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Full Online Book HomePlaysThe Devil's Disciple - ACT II
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The Devil's Disciple - ACT II Post by :mktgqueen Category :Plays Author :George Bernard Shaw Date :May 2011 Read :1601

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The Devil's Disciple - ACT II

Minister Anderson's house is in the main street of Websterbridge,
not far from the town hall. To the eye of the eighteenth century
New Englander, it is much grander than the plain farmhouse of the
Dudgeons; but it is so plain itself that a modern house agent
would let both at about the same rent. The chief dwelling room
has the same sort of kitchen fireplace, with boiler, toaster
hanging on the bars, movable iron griddle socketed to the hob,
hook above for roasting, and broad fender, on which stand a
kettle and a plate of buttered toast. The door, between the
fireplace and the corner, has neither panels, fingerplates nor
handles: it is made of plain boards, and fastens with a latch.
The table is a kitchen table, with a treacle colored cover of
American cloth, chapped at the corners by draping. The tea
service on it consists of two thick cups and saucers of the
plainest ware, with milk jug and bowl to match, each large enough
to contain nearly a quart, on a black japanned tray, and, in the
middle of the table, a wooden trencher with a big loaf upon it,
and a square half pound block of butter in a crock. The big oak
press facing the fire from the opposite side of the room, is for
use and storage, not for ornament; and the minister's house coat
hangs on a peg from its door, showing that he is out; for when he
is in it is his best coat that hangs there. His big riding boots
stand beside the press, evidently in their usual place, and
rather proud of themselves. In fact, the evolution of the
minister's kitchen, dining room and drawing room into three
separate apartments has not yet taken place; and so, from the
point of view of our pampered period, he is no better off than
the Dudgeons.

But there is a difference, for all that. To begin with, Mrs.
Anderson is a pleasanter person to live with than Mrs. Dudgeon.
To which Mrs. Dudgeon would at once reply, with reason, that Mrs.
Anderson has no children to look after; no poultry, pigs nor
cattle; a steady and sufficient income not directly dependent
on harvests and prices at fairs; an affectionate husband who is a
tower of strength to her: in short, that life is as easy at the
minister's house as it is hard at the farm. This is true; but to
explain a fact is not to alter it; and however little credit Mrs.
Anderson may deserve for making her home happier, she has
certainly succeeded in doing it. The outward and visible signs of
her superior social pretensions are a drugget on the floor, a
plaster ceiling between the timbers and chairs which, though not
upholstered, are stained and polished. The fine arts are
represented by a mezzotint portrait of some Presbyterian divine,
a copperplate of Raphael's St. Paul preaching at Athens, a rococo
presentation clock on the mantelshelf, flanked by a couple of
miniatures, a pair of crockery dogs with baskets in their mouths,
and, at the corners, two large cowrie shells. A pretty feature of
the room is the low wide latticed window, nearly its whole width,
with little red curtains running on a rod half way up it to serve
as a blind. There is no sofa; but one of the seats, standing near
the press, has a railed back and is long enough to accommodate
two people easily. On the whole, it is rather the sort of room
that the nineteenth century has ended in struggling to get back
to under the leadership of Mr. Philip Webb and his disciples in
domestic architecture, though no genteel clergyman would have
tolerated it fifty years ago.

The evening has closed in; and the room is dark except for the
cosy firelight and the dim oil lamps seen through the window
in the wet street, where there is a quiet, steady, warm, windless
downpour of rain. As the town clock strikes the quarter, Judith
comes in with a couple of candles in earthenware candlesticks,
and sets them on the table. Her self-conscious airs of the
morning are gone: she is anxious and frightened. She goes to the
window and peers into the street. The first thing she sees there
is her husband, hurrying here through the rain. She gives a
little gasp of relief, not very far removed from a sob, and turns
to the door. Anderson comes in, wrapped in a very wet cloak.

JUDITH (running to him). Oh, here you are at last, at last! (She
attempts to embrace him.)

ANDERSON (keeping her off). Take care, my love: I'm wet. Wait
till I get my cloak off. (He places a chair with its back to the
fire; hangs his cloak on it to dry; shakes the rain from his hat
and puts it on the fender; and at last turns with his hands
outstretched to Judith.) Now! (She flies into his arms.) I am not
late, am I? The town clock struck the quarter as I came in at the
front door. And the town clock is always fast.

JUDITH. I'm sure it's slow this evening. I'm so glad you're back.

ANDERSON (taking her more closely in his arms). Anxious, my dear?

JUDITH. A little.

ANDERSON. Why, you've been crying.

JUDITH. Only a little. Never mind: it's all over now. (A bugle
call is heard in the distance. She starts in terror and retreats
to the long seat, listening.) What's that?

ANDERSON (following her tenderly to the seat and making her sit
down with him). Only King George, my dear. He's returning to
barracks, or having his roll called, or getting ready for tea, or
booting or saddling or something. Soldiers don't ring the bell or
call over the banisters when they want anything: they send a boy
out with a bugle to disturb the whole town.

