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SCENE
1




THE
NIGHT NURSERY OF THE DARLING FAMILY






The
room is shaped as in diagram, and if set on a large stage it should be made
to look as snug and small as possible. Thus it should not be a deep scene. The
chief articles of furniture are indicated above, but all the accessories of
a cosy nursery in a middle-class family are to be included. There is a frieze
around the walls, representing pictorially a fairy tale. The wall, where Fire
is, takes an angle, as in diagram, so that a person could sit naturally at it
and yet be well seen by the audience. In front of the fire the usual tall guard-fender.
The house is in a London street in Bloomsbury and the houses opposite may be
vaguely seen through the windows. It is Winter-time but there is no snow. The
fire is burning brightly and gives a certain light to the room which is otherwise
obscure, the hour being early evening. Time: the present.




Curtain
rises on NANA, the nurse, on hearth-rug by the fire, asleep. Nana is a Newfoundland
dog of the black-and-white variety - called Landseers. Throughout the play though
she has unusual things to do. She must do them strictly as a real dog of brains
would act and never as a gymnast. The part will be played by a
boy and
must be drilled into acting as a dog would act. He must never do anything that
a clever dog could not be trained to do. Unless otherwise indicated in this
text, he must always walk on four legs and if he is ever on two legs only, he
must be as awkward on them as the real dog would be. Naturalness must be his
one aim from first to last. But, despite this he acts throughout like an ordinary
nurse, not like one new to the business, but who does tonight, precisely as
he has been doing every night for the last year.




The
light of the fire shows Nana vividly: he is dreaming and makes the sounds dogs
make at such times, — it is not a bark. He wakes up, slightly changes
position lazily, and sleeps again. The grandfather clock at back gives the warning
whir common to such clocks before they strike. Nana jumps up suddenly, wide
awake with the lightning rapidity of dogs; looks straight before him for a moment,
then walks slowly to R. down stage and putting front paws against wall by side
of door switches on electric light with his mouth. He does not do this, or anything
else, as a feat but simply as part of his daily humdrum work. He then goes nearer
clock and listens to its striking. At each strike he gives one wag of his tail,
which shows that he is counting. His back is to the audience. Clock strikes
six. He next (in the ordinary, quiet, businesslike way of a nurse) turns down
the bed-clothes with his mouth, from all three beds, brings in his mouth, from
child's cot a suit of pyjamas for a child (all in one piece), hangs this over
fender to air it. He throws open door to bathroom in same way as he had switched
on light. The door being open the bath and taps are seen. He turns on a tap
with his mouth and water is seen pouring into bath. Steam rises showing it is
hot water. He puts paw into water to test it: evidently it is hot for he scalds
his hands. He turns on another tap of cold water and lets the two run together.
He takes from his mouth a tin and sprinkles (as from pepper-pot) into bath.
He gets from bathroom a wire arrangement containing soap and a sponge and hangs
it on edge of the bath, lays out a large bath towel, conveniently, then walks
across room and exits at door L. He reenters accompanied by ALEXANDER DARLING.
Alexander is as small a boy as possible and his manners, dress and speech are
those of a boy of seven. He and Nana enter side by side, Nana is not holding
him but keeps close to him. They walk to C.




  ALEX
(sulkily): I won't go to bed - I won't, I won't. (Argumentatively.)
Nana, it isn't six o'clock yet - it isn't six o'clock. Nana, Nana, it isn't
six o'clock. (Nana, like an experienced nurse pays no attention to his words,
has pushed him into a chair and is unloosening his boots with mouth. He beats
her in sudden passion but she placidly goes on taking off his boots.)
I
shan't love you any more Nana - Nana I shan't love you any more. I shan't love
you Nana - I shan't I shan't. (He is standing now and she is taking off his
belt, pinafore and an under garment. He is now in shirt and braces and breeches.)

I won't be bathed - Nana I just tell you I won't be bathed. I just won't.




(Nana
picks up his pyjamas in mouth, and he gets on her back, still complaining, and
she walks to bathroom, for though she neither pulls nor pushes him, her moral
influence is irresistible. When they have entered bathroom she shuts door —
Outside the window C. at back, Peter Pan is seen mysteriously. He pulls himself
on to ledge, his hands finger window as if he was seeking for a way of opening
it — At that moment enters MRS DARLING R. She is a young, beautiful woman
in evening dress and is coming forward, gaily, when she sees the face at the
window.)




