is sixty-three, has exhibited in the Royal Academy, and is at present unmarried. They do not proclaim him comparatively obscure: they left it indeed to him to say the final word on this subject, and he has hedged. Let us put it in this way, that he occupies more space in his wicker chair than in the book, where nevertheless he looks as if it was rather lonely not to be a genius. He is a painter for the nicest of reasons, that it is delightful to live and die in a messy studio; for our part, we too should have become a painter had it not been that we always lost our paint-box. There is no spirited bidding to acquire Mr. Bodie’s canvases: he loves them at first sight himself, and has often got up in the night to see how they are faring; but ultimately he has turned cold to them, and has even been known to offer them, in lieu of alms, to beggars, who departed cursing. We have a weakness for persons who don’t get on, and so cannot help adding, though it is no business of ours, that Mr. Bodie had private means. Curled up in his wicker chair he is rather like an elderly cupid. We wish we could warn him that the Policeman is coming.
The Policeman comes: in his hand the weapon that has knocked down more malefactors than all the batons—the bull’s-eye. He strikes with it now, right and left, revealing, as if she had just entered the room, a replica of the Venus of Milo, taller than himself though he is stalwart. It is the first meeting of these two, but, though a man who can come to the boil, he is as little moved by her as she by him. After the first glance she continues her reflections. Her smile over his head vaguely displeases him. For two pins he would arrest her.
The lantern finds another object, more worthy of his attention, the artist. Mr. Bodie is more restive under the light than was his goddess, perhaps because he is less accustomed to being stared at. He blinks and sits up.
Mr. Bodie (giving his visitor a lesson in manners). I beg your pardon, officer.
Policeman (confounded). Not that, sir; not at all.
Mr. Bodie (pressing his advantage). But I insist on begging your pardon, officer.
Policeman. I don’t see what for, sir.
Mr. Bodie (fancying himself). For walKing uninvited into the abode of a law-abiding London citizen, with whom I have not the pleasure of being acquainted.
Policeman (after thinKing this out). But I’m the one as has done that, sir.
Mr. Bodie (with neat surprise). So you are, I beg your pardon, officer.
(With pardonable pride in himself Mr. Bodie turns on the light. The studio, as we can now gather from its sloped roof, is at the top of a house; and its window is heavily screened, otherwise we might see the searchlights through it, showing that we are in the period of the great war. Though no one speaks of Mr. Bodie’s pictures as Bodies, which is the true test of fame, he is sufficiently eminent not to have works of art painted or scratched on his walls, mercy has been shown even to the panels of his door, and he is handsomely stingy of draperies. The Venus stands so prominent that the studio is evidently hers rather than his. The stove has been brought forward so that he can rest his feet on it, which ever of his easy chairs he is sitting in, and he also falls over it at times when stepping back to consider his latest failure. On a shelf is a large stuffed penguin, which is to be one of the characters in the play, and on each side of this shelf are two or three tattered magazines. We had hankered after giving Mr. Bodie many rows of books, but were well aware that he would get only blocks of wood so cleverly painted to look like books that they would deceive everyone except the audience. Everything may be real on the stage except the books. So there are only a few magazines in the studio (and very likely when the curtain rings up it will be found that they are painted too). But Mr. Bodie was a reader; he had books in another room, and the careworn actor must suggest this by his manner.
