Base Instruments

by Phoebe Roberts

~~~

Dramatis Personae

MRS. VICTORIA HAWKING, lady’s society avenger, early forties
MISS MARY STONE, her assistant and housemaid, early twenties
MR. NATHANIEL HAWKING, her gentleman nephew, late twenties
MR. JUSTIN HAWKING, Nathaniel’s brother, early thirties
MRS. CLARA HAWKING, Nathaniel’s wife, late twenties
MISS ELENA ZAKHAROVA, dancer of the Mariinsky Ballet, late twenties
SERGEANT ARTHUR SWANN, a policeman, mid twenties
NICHOLAS CAVIL, LORD SEACOURSE, a London socialite, early thirties
MR. KIRIL CHERNOVSKY, manager of the traveling Mariinsky, early forties
MISS YULIA SHERBA, in the Mariinsky’s corps de ballet, mid twenties
Ruffians, party guests, dancers, non-speaking ensemble
Note: Misses Zakharova and Sherba may be double-cast

Setting: London, England, 1883

​Set: Optionally, a stylized backdrop that gives the impression of a back wall with a fireplace, with rafters coming forward from the top to give the illusion of a ceiling.

Cheap 20 MG Tastylia Tadalafil Oral Stripstadalafil tastylia prices ACT I

Scene 1

(An empty London street. Enter NATHANIEL HAWKING, quietly, waiting. The sound of a distant commotion can be heard offstage. NATHANIEL ducks into the shadows. Then MARY STONE runs in, with a locked box under her arm. NATHANIEL rushes to meet her.)

NATHANIEL:

Have you got it?

MARY:

Right here!

NATHANIEL:

Well done!

MARY:

Now go and make the drop! Quickly now, they saw me!

NATHANIEL:

I’ll be at it!

MARY:

Hurry! They’re coming!

(NATHANIEL exits, carrying the box with him. MARY turns in a ready stance to see MRS. HAWKING run in with a pack of ruffians at her heels. Together they lay into them.)

MRS. HAWKING:

Have you got it?

MARY:

Already handed off!

MRS. HAWKING:

Very well. Now to finish things here!

(As MARY grapples an opponent, she turns to see the final man come up behind MRS. HAWKING, seizing her arm and twisting it behind her back. MARY gapes as she freezes a moment in pain. But MRS. HAWKING spins out of his grasp, and finishes him with a brutal final blow. MRS. HAWKING straightens over his body and looks to MARY. They exit in different directions making their escape.)

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(MRS. HAWKING’s parlor. MRS. HAWKING sits cradling her wrenched arm. MARY enters by the front door, and MRS. HAWKING collects herself.)

MRS. HAWKING:

All right then, Mary?

MARY:

We’ve done it! Nathaniel should be delivering the papers as we speak, and the police collected our men, so we may call it a job well done.

MRS. HAWKING:

I suppose that police officer of yours received an anonymous tip?

MARY:

His name is Arthur Swann, and he’s been a great deal of help.

MRS. HAWKING:

Someone is making quite the career out of our hard work.

MARY:

We ought to be grateful! Without him, there’s precious little we can do to bring the law to bear. And he’s content not to pry into things.

MRS. HAWKING:

How lucky for us.

MARY:

Come now, things went well! I’m quite pleased with myself. My lock picking’s coming along, I’m quicker than I’ve ever been!

MRS. HAWKING:

Indeed. Though we’ll have to work on the rest of your second story skills. If you hadn’t been seen on the exit, perhaps then we wouldn’t have had to fight our way out.

MARY:

I am sorry about that. Still, I rather held my own once things broke out!

MRS. HAWKING:

That’s true. But it is imperative you learn how to maneuver unseen when tactics demand it.

(MRS. HAWKING winces in pain at her wrenched shoulder.)

MARY:

And how are you? For a moment there I thought you were quite hurt.

MRS. HAWKING:

An occupational hazard. In this work one must be as capable of taking a beating as giving one. This is hardly the first time.

MARY:

May I get you something? Tea, perhaps?

MRS. HAWKING:

Brandy. If you please.

(MARY pauses in surprise a moment, then obeys.)

MARY:

I should have been able to help you. I suppose I still have a great deal of work to do yet.

MRS. HAWKING:

Next time you won’t be seen.

MARY:

But what if I am?

MRS. HAWKING:

Then you’ll practice until you are not. You are my protégé, Mary, and I mean to see that you learn the things you need to do my work. In my early days, even I had times when I was spotted or tripped up or came home black and blue. So I worked until I was equal to any challenge that might arise, until I could manage anything.

MARY:

Anything? So you’re the cleverest person there is, then?

MRS. HAWKING:

Hardly. I was nursemaided by cleverer than myself. It’s all in what use you make of it.

MARY:

Do you really believe that I could do anything that you do?

MRS. HAWKING:

I mean to see you do everything that I do.

(MARY beams. The doorbell rings. MRS. HAWKING gestures, then exits to change her clothes. MARY goes to answer the door, bringing in JUSTIN.)

JUSTIN:

Forgive the intrusion, miss. It’s only I have an appointment.

MARY:

An appointment, sir?

JUSTIN:

I assure you, little else could draw me to find myself at Mrs. Hawking’s. But then, I hadn’t expected a friendly face.

MARY:

Well, you are quite welcome to wait. May I offer you some tea?

JUSTIN:

Only if you’ll join me.

MARY:

Beg pardon, sir?

JUSTIN:

If you have the time. I should so enjoy the company.

MARY:

Oh. If you like.

(She goes to pour cups.)

JUSTIN:

So you’re the new girl. What might I call you?

MARY:

Mary Stone, sir. And I suppose so. Though it’s been a few years now.

JUSTIN:

Forgive me, it’s been a few years since I’ve been in town. I’m a traveler, you see, and I’ve just been touring the Malay kingdoms and the subcontinent.

MARY:

Oh! I spent most of my girlhood there.

JUSTIN:

Really! Whereabouts?

MARY:

Tellicherry. And some in Bombay.

JUSTIN:

The Paris of Kerala! Did you see much of the sights?

MARY:

I’m afraid my work kept me most of the time.

JUSTIN:

Of course. I suppose it’s just as well, or London might seem terribly dull by comparison.

MARY:

I don’t know, sir. I’ve found life here to be quite exciting!

JUSTIN:

Indeed? What have you been doing, besides brightening the Colonel’s old parlor?

MARY:

Well, there’s just so much going on in the city. And Mrs. Hawking’s rather taken me under her wing.

JUSTIN:

Mrs. Hawking has? However so?

MARY:

Oh, she has me… visit all over, hear interesting stories, meet so many interesting people. And I’m learning a great deal!

JUSTIN:

Do you ever have any fun? Or doesn’t she permit it?

MARY:

I find I’m very much enjoying my work.

JUSTIN:

My goodness. I can see why the family’s so pleased to have you.

MARY:

I’m pleased to hear that they are.

JUSTIN:

Well, you do manage Mrs. Hawking for them. I may have plunged into some of the darkest corners of the empire, but you’re a braver soul than I!

MARY:

I’m sure when you see madam, she shall be everything you could hope.

JUSTIN:

Please, miss. I may be a fool, but I’m not a damn fool.

(They laugh. NATHANIEL bursts in the door.)

NATHANIEL:

All wrapped with a bow, neat as you please— Justin!

JUSTIN:

Ah! My appointment.

MARY:

Hello, Mr. Hawking. Have you met our guest?

NATHANIEL:

Some time ago. But I didn’t realize you had.

JUSTIN:

I’d rather forgotten to give my name. I’ve been distracted.

NATHANIEL:

I see. In that case, Mary, may I introduce Mr. Justin Hawking? My dear elder brother.

MARY:

Your brother, sir? Goodness, I’d no idea!

JUSTIN:

I can hardly fault you, miss. I am, after all, much handsomer than he is.

NATHANIEL:

Whatever are you doing here?

JUSTIN:

Clara told me to meet you. We’ve appointments all day.

NATHANIEL:

Ah! That’s right!

JUSTIN:

Don’t tell me it slipped your mind. Believe me, I’d not venture into the lion’s den unless absolutely necessary.

NATHANIEL:

I’ll have you know Aunt Victoria is not the same woman you remember when you left.

JUSTIN:

You mean the woman who, at Uncle’s funeral, locked me in the rectory and threw my hat up on the cornices? She’s different now?

(MRS. HAWKING reenters in day dress. Seeing JUSTIN, she turns away in frustration.)

JUSTIN:

Well. That answers that. Hello, Auntie.

MRS. HAWKING:

Justin.

JUSTIN:

She spoke to me! Nathaniel’s right, madam, you have grown softer.

MRS. HAWKING:

A pleasure as always. We must do this again in another four years.

JUSTIN:

(To MARY) My auntie’s very fond of me, you see. Most people don’t receive a return invitation.

(The bell rings again. MARY goes to answer it.)

NATHANIEL:

Madam, I had hoped to confer—

MRS. HAWKING:

Not the time, Nathaniel.

(MARY runs in after ELENA ZAKHAROVA, who speaks with a strong Russian accent.)

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

I must see the lady!

JUSTIN:

Quite the bustling spot, for someone who hates company.

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

Is this it? Is this the place they told me of?

MRS. HAWKING:

Madam, whom are you looking for?

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

Mrs. Victoria Hawking, that was the name. Are you she?

MARY:

Gentlemen, perhaps you should go.

JUSTIN:

Quite right. We all know what Auntie does to people who insist on seeing her.

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

But I must see her! It is a matter of—

MRS. HAWKING:

So you will, miss! Nathaniel, be on your way.

NATHANIEL:

Is this an appointment?

JUSTIN:

We have appointments!

NATHANIEL:

Of course. We’ll talk of it later. Shan’t we, Auntie?

MRS. HAWKING:

Nathaniel!

(NATHANIEL and JUSTIN hurry out. MRS. HAWKING turns to MISS ZAKHAROVA.)

MRS. HAWKING:

Forgive that display, but now it is safe to speak. I am indeed she, and this is my assistant Mary.

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

I was sent to you by a chambermaid at the Colonnade. The circumstances are quite serious, and she suggested I turn to you.

MRS. HAWKING:

Begin at the beginning. Who are you?

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

I am called Elena Zakharova.

MRS. HAWKING:

Of the Mariinsky?