JUDITH. Do you think there is really any danger?

ANDERSON. Not the least in the world.

JUDITH. You say that to comfort me, not because you believe it.

ANDERSON. My dear: in this world there is always danger for those
who are afraid of it. There's a danger that the house will catch
fire in the night; but we shan't sleep any the less soundly for

JUDITH. Yes, I know what you always say; and you're quite right.
Oh, quite right: I know it. But--I suppose I'm not brave: that's
all. My heart shrinks every time I think of the soldiers.

ANDERSON. Never mind that, dear: bravery is none the worse for
costing a little pain.

JUDITH. Yes, I suppose so. (Embracing him again.) Oh how brave
you are, my dear! (With tears in her eyes.) Well, I'll be brave
too: you shan't be ashamed of your wife.

ANDERSON. That's right. Now you make me happy. Well, well! (He
rises and goes cheerily to the fire to dry his shoes.) I called
on Richard Dudgeon on my way back; but he wasn't in.

JUDITH (rising in consternation). You called on that man!

ANDERSON (reassuring her). Oh, nothing happened, dearie. He was

JUDITH (almost in tears, as if the visit were a personal
humiliation to her). But why did you go there?

ANDERSON (gravely). Well, it is all the talk that Major Swindon
is going to do what he did in Springtown--make an example of some
notorious rebel, as he calls us. He pounced on Peter Dudgeon as
the worst character there; and it is the general belief that he
will pounce on Richard as the worst here.

JUDITH. But Richard said--

ANDERSON (goodhumoredly cutting her short). Pooh! Richard said!
He said what he thought would frighten you and frighten me, my
dear. He said what perhaps (God forgive him!) he would like to
believe. It's a terrible thing to think of what death must mean
for a man like that. I felt that I must warn him. I left a
message for him.

JUDITH (querulously). What message?

ANDERSON. Only that I should be glad to see him for a moment on a
matter of importance to himself; and that if he would look in
here when he was passing he would be welcome.

JUDITH (aghast). You asked that man to come here!


JUDITH (sinking on the seat and clasping her hands). I hope he
won't come! Oh, I pray that he may not come!

ANDERSON. Why? Don't you want him to be warned?

JUDITH. He must know his danger. Oh, Tony, is it wrong to hate a
blasphemer and a villain? I do hate him! I can't get him out of
my mind: I know he will bring harm with him. He insulted you: he
insulted me: he insulted his mother.

ANDERSON (quaintly). Well, dear, let's forgive him; and then it
won't matter.

JUDITH. Oh, I know it's wrong to hate anybody; but--

ANDERSON (going over to her with humorous tenderness). Come,
dear, you're not so wicked as you think. The worst sin towards
our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent
to them: that's the essence of inhumanity. After all, my dear, if
you watch people carefully, you'll be surprised to find how like
hate is to love. (She starts, strangely touched--even appalled.
He is amused at her.) Yes: I'm quite in earnest. Think of how
some of our married friends worry one another, tax one another,
are jealous of one another, can't bear to let one another out of
sight for a day, are more like jailers and slave-owners than
lovers. Think of those very same people with their enemies,
scrupulous, lofty, self-respecting, determined to be independent
of one another, careful of how they speak of one another--pooh!
haven't you often thought that if they only knew it, they were
better friends to their enemies than to their own husbands and
wives? Come: depend on it, my dear, you are really fonder of
Richard than you are of me, if you only knew it. Eh?

JUDITH. Oh, don't say that: don't say that, Tony, even in jest.
You don't know what a horrible feeling it gives me.

ANDERSON (Laughing). Well, well: never mind, pet. He's a bad man;
and you hate him as he deserves. And you're going to make the
tea, aren't you?

JUDITH (remorsefully). Oh yes, I forgot. I've been keeping you
waiting all this time. (She goes to the fire and puts on the

ANDERSON (going to the press and taking his coat off). Have you
stitched up the shoulder of my old coat?

JUDITH. Yes, dear. (She goes to the table, and sets about putting
the tea into the teapot from the caddy.)

ANDERSON (as he changes his coat for the older one hanging on the
press, and replaces it by the one he has just taken off). Did
anyone call when I was out?

JUDITH. No, only--(someone knocks at the door. With a start which
betrays her intense nervousness, she retreats to the further end
of the table with the tea caddy and spoon, in her hands,
exclaiming) Who's that?

ANDERSON (going to her and patting her encouragingly on the
shoulder). All right, pet, all right. He won't eat you, whoever
he is. (She tries to smile, and nearly makes herself cry. He goes
to the door and opens it. Richard is there, without overcoat or
cloak.) You might have raised the latch and come in, Mr. Dudgeon.
Nobody stands on much ceremony with us. (Hospitably.) Come in.
(Richard comes in carelessly and stands at the table, looking
round the room with a slight pucker of his nose at the
mezzotinted divine on the wall. Judith keeps her eyes on the tea
caddy.) Is it still raining? (He shuts the door.)

