The Edwardians (1972) s01e03 Episode Script

E. Nesbit

E NESBIT: Now that I have begun, I feel that I could go on and make this into a most interesting story about ordinary things.
The kind of things you do yourself, you know, and you would believe every word of it.
Grown-up people find it very difficult to believe really wonderful things unless they have what they call proof, but children will believe almost anything.
- Good morning, sir.
The paper.
- Ah, good morning, Mary.
You're looking especially beautiful this morning - this fine May morning.
Thank you, sir.
Damn it.
He's really done it this time.
- What? - The King.
Died last night, 11.
45.
Poor old Teddy.
(Sniffs) I say.
How rotten.
I suppose all the fellows in the City will be wearing black ties today.
Is that all it means to you? The passing of an era? Do you know, I was entirely right to make you into a stockbroker.
On second thoughts, I didn't make you into one, you are one.
You have that sort of soul.
- I don't really think I understand you, Father.
- Of course you don't.
If you did, I wouldn't bother to talk to you, it'd be far too boring.
Now, go and put your tie on, or you'll miss the 8.
15, and that would be a double tragedy.
- Yes, you're right.
(Clears throat) Poor old Teddy.
Racing chappies will be most awfully cut up about it.
I'd better dash.
- Morning, Miss Hoatson.
- Good morning, sir.
Good morning, Mouse.
Seen the paper? It's my opinion he brought it on himself.
Oh, Mouse, you are a hard woman.
You're a very, very hard woman.
- I've had a hard life.
- Have you, Mouse? What other lives would you like to have? You could always have stayed at Sylvia's Home Journal.
All girls together, cocoa round the fire, hearts to heart.
Might have been cosy, but rather dull.
Whereas here, at Well Hall, the company is at least varied.
All the bright lights of the bohemian scene.
Why, you even flirted with HG Wells.
Huh? Him? Yes, I concur with your opinion.
Don't think I've not been mindful of my privileges.
And grateful too.
Hmm.
Yes, well, I shall go to my study.
I don't find you a joyful Mouse today.
I suppose I'd better write another article for the Chronicle.
The one they've got about my meeting with a charming girl in Bond Street might appear a little frivolous, in view of England's grief.
This paper is vilely printed.
Er, there'll be some letters if you'd come up later.
I'll come, then.
Morning, Miss Hoatson.
- Where are you going? - On the moat.
Mummy and I are taking soundings.
- Don't you see your father? - Morning, Daddy.
Morning, John.
Oh, and you'll get that jacket caked in mud.
No, I shan't.
I'm jolly careful.
If you're going to get stewed up about it, I'll take it off.
It's too small, anyway.
Bye.
Shouldn't talk to you like that, you know.
One day, I'll tell him.
What? One day, I shall have to tell him.
It's not easy.
You know that, don't you? (Clattering) Oh! That girl is trying to kill me.
She intends undoubtedly to kill me.
She left a dustpan on the stairs.
However, I have survived and I shall take that as an omen.
I shall take that as a positive omen that God intends me to endure at least another day.
How are you, darling? Come on, my angels.
Scamper quick as you can into the kitchen.
And no doubt that would-be murderess of mine will give you delicious bits of bacon rind, all hot and dripping.
There.
Oh.
Ooh.
It's a lovely morning.
I shall write poetry today.
- The King's dead.
- (Coughs) - What did you say? (Splutters) - The King.
He died last night.
Oh, the poor Queen.
They had to call her home.
She sent for Mrs Keppel.
Wasn't that splendid, knowing that everyone must know? Not everyone.
Oh, but surely Well, you do agree, she is a splendid woman.
I wonder who they'll get to write the requiescat for The Times.
That awful Austin, I suppose.
Whatever possessed them to make him the Poet Laureate when there was Kipling? And Hubert says now even Kipling has lost his soul.
I don't really know what I'm saying.
I shouldn't smoke before I've had my brekky.
I thought that this was going to be a happy day.
- Will you write one? A verse, for the King? - I will, if anyone asks me.
Golly, I'm hungry.
Oh, kidney.
Mm.
"The Queen is Dead.
God save the King, in this his hour of grief.
" I wrote that for Victoria.
What was in the post? Anything jolly? Two letters that look like children.
Oh, these will be for Harding's Luck.
What else? Not much.
Oh, yes.
Macmillans have sent you copies of The Magic City.
Well, let me see.
Oh, you're such a beast.
You know I like to open them myself.
All fresh and beautiful.
(Sniffs) Oh, and smells delicious.
He's got those dogs wrong.
- What do you mean, Mouse? - Millar.
He's drawn Dalmatians.
Dalmatians? How could he possibly draw Dalmatians? Ye gods! He has.
Well, surely he knew that they were dachsies? Do I say anywhere that they were dachsies? I can't be sure.
Yes, page 204.
"Mr Graham went into the stable yard" "and came back, followed by two long, tanned dachshunds.
" Death and damnation! The man's a fool.
- Well, I don't suppose you ever told him.
- Well, of course I told him.
- Well, you got so behind with the book - I sent him a synopsis of every chapter.
- If you just said - Oh, great balls of fire! The man has been here.
He saw that they were dachshunds.
How could he possibly imagine I wanted those awful spotted things? I hate Dalmatians.
- You didn't tell him they were your dogs.
- Well, of course they're mine.
I know what you're trying to do.
You're trying to make me lose my temper, aren't you? - I'm only trying - Well, this time it won't work.
I shan't let it.
What do I care about the wretched book? It's finished.
I know what I shall do.
I shall go upstairs and close my eyes and let the birds sing to me.
