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Defeat: A Tiny Drama
by [?]




During the Great War. Evening.

[An empty room. The curtains drawn and gas turned low. The furniture and walls give a colour-impression as of greens and beetroot. There is a prevalence of plush. A fireplace on the Left, a sofa, a small table; the curtained window is at the back. On the table, in a common pot, stands a little plant of maidenhair fern, fresh and green.

Enter from the door on the Right, a GIRL and a YOUNG OFFICER in khaki. The GIRL wears a discreet dark dress, hat, and veil, and stained yellow gloves. The YOUNG OFFICER is tall, with a fresh open face, and kindly eager blue eyes; he is a little lame. The GIRL, who is evidently at home, moves towards the gas jet to turn it up, then changes her mind, and going to the curtains, draws them apart and throws up the window. Bright moonlight comes flooding in. Outside are seen the trees of a little Square. She stands gazing out, suddenly turns inward with a shiver.]

YOUNG OFFICER.I say; what’s the matter? You were crying when I spoke to you.

GIRL.[With a movement of recovery] Oh! nothing. The beautiful evening-that’s all.

YOUNG OFFICER.[Looking at her] Cheer up!

GIRL.[Taking of hat and veil; her hair is yellowish and crinkly] Cheer up! You are not lonelee, like me.

YOUNG OFFICER.[Limping to the window–doubtfully] I say, how did you how did you get into this? Isn’t it an awfully hopeless sort of life?

GIRL.Yees, it ees. You haf been wounded?

YOUNG OFFICER.Just out of hospital to-day.

GIRL.The horrible war–all the misery is because of the war. When will it end?

YOUNG OFFICER.[Leaning against the window-sill, looking at her attentively] I say, what nationality are you?

GIRL.[With a quick look and away] Rooshian.

YOUNG OFFICER.Really! I never met a Russian girl. [The GIRL gives him another quick look] I say, is it as bad as they make out?

GIRL.[Slipping her hand through his arm] Not when I haf anyone as ni-ice as you; I never haf had, though. [She smiles, and her smile, like her speech, is slow and confining] You stopped because I was sad, others stop because I am gay. I am not fond of men at all. When you know–you are not fond of them.

YOUNG OFFICER.Well, you hardly know them at their best, do you? You should see them in the trenches. By George! They’re simply splendid–officers and men, every blessed soul. There’s never been anything like it–just one long bit of jolly fine self-sacrifice; it’s perfectly amazing.

GIRL.[Turning her blue-grey eyes on him] I expect you are not the last at that. You see in them what you haf in yourself, I think.

YOUNG OFFICER.Oh, not a bit; you’re quite out! I assure you when we made the attack where I got wounded there wasn’t a single man in my regiment who wasn’t an absolute hero. The way they went in–never thinking of themselves–it was simply ripping.

GIRL.[In a queer voice] It is the same too, perhaps, with–the enemy.

YOUNG OFFICER.Oh, yes! I know that.

GIRL.Ah! You are not a mean man. How I hate mean men!

YOUNG OFFICER.Oh! they’re not mean really–they simply don’t understand.