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If: a play in four acts   By: (1878-1957)

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First Page:

If

By Lord Dunsany

[Dunsany, Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, Baron]

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

JOHN BEAL MARY BEAL LIZA ALI BERT, BILL: two railway porters THE MAN IN THE CORNER MIRALDA CLEMENT HAFIZ EL ALCOLAHN DAOUD ARCHIE BEAL BAZZALOL, THOOTHOOBABA: two Nubian door keepers BEN HUSSEIN, Lord of the Pass ZABNOOL, SHABEESH: two conjurers OMAR, a singer ZAGBOOLA, mother of Hafiz THE SHEIK OF THE BISHAREENS

Notables, soldiers, Bishareens, dancers, etc.

IF

ACT I

SCENE 1

A small railway station near London. Time: Ten years ago.

BERT

'Ow goes it, Bill?

BILL

Goes it? 'Ow d'yer think it goes?

BERT

I don't know, Bill. 'Ow is it?

BILL

Bloody.

BERT

Why? What's wrong?

BILL

Wrong? Nothing ain't wrong.

BERT

What's up then?

BILL

Nothing ain't right.

BERT

Why, wot's the worry?

BILL

Wot's the worry? They don't give you better wages nor a dog, and then they thinks they can talk at yer and talk at yer, and say wot they likes, like.

BERT

Why? You been on the carpet, Bill?

BILL

Ain't I! Proper.

BERT

Why, wot about, Bill?

BILL

Wot about? I'll tell yer. Just coz I let a lidy get into a train. That's wot about. Said I ought to 'av stopped 'er. Thought the train was moving. Thought it was dangerous. Thought I tried to murder 'er, I suppose.

BERT

Wot? The other day?

BILL

Yes.

BERT

Tuesday?

BILL

Yes.

BERT

Why. The one that dropped her bag?

BILL

Yes. Drops 'er bag. Writes to the company. They writes back she shouldn't 'av got in. She writes back she should. Then they gets on to me. Any more of it and I'll...

BERT

I wouldn't, Bill; don't you.

BILL

I will.

BERT

Don't you, Bill. You've got your family to consider.

BILL

Well, anyway, I won't let any more of them passengers go jumping into trains any more, not when they're moving, I won't. When the train gets in, doors shut. That's the rule. And they'll 'ave to abide by it.

BERT

Well, I wouldn't stop one, not if...

BILL

I don't care. They ain't going to 'ave me on the mat again and talk all that stuff to me. No, if someone 'as to suffer... 'Ere she is.

[Noise of approaching train heard.]

BERT

Ay, that's her.

BILL

And shut goes the door.

[Enter JOHN BEAL.]

BERT

Wait a moment, Bill.

BILL

Not if he's... Not if he was ever so.

JOHN [preparing to pass]

Good morning....

BILL

Can't come through. Too late.

JOHN

Too late? Why, the train's only just in.

BILL

Don't care. It's the rule.

JOHN

O, nonsense. [He carries on.]

BILL

It's too late. I tell you you can't come.

JOHN

But that's absurd. I want to catch my train.

BILL

It's too late.

BERT

Let him go, Bill.

BILL

I'm blowed if I let him go.

JOHN

I want to catch my train.

[JOHN is stopped by BILL and pushed back by the face. JOHN advances towards BILL looking like fighting. The train has gone.]

BILL

Only doing my duty.

[JOHN stops and reflects at this, deciding it isn't good enough. He shrugs his shoulders, turns round and goes away.]

JOHN

I shouldn't be surprised if I didn't get even with you one of these days, you..... and some way you won't expect.

Curtain

SCENE 2

Yesterday evening.

[Curtain rises on JOHN and MARY in their suburban home.]

JOHN

I say, dear. Don't you think we ought to plant an acacia?

MARY

An acacia, what's that, John?

JOHN

O, it's one of those trees that they have.

MARY

But why, John?

JOHN

Well, you see the house is called The Acacias, and it seems rather silly not to have at least one.

MARY

O, I don't think that matters. Lots of places are called lots of things. Everyone does.

JOHN

Yes, but it might help the postman.

MARY

O, no, it wouldn't, dear. He wouldn't know an acacia if he saw it any more than I should.

JOHN

Quite right, Mary, you're always right. What a clever head you've got!

MARY

Have I, John? We'll plant an acacia if you like. I'll ask about it at the grocer's.

JOHN

You can't get one there.

MARY

No, but he's sure to know where it can be got... Continue reading book >>




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