- You haven't had your breakfast.
- I don't want any breakfast.
Oh, Lord! Just think of all the letters.
"Dear Mr Nesbit, your new book was really ripping, but haven't you got something wrong? You say that Maxi and Brenda are two dachshunds, but in the pictures" - How many are there, waiting in the box? - 20.
Oh, crumbs.
Oh, I'll have to do them.
Fabian used to help.
That made it almost fun.
It's not a good day and now the King is dead, and poetry won't come when everything goes wrong.
Dalmatians! You didn't make me lose my temper, did you? That's one success today.
(Thinks) I don't care.
I shall be happy.
I shall make it come right.
If we'd known Was I fair to Mouse? She sent for Mrs Keppel.
She is a splendid woman.
I'd like to write a poem.
(Sighs) Oh, God.
Why is work so jolly difficult? What did Henry tell me? Say to yourself, "I'll make these verses just for me and two or three friends.
" As Mozart made Don Juan.
I should have done that.
I write too much for publishers and rotten magazines.
Today, I'll write a poem, just for myself.
That will be beautiful.
"God save the King.
Poor old Teddy.
He's dead and gone.
At his feet, a grass green turf.
At his head, a stone.
" (Coughs) One day, I'll kill myself with these disgusting things.
Stone dead and gone.
I've lived a thousand years already and inside me I'm still the same.
Do you think they notice? People in trains? The fat, old, middle-aged woman? And through the eye holes, me looking out.
Are you a child too? It's not so splendid, never growing up.
Somehow, I must have changed.
Remember that little house in Lewisham.
What was I then? Something was different.
Writing to Ada.
"It's quiet.
The peculiar quietness of Sunday afternoons.
The maid's gone out and I've washed up.
I sit here in my deckchair and my blue dress and write to you.
Charming domestic picture, isn't it? I've just put baby Iris down to sleep.
Paul and his bricks.
His continual, 'Look, mother! Look! ' Only emphasises the silence, like the hum of bees, and stirring of trees.
The country.
Ah, I was there yesterday.
Hubert and I went to Halstead and had a long, delicious time among the woods and primroses and violets.
The country was fresh and young and jolly, and so were we.
How different I was this time last year.
So different.
Now I see the world through other, larger eyes, but the increased light brings with it increased sorrow.
Do you not find it so? Is it hard to be great? I fancy the real obstacle lies in ourselves.
Greatness is all around us.
Its sun shines in upon us.
Easy, not difficult.
What good is life to me? What can I do with it? Can I do anything if I choose? You'll bless me for sending such a letter.
" HUBERT: If I were a woman, - I think I should choose to write about fashion.
- How fearfully dull.
Do you think so? Maybe it's because I'm a man I find the subject so entrancing.
How I could discourse on the corset.
My article on garter or suspender would electrify all London.
And, when it came to drawers Oh, would it come to drawers? - Well, it always does, don't you know? (Bell rings) - Oh, now, damn it.
Who is that? - I'll have to go.
The treasure is at the Empire with her young man.
(Coughs) Good evening, Mrs Blunt.
I hope I'm not intruding.
Miss Hoatson! No, no, of course not.
Won't you please come inside? Hubert, let me introduce you to Miss Hoatson.
Miss Hoatson is on the staff of Sylvia's Home Journal, - who bought several stories from us.
- Ah, yes.
Miss Hoatson.
I kiss your hand.
I'm afraid I'm here under false pretences.
Oh, well, that sounds intriguing.
Well, it's not about the Journal.
It's about the lady.
- The lady? HUBERT: Which? The one with your advertisement.
I saw the address, you see, and I knew it must be you.
"Literary couple seeks lady with good references to assist in running home.
" So I thought I'd try it.
Oh, I see.
You've come about the position.
- If you'd consider it.
- Well, I Consider it? Why, it would be the jolliest thing we could imagine in all the world.
Oh, Hubert, I told you how kind she was to me, that dreadful day when I went to the office, dying of cold and hunger.
Miss Hoatson gave me her mug of cocoa and her chair and put me by the fire.
Oh, please, please, come to us.
It'd be the best thing I could imagine.
But did we say about the money? - It's frightfully little, I'm afraid.
- Oh, it's not the money.
I've got bored with the Journal.
I'm wanting something fresh.
And we want you.
So it's settled? Can I kiss you? Oh, of course I shall kiss you.
Isn't it settled, Hubert? - We'll have such larks.
- Yes, if Miss Hoatson is agreeable.
Oh, we can't call you Miss Hoatson.
You must have some other name.
- It's Alice.
- Oh, no, not Alice.
You don't look a bit like Alice, in that neat, grey little dress.
I shall call you Mouse.
Yes, Mouse is splendid.
Don't you think you'd like that, little grey Mouse? Oh, well, if I'm to be the Mouse, I shall call you the Cats.
(Giggles) Well, so we are.
Hubert always calls me No, I shan't tell you that until I know you better.
Now, then Oh, what have you done? You've caught the hem of your skirt.
Your neat, grey skirt.
I'm always doing it.
Pass me my needle and thread, there's a darling.
Oh, please don't bother.
Lend me a pin and I can see to it.
Oh, no, not a pin.
It's dreadfully unlucky to lend a pin.
I'd rather die.
Well I wouldn't.
There.
You see? Done in a trice.
You're not superstitious, surely? Oh, but she is.
Aren't you, my dearest? Dreadfully.
You should never, never borrow pins.
How many children have you? Three now.
We've called the baby Fabian, because we are.
Then Iris and our eldest, Paul.
Unless you count me with the children, which Hubert does.
