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The Valley of the Shadow
by [?]

Knowing Good and Evil.

SCENE.–The GADSBYS’ bungalow in the Plains, in June. Punkah-coolies asleep in veranda where CAPTAIN GADSBY is walking up and down. DOCTOR’S trap in porch. JUNIOR CHAPLAIN drifting generally and uneasily through the house. Time, 3.40 A. M. Heat 94 degrees in veranda.

DOCTOR. (Coming into veranda and touching G. on the shoulder.) You had better go in and see her now.

CAPT. G. (The colour of good cigar-ash.) Eh, wha-at? Oh, yes, of course. What did you say?

DOCTOR. (Syllable by syllable.) Go–in–to–the–room–and–see–her. She wants to speak to you. (Aside, testily.) I shall have him on my hands next.

JUNIOR CHAPLAIN. (In half-lighted dining-room.) Isn’t there any–?

DOCTOR. (Savagely.) Hsh, you little fool!

JUNIOR CHAPLAIN. Let me do my work. Gadsby, stop a minute! (Edges after G.)

DOCTOR. Wait till she sends for you at least–at least. Man alive, he’ll kill you if you go in there! What are you bothering him for?

JUNIOR CHAPLAIN. (Coming into veranda.) I’ve given him a stiff brandy-peg. He wants it. You’ve forgotten him for the last ten hours and–forgotten yourself too.

G. enters bedroom, which is lit by one night-lamp.
Ayah on the floor pretending to be asleep.

VOICE. (From the bed.) All down the street–such bonfires! Ayah, go and put them out! (Appealingly.) How can I sleep with an installation of the C.I.E. in my room? No–not C.I.E. Something else. What was it?

CAPT. G. (Trying to control his voice.) Minnie, I’m here. (Bending over bed.) Don’t you know me, Minnie? It’s me–it’s Phil–it’s your husband.

VOICE. (Mechanically.) It’s me–it’s Phil–it’s your husband.

CAPT. G. She doesn’t know me!–It’s your own husband, darling,

VOICE. Your own husband, darling.

AYAH. (With an inspiration.) Memsahib understanding all I saying.

CAPT. G. Make her understand me then–quick!

AYAH. (Hand on MRS. G’s forehead.) Memsahib! Captain Sahib here.

VOICE. Salma do. (Fretfully.) I know I’m not fit to be seen.

AYAH. (Aside to G.) Say ‘marneen’ same as breakfash.

CAPT. G. Good-morning, little woman. How are we to-day?

VOICE. That’s Phil. Poor old Phil. (Viciously.) Phil, you fool, I can’t see you. Come nearer.

CAPT. G. Minnie! Minnie! It’s me–you know me?

VOICE. (Mockingly.) Of course I do. Who does not know the man who was so cruel to his wife–almost the only one he ever had?

CAPT. G. Yes, dear. Yes–of course, of course. But won’t you speak to him? He wants to speak to you so much.

VOICE. They’d never let him in. The Doctor would give darwaza bund even if he were in the house. He’ll never come. (Despairingly.) O Judas! Judas! Judas!

CAPT. G. (Putting out his arms.) They have let him in, and he always was in the house. Oh, my love–don’t you know me?

VOICE. (In a half chant.) ‘And it came to pass at the eleventh hour that this poor soul repented.’ It knocked at the gates, but they were shut–tight as a plaster–a great, burning plaster. They had pasted our marriage certificate all across the door, and it was made of red-hot iron–people really ought to be more careful, you know.

CAPT. G. What am I to do? (Takes her in his arms.) Minnie! speak to me–to Phil.

VOICE. What shall I say? Oh, tell me what to say before it’s too late! They are all going away and I can’t say anything.

CAPT. G. Say you know me! Only say you know me!

DOCTOR. (Who has entered quietly.) For pity’s sake don’t take it too much to heart, Gadsby. It’s this way sometimes. They won’t recognise. They say all sorts of queer things–don’t you see?

CAPT. G. All right! All right! Go away now, she’ll recognise me; you’re bothering her. She must–mustn’t she?

DOCTOR. She will before– Have I your leave to try–?

CAPT. G. Anything you please, so long as she’ll know me. It’s only a question of–hours, isn’t it?

DOCTOR. (Professionally.) While there’s life there’s hope, y’know. But don’t build on it.

CAPT. G. I don’t. Pull her together if it’s possible. (Aside.) What have I done to deserve this?