RICHARD. Raining like the very (his eye catches Judith's as she
looks quickly and haughtily up)--I beg your pardon; but (showing
that his coat is wet) you see--!

ANDERSON. Take it off, sir; and let it hang before the fire
a while: my wife will excuse your shirtsleeves. Judith: put in
another spoonful of tea for Mr. Dudgeon.

RICHARD (eyeing him cynically). The magic of property, Pastor!
Are even YOU civil to me now that I have succeeded to my father's

Judith throws down the spoon indignantly.

ANDERSON (quite unruffled, and helping Richard off with his
coat). I think, sir, that since you accept my hospitality, you
cannot have so bad an opinion of it. Sit down. (With the coat in
his hand, he points to the railed seat. Richard, in his
shirtsleeves, looks at him half quarrelsomely for a moment; then,
with a nod, acknowledges that the minister has got the better of
him, and sits down on the seat. Anderson pushes his cloak into a
heap on the seat of the chair at the fire, and hangs Richard's
coat on the back in its place.)

RICHARD. I come, sir, on your own invitation. You left word you
had something important to tell me.

ANDERSON. I have a warning which it is my duty to give you.

RICHARD (quickly rising). You want to preach to me. Excuse me: I
prefer a walk in the rain. (He makes for his coat.)

ANDERSON (stopping him). Don't be alarmed, sir; I am no great
preacher. You are quite safe. (Richard smiles in spite of
himself. His glance softens: he even makes a gesture of excuse.
Anderson, seeing that he has tamed him, now addresses him
earnestly.) Mr. Dudgeon: you are in danger in this town.

RICHARD. What danger?

ANDERSON. Your uncle's danger. Major Swindon's gallows.

RICHARD. It is you who are in danger. I warned you--

ANDERSON (interrupting him goodhumoredly but authoritatively).
Yes, yes, Mr. Dudgeon; but they do not think so in the town. And
even if I were in danger, I have duties here I must not forsake.
But you are a free man. Why should you run any risk?

RICHARD. Do you think I should be any great loss, Minister?

ANDERSON. I think that a man's life is worth saving, whoever it
belongs to. (Richard makes him an ironical bow. Anderson returns
the bow humorously.) Come: you'll have a cup of tea, to prevent
you catching cold?

RICHARD. I observe that Mrs. Anderson is not quite so pressing as
you are, Pastor.

JUDITH (almost stifled with resentment, which she has been
expecting her husband to share and express for her at every
insult of Richard's). You are welcome for my husband's sake. (She
brings the teapot to the fireplace and sets it on the hob.)

RICHARD. I know I am not welcome for my own, madam. (He rises.)
But I think I will not break bread here, Minister.

ANDERSON (cheerily). Give me a good reason for that.

RICHARD. Because there is something in you that I respect. and
that makes me desire to have you for my enemy.

ANDERSON. That's well said. On those terms, sir, I will accept
your enmity or any man's. Judith: Mr. Dudgeon will stay to tea.
Sit down: it will take a few minutes to draw by the fire.
(Richard glances at him with a troubled face; then sits down with
his head bent, to hide a convulsive swelling of his throat.) I
was just saying to my wife, Mr. Dudgeon, that enmity--(she grasps
his hand and looks imploringly at him, doing both with an
intensity that checks him at once) Well, well, I mustn't tell
you, I see; but it was nothing that need leave us worse friend--
enemies, I mean. Judith is a great enemy of yours.

RICHARD. If all my enemies were like Mrs. Anderson I should be
the best Christian in America.

ANDERSON (gratified, patting her hand). You hear that, Judith?
Mr. Dudgeon knows how to turn a compliment.

The latch is lifted from without.

JUDITH (starting). Who is that?

Christy comes in.

CHRISTY (stopping and staring at Richard). Oh, are YOU here?

RICHARD. Yes. Begone, you fool: Mrs. Anderson doesn't want the
whole family to tea at once.

CHRISTY (coming further in). Mother's very ill.

RICHARD. Well, does she want to see ME?


RICHARD. I thought not.

CHRISTY. She wants to see the minister--at once.

JUDITH (to Anderson). Oh, not before you've had some tea.

ANDERSON. I shall enjoy it more when I come back, dear. (He is
about to take up his cloak.)

CHRISTY. The rain's over.

ANDERSON (dropping the cloak and picking up his hat from the
fender). Where is your mother, Christy?

CHRISTY. At Uncle Titus's.

ANDERSON. Have you fetched the doctor?

CHRISTY. No: she didn't tell me to.

ANDEBSON. Go on there at once: I'll overtake you on his doorstep.
(Christy turns to go.) Wait a moment. Your brother must be
anxious to know the particulars.

RICHARD. Psha! not I: he doesn't know; and I don't care.
(Violently.) Be off, you oaf. (Christy runs out. Richard adds, a
little shamefacedly) We shall know soon enough.

ANDERSON. Well, perhaps you will let me bring you the news
myself. Judith: will you give Mr. Dudgeon his tea, and keep him
here until I return?