Forward, my braves.
Proud warriors of the Mugawaki tribe.
Arm yourselves with bows and arrows and tomahawks and scalping knives, and anything you can think of.
Oh, fear not, Golden Eagle.
Nor you, Black Panther, my trusty squaw.
Our warriors will far outnumber their puny forces.
And when we have caught and scalped them, we'll build a big fire, and feast inside our cosy wamboos (Giggles) Or wigwams, or whatever they're called.
- Are you ready? - Yes.
- Are you ready? - Yes.
Then remember our jungle law.
Good hunting.
Stalk them.
Stalk, stalk, stalk.
(Gasps) Wait! (Laughter) Hubert! I'm sorry.
(Gasps) It's ready.
You stay here.
- I'll do it.
- No, I don't want him to go.
Supposing - What? he isn't dead? That's foolish, you know the doctor told you it never lived.
He did, in me.
I gave it and I can give it back.
I know.
You shan't.
You shan't take him from me.
No! - Please let me take him.
- No! I won't let you.
I won't let you.
Oh, no.
- Not in the ground! Oh, please! HUBERT: Pussy.
Pussy! - Oh, no, please.
- Pussy! Pussy, you know we have to, don't you? My love.
Don't cry.
I'm not crying.
I was afraid.
- Of what? - Burying.
To think they should lay him in the cold ground.
I'm going to have a child.
You? Yes, I didn't mean to tell you.
But the man? He won't marry me.
I don't want him to.
And that's all of that.
I shall have to leave you.
Oh, no.
(Sniffs) (Gasps) Oh.
My poor Mouse.
I was crying over my own sorrows, while you were brave and never even told me.
There'll be no disgrace for you.
I'll go away.
And the baby? What shall I do? I could take him.
Yes.
I could take him for my own.
Oh, darling, Mouse, of course.
Life isn't difficult, it's easy.
You shall stay here with us forever, and he shall love us both.
Paul, Fabian, Iris and who? Who shall it be? MOUSE: You must choose.
She's yours now.
E NESBIT: Rosamund.
Rosa Mundi.
Rose of the world.
Now, go to sleep.
"And it is fair and very fair This maze of blossom and sweet air, This drift of orchard snows, This royal promise of the rose Wherein your young eyes see Such buds of scented joys to be.
A gay green garden, softly fanned By the blythe breeze that blows To speed your ship of dreams to the enchanted land.
" It's all right.
I think I knew.
Oh I say.
Hang it all, Kitten.
It was nothing, really.
Not to you.
Does it surprise you he should say that? It shouldn't.
He can't keep his hands off any girl.
Kitten, I told her that we were only larking.
No, that's a lie.
I wouldn't do that.
He's made me lie to you.
I hate it.
It was his child.
His and mine.
His child? Yes.
I'm glad it's told.
Damnation, it always comes to this.
But you don't know, do you? You don't know what it comes to, as Hubert says.
He seduced me, of course, before he married me.
I don't know he would have married me, except I was having his child.
He was engaged, I found out after, to another lady.
He had a son by her as well.
So you see, I was lucky, and you were lucky.
We were all lucky.
Even his mother's parlour maid who was, I think, the first.
Poor Hubert is the one that suffers.
- It always comes to that, poor Hubert, doesn't it? - Kitten, it does no good.
- I shall go.
I shall have to go now.
- Yes, go and take your child with you.
I never want to see you.
I never want to see you or speak with you again! (Sobs) Go away! (Sobs) If you want.
You would? Shan't I have to? She has no-one else, you see.
And me? You? You, Pussycat? I thought you wanted me to go.
Oh, Cat, why did you do it? How could you do it? I never dreamed I know.
I know.
How could you? Except that it's true, all that you've said about me.
I don't excuse myself.
You know that.
Do you know I sometimes wish they'd pass a law to deal with rotters like myself.
What do you suppose would stop me from being what I am? A cat-o'-nine-tails? - The rope? - (Laughs) No, I'm serious.
You know, if I was a drunk there'd be a lot of fellows who'd sympathise with me, or pass it off.
They'd say, "Poor old Bland.
You know that he tips the bottle.
The poor fellow, he can't help it.
He just has to have a drink.
" Would that be better for you, Pussycat? I think it would.
You wouldn't blame me for being tempted.
All that lovely golden liquid glowing in crystal bottles.
How could any man resist? You'd understand.
Instead of which, what is it that destroys me? Such a little thing.
The full force of nature.
A million years of evolution burning in my blood.
And then the women.
All those ladies turning away their eyes, without the slightest thought any man would look at them.
It's not for that that they tilt their hats, tighten their belts, walk in that very special way, with a glance over their shoulders.
Oh, no.
They don't imagine that you would follow or take their hands.
See them home.
It's not for the pleasure of having you remove them that they lace their boots, fix their garters.
Oh, hell.
How can I tell you, Pussy? The devil of it is you know perfectly well that you're the only one I really love which sounds all rot.
And yet we know it's true.
If only all the rest were golden bottles instead of golden girls.
But With her With Alice Oh, Alice, Maggie, Flossie, Mabel, it makes no difference.
Oh, but it does.
Why do you say that? Because she's Mouse.
She isn't any girl.
I don't know them, those girls that you take home.
Oh, I know it happens, and I don't think about it.
I'm good at that.
There's nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.
I say that and it works, like magic.
Well, say it quickly now.
Say it with me.
And Rosamund is your baby.
She's yours and hers.
Rosamund is yours and she's mine.
She gave her to you.
You know that.
- I didn't know.
- Don't be an ordinary person, Kitten.
