Dear Brutus

James M. Barrie
Dear Brutus
By J M Barrie

The scene is a darkened room, which the curtain reveals so stealthily
that if there was a mouse on the stage it is there still. Our object is to
catch our two chief characters unawares; they are Darkness and Light.
The room is so obscure as to be invisible, but at the back of the
obscurity are French windows, through which is seen Lob's garden
bathed in moon-shine. The Darkness and Light, which this room and
garden represent, are very still, but we should feel that it is only the
pause in which old enemies regard each other before they come to the
grip. The moonshine stealing about among the flowers, to give them
their last instructions, has left a smile upon them, but it is a smile with a
menace in it for the dwellers in darkness. What we expect to see next is
the moonshine slowly pushing the windows open, so that it may
whisper to a confederate in the house, whose name is Lob. But though
we may be sure that this was about to happen it does not happen; a stir
among the dwellers in darkness prevents it.
These unsuspecting ones are in the dining-room, and as a
communicating door opens we hear them at play. Several tenebrious
shades appear in the lighted doorway and hesitate on the two steps that
lead down into the unlit room. The fanciful among us may conceive a
rustle at the same moment among the flowers. The engagement has
begun, though not in the way we had intended.
VOICES.-- 'Go on, Coady: lead the way.' 'Oh dear, I don't see why I

should go first.' 'The nicest always goes first.' 'It is a strange house if I
am the nicest.' 'It is a strange house.' 'Don't close the door; I can't see
where the switch is.' 'Over here.'
They have been groping their way forward, blissfully unaware of how
they shall be groping there again more terribly before the night is out.
Some one finds a switch, and the room is illumined, with the effect that
the garden seems to have drawn back a step as if worsted in the first
encounter. But it is only waiting.
The apparently inoffensive chamber thus suddenly revealed is, for a
bachelor's home, creditably like a charming country house
drawing-room and abounds in the little feminine touches that are so
often best applied by the hand of man. There is nothing in the room
inimical to the ladies, unless it be the cut flowers which are from the
garden and possibly in collusion with it. The fireplace may also be a
little dubious. It has been hacked out of a thick wall which may have
been there when the other walls were not, and is presumably the cavern
where Lob, when alone, sits chatting to himself among the blue smoke.
He is as much at home by this fire as any gnome that may be hiding
among its shadows; but he is less familiar with the rest of the room, and
when he sees it, as for instance on his lonely way to bed, he often stares
long and hard at it before chuckling uncomfortably.
There are five ladies, and one only of them is elderly, the Mrs. Coade
whom a voice in the darkness has already proclaimed the nicest. She is
the nicest, though the voice was no good judge. Coady, as she is
familiarly called and as her husband also is called, each having for
many years been able to answer for the other, is a rounded old lady
with a beaming smile that has accompanied her from childhood. If she
lives to be a hundred she will pretend to the census man that she is only
ninety-nine. She has no other vice that has not been smoothed out of
existence by her placid life, and she has but one complaint against the
male Coady, the rather odd one that he has long forgotten his first wife.
Our Mrs. Coady never knew the first one but it is she alone who
sometimes looks at the portrait of her and preserves in their home
certain mementoes of her, such as a lock of brown hair, which the

equally gentle male Coady must have treasured once but has now
forgotten. The first wife had been slightly lame, and in their brief
married life he had carried solicitously a rest for her foot, had got so
accustomed to doing this, that after a quarter of a century with our Mrs.
Coady he still finds footstools for her as if she were lame also. She has
ceased to pucker her face over this, taking it as a kind little thoughtless
attention, and indeed with the years has developed a
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