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Dialogue following No. 1

MICHAEL. It grieves me to see you so sad, Horace, and to feel that I can do nothing to lighten your load of sorrow.

HORACE. You might go indoors, father, and prepare our midday meal. When I am sad I am very hungry.

MICHAEL. Your appetite has been stimulated by the exertion of turning your 'bus over. I will lay the table at once.

Exit into Cottage.

HORACE. Why does the world seem a little brighter all of a sudden? Why do the flowers smell more sweetly? (Looking off.) Oh, joy of joys! Impulse has not deceived me! She is coming this way-my beauty-my darling — the 'bus driver's only love!

Enter Winifred.

WINIFRED. May I ask you to tell me the time, Sir? I find I have left my watch at home!

HORACE. (aside.)This is surely fate! (Aloud.)Just twelve o'clock, miss.

WINIFRED. Twelve o'clock — then it is time to go back. Thank you very much.

HORACE. Ah, miss, don't go yet, if you can spare a moment to listen to a poor, heartbroken fellow!

WINIFRED. I am very sorry, but I have left my purse at home also.

HORACE. I do not want your purse. Ah, miss, forgive me for my presumption. but I have dared to love you passionately.

WINIFRED. You have?

HORACE. Indeed I have. (Falling on his knees.) Feel how my pulse is throbbing! Oh, if you spurn me you will seal my doom! I cannot live without you, so I shall seek a welcome death beneath the wheels of some Car of Juggernaut — some massive morning omnibus, crowded with well fed solicitors and twelvestone members of the Stock Exchange!

WINIFRED. (aside.) If this is not the earnestness of desperation, I am no judge of the human passions.

HORACE. Oh, if only you knew the care I have taken of you!

WINIFRED. The care you have taken of me? I don't understand! Stay — let me look you full in the face. (Gazes into his face.) Ah, now I know you. You are the gentleman who drives the eleven o'clock omnibus from Kensal Green to London Bridge!

HORACE. Yes, miss.

WINIFRED. It is strange I didn't recognise you at once. I always took an interest in you. (Gazes into his face again.) You are very handsome!

HORACE. Yes, miss. The girls on Bank Holiday generally squabble for the box seat.

WINIFRED. I am not surprised at it. You are much better looking than many of the nobility.

HORACE (rising — aside ). She little knows the truth! (Aloud.)Then you admire me?

WINIFRED. Admire is but a poor word to express the exhilarating frenzy with which your magnificent features inspire me! What is your name?

HORACE. Horace Alexander de Vere.

WINIFRED. I do not think mamma could possibly object to a son-in-law with a name like that. Winifred de Vere will sound charming.

HORACE. Ah, how sweet! Your name is Winifred! To think that all this weary time I have only known the latter part of it — Bushey. The rest was all black darkness. It might have been Martha, but it is Winifred. and I am very much relieved.

WINIFRED. Oh, Horace, how romantic this is! To think that I should have won the love of the very man who has so often driven me safely into Oxford Street.

HORACE. Then you noticed I was careful?

WINIFRED. Dear mamma noticed that. She said you were a nice steady young man, and never raced Road Cars or Pirates. Poor mamma has a great horror of collisions, and when she sees a horse down she screams continuously until it is up again.

HORACE. Oh, sweetheart, how rejoiced I am to learn your mother's opinion of me!

WINIFRED. Unfortunately I have known mamma's opinions run through several editions in one day.

HORACE. I understand. You imply that her admiration of me as a driver may not extend to me as a son-in-law!

WINIFRED. Alas! I fear not — but oh, my king, take heart! I have given you my love, and not even my mother — no — not even my trustees shall come between me and my Horace Alexander now!


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