Those little people with little minds that we laugh at, and their eyes tight shut, in case the light gets in.
That's not you.
You're brave and you're wonderful and you do have magic.
Rosamund will be your fairy child.
It doesn't matter how she came to us.
It's what you are and it's what she is.
That's what matters.
And poor Alice.
Little grey Mouse.
What could she ever be to you, but your shadow? A shadow of your glory.
But, if you turn her out, then I will have to go with her.
You understand that, don't you? Because, you see, I'm a brute, and I despise myself.
I'd have to pay the price.
Punish me.
I deserve it.
Not her, Kitten.
You couldn't do that.
I don't know.
I only know I need you.
Yes.
Yes, we need each other right enough.
And that's all about it.
Yes.
But promise me - Promise you what? - That's all she is - like the others and not like us.
What, do you think she could be? It would be brave, wouldn't it? If we could do it.
You and me and her.
And no-one in the world would know, or understand except you and I.
Not even she would.
And would you be a good Cat with two of us waiting for you at home? Your Pussycat to play with, and your Mouse.
For both of us to tease a little.
Oh but not unkindly.
I am the Cat.
I am the Cat who walked by himself.
Did you know all places were alike to him? He went back through the Wet Wild Wood, waving his wild tail, walking on his wild Ione.
But he never told anyone.
And that's the cat I'll be.
Perhaps we are a little magic.
Both of us.
E NESBIT: Could love make worthy things of worthless? My song were worth an ear.
Its note should make the days most mirthless, The merriest of the year.
And wake to birth all buds yet birthless, To keep your birthday, dear.
" (Sighs) Some more gin, Mouse? I'll muff my lettering if I have any more of that.
Just one.
And then I'll work like billyo.
How many more have we got to do? About six each.
Golly.
We'll have to work all night.
Did I ever tell you about the first time I took the cards back to Mr Aaronson? I was one day late.
I'd been nursing Paul with measles.
And, when I took them in to him, he shook his head.
"It's too late, I tell you.
Work that is late, we do not accept.
" So then, of course, I started to cry.
I really did feel most awfully sorry for myself.
The tears poured down my cheeks.
And the little man was jumping up and down.
"Oh, please, please, Mrs Bland, I beg you.
Look! Look! I buys them from you.
Yes, yes.
I takes them all.
Only promise one thing.
Never to cry, or I am ruined.
Nothing is worse for business than women's tears.
So go.
Und, next week, bring them on time!" You'd best get on, then.
"Could love make music worthy of you and match great singers' powers? Had even my loveless heart to love you, A better song were ours.
" Mouse? Do you know what love is? Do you love Hubert? Is this a serious discussion? At two in the morning, who can tell? - He's not home yet.
- Well, he said he wouldn't be.
If it's after midnight when he finishes his article, he sleeps at the office.
- And you believe that? - Yes.
I want to.
And what's the truth of it? You don't understand, Mouse, do you? Maybe not.
He loves me and I love him.
And I love you.
I hope that you love us.
Do you believe that? Yes, if you do.
It's easy.
I've found it all so easy.
If I love Rosamund, why shouldn't I love you? A child would understand it.
Perhaps I am a child.
Perhaps you are.
(Whispers) Except I like the gin.
When I was a child, I lived in terror.
There were skeletons in every shadow.
That's why I write those horror stories, scaring myself to death.
I still can.
I'm terrified of graveyards.
(Groans) I wonder Do you think it would be jolly to write for children? Verse doesn't sell much.
I wonder if I could.
Not awful, moral tales, but real children.
Dealing with things that children really do.
The sort of things I did with my brothers when I was a girl.
And real magic.
Because there is real magic.
And miracles do happen.
I know.
You make them happen, because I have.
Mouse.
Is it the gin? Or have I seen a vision? Why shouldn't life be something great and glorious? Oh, if we were only children, all of us, forever, and I wrote books and books and we were famous and all as rich as Croesus.
And never, never had to do another rotten birthday card for Aaronson again.
Oh, amen to that.
Don't tell me I'm talking rot because I'm going to do it.
I'm going to write and write and write, because I can remember everything exactly, just as it was.
I do.
My hat, I hope it's not the gin! The Treasure Seekers.
Chapter Two.
"I'm afraid the last chapter was rather dull.
It is always dull in books when people talk and talk and don't do anything.
But I was obliged to put it in, or else you wouldn't have understood all the rest.
The best part of books is when things are happening.
That is the best part of real things too.
That is why I shall not tell you in this story about all the days where nothing happened.
You will not find me You will not catch me saying, 'Thus the sad days passed slowly by' or, 'The years rolled on their weary course' or, 'Time went on, 'because it is silly.
Of course time goes on, whether you say so or not.
" My eye, it does.
Time goes on, like anything.
Those years before Well Hall that went so quickly and seemed such fun.
So much to do.
So many faces.
All my young men.
Noel and Laurie.
- I'll race you.
- Woo! Which did I love the best? Come on! Either or both? Faster! Or was that Shaw? Because he was so plain and thin and long and always funny.
(Chuckles) Wicked and Irish and didn't really love me at all.
Or Richard, who was serious? That really was quite serious.
Finding and seeking.
I was the treasure seeker.
Treasure that melts like fairy gold.
Their love.
Their warmth.
Their praise.
Lively piano CHILDREN: Little brown brother Oh, little brown brother What kind of flower will you be? I'll be a poppy All white, like my mother Do be a poppy, like me What? You're a sunflower! How I shall miss you When you're grown golden and high But I shall send all the bees up to kiss you Little brown brother Goodbye! Goodbye! (Giggles) Lovely.