Our Policeman is no bookman; we who write happen to have it from himself that he had not bought a book since he squeezed through the sixth standard: very tight was his waist that day, he told us, and he had to let out every button. Nevertheless it was literature of a sort that first brought him into our ken. He was our local constable: and common interests, as in the vagaries of the moon, gradually made him and us cease to look at each other askance. We fell into the way of chatting with him and giving him the evening papers we had bought to read as we crossed the streets. One of his duties was to herd the vagrant populace under our arches during air-raids, and at such times he could be properly gruff, yet comforting, like one who would at once run in any bomb that fell in his beat. When he had all his flock nicely plastered against the dank walls he would occasionally come to rest beside us, and thaw, and discuss the newspaper article that had interested him most. It was seldom a war-record; more frequently it was something on the magazine page, such as a symposium by the learned on ‘Do you Believe in Love at First Sight?’ Though reticent in many matters he would face this problem openly; with the guns cracKing all around, he would ask for our views wistfully; he spoke of love without a blush, as something recognised officially at Scotland Yard. At this time he had been in love, to his own knowledge, for several weeks, but whether the god had struck him at first sight he was not certain; he was most anxious to know, and it was in the hope of our being able to help him out that he told us his singular story. On his face at such times was often an amazed look, as if he were staring at her rather than at us, and seeing a creature almost beyond belief. Our greatest success was in saying that perhaps she had fallen in love at first sight with him, which on reflection nearly doubled him up. He insisted on knowing what had made us put forward this extraordinary suggestion; he would indeed scarcely leave our company that night, and discussed the possibility with us very much as if it were a police case.
Our Policeman’s romance, now to be told, began, as we begin, with his climbing up into Mr. Bodie’s studio. Mr. Bodie having turned on the light gave him the nasty look that means ‘And now, my man, what can I do for you?’ Our Policeman, however, was not one to be worsted without striKing a blow. He strode to the door, as he has told us, and pointed to a light in the passage.)
Policeman (in his most brow-beating voice, so well known under the arches). Look here, sir, it’s that.
Mr. Bodie. I don’t follow.
Policeman. Look at that passage window. (With natural pride in language.) You are showing too much illumination.
Bodie. Oh! well, surely—
Policeman (with professional firmness). It’s agin the regulations. A party in the neighbouring skylight complains.
Bodie (putting out the light). If that will do for to-night, I’ll have the window boarded up.
Policeman. Anything so long as it obscures the illumination.
Bodie (irritated). Shuts out the light.
Policeman (determinedly). Obscures the illumination.
Bodie (on reflection). I remember now, I did have that window boarded up.
Policeman (who has himself a pretty vein of sarcasm). I don’t see the boards.
Bodie. Nor do I see the boards. (Pondering.) Can she have boned them?
Policeman. She? (He is at once aware that it has become a more difficult case.)
Bodie. You are right. She is scrupulously honest, and if she took the boards we may be sure that I said she could have them. But that only adds to the mystery.
Policeman (obligingly). Mystery?
Bodie. Why this passion for collecting boards? Try her with a large board, officer. Extraordinary!
Policeman (heavily). I don’t know what you are talKing about, sir. Are you complaining of some woman?
Bodie. Now that is the question. Am I? As you are here, officer, there is something I want to say to you. But I should dislike getting her into trouble.
Policeman (stoutly). No man what is a man wants to get a woman into trouble unnecessary.
Bodie (much struck). That’s true! That’s absolutely true, officer.
Policeman (badgered). It’s true, but there’s nothing remarkable about it.
Bodie. Excuse me.
Policeman. See here, sir, I’m just an ordinary Policeman.
Bodie. I can’t let that pass. If I may say so, you have impressed me most deeply. I wonder if I might ask a favour of you. Would you mind taKing off your helmet? As it happens, I have never seen a Policeman without his helmet.
(The perplexed officer puts his helmet on the table.)
Thank you. (Studying the effect.) Of course I knew they took off. You sit also?
(The Policeman sits.)
Policeman. About this woman, sir—
Bodie. We are coming to her. Perhaps I ought to tell you my name—Mr. Bodie. (Indicating the Venus.) This is Mrs. Bodie. No, I am not married. It is merely a name given her because she is my ideal.
Policeman. You gave me a turn.
Bodie. Now that I think of it, I believe the name was given to her by the very woman we are talKing about.
Policeman (producing his note book). To begin with, who is the woman we are talKing about?
