Act Three. Scene One.
The next morning on the beach. Thomas, Harriet and Richard are sitting on three deckchairs, two close together, one slightly apart in which Harriet sits. It is early morning just after their breakfast at the hotel.
Richard: A misty horizon.
Thomas: Can't see the ships passing.
Richard: It will soon clear.
Thomas: Like to see the ships passing across the horizon.
Richard: It does add to the enjoyment though, this misty start. I expect your father remembers these misty mornings at sea.
Thomas: He never spoke much about the War. The odd word slipped out occasionally.
Harriet: The breakfast was nice. I like a good breakfast on holiday.
Richard: War is what separates the men from the boys, my father often said.
Thomas: Many a day he'd start to say something, then he'd clamp up and become silent. I think the War troubled him. He had terrible nightmares my mother told me.
Harriet: The toast was scrumptious. I like the toast done nicely.
Richard: Do them a power of good the lads these days, to be in uniform, he said.
Thomas: We just missed being called up. Good job, too.
Richard: I'd opt for the navy if I had been called up.
Harriet: That sea looks ghostly. I almost expect a ghostly galleon to sail out of the fog.
Richard: It's sea mist, not fog.
Harriet: Full of pirates. One of those ships you see in films with Errol Flynn.
Thomas: I would not have liked the military life. Too restricted.
Richard: You're too romantic, Harriet. It's just a sea mist.
Harriet: Just my imagination working overtime. I can see myself painting it though. If I was up to painting again. Which I'm not. I have other things on my mind at the moment.
Thomas: I can't bear being restricted. Life like art should be free of restrictions.
Richard: What things?
Thomas: Art and life should be free of unnecessary limitations.
Richard: What things, Harriet?
Harriet: Yes. You are right, Thomas, they should be.
Richard: Should be what?
Thomas: Art and life free of...
Harriet: Limitations. No restricted areas. No, no-go areas concerning art and life.
Richard: What things are you talking about?
Harriet: Art and life.
Thomas: It should be like an open horizon.
Richard: What have you two being eating on your toast? I can't make head or tail of what you're on about.
Harriet: Richard seems to be at cross-purposes as usual.
Richard: You said to me that you have other things on your mind. What things?
Harriet: You know. (Pause.) Don't pretend you don't know. (Lifts her handbag up from beside her deckchair and places it on her lap. She searches through it)
Richard: If I knew, I wouldn't ask. Why do women assume you can mind read. My mother was the same. She'd say things like that. My father would get quite humpty dumpty about it. "I can't mind read woman," he'd say to her.
Thomas: I think women are quite intuitive.
Richard: Quite what, Thomas?
Thomas: Intuitive. Perceptive. Instinctive.
Richard: Sounds like a shopping list. Women lack a sense of logic. They have never had it. That is why there have never been great women philosophers.
Harriet: You know what I mean. (Withdraws her cigarette packet and lighter.) You pretend behind this jargon that you don't, but you do. (Takes out a cigarette and puts it between her lips. She puts the cigarette packet back in her handbag and then after a few seconds staring at Richard, she lights the cigarette.)
Thomas: But logic is not the be all and end all of life, Richard. Life is not restricted by what is logical and reasonable. Life is at times illogical and unreasonable.
Harriet: (Talks with a cigarette in between her lips, so words are slightly muffled.)I want a baby. Is that plain and simple for you? I don't give a fig how I get one, but I want one. I don't give a monkey's what-you-call-it, I want a baby and soon.
Thomas: Is war reasonable? Is it logical to go to war and kill thousands of people?
Richard: Harriet you are too highly strung to be a good mother. You haven't the nerve for it.
Thomas: I think that's a tanker coming through the mist. You can barely see it.
Richard: Yes. A tanker. I'd not like to steer a ship in this mist.
Harriet: You talk such fiddle-sticks. I want a baby and will do whatever I have to do to get one. Even if it means... (Pause. Takes cigarette out and holds it between her fingers. She looks at it for a few seconds and then at Thomas.) Babies are what women are made for. What they are equipped for.
Richard: It's a talent, steering ships. I'd not want such a responsibility.
Thomas: No ghostly galleon, though, Harriet.
Richard: No pirates.
Thomas: No treasure hidden in the hold. (Pause. Both men are silent. Each one musing on their thoughts of ghostly galleons and pirates.)