Wasn't that beautiful? You've learnt my song.
You learnt my song to sing for me.
Miss Hoatson taught you, didn't she? As a surprise.
Now, who is going to have the fairy? - The fairy from the top of the tree? ALL: Me! No, it must be one.
And I shall choose her.
Is there anybody here whose daddy is on strike this Christmas? Any little girl whose daddy is on strike in the dock? And are you telling me the truth, baby? It would be hateful to get the fairy because you fibbed, wouldn't it? Yes, of course you are.
Now, take it off.
Right from the top of the tree.
- (Gasps of joy) - Oh, isn't that splendid? - Now, I shall hand you down the sweets and ALL: Me! No, you mustn't push there.
There's heaps and heaps for everyone.
- Enough for you, and you, and you.
- One for everyone.
- And you, my love.
It's Christmas.
- That's for you.
E NESBIT: "Of course time goes on, whether you say so or not, so I shall just tell you the nice interesting parts.
And in between you'll understand that we had our meals, and got up, and went to bed, and dull things like that" (Door opens) "Well, when we had agreed to dig for treasure, we all went down into the cellar" Pussycat, I thought you'd be asleep.
And Windsor got it out in time for Christmas.
Isn't that good? Yes, I know.
We had the review copy today at the Chronicle.
Oh, don't worry.
Benson's going to do it and he's a good 'un.
I've seen to that.
Clever Cat.
"The Story Of The Treasure Seekers by E Nesbit.
Being the adventures of the Bastable children in search of a fortune.
" As also the adventures of the Bland couple in search of filthy cash.
(Giggles) They're sure it's going to sell like hot cakes.
And we've had all the serial money from the Windsor and the Pall Mall.
Yes.
More than a thousand, I shouldn't wonder before we're done.
It couldn't be so much.
Are you pleased with your Pussykitten? - I'm furiously jealous.
- You mustn't.
I am.
I'm jealous and I'm furious.
And that is why I've bought you this.
You remembered.
One for Lays And Legends, A Pomander Of Verse, In Homespun, Songs Of Love And Empire, The Secret Of Kyriels and now The Treasure Seekers.
And now our wish.
And I won't tell you, however you go on.
Thanks awfully.
Is that all? You've not been drinking? Only the scent of you.
Richard's not coming back.
From America? No.
Well, he's resigned from the paper.
He's going to settle over there.
Were you in love with him? Desperately.
Now you're ragging me.
Do you know, if any other man made love to you, I should kill him.
(Chuckles) Hard lines for them.
He didn't did he, Pussycat? You know what I mean.
I told you.
The only other man I ever loved was Shaw.
And even Shaw is married now.
I never see him.
Well, Shaw's an all-wooler and they don't.
(Giggles) Just my luck.
Here or upstairs? Here.
It's better.
I found your house.
- What? - The one we're going to buy at Eltham.
Oh, you filthy beast.
You didn't tell me.
- I did.
I'm telling you now.
- Oh, and you're teasing, anyway.
- It's got a Tudor granary - Tudor? mullioned windows, a real ghost and a moat.
A moat? Oh, tell me truthfully.
Real honest Indians.
- What's it called? - Well Hall.
- Well Hall? - Yes.
- I want to see it now, this instant.
- Well you can't, cos I'm about.
Oh, yes you are.
Well Hall.
E NESBIT: It's more than splendid.
(Giggles) It's splendacious! Oh, Fabian, look! HUBERT: Children, look at the moat.
- Wow! FABIAN: The moat house was the one we went to stay at.
There's been a house there since Saxon times.
It's a manor, and a manor goes on having a house on it, whatever happens.
The moat house was burnt down once or twice in ancient centuries, I don't remember which, but they always built a new one, and Cromwell's soldiers smashed it about, but it was patched up again.
It's not very big and there's a watery moat all round it, with a brick bridge that leads to the front door.
It's a very odd house.
The front door opens straight into the dining room.
There's a black-and-white marble floor, like a chessboard, and there's a secret staircase.
Only it's not a secret now - only rather rickety.
I hope all this is plain.
I've said it as short as I can.
Oh! Splendiferous.
- It'll do? - We'll be the grandest cats in all the world.
And I'll give parties.
The most fantastical parties.
(Children shout) Oh, Cat, won't it be ripping for sardines and hide-and-seek? It's going to be a new life, isn't it? We'll start all over again.
Not make the same mistakes as last time.
Mm.
Different mistakes.
I suppose we shall make some.
You don't think one already? - Oh, how could you say it? - No, I'm sorry.
I didn't mean it.
I want him to grow up here, in this beautiful old house.
This lovely garden.
I always wanted five.
Five children.
Is that a magic number, do you think? You haven't kissed me.
The first time in Well Hall.
Very well, madam, I shall kiss you now.
(Footsteps on stairs) Oh.
Don't mind me.
- I suppose we eat in here, then.
- Yes.
We'll eat in here.
(Low chatter) - Oh, goody, goody.
- Ooh! - I want heaps.
- You'll get the same as everyone else.
- I get more, silly, because I'm a boy.
- Oh, no, you don't.
He doesn't, does he, Mother - get more, because he's a boy? No.
- He gets more because he's last, sometimes.
FABIAN: You see! - (Blows raspberry) - Manners, Fabian.
Well, anyway, I think boys should get more.
I mean, they jolly well need it, don't they, Paul? - Need what? - More to eat than girls.
Can't say.
Never thought about it.
Women should have equal rights.
Equal in everything.
Look here, Rozzy, you can't be one of those.