Bodie (becoming more serious). On the surface, she is just a little drudge. These studios are looked after by a housekeeper, who employs this girl to do the work.
Policeman. H’m! Sleeps on the premises?
Bodie. No; she is here from eight to six.
Policeman. Place of abode?
Bodie. She won’t tell anyone that.
Policeman. Aha! What’s the party’s name?
(The Policeman writes it down unmoved. Mr. Bodie twinkles.)
Haven’t you heard that name before?
Policeman. Can’t say I have, sir. But I’ll make inquiries at the Yard.
Bodie. It was really I who gave her that name, because she seemed such a poor little neglected waif. After the girl in the story-book, you know.
Policeman. No, sir, I don’t know. In the Force we find it impossible to keep up with current fiction.
Bodie. She was a girl with a broom. There must have been more in the story than that, but I forget the rest.
Policeman. The point is, that’s not the name she calls herself by.
Bodie. Yes, indeed it is. I think she was called something else when she came, Miss Thing, or some such name; but she took to the name of Cinderella with avidity, and now she absolutely denies that she ever had any other.
Bodie (now interested in his tale). That’s another odd thing. I seem to remember vaguely her telling me that her parents when alive were very humble persons indeed. Touch of Scotch about her, I should say—perhaps from some distant ancestor; but Scotch words and phrases still stick to the Cockney child like bits of egg-shell to a chicken.
Policeman (writing). Egg-shell to chicken.
Bodie. I find, however, that she has lately been telling the housekeeper quite a different story.
Policeman (like a counsel). Proceed.
Bodie. According to this, her people were of considerable position—a Baron and Baroness, in fact.
Bodie. The only other relatives she seems to have mentioned are two sisters of unprepossessing appearance.
Policeman (cleverly). If this story is correct, what is she doing here?
Bodie. I understand there is something about her father having married again, and her being badly treated. She doesn’t expect this to last. It seems that she has reason to believe that some very remarkable change may take place in her circumstances at an early date, at a ball for which her Godmother is to get her what she calls an invite. This is evidently to be a very swagger function at which something momentous is to occur, the culminating moment being at midnight.
Policeman (writing). Godmother. Invite. Twelve p.m. Fishy! Tell me about them boards now.
Bodie (who is evidently fond of the child). You can’t think how wistful she is to get hold of boards. She has them on the brain. Carries them off herself into the unknown.
Policeman. I daresay she breaks them up for firewood.
Bodie. No; she makes them into large boxes.
Policeman (sagaciously). Very likely to keep things in.
Bodie. She has admitted that she keeps things in them. But what things? Ask her that, and her mouth shuts like a trap.
Policeman. Any suspicions?
(Mr. Bodie hesitates. It seems absurd to suspect this waif—and yet!)
Bodie. I’m sorry to say I have. I don’t know what the things are, but I do know they are connected in some way with Germany.
Policeman (darkly). Proceed.
Bodie (really troubled). Officer, she is too curious about Germany.
Policeman. That’s bad.
Bodie. She plies me with questions about it—not openly—very cunningly.
Policeman. Such as—?
Bodie. For instance, what would be the punishment for an English person caught hiding aliens in this country?
Policeman. If she’s up to games of that kind—
Bodie. Does that shed any light on the boxes, do you think?
Policeman. She can’t keep them shut up in boxes.
Bodie. I don’t know. She is extraordinarily dogged. She knows a number of German words.
Policeman. That’s ugly.
Bodie. She asked me lately how one could send a letter to Germany without Lord Haig knowing. By the way, do you, by any chance, know anything against a firm of dressmakers called Celeste et Cie.?
Policeman. Celest A. C.? No, but it has a German sound.
Bodie. It’s French.
Policeman. Might be a blind.
Bodie. I think she lives at Celeste’s. Now I looked up Celeste et Cie. in the telephone book, and I find they are in Bond Street. Immensely fashionable.
Policeman. She lives in Bond Street? London’s full of romance, sir, to them as knows where to look for it—namely, the police. Is she on the premises?