Harriet: No treasure. (Takes a quick drag on cigarette.)No ghostly galleon. (Pause.) No pirates...Except you, Richard, except you. (All three sit and look out at the sea mist in silence.)
End of Scene One.
Act Three. Scene Two.
A short time later. Thomas and Richard are sitting on two of the three deckchairs. Thomas is sitting back gazing at the sun. Richard is leaning forward staring at the sea.
Richard: Hope she comes back in a better mood.
Thomas: The sky is clearing. The sun is warming up.
Richard: She didn't return last night until God knows what hour.
Thomas: A fine day is promised in those clouds.
Richard: A face like a tortured soul when she did came back.
Thomas: You can feel the warmth gradually being unleashed. It's so rewarding waiting for the warmth to unfold.
Richard: I'm sure women have demons. Ought to bring back witch-hunts. (Pause.) I can't focus when she's in one of her moods. (Turns and looks at Thomas.) You'd be wise to have nothing to do with her, Thomas. She's poison to some men.
Thomas: I remember as a child lying under a tree and watching the sun slowly unfold itself from behind a cloud and feel the warmth search for me below and almost embrace me in its invisible arms. (Pause. Smiles to himself.) My aunt had a kitten, which I adored. I would hold it up to the sun so that it could feel the warmth also. Strange how near that memory seems.
Richard: Had her back to me most of the night. Like sleeping with a corpse. (Turns and looks back at the sea.) That sun is warming up. Should have put on my trunks and bathed. Not that she'd appreciate that. She hates the water. Has a fear of water so she says. Strange notions she has. (Sits back and stretches his legs out in front of him.) The clouds are clearing. The blue sky is promising.
Thomas: Fear of water, fear of drowning. Perhaps she drowned in a previous life.
Richard: You don't believe in all that nonsense do you?
Thomas: Many religions have some form of reincarnation or a renewal of some sort. It must be comforting to believe in that sort of thing.
Richard: A crutch that's all religions are. Something to lean on through life's up and downs. My father said there was no God in the desert when men died. No God there when men suffered. (He goes silent for a few moments.)
Thomas: Maybe God suffers, too. Maybe that's what all this suffering is about: sharing in God's suffering and pain.
Richard: More nonsense. What book of theology did you pick that gem from? (Looks at Thomas.) Your brain is softening. You need to see through my eyes to appreciate what life's like. No God suffers in my world, only people.
Thomas: Where did Harriet go?
Richard: People suffer day in day out. (Looks at Thomas more intently.) Belsen, Hiroshima. The Western Front. Where was your God then?
Thomas: She didn't seem too happy I must admit.
Richard: Went off for a walk to the pier.
Thomas: She wants a baby badly. It's eating into her soul.
Richard: Wanted to see that fortune-teller again. Strange ideas she has. This is the real world I told her, accept what there is. (Pause.)
Thomas: Funny things babies. Never had one, but strangely they interest me. Like an unwrapped present. Full of expectations. Gradually unfolding what they are and will be. Hard to believe we were all babies once. Dependant on others for our very survival. Dependency becomes a dirty word as you grow older, but we all needed it at some point in our lives.
Richard: The seagulls are comforting. Always there. Just like old friends.
(Stares up at the sky.) The sound of seagulls always brings back my childhood. Like the taste of porridge always reminds me of school. Association of ideas and memory. Like Proust and his...She'll be back in a better mood I hope. (Points up at the sky.) Look at them. Like vultures. I love them none-the-less. Seagulls are my gods of memory.
Thomas: There's nothing going on between Harriet and me. She just needs patience and understanding at the moment. She feels a little vulnerable. Needs someone to listen. (Pause.) She merely took hold of my hand in a gesture. Nothing more. Nothing more to be said.
Richard: The sea is calm.
Thomas: The tide's out.
Richard: Wish she were calm. Nothing like the sea. The sea can absorb so much. She absorbs little of any worth. Look how far it stretches. A complete horizon of water. People have drowned in vast numbers over the centuries.
Thomas: The Thames was a favourite for drowning. Many a maidservant has jumped in there to escape her misery. The sea also has claimed many.
Richard: Shelley being one of the most famous.
Thomas: Sad that.
Richard: Like losing a best friend.
Thomas: Or a brother. (Pause. Looks at the sea.)
