Belinda by A. A. Milne


An April Folly in Three Acts


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subjects: Plays, Playscripts

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Plot: Three men are competing for a woman; a humorous play with many funny moments - an enjoyable play.

77 pages, with a reading time of ~2.5 hours (19,250 words), and first published in 1918. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, .

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It is a lovely April afternoon–a foretaste of summer–in BELINDA’S garden.

BETTY, a middle-aged servant, is fastening a hammock–its first appearance this year–to a tree down L. In front there is a garden-table, with a deck-chair on the right of it and a straight-backed one to the left. There are books, papers, and magazines on the table. BELINDA, of whom we shall know more presently, is on the other side of the open windows which look on to the garden, talking to BETTY, who crosses to R. of hammock, securing it to tree C.

BELINDA (from inside the house). Are you sure you’re tying it up tightly enough, Betty?

BETTY (coming to front of hammock). Yes, ma’am; I think it’s firm.

BELINDA. Because I’m not the fairy I used to be.

BETTY (testing hammock). Yes, ma’am; it’s quite firm this end too.

BELINDA (entering from portico with sunshade open). It’s not the ends I’m frightened of; it’s the middle where the weight’s coming. (Comes down R. and admiring.) It looks very nice. (She crosses at back of wicker table, hanging her hand-bag on hammock. Closes and places her sunshade at back of tree C.)

BETTY. Yes, ma’am.

BELINDA (trying the middle of it with her hand). I asked them at the Stores if they were quite sure it would bear me, and they said it would take anything up to–I forget how many tons. I know I thought it was rather rude of them. (Looking at it anxiously, and trying to get in, first with her right leg and then her left.) How does one get in! So trying to be a sailor!

BETTY. I think you sit in it, ma’am, and then (explaining with her hands) throw your legs over.

BELINDA. I see. (She sits gingerly in the hammock, and then, with a sudden flutter of white, does what BETTY suggests.) Yes. (Regretfully.) I’m afraid that was rather wasted on you, Betty. We must have some spectators next time.

BETTY. Yea, ma’am

BELINDA. Cushions.

(BETTY moves to and takes a cushion from deck-chair. BELINDA assists her to place it at back of her head. BETTY then goes to back of hammock and arranges BELINDA’S dress.)

There! Now then, Betty, about callers.

BETTY. Yes, ma’am.

BELINDA. If Mr. Baxter calls–he is the rather prim gentleman–

BETTY. Yea, ma’am; the one who’s been here several times before. (Moves to below and L. of hammock.)

BELINDA (giving BETTY a quick look). Yes. Well, if he calls, you’ll say, “Not at home.”

BETTY. Yes, ma’am.

BELINDA. He will say (imitating MR. BAXTER), “Oh–er–oh–er– really.” Then you’ll smile very sweetly and say, “I beg your pardon, was it Mr_. BAXTER_?” And he’ll say, “Yes!” and you’ll say, “Oh, I beg your pardon, sir; this way, please.”

BETTY. Yes, ma’am.

BELINDA. That’s right, Betty. Well now, if Mr. Devenish calls–he is the rather poetical gentleman–

BETTY. Yes, ma’am; the one who’s always coming here.

BELINDA (with a pleased smile). Yes. Well, if he calls you’ll say, “Not at home.”

BETTY. Yes, ma’am.

BELINDA. He’ll immediately (extending her arms descriptively) throw down his bunch of flowers and dive despairingly into the moat. You’ll stop him, just as he is going in, and say, “I beg your pardon, sir, was it Mr_. DEVENISH_?” And he will say, “Yes!” and you will say, “Oh, I beg your pardon, sir; this way, please.”

BETTY. Yes, ma’am. And suppose they both call together?

BELINDA (non-plussed for a moment). We won’t suppose anything so exciting, Betty.

BETTY. No, ma’am. And suppose any other gentleman calls?

BELINDA (with a sigh). There aren’t any other gentlemen.

BETTY. It might be a clergyman, come to ask for a subscription like.

BELINDA. If it’s a clergyman, Betty, I shall–I shall want your assistance out of the hammock first.

BETTY. Yes, ma’am.

BELINDA. That’s all.

(BETTY crosses below table and chairs to porch.)

To anybody else I’m not at home, (Trying to secure book on table and nearly falling out of the hammock.) Oh, just give me that little green book. (Pointing to books on the table.) The one at the bottom there–that’s the one. (BETTY gives it to her.) Thank you. (Reading the title.) “The Lute of Love,” by Claude Devenish. (To herself as she turns the pages.) It doesn’t seem much for half-a-crown when you think of the Daily Telegraph … . Lute … Lute … . I should have quite a pretty mouth if I kept on saying that. (With a great deal of expression.) Lute! (She pats her mouth back.)