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The Baker’s Dozen
by [?]

Characters –


Scene–Deck of eastward-bound steamer. Major Dumbarton seated on deck-chair, another chair by his side, with the name “Mrs. Carewe” painted on it, a third near by.

(Enter R. Mrs. Carewe, seats herself leisurely in her deck-chair, the Major affecting to ignore her presence.)

Major (turning suddenly): Emily! After all these years! This is fate!

Em.: Fate! Nothing of the sort; it’s only me. You men are always such fatalists. I deferred my departure three whole weeks, in order to come out in the same boat that I saw you were travelling by. I bribed the steward to put out chairs side by side in an unfrequented corner, and I took enormous pains to be looking particularly attractive this morning, and then you say “This is fate.” I AM looking particularly attractive, am I not?

Maj.: More than ever. Time has only added a ripeness to your charms.

Em.: I knew you’d put it exactly in those words. The phraseology of love-making is awfully limited, isn’t it? After all, the chief charm is in the fact of being made love to. You ARE making love to me, aren’t you?

Maj.: Emily dearest, I had already begun making advances, even before you sat down here. I also bribed the steward to put our seats together in a secluded corner. “You may consider it done, sir,” was his reply. That was immediately after breakfast.

Em.: How like a man to have his breakfast first. I attended to the seat business as soon as I left my cabin.

Maj.: Don’t be unreasonable. It was only at breakfast that I discovered your blessed presence on the boat. I paid violent and unusual attention to a flapper all through the meal in order to make you jealous. She’s probably in her cabin writing reams about me to a fellow-flapper at this very moment.

Em.: You needn’t have taken all that trouble to make me jealous, Dickie. You did that years ago, when you married another woman.

Maj.: Well, you had gone and married another man–a widower, too, at that.

Em.: Well, there’s no particular harm in marrying a widower, I suppose. I’m ready to do it again, if I meet a really nice one.

Maj.: Look here, Emily, it’s not fair to go at that rate. You’re a lap ahead of me the whole time. It’s my place to propose to you; all you’ve got to do is to say “Yes.”

Em.: Well, I’ve practically said it already, so we needn’t dawdle over that part.

Maj.: Oh, well –

(They look at each other, then suddenly embrace with considerable energy.)

Maj.: We dead-heated it that time. (Suddenly jumping to his feet) Oh, d— I’d forgotten!

Em.: Forgotten what?

Maj.: The children. I ought to have told you. Do you mind children?

Em.: Not in moderate quantities. How many have you got?

Maj. (counting hurriedly on his fingers): Five.

Em.: Five!

Maj. (anxiously): Is that too many?

Em.: It’s rather a number. The worst of it is, I’ve some myself.

Maj.: Many?

Em.: Eight.

Maj.: Eight in six years! Oh, Emily!

Em.: Only four were my own. The other four were by my husband’s first marriage. Still, that practically makes eight.

Maj.: And eight and five make thirteen. We can’t start our married life with thirteen children; it would be most unlucky. (Walks up and down in agitation.) Some way must be found out of this. If we could only bring them down to twelve. Thirteen is so horribly unlucky.

Em.: Isn’t there some way by which we could part with one or two? Don’t the French want more children? I’ve often seen articles about it in the FIGARO.