Richard: I was an only child. Never had a brother or a sister. What you've never had you never miss. You however have lost...I hope she returns soon.
Thomas: Fool he was. Drunken fool. (Pause.)She'll be back soon. Like some goddess from the depths.
Richard: The tides out.
Thomas: The sea is calm. (Both men sit in silence watching the far off tide.)
End of Scene two.
Act Three. Scene Three.
An hour later. Richard and Harriet are sitting on two of the three deckchairs. There is one deckchair empty between them. Harriet is leaning forward her hands joined together as if she were praying. Richard is sitting back with his legs stretched out in front of him.)
Harriet: That fortune-teller could no more read my palm than find her own backside with her eyes shut. (Pause.) Cross my palm with silver, she says. It's all in the stars. Fraud she was. No more gypsy than I'm a virgin. (Looks at Richard.) Where's Thomas?
Richard: Gone to look for a bookshop. Wants to see if they've got his latest book in stock, no doubt. The man's changed. He's almost a woman now.
Harriet: He could do worse.
Richard: He had the talent to be a great writer. He should have stuck with it and not given in to the market place.
Harriet: You're well paid by the market place. You're no Schubert yourself.
Richard: I keep you dressed and fed.
Harriet: Would you rather I was naked and starved?
Richard: Naked I don't mind, but starved, no. (Pause.)I used to have an aunt who could eat the backside off a donkey and still be as skinny as Gandhi's leg. She used to wear this red woollen hat and wrinkly stockings and moan like the wind, but boy could she eat.
Harriet: You'd have me starved.
Richard: She was so thin she looked liked a Swan Vesta match with legs.
Harriet: Thomas understands me. He's got feelings.
Richard: South End is where she'd take me. She loved the place. She was an old maid. (Pause. Smiles to himself.) My mother said my aunt lost her intended in the War. Never came back from a bombing operation.
Harriet: Thomas would never have let me down. (Searches through her bag. Picks out her cigarettes and lighter. Puts a cigarette in her mouth and lights it. Replaces the cigarette packet and lighter back in her bag.)
Richard: She could smoke like a trooper, too. Had a cigarette in her mouth like an appendage. You shouldn't smoke, Harriet. It will be the death of you.
Harriet: You'll be the death of me. (Inhales deeply and then lets the smoke ease out slowly.) I should have been a nun. Why I wasted my time with men I don't know.
Richard: You a nun? What a waste that would have been.
Harriet: I am a waste.
Richard: You're depressed. You need to clear your head of miserable thoughts.
Harriet: I've never had a decent man. They've all been selfish and sex mad. I should have been a nun like my cousin.
Richard: Depression deprives one of one's true self.
Harriet: She spends a good part of her life on her knees. I've spent a good part of my life on my back and nothing to show for it. She said she wanted to give all to God. I'd give God whatever He wanted if I could just have a baby.
Richard: Thomas lost his true self by writing such romantic nonsense. Real art does not sell itself on the market place. (Pause.) Where'd you get to last night? It was late when you climbed into bed.
Harriet: I was moon gazing.
Richard: And you were like an ice block. As frigid as a nun in a bishop's bed.
Harriet: The moon was clear and enchanting.
Richard: You had your back to me all night. You might as well have slept in Thomas's bed. (Pause.) Perhaps you did. Did you? Did you sleep with that writer of woman's tripe?
Harriet: I couldn't believe men had walked on the moon. It seemed a sacrilege. Like the moon had been raped. Whatever man has touched has been marred.
Richard: Silence only makes me think you did.
Harriet: Did what?
Richard: Sleep with Thomas.
Harriet: You or me?
Richard: Did you sleep with Thomas?
Harriet: Did you? At school. In that dormitory of yours?
Richard: Now you're being distasteful.
Harriet: And you are not?
Richard: Straightforward question.
Harriet: I've not slept with anybody since I've been with you. More's the pity.
Richard: Pity, yes, for the blighter whom it might have been. (Pause. Stares out at the sea.) There's a fine specimen of a ship. Look at those sails. See how the wind fills them.
Harriet: And if I had been with Thomas it wouldn't have been sleeping, I'd be doing. (Closes her eyes. Holds the cigarette in her fingers, and then throws it away.)
Richard: I love sailing ships. There's something about a sailing ship that has me in raptures. Almost as if I have some memory of sailing in one centuries ago. The sea. What a place to be. (Silence.)
