This is the sixth book issued by the Beaumont Press 24 copies (four of
which are not for sale) have been printed on Japanese vellum signed
by the author and numbered 1 to 24 and 250 copies on hand-made paper
numbered 25 to 274 This is No. 46
ONE DAY MORE
A PLAY IN ONE ACT
BY JOSEPH CONRAD
Captain Hagberd (a retired
Josiah Carvil (formerly a shipbuilder--a widower--blind).
Harry Hagberd (son of Captain Hagberd, who as a boy ran away from home).
Bessie Carvil (daughter of Josiah Carvil).
A small sea port.
To rights two yellow brick cottages belonging to Captain Hagberd, one
inhabited by himself the other by the Carvils. A lamp-post in front. The
red roofs of the town in the background. A sea-wall to left.
Time: The present-early autumn, towards dusk.
ONE DAY MORE
CURTAIN RISES DISCLOSING CARVIL _and Bessie moving away from sea-wall.
Bessie about twenty-five. Black dress; black straw hat. A lot of
mahogany-coloured hair loosely
done up. Pale face. Full figure. Very
quiet. Carvil, blind, unwieldy. Reddish whiskers; slow, deep voice
produced without effort. Immovable, big face._
Carvil (_Hanging heavily on Bessie's arm_). Careful! Go slow! (_Stops;
Bessie waits patiently_.) Want your poor blind father to break his neck?
(_Shuffles on_.) In a hurry to get home and start that everlasting
with your chum the lunatic?
Bessie. I am not in a hurry to get home, father.
Carvil. Well, then, go steady with a poor blind man. Blind! Helpless!
(_Strikes the ground with his stick_.) Never mind! I've had time to make
enough money to have ham and eggs for breakfast every morning--thank
God! And thank God, too, for it, girl. You haven't known a single
hardship in all the days of your idle life. Unless you think that a
Bessie. What is there for me to be in a hurry for?
Carvil. What did you say?
Bessie. I said there was nothing for me to hurry home for.
Carvil. There is, tho'. To yarn with a lunatic. Anything to get away
from your duty.
Bessie. Captain Hagberd's talk never hurt you or anybody else.
Carvil. Go on. Stick up for your only friend.
Bessie. Is it my fault that I haven't another soul to speak to?
Carvil (_Snarls_). It's mine, perhaps. Can I help being blind? You fret
because you want to be gadding about--with a helpless
man left all alone
at home. Your own father too.
Bessie. I haven't been away from you half a day since mother died.
Carvil (_Viciously_). He's a lunatic, our landlord
is. That's what he
is. Has been for years--long before those damned
doctors destroyed my
sight for me. (_Growls angrily, then sighs_.)
Bessie. Perhaps Captain Hagberd is not so mad as the town takes him for.
Carvil. (_Grimly_). Don't everybody know how he came here from the North
to wait till his missing
son turns up--here--of all places in the world.
His boy that ran away to sea sixteen years ago and never did give a sign
of life since! Don't I remember seeing
people dodge round corners out
of his way when he came along High Street. Seeing him, I tell you.
(_Groan_.) He bothered everybody so with his silly talk of his son being
sure to come back home--next year--next spring--next month------. What
is it by this time, hey?
Bessie. Why talk about it? He bothers no one now.
Carvil. No. They've grown too fly. You've got only to pass a remark on
his sail-cloth coat to make him shut up. All the town knows it. But he's
got you to listen to his crazy talk whenever
he chooses. Don't I hear
you two at it, jabber, jabber, mumble, mumble------
Bessie. What is there so mad in keeping up hope?
Carvil (_Scathing scorn_). Not mad! Starving himself to lay money
by--for that son. Filling his house with furniture he won't let anyone
see--for that son. Advertising in the papers every week, these sixteen
years--for that son. Not mad! Boy, he calls him. Boy Harry. His boy
Harry. His lost boy Harry. Yah! Let him lose his sight to know what real
trouble means. And the boy--the man, I should say--must 've been put
away safe in Davy Jones's locker for many a year--drowned--food for
fishes--dead.... Stands to reason, or he would have been here before,
smelling around the old fool's money. (_Shakes Bessie's arm slightly_.)
Bessie. I don't know. May be.
Carvil (_Bursting out_). Damme if I don't think he ever had a son.
Bessie. Poor man. Perhaps he never had.
Carvil. Ain't that mad enough for you? But I suppose you think it
Bessie. What does it matter? His talk keeps him up.
Carvil. Aye! And it pleases you. Anything to get away from your poor
blind father.... Jabber, jabber--mumble, mumble--till I begin to think
you must be as crazy as he is. What do you find to talk about, you two?
What's your game?