Bodie (reluctantly). Sure to be; it isn’t six yet.
Policeman (in his most terrible voice). Well, leave her to me.
Bodie. You mustn’t frighten her. I can’t help liKing her. She’s so extraordinarily homely that you can’t be with her many minutes before you begin thinKing of your early days. Where were you born, officer?
Policeman. I’m from Badgery.
Bodie. She’ll make you think of Badgery.
Policeman (frowning). She had best try no games on me.
Bodie. She will have difficulty in answering questions; she is so used to asKing them. I never knew a child with such an appetite for information. She doesn’t search for it in books; indeed the only book of mine I can remember ever seeing her read, was a volume of fairy tales.
Policeman (stupidly). Well, that don’t help us much. What kind of questions?
Bodie. Every kind. What is the Censor? Who is Lord Times?—she has heard people here talKing of that paper and its proprietor, and has mixed them up in the quaintest way; then again—when a tailor measures a gentleman’s legs what does he mean when he says—26, 4—32, 11? What are Doctors up to when they tell you to say 99? In finance she has an almost morbid interest in the penny.
Policeman. The penny? It’s plain the first thing to find out is whether she’s the slavey she seems to be, or a swell in disguise.
Bodie. You won’t find it so easy.
Policeman. Excuse me, sir; we have an infallayble way at Scotland Yard of finding out whether a woman is common or a lady.
Bodie (irritated). An infallible way.
Policeman (firmly). Infallayable.
Bodie. I should like to know what it is.
Policeman. There is nothing against my telling you. (He settles down to a masterly cross-examination.) Where, sir, does a common female keep her valuables when she carries them about on her person?
Bodie. In her pocket, I suppose.
Policeman. And you suppose correctly. But where does a lady keep them?
Bodie. In the same place, I suppose.
Policeman. Then you suppose wrongly. No, sir, here. (He taps his own chest, and indicates discreetly how a lady may pop something down out of sight.)
Bodie (impressed). I believe you are right, officer.
Policeman. I am right—it’s infallayble. A lady, what with drink and such like misfortunes, may forget all her other refinements, but she never forgets that. At the Yard it’s considered as sure as finger-marks.
Bodie. Strange! I wonder who was the first woman to do it. It couldn’t have been Eve this time, officer.
Policeman (after reflecting). I see your point. And now I want just to have a look at the party unbeknownst to her. Where could I conceal myself?
Policeman. Conceal myself.
Bodie. That small door opens on to my pantry, where she washes up.
Policeman (peeping in). It will do. Now bring her up.
Bodie. It doesn’t seem fair—I really can’t—
Policeman. War-time, sir.
(Mr. Bodie decides that it is patriotic to ring. The Policeman emerges from the pantry with a slavey’s hat and jacket.)
These belong to the party, sir?
Bodie. I forgot. She keeps them in there. (He surveys the articles with some emotion.) Gaudy feathers. And yet that hat may have done some gallant things. The brave apparel of the very poor! Who knows, officer, that you and I are not at this moment on rather holy ground.
Policeman (stoutly). I see nothing wrong with the feathers. I must say, sir, I like the feathers.
(He slips into the pantry with the hat and jacket, but forgets his helmet, over which the artist hastily jams a flower bowl. There were visiting cards in the bowl and they are scattered on the floor. Mr. Bodie sees them not: it is his first attempt at the conspirator, and he sits guiltily with a cigarette just in time to deceive cinderella, who charges into the room as from a catapult. This is her usual mode of entrance, and is owing to her desire to give satisfaction.)
