SEPTIMUS: Is there room for a piano? NOAKES: (Baffled)A piano? LADY CROOM: We are intruding here – this will not do, Mr. Hodge. Evidently, nothing is being learned. (To NOAKES)Come along, sir! (Now SEPTIMUS retrieves his book from THOMASINA. He turns the pages, and also continues to study THOMASINA’s diagram. He strokes the tortoise absently as he reads. THOMASINA takes up pencil and paper and starts to draw SEPTIMUS with Plautus. THOMASINA 67
has continued to draw. She tears the top page from her drawing pad and gives it to SEPTIMUS.)THOMASINA: There. I have made a drawing of you and Plautus.SEPTIMUS: (Looking at it)Excellent likeness. Not so good of me. (THOMASINA laughs, and leaves the room. AUGUSTUS appears at the garden door. His manner cautious and diffident. SEPTIMUS does notnotice him for a moment. SEPTIMUS gathers his papers together.)AUGUSTUS: Sir… SEPTIMUS: My lord…?AUGUSTUS: I gave you offence, sir, and I am sorry for it. SEPTIMUS: I took none, my Lord.AUGUSTUS: I would like to ask you a question, Mr. Hodge. (Pause. AUGUSTUS, evidently embarrassed aboutsomething picks up the drawing of SEPTIMUS.)AUGUSTUS: Oh… it is you?… I wouldlike to keep it.(SEPTIMUS inclines his head in assent.)68
There are things a fellow cannot ask his friends. Carnal things.SEPTIMUS: The walk between here and dinner will suffice to put us straight, if we stroll by the garden. It is an easy business. (A commotion is hurt outside – BERNARD’s loud voice and a sort of agony.)BERNARD: (Outside the door)Oh no -no – no –AUGUSTUS: Thank you, Mr. Hodge.(Taking the drawing with him, AUGUSTUS allows himself to be shown through the garden door, and SEPTIMUS follows him. BERNARD enters the room, through the door HANNAH left by. VALENTINE comes in with him, leaving the door open and they are followed by HANNAH who is holding the ‘garden book.’)HANNAH: I’m sorry, Bernard. BERNARD: show me where it says. No – read it – no, wait… (BERNARD sits at the table. He prepares to listen as though listening were an oriental art.)HANNAH: (Reading)‘October 1st, 1810. Today under the direction of Mr. Noakes, a parterre was dug on the south lawn. The dahlia having propagated under glass with no ill effect from the 69
sea voyage, is named by Captain Bryce ‘Charity’ for his bride, though the honor properly belongs to the husband who exchanged beds with my dahlia, and English summer for everlasting night in the Indies. (Pause.)BERNARD: Well. Who’s to say what it means? HANNAH: (Patiently)It means that Ezra Chater of the Sidley Park connection is the same Chater who described a dwarf dahlia in the Martinique in 1810 and died there of a monkey bite. VALENTINE: It doesn’t mean Byron didn’t fight a duel, it only means Chater wasn’t killed in it. HANNAH: Calm down, Bernard. Valentine’s right. BERNARD: (Grasping at straws)Do you think so? You mean the Piccadilly reviews? Yes, two completely unknown Byron essays – andmy discovery of the lines he added to ‘English Bards’. If only I hadn’t somehow… made it all about killingChater. It’s bound to get out you know –HANNAH: The day after tomorrow. A letter in TheTimes.