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

You know me?

MRS. HAWKING:

A Russian lady who moves as you do can be nothing but a member of the St. Petersburg Ballet.

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

Yes. It concerns the ballet that I come you now. And the murder of Raisa Sergeyeva.

MRS. HAWKING:

The prima ballerina? She is dead?

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

Have you not heard? It was in all the papers.

MRS. HAWKING:

We’ve been otherwise engaged these last few days. Mary?

(MARY retrieves the newspaper. She opens it to read.)

MARY:

“Tragedy struck during the performance of La Bayadere, the Temple Dancer, by the Imperial Russian ballet, when a fire broke out in the theater, claiming the life of their leading lady, Miss Raisa Sergeyeva.” According to this, her death was an accident.

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

And I come here to tell you it was not.

MRS. HAWKING:

And how do you know?

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

I know.

MRS. HAWKING:

I see. And how often do you require the laudanum, Miss Zakharova?

(MISS ZAKHAROVA stiffens.)

MRS. HAWKING:

The whites of your eyes betray you. As does the slight tremor in your hands.

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

The work… it is very demanding. Even when I am injured, I must perform.

MRS. HAWKING:

Indeed. But if it has clouded your reason—

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

I am not clouded! I am sure!

MRS. HAWKING:

Then tell me how.

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

There was a man creeping about her. Raisa draws many admirers, but since we arrived in England there was one in particular who demanded her attention. His name is Nicholas Cavil, Lord Seacourse, and in giving much money to the company, he wormed his way toward Raisa. They have written about it in the society pages for weeks.

MRS. HAWKING:

What were his intentions?

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

What are any such man’s? He wanted her to leave the ballet, and that she would never have done.

MARY:

Are you certain? They report it as a grand romance.

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

Never! I know Raisa! We lived together, we trained together. I dance Hamsatti to her Nikiya in La Bayadere. We are… I knew her like no one else.

MRS. HAWKING:

Why him?

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

Because when he followed her into our dressing room, she never again came out. At first interval he came back, making a great show of carrying roses and striding past the hands. Men like Lord Seacourse believe they may take anything they want. If she told him she would not go, he would punish her for denying him.

MARY:

By setting fire to the theater?

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

I do not know. That is why I have need of you. The company departs for the continent in seven days. If the killer is not found, then Raisa’s death will go unanswered forever. Please, Mrs. Hawking. Will you take up the cause?

MRS. HAWKING:

Hmm. A fine old-fashioned murder mystery. It’s been some time since I’ve taken that on. And it would be quite instructive for you, Miss Stone. Miss Zakharova— we are at your service.

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(A London street. NATHANIEL and JUSTIN walk to their appointment.)

JUSTIN:

So I said to the second sister, “I’m sure you are, but what’s your name?”

NATHANIEL:

You are absolutely vile! And… then what happened?

JUSTIN:

Oh, you’ll have to imagine the rest, I think. A gentleman must know when to show restraint.

NATHANIEL:

Speaking of which, you were laying it on rather thick with Mary just now. Just what do you think you were doing?

JUSTIN:

Why, making friends.

NATHANIEL:

Don’t play the innocent with me. I saw you prowling around her.

JUSTIN:

Well, can you blame me?

NATHANIEL:

She’s a sweet and decent girl. I’ll not have you telling her pretty lies just so you can…

JUSTIN:

So I can what, brother?

NATHANIEL:

Get your own way. Whatever that is.

JUSTIN:

Now who’s playing the innocent?

NATHANIEL:

Don’t be vulgar.

JUSTIN:

Ha! I should think you’d know me by now, old boy.

NATHANIEL:

And you call yourself a gentleman. I mean, really, Auntie’s maid?

JUSTIN:

What’s it to you? Unless you fancy her.

NATHANIEL:

Justin!

JUSTIN:

Shame on you, you’re a married man. And I’m, well… not!

NATHANIEL:

It isn’t that! How dare you?

JUSTIN:

Are you telling me you’ve never noticed her?

NATHANIEL:

I don’t prowl after the help.

JUSTIN:

I confess, though, I’d rather begun to wonder.

NATHANIEL:

About what?

JUSTIN:

About why you spend so much time around Auntie’s maid. The fine old married boy hasn’t started to envy all the fun I have?

NATHANIEL:

Yes, that’s it exactly, Justin, I’ve installed my working class mistress in my aunt’s own house because I wanted to be just like my dear big brother. Mary and I, we’ve… rather made friends, is all. Is that so unheard of?

JUSTIN:

I’d say so. Just out of curiosity, what does dear Clara think of this friendship?

NATHANIEL:

Well… I don’t suppose she knows much of it.

JUSTIN:

She doesn’t? I thought she led you so by the nose that you had no secrets!

NATHANIEL:

I don’t! Not really! It’s only that I haven’t… brought it up, as yet.

JUSTIN:

Hmmm. And why is that, do you think?

NATHANIEL:

I don’t mean to. I only… I only don’t know how to do it. Tell her, I mean.

JUSTIN:

Oh, why worry for it? You needn’t prod the bear if you don’t have to.

NATHANIEL:

She’s my wife, Justin, not some terrible monster from the woods.

JUSTIN:

Wives, monsters, it’s all the same to me. But I suppose if you’ve done nothing, then you’ve nothing to tell her.

NATHANIEL:

I do hate keeping things from her.

JUSTIN:

Why do it, then? Do you she think she wouldn’t approve?

NATHANIEL:

Perhaps. Of my… reasons for spending time with Miss Stone.

JUSTIN:

And what might they be? Beyond her more obvious charms.

NATHANIEL:

Oh, you wouldn’t understand.

JUSTIN:

My. Must be byzantine indeed if it’s beyond both Clara and myself. Well, brother, I hope you can find a way to make things clear one way or another.

NATHANIEL:

I thought you advocated avoiding the issue entirely.

JUSTIN:

So I do. But I know you well enough to see it won’t sit well with you. And while I’m not the marrying kind, I must say, I wouldn’t dare bollocks things up with a woman like Clara.

NATHANIEL:

You still haven’t got over that she liked me better.

JUSTIN:

Ancient history, brother dear. I have my Dutchwomen to keep me warm.

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Scene 4

(The London street. ARTHUR SWANN waits holding an envelope. Enter MARY.)

ARTHUR:

Evening, rare bird.

MARY:

Good evening, Constable Swann.

ARTHUR:

It’s Sergeant now, matter of fact.

MARY:

Really! I suppose it’s been a while.

ARTHUR:

It has, and shame on you. Who knows what trouble I might have come into without you to swing that poker and watch my back? Could you bear that on your conscience?

MARY:

(Laughs) In any case, well done, Arthur.

ARTHUR:

I did have a little help. Seems now and then criminals just… drop into my lap, all wrapped up with a bow. Chuffs the dickens out of my chief, I’ll tell you.

MARY:

Good heavens.

ARTHUR:

I may look like just a pretty face, but there’s a tick or two working upstairs. I know a good turn when it’s done me. Talking of that… I managed that favor you asked me.

(He pulls some documents from the envelope and hands them over.)

MARY:

You got the report on Miss Sergeyeva’s body?

ARTHUR:

Asking for it, they thought I was daft. Weren’t going to open her up, you know. Had to push it quite hard, but lucky for both of us, they turned some things up. No smoke in the lungs, but one great bleeding soft place, crack on the back of her skull.

MARY:

She did die before the fire.

ARTHUR:

You were right, miss. There is something to this case. Tell me, how did you know?

MARY:

Arthur.

ARTHUR:

I know, I know. Still, it works out well for me. I look rather clever, and I’ve got myself on a banger of a case.

MARY:

So there will be an investigation, then.

ARTHUR:

Should say so, seeing as she died of a bloody great head wound nobody knows how she got.

MARY:

Hm. Well, I’m glad for you, anyway.

ARTHUR:

And you. Imagine what else I might be able to get a hold of for you.

MARY:

You don’t mind my bothering you?

ARTHUR:

Mind isn’t the word for it.

MARY:

I don’t want to get you in any trouble.

ARTHUR:

Trouble? I got my sergeant’s out of that.

MARY:

Thank you, Arthur.

ARTHUR:

And you don’t mind calling on me, Mary. Even if you don’t need something.

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Scene 5

(MRS. HAWKING’s parlor. MARY reads to MRS. HAWKING from the police report.)

MARY:

The body was badly damaged by fire, so no one noticed the wound on the back on her head. The police hadn’t planned on examining her in any detail until Arthur pressed it.

MRS. HAWKING:

Of course not.

MARY:

The damage suggests she fell back and struck herself on something. Whether an accident or a deliberate assault, they don’t know. But it seems Miss Zakharova may have been right.

MRS. HAWKING:

She may indeed. Any other evidence of the body?

MARY:

The burns made it difficult to say. Just that her feet were wrapped, and in very rough condition.

MRS. HAWKING:

Hm. Those new stiff shoes are very hard on them, but they make possible that image of the sylph on her toes. The slippers were much softer when I was a girl.

MARY:

You know a great deal about ballet. Have you had a case like this before?

MRS. HAWKING:

As a matter of fact, I studied the dance in my callow and restless youth. I actually considered pursuing it as a career, before my true vocation presented itself.

MARY:

Ballet? You?

MRS. HAWKING:

A foolish dream, I grant you. There were no ballets in British China, nor does anyone look to the English to dance them. There was Clara Webster, once, but her costume caught fire onstage and that was the end of her.

MARY:

You wanted to be a ballet dancer?

MRS. HAWKING:

It may interest you to know I did not spring fully formed into the world a crusader for justice, Miss Stone.

MARY:

I’m sorry, I… I’ve never heard you speak of such a thing. Of your… youth, or… outside interests. Or anything.

MRS. HAWKING:

With good reason, it seems. But, to the task at hand. We must know more about the circumstances of Miss Sergeyeva’s death before we can determine anything further.

MARY:

Where shall we proceed?

MRS. HAWKING:

Where would you proceed, Miss Stone?

MARY:

To the scene of the crime. Even with the fire, there should be something we can learn from the place she died.

MRS. HAWKING:

Very good. Now, we mustn’t waste time. If the police have finally turned their noses to the case, we must make our investigation tonight, before they have a chance to wreak their havoc over it.

