The Drawing Room of Atherton Manor
ENTER MISS MIMSY MOPPET
She goes over to GRAMOPHONE and looks through records
Mimsy(with disgust): These are all wet! (Looks further) Ooh, this one might ‘ave some go. (Puts record on; jazz music bursts forth. Miss Mimsy Moppet starts to dance, with restraint at first, then with more abandon)
Mimsy: It does ‘ave go! (Dances)
ENTER LORD GEOFFREY ATHERTON, looking haggard.
Geoffrey: I say, Mimsy old girl, I’ve been looking all over for you. Heard the music just now, thought it might be a clue, what?
MIMSY does not hear him; she is dancing and has her back to him.
Geoffrey shuts the gramophone off
Mimsy (Turning, and seeing who it is): Eek! (More composedly) ‘Ello you.
Geoffrey (smiles wanly): Hello you. Look here, we’ve got to talk. (He sits on sofa, in an exhausted fashion)
Mimsy eyes him warily for a moment, then shrugs and sits next to him
Mimsy: What about?
Geoffrey: You know they arrested my sister last night, as well as poor old Mrs. Bogsby.
Mimsy: Yeah, Julia told me. But Julia don’t think she done it, so I expect it’ll come out in the wash.
Geoffrey (uncomfortably): Well, it might, in the end. But my sister’s arrest is going to get rather a lot of attention in the press. “Lady Lucy Locked Up!” – I can just see the headlines. There’s going to be an awful lot of public fuss. And- (PAUSE) well, I want you out of it. Right out of it. So I think perhaps we shouldn’t get married just yet.
Mimsy: Oh. (Pause; then, with dangerous quiet) This is the scene like at the pictures, where the card comes up with the line, “my love, I release you from our engagement, to save you from disgrace.” Isn’t it?
Geoffrey: Yes. Just until this whole mess is cleared up, you know.
Mimsy (angry): And I suppose you think I’m an idiot, just on account of not ‘aving an education and that. You think I don’t know why you really want out. Well, think again.
Geoffrey: What are you on about, old thing?
Mimsy (furious): You know!
Geoffrey: I have no idea. Is it Julia you’re worried about? Because that was over ages ago.
Mimsy: No it ain’t bloody Julia I’m worried about. She wouldn’t go pinching a girl’s fiancee.
Geoffrey: Then what on earth do you mean?
Mimsy (Leaping up from the couch, fists clenched, eyes blazing, face contorted into a horrible grimace): Ooh, you make me mad, sitting there pretending you want out to save me from trouble, when you’re only thinking about your own skin.
Mimsy (furiously and hissingly): Someone did for your mother last night, and Julia’s bringing in some fancy detective. You think that if we’re not engaged when Miss Fancy Detective ‘Er Ladyship arrives, she won’t think you ‘ad a motive. Otherwise, Fancy Miss Bleedin’ ‘Er Ladyship Detective might think as you did your ma in on account of wanting to marry me, and your ma not letting you, and you getting mad and stabbing ‘er in the ‘eat of the moment, like. Clear as bleedin’ daylight, isn’t it? Well, ‘ere! (Removes engagement ring and throws it at him) Take it! (She stumbles over to the gramophone and turns it on; it blares, and she turns the volume down low; her back is to Geoffrey but facing the audience, so they can see she is really upset, but he can’t)
Geoffrey (approaches Mimsy): Old thing, I-
Mimsy: Go away! (Turns volume up a little) I ‘ad better get practicing me dancing, as just maybe I can get me old job back. It ain’t likely, but maybe one of the other girls’ll break a leg or something.
Geoffrey: I say, surely that isn’t necessary-
Mimsy: What would you know about necessary, Your bleedin’ bloody Lordship? (Starts to do high chorus-line style kicks in time to the music, which happen to be flying in Geoffrey’s direction) Get!
Mimsy makes a terrible face at Geoffrey’s departing back, then launches herself into her dancing, which is high-energy and peppy; her movements contrast with her facial expression, which is contorted with emotion. If possible, she should be crying.
ENTER MAJOR GADFLY, unseen by Mimsy; catches sight of Mimsy dancing and gets a sly and cunning look on his face. He starts to approach her stealthily, using furniture for cover; there should be at least one moment when Mimsy almost catches sight of him
FINALLY, GADFLY pounces amorously, grabbing Mimsy around the middle
Mimsy: ‘Ey! ‘Ands off! (Struggles)
Gadfly (amorously): Thought I recognized you last night, me dear. Thought of visitin’ you after the house’d settled down, but then there was all that ruckus about the murder. So you’re Lord Geoffrey’s little trollop now, eh? Well, I won’t spoil things for you, so long as you’re nice to your Major. Hmmm?