  MRS
DARLING
(stopping in alarm): Who are you? (Peter disappears
- she runs to window, opens it, looks out, shuts window, crosses slowly)
.
No one there - and yet I felt sure I saw a face. (With sudden alarm.)
My children! Are they safe?




(Opens
bathroom door. Alex's head is seen over top of bath. He sprays water and calls
"Mummy!" She blows kisses to him, shuts bathroom door and calls L. anxiously
"Wendy" — "John" Wendy calls unseen "Coming Mother". Mrs D. says "All
safe!" Enter WENDY and JOHN, arm in arm, acting grown-up people.)




  WENDY
(breaking away): Oh Mummy, let me look! The beauty, beauty frock and
the lovely mummy.


  MRS
D.
: I'm so glad you like it, Wendy.


  JOHN
(annoyed at this interruption): You mustn't call her Wendy. We are playing
at being you and father. I'm father (imitating father). A little less
noise there — little less noise. I can't find my shaving soap anywhere.
I put it down just there and it's gone. I never saw such a house.


  WENDY
*(imitating a mother): Why you foolish dear, it is in your hand.


  JOHN:
So it is. Very strange thing. Women are so unreasonable. Now let's have a baby.
(This in own voice.)


  WENDY
(in own voice): You tell me, first.


  JOHN:
I am happy to inform of you, Mrs Darling, you are now a mother.


  WENDY:
OO! OO! OO! (Jumps with joy.)


  JOHN:
You missed the chief thing. You haven't asked, Boy or Girl.


  WENDY:
I'm so glad to have one at all, I don't care which it is.


  JOHN:
That's just the difference between gentlemen and ladies. Now you tell me.


  WENDY:
I am happy to acquaint you, Mr Darling, you are now a father.


  JOHN:
Boy or Girl?


  WENDY:
Girl. (John straddles legs, puts hands in pockets and is picture of depression)
You horrid!


  JOHN
(sternly): Go on.


  WENDY:
Boy. (John struts, gloriously.) Mummy, it's hateful of him. (Alex
has come from bathroom in his pyjamas and is looking on eagerly.)


  ALEX:
Now John have me.


  JOHN:
We don't want any more.


  ALEX
(plaintively): Am I not to be born at all?


  JOHN:
Two's enough.


  ALEX:
Come John — Boy, John.


  JOHN:
Oh, rot.


  ALEX
(sadly): Nobody wants me.


  MRS
D.
: I do. I so want to have a third child.


  ALEX:
Boy or girl?


  MRS
D.
: Boy.


  ALEX
(in shy rapture): I am happy to inform of you, Mrs Darling, it is
a boy.


  MRS
D.
: Oh how I wonder what his name is.


  ALEX
(shyly): Alexander! (She seizes him in her arms and hugs him —
he speaks with grave curiosity)
Mummy, how did you get to know me?




(Enter
R. MR DARLING in evening dress, except that he is without his coat and carries
his white tie, not made up, in his hand.)




  MRS
D.
: Why, what's the matter, Father dear?


  DARLING:
Mother! The matter is that I'm a desperate man. This tie — it will
not
tie. Not round my neck. Round the bed-post, oh yes, twenty times have
I made it up round the post, but round my neck, no. (With savage politeness
to tie.)
Oh, dear no, — begs to be excused!


  ALEX
(delighted with father's funny voice and manner): Say it again, Favver,
say it again!


  DARLING
(with awful politeness to Alex): Thank you! (Mother seizes Alex.)
I warn you of this, Mother, that unless this is round my neck we don't go out
to dinner tonight and if I don't go out to dinner tonight, I never go to the
office again, and if I don't go to the office again you and I starve and our
children will be flung out into the streets. (The children weep.)


  MRS
D.
(placidly): Let me try, dear. (She proceeds to tie it round
his neck while the children stand around in an agony of suspense — she
succeeds.)
There!


  DARLING
(carelessly): Thanks. (The children skip with joy. Darling is now
in indulgent good humour.)
Little less noise there — isn't it time
for somebody to go to by-by? (Lifts Alex on to his shoulders.)


  ALEX:
I'm bigger than Favver! (Nana appears at bathroom door.)


  JOHN:
Bother! (Nana comes and undresses him to an extent L.)