MARY:

Will the place be shut up, do you think?

MRS. HAWKING:

Mostly likely, but the breaking in will make a fine exercise for your infiltration skills. We’ve let that part of your training go for far too long, it seems.

MARY:

It comes harder to me than other things. Do you really think I’ll pick it all up? The… moving quiet, and slipping in, and so forth?

MRS. HAWKING:

You’ll have to, Mary. I couldn’t get along without it.

(Enter NATHANIEL, half-dressed in evening attire.)

NATHANIEL:

Nearly ready now. I’ve been in meetings all day, or I should have had Chapman bring my tails by the office. He about burst a button when I told him I’d be dressing here.

MRS. HAWKING:

I don’t know why, it isn’t as if I come to the door. Mary, see to yourself now. We shall leave as soon as I’ve prepared Nathaniel.

(MARY nods and exits. NATHANIEL puts the finishing touches on his ensemble.)

NATHANIEL:

So I’ve done my research on this chap. Nicholas Cavil, Lord Seacourse. Rather young barony, no lands but a fair bit of money. He’s best known for gadding about London, throwing parties and carrying on with girls. He does seem to be devoted to the ballet, however.

MRS. HAWKING:

Your task, then, will be to cultivate the man’s trust enough to interrogate his connection to Miss Sergeyeva. A man like that, if he feels he won anything off of her, he’ll be ready to brag of it to the first likeminded fellow who’s keen to listen.

NATHANIEL:

So, make friends with him enough to get him to gossip.

MRS. HAWKING:

That means you must convince him that you’re of his stripe. If he has an opinion, you share it. If he has an insight, you’re struck by it. Laugh at his jokes, marvel at his exploits, anything you can do to make him to confide his involvement.

NATHANIEL:

Auntie, every day I talk gentlemen into trusting me with large sums of their money. That part you don’t have to teach me.

MRS. HAWKING:

I suppose not. But here you ought to play the adoring fool. Keep the drinks coming, but the trick is to change out your glass for a fresh one before it’s empty. If you carry it off, he’ll think you’re drunker than you are and let his guard down.

NATHANIEL:

Right.

MRS. HAWKING:

But don’t overplay it, you’ll lose him. And don’t wait until he’s too far gone, or you won’t get anything useful out of him.

NATHANIEL:

How do you know all that? Forgive me, but I can hardly imagine you playing the vivacious partygoer.

MRS. HAWKING:

Give me a third floor window or a locked door any day. But no matter. I have you for that now.

(Pause. Nathaniel beams.)

NATHANIEL:

Yes. You do.

MRS. HAWKING:

I suppose with how much you love to talk, you should manage well enough.

NATHANIEL:

Faint praise, and yet it thunders in my ears. Well, I had best be off if I’m to first collect Clara and Justin.

MRS. HAWKING:

You are bringing your wife and brother on an operation!?

NATHANIEL:

I can’t attend a society ball without them. Justin’s only in town for the week!

MRS. HAWKING:

This was a mistake.

NATHANIEL:

Auntie, no!

MRS. HAWKING:

They will be in your way the whole time!

NATHANIEL:

I have to talk to important people at parties all the time. This will look like business.

MRS. HAWKING:

Even to your brother? He’s an entitled rake who never stops talking.

NATHANIEL:

I thought that was what you thought of me.

MRS. HAWKING:

You’re not a rake, I grant you.

NATHANIEL:

Indeed? Goodness, Auntie, I never knew you cared.

MRS. HAWKING:

Nathaniel! What if they bollocks things up, or pull you away? What if they suspect?

NATHANIEL:

Aunt Victoria, I know how important this is. I can’t promise I’ll get everything you need. But I can promise I’ll do better than you’d be without me.

MRS. HAWKING:

Do not disappoint me, Nathaniel.

NATHANIEL:

I won’t, madam. As you said. If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s talk.

köpa Viagra på postförskott Scene 6

(The society benefit for the ballet, filled with guests in evening attire. Enter NATHANIEL, CLARA, and JUSTIN. NATHANIEL scans the room for his quarry.)

JUSTIN:

Why, yes, this shall do nicely. One thing London has up on the rest of the wide wondrous empire— hard to find a truly decent party.

CLARA:

I’m glad you approve. We should hate to make your visit dull. Shouldn’t we, Nathaniel? Nathaniel?

NATHANIEL:

What was that, dear?

JUSTIN:

Have I bored you? In town all of three days, and he’s already tired of me.

CLARA:

And I thought world travelers were supposed to be interesting.

NATHANIEL:

Forgive me, there’s a gentleman here I must speak with tonight, and I’ve got a weather eye out.

CLARA:

Working again, are you?

JUSTIN:

Oh, we’re always working, dear. What are we working on?

NATHANIEL:

Seacourse is his name. I’ve been told he’s a man worth our knowing.

CLARA:

Well, I hope we won’t lose you all night to working.

NATHANIEL:

When do you ever lose me all night?

CLARA:

When I’m cross with you, and you know what’s good.

(JUSTIN laughs. LORD SEACOURSE steps forward and taps on his glass for attention.)

LORD SEACOURSE:

If the company will permit it, I wanted to say a few words on their behalf. We’d all been hoping to celebrate the triumphant opening of the Mariinsky in London, but, in light of recent events, the tenor of the evening has rather changed. Miss Raisa Sergeyeva was a truly unique talent, an irreplaceable jewel in the Imperial Ballet’s crown. This is a great loss to the company, to the art of ballet, and to myself personally— as her patron, and her admirer. But I won’t allow this tragic accident to destroy the dance in Europe. So I hope you’ll all join me in seeing this important artistic institution back on its feet. I can say with certainty that is as Miss Sergeyeva would have wanted it.

(The guests applaud, and come forward to surround LORD SEACOURSE. NATHANIEL looks determinedly for an opening, but CLARA stops him.)

CLARA:

Off already?

NATHANIEL:

Excuse me, dear, but that’s my man.

CLARA:

Now? Nathaniel, he looks to be fairly mobbed.

NATHANIEL:

Best to make sure I get my oar in, then!

(He hurries over to push his way to SEACOURSE. CLARA grows annoyed.)

JUSTIN:

(Wryly) Well, at least now we’re alone.

CLARA:

Oh, Justin.

JUSTIN:

Clara, darling, do you know I would have given up everything for you?

CLARA:

Absolutely everything? How grand.

JUSTIN:

Do you doubt me?

CLARA:

I never doubt the lengths you’d go to torment Nathaniel.

JUSTIN:

(Laughing) He’s no need of me for that these days.

CLARA:

Whatever does that mean?

JUSTIN:

That he doesn’t seem quite himself. Do you know, he’d forgotten our meetings set down for Tuesday evening?

CLARA:

That doesn’t sound like Nathaniel.

JUSTIN:

What’s distracting him, I wonder?

CLARA:

How strange the way you say it makes me think you have an idea.

JUSTIN:

Oh, I don’t know. He says he’s been spending a great deal more time at Aunt Victoria’s. Heaven knows why.

CLARA:

Some of us aren’t frightened of her.

JUSTIN:

Besides you? In that woman’s case, there’s a reason why they call them “dower houses.”

CLARA:

He craves her favor. As one does of any disapproving parent. You ought to know.

JUSTIN:

Et tu, Brute?

CLARA:

This is why we’d never have worked. You bring out the edge in me.

JUSTIN:

We can’t all be Father’s favorite. So… the new maid seems to be working out.

CLARA:

Mary? She’s been a godsend.

JUSTIN:

I’d certainly rather spend the time with her than with Auntie.

CLARA:

Oh, heavens. How easily we believe of others the things we know of ourselves.

JUSTIN:

Perhaps. But you can’t tell me that little display just now was quite in character.

CLARA:

You drive him mad, you know.

JUSTIN:

We’re brothers, that’s the game. Well, none of my affair. As long as you’re at ease.

CLARA:

You cannot be so bored that you’re stirring this up.

JUSTIN:

I don’t mean it like that. I care for my brother, believe it or not. And I know what he has in you. I’d hate to think he might make a mess of things. After all a man has to give up for them.

(JUSTIN’s eye is caught by YULIA SHERBA, a dancer in the company.)

CLARA:

As ever, I am touched by your devotion.

JUSTIN:

Darling. I must bear my broken heart somehow.

(JUSTIN moves off toward MISS SHERBA. CLARA finds a group of her own. NATHANIEL and SEACOURSE come over in conversation.)

LORD SEACOURSE:

Do you know much of the ballet?

NATHANIEL:

I’m rather new to it yet.

LORD SEACOURSE:

I highly recommend taking it all in. It’s got everything— drama, music, spectacle, and beauty, of course. Believe you me, there’s no beautiful woman quite like a ballerina.

NATHANIEL:

You sound as if you know whereof you speak.

LORD SEACOURSE:

Well! I have been a patron for some time. I’ve come to make a few friends. I don’t suppose you had the chance to see La Bayadere before all this trouble? Thirty-six sylph women, pale as milk and light as air, each exactly the same as the last. It’s exquisite.

NATHANIEL:

…I say.

LORD SEACOURSE:

There are a few here tonight, if you’d care to see what I mean.

NATHANIEL:

Perhaps when I’m sure my wife isn’t looking. It is a shame about their leading lady, though.

LORD SEACOURSE:

More than a shame, my friend.

NATHANIEL:

So it’s true what they say?

LORD SEACOURSE:

What do they say?

NATHANIEL:

That Miss Sergeyeva was head over heels for you.

LORD SEACOURSE:

My goodness. One can’t hide anything in London.

NATHANIEL:

Why, you scoundrel!

LORD SEACOURSE:

Be kind, my heart is quite broken, it truly is. We were mad for each other, but she wanted to keep things quiet.

NATHANIEL:

Whatever for?

LORD SEACOURSE:

Raisa was the only girl they had with international draw. The company wouldn’t have looked kindly on if someone was trying to… steal her away.

NATHANIEL:

And now you’ve all lost her. Quite a tragedy.

LORD SEACOURSE:

Well. These things are sent to try us.

(NATHANIEL conceals his reaction with effort.)

LORD SEACOURSE:

I’ve heard from the manager, this Chernovsky fellow, that they might fold without her name on the marquee. Ballet has rather fallen out of fashion in Europe, but I mean to see that change.

NATHANIEL:

How do you mean?