JUDITH (white and trembling). Must I--

ANDERSON (taking her hands and interrupting her to cover her
agitation). My dear: I can depend on you?

JUDITH (with a piteous effort to be worthy of his trust). Yes.

ANDERSON (pressing her hand against his cheek). You will not mind
two old people like us, Mr. Dudgeon. (Going.) I shall not say
good evening: you will be here when I come back. (He goes out.)

They watch him pass the window, and then look at each other
dumbly, quite disconcerted. Richard, noting the quiver of her
lips, is the first to pull himself together.

RICHARD. Mrs. Anderson: I am perfectly aware of the nature of
your sentiments towards me. I shall not intrude on you. Good
evening. (Again he starts for the fireplace to get his coat.)

JUDITH (getting between him and the coat). No, no. Don't go:
please don't go.

RICHARD (roughly). Why? You don't want me here.

JUDITH. Yes, I--(wringing her hands in despair) Oh, if I tell you
the truth, you will use it to torment me.

RICHARD (indignantly). Torment! What right have you to say that?
Do you expect me to stay after that?

JUDITH. I want you to stay; but (suddenly raging at him like an
angry child) it is not because I like you.

RICHARD. Indeed!

JUDITH. Yes: I had rather you did go than mistake me about that.
I hate and dread you; and my husband knows it. If you are not
here when he comes back, he will believe that I disobeyed him and
drove you away.

RICHARD (ironically). Whereas, of course, you have really been so
kind and hospitable and charming to me that I only want to go
away out of mere contrariness, eh?

Judith, unable to bear it, sinks on the chair and bursts into

RICHARD. Stop, stop, stop, I tell you. Don't do that. (Putting
his hand to his breast as if to a wound.) He wrung my heart by
being a man. Need you tear it by being a woman? Has he not raised
you above my insults, like himself? (She stops crying, and
recovers herself somewhat, looking at him with a scared
curiosity.) There: that's right. (Sympathetically.) You're better
now, aren't you? (He puts his hand encouragingly on her shoulder.
She instantly rises haughtily, and stares at him defiantly. He at
once drops into his usual sardonic tone.) Ah, that's better. You
are yourself again: so is Richard. Well, shall we go to tea like
a quiet respectable couple, and wait for your husband's return?

JUDITH (rather ashamed of herself). If you please. I--I am sorry
to have been so foolish. (She stoops to take up the plate of
toast from the fender.)

RICHARD. I am sorry, for your sake, that I am--what I am. Allow
me. (He takes the plate from her and goes with it to the table.)

JUDITH (following with the teapot). Will you sit down? (He sits
down at the end of the table nearest the press. There is a plate
and knife laid there. The other plate is laid near it; but Judith
stays at the opposite end of the table, next the fire, and takes
her place there, drawing the tray towards her.) Do you take

RICHARD. No; but plenty of milk. Let me give you some toast. (He
puts some on the second plate, and hands it to her, with the
knife. The action shows quietly how well he knows that she has
avoided her usual place so as to be as far from him as possible.)

JUDITH (consciously). Thanks. (She gives him his tea.) Won't you
help yourself?

RICHARD. Thanks. (He puts a piece of toast on his own plate; and
she pours out tea for herself.)

JUDITH (observing that he tastes nothing). Don't you like it? You
are not eating anything.

RICHARD. Neither are you.

JUDITH (nervously). I never care much for my tea. Please don't
mind me.

RICHARD (Looking dreamily round). I am thinking. It is all so
strange to me. I can see the beauty and peace of this home: I
think I have never been more at rest in my life than at this
moment; and yet I know quite well I could never live here. It's
not in my nature, I suppose, to be domesticated. But it's very
beautiful: it's almost holy. (He muses a moment, and then laughs

JUDITH (quickly). Why do you laugh?

RICHARD. I was thinking that if any stranger came in here now, he
would take us for man and wife.

JUDITH (taking offence). You mean, I suppose, that you are more
my age than he is.

RICHARD (staring at this unexpected turn). I never thought of
such a thing. (Sardonic again.) I see there is another side to
domestic joy.

JUDITH (angrily). I would rather have a husband whom everybody
respects than--than--

RICHARD. Than the devil's disciple. You are right; but I daresay
your love helps him to be a good man, just as your hate helps me
to be a bad one.

JUDITH. My husband has been very good to you. He has forgiven you
for insulting him, and is trying to save you. Can you not forgive
him for being so much better than you are? How dare you belittle
him by putting yourself in his place?


JUDITH. Yes, you did. You said that if anybody came in they would
take us for man and--(she stops, terror-stricken, as a squad of
soldiers tramps past the window) The English soldiers! Oh, what
do they--

RICHARD (listening). Sh!

A VOICE (outside). Halt! Four outside: two in with me.