  MRS
D.
: And Wendy, it's your time, too, you know.


  WENDY:
Mummy, couldn't I stay up just a teeny bit longer?


  MRS
D.
: Sweetheart, I want to tuck you all in before I go. (Exit Wendy
L.)


  ALEX
(whom Father has dropped into bed): Look Favver! (Tries to stand on
head, fails, but looks up gloriously.)


  MRS
D.
: Alexander! (She tucks him in — then sweetly modest to Mr
D.)
They are rather sweet, don't you think, Father?


  DARLING
(stoutly): They are great.


  MRS
D.
: Are you proud of your children, George?


  DARLING
(patting her fondly): Ah! (On way to bathroom with John Nana strikes
against Mr D. He is pettish.)
Mother, just look at this! Covered with hairs!
It's too bad! (John has gone on to bathroom, but Nana brings a brush in mouth
and stands beside Mr D. with it. He takes it a matter of course way. Nana exits
into bathroom, slowly, looking round at times and finding Mr D. looking sulkily
at her.)
Clumsy! clumsy! (Exit Nana with tail between her legs.)


  MRS
D.
: Let me brush you, dear. (Does so.)


  DARLING:
Mother: I sometimes think it's a mistake to have a dog for a nurse.


  MRS
D.
: George, Nana is a treasure.


  DARLING:
No doubt, but — I have an uneasy feeling at times that she looks upon
the children as puppies.


  MRS
D.
: Oh no, dear, I am sure she knows they have souls.


  DARLING
(meditatively): I wonder. I wonder, Mary.


  MRS
D.
(anxious): George, we must keep Nana — I shall
tell you why. (She signs to him to come further from Alex. Go to fire.)


  DARLING:
Well?


  MRS
D.
: George, when I came into the room tonight, I saw — a face at
the window.


  DARLING:
A face at the window, four floors up?


  MRS
D.
: It was the face of a little boy — he was trying to get in.


  DARLING:
Incredible you can't be well, Mary. How many fingers am I holding up? (Holds
up a whole hand.)


  MRS
D.
: Five.


  DARLING:
How many now? (Holds up one finger.)


  MRS
D.
: One.


  DARLING:
You seem to be all right.


  MRS
D.
: Oh George, this is not the first time I have seen that boy.


  DARLING:
Who?


  MRS
D.
: The first time was a week ago. I had been drowsing here by the fire
when suddenly I felt a draught — as if the window was open. I looked around
and saw that boy in the room.


  DARLING:
In the room?


  MRS
D.
: I screamed. Nana was in her kennel over there, she sprang up and
with a fierce bark sprang at him. The boy leapt at the window, Nana pulled it
down quickly, but was too late to catch him.


  DARLING:
I thought so.


  MRS
D.
: Wait. He escaped, but his shadow hadn't time to get out. Down came
the window and cut it clean off.


  DARLING:
Mary, Mary, why didn't you keep that shadow?


  MRS
D.
: I did. I rolled it up, Father, and here it is. (Produces shadow
from drawers L down stage. It is dark and made of some material so light that
when unrolled it floats. She unrolls it.)


  DARLING
(examining): Ha! ha! It's nobody I know — but he does look a scoundrel.


  MRS
D.
: I think he comes back trying to get his shadow, George.


  DARLING:
I daresay — I daresay!


  MRS
D.
: Perhaps I should fling it out of the window?


  DARLING:
Certainly not! There's money in this, my love. (He puts it back in drawers.)
I shall take it to the British Museum tomorrow and have it priced.


  MRS
D.
: Father: I haven't told you quite all, I am afraid to.


  DARLING:
Little cowardly custard!


  MRS
D.
: The boy was not quite alone. He was accompanied by — I don't
know how to describe it — by a ball of light — it was like a flame
that had escaped from the fire. Not as big as your hand but it darted about
the room like a living thing.


  DARLING:
That's very unusual. It escaped with the boy?


  MRS
D.
: Yes, Father, what can all this mean?


  DARLING
(after seeming about to say a profound thing): What indeed. (Bathroom
door opens again.)


  MRS
D.
: Don't alarm the children.


  DARLING:
Not a word. (Nana comes in with a bottle in mouth — John is seen in
bathroom enveloped in towel.)