LORD SEACOURSE:

Now that’s a secret I can’t give away. Must protect one’s brainchild.

NATHANIEL:

Naturally. Besides, I’m far more interested in hearing about these dancers of yours. What do you say to your telling me over a drink?

LORD SEACOURSE:

A fine idea. I would introduce you to the girls here, but it seems someone’s beaten you to it.

(JUSTIN approaches with MISS SHERBA on his arm.)

NATHANIEL:

Story of my life. Lord Seacourse, may I present my brother and business partner, Mr. Justin Hawking?

LORD SEACOURSE:

Nicholas Cavil, pleased to meet you. And you, dear, must be one Mr. Petipa’s sylphs.

JUSTIN:

This is Miss Yulia Sherba. Of the Kingdom of Shades.

NATHANIEL:

I say, miss, have we met?

MISS SHERBA:

I think not, sir. This is first time in London.

LORD SEACOURSE:

An easy mistake to make. Well, Nathaniel and I were about to find a snifter of something. Care to join?

NATHANIEL:

Oh, I think Justin’s quite occupied already.

LORD SEACOURSE:

In that case, let’s leave him to it, and you and I find a quiet corner.

JUSTIN:

Slipping away? And have you squared that with Clara, then?

(CLARA approaches.)

CLARA:

Squared what with me, dears?

LORD SEACOURSE:

Is this the wife you mentioned, Nathaniel?

CLARA:

I’m pleased he hasn’t forgotten me entirely.

LORD SEACOURSE:

Lovely as you are, madam, no man ever could.

CLARA:

You’d be surprised, given how much time I’ve spent alone tonight.

NATHANIEL:

Darling, Lord Seacourse and I still have much to discuss—

LORD SEACOURSE:

Madam, forgive me, but would you be so kind as to grant me a private word with your husband? I’d be ever so grateful.

CLARA:

Oh, worry not, my lord, I fully understand. Later, I shall be having one with him myself.

(With a look, CLARA exits. JUSTIN laughs as he leads MISS SHERBA away.)

NATHANIEL:

Well. I can’t speak for you, sir, but I could certainly use that drink.

opcje binarne najprostszy Scene 7

(The scene of the crime, the burned-out dressing room with a spilled bouquet of roses and a stopped clock. MARY searches through the ruin. She finds a hidden medicine bottle, and places it in a pile of other bottles just like it. Enter MRS. HAWKING.)

MARY:

Madam! Did you find—?

MRS. HAWKING:

Shhh! Do you hear that?

MARY:

What is it?

MRS. HAWKING:

There’s someone else trying to get into the theater. He’s attempting to be subtle, so it’s certainly not a policeman, but too clumsy for a professional cracksman either.

MARY:

Should we leave before he finds us here?

MRS. HAWKING:

On the contrary! Since the official investigation’s been announced, he may have come to hide something before the authorities find it. If that’s the case, there’s a chance he’s involved. We’ll stay here until he finds us. In the meantime, how have you done in here?

MARY:

I’ve been searching the ruin, but I’ve not found much yet. Just empty laudanum bottles, hidden all over the place. I know you said many dancers relied on the stuff, but then, why hide it?

MRS. HAWKING:

To conceal just how much she relies on it. But nothing else?

MARY:

Not yet. And you?

MRS. HAWKING:

I’ve discovered the source of the blaze. There’s a property room nearby, where the company stored the costumes and set pieces of their repertoire. It’s fairly well consumed, but the scent of the lamp oil is unmistakable. By my judgment, someone doused the contents and set it at all ablaze.

MARY:

Is that the best place to set a fire for concealing the body?

MRS. HAWKING:

I wondered the same. Given that, I examined the remains more closely, and I was surprised to find almost nothing but burlap. Considering a ballet company, I would have expected the vestiges of silk and satin and beadwork. What do you make of that?

MARY:

That… someone switched out the real properties, replaced them with burlap, and then tried to hide the evidence. But why burn it then, so close to when Raisa died?

MRS. HAWKING:

That is not yet clear. It may be that we are dealing with two entirely separate crimes.

MARY:

But the timing…

MRS. HAWKING:

Indeed. I would not yet rule out some connection we cannot see. As for in here… the events of Miss Sergeyeva’s death must have left some sign, and it is up to us to find it.

(MRS. HAWKING examines the environment. MARY follows her lead.)

MARY:

Do you ever go to the ballet?

MRS. HAWKING:

It’s not often in London.

MARY:

But you keep up with it?

MRS. HAWKING:

In what way?

MARY:

I don’t know. Follow the companies, or… well, it sounded rather important to you.

MRS. HAWKING:

As you can see, my calling pulled me elsewhere.

MARY:

But surely you miss it.

MRS. HAWKING:

I don’t think of it, Mary. It was a very long time ago. Do you see this?

MARY:

Have you found something?

MRS. HAWKING:

Look, girl. What do you see?

MARY:

Char. Burnout.

MRS. HAWKING:

That’s to be expected. What is out of the ordinary?

(MARY’s eyes fall upon the clock.)

MARY:

That clock is stopped. From the fire?

MRS. HAWKING:

What time?

MARY:

Nine past nine.

MRS. HAWKING:

Too early for the fire. It could be significant. Well done, Mary.

(MARY opens the clock face. She pulls out an envelope and looks at the papers inside.)

MARY:

Immigration papers. In Miss Sergeyeva’s name.

MRS. HAWKING:

So she wasn’t only considering leaving. She was making plans.

MARY:

But she was trying to hide it?

MRS. HAWKING:

Because someone might have taken action to stop it.

(There is the sound of someone coming down the hall outside the dressing room. MARY waits as MRS. HAWKING sneaks off. A man cries out from offstage. MRS. HAWKING reenters, dragging KIRIL CHERNOVSKY in a headlock in her good arm, wincing at the effort.)

MRS. HAWKING:

I wouldn’t fight, if I were you.

CHERNOVSKY:

Who— who sent you!? Police—?

MRS. HAWKING:

Never mind that. A better question might be why you’re blundering around the scene of a murder.

CHERNOVSKY:

I— I do not trespass! I am Kiril Chernovsky! I am manager for company of Mariinsky!

MRS. HAWKING:

So you were here the night that it happened.

CHERNOVSKY:

I had nothing to do with Miss Sergeyeva! Is not how it looks!

MRS. HAWKING:

It looks as if you’re interfering with the evidence of a murder.

CHERNOVSKY:

No! Not murder!

(CHERNOVSKY tries to run, but MRS. HAWKING knocks him down. She winces.)

MARY:

Steady on!

MRS. HAWKING:

Fortunately for you, my associate would prefer I not hang you from the second balcony until you tell me what I want. But if you don’t, we’ll truss you up like a Christmas goose and leave you as a gift on the steps of Scotland Yard.

CHERNOVSKY:

I did no murder! Only… the fire.

MRS. HAWKING:

You set the fire? Why?

CHERNOVSKY:

I did not hurt Miss Sergeyeva… but I found her. I knew they would come, look into everything. They would find the things that were gone.

MARY:

The missing properties. You were the one who stole them?

MRS. HAWKING:

What was it for? Drink? Gambling?

CHERNOVSKY:

I play cards. I borrow from the company, just a little while, until I win again, but… they cannot find out, I lose my place! I set fire to hide it! Raisa was dead already, I swear!

MRS. HAWKING:

Tell me where you were at that time. Leave out nothing.

CHERNOVSKY:

I was in wings from opening. Everyone see me! After first interval, Raisa does not come to her mark. She will be late for entrance, so I go back to dressing rooms to find her. I find her lying there! I think— we are ruined anyway! Can hurt no more to protect myself.

MARY:

What do you mean, you were ruined anyway?

CHERNOVSKY:

Ballet is not loved the way once was. Raisa was only girl known outside of Russia. Without her, how can we travel? Who will have us?

MRS. HAWKING:

And what if you learned she was planning on leaving the ballet— what would you have done?

CHERNOVSKY:

What? She would not! She was star!

MRS. HAWKING:

What would you do to stop her?

CHERNOVSKY:

I would beg on hands and knees! Why would I hurt her? She was soul of company! Without her, we are finished!

MRS. HAWKING:

Did anyone see you backstage? Can anyone confirm your story?

CHERNOVSKY:

I— I don’t know! Dancers were at places, everyone busy! Only Miss Zakharova also backstage, but did not see me!

(Pause. MRS. HAWKING and MARY look at each other.)

MRS. HAWKING:

Miss Zakharova? Are you certain?

CHERNOVSKY:

Of course. She did not wear Hamsatti’s veil, I looked in her face.

MRS. HAWKING:

What was she doing?

CHERNOVSKY:

Running to places, I think. At that time in music, I think she would be late. But when I return, nothing missed.

MRS. HAWKING:

And you are sure you saw her?

CHERNOVSKY:

I am sure! What about this?

MRS. HAWKING:

Because this changes things.

Lyrica order form

Scene 8

(The Mariinsky party. NATHANIEL and SEACOURSE are lounging with drinks. SEACOURSE is drunk, NATHANIEL is pretending to be.)

NATHANIEL:

And so I said to the second sister, “I’m sure you are, but what’s your name?”

LORD SEACOURSE:

(Laughing) A man after my own heart!

NATHANIEL:

Kind of you to say, but I don’t think my exploits hold a candle to yours.

LORD SEACOURSE:

Not to worry, I can teach you a trick or two. You know, your brother had the right idea of it. You’d do well with the ladies in the company. Those corps girls are bloody desperate to move up in the world. The Russians work the rank and file dancers like slaves. From what I hear, we had it softer on march against the Boers!

(NATHANIEL signals a servant to switch out their drinks for fresh ones.)

LORD SEACOURSE:

But it’s just as well. They’re so disciplined every moment, they’re just thrilling for a chance to break loose. It was only a matter of time before Raisa gave it all up.

NATHANIEL:

I thought you’d said you’d had her.

LORD SEACOURSE:

Well, I hadn’t yet. But I would have, in good time. We had an understanding, she and I.

NATHANIEL:

What kind of understanding?

LORD SEACOURSE:

That would be telling.

(Pause. NATHANIEL calculates, and changes tack.)

NATHANIEL:

Hm. And here I thought you’d done something.

LORD SEACOURSE:

Here, now! What’s this?