(_During the scene Carvil and Bessie have crossed stage from L. to R.
slowly with stoppages_.)
Bessie. It's warm. Will you sit out for a while?
Carvil (_Viciously_). Yes, I will sit out. (_Insistent_.) But what can
be your game? What are you up to? (_They pass through garden gate_.)
Because if it's his money you are after-------
Bessie. Father! How can you!
Carvil (_Disregarding her_). To make you independent of your poor blind
father, then you are a fool. (_Drops heavily on seat_.) He's too much of
a miser to ever make a will--even if he weren't mad.
Bessie. Oh! It never entered my head. I swear it never did.
Carvil. Never did. Hey! Then you are a still bigger fool.... I want to
go to sleep! (_Takes off' his hat, drops it on ground, and leans his
head back against the wall_.)
Bessie. And I have been a good daughter to you. Won't you say that for
Carvil (_Very distinctly_). I want--to--go--to--sleep. I'm tired.
(_Closes his eyes_.)
(_During that scene Captain Hagberd has been seen hesitating at the
back of stage, then running
quickly to the door of his cottage. He puts
inside a tin kettle
(from under his coat) and comes down to the railing
between the two gardens stealthily_).
_Carvil seated. Bessie. Captain Hagberd (white beard, sail-cloth
Bessie (_Knitting_). You've been out this afternoon for quite a long
time, haven't you?
Capt. Hagberd (_Eager_). Yes, my dear. (_Slily_) Of course you saw me
Bessie. Oh, yes. I did see you. You had something under your coat.
Capt. H. (_Anxiously_). It was only a kettle, my dear. A tin
water-kettle. I am glad I thought of it just in time. (_Winks, nods_.)
When a husband gets back from his work he needs a lot of water for a
wash. See? (_Dignified_.) Not that Harry'll ever need to do a hand's
turn after he comes home... (_Falters--casts stealthy glances on all
Bessie (_Looks up, grave_). Captain Hagberd, have you ever thought that
perhaps your son will not. . .
Capt. H. (_Paternally_). I've thought of everything, my dear--of
everything a reasonable
young couple may need for housekeeping. Why,
I can hardly turn about in my room up there, the house is that full.
(_Rubs his hands with satisfaction_.) For my son Harry--when he comes
home. One day more.
Bessie (_Flattering_). Oh, you are a great one for bargains. (_Captain
Hagberd delighted_.) But, Captain Hagberd--if--if--you don't know what
may happen--if all that home you've got together were to be wasted--for
nothing--after all. (_Aside_.) Oh, I can't bring it out.
Capt. H. (_Agitated; flings arms up, stamps feet; stuttering_). What?
What d'ye mean? What's going to happen to the things?
Bessie (_Soothing_). Nothing! Nothing! Dust--or moth--you know. Damp,
perhaps. You never let anyone into the house . . .
Capt. H. Dust! Damp! (_Has a throaty, gurgling laugh_.) I light the
fires and dust the things myself. (_Indignant_.) Let anyone into the
house, indeed! What would Harry say! (_Walks up and down his garden
hastily with tosses, jings, and jerks of his whole body_.)
Bessie (_With authority_.) Now, then, Captain Hagberd! You know I won't
put up with your tantrums. (_Shakes finger at him_.)
Capt. H. (_Subdued, but still sulky, with his back to her_). You want
to see the things. That's what you're after. Well, no, not even you. Not
till Harry has had his first look.
Bessie. Oh, no! I don't. (_Relenting_.) Not till you're willing.
(_Smiles at Capt. H., who has turned half round already!_) You mustn't
excite yourself. (_Knits_.)
Capt. H. (_Condescending_). And you the only sensible
girl for miles and
miles around. Can't you trust me? I am a domestic
man. Always was, my
dear. I hated the sea. People don't know what they let their boys into
when they send them to sea. As soon make convicts of them at once. What
sort of life is it? Most of your time you don't know what's going on at
home. (_Insinuating_.) There's nothing anywhere
on earth as good as a
home, my dear. (_Pause_.) With a good husband...
Carvil (_Heard from his seat fragmentarily_). There they go... jabber,
jabber... mumble, mumble. (_With a groaning effort?_) Helpless!
Capt. H. (_Mutters_). Extravagant ham and eggs fellow. (_Louder_.) Of
course it isn't as if he had a son to make a home ready for. Girls are
different, my dear. They don't run away, my dear, my dear. (_Agitated_.)
Bessie (_Drops her arms wearily_). No, Captain Hagberd--they don't.
Capt. H. (_Slowly_). I wouldn't let my own flesh and blood go to sea.
Bessie. And the boy ran away.
Capt. H. (_A little vacantly_). Yes, my only son Harry. (_Rouses
himself_.) Coming home to-morrow.