End of Scene Three.
Act Three. Scene Four.
After lunch. On the beach, Harriet and Thomas are sitting on two of the three deckchairs. They are sitting next to each other. Harriet's handbag is on her lap. She is searching through it.
Thomas: Lovely lunch. Feel full and satisfied.
Harriet: Richard will stay in the bar now for hours talking to that second-rate opera singer. He's got no sense of value. He'll talk and talk and talk.
Thomas: The sea shall be my comforter now. I'll rest in her arms. In her waves. (Smiles to himself.) When I was a boy, I'd sit and throw pebbles at the waves. It was my real joy to see them lost beneath the oncoming waves as if they were drowned sailors. (Pause.) My brother, too, would throw pebbles. He had a better throw than I. More strength in his arms, I suppose. Not so much strength in his brain though. He never quite made the grade for university. Was too happy to waste time with girls and drink. His downfall. His life in miniature. Wasted.
Harriet: He could always talk the hind leg off a horse.
Thomas: Donkey. Donkey, Harriet.
Thomas: No, its talk the hind leg off a donkey, not horse.
Harriet: Does it matter? Does it matter if it's a horse or donkey? Maybe the horse or donkey might mind if it's hind leg is talked off. But to me it doesn't matter at all. You sounded like Richard, then. Don't become like him. Your one saving quality is that you're not like him.
Thomas: Only one saving quality, Harriet? Then I am doomed. Never more to lift my head to the skies. (Smiles at Harriet. She pulls out her cigarette packet and withdraws a cigarette. Finds her lighter and lights the cigarette. Puts the lighter and cigarette packet in her bag. Then puts her bag on the ground by her deckchair.) Richard can talk when he wants to. He has the ability to talk utter piffle, too.
Harriet: He's an expert on talking piffle. He has a degree in piffle talking.
Thomas: First class degree.
Harriet: Working towards his doctorate in piffle talking. (Silence. Each looks at the other. They look out at the sea.)
Thomas: When my wife was killed, I didn't want to live without her. I thought seriously about suicide.
Harriet: He was born talking I think. His mother must have wanted to push him back up where he came from and pushed him out the other end over the loo.
Thomas: I don't know what made me change my mind. (Pause.) If I thought that I'd see her in another life, I would have had some kind of comfort, but I didn't believe any of that religious stuff. Bleak isn't it?
Harriet: Is it? It looks quite clear to me. The skies are cornflower blue.
Thomas: No, our outlook in life, I meant.
Harriet: You are a sad bugger at times, Thomas.
Thomas: Life's made me that way.
Harriet: What a sad bugger.
Thomas: No. Solemn. Doom-laden with misery.
Harriet: What utter nonsense. You are full of life and want it badly not to end. (Takes a deep intake from the cigarette.) We are made that way. You and I, Thomas, are life's optimists.
Thomas: Are we?
Harriet: Yes. We see half-full glasses not half-empty ones. We will cling to life in the dear hope that it will improve the day after tomorrow. And if it doesn't we'll blame the world for a day or two then go back hoping and thinking it will eventually improve.
Thomas: Is that the sailing ship Richard was talking about over lunch? It's a fine specimen of a ship.
Harriet: I even hope against hope that I'll get pregnant and have a baby I yearn for, even though nothing has happened or likely to happen with Richard the way he is, and me not sure if I'm capable of having babies at all. (Pause.) I'll be done for if I don't.
Thomas: I remember seeing this fine sailing ship from the boarding house window through my cousin's telescope years ago. It was a splendid sight. So real and big and so near through the telescope. I wanted to reach out my hand and touch it.
Harriet: Would you want a baby?
Thomas: Baby? Me?
Harriet: Not you personally, but if you were married again?
Thomas: God knows. Deep thought that.
Harriet: Deep feelings, too.
Thomas: Depended if the woman I was with and married to, wanted a baby. I can't say more than that.
Harriet: I want a baby, Thomas. (Throws a way her cigarette. Looks at Thomas with a pleading gaze.) I need a baby. A baby is now my only ambition. All that I want.
Thomas: I don't think I'd find a woman like my late wife. One in a thousand she was.
Harriet: We are all one in a thousand to somebody if we're lucky.
Thomas: She was no sex goddess, but she was all that I wanted.
Harriet: What now then, Thomas? A sexless life?