NATHANIEL:

I don’t mean anything by it. Just that… you’d impressed me, that’s all.

LORD SEACOURSE:

I’ll have you know she was leaving the company for me.

NATHANIEL:

You weren’t going to marry her!

LORD SEACOURSE:

Not for that! To start our own. We were going to found the ballet in England.

NATHANIEL:

Your own company? By Jove.

LORD SEACOURSE:

I told you I meant to see its return in Europe. And Raisa was tired of being drilled like a soldier. With her, I’d have the clout to bring in other dancers. Start our very own school.

NATHANIEL:

But you said the Mariinsky would never part with her.

LORD SEACOURSE:

They weren’t to be consulted. They had their share out of me over the years. I’d already arranged for the papers, for her and the other girl.

NATHANIEL:

What other girl?

LORD SEACOURSE:

Raisa insisted she wouldn’t stay unless I also made way for the other feature, the one who was dancing Hamsatti.

NATHANIEL:

Elena Zakharova?

LORD SEACOURSE:

That’s the one. You know her?

NATHANIEL:

I’ve heard the name.

LORD SEACOURSE:

You’re just about the only Englishman that has. But Raisa was a technique dancer, and Elena was the sort who could fly, so I thought I could make use of the both of them.

NATHANIEL:

And you had it all in place?

LORD SEACOURSE:

Delivered the visas myself. Handed them to Raisa in her dressing room at first interval with a great bouquet of roses. When I was back in my seat for the overture, I didn’t know that was the last I’d see of her.

NATHANIEL:

So what will you do now? Continue your plans with Elena?

LORD SEACOURSE:

Nothing in it, old boy. I need a celebrity, and she’s only just arrived. Besides, that one never warmed to me. You know how women can be. Ah, well, I’ll see this fancy of mine through somehow. For the moment, nothing that another round can’t fix.

NATHANIEL:

Only if you tell them you insisted.

LORD SEACOURSE:

The wife isn’t going to drag you home by your ear, is she?

NATHANIEL:

Not to worry, my lord. I’ve nowhere else in the world to be.

é seguro investir em opções binárias ACT II

Scene 1

(MRS. HAWKING’s parlor. MARY and NATHANIEL confer over tea. MRS. HAWKING, teacup untouched, listens as a victrola plays music from La Bayadere.)

MARY:

So you believe this Seacourse isn’t our man?

NATHANIEL:

What he wanted, he needed her alive for. All that’s happened disrupted his plans. And if he had done it, I doubt the visas would have been left behind, much less found their way into that clock.

MARY:

He was back in his seat by nine past nine anyhow.

NATHANIEL:

That leaves the stage manager, this Kiril Chernovsky.

MARY:

He confessed to setting the fire, but it was more to conceal his thefts than anything else. Raisa, he said, was dead when he found her. It sounds as if the company’s in a great deal of trouble without her, so he needed her as much as Seacourse did.

NATHANIEL:

And you don’t think he tried to stop her leaving and things got out of hand?

MARY:

He was in the wings for most of the act, the reports Arthur sent confirm it. I don’t know when he’d have had the time.

NATHANIEL:

And there go our two best leads, the swain and the firebug. We’ve got nothing else.

MARY:

Not quite so— there’s the missing visa now. If Lord Seacourse gave them to Raisa just minutes before she died, what happened to Elena’s?

NATHANIEL:

Elena doesn’t have it, does she?

MARY:

She seemed adamant against the idea of leaving. And she never mentioned it.

MRS. HAWKING:

That means nothing.

MARY:

The scene hadn’t been disturbed until we arrived, so there wasn’t a great window for someone to take it beyond the time of the murder.

NATHANIEL:

And with only one of them gone… the visa might have been what they were really after. Madam? What do you think?

(MRS. HAWKING goes to the victrola and shuts it off.)

MRS. HAWKING:

Hamsatti was onstage then.

MARY:

Beg pardon?

MRS. HAWKING:

That was the beginning of the second act. By the time Chernovsky found the body, it was well into Hamsatti’s feature. She had to have been dancing, it would have been noticed if she wasn’t.

NATHANIEL:

What of it?

MRS. HAWKING:

How could Miss Zakharova have been backstage then for Chernovsky to see? And if she was back there, why didn’t she say so?

NATHANIEL:

He mistook someone else? Apparently they go to lengths to make all those girls look alike.

MARY:

He looked her in the face, he seemed very certain.

NATHANIEL:

What are you suggesting, madam?

MRS. HAWKING:

There are too many inconsistencies regarding Miss Zakharova. Being in two places at once, the visa in her name. And how did she know that Miss Sergeyeva hadn’t died in the fire with such absolute certainty?

MARY:

You don’t think… Miss Zakharova had something to do with it?

NATHANIEL:

She brought us the case, does that make sense?

MRS. HAWKING:

None of this makes sense. Which is why I want answers.

MARY:

Are you going out? Where?

MRS. HAWKING:

To talk to Miss Zakharova.

NATHANIEL:

Now? It’s so late!

MRS. HAWKING:

The better to catch her off her guard. There’s something missing from our picture of things, and I intend to find out what.

MARY:

But, madam— very well. Good luck.

(MRS. HAWKING exits.)

MARY:

I hope that’s wise.

(NATHANIEL picks up MRS. HAWKING’s teacup to finish it.)

NATHANIEL:

She’s got her teeth in it, there’s no dissuading her— by Jove, that’s more brandy than otherwise. Is this Auntie’s?

MARY:

I think she’s in pain. She’s favoring that arm, you know. The one she hurt in the fight.

NATHANIEL:

Hm. We’ll have to keep an eye on her, to make certain she doesn’t ruin herself for good. But I should be on my way home now. Clara’s probably furious with me for the show I made at the party tonight.

MARY:

Just a moment… I wanted to ask you something. Did you know that Mrs. Hawking studied ballet when she was young? Apparently she once considered making a career of it.

NATHANIEL:

Oh, really? I’d no idea. Was she any good, then?

MARY:

I don’t know. But… doesn’t that surprise you?

NATHANIEL:

I quite honestly believe there’s nothing she couldn’t do if she cared to. Why, does it you?

MARY:

It’s, well… Mrs. Hawking doesn’t often like things for their own sake, now, does she?

NATHANIEL:

She doesn’t like much of anything.

MARY:

That’s not what I mean. Everything’s to a point with her. She hones her craft, she studies things if it might serve her to know them. To think of her dancing for only the love of it…

NATHANIEL:

Goodness. I think I see what you mean.

MARY:

I tried to ask about it. It did mean something to her once. But she wouldn’t give it a moment.

NATHANIEL:

Strange to think she wasn’t always this way.

MARY:

What if that’s what it takes? To do the kind of work she does?

NATHANIEL:

Well, if that’s the case, then I haven’t got it. I’ve a family, for heaven’s sake, and a hobby or two I’d care to pursue.

(He laughs, but MARY looks distressed.)

MARY:

She wants to make me just like her. But what if I haven’t got it either?

NATHANIEL:

Oh, Mary. I’m sure you can do anything you want to. If you put your mind to it, you could become as honed and dedicated as she is.

MARY:

No, Nathaniel… what if I don’t want to?

watch Scene 2

(The home of NATHANIEL and CLARA. NATHANIEL enters quietly, but CLARA is there waiting up for him.)

NATHANIEL:

Why, darling, are you still up?

CLARA:

I wanted to wait until you got home.

NATHANIEL:

Oh, forgive me, I got caught up. The party, and his lordship—

CLARA:

Because this can’t wait.

(Pause.)

CLARA:

I always considered myself so lucky. All of my friends, they are convinced their husbands keep things from them. Where they go, who they see. But not me, not my Nathaniel. Not in nine years of marriage, not in the years I knew you before.

NATHANIEL:

Clara, dear? What’s this?

CLARA:

Couldn’t I count on that, Nathaniel? That you and I could trust one another?

NATHANIEL:

Darling, you’re frightening me.

CLARA:

It doesn’t feel like I thought it would feel. I could swear you were… still here, still with me. But the performance you put on tonight…

NATHANIEL:

I am here, love. Of course I’m still here with you.

CLARA:

Still, something’s changed. You’re away more than you used to be. Longer hours at the office, later nights. And more time than ever with Aunt Victoria.

NATHANIEL:

You know what she means to me—

CLARA:

She can hardly bear the company of anyone! How could you possibly be spending so much more time?

NATHANIEL:

We’ve begun to— grow closer— she has need of me—

CLARA:

And the excuses. Do you think I’m a fool and wouldn’t notice?

NATHANIEL:

You’re never a fool.

(Pause.)

CLARA:

Justin thinks you’re trysting with Auntie’s maid.

NATHANIEL:

He said that to you? Forgive me, but— that bastard! I— my God, I could never, darling.

CLARA:

I thought you could never keep anything from me either.

(Pause.)

NATHANIEL:

It’s nothing untoward, Clara. I swear it.

CLARA:

I never really thought it was, Nathaniel. But there is something.

NATHANIEL:

I’m… I’m afraid you wouldn’t understand. It’s going to sound mad.

CLARA:

I’m going mad not knowing! Only tell me. Please, Nathaniel.

NATHANIEL:

Truly, Clara? You’ll believe what I tell you?

CLARA:

Haven’t I always?

guadagnare con operazioni binarie

Scene 3

(The hotel room of MISS ZAKHAROVA, where she lies asleep in bed. MRS. HAWKING drops from the ceiling, startling her awake. Briefly she shakes out her wounded arm in pain.)

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

Bozhe moi!

MRS. HAWKING:

Hush! It’s me.

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

Mrs. Hawking? How do you— why have you come?

MRS. HAWKING:

You lied to me. You were seen backstage when you should have been dancing.

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

No! Impossible!

MRS. HAWKING:

If you want to keep my help, you ought not to lie to me again!

(MISS ZAKHAROVA freezes in panic a moment, then breaks.)

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

I worked so hard not to be seen!

MRS. HAWKING:

What happened?

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

Please. You mustn’t tell anyone. I promise there was no harm done!

(MISS ZAKHAROVA rises from her bed, but immediately stumbles in pain.)

MRS. HAWKING:

My God. The laudanum concealed the extent of it before. But this is not a passing injury, isn’t it? I see it now. You’re breaking down. How long have you been this way?

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

No one must know!

