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A Family Man

MRS BUILDER. [Arranging the flowers] Aren't you going to the office this
morning?
BUILDER. Well, no, I was going to take a couple of days off. If you feel at the top
of your form, take a rest--then you go on feeling at the top. [He looks at her, as if
calculating] What do you say to looking up Athene?
MRS BUILDER. [Palpably astonished] Athene? But you said you'd done with
her?
BUILDER. [Smiling] Six weeks ago; but, dash it, one can't have done with one's
own daughter. That's the weakness of an Englishman; he can't keep up his
resentments. In a town like this it doesn't do to have her living by herself. One of
these days it'll get out we've had a row. That wouldn't do me any good.
MRS BUILDER. I see.
BUILDER. Besides, I miss her. Maud's so self-absorbed. It makes a big hole in
the family, Julia. You've got her address, haven't you?
MRS BUILDER. Yes. [Very still] But do you think it's dignified, John?
BUILDER. [Genially] Oh, hang dignity! I rather pride myself on knowing when to
stand on my dignity and when to sit on it. If she's still crazy about Art, she can
live at home, and go out to study.
MRS BUILDER. Her craze was for liberty.
BUILDER. A few weeks' discomfort soon cures that. She can't live on her
pittance. She'll have found that out by now. Get your things on and come with me
at twelve o'clock.
MRS BUILDER. I think you'll regret it. She'll refuse.
BUILDER. Not if I'm nice to her. A child could play with me to-day. Shall I tell you
a secret, Julia?
MRS BUILDER. It would be pleasant for a change.
BUILDER. The Mayor's coming round at eleven, and I know perfectly well what
he's coming for.
MRS BUILDER. Well?
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