  MRS
D.
: What is that, Nana? (Takes bottle.) Of course, — the
medicine. (Returns it to Nana.) Alexander: it is your medicine.


  ALEX
(in cot): Won't take it. Boo — oo — oo.


  MRS
D.
: My precious, it is to make you well.


  DARLING:
Be a man, Alexander.


(Nana
has put spoon on chair, poured into it from bottle in mouth, & brings spoon
in mouth to Alex. John has now disappeared in bathroom.)


  ALEX:
Won't — won't.


  MRS
D.
: Here's a lovely big chocky to take after it.


  ALEX:
It's not a very big one.


  DARLING:
Mother, don't pamper him. Alexander when I was your age I took my medicine without
a murmur. I said "Thank you kind parents, for giving me bottles to make me well."
(Wendy has come in nightgown and John in pyjamas from bathroom.)


  WENDY
(quite honestly): That medicine you sometimes take, father, is much nastier,
isn't it?


  DARLING:
Ever so much nastier.


  ALEX:
Let me see you take it.


  DARLING:
I would take it, Alexander, with pleasure, just as an example to you my lad,
but somehow it has got lost — very annoying.


  WENDY
(innocently): I know where it is, father, it's beneath your bed.


  DARLING:
Now who could have put it there?


  MRS
D.
: George!


  WENDY:
Mummy, come and see. Father I shall bring it to you. (Exeunt Mrs D. and Wendy
R.)


  DARLING:
John it's the most beastly stuff! It's that — — that sticky, sweet
kind!


  JOHN:
It'll soon be over, father. (Wendy runs in with a wine-glass and bottle containing
whitish liquid.)


  WENDY:
I've been as quick as I could.


  DARLING
(with vindictive politeness): You have been wonderfully quick —
precious quick.


  WENDY
(pouring it into wine-glass and giving it to father and still under impression
that father is grateful to her)
: Now Alexander, you will see how father
takes it.


  DARLING:
Alexander, first.


  ALEX:
Favver, first.


  DARLING
(threateningly): It will make me sick, you know.


  JOHN:
Come on, father.


  DARLING:
Hold your tongue.


  ALEX:
Favver, I'm waiting.


  DARLING:
It's easy to say you're waiting — so am I waiting.


  WENDY:
I thought you took it quite easily, father.


  DARLING:
That's not the point — the point is there's more in my glass than in Alexander's
spoon. (Fiercely.) And it isn't fair. I say it, tho' it was with my
last breath: it isn't fair.


  WENDY:
Why not both take it at the same time.


  DARLING:
Certainly. Are you ready, Alexander? One — two (Suspiciously.)
I don't believe you're going to take it.


  ALEX
(with mouth over spoon): I am — I am.


  WENDY:
One — two — three. (Darling pretends to take it — Alex
takes his.)


  ALEX:
Quickly, chocky! (Wendy gets a chocolate and Nana returns to bathroom where
she is seen rinsing spoon.)


  JOHN:
Father hasn't taken his!


  ALEX:
Boo — oo — oo! (Weeps.)


  WENDY:
Oh, Father!


  DARLING:
What do you mean by "Oh Father"? Stop that row, Alexander. I meant to take mine
but — I missed it.


  JOHN:
You promised.


  DARLING:
No use my taking it now. (Alex howls.) Stop it! (Craftily.)
I say, look here — all of you — I've just thought of a splendid
joke! (They are eager.) You see, I shall pour it into Nana's bowl and
she'll drink it thinking it's milk (They hang their heads in shame.)
What do you mean, you silly little things! (He pours medicine into dog's
bowl on floor' it has NURSE printed on it instead of DOG.)
What a joke!


  WENDY:
Darling Nana!


  DARLING:
To your beds, everyone of you — I am ashamed of you. (They get
into their beds — Enter Mrs D. R.)


  MRS
D.
: Well, is it over?


  DARLING:
All over, mother — quite satisfactory.


  ALEX:
Favver —


  DARLING
(aside): Alexander, if you don't tell on me I'll give you a knife on
Monday. (Nana comes down.) Nana, good dog! (Pats Nana.) Good old
girl. I have put a little milk in your bowl, Nana.




(Nana
shakes hands gratefully and licks his hand, then hurries to bowl, begins to
lap, breaks away looks reproachfully at Mr D. and goes into kennel. Children
ashamed — he turns to brazen it out.)