By Patrick Hamilton

J. ...I don't know, I'm sure [Suddenly rising, looking at the wall upstage and speaking in a calm, yet menacing way] I don't know - Bella-
B. [After a pause, dropping her voice almost to a whisper] What is it? What's the matter? What is it now?
J. [Walking over to the fireplace and speaking with his back to her] I have no desire to upset you, Bella, but I have just observed something very much amiss. Will you please rectify it at once, while I'm not looking, and we will assume that it has not happened.
B. Amiss? What's amiss? For God's sake, don't turn your back on me. What has happened?
J. You know perfectly well what has happened, Bella, and if you will rectify it at once I will say no more about it.
B. I don't know. I don't know. You have left you tea. Tell me what it is. Tell me.
J. Are you trying to make a fool of me Bella? What I refer to is on the wall behind you. If you will put it back I will say no more about it.
B. The wall behind me? What? [turns] Oh -yes- The picture has been taken down- Yes- The picture- Who has taken it down? Why has it been taken down?
J. Yes. Why has it been taken down? Why, indeed? You alone can answer that, Bella. Why was it taken down before? Will you please take it from where you have hidden it, and put it back on the wall again?
B. But I haven't hidden it, Jack. [rises] I didn't do it. Oh, for God's sake look at me. I didn't do it. I don't know where it is. Someone else must have done it.
J. Someone else? [turning to her] Are you suggesting perhaps that I should play such a fantastic and wicked trick?
B. No, dear, no! But someone else [Going to him.] Before God, I didn't do it! Someone else, dear, someone else.
J. [Shaking her off] Will you please leave go of me. [Walking over to the bell] We will see about "someone else."
B. Oh, Jack-don't ring the bell. Don't ring it. Don't call the servants to witness my shame. It's not my shame for I haven't done it-but don't call the servants! Tell them not to come. [He has rung the bell. She goes to him.] Let's talk of this between ourselves! Don't call the girl in. Please!


B. Jack- spare me that girl. Don't call her in. I'll say any- thing. I'll say that I did it. I did it, Jack, I did it. Don't have that girl in. Don't!
J. Will you have the goodness to contain yourself? (...)
J. (to the servant Nancy) Very good. Now will you kiss that Bible lying there, please, as a solemn oath that you did not -and you may go.
N. Willingly, Sir. [She does so] If Id done it I'd have-
J. That is all, Nancy. You may go. There! I think we may now be said to have demonstrated conclusively-
B. [Rises] Give me that Bible! Give it to me! Let me kiss it, too! [Snatches it from him] There! [Kisses it] There! Do you see? [Kisses it] There! Do you see that I kiss it?
J. For God's sake, be careful what you do. Do you desire to commit sacrilege above all else?
B. It is not sacrilege, Jack. Someone else has committed sacri- lege. Now see- I swear before God Almighty that I never touched that picure [Kisses it] There! [She comes close to him]
J. [Grabs the Bible] Then, by God, you are mad, and you don't know what you do. You unhappy wretch -you're stark gibbering mad-like your wretched mother before you.
B. Jack, you promised you would never say that again.
J. The time has come to face facts, Bella. If this progresses you will not be much longer under my protection.
B. Jack-I'm going to make a last appeal to you. I'm going to make a last appeal. I'm desperate, Jack. Can't you see that I'm desperate? If you can't, you must have a heart of stone.
J. Go on. What do you wish to say?
B. Jack, I may be going mad, like my poor mother-but if I am mad, you have to treat me gently. Jack -before God- I never lie to you knowingly. If I have taken down that picture from its place I have not known it. I have not known it. If I took it down on those other occasions I did not know it either, Jack, if I steal your things -your rings- your keys- your encils and your handkerchiefs, and you find them later at the bottom of my box, as indeed you do, then I do not know that I have done it- Jack, if I commit these fantastic, meaningless mischiefs- so meaningless- why should I take a picture down from its place? If iI do all these things, then I am certainly going off my head, and must be treated kindly and gently so that I may get well. You must bear with me, Jack, not storm and rage. God knows I'm trying, Jack, I'm trying! Oh, for God's sake believe me that I'm trying and be kind to me!
J. Bella, my dear, have you any idea where that picture is now?
B. Yes, yes, I suppose it's behind the secretary.
J. Will you please go and see?
B. [Vaguely] Yes, yes. [She goes] Yes, it's here.
J. [Reproachefully] Then you did know where it was, Bella. You did know where it was.
B. No! No! I only supposed it was! I only supposed it was because it was found there twice before! Don't you see? I didn't know. I didn't.
J. There is no sense in walking about with a picture in your hands, Bella. Go and put it back in its proper place.
B. [Hangs the picture back in place and returns to the tea table] Oh, look at our tea. We were having our tea with muffins-
J. Now, Bella, I said a moment ago that we have to face facts, and that is what we have got to do. I am not going to say anything at the moment, for my feelings are running too high. In fact, I am going out immediately, and I suggest that you go to your room and lie down for a little in the dark.
B. No, no, not my room. For God's sake don't send me to my room!
J> Now, my dear, I am going to leave you in peace-
B. [Eyes closed, reclining] Have you got to go? Must you go? Must you always leave me alone afterthese dreadful scenes?
J. Now, no argument, please. I had to go in any case after tea. (...) Oh, by the way, I shall be passing the grocer and I might as well pay that bill of his and get it done with. Where is it, my dear? I gave it to you, didn't I?
B. Yes, dear, it's on the secretary. [Half rising] I'll...
J. No, dear, don't move, don't move. I can find it. [At secretary and beginning to rummage] I shall be glad to get the thing off my chest. Where is it, dear? Is it in one of these draw- ers?
B. No, it's on top. I put it there this afternoon.
J. All right. We'll find it, we'll find it. Are you sure it's here, dear? There's nothing here except writing paper.
B. [Half rising and speaking suspiciously] Jack, I'm quite sure it is there. Will you look carefully?
J. [Soothingly] All right, dear, don't worry. I'll find it. Lie down. It's of no importance, I'll find it. No, it's not here, it must be in one of these drawers.
B. [She has rushed to the secretary] It is not in one of these drawers! I put it out here on top! You're not going to tell me this has gone, are you?
J. Calm yourself, dear, calm yourself!
B. [Searching frantically] I laid it out here myself! Where is it? [Opening and shutting drawers] Where is it? Now, you're going to say I've hidden this!
J. My God! What new trick is this you're playing upon me?
B. It was there this afternoon! I put it there! This is a plot! This is a filthy plot! You're all against me! It's a plot! [She screams hysterically]

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