Judith half rises, listening and looking with dilated eyes at
Richard, who takes up his cup prosaically, and is drinking his
tea when the latch goes up with a sharp click, and an English
sergeant walks into the room with two privates, who post
themselves at the door. He comes promptly to the table between

THE SERGEANT. Sorry to disturb you, mum! duty! Anthony Anderson:
I arrest you in King George's name as a rebel.

JUDITH (pointing at Richard). But that is not-- (He looks up
quickly at her, with a face of iron. She stops her mouth hastily
with the hand she has raised to indicate him, and stands staring

THE SERGEANT. Come, Parson; put your coat on and come along.

RICHARD. Yes: I'll come. (He rises and takes a step towards his
own coat; then recollects himself, and, with his back to the
sergeant, moves his gaze slowly round the room without turning
his head until he sees Anderson's black coat hanging up on the
press. He goes composedly to it; takes it down; and puts it on.
The idea of himself as a parson tickles him: he looks down at the
black sleeve on his arm, and then smiles slyly at Judith, whose
white face shows him that what she is painfully struggling to
grasp is not the humor of the situation but its horror. He turns
to the sergeant, who is approaching him with a pair of handcuffs
hidden behind him, and says lightly) Did you ever arrest a man of
my cloth before, Sergeant?

THE SERGEANT (instinctively respectful, half to the black coat,
half to Richard's good breeding). Well, no sir. At least, only an
army chaplain. (Showing the handcuffs.) I'm sorry, air; but

RICHARD. Just so, Sergeant. Well, I'm not ashamed of them: thank
you kindly for the apology. (He holds out his hands.)

SERGEANT (not availing himself of the offer). One gentleman to
another, sir. Wouldn't you like to say a word to your missis,
sir, before you go?

RICHARD (smiling). Oh, we shall meet again before--eh? (Meaning
"before you hang me.")

SERGEANT (loudly, with ostentatious cheerfulness). Oh, of course,
of course. No call for the lady to distress herself. Still--(in a
lower voice, intended for Richard alone) your last chance, sir.

They look at one another significantly for a moment. Than Richard
exhales a deep breath and turns towards Judith.

RICHARD (very distinctly). My love. (She looks at him, pitiably
pale, and tries to answer, but cannot--tries also to come to him,
but cannot trust herself to stand without the support of the
table.) This gallant gentleman is good enough to allow us a
moment of leavetaking. (The sergeant retires delicately and joins
his men near the door.) He is trying to spare you the truth; but
you had better know it. Are you listening to me? (She signifies
assent.) Do you understand that I am going to my death? (She
signifies that she understands.) Remember, you must find our
friend who was with us just now. Do you understand? (She
signifies yes.) See that you get him safely out of harm's way.
Don't for your life let him know of my danger; but if he finds it
out, tell him that he cannot save me: they would hang him; and
they would not spare me. And tell him that I am steadfast in my
religion as he is in his, and that he may depend on me to the
death. (He turns to go, and meets the eye of the sergeant, who
looks a little suspicious. He considers a moment, and then,
turning roguishly to Judith with something of a smile breaking
through his earnestness, says) And now, my dear, I am afraid the
sergeant will not believe that you love me like a wife unless you
give one kiss before I go.

He approaches her and holds out his arms. She quits the table and
almost falls into them.

JUDITH (the words choking her). I ought to--it's murder--

RICHARD. No: only a kiss (softly to her) for his sake.

JUDITH. I can't. You must--

RICHARD (folding her in his arms with an impulse of compassion
for her distress). My poor girl!

Judith, with a sudden effort, throws her arms round him; kisses
him; and swoons away, dropping from his arms to the ground as if
the kiss had killed her.

RICHARD (going quickly to the sergeant). Now, Sergeant: quick,
before she comes to. The handcuffs. (He puts out his hands.)

SERGEANT (pocketing them). Never mind, sir: I'll trust you.
You're a game one. You ought to a bin a soldier, sir. Between
them two, please. (The soldiers place themselves one before
Richard and one behind him. The sergeant opens the door.)

RICHARD (taking a last look round him). Goodbye, wife: goodbye,
home. Muffle the drums, and quick march!

The sergeant signs to the leading soldier to march. They file out


When Anderson returns from Mrs. Dudgeon's he is astonished to
find the room apparently empty and almost in darkness except for
the glow from the fire; for one of the candles has burnt out, and
the other is at its last flicker.

ANDERSON. Why, what on earth--? (Calling) Judith, Judith! (He
listens: there is no answer.) Hm! (He goes to the cupboard; takes
a candle from the drawer; lights it at the flicker of the
expiring one on the table; and looks wonderingly at the untasted
meal by its light. Then he sticks it in the candlestick; takes
off his hat; and scratches his head, much puzzled. This action
causes him to look at the floor for the first time; and there he
sees Judith lying motionless with her eyes closed. He runs to her
and stoops beside her, lifting her head.) Judith.

JUDITH (waking; for her swoon has passed into the sleep of
exhaustion after suffering). Yes. Did you call? What's the

ANDERSON. I've just come in and found you lying here with the
candles burnt out and the tea poured out and cold. What has

JUDITH (still astray). I don't know. Have I been asleep? I
suppose--(she stops blankly) I don't know.