Thomas: I see no point in sex if you don't love the person you're to have sex with.
Harriet: If we only had sex with people we loved, the human race would have died out centuries ago.
Thomas: Perhaps it should have done.
Harriet: What did you have for lunch to make you so grumpy and dismal?
Thomas: It could have been the lamb cutlets.
Harriet: More likely the treacle pudding. (Puts her hand on Thomas's thigh.)
Thomas: Or the custard. (Pause. Looks at Harriet's hand on his thigh.) Or the parsnips.
Harriet: You could save my life.
Thomas: You could end mine if Richard saw us now.
Harriet: Sod Richard.
Thomas: Never been tempted. Not even at school.
Harriet: Poor you.
Thomas: We adored matron.
Harriet: I bet you did.
Thomas: She was a dim light in a dark world of childhood.
Harriet: My father was a black spot in a dim childhood.
Thomas: Your hand is burning my flesh. (Lifts Harriet's hand off his thigh. Harriet sighs and peers out at the seascape.) Best not to push our luck.
Harriet: I hope his sailing ship sinks. I hope his teeth fall out as he speaks to that second-rate opera singer if she is an opera singer. She's probably some tart who sings at the end of the pier. (Thomas nods. Both sit in silence looking at the sea.)
End of Scene Four.
Act Three. Scene Five.
Early evening, after dinner. Outside the hotel as the previous evening. Two tables. Three chairs around each table. Thomas, Harriet and Richard are sitting around the right hand table. There are three glasses and an ashtray on the table.
Richard: She is not fair to outward view as many maidens be. (Sighs.) In fact, she was quite ugly.
Harriet: Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Wouldn't she let you hold her? Is that why you say she's ugly.
Thomas: Coleridge wasn't it?
Richard: No one can help being ugly but she wallowed in the glory of it.
Harriet: You men have a one-track mind. Always to one end. Always to one objective.
Richard: She could undoubtedly sing her Mozart. That was obvious by the size of her bosom. However, one seeks more in a singer.
Thomas: Or was it Shelley?
Harriet: The day I meet a man who's pure minded is the day I give up smoking. (Searches in her handbag for her cigarettes and lighter.) Or sex.
Richard: One wants a singer to have personality, too. It's essential. Otherwise, all you have is a voice on legs.
Thomas: I love Shelley. Love the flow of his verse.
Harriet: You and your Shelley. (Lights her cigarette with the lighter. Puts the lighter back in her handbag.) I don't hold with all this schoolboys together in a dormitory nonsense. Makes you all a lot of...Winds blown out my light.
Thomas: It had it good points.
Richard: And bad points, too.
Harriet: Bloody wind. (Relights her cigarette.) Good points or bad points it isn't normal. Mixed schools, that is normal.
Thomas: Too risky.
Richard: Would have been nice though.
Harriet: To you, no doubt it would.
Thomas: We weren't ready for it then. Too revolutionary.
Harriet: Up the revolution. (Inhales deeply.) Down with stagnant minds.
Richard: Remember young Squires?
Thomas: Oh, him. Yes. No one was safe with him about. Backs to the walls boys.
Richard: If it had been left to him, there would have been no virgin soldiers.
Harriet: I rest my case.
Thomas: Of all the girls that are so smart...
Richard: There's none like pretty Sally.
Harriet: My father had a sister called Sally. Aunt Sally. She was so unlike her brother.
Thomas: So she need be.
Richard: Sally, Sally, Sally in the... (Pause.)Stars. Look at them. Unfolding as the evening unwinds.
Thomas: My aunt Jessie dressed as a man. She walked like a man.
Harriet: She was a real lady she was. Not a rude word left her lips. Not a filthy thought entered her mind.
Richard: It makes you wonder of one's place in the scheme of things.
Thomas: By day, she was Aunt Jessie, but by night, she was Gordon and spent most of evenings chatting up women in the Dog and Bull.
Harriet: Shame they never met my aunt and your aunt.
Thomas: Could have been interesting.
Richard: I love the night. It makes you think. Makes you come down to earth and realise your place in the scheme of things.
Harriet: She never married, my aunt. Lived with another lady in Mayfair.
Thomas: Sad life.
Richard: Now the last of many days... (Picks up his glass and drains it.)Shelley.
Harriet: Shame he didn't drown before writing poetry.
Richard: She's jealous of our love for him.