MRS. HAWKING:

Then tell me what happened!

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

It was in the pas de deux. That brute Dmitri, he is careless… I came down hard on my left, and… I felt it give beneath me.

MRS. HAWKING:

So you changed places with another dancer?

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

I stumbled downstairs and found Yulia, my understudy. She dances in the corps. I gave her my skirt and my veil, and begged her to say nothing.

MRS. HAWKING:

What were you doing back at the dressing rooms?

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

I had to find Yulia! Then I went for… my medicine. And to ask Raisa not to speak, if she noticed Yulia in my place. But instead… I found her, lying there.

MRS. HAWKING:

That’s how you knew she’d been killed? When you saw her body then?

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

Do you not believe me?

MRS. HAWKING:

This changes things.

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

It changes nothing of this!

MRS. HAWKING:

You lied about your whereabouts in the vicinity when she died— and you didn’t care for her plans to leave. Not with your own career at stake.

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

She was thinking only! She would not actually leave!

MRS. HAWKING:

She had arranged for immigration papers, in both of your names.

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

What? She… she never said… she knew I would not go.

MRS. HAWKING:

Did she know about your condition?

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

It was why she thought I should leave. But I couldn’t. She’s been at the top for years, but I’ve only just reached it. Do you know how the corps girls live? Servants are not driven so hard!

MRS. HAWKING:

We found Miss Sergeyeva’s visa. I am curious as to why we can’t find yours.

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

I don’t have it! Search this place, I do not have it!

MRS. HAWKING:

Because you would not leave.

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

I would not hurt Raisa! I would never!

MRS. HAWKING:

But you ran away and told no one when you saw her lying there?

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

I would have! After the performance. Or else everyone would know I did not dance.

MRS. HAWKING:

To save your career.

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

I have done nothing but the dance since I was a girl of six! I have sacrificed so much. All I had to my name was my career and Raisa, and now Raisa is dead. Can you not understand?

(Pause.)

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

How could you? Your instrument has never betrayed you.

MRS. HAWKING:

Miss Zakharova—

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

Look at you! To be able to climb as you do like a cat in a tree! Might I be so impertinent as to ask madam’s age?

(Pause.)

MRS. HAWKING:

Forty-three.

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

Forty-three. I shall have luck to walk so long! I would do anything for the clean lines of your legs.

MRS. HAWKING:

Nonsense.

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

Any dancer would. Mrs. Hawking, the ballet is my one calling. And in perfecting it, I have ruined myself for it.

MRS. HAWKING:

You ran away, and you lied.

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

So that I might have it just a few moments longer! They will replace me in a breath. In my place, what would you have done?

MRS. HAWKING:

That’s the trouble. I might have done anything.

source site

Scene 4

(NATHANIEL and CLARA sit in their parlor, not looking at each other.)

NATHANIEL:

And that’s the long and short of it. I know how it sounds, but… there it is.

(Pause.)

NATHANIEL:

Please, Clara. Say something… scream at me, love. Call me a callous heel, heave a vase at me if you like. Only please, say something.

CLARA:

What do you want, Nathaniel? You say your funny old aunt puts on a mask to break into houses and stick miscreants with a knife, and you’ve been helping her to do it. What do you mean for me to think?

NATHANIEL:

Do you believe me?

CLARA:

I suppose if you meant to lie, there are a thousand things you’d have an easier time selling me. Heavens. It sounds like something from a penny dreadful.

NATHANIEL:

God, I know. That’s why I kept it from you so long. It’s so… impossible, I didn’t know how to put it into words.

CLARA:

Oh, come off that. You didn’t want me to know because you didn’t want to hear what I thought.

NATHANIEL:

Clara—

CLARA:

How could you?

NATHANIEL:

I should have told you—

CLARA:

Not only that! To let her go on with this madness— to help her with it! As if you haven’t everything in the world to lose.

NATHANIEL:

It was the right thing to do.

CLARA:

The right thing? Playing at hero? It’s the way of men, isn’t it, marching off to war when duty calls. But you’re not a soldier, Nathaniel. Your year at Newcastle should have taught you that.

NATHANIEL:

My place isn’t in the line of fire.

CLARA:

Your place?

NATHANIEL:

You see, I’ve some talent for… getting people talking. I can find things out that make the difference between justice being done and a villain going free. All without a single blow being struck.

CLARA:

And if they discover why it is you’re asking?

NATHANIEL:

I’m… I’m good at it, Clara.

CLARA:

No one is perfect. If you’re found out, what do you think might happen? If her enemies are as dangerous as you say? What would they do to your name in this city? To say nothing of risk to life and limb!

NATHANIEL:

I can’t let her face it all alone. Clara, don’t you see what this means? She trusts me. After all this time, after everything I’ve done, she trusts me. I can’t abandon her now.

CLARA:

Is that what this is about? Finally winning that woman’s approval?

NATHANIEL:

Blast her approval! What about her life and limb?

CLARA:

It’s her choice to put herself at such risk! But what about the rest of us, if something should befall you? You have young children, Nathaniel. They can’t choose this.

NATHANIEL:

I would never let anything happen to them. And neither would Aunt Victoria.

CLARA:

And what about me?

(Pause.)

CLARA:

It’s enough that you kept something like this from me. But if something happens to you, what am I to do? And what would you have left me to think— that it was some terrible twist of fate, when in fact you were putting yourself in danger’s way? Because I would never have known. Who would tell me? Aunt Victoria?

(Pause.)

NATHANIEL:

Mary would.

CLARA:

It is not Mary who would owe me that. It is not Mary that you do this for.

NATHANIEL:

It isn’t just for my aunt. I feel like I’m doing something fine. Something to the good of the world.

CLARA:

You cannot be the Colonel, Nathaniel.

NATHANIEL:

I know.

CLARA:

He was the saddest man I ever met. It always troubled me. That you wanted to be just like the saddest man I ever knew.

NATHANIEL:

It isn’t about that anymore!

CLARA:

Then what?

NATHANIEL:

It was hard to see when we’ve been so happy. It’s enough to make a man think that we might live in a fair world. But we don’t, and not everyone is so blessed as we with such a home and family and fitting into our place in things. Those people have nowhere to turn, except for Aunt Victoria. After seeing that, why wouldn’t I want to help her balance the scales? Why wouldn’t I want to see that good done in the world?

(Pause.)

NATHANIEL:

You ask how I could let it go on, how I couldn’t stop it. I tried, Clara. As soon as I discovered it, I came down on her, God forgive me. To protect her, and because I didn’t understand and didn’t know what else to do. But it was wrong. She is so unhappy, Clara. You’ve seen it. Her life has been one bitter disappointment after the next, and the rage in her is terrible. But when that rage drives her to right those wrongs… all that bitterness, it’s not for nothing anymore. I have to see that go on. She changes people’s lives, darling. She saves them.

CLARA:

She cannot really—

NATHANIEL:

But she can, Clara! She is marvelous at it, you must believe that.

CLARA:

And what about your life? Does that matter any less?

(Pause.)

NATHANIEL:

She wouldn’t let that happen.

CLARA:

No one is perfect, Nathaniel.

NATHANIEL:

That’s why she needs my help.

CLARA:

And when she no longer finds you useful, what will she do then? When it no longer serves her, will she protect you?

NATHANIEL:

I… I believe in her.

CLARA:

The Colonel loved her too, Nathaniel. And look where that got him.

Scene 5

(MRS. HAWKING’s parlor. MRS. HAWKING and MARY confer.)

MARY:

I don’t understand. Does it this mean you believe it was Elena?

MRS. HAWKING:

That laudanum addict has told more lies than anyone, and she was near enough when Raisa died.

MARY:

But the woman meant so much to her!

MRS. HAWKING:

Not as much as her roles and her career. Raisa knew Elena was on the decline, and if Raisa left she would have ruined them.

MARY:

But it makes no sense! Dead or gone, all of them would have suffered without her.

MRS. HAWKING:

When passions run high, people don’t always behave rationally.

MARY:

Miss Zakharova brought us the case! If she hadn’t, the police would have ruled it an accident without a second thought.

MRS. HAWKING:

I know.

MARY:

Then do you really believe she could have done it?

MRS. HAWKING:

Our instruments are base ones, but they are all God gives us for the purpose. When faced with the breaking of them, nothing is beyond possibility.

(Pause.)

MRS. HAWKING:

But possibility is not certainty. And so much may hang upon the missing visa. Who else would have known about Raisa’s plans?

(The bell rings, again and again.)

MRS. HAWKING:

Good heavens, not now. Say I’m not at home to visitors!

(MARY answers the door. MRS. HAWKING hurries to exit, but CLARA pushes in first.)

MARY:

Mrs. Hawking! How nice—

CLARA:

Forgive me, Mary, but I’ve pressing business with Aunt Victoria. Could you give us a moment?

(MARY wavers, then exits.)

MRS. HAWKING:

Spare me, Clara, whatever it is, I don’t have time for—

CLARA:

No. No, madam, you will not dash off from me this time— did you think I wouldn’t find out?

MRS. HAWKING:

I beg your pardon?

CLARA:

My God. I know you think I’m a shrew, Victoria, but surely I’m not a fool.

(Pause.)

CLARA:

Women talk, you know. I must have heard it a half-dozen times now. That, if a respectable lady found herself in some trouble, there was a… they called it a society avenger. A lady’s champion of London. I’m not sure I ever believed it. But look here. Not only real, but my own queer old Aunt Victoria.

(Pause.)

MRS. HAWKING:

And are you terribly shocked?

CLARA:

Yes. I wouldn’t have thought you’d leave your way for anyone besides yourself.

(Pause.)

MRS. HAWKING:

Well. It’s no concern of yours.

CLARA:

It is if you’re going to involve my husband.

MRS. HAWKING:

He came to me.

CLARA:

Of course he did. Anything so that you won’t keep pushing him away.

MRS. HAWKING:

I tried to put him off. When he refused, damned if I wasn’t going to see that he was of use to me.

CLARA:

And did you think I’d have nothing to say about this? You putting him in danger? To say nothing of having him keep it from me!

MRS. HAWKING:

I will not justify myself to you.

CLARA:

I won’t ask you. But you’ll answer to me all the same.