Our Policeman, as he has told us under the arches, was watching her through the keyhole, but his first impressions have been so coloured by subsequent events that it is questionable whether they would be accepted in any court of law. Is prepared to depose that to the best of his recollection, they were unfavourable. Does not imply by unfavourable any aspersion on her personal appearance. Would accept the phrase ‘far from striKing’ as summing up her first appearance. Would no longer accept the phrase. Had put her down as being a grown woman, but not sufficiently grown. Thought her hair looked to be run up her finger. Did not like this way of doing the hair. Could not honestly say that she seemed even then to be an ordinary slavey of the areas. She was dressed as one, but was suspiciously clean. On the other hand, she had the genuine hungry look. Among more disquieting features noticed a sort of refinement in her voice and manner, which was characteristic of the criminal classes. Knew now that this was caused by the reading of fairy tales and the thinKing of noble thoughts. Noted speedily that she was a domineering character who talked sixteen to the dozen, and at such times reminded him of funny old ladies. Was much struck by her eyes, which seemed to suggest that she was all burning inside. This impression was strengthened later when he touched her hands. Felt at once the curious ‘homeliness’ of her, as commented on by Mr. Bodie, but could swear on oath that this had not at once made him think of Badgery. Could recall not the slightest symptoms of love at first sight. On the contrary, listened carefully to the conversation between her and Mr. Bodie and formed a stern conclusion about her. Believed that this was all he could say about his first impression.
Cinderella (breathlessly). Did you rang, sir?
Bodie (ashamed). Did I? I did—but—I—I don’t know why. If you’re a good servant, you ought to know why.
(The cigarette, disgusted with him, falls from his mouth; and his little servant flings up her hands to heaven.)
Cinderella (taKing possession of him). There you go again! Fifty years have you been at it, and you can’t hold a seegarette in your mouth yet! (She sternly produces the turpentine.)
Bodie (in sudden alarm). I won’t be brushed. I will not be scraped.
Cinderella (twisting him round). Just look at that tobaccy ash! And I cleaned you up so pretty before luncheon.
Bodie. I will not be cleaned again.
Cinderella (in her element). Keep still.
(She brushes, scrapes, and turpentines him. In the glory of this she tosses her head at the Venus.)
I gave Mrs. Bodie a good wipe down this morning with soap and water.
Bodie (indignant). That is a little too much. You know quite well I allow no one to touch her.
(Cinderella leaves him and gazes in irritation at the statue.)
Cinderella. What is it about the woman?
Bodie (in his heat forgetting the Policeman). She is the glory of glories.
Cinderella (who would be willowy if she were long enough). She’s thick.
Bodie. Her measurements are perfection. All women long to be like her, but none ever can be.
Cinderella (insisting). I suppose that’s the reason she has that snigger on her face.
Bodie. That is perhaps the smile of motherhood. Some people think there was once a baby in her arms.
Cinderella (with a new interest in Venus). Her own?
Bodie. I suppose so.
Cinderella. A married woman then?
Bodie (nonplussed). Don’t ask trivial questions.
Cinderella (generously). It was clever of you to make her.
Bodie. I didn’t make her. I was—forestalled. Some other artist chappie did it. (He likes his little Maid again.) She was dug up, Cinderella, after lying hidden in the ground for more than a thousand years.
Cinderella. And the baby gone?
Bodie (snapping). Yes.
Cinderella. If I had lost my baby I wouldn’t have been found with that pleased look on my face, not in a thousand years.
Bodie. Her arms were broken, you see, so she had to drop the baby—
Cinderella. She could have up with her knee and catched it—
Bodie (excitedly). By heavens, that may just be what she is doing. (He contemplates a letter to the ‘Times.’)
Cinderella (little aware that she may have solved the question of the ages). Beauty’s a grand thing.
Bodie. It is.
Cinderella. I warrant she led them a pretty dance in her day.
Cinderella. Umpha! (wistfully). It must be fine to have men so mad about you that they go off their feed and roar. (She turns with a sigh to the dusting of the penguin.) What did you say this is?
Bodie (ignorant of what he is letting himself in for). A bishop.
Cinderella (nearly choKing). The sort that marries swell couples?
Cinderella (huskily, as if it made all the difference to her). I never thought of that.