Harriet: Jealous my father's jockstrap. I just think it sad when two grown men spend their time reciting poems all the time.
Thomas: Shelley's a god to us mere mortals.
Richard: One to whom we fall down and worship.
Harriet: Dog's behind and cat's poo. You're...
Richard: Another drink?
Thomas: Small whisky. No water.
Harriet: Gin and tonic, Richard, dear. (Richard rises and goes towards the bar. The other two gaze at the sea.)
End of Scene Five.
Act Three. Scene Six.
An hour later. Outside the hotel. Thomas and Richard are at one table. Harriet has moved to the other table. The men's table has many glasses and a full ashtray. Harriet's table has one glass and an empty ashtray. She sits with her back to the men.
Richard: I must go down to the sea again.
Thomas: To the lonely sea and the sky. (Smiles.) The sea and sky meet like lovers in the night. Look at the horizon.
Richard: And all I ask is a tall ship... (Pause. Sits back and stars up at the evening sky.) My father said that the night sky in the desert was one of the few wonder sights they had. Usually the dead bodies and sand were all they really saw much of and that was no great wonder after a while. (Pause. Looks at Harriet. She looks at the sea.)When was your first sexual experience, Harriet?
(She turns and stares at Richard, and then she searches in her handbag for her cigarettes and lighter, but doesn't answer.) Is it so long ago you can't remember?
Thomas: One shouldn't ask women their age or that sort of question, Richard, old chap. It's not the done thing. Might offend the said woman.
Harriet: Why should it interest you, Richard? You knew I was used goods long before you and I were an item. (Finds her cigarettes and lighter. Takes out a cigarette and lights it. Then puts lighter and cigarette packet away in her handbag.)
Thomas: My mother was very easily offended. (Pause.) I remember once when my parents were in a queue outside a theatre the man in front passed wind. My father being an honourable man said to the man "How dare you pass wind in front of my wife." And the man replied, "Sorry mate, I didn't know it was her turn."(There is a tipsy laughter from both men, but Harriet sits stony-faced.)
Richard: Come on, Harriet, you're like an undertaker at his own funeral. When was your first time with a man? Or was it with a woman? (Richard stares at Harriet.) Can't be that damned hard to remember.
Harriet: What's it to you?
Richard: Interest. Want to know who my previous comrades were.
Harriet: How childish.
Thomas: All I ask is a tall ship...
Richard: What's the secret? What's the bloody mystery?
Harriet: Leave it, Richard. Think of something else. Think of your first time or your last time.
Thomas: And a star to steer her by. (Pause.) To steer her by. Fine words. Lovely way of putting one's love of ship and sea.
Richard: Harriet's past is like an onion, you peel off one layer and another is there just as green and smelly as the one before. (Stops and looks at Thomas.) And the wheel's kick and the wind's song...That's a poem that is.
Thomas: One of my favourites.
Richard: One to remember when by the sea.
Thomas: And at night. (Looks at Harriet and attempts a smile.) poetry, Harriet. One must have one's poetry.
Richard: And when was this first love of yours, Harriet, old dear?
Harriet My past is no murkier than yours is. (Looks at Richard. Her eyes are fixed on his features.) Except...Except...
Thomas: Except hers is a woman's past and yours is a man's.
Harriet: Except (Her voice becomes louder.) Except I was raped at fifteen.
Harriet: By a friend of my father's. (Draws on her cigarette hard and releases a slow flow of smoke.) If such a person can be a friend of anybody's.
Thomas: Did you report it?
Richard: Are you serious? Is this for real?
Harriet: Do you think I'd make this up? Do you really think I'd want this to be a memory?
Thomas: I would hope you reported it.
Richard: And you never told me before?
Harriet: What an opening for a relationship. Oh, by the way I was raped when I was fifteen is that all right? Dinner at eight?
Thomas: Too much of it goes unreported. They get away with it.
Richard: You could have mentioned it before now.
Harriet: When? On our second date together? Or on our fourth? When Richard should, I have brought it up?
Thomas: Too much of it. What the times are coming to I've no idea.
Richard: There's always a time and place for these things. (Pause. The three are silent for a period. Harriet smokes her cigarette until it is finished and then throws it away. The men sip their drinks staring at the darkening sea and sky.)
Thomas: She dwelt among the untrodden ways.
Richard: Wordsworth. Lucy who trod the untrodden way.
