The Notorious Mrs. Ebbsmith by Arthur Wing Pinero


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Page 2

FORTUNE. [Listening.] 'Ere is ze doctares.

[DR. KIRKE enters, followed by SIR GEORGE BRODRICK. KIRKE is a shabby,
snuff-taking old gentleman--blunt but kind; SIR GEORGE, on the
contrary, is scrupulously neat in his dress, and has a suave,
professional manner. FORTUNE withdraws]

KIRKE. Good morning, Mr. Winterfield. [To GERTRUDE.] How do you do, my
dear? You're getting some colour into your pretty face, I'm glad to
see. [To SIR GEORGE.] Mr. Winterfield--Sir George Brodrick. [SIR
GEORGE and AMOS shake hands.]

KIRKE. [To SIR GEORGE.] Mrs. Thorpe. [SIR GEORGE shakes hands with
GERTRUDE.] Sir George and I started life together in London years ago;
now he finds me here in Venice. Well we can't all win the race--eh?

SIR GEORGE. My dear old friend! [To GERTRUDE.] Mr Cleeve has been
telling me, Mrs. Thorpe, how exceedingly kind you and your brother have
been to him during his illness.

GERTRUDE. Oh, Mr. Cleeve exaggerates our little services.

AMOS. I've done nothing.


DR. KIRKE. Now, my dear!

GERTRUDE. Dr Kirke, you weren't in Florence with us; you're only a

DR. KIRKE. Well, I've excellent authority for my story of a young woman
who volunteered to share the nursing of an invalid at a time when she
herself stood greatly in need of being nursed.

GERTRUDE. Nonsense! [To SIR GEORGE.] You know, Amos--my big brother
over there--Amos and I struck up an acquaintance with Mr. and Mrs.
Cleeve at Florence, at the Hotel d'Italie, and occasionally one of us
would give Mr Cleeve his dose while Poor Mrs. Cleeve took a little rest
or drive--but positively that's all.

DR KIRKE. You don't tell us--

GERTRUDE. I've nothing more to tell, except that I'm awfully fond of
Mrs. Cleeve--

AMOS. Oh, if you once get my sister on the subject of Mrs. Cleeve--
[Taking up a newspaper.]

GERTRUDE. [To SIR GEORGE.] Yes, I always say that if I were a man
searching for a wife, I should be inclined to base my ideal on Mrs.

SIR GEORGE. [Edging away towards KIRKE, with a surprised uncomfortable
smile.] Eh? Really?

GERTRUDE. You conceive a different ideal, Sir George?

SIR GEORGE. Oh--well--

GERTRUDE. Well, Sir George?

AMOS. Perhaps Sir George has heard that Mrs. Cleeve holds regrettable
opinions on some points. If so, he may feel surprised that a parson's

GERTRUDE. Oh, I don't share all Mrs. Cleeve's views, or sympathise with
them, of course. But they succeed only in making me sad and sorry. Mrs.
Cleeve's opinions don't stop me from loving the gentle, sweet woman;
admiring her for her patient, absorbing devotion to her husband;
wondering at the beautiful stillness with which she seems to glide
through life--!

AMOS. [Putting down the newspaper, to SIR GEORGE and KIRKE.] I told you
so! [To GERTRUDE.] Gertrude, I'm sure Sir George and Dr. Kirke want to
be left together for a few minutes.

GERTRUDE. [Going up to the window.] I'll sun myself on the balcony.

AMOS. And I'll go and buy some tobacco. [To GERTRUDE.] Don't be long,
Gerty. [Nodding to SIR GEORGE and KIRKE] Good morning. [They return his
nod; and he goes out.]

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Fri 10th Jul 2020, 13:21