MRS. HAWKING:

This is not for you to—

CLARA:

You’d prefer I remain in whatever ignorance my husband chooses to leave me in? Not a chance, madam. I should think you, of all people, could understand that.

(Pause.)

CLARA:

Now. Nathaniel says you help people. You save them.

MRS. HAWKING:

Can you believe that of me?

CLARA:

I believe him. And he tells me… he does well. He has a skill and a talent for the work, and he does it well.

MRS. HAWKING:

Yes. He does.

CLARA:

When he speaks of it… his eyes light. He believes in it, I can see that.

MRS. HAWKING:

And you would take that from him?

CLARA:

My God, madam! Do you think every marriage as miserable as yours was? Of course I wouldn’t. But I must be sure. As I said, madam, he wants to help you, and through you, help others. But I must know. Will you do right by him?

MRS. HAWKING:

What?

CLARA:

When he is out there, putting himself at risk for you and those you serve. If it should come that he needs your help, will you see that he has it? Even should he no longer be an asset to you. Will you protect him?

MRS. HAWKING:

Clara—

CLARA:

This is my price. I will keep your secret. I will see that he remains at your side. But he comes home to his children.

(Pause.)

MRS. HAWKING:

You have my word.

CLARA:

You will take care of him. Or you will answer to me. And I am not afraid of you.

(They stare at each other for a long time. At last CLARA thaws.)

CLARA:

So… this case of yours you’re working on. I gather it’s about that Russian dancer, the one that died in the fire?

MRS. HAWKING:

She didn’t die in the fire. She was murdered. We are hunting her killer.

CLARA:

Murdered? How in the world did you learn that?

MRS. HAWKING:

Investigation. Of course!

CLARA:

I see. And… are you making progress?

MRS. HAWKING:

We had been, but once we discovered our primary source of information had been lying to us all along, we’ve stalled on whether she has motive for the crime after all.

CLARA:

Elena Zakharova? They spoke of her at the party for the company. Doesn’t she stand a chance to become their prima ballerina now?

MRS. HAWKING:

What?

CLARA:

Now that the last one is gone, she’s the senior most dancer. Isn’t that something of a motive?

MRS. HAWKING:

How could you possibly know that?

CLARA:

Why— gossip. Of course!

MRS. HAWKING:

My God. But she was onstage for at least some of the evening— would the timing even work?

(She turns away in frustration just as NATHANIEL bursts in.)

NATHANIEL:

My God!

CLARA:

Nathaniel!

NATHANIEL:

Darling— Auntie— I know you’re upset with me— both of you! But please—!

MRS. HAWKING:

Not now, Nathaniel! We are working!

NATHANIEL:

What? What’s going on?

MRS. HAWKING:

Mary! Come here at once!

CLARA:

You heard her, dear. We’re working.

NATHANIEL:

Working? I was afraid you’d kill each other!

MRS. HAWKING:

Nathaniel! We have a murder to solve! Make yourself useful or do not waste my time!

(MARY enters.)

MARY:

What is it? Is everything all right?

MRS. HAWKING:

I have need of you, so stir yourselves. Make a space. We shall work this out if it kills us.

(MRS. HAWKING gestures for MARY and NATHANIEL to move back the furniture. She sets the victrola to playing La Bayadere, then stands at the center.)

MRS. HAWKING:

Here is what we know. I am Miss Sergeyeva, performing on the night I died. The first act ended at a quarter to nine, the dancers clear the stage, and I retire to the dressing room where I will be found. Our next actor of significance— Lord Seacourse.

(She points to NATHANIEL.)

NATHANIEL:

Oh! I travel from my seat in the house and stride backstage, where I make certain everyone sees me with my bouquet of roses on my way to your dressing room.

(He approaches her, pantomiming the action.)

MRS. HAWKING:

What they cannot see is that you also come bearing the visas with you, and hand them off to me with the roses. Which I then hide inside the clock.

MARY:

Not yet! The clock was stopped at nine past nine. The interval ended after fifteen minutes.

MRS. HAWKING:

Right you are, for some reason I waited.

NATHANIEL:

Then I return to my seat, where everyone witnesses me when the curtain rises at nine sharp.

MRS. HAWKING:

The second act opens. Where are our other players?

MARY:

Mr. Chernovsky is in the wings, where the company remembers him minding the entrances. The corps emerges, leading into the pas de deux, where Hamsatti reenters.

MRS. HAWKING:

But is she the Hamsatti everyone thinks?

(She glances to CLARA. She seizes CLARA’s shawl and wraps it around her head.)

MRS. HAWKING:

Miss Zakharova claims it was in the pas de deux that she injured herself and was forced to withdraw after that. Hamsatti wore a veil, which could have deceived the audience, but what about her partner in the role of Solor?

(She pushes CLARA into NATHANIEL, who holds her as if dancing.)

MRS. HAWKING:

She danced in his arms! To be so close, he would have seen, he would have known if she hadn’t been herself.

CLARA:

Yes. He would have.

MRS. HAWKING:

So that must have been true. Miss Zakharova struggles until her exit, and then goes backstage to seek out her understudy in the corps, Miss Yulia Sherba.

(She brings MARY forward.)

MRS. HAWKING:

Quick as she can, she pulls Miss Sherba into service, handing off her skirt and veil, and praying no one notices a gap in the ranks of temple dancers.

(CLARA takes off the shawl and gives it to MARY, who puts it on her own head.)

MARY:

By Hamsatti’s next entrance, I am dancing in her place, while Miss Zakharova returns to the dressing room for laudanum without being seen.

MRS. HAWKING:

But wait. Before then, while the corps still dances, Chernovsky notes that Miss Sergeyeva is not yet in place for her next entrance. Approximately a quarter past nine or so.

(She gestures to NATHANIEL, who takes CHERNOVSKY’s place.)

NATHANIEL:

Do I go back to look for her then?

MRS. HAWKING:

Not yet— not until just before Miss Sherba’s first appearance as Hamsatti.

(MARY steps center. MRS. HAWKING returns to Raisa’s place. She beckons for CLARA to approach her as MISS ZAKHAROVA.)

MRS. HAWKING:

According to Elena, it was on this journey back that she found Raisa already dead, and then ran away to find a hiding place until the performance was over.

NATHANIEL:

It was at that time that Chernovsky came back— he spotted Elena on her way out as he went to look for Raisa.

MARY:

Which drove him to set the fire to conceal his thefts from the company. But he said the same thing Elena did— that Raisa was dead when he found her.

CLARA:

Don’t you believe them?

MRS. HAWKING:

I believe Chernovsky. Even if Miss Zakharova is lying, she wouldn’t have said Raisa was dead if someone had killed her after she got there.

CLARA:

So if she died after nine past nine, but before this Chernovsky found her, Miss Zakharova was there within that time.

MARY:

Between her exit and when she was spotted backstage? That is very quick. And she was not moving fast.

NATHANIEL:

Their argument had gone for days by then. It may not have taken much for things turn ugly.

CLARA:

But I don’t understand, isn’t this the woman who brought you the problem? Where’s the sense in that?

MARY:

Madam, you’re right. It’s been troubling me this whole case. As you taught me, Mrs. Hawking, just because she could have done isn’t evidence that she did! I can’t believe she would have come to us if she had this much to hide.

NATHANIEL:

What else is there? We’ve exhausted every lead.

MARY:

Then… perhaps we’ve missed something! We never did manage to track down the missing visa, the one in Miss Zakharova’s name. What if it was the motive after all?

CLARA:

These visas you mention— how do they work into all this?

MRS. HAWKING:

Clara, we don’t have time to—

CLARA:

Mary.

MARY:

Raisa had arranged passage to stay in England for her and Elena. We think Raisa hid them in the clock after she got them from Lord Seacourse, but the one in Elena’s name never turned up.

CLARA:

She didn’t put them away until nine past nine? Over twenty minutes after she received them?

MARY:

I suppose that is odd. But that was when the clock stopped.

CLARA:

And you think the killer stole the second one out of the clock?

MARY:

Well, it’s our best guess—

(Pause. MARY freezes.)

NATHANIEL:

Mary?

MARY:

Raisa didn’t stop the clock at nine past. The killer did.

MRS. HAWKING:

What?

MARY:

Raisa wouldn’t have waited to hide the papers, she would have done it right away. And she would have had time to restart the clock. But the murderer only had moments— moments to kill Raisa, tear apart the room for the visa, and make their escape. Raisa didn’t die after nine past nine. She died just before it.

MRS. HAWKING:

During the pas de deux when Elena couldn’t have done it.

NATHANIEL:

Mary, that’s brilliant!

CLARA:

But who, then? Who was backstage then?

(Pause.)

MRS. HAWKING:

Backstage. Not in the wings. Backstage.

MARY:

What do you mean?

MRS. HAWKING:

That was where she found Yulia. Not in the wings, with the rest of the corps, who were moments away from an entrance. All the way backstage, where the dressing rooms are.

(She returns to her place as Raisa.)

MRS. HAWKING:

Miss Sergeyeva waits in her dressing room for Seacourse to come to her. His intentions have been rumored for weeks, so his presence is enough to arouse curiosity. He stays for the whole of the interval, leaving the visas, which Raisa hides straightaway.

(NATHANIEL runs through SEACOURSE’s track. MRS. HAWKING sends MARY and then CLARA center.)

MRS. HAWKING:

The interval ends, and the corps reopens things, before making way for Elena in the pas de deux. As she ruins herself for her art, Yulia Sherba slips the ranks to see Raisa in the dressing room.

(MARY approaches MRS. HAWKING.)

NATHANIEL:

Why? Because she wants the visa—? Of course! The rumors of Raisa staying with Seacourse had spread. Yulia could have guessed she had some kind of plan. Those corps girls have it so hard, she might have spent ages looking for a way out.

MRS. HAWKING:

But Raisa meant it for Elena. And this was the work of a desperate woman.

(MARY pantomimes raising her hands to MRS. HAWKING as if to kill her.)

NATHANIEL:

By Jove. That’s it. Why, we have to catch her! If we find the visa on her, we can prove it!

CLARA:

If she means to stay here, she’ll have to disappear before they try to make her leave. They’re departing in a day, there isn’t much time.

MRS. HAWKING:

We’ll need to search her. Mary, you must break into her hotel room to search for the visa, while I waylay her— Nathaniel, you help her get in if she needs it—

NATHANIEL:

What!? Are you mad? You can’t!

