Covent Garden at 11.15 p.m. Torrents of heavy summer rain. Cab whistles blowing
frantically in all directions. Pedestrians running for shelter into the market and under the
portico of St. Paul's Church, where there are already several people, among them a lady
and her daughter in evening dress. They are all peering out gloomily at the rain, except
one man with his back turned to the rest, who seems wholly preoccupied with a notebook
in which he is writing busily.
The church clock strikes the first quarter.
THE DAUGHTER [in the space between the central pillars, close to the one on her left]
I'm getting chilled to the bone. What can Freddy be doing all this time? He's been gone
THE MOTHER [on her daughter's right] Not so long. But he ought to have got us a cab
A BYSTANDER [on the lady's right] He won't get no cab not until half-past eleven,
missus, when they come back after dropping their theatre fares.
THE MOTHER. But we must have a cab. We can't stand here until half-past eleven. It's
THE BYSTANDER. Well, it ain't my fault, missus.
THE DAUGHTER. If Freddy had a bit of gumption, he would have got one at the
THE MOTHER. What could he have done, poor boy?
THE DAUGHTER. Other people got cabs. Why couldn't he?
Freddy rushes in out of the rain from the Southampton Street side, and comes between
them closing a dripping umbrella. He is a young man of twenty, in evening dress, very
wet around the ankles.
THE DAUGHTER. Well, haven't you got a cab?
FREDDY. There's not one to be had for love or money.
THE MOTHER. Oh, Freddy, there must be one. You can't have tried.
THE DAUGHTER. It's too tiresome. Do you expect us to go and get one ourselves?