THE SAME DAY later in the afternoon. The same room. The chair for visitors has been replaced at the table. MARCHBANKS, alone and idle, is trying to find out how the typewriter works. Hearing someone at the door, he steals guiltily away to the window and pretends to be absorbed in the view. MISS GARNETT, carrying the notebook in which she takes down Morell's letters in shorthand from his dictation, sits down at the typewriter and sets to work transcribing them, much too busy to notice EUGENE. When she begins the second line she stops and stares at the machine. Something wrong evidently.
PROSERPINE. Bother! You've been meddling with my typewriter, Mr. Marchbanks; and there's not the least use in your trying to look as if you hadn't.
MARCHBANKS [timidly]. I'm very sorry, Miss Garnett. I only tried to make it write. [Plaintively] But it wouldn't.
PROSERPINE. Well, you've altered the spacing.
MARCHBANKS [earnestly]. I assure you I didn't. I didn't indeed. I only turned a little wheel. It gave a sort of click.
PROSERPINE. Oh, now I understand. [She restores the spacing, talking volubly all the time.] I suppose you thought it was a sort of barrel- organ. Nothing to do but turn the handle, and it would write a beautiful love letter for you straight off, eh?
MARCHBANKS [seriously]. I suppose a machine could be made to write love letters. They're all the same, aren't they?
PROSERPINE [somewhat indignantly: any such discussion, except by way of pleasantry, being outside her code of manners]. How do I know? Why do you ask me?
MARCHBANKS. I beg your pardon. I thought clever people--people who can do business and write letters and that sort of thing--always had to have love affairs to keep them from going mad.
PROSERPINE [rising, outraged]. Mr. Marchbanks! [She looks severely at him, and marches majestically to the bookcase.]
MARCHBANKS [approaching her humbly]. I hope I haven't offended you. Perhaps I shouldn't have alluded to your love affairs.
PROSERPINE [plucking a blue book from the shelf and turning sharply on him]. I haven't any love affairs. How dare you say such a thing? The idea!
[She tucks the book under her arm, and is flouncing back to her machine when he addresses her with awakened interest and sympathy.]
MARCHBANKS. Really! Oh, then you are shy, like me.
PROSERPINE. Certainly I am not shy. What do you mean?