Late in the evening. Past ten. The curtains are drawn, and the lamps lighted. The
typewriter is in its case; the large table has been cleared and tidied; everything
indicates that the day's work is done.
Candida and Marchbanks are seated at the fire. The reading lamp is on the
mantelshelf above Marchbanks, who is sitting on the small chair reading aloud
from a manuscript. A little pile of manuscripts and a couple of volumes of poetry
are on the carpet beside him. Candida is in the easy chair with the poker, a light
brass one, upright in her hand. She is leaning back and looking at the point of it
curiously, with her feet stretched towards the blaze and her heels resting on the
fender, profoundly unconscious of her appearance and surroundings.
MARCHBANKS (breaking off in his recitation): Every poet that ever lived has put
that thought into a sonnet. He must: he can't help it. (He looks to her for assent,
and notices her absorption in the poker.) Haven't you been listening? (No
response.) Mrs. Morell!
CANDIDA (starting). Eh?
MARCHBANKS. Haven't you been listening?
CANDIDA (with a guilty excess of politeness). Oh, yes. It's very nice. Go on,
Eugene. I'm longing to hear what happens to the angel.
MARCHBANKS (crushed--the manuscript dropping from his hand to the floor). I
beg your pardon for boring you.
CANDIDA. But you are not boring me, I assure you. Please go on. Do, Eugene.
MARCHBANKS. I finished the poem about the angel quarter of an hour ago. I've
read you several things since.
CANDIDA (remorsefully). I'm so sorry, Eugene. I think the poker must have
fascinated me. (She puts it down.)
MARCHBANKS. It made me horribly uneasy.
CANDIDA. Why didn't you tell me? I'd have put it down at once.
MARCHBANKS. I was afraid of making you uneasy, too. It looked as if it were a
weapon. If I were a hero of old, I should have laid my drawn sword between us. If
Morell had come in he would have thought you had taken up the poker because
there was no sword between us.