- One of what? - One of those, don't you know? I am.
I think Mrs Pankhurst is splendid and Christabel's the loveliest person that ever breathed.
- You're just saying that.
- No, I'm not.
- I do.
I want the custard when I get my pudding.
- Please.
Yes, Miss Hoatson.
(Muffled) It's all rot! Girls are pro-Boer.
I'm not pro-Boer.
Oh, look here, Father, tell her to chuck it.
Well, I've been trying, as it happens, to get a word in.
As I understand it, my younger daughter has embraced the banner of equal rights between the sexes.
- Yes.
- So, for example, if, in a few years' time, a young man elopes with you, then abandons you, perhaps with a baby, you'd have no claim against him, you'd both be equally to blame.
- I don't see why not.
- It's silly to elope.
Nobody does now.
And, in any case, I couldn't even if I wanted.
- Why ever not? - My underwear, for one thing.
- (Laughter) - Your underwear? It's so full of holes, I'd be ashamed for anyone to see it.
FATHER: That seems a practical objection.
Your underwear? I spend a fortune keeping you in clothes.
- Let's not talk about clothes.
- Why not? I've always cared tremendously about your clothes, ever since you were born.
Why, you were almost the first children in London to be dressed with any sense of style.
And just about the only ones in that style.
I suppose you wanted to dress like everyone else.
Of course.
We told you, we've been through agonies at school.
I don't believe a word of it.
You've both just thought of it.
No, Mother.
Miss Hoatson, didn't we? Oh, well, if you're asking me We're not! This is the silliest argument I ever heard.
You'll spoil my pudding.
In any case, we seem to have strayed somewhat from the point of issue, which was not my girls' appearance, or outward show, but rather what we male observers see only with the inward eye of our imaginings, I refer, of course, to Rosamund's frillies.
Honestly, Father.
What did you call them? Frillies.
- That stupid word.
- The word is immaterial.
We all know what I mean.
And it seems that Rosamund's undergarments are full of holes, not little lacy ones to titillate the fancy, but large gaping ones in awkward places, holes that would be wholly misleading for any man to see.
Now, children this is what I should like to have explained to me.
At several times throughout the year, this house is filled with woollen undergarments, provided at infinite expense and labour by ourselves, to clothe the poor children of the East End.
Admirable work, of course, I quite agree.
But could we not, whilst distributing this largesse, make some provision for my daughters? Surely, if charity is to begin at home, it must begin with knickers.
(Cheering) You make me sick, all of you! Frillies are all you're fit for.
What would you have done, if it hadn't been for me? I worked.
I worked my fingers to the bone to give you what you have.
You don't have anything that I didn't make for you and plan myself with love.
Yes, with love.
That's what you'll never have.
You don't know what it means.
Those children, those East End children, love me as you have never done.
And I love them.
I'm the only one of you with love to give.
And, crumbs, how I have given and given and still you ask for more! Yes, more pudding! I'm the one who gives, the one who earns.
We've come to that.
I thought we'd hear it before very long.
It's true.
That's why you make them laugh at me.
You're ashamed.
You ought to be ashamed.
I'm not ashamed of anything, unless it's you.
What about you? You're nothing I haven't made you.
I saved you, you you you bankrupt brush maker! You're hateful, all of you! Just jolly awful pigs! And I don't want any of you! Oh, Lord.
We'll never get it now.
(Knock on door) No.
HUBERT: Pussy.
What do you want? Come and eat your pudding.
Pussy, you know I didn't mean it.
Don't let's row.
What's up? Is it Alice? We'll manage somehow.
She promised me she'd go away.
No-one will know.
Why did it happen? She made it happen.
Well, what do you think? She was jealous.
Your little shadow.
She even dresses to look like you.
Hmph! She's got a waist still.
Oh, Cat.
I didn't mean them, those things I said.
You know I didn't.
And God knows too.
I know, I know.
Of course.
Now, come and be a good cat and eat up your pudding.
(Church bells toll) - Sinite parvulos venire ad me.
- Talium est enim regnum coelorum.
(Priests continue in Latin) - I wanted five.
There'll never be another.
There'll never be another now.
Unless it's hers.
Rosa Mundi mine all mine.
Not hers.
Nothing else matters.
It's only love that matters.
Love that you give comes back to you.
That's the magic the truest magic in the world.
My son John he came to me.
Magic is stronger in the end.
Stronger than anyone.
Stronger than death.
I proved it, didn't I? I proved it with myself.
And it was easy.
Thank you, Doctor.
Goodbye.
What did he say, then? The doctor? He said it's not lumbago.
Oh.
More likely displacement.
You know the time you had.
He says it's not that either.
He says it's cancer.
Cancer? Of course, there'll have to be a second opinion.
I'll see the specialist tomorrow.
If it is, they'll have to operate.
I said, "Well, come on, Norton, what are my chances?" And he said, "Frankly, Mrs B, small, I'm afraid.
" Well, the man's a fool.
Well, that remains to be seen, doesn't it? Where's the babe? I've put him in the pram.
It's warm enough today.
Well, at least you can stop telling me I'll kill myself with these.
Come on, Mouse, this won't do at all.
We must get ready.
Now, we shall need heaps and heaps of flowers.
The daffodils will do for most of them.
You must put a message on the door to say the front door is at the back because Hubert is worried by the bell.
- What are you staring at? - Are you not going to put it off? The party? Whatever for? I'm going up to change.
I certainly have no intention of dying before a party.
I didn't want to worry Dr Norton, but I have no real intention of dying at all.
I haven't finished.
Mother, are you coming up? I want to try this on you.