ANDERSON (groaning). Heaven forgive me, I left you alone with
that scoundrel. (Judith remembers. With an agonized cry, she
clutches his shoulders and drags herself to her feet as he rises
with her. He clasps her tenderly in his arms.) My poor pet!

JUDITH (frantically clinging to him). What shall I do? Oh my God,
what shall I do?

ANDERSON. Never mind, never mind, my dearest dear: it was my
fault. Come: you're safe now; and you're not hurt, are you? (He
takes his arms from her to see whether she can stand.) There:
that's right, that's right. If only you are not hurt, nothing
else matters.

JUDITH. No, no, no: I'm not hurt.

ANDERSON. Thank Heaven for that! Come now: (leading her to the
railed seat and making her sit down beside him) sit down and
rest: you can tell me about it to-morrow. Or, (misunderstanding
her distress) you shall not tell me at all if it worries you.
There, there! (Cheerfully.) I'll make you some fresh tea: that
will set you up again. (He goes to the table, and empties the
teapot into the slop bowl.)

JUDITH (in a strained tone). Tony.

ANDERSON. Yes, dear?

JUDITH. Do you think we are only in a dream now?

ANDERSON (glancing round at her for a moment with a pang of
anxiety, though he goes on steadily and cheerfully putting fresh
tea into the pot). Perhaps so, pet. But you may as well dream a
cup of tea when you're about it.

JUDITH. Oh, stop, stop. You don't know-- (Distracted she buries
her face in her knotted hands.)

ANDERSON (breaking down and coming to her). My dear, what is it?
I can't bear it any longer: you must tell me. It was all my
fault: I was mad to trust him.

JUDITH. No: don't say that. You mustn't say that. He--oh no, no:
I can't. Tony: don't speak to me. Take my hands--both my hands.
(He takes them, wondering.) Make me think of you, not of him.
There's danger, frightful danger; but it is your danger; and I
can't keep thinking of it: I can't, I can't: my mind goes back to
his danger. He must be saved--no: you must be saved: you, you,
you. (She springs up as if to do something or go somewhere,
exclaiming) Oh, Heaven help me!

ANDERSON (keeping his seat and holding her hands with resolute
composure). Calmly, calmly, my pet. You're quite distracted.

JUDITH. I may well be. I don't know what to do. I don't know what
to do. (Tearing her hands away.) I must save him. (Anderson rises
in alarm as she runs wildly to the door. It is opened in her face
by Essie, who hurries in, full of anxiety. The surprise is so
disagreeable to Judith that it brings her to her senses. Her tone
is sharp and angry as she demands) What do you want?

ESSIE. I was to come to you.

ANDERSON. Who told you to?

ESSIE (staring at him, as if his presence astonished her).
Are you here?

JUDITH. Of course. Don't be foolish, child.

ANDERSON. Gently, dearest: you'll frighten her. (Going between
them.) Come here, Essie. (She comes to him.) Who sent you?

ESSIE. Dick. He sent me word by a soldier. I was to come here at
once and do whatever Mrs. Anderson told me.

ANDERSON (enlightened). A soldier! Ah, I see it all now! They
have arrested Richard. (Judith makes a gesture of despair.)

ESSIE. No. I asked the soldier. Dick's safe. But the soldier said
you had been taken--

ANDERSON. I! (Bewildered, he turns to Judith for an explanation.)

JUDITH (coaxingly) All right, dear: I understand. (To Essie.)
Thank you, Essie, for coming; but I don't need you now. You may
go home.

ESSIE (suspicious) Are you sure Dick has not been touched?
Perhaps he told the soldier to say it was the minister.
(Anxiously.) Mrs. Anderson: do you think it can have been that?

ANDERSON. Tell her the truth if it is so, Judith. She will learn
it from the first neighbor she meets in the street. (Judith turns
away and covers her eyes with her hands.)

ESSIE (wailing). But what will they do to him? Oh, what will they
do to him? Will they hang him? (Judith shudders convulsively, and
throws herself into the chair in which Richard sat at the tea

ANDERSON (patting Essie's shoulder and trying to comfort her). I
hope not. I hope not. Perhaps if you're very quiet and patient,
we may be able to help him in some way.

ESSIE. Yes--help him--yes, yes, yes. I'll be good.

ANDERSON. I must go to him at once, Judith.

JUDITH (springing up). Oh no. You must go away--far away, to some
place of safety.


JUDITH (passionately). Do you want to kill me? Do you think I can
bear to live for days and days with every knock at the door--
every footstep--giving me a spasm of terror? to lie awake for
nights and nights in an agony of dread, listening for them to
come and arrest you?

ANDERSON. Do you think it would be better to know that I had run
away from my post at the first sign of danger?

JUDITH (bitterly). Oh, you won't go. I know it. You'll stay; and
I shall go mad.

ANDERSON. My dear, your duty--

JUDITH (fiercely). What do I care about my duty?

