THE PERSONS OF THE PLAY
Sir John Pontefract
Lord Alfred Rufford
Mr. Kelvil, M.P.
The Ven. Archdeacon Daubeny, D.D.
Lady Caroline Pontefract
Miss Hester Worsley
THE SCENES OF THE PLAY
ACT I. The Terrace at Hunstanton Chase.
ACT II. The Drawing-room at Hunstanton Chase.
ACT III. The Hall at Hunstanton Chase.
ACT IV. Sitting-room in Mrs. Arbuthnot's House at Wrockley.
TIME: The Present (1893)
PLACE: The Shires.
The action of the play takes place within twenty-four hours.
Lawn in front of the terrace at Hunstanton.
[SIR JOHN and LADY CAROLINE PONTEFRACT, MISS WORSLEY, on chairs under large yew tree.]
LADY CAROLINE. I believe this is the first English country house you have stayed at, Miss Worsley?
HESTER. Yes, Lady Caroline.
LADY CAROLINE. You have no country houses, I am told, in America?
HESTER. We have not many.
LADY CAROLINE. Have you any country? What we should call country?
HESTER. [Smiling.] We have the largest country in the world, Lady Caroline. They used to tell us at school that some of our states are as big as France and England put together.
LADY CAROLINE. Ah! you must find it very draughty, I should fancy. [To SIR JOHN.] John, you should have your muffler. What is the use of my always knitting mufflers for you if you won't wear them?
SIR JOHN. I am quite warm, Caroline, I assure you.
LADY CAROLINE. I think not, John. Well, you couldn't come to a more charming place than this, Miss Worsley, though the house is excessively damp, quite unpardonably damp, and dear Lady Hunstanton is sometimes a little lax about the people she asks down here. [To SIR JOHN.] Jane mixes too much. Lord Illingworth, of course, is a man of high distinction. It is a privilege to meet him. And that member of Parliament, Mr. Kettle -
SIR JOHN. Kelvil, my love, Kelvil.
LADY CAROLINE. He must be quite respectable. One has never heard his name before in the whole course of one's life, which speaks volumes for a man, nowadays. But Mrs. Allonby is hardly a very suitable person.
HESTER. I dislike Mrs. Allonby. I dislike her more than I can say.
LADY CAROLINE. I am not sure, Miss Worsley, that foreigners like yourself should cultivate likes or dislikes about the people they are invited to meet. Mrs. Allonby is very well born. She is a niece of Lord Brancaster's. It is said, of course, that she ran away twice before she was married. But you know how unfair people often are. I myself don't believe she ran away more than once.
HESTER. Mr. Arbuthnot is very charming.
LADY CAROLINE. Ah, yes! the young man who has a post in a bank.