HELEN: [continuing to George] What could be the object of such a childish deception? Even you must have foreseen that it couldn’t last; that there must come a time when the dreadful secret would reach your good, kind uncle’s ears.
FRANCIS: (male) I will tell you his object, Mrs. Stanton. As you may possibly have heard, I am an industrious and painstaking person. I work hard and live plainly, and by the exercise of those gifts which heaven has been pleased to grant me, I have accumulated a fortune–some would call it a large fortune; I merely call it a fortune. I daresay I am worth a hundred thousand pounds. Now you might imagine that, possessing this and a clear conscience, I am happy. But there is another and darker side to the picture which I am endeavouring to paint, Mrs. Stanton. I am cursed, continually cursed, in spite of what George is pleased to consider my advanced age, with an impulse–the impulse of unrestrained generosity. [George and May exchange a look heavy with meaning.] Acting under this impulse, about six months ago, when George imparted to me the information that–er–he, that Ada–when, I say, George, imparted to me the information, I said: “George, if your child is a boy, I will settle ten thousand on him.” You see boys are so helpless. A boy can’t marry a rich husband; can’t make his own clothes; can’t, if the worst comes to the worst, go out as mother’s help–that is why I said, “if it is a boy I will settle ten thousand pounds on your child.” I was under no obligation to make the offer. I acted more from impulse, the impulse of absurd generosity. And how does George repay me? By lying to me, and, what is worse, getting his sister to lie to me. In order to obtain a paltry ten thousand pounds he is willing to stain his honour with a lie. Bah! You, Mrs. Stanton, with characteristic insight and common-sense, have at once put your finger on the most despicable aspect of this painful affair. The lie was useless, futile, silly. [A slight pause ensues after this damning indictment.]
HELEN: George, did your wife know of your uncle’s offer?