ANDERSON (shocked). Judith!

JUDITH. I am doing my duty. I am clinging to my duty. My duty is
to get you away, to save you, to leave him to his fate. (Essie
utters a cry of distress and sinks on the chair at the fire,
sobbing silently.) My instinct is the same as hers--to save him
above all things, though it would be so much better for him to
die! so much greater! But I know you will take your own way as he
took it. I have no power. (She sits down sullenly on the railed
seat.) I'm only a woman: I can do nothing but sit here and
suffer. Only, tell him I tried to save you--that I did my best to
save you.

ANDERSON. My dear, I am afraid he will be thinking more of his
own danger than of mine.

JUDITH. Stop; or I shall hate you.

ANDERSON (remonstrating). Come, am I to leave you if you talk
like this! your senses. (He turns to Essie.) Essie.

ESSIE (eagerly rising and drying her eyes). Yes?

ANDERSON. Just wait outside a moment, like a good girl: Mrs.
Anderson is not well. (Essie looks doubtful.) Never fear: I'll
come to you presently; and I'll go to Dick.

ESSIE. You are sure you will go to him? (Whispering.) You won't
let her prevent you?

ANDERSON (smiling). No, no: it's all right. All right. (She
goes.) That's a good girl. (He closes the door, and returns to

JUDITH (seated--rigid). You are going to your death.

ANDERSON (quaintly). Then I shall go in my best coat, dear. (He
turns to the press, beginning to take off his coat.) Where--? (He
stares at the empty nail for a moment; then looks quickly round
to the fire; strides across to it; and lifts Richard's coat.)
Why, my dear, it seems that he has gone in my best coat.

JUDITH (still motionless). Yes.

ANDERSON. Did the soldiers make a mistake?

JUDITH. Yes: they made a mistake.

ANDERSON. He might have told them. Poor fellow, he was too upset,
I suppose.

JUDITH. Yes: he might have told them. So might I.

ANDERSON. Well, it's all very puzzling--almost funny. It's
curious how these little things strike us even in the most--
(he breaks of and begins putting on Richard's coat) I'd
better take him his own coat. I know what he'll say--(imitating
Richard's sardonic manner) "Anxious about my soul, Pastor, and
also about your best coat." Eh?

JUDITH. Yes, that is just what he will say to you. (Vacantly.) It
doesn't matter: I shall never see either of you again.

ANDERSON (rallying her). Oh pooh, pooh, pooh! (He sits down
beside her.) Is this how you keep your promise that I shan't be
ashamed of my brave wife?

JUDITH. No: this is how I break it. I cannot keep my promises to
him: why should I keep my promises to you?

ANDERSON. Don't speak so strangely, my love. It sounds insincere
to me. (She looks unutterable reproach at him.) Yes, dear,
nonsense is always insincere; and my dearest is talking nonsense.
Just nonsense. (Her face darkens into dumb obstinacy. She stares
straight before her, and does not look at him again, absorbed in
Richard's fate. He scans her face; sees that his rallying has
produced no effect; and gives it up, making no further effort to
conceal his anxiety.) I wish I knew what has frightened you so.
Was there a struggle? Did he fight?

JUDITH. No. He smiled.

ANDERSON. Did he realise his danger, do you think?

JUDITH. He realised yours.


JUDITH (monotonously). He said, "See that you get him safely out
of harm's way." I promised: I can't keep my promise. He said,
"Don't for your life let him know of my danger." I've told you of
it. He said that if you found it out, you could not save him--
that they will hang him and not spare you.

ANDERSON (rising in generous indignation). And you think that I
will let a man with that much good in him die like a dog, when a
few words might make him die like a Christian? I'm ashamed of
you, Judith.

JUDITH. He will be steadfast in his religion as you are in yours;
and you may depend on him to the death. He said so.

ANDERSON. God forgive him! What else did he say?

JUDITH. He said goodbye.

ANDERSON (fidgeting nervously to and fro in great concern). Poor
fellow, poor fellow! You said goodbye to him in all kindness and
charity, Judith, I hope.

JUDITH. I kissed him.

ANDERSON. What! Judith!

JUDITH. Are you angry?

ANDERSON. No, no. You were right: you were right. Poor fellow,
poor fellow! (Greatly distressed.) To be hanged like that at his
age! And then did they take him away?

JUDITH (wearily). Then you were here: that's the next thing I
remember. I suppose I fainted. Now bid me goodbye, Tony. Perhaps
I shall faint again. I wish I could die.

ANDERSON. No, no, my dear: you must pull yourself together and be
sensible. I am in no danger--not the least in the world.

JUDITH (solemnly). You are going to your death, Tony--your sure
death, if God will let innocent men be murdered. They will not
let you see him: they will arrest you the moment you give your
name. It was for you the soldiers came.