It's all pinned.
Your dressing gown.
Yes, darling.
And if it doesn't fit, don't worry.
Mouse can use it for my shroud.
HUBERT: I don't think any of us should mention it at all.
I'm sure it's what Duchess would want.
We must make her as jolly as possible.
Although it is going to be damned difficult.
(Screams) (Glass shatters) The Well Hall ghost! How are you, darlings? Ye Gods, what is the matter with you all? You look like death.
Cat, you're very sleek.
And beautiful.
- How about me? - You look radiant.
And there's my darling Douglas, my favourite man.
Well, there should be music.
Mouse? Where's Mouse? Oh, we must have music.
Douglas is going to dance with me.
We must all dance.
Yes, even Fabian.
I'm up for Sir Roger de Coverley.
Oh, darling, put that somewhere for me, please.
Douglas is going to dance with me because he's young and beautiful and mends motor cars.
And that must be magical enough to make me young again too.
So, come on, everybody.
Music, Mouse.
(Piano strikes up) - With your pairs.
Push that back.
Ladies on this side, gentlemen on the other.
Go right into Coverley.
Come on, darling! Come on, it's a party! Cat! Paul! (Screams) (Moans) No.
No, please.
Aah please (Panting) Darling? Darling, it's all right.
What is it? What an awful row.
You woke me up.
Sorry.
Was it a dream? Bad one? You were dead.
Oh, what rot.
Can I sit on your bed? I hate people to sit on mine.
It makes your feet hot.
I expect it was that silly business months ago.
Flapdoodle.
When I went up to London, they told me it was nothing.
I knew it would be.
I'm not going to die until I'm ready and that won't be for ages.
That's all it was.
- Perhaps.
- You're not thinking about tomorrow? Oh, no.
No, I mean, tonsils are nothing, aren't they? Nothing at all.
Still, I wish old Norton was going to do it.
I know him.
Well, he would have done, old chap.
But your father insisted on a specialist.
Probably right, you know.
Do a good job.
Yes.
What are you going to get me for my birthday? What do you want? A.
256 Mannlicher.
- Is that a gun? - Yes.
You've got your air rifle.
You can't kill anything with that.
Well, you shan't shoot rabbits.
I won't stand for it.
I can shoot rats.
Now, you can't get cut up about rats.
Unless you are one.
Well, you're not.
You're not too bad, actually, for a mother.
That's jolly good of you.
Oh, that's all right.
Don't mention it.
But you're a jolly sight too cheeky, so go to sleep.
And I will too, if I get half a chance.
All right, then.
And dream about your birthday, and your Ratlicher, or whatever it is.
Good idea.
Thanks.
Good night, old thing.
I say Where will they do it? I mean, my tonsils.
In this room? I expect so.
There'll be two of them, Father said.
Surgeon and an anaesthetist.
He's the chap who makes you go to sleep.
Yes.
Yes, I know.
Shall I promise you? I promise you'll go to sleep and wake up again without your tonsils and with a rotten throat and you'll be better in a week.
And we'll go up to town and buy you a present - honour bright.
I never promised anything that didn't happen.
It's magic and it really works.
You do believe that, don't you? Yes.
I promised.
Just think of that.
I promised.
It's magic and it really works.
(Door closes) Mary, did the doctors come downstairs? Yes, madam.
The master is just seeing them out.
Nobody told me.
You've laid for Master Fabian.
Yes, madam.
Won't he be coming down? - No, of course.
- I didn't realise.
No, leave it.
Now, look what you've done, you little fool! Surely, you know not to clear a plate once it's been laid for someone.
And now you've smashed a glass.
It's not a looking glass at any rate, thank God for that.
I'll do it, madam.
I'll get the pan and brush.
Well? Er they didn't start the operation.
- Didn't start? - No.
Erm Well, they thought it was the anaesthetic or - He's asleep.
I promised him.
perhaps his heart.
They tried everything! - Pussy, listen to me! - Leave me alone! Leave me alone! What are you doing? What are you doing here? Why have you covered him? You dared! Why, can't you see, he's breathing? Oh! He's warm.
He's breathing.
It's only sleep.
Fabian? Fabian? Listen to me, you must.
Leave us alone.
I don't want you.
Leave us alone! It's all right.
It's all right, my darling.
I'm going to keep you warm.
It's all right.
Help me.
I want hot water bottles, every one in the house.
Fill them and bring them quickly.
Well, don't you hear? He's gonna wake up soon.
I promised him.
I promised him.
He's not cold.
He isn't dead.
Didn't I tell you? Get the bottles or I'll kill you! - It's no good.
- How dare you! I won't hear you say it! You're nothing.
You're just a shadow, you don't exist.
I should have made her go.
Her and her children.
I never wanted them.
I only wanted you.
My son.
Couldn't it be one of yours? Your baby instead of mine? If it had been Rosamund or John I wouldn't have cared.
Why couldn't God take one of your children instead of mine? Always mine.
What have I done? I tried to love him.
I thought I did.
And now he has punished me.
The only one I really wanted and you can have them all.
You shan't kill him.
Get the bottles.
He's going to waken.
I promised.
He knows I promised.
God wouldn't do that.
I promised.
How long? Till it was dark, I know.
I lit the candles.
16 candles that were ready for his birthday.
Magic can triumph.
Even over death.
I knew.
I know.
And yet He's dead.
You best leave him.
You've done all you can.
More than you should, it seems.
What? You'll have to speak to Rosamund.
She heard you, outside the door.
- What? - You don't remember what you said? You said you wished that God had taken her instead of him.
You said she wasn't yours but mine.
