Fanny's First Play
In the dining-room of a house in Denmark Hill, an elderly lady sits at breakfast
reading the newspaper. Her chair is at the end of the oblong dining-table furthest
from the fire. There is an empty chair at the other end. The fireplace is behind
this chair; and the door is next the fireplace, between it and the corner. An arm-
chair stands beside the coal-scuttle. In the middle of the back wall is the
sideboard, parallel to the table. The rest of the furniture is mostly dining-room
chairs, ranged against the walls, and including a baby rocking-chair on the lady's
side of the room. The lady is a placid person. Her husband, Mr Robin Gilbey, not
at all placid, bursts violently into the room with a letter in his hand.
GILBEY. [grinding his teeth] This is a nice thing. This is a b--
MRS GILBEY. [cutting him short] Leave it at that, please. Whatever it is, bad
language wont make it better.
GILBEY. [bitterly] Yes, put me in the wrong as usual. Take your boy's part
against me. [He flings himself into the empty chair opposite her].
MRS GILBEY. When he does anything right, hes your son. When he does
anything wrong hes mine. Have you any news of him?
GILBEY. Ive a good mind not to tell you.
MRS GILBEY. Then dont. I suppose hes been found. Thats a comfort, at all
GILBEY. No, he hasnt been found. The boy may be at the bottom of the river for
all you care. [Too agitated to sit quietly, he rises and paces the room
MRS GILBEY. Then what have you got in your hand?
GILBEY. Ive a letter from the Monsignor Grenfell. From New York. Dropping us.
Cutting us. [Turning fiercely on her] Thats a nice thing, isnt it?
MRS GILBEY. What for?
GILBEY. [flinging away towards his chair] How do I know what for?
MRS GILBEY. What does he say?
GILBEY. [sitting down and grumblingly adjusting his spectacles] This is what he
says. "My dear Mr Gilbey: The news about Bobby had to follow me across the
Atlantic: it did not reach me until to-day. I am afraid he is incorrigible. My brother,