ANDERSON (thunderstruck). For me!!! (His fists clinch; his neck
thickens; his face reddens; the fleshy purses under his eyes
become injected with hot blood; the man of peace vanishes,
transfigured into a choleric and formidable man of war. Still,
she does not come out of her absorption to look at him: her eyes
are steadfast with a mechanical reflection of Richard's stead-

JUDITH. He took your place: he is dying to save you. That is why
he went in your coat. That is why I kissed him.

ANDERSON (exploding). Blood an' owns! (His voice is rough and
dominant, his gesture full of brute energy.) Here! Essie, Essie!

ESSIE (running in). Yes.

ANDERSON (impetuously). Off with you as hard as you can run, to
the inn. Tell them to saddle the fastest and strongest horse they
have (Judith rises breathless, and stares at him incredulously)--
the chestnut mare, if she's fresh--without a moment's delay. Go
into the stable yard and tell the black man there that I'll give
him a silver dollar if the horse is waiting for me when I come,
and that I am close on your heels. Away with you. (His energy
sends Essie flying from the room. He pounces on his riding boots;
rushes with them to the chair at the fire; and begins pulling
them on.)

JUDITH (unable to believe such a thing of him). You are not going
to him!

ANDERSON (busy with the boots). Going to him! What good would
that do? (Growling to himself as he gets the first boot on with a
wrench) I'll go to them, so I will. (To Judith peremptorily) Get
me the pistols: I want them. And money, money: I want money--all
the money in the house. (He stoops over the other boot,
grumbling) A great satisfaction it would be to him to have my
company on the gallows. (He pulls on the boot.)

JUDITH. You are deserting him, then?

ANDERSON. Hold your tongue, woman; and get me the pistols. (She
goes to the press and takes from it a leather belt with two
pistols, a powder horn, and a bag of bullets attached to it. She
throws it on the table. Then she unlocks a drawer in the press
and takes out a purse. Anderson grabs the belt and buckles it on,
saying) If they took him for me in my coat, perhaps they'll take
me for him in his. (Hitching the belt into its place) Do I look
like him?

JUDITH (turning with the purse in her hand). Horribly unlike him.

ANDERSON (snatching the purse from her and emptying it on the
table). Hm! We shall see.

JUDITH (sitting down helplessly). Is it of any use to pray, do
you think, Tony?

ANDERSON (counting the money). Pray! Can we pray Swindon's rope
off Richard's neck?

JUDITH. God may soften Major Swindon's heart.

ANDERSON (contemptuously--pocketing a handful of money). Let him,
then. I am not God; and I must go to work another way. (Judith
gasps at the blasphemy. He throws the purse on the table.) Keep
that. I've taken 25 dollars.

JUDITH. Have you forgotten even that you are a minister?

ANDERSON. Minister be--faugh! My hat: where's my hat? (He
snatches up hat and cloak, and puts both on in hot haste.) Now
listen, you. If you can get a word with him by pretending you're
his wife, tell him to hold his tongue until morning: that will
give me all the start I need.

JUDITH (solemnly). You may depend on him to the death.

ANDERSON. You're a fool, a fool, Judith (for a moment checking
the torrent of his haste, and speaking with something of his old
quiet and impressive conviction). You don't know the man you're
married to. (Essie returns. He swoops at her at once.) Well: is
the horse ready?

ESSIE (breathless). It will be ready when you come.

ANDERSON. Good. (He makes for the door.)

JUDITH (rising and stretching out her arms after him
involuntarily). Won't you say goodbye?

ANDERSON. And waste another half minute! Psha! (He rushes out
like an avalanche.)

ESSIE (hurrying to Judith). He has gone to save Richard, hasn't

JUDITH. To save Richard! No: Richard has saved him. He has gone
to save himself. Richard must die.

Essie screams with terror and falls on her knees, hiding her
face. Judith, without heeding her, looks rigidly straight in
front of her, at the vision of Richard, dying.

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The Devil's Disciple - ACT III The Devil's Disciple - ACT III

The Devil's Disciple - ACT III
Early next morning the sergeant, at the British headquarters inthe Town Hall, unlocks the door of a little empty panelledwaiting room, and invites Judith to enter. She has had a badnight, probably a rather delirious one; for even in the realityof the raw morning, her fixed gaze comes back at moments when herattention is not strongly held.The sergeant considers that her feelings do her credit, and issympathetic in an encouraging military way. Being a fine figureof a man, vain of his uniform and of his rank, he feels speciallyqualified, in a respectful way, to console her.SERGEANT. You can have a quiet

The Devil's Disciple - ACT I The Devil's Disciple - ACT I

The Devil's Disciple - ACT I
At the most wretched hour between a black night and a wintrymorning in the year 1777, Mrs. Dudgeon, of New Hampshire, issitting up in the kitchen and general dwelling room of her farmhouse on the outskirts of the town of Websterbridge. She is not aprepossessing woman. No woman looks her best after sitting up allnight; and Mrs. Dudgeon's face, even at its best, is grimlytrenched by the channels into which the barren forms andobservances of a dead Puritanism can pen a bitter temper and afierce pride. She is an elderly matron who has worked hardand got nothing by it except dominion