Mimsy: I’m his fiancee! Let go a’ me!
Gadfly (seizing her hand): I don’t see any ring, do you? (Mimsy struggles free and spins around to attack)
Mimsy (recognizes Gadfly): It’s you! (Hatred fills her; she charges into battle; Gadfly grabs her wrists and holds her off, laughing sneeringly and lustfully down at her)
Gadfly: Yes, it’s me, old Gadfly. Your dear old Gad, what?
Mimsy: Dear me eye! You took advantage of me and then left me to rot! Ooh, I’ve wanted to see you again, so’s I could do this! (Spits in his face)
GADFLY pushes Mimsy down onto the couch; he is blazingly angry. He gets out a handkerchief and wipes his face. Mimsy watches him, frightened.
Gadfly: You’ll pay for doing that. I am a bad enemy to have, my girl, as you’ll find. Unless, of course, you’re rather nicer to me. (He approaches; she cowers) Rather a lot nicer to me.
ENTER Hector Dane, unseen by the Major, but seen by Mimsy
GADFLY spins around and sees Dane
Dane: Oppressor! (DANE PUNCHES GADFLY IN THE FACE)
Gadfly reels back from the blow, and Hector braces himself for an onslaught- but Gadfly cowers back instead, then draws himself up and starts towards the door, holding his eye.
Gadfly: You’ll pay for that, my girl!
Dane: Was he trying to-
Dane: Shall I tell Geoffrey to come down and console you, possibly after taking a small detour to murder the cad?
DANE starts to leave
Mimsy: Wait! Don’t! I don’t want to see ‘im- Geoffrey and I – we – (SHE gets choked up; shows Dane her ring-less finger) Look ma, no ring! See?
Dane (Comes and sits next to Mimsy on the sofa; pats her hand): You poor kid, you have been having a rough time. (Notices that he is patting her hand) Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be so familiar. I don’t even think we’ve been introduced officially, have we? Not that I believe in such outmoded and hollow conventions of a decadent and heartless capitalist society. I am Hector Dane.
Mimsy: Mimsy Moppet.
THE LIGHTS START TO fade out on the two of them smiling fatuously at each other…
…AND snap back on again as a ruckus comes from OFF
It gets closer
ENTER Nigel Penders-Ghastly, closely followed by Richard Bysshe
NIGEL TAKES cover behind the sofa; Richard circles, growling imprecations; Mimsy and Dane get their legs out of the way, drawing them up onto the sofa
Dane: What on earth?
Nigel (with a secret and wicked smile): Dane, Miss Moppet, do either of you happen to know where I might find Miss Hampstead? I rather think I have something that I must show her.
Richard, growling, lunges across the sofa and grabs at Nigel, practically landing on Dane and Mimsy; Nigel evades him and tries to sprint to the door
ENTER JULIA and MUG; Nigel runs into Julia and they fall to the floor
Richard charges upon Nigel; Mug gets in his way and grabs him
Mug: Oh no you don’t, my lad.
ENTER SNEAKFORK and LADY E
Sneakfork (formally): Lady Ermyntrude
Lady E (Viewing Nigel and Julia trying to unscramble themselves): Is this, I wonder, what is meant by the phrase “nameless orgies”? If so, I’m sure this is entirely the wrong time of day for such an indulgence. Why, hello Julia!
Nigel and Julia scramble up; Julia looks sheepish, Nigel looks vengeful
Nigel: I’d watch your step if I were you, Bysshe.
Richard: You’re the one who’d better watch out, you – (HE CANNOT think of anything sufficiently nasty to call Nigel that would be acceptable to say in mixed company, and shuts his mouth again)
Nigel: Oh I think not. (HE TURNS to go, then stops and turns back) Oh and Bysshe? I know about Hermione.
EXIT NIGEL; Richard tries to follow, but Mug has him firmly by the collar
Mug: Let him bide, sir. He’s so clever he’ll likely trip over himself. No need to hurry him along.
Sneakfork: Lady E, Lord Atherton has asked to see you. May I take you up now? He is in poor health, after the shock of Lady Atherton’s death, and he seems very anxious to interview you at once.
Lady E: Lead on, Sneakfork!
EXIT SNEAKFORK AND LADY E
END OF CHAPTER FOURTEEN