Bodie (kindly). Why should you, you queer little waif. Do you know why I call you Cinderella?
Cinderella. Fine, I know.
Bodie. Why is it?
Cinderella (with shy happiness). It’s because I have such pretty feet.
Bodie. You dear little innocent. (He thinks shame of his suspicions. He is planning how to get rid of the man in the pantry when she brings him back to hard facts with a bump.)
Cinderella (in a whisper). Mr. Bodie, if you wanted to get into BucKingham Palace on the dodge, how would you slip by the Policeman? (she wrings her hands). The police is everywhere in war-time.
Bodie (conscious how near one of them is). They are—be careful, Cinderella.
Cinderella. I am—oh, I am! If you knew the precautions I’m taKing—
Bodie (miserable). Sh!
Cinderella (now in a quiver). Mr. Bodie, you haven’t by any chance got an invite for to-night, have you?
Bodie. What for?
Cinderella (as still as the Venus). For—for a ball.
Bodie. There are no balls in war-time.
Cinderella (dogged). Just the one. Mr. Bodie, did you ever see the King?
Bodie. The King? Several times.
Cinderella (as white as the Venus). Was the Prince of Wales with him?
Cinderella. What’s he like?
Bodie. Splendid! Quite young, you know. He’s not married.
Cinderella (with awful intensity). No, not yet.
Bodie. I suppose he is very difficult to satisfy.
Cinderella (knitting her lips). He has never seen the feet that pleased him.
Bodie. Cinderella, your pulse is galloping. You frighten me. What possesses you?
Cinderella (after hesitating). There is something I want to tell you. Maybe I’ll not be coming back after to-night. She has paid me up to to-night.
Bodie. Is she sending you away?
Cinderella. No. I’ve sort of given notice.
Bodie (disappointed). You’ve got another place?
(She shuts her mouth like a box.)
Has it anything to do with the Godmother business?
(Her mouth remains closed. He barks at her.)
Don’t then. (He reconsiders her.) I like you, you know.
Cinderella (gleaming). It’s fine to be liked.
Bodie. Have you a lonely life?
Cinderella. It’s kind of lonely.
Bodie. You won’t tell me about your home?
(She shakes her head.)
Is there any nice person to look after you in the sort of way in which you look after me?
Cinderella. I’m all alone. There’s just me and my feet.
Bodie. If you go I’ll miss you. We’ve had some good times here, Cinderella, haven’t we?
Cinderella (rapturously). We have! You mind that chop you gave me? Hey, hey, hey! (considering it judicially). That was the most charming chop I ever saw. And many is the lick of soup you’ve given me when you thought I looked down-like. Do you mind the chicken that was too high for you? You give me the whole chicken. That was a day.
Bodie. I never meant you to eat it.
Cinderella. I didn’t eat it all myself. I shared it with them.
Bodie (inquisitively). With them? With whom?
(Her mouth shuts promptly, and he sulks. She picks up the visiting cards that litter the floor.)
Cinderella. What a spill! If you’re not messing you’re spilling. Where’s the bowl?
(She lifts the bowl and discovers the helmet. She is appalled.)
Bodie (in an agony of remorse pointing to the door). Cinderella, quick!
(But our Policeman has emerged and barred the way.)
Policeman (indicating that it is Mr. Bodie who must go). If you please, sir.
Bodie. I won’t! Don’t you dare to frighten her.
Policeman (settling the matter with the palm of his hand). That will do. If I need you I’ll call you.
Bodie (flinching). Cinderella, it’s—it’s just a form. I won’t be far away.
(He departs reluctantly.)
Policeman (sternly). Stand up.
Cinderella (a quaKing figure, who has never sat down). I’m standing up.
Policeman. Now, no sauce.
(He produces his note book. He is about to make a powerful beginning when he finds her eyes regarding the middle of his person.)
Now then, what are you staring at?