Bessie (_Speaks softly_). Sometimes, Captain Hagberd, a hope turns out
Capt. H. (_Uneasy_). What's that got to do with Harry's coming back?
Bessie. It's good to hope for something. But suppose now-------(_Feeling
her way_.) Yours is not the only lost son that's never...
Capt. H. Never what! You don't believe he's drowned. (_Crouches, glaring
and grasping the rails_.)
Bessie (_Frightened, drops knitting_). Captain Hagberd--don't. (_Catches
hold of his shoulders over the railings?_) Don't--my God! He's going out
of his mind! (_Cries_.) I didn't mean it! I don't know.
Capt. H. (_Has backed away. An affected
burst of laughter_). What
nonsense. None of us Hagberds belonged to the sea. All farmers for
hundreds of years, (_fraternal and cunning?_) Don't alarm yourself, my
dear. The sea can't get us. Look at me! I didn't get drowned. Moreover,
Harry ain't a sailor at all. And if he isn't a sailor, he's bound to
Bessie (_Has been facing him; murmurs_). No. I give it up. He scares me.
(_Aloud, sharply_.) Then I would give up that advertising
in the papers.
Capt. H. (_Surprised and puzzled_). Why, my dear? Everybody does it. His
poor mother and I have been advertising
for years and years. But she was
woman. She died.
Bessie. If your son's coming, as--as you say--what's the good of that
expense? You had better spend that half-crown on yourself. I believe you
don't eat enough.
Capt. H. (_Confused_). But it's the right thing to do. Look at the
Sunday papers. Missing relatives on top page--all proper. (_Looks
Bessie (_Tartly_). Ah, well! I declare I don't know what you live on.
Capt. H. Are you getting impatient, my dear? Don't get impatient--like
my poor wife. If she'd only been patient she'd be here. Waiting. Only
one day more. (_Pleadingly_.) Don't be impatient, my dear.
Bessie. I've no patience
with you sometimes.
Capt. H. (_Flash of lucidity_). Why? What's the matter? (_Sympathetic_.)
You're tired out, my dear, that's what it is.
Bessie. Yes, I am. Day after day. (_Stands listless, arms hanging
Capt. H. (_Timidly_). House dull?
Bessie (_Apathetic_). Yes.
Capt. H. (_As before_). H'm. Wash, cook, scrub. Hey?
Bessie (_As before_). Yes.
Capt. H. (_Pointing stealthily
at the sleeping
Bessie. (_In a dead voice_). Like a millstone.
Capt. H. (_Burst of indignation_). Why don't that extravagant
you a servant?
Bessie. I don't know.
Capt. H. (_Cheerily_). Wait till Harry comes home. He'll get you one.
Bessie (_Almost hysterical; laughs_). Why, Captain Hagberd, perhaps your
son won't even want to look at me--when he comes home.
Capt. H. (_In a great voice_). What! (_Quite low_.) The boy wouldn't
dare. (_Rising choler_.) Wouldn't dare to refuse the only sensible
for miles around. That stubborn
jackanapes refuse to marry a girl like
you! (_Walks about in a fury_.) You trust me, my dear, my dear, my dear.
I'll make him. I'll--I'll -------- (_Splutters_.) Cut him off with a
Bessie. Hush! (_Severe_.) You mustn't talk like that. What's this? More
of your tantrums?
Capt. H. (_Quite humble_). No, no--this isn't my tantrums--when I don't
feel quite well in my head. Only I can't stand this... I've grown as
fond of you as if you'd been the wife of my Harry already.
And to be told-------- (_Cant restrain
Bessie. Sh--------! Don't you worry! (_Wearily_.)
I must give that up too, I suppose. (_Aloud_.) I didn't mean it, Captain
Capt. H. It's as if I were to have two children to-morrow. My son
Harry--and the only sensible
girl--------. Why, my dear, I couldn't get
on without you. We two are reasonable
together. The rest of the
people in this town are crazy. The way they stare at you. And the
grins--they're all on the grin. It makes me dislike
out. (_Bewildered_.) It seems as if there was something wrong
about--somewhere. My dear, is there anything wrong--you who are
Bessie (_Soothingly tender_). No, no, Captain Hagberd. There is nothing
wrong about you anywhere.
Carvil (_Lying back_). Bessie! (_Sits up_.) Get my hat, Bessie....
Bessie, my hat.... Bessie.... Bessie. ...
(_At the first sound Bessie picks up and puts away her knitting. She
walks towards him, picks up hat, puts it on his head_).
Bessie, my... (_Hat on head; shouting stops_.) Bessie. (_Quietly_). Will
you go in, now? Carvil. Help me up. Steady. I'm dizzy. It's the thundery