Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

PAGE 5

The Boy Comes Home: A Comedy In One Act
by [?]

(PHILIP looks at him in amazement, and then goes to the door.)

PHILIP
(calling). Aunt Emily!… Aunt Emily!… Do you mind my smoking in here?

AUNT EMILY
(from upstairs). Of course not, darling.

PHILIP
(to JAMES, as he returns to his chair). Of course not, darling. (He puts back his pipe in his mouth.)

JAMES
. Now, understand once and for all, Philip, while you remain in my house I expect not only punctuality, but also civility and respect. I will not have impertinence.

PHILIP
(unimpressed). Well, that’s what I want to talk to you about, Uncle James. About staying in your house, I mean.

JAMES
. I don’t know what you do mean.

PHILIP
. Well, we don’t get on too well together, and I thought perhaps I’d better take rooms somewhere. You could give me an allowance until I came into my money. Or I suppose you could give me the money now if you really liked. I don’t quite know how father left it to me.

JAMES
(coldly). You come into your money when you are twenty-five. Your father very wisely felt that to trust a large sum to a mere boy of twenty-one was simply putting temptation in his way. Whether I have the power or not to alter his dispositions, I certainly don’t propose to do so.

PHILIP
. If it comes to that, I am twenty-five.

JAMES
. Indeed? I had an impression that that event took place in about two years’ time. When did you become twenty-five, may I ask?

PHILIP
(quietly). It was on the Somme. We were attacking the next day and my company was in support. We were in a so-called trench on the edge of a wood–a damned rotten place to be, and we got hell. The company commander sent back to ask if we could move. The C.O. said, “Certainly not; hang on.” We hung on; doing nothing, you know–just hanging on and waiting for the next day. Of course, the Boche knew all about that. He had it on us nicely…. (Sadly) Dear old Billy! he was one of the best–our company commander, you know. They got him, poor devil! That left me in command of the company. I sent a runner back to ask if I could move. Well, I’d had a bit of a scout on my own and found a sort of trench five hundred yards to the right. Not what you’d call a trench, of course, but compared to that wood–well, it was absolutely Hyde Park. I described the position and asked if I could go there. My man never came back. I waited an hour and sent another man. He went west too. Well, I wasn’t going to send a third. It was murder. So I had to decide. We’d lost about half the company by this time, you see. Well, there were three things I could do–hang on, move to this other trench, against orders, or go back myself and explain the situation…. I moved…. And then I went back to the C.O. and told him I’d moved…. And then I went back to the company again…. (Quietly) That was when I became twenty-five…. or thirty-five…. or forty-five.

JAMES
(recovering himself with an effort). Ah yes, yes. (He coughs awkwardly.) No doubt points like that frequently crop up in the trenches. I am glad that you did well out there, and I’m sure your Colonel would speak kindly of you; but when it comes to choosing a career for you now that you have left the Army, my advice is not altogether to be despised. Your father evidently thought so, or he would not have entrusted you to my care.

PHILIP
. My father didn’t foresee this war.