She wants to know.
Oh, my poor lamb.
- I didn't think.
- How could you think? If I was something, other than a shadow there's things I'd tell you.
Maybe I shouldn't say this to you now, but if I don't, you'll never understand.
You're not a good person for anyone to love.
And I have loved you.
Worshipped you perhaps.
I've never wanted anything for myself, except to be like you.
Well, I was wrong.
You're not so wonderful.
You don't give anything, only to get it back.
Everything you've ever done isjust for that.
Maybe you did love Fabian.
I think you did.
But Rosamund is mine, so you best go to her.
You can do it because you're strong.
I'm no good to her at all, you've seen to that.
But I gave her and I keep my bargains, whatever comes.
You'll not use her, my love the way that you've used me.
She's by the fire.
E NESBIT: Rosamund? Rosa Mundi.
Rose Of The World.
That's a magic name.
Forgive me.
You must forgive me.
I'm so unhappy.
- I wish it had been me instead of him.
- No.
- You don't mean it.
- How do you know? It's just a thing you say when something hurts too much.
You say things you don't mean.
Things you don't even know you're saying.
You think you mean them, but what you're really saying is "Don't hurt me like this.
If you want to hurt, do it another way because it hurts so much like this.
" Darling, please understand.
It isn't that you want to die.
Even tomorrow, you'll feel quite differently.
When I first saw Fabian I wanted to hurt something with my own hands because I thought God was hurting me.
That's why I shouted.
It wasn't true.
Whatever I said then, it wasn't really true.
You do know what I mean.
Because we both have tempers.
You know, we've talked about it.
How often we've both said things we didn't mean.
And how we both regret them.
And it's fearful, isn't it? Not to be forgiven for saying something you didn't even mean at all.
(Gasps) (Sobs) Forgive me if you loved him too.
I do.
That's why I hated you, because I love you.
Yes, I know.
And you will forgive me.
And it will always be the same.
Just as it always was.
Rosa Mundi.
My fairy child.
So beautiful.
The prettiest doll.
The one you have to stop yourself from spoiling.
The one you know everyone will love.
The one that's magical.
Just like the day you found her.
The moment that that magic box was opened and there she was.
Big brown eyes looking straight up at you.
It was real magic that made you mine.
And you will be mine.
Now and forever.
It wasn't true, then, was it? Oh, no.
Of course, my dearest.
I knew it couldn't be.
What Miss Hoatson said.
Alice? What did she say? That I was like John.
I don't mean an orphan like he was.
She said She said that we were both her children.
I knew it wasn't true.
I am yours, you said I was.
I couldn't possible be hers - Miss Hoatson's - could I? She's such such an ordinary thing.
Well, it doesn't matter.
- What doesn't matter? - Whose you were, not now you're mine.
It does.
It matters terribly.
Tell me the truth.
Tell me the truth at once.
- Rosa Mundi.
- I don't want any rot.
I want to know it now.
It's true.
I am hers.
She is my mother.
Miss Hoatson, my mother.
Yes, she was - You're a sham.
- No.
You are.
You've always been a sham, a nasty, rotten fraud! No.
I won't listen to you.
I won't hear you say it.
I don't care if you listen to me because it's true.
- You lied.
You've always lied to me! - I'm sorry.
You lied to me through and through! I hate you! You're bloody awful! Bloody awful sham! No, I won't.
I shan't listen.
Thinking will make it better.
It always makes it better.
Oh, God, don't leave me alone here in the dark without your love.
I'm cold.
I'm cold.
Pleasure that melts like fairy gold.
Their warmth, their love.
It's not such fun to be a child forever when the magic's gone.
Nothing was ever quite the same again.
Next day, or ever.
And now she's married.
Iris and Rosamund.
Married and gone.
It's not a good day.
The verse won't come.
I wish I'd written decent verse.
Nothing but verse.
The rest was rot.
Won't do.
Won't do at all, old girl.
A sham, that's all it was.
(Knock on door) (Door opens) Cat? Can I come in? Busy? I started thinking.
Yes.
Poor old King's gone.
I know.
I want to Cat, will you tell me something straight and true? Am I a sham? Oh, we're all shams.
All of us? Look at the world.
Look at the things we started with.
The Empire, England's glory, the new life, the Fabian ideal.
We had the right ideas.
We had those, right enough.
If ideas could change the world, we would have changed it.
But they don't.
Still the world is changing.
And I don't like it.
I don't like it one little bit.
I'm going blind, Cat.
What do you mean? I mean what I say.
I've only one good 'un, after all, and that's going too.
You're wrong.
No.
I know it's true.
Then it is.
And we'll think about it.
Thinking will make it better.
Even if it is true, everything you say, and all our lives a sham there was something wonderful about it when we were young and brave.
And if we didn't change the world and if we're getting old and fat and ugly what shall we do? We're shams and life's a rotten, awful show.
It is.
But we were beautiful.
Two splendid cats, the pair of us.
And we showed them, didn't we? What shall we do? Turn our backs and hide our old blind eyes from them? You know we shan't.
We shall be brave and true show the flag.
That's my girl.
You've got the spirit.
Two grand old shams the pair of us.
John's taking soundings on the moat.
Let's go and see the garden.
My magical old cat.
Right-ho.
Let's go and see the garden.
Won't that be fine? E NESBIT: Real life is often something like books.
Little brown brother Oh, little brown brother What kind of flower will you be? I'll be a poppy All white like my mother Do be a poppy like me What? You're a sunflower How I shall miss you When you're grown golden and high But I shall send all the bees up to kiss you Little brown brother Goodbye Goodbye