Cinderella (hotly). That’s a poor way to polish a belt. If I was a officer I would think shame of having my belt in that condition.
Policeman (undoubtedly affected by her homeliness though unconscious of it). It’s easy to speak; it’s a miserable polish I admit, but mind you, I’m pretty done when my job’s over; and I have the polishing to do myself.
Cinderella. You have no woman person?
Policeman. Not me.
Cinderella (with passionate arms). If I had that belt for half an hour!
Policeman. What would you use?
Policeman. Spit? That’s like what my mother would have said. That was in Badgery, where I was born. When I was a boy at Badgery—(He stops short. She has reminded him of Badgery!)
Cinderella. What’s wrong?
Policeman (heavily). How did you manage that about Badgery?
Policeman. Take care, prisoner.
(The word makes her shudder. He sits, prepared to take notes.)
Policeman. Take care, Thing. Occupation, if any?
Cinderella (with some pride). Tempary help.
Policeman. Last place?
Cinderella. 3 Robert Street.
(Her mouth shuts.)
Ah, they’ll never admit that. Reason for leaving?
Cinderella. I had to go when the war broke out.
Policeman. Why dismissed?
Cinderella (forlorn). They said I was a luxury.
Policeman (getting ready to pounce). Now be cautious. How do you spend your evenings after you leave this building?
(Her mouth shuts.)
Have you another and secret occupation?
Has it to do with boxes? What do you keep in those boxes? Where is it that these goings-on is going on? If you won’t tell me, I’m willing to tell you. It’s at A. C. Celeste’s . . . In Bond Street, W.
(He has levelled his finger at her, but it is a pistol that does not go off. To his chagrin she looks relieved. He tries hammer blows.)
Are you living in guilty splendour? How do you come to know German words? How many German words do you think I know? Just one, espionage. What’s the German for ‘six months hard’?
(She is now crumpled, and here he would do well to pause and stride up and down the room. But he cannot leave well alone.)
What’s this nonsense about your feet?
Cinderella (plucKing up courage). It’s not nonsense.
Policeman. I see nothing particular about your feet.
Cinderella. Then I’m sorry for you.
Policeman. What is it?
Cinderella (softly as if it were a line from the Bible). Their exquisite smallness and perfect shape.
Policeman (with a friendly glance at the Venus). For my part I’m partial to big women with their noses in the air.
Cinderella (stung). So is everybody (pathetically). I’ve tried. But it’s none so easy, with never no butcher’s meat in the house. You’ll see where the su-perb shoulders and the haughty manners come from if you look in shop windows and see the whole of a cow turned inside out and ‘Delicious’ printed on it.
Policeman (always just). There’s something in that.
Cinderella (swelling). But it doesn’t matter how fine the rest of you is if you doesn’t have small feet.
Policeman. I never gave feet a thought.
Cinderella. The swells think of nothing else. (Exploding.) Wait till you are at the Ball. Many a haughty beauty with superb uppers will come sailing in—as sure of the prize as if ‘Delicious’ was pinned on her—and then forward steps the Lord Mayor, and, utterly disregarding her uppers, he points to the bottom of her skirt, and he says ‘Lift!’ and she has to lift, and there’s a dead silence, and nothing to be heard except the Prince crying ‘Throw her out!’
Policeman (somewhat staggered by her knowledge of the high life). What’s all this about a ball?
(Cinderella sees she has said too much and her mouth shuts.)
Was you ever at a ball?
Cinderella (with dignity). At any rate I’ve been at the Horse Show.
Policeman. A ball’s not like a Horse Show.
Cinderella. You’ll see.
Policeman (reverting to business). It all comes to this, are you genteel, or common clay?
Cinderella (pertly). I leaves that to you.
Policeman. You couldn’t leave it in safer hands. I want a witness to this.
Cinderella (startled). A witness! What are you to do?
(With terrible self-confidence he has already opened the door and beckoned. Mr. Bodie comes in anxiously.)