Harriet: My mother blamed my father. I blamed myself. My father blamed me. That's one thing we had in common. Not much but at least we had that.
Thomas: I learnt to love poetry at the feet of matron.
Richard: That wasn't all you learnt, I bet.
Harriet: His friend, yet I was to blame for being a fifteen-year-old female with legs which his friend lusted after.
Thomas: Her flat was warm and inviting. Many boys sat there in the evenings in winter. Ears listening to her read. Eyes on her face.
Richard: Hands on their...She was an oasis in a desert of boys.
Harriet: My father, curse his soul, never said a word to his friend about it. Old boy's network. Old boys together kind of thing.
Thomas: And that perfume she wore.
Richard: Soaked in more like. Like a walking brothel.
Harriet: Men have always been the low point of my life.
Thomas: Even now, I can smell it in my mind.
Richard: My father avoided the brothels. He said more men got the clap during the War than Lily Langtry got from her audience in her heyday.
Harriet: Should have been a nun.
Thomas: I smelt it once on a tube train. I looked around thinking matron was on the train, but it was some young girl close by with a face like a smacked backside.
Richard: Time for another drink?
Thomas: Whiskey for me.
Harriet: Should have spent my life on my knees like my cousin. (Looks at Richard.)The usual. Large. Bloody large.
Thomas: The moon has a glow, Harriet.
Richard: Unlike Harriet. (He moves off towards the bar.)
Harriet: The sea's rough. So am I. (Pause. Both look at the seascape. Silence.)
End of Scene Six.
Act Three. Scene Seven.
Half an hour later. All are sitting at the one table. Harriet is smoking. Thomas is sitting in a reclined position as if half asleep.)
Richard: Whenas in silks my Julia goes.
Thomas: Then, then methinks...
Richard: How sweetly flows...
Harriet: That matron of yours must have swallowed a library of poetry books. Bet she was after more than your ears.
Thomas: Matron was our queen.
Richard: Our soother of woes.
Thomas: Our mother and sister.
Richard: Our best friend in time of need.
Harriet: Men. (Sighs deeply.)I was raped and you two talk as if it was of no consequence. Soon to be forgotten. Not to be mentioned any more.
Thomas: Never had a sister.
Richard: Liked to have had a sister.
Thomas: Soother of wounds and woes.
Richard: My father was my hero. Desert Rat. First class hero. (Sits brooding.)
Thomas: Why didn't I have a sister? A brother only goes and drowns himself. A sister would not have done such a thing. A sister would have been my help and friend. (Sits and broods.)
Harriet: Father said not to report it. Blamed me, but I was not to report his friend. Fifteen I was. 1963 it was. (Pause. Inhales deeply. Looks at the sky.) Water under the bridge now. He's dead. Cancer five years ago. Father's gone. Good riddance to them both. (Sits and looks down at the seascape lit up by the moon and stars.)If I could have my life over again I'd come back as a man. I'd not have to worry then about how or whom I had sex with. I could be who or what I wanted and not feel a second-class person. (Pauses. Closes her eyes.)However, I still want a baby. Want to feel it in my arms alive and warm. Want to hear its cry and see its little fingers. Its little wriggling toes.
(Opens her eyes.) Its tiny heart going boom boom boom against my breast. Its weenie eyes staring at me. Its little mouth closing and opening like a tiny fish out of water. (Silence.)
Thomas: No sister. A wife who's dead and a brother who drowns himself. If only we say. If only. My mother should have had a girl. My mother should have drowned my brother at birth and saved him the trouble. I should have not married. Should have stayed single and had mistresses. Lots of them. All sorts. All colours shapes and sizes. Big ones small ones some as big as your... (Silence.)
Richard: My father said a war sorts the men from the boys. What am I a man or a boy? No war for me. No blood and guts to wade through. No desert to fight and die in. He never understood my love of music. Thought opera was for highbrows and toffs. (Smiles.) Old now the Desert Rat. Not as nimble on his pins as he says. He was a man's man. He was my father. He was my man.
Thomas: The sea's rough.
Harriet: The tide's in.
Thomas: And a quiet sleep and a sweet dream.
Harriet: The moon is my love.
Richard: When the long trick's over. (Richard closes his eyes. Thomas stares at the sea. Harriet looks up at the sky. Silence.)
End of Act Three and Scene Seven.