MRS. HAWKING:

I beg your pardon?

NATHANIEL:

Madam, you’re injured.

MRS. HAWKING:

Do you take me for an amateur?

NATHANIEL:

You can’t operate when you’re not at full capacity.

MRS. HAWKING:

I have been operating! And I could lay you out where you stand!

CLARA:

Madam!

MRS. HAWKING:

Enough of this nonsense! Mary, come with me, we have work to do.

MARY:

No, madam. Nathaniel’s right. That won’t work.

MRS. HAWKING:

Do you too think me so fragile?

MARY:

What if something goes wrong? What if the visa isn’t there? Or what if you have to fight your way out again?

MRS. HAWKING:

I can handle anything!

MARY:

But you can’t. That’s why you’re so frightened.

MRS. HAWKING:

Mary—

MARY:

Whatever extraordinary things you can do, you’re not invincible.

(Pause.)

MRS. HAWKING:

Do you think I don’t know that? That’s why I need you.

MARY:

I know what you want for me. To take your place, and do all the things you do. But I can’t.

MRS. HAWKING:

Not yet. But you’ll practice— operations like this will teach you!

MARY:

If I try to do things exactly the way you would, I’ll fail.

MRS. HAWKING:

Not if you work at it—

MARY:

Yes. If I gave it every moment I have, the way you do. But I can’t.

MRS. HAWKING:

Why do you say that?

MARY:

Because I’m not you! And I never shall be!

(Pause.)

MRS. HAWKING:

You said this was what you wanted.

MARY:

More than anything, I want to do your work. But I can’t do it your way.

(Pause.)

MRS. HAWKING:

Then what? What shall we do?

MARY:

If she does have the visa, she means to make use of it. With the right means, we can draw her out, and to bring it along with her. If we catch her with it, she’s ours.

MRS. HAWKING:

And what is the right means?

NATHANIEL:

Justin.

MRS. HAWKING:

What?

NATHANIEL:

I think I know the occasion that would fit the bill. And it shall kill two birds with one stone. For the first time since he arrived, I know what to do with my brother.

Scene 6

(The train station. NATHANIEL and JUSTIN stand beside JUSTIN’s luggage.)

JUSTIN:

It was kind of you to see me to the station, but you needn’t stay. I’m sure I can find my way onto the train from here.

NATHANIEL:

Just thought I’d see you off. After all, it’s not often we can spend the time.

JUSTIN:

And here I thought you’d be glad to see the back of me.

NATHANIEL:

After sowing all that discord with Clara? I can’t imagine why.

JUSTIN:

You know I didn’t mean any harm. Are you still upset with me?

NATHANIEL:

You’re my brother, Justin. I shall be upset with you until we’re both dead.

JUSTIN:

Fair enough. So I suppose you’re not going to tell me what all that at the party was about?

NATHANIEL:

Only if you tell me who Miss Sherba seems to be looking for.

(He indicates YULIA SHERBA, entering with a valise. She hurries over to JUSTIN.)

JUSTIN:

What?

MISS SHERBA:

Mr. Hawking! I find you!

JUSTIN:

Miss Sherba! What brings you here?

MISS SHERBA:

I received letter. I came fast!

JUSTIN:

Forgive me, but a letter?

MISS SHERBA:

Yes! The letter you sent to me. Asking for me to come, to meet you. To go with you.

JUSTIN:

Asking you to… I’m sorry, dear, but there’s been some mistake.

MISS SHERBA:

I don’t understand.

JUSTIN:

I’m afraid I didn’t send for you.

MISS SHERBA:

You… you did not? But… I have it! Right here! See, it says you sent for me! I do not mistake!

(She digs out the letter to show them.)

NATHANIEL:

Wait, miss. It is a mistake. A lot of mistakes were made, weren’t they?

MISS SHERBA:

I beg pardon, sir?

JUSTIN:

Nathaniel? What’s this?

NATHANIEL:

Remarkable. You do look a great deal like Miss Zakharova.

MISS SHERBA:

I look like all of them.

NATHANIEL:

Miss Sherba, oughtn’t you be making ready to leave with the company now?

MISS SHERBA:

I leave company, sir!

NATHANIEL:

Indeed? And how do you mean to stay in England? Have you made arrangements?

MISS SHERBA:

I… I do not know what you mean, sir. I must go!

(Enter ARTHUR, who approaches them.)

NATHANIEL:

Just a moment— hello, officer, can we help you?

ARTHUR:

Excuse me, but are you Miss Yulia Sherba?

MISS SHERBA:

I am. What is this?

ARTHUR:

I’m afraid I can’t let you go by unless I have a look at your papers.

MISS SHERBA:

Papers?

ARTHUR:

If you’ve got plans to stay in England.

MISS SHERBA:

All is in order!

ARTHUR:

All the same, miss, I’ve got to have a look.

(Helplessly MISS SHERBA hands them over.)

ARTHUR:

Do you know these aren’t in your name?

MISS SHERBA:

Cannot be, sir— is mine!

ARTHUR:

The trouble is, miss, I know these were last seen in the possession of Miss Raisa Sergeyeva, before she was murdered. I think you worked with the lady, didn’t you? These documents disappeared right after she died. How did you happen to get a hold of them?

(Pause. MISS SHERBA crumbles.)

MISS SHERBA:

I meant no harm. I swear.

ARTHUR:

I think you’d best come along with me now, Miss Sherba.

JUSTIN:

My God. You cannot mean…

ARTHUR:

You’re under arrest on suspicion of the murder of Miss Raisa Sergeyeva.

(He places her in manacles.)

MISS SHERBA:

Was so easy for her! Prima ballerina! Not like us. They work us like dogs, keep us worse! Until we break in pieces, like Elena. No chance for escape!

NATHANIEL:

You stole their chances, miss.

MISS SHERBA:

I stole nothing! Elena would not leave! But I must get out! I must!

ARTHUR:

Let’s go, miss.

(He looks to NATHANIEL.)

ARTHUR:

I suppose a little bird tipped you off too, then?

NATHANIEL:

Only trying to help, sergeant.

ARTHUR:

Hm. A rare one, even.

(ARTHUR leads MISS SHERBA away.)

MISS SHERBA:

Please. Only do not send me back. Let me stay! You don’t understand how it is! I die there! I die!

NATHANIEL:

Miss, it isn’t up to us.

MISS SHERBA:

I must not go back! Please! Don’t send me back! Please!

(ARTHUR pulls her offstage. JUSTIN gapes at NATHANIEL.)

JUSTIN:

I say, Nathaniel! What in God’s name was that?

NATHANIEL:

A bad business. But it’s done now.

JUSTIN:

That poor girl is a murderer?

NATHANIEL:

I don’t think she meant to be. But things ended just the same.

JUSTIN:

How in the world did you know?

NATHANIEL:

When you talk to the right people, you hear the right things.

JUSTIN:

You mean… at the party… all that nonsense—?

(Pause. NATHANIEL smiles.)

JUSTIN:

By Jove. Look at you, little brother.

NATHANIEL:

Well. Enough of this. You have a train to catch.

JUSTIN:

Suppose I do. It was good to see you, Nathaniel. I hope you can return the sentiment.

NATHANIEL:

I suppose you enliven my dull existence.

JUSTIN:

I should hope so. Though clearly I’m not the only one with stories to tell.

NATHANIEL:

Oh, I don’t know if it compares. After all, you dallied with a murderer.

JUSTIN:

Good heavens, I did. I shall dine out on that story for months.

Scene 7

(MRS. HAWKING’s parlor. MRS. HAWKING, MARY, and NATHANIEL are there with MISS ZAKHAROVA.)

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

I don’t understand. How could she?

NATHANIEL:

She was desperate for an escape. When she heard Raisa had one…

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

May she rot in prison in Siberia.

MRS. HAWKING:

Her suffering was not so different from yours. It broke her faster, but the work wrecks you all in your own way.

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

Not Raisa. She was strong. But still… things took her in the end.

(Pause.)

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

What am I to do?

MRS. HAWKING:

It seems you have a choice to make. You may continue your work with the ballet, as long as the laudanum and your limbs will allow. Or you may take advantage of the arrangements Miss Sergeyeva made for you.

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

Without Raisa… the dance is all I have left.

MARY:

Miss Zakharova, she made it possible for you to have this chance. A chance for something else, that won’t cost you so much.

MISS ZAKHAROVA:

Still. Even then, it will cost.

(MISS ZAKHAROVA stands and curtseys to MRS. HAWKING. MARY shows her out.)

NATHANIEL:

I hope the truth brings her some peace, at least.

MRS. HAWKING:

We’ve done as much as we can for that.

NATHANIEL:

In that case, I’ll be on my way home. My wife is waiting for me.

MRS. HAWKING:

Ah, yes. And since you cannot keep your mouth shut, now we all have to answer to her.

NATHANIEL:

Madam, I have learned better than to stand in the way of the women in this family. By the way, madam— thank you.

MRS. HAWKING:

For what?

NATHANIEL:

Clara told me.

(He exits.)

MRS. HAWKING:

None of them. None of them can ever, ever hold their tongues.

(MARY laughs. Pause.)

MARY:

What do you think Miss Zakharova will do?

MRS. HAWKING:

Honestly?

MARY:

She might move on. Find herself a different life.

MRS. HAWKING:

I think she will dance herself into ruin.

MARY:

Because that is what you would do in her place?

MRS. HAWKING:

Perhaps. For the thing that meant the most to me in the world.

MARY:

And how are you feeling?

MRS. HAWKING:

Old. Very old.

MARY:

You’ll heal. And even if you didn’t… you are more than a strong arm, Mrs. Hawking.

MRS. HAWKING:

I am as I am, take that for all in all. But whatever becomes of me, I have you now. And you’ll carry things on.

MARY:

It won’t always be as you imagined it.

MRS. HAWKING:

That’s already clear. But you’ll manage. In your own way.

MARY:

You sound very certain.

MRS. HAWKING:

I know you.

MARY:

Very good, madam. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be at my half-day.

(She curtseys. Then she puts on her cloak and exits out the front door. MRS. HAWKING reclines in her chair and takes up her book.)

CURTAIN