Policeman. Take note, sir. (With the affable manner of a conjuror.) We are now about to try a little experiment, the object being to discover whether this party is genteel or common clay.
Cinderella. Oh, Mr. Bodie, what is it?
Bodie (remembering what he has been told of the Scotland Yard test). I don’t like . . . I won’t have it.
Policeman. It gives her the chance of proving once and for all whether she’s of gentle blood.
Cinderella (eagerly). Does it?
Bodie. I must forbid. . . .
Cinderella (with dreadful resolution). I’m ready. I wants to know myself.
Policeman. Ve—ry well. Now then, I heard you say that the old party downstairs had paid you your wages to-day.
Cinderella. I see nothing you can prove by that. It was a half-week’s wages—1s. 7d. Of course I could see my way clearer if it had been 1s. 9d.
Policeman. That’s neither here nor there. We’ll proceed. Now, very likely you wrapped the money up in a screw of paper. Did you?
(She is afraid of giving herself away.)
ThinKing won’t help you.
Cinderella. It’s my money.
Bodie. Nobody wants your money, Cinderella.
Policeman. Answer me. Did you?
Policeman. Say ‘I did.’
Cinderella. I did.
Policeman. And possibly for the sake of greater security you tied a string round it—did you?
Cinderella. I did.
Policeman (after a glance at Mr. Bodie to indicate that the supreme moment has come). You then deposited the little parcel—where?
Bodie (in an agony). Cinderella, be careful!
(She is so dreading to do the wrong thing that she can only stare. Finally, alas, she produces the fatal packet from her pocket. Quiet triumph of our Policeman.)
Bodie. My poor child!
Cinderella (not realising yet that she has given herself away). What is it? Go on.
Policeman. That’ll do. You can stand down.
Cinderella. You’ve found out?
Policeman. I have.
Cinderella (breathless). And what am I?
Policeman (kindly). I’m sorry.
Cinderella. Am I—common clay?
(They look considerately at the floor; she bursts into tears and runs into the pantry, shutting the door.)
Policeman (with melancholy satisfaction). It’s infallayble.
Bodie. At any rate it shows that there’s nothing against her.
Policeman (taKing him further from the pantry door, in a low voice). I dunno. There’s some queer things. Where does she go when she leaves this house? What about that ball?—and her German connection?—and them boards she makes into boxes—and A. C. Celeste? Well, I’ll find out.
Bodie (miserably). What are you going to do?
Policeman. To track her when she leaves here. I may have to adopt a disguise. I’m a masterpiece at that.
Bodie. Yes, but—
Policeman (stamping about the floor with the exaggerated tread of the Law). I’ll tell you the rest outside. I must make her think that my suspicions are—allayed. (He goes cunningly to the pantry door and speaks in a loud voice.) Well, sir, that satisfies me that she’s not the party I was in search of, and so, with your permission, I’ll bid you good evening. What, you’re going out yourself? Then I’ll be very happy to walk part of the way with you.
(Nodding and winking, he goes off with heavy steps, taKing with him the reluctant Mr. Bodie, who like one mesmerised also departs stamping.
miss thing peeps out to make sure that they are gone. She is wearing her hat and jacket, which have restored her self-respect. The tears have been disposed of with a lick of the palm. She is again a valiant soul who has had too many brushes with the police not to be able to face another with a tight lip. She is going, but she is not going without her wooden board; law or no law she cannot do without wooden boards. She gets it from a corner where it has been artfully concealed. An imprudent glance at the Venus again dispirits her. With a tape she takes the Beauty’s measurements and then her own, with depressing results. The Gods at last pity her, and advise an examination of her rival’s foot. Excursions, alarms, transport. She compares feet and is glorified. She slips off her shoe and challenges Venus to put it on. Then, with a derisive waggle of her foot at the shamed goddess, the little enigma departs on her suspicious business, little witting that a masterpiece of a constable is on her track.)