The same day. The same room. Late in the afternoon. The spare chair for visitors
has been replaced at the table, which is, if possible, more untidy than before.
Marchbanks, alone and idle, is trying to find out how the typewriter works.
Hearing someone at the door, he steals guiltily away to the window and pretends
to be absorbed in the view. Miss Garnett, carrying the notebook in which she
takes down Morell's letters in shorthand from his dictation, sits down at the
typewriter and sets to work transcribing them, much too busy to notice Eugene.
Unfortunately the first key she strikes sticks.
PROSERPINE. Bother! You've been meddling with my typewriter, Mr.
Marchbanks; and there's not the least use in your trying to look as if you hadn't.
MARCHBANKS (timidly). I'm very sorry, Miss Garnett. I only tried to make it
PROSERPINE. Well, you've made this key stick.
MARCHBANKS (earnestly). I assure you I didn't touch the keys. I didn't, indeed.
I only turned a little wheel. (He points irresolutely at the tension wheel.)
PROSERPINE. Oh, now I understand. (She sets the machine to rights, talking
volubly all the time.) I suppose you thought it was a sort of barrel-organ. Nothing
to do but turn the handle, and it would write a beautiful love letter for you straight
MARCHBANKS (seriously). I suppose a machine could be made to write love-
letters. They're all the same, aren't they!
PROSERPINE (somewhat indignantly: any such discussion, except by way of
pleasantry, being outside her code of manners). How do I know? Why do you ask
MARCHBANKS. I beg your pardon. I thought clever people--people who can do
business and write letters, and that sort of thing-- always had love affairs.
PROSERPINE (rising, outraged). Mr. Marchbanks! (She looks severely at him,
and marches with much dignity to the bookcase.)
MARCHBANKS (approaching her humbly). I hope I haven't offended you.
Perhaps I shouldn't have alluded to your love affairs.
PROSERPINE (plucking a blue book from the shelf and turning sharply on him). I
haven't any love affairs. How dare you say such a thing?