Scene V:
Ms Smith Is Hard Put to Explain to Her Husband How She Came to Spend the Night Unexpectedly in Philip's Nightgown

[This folio contains a foldout 13 1/4” x 30” (33,5 x 76,2 cm) with text on image digitally printed on 320 gm Stonehenge paper with Epson Ultra Chrome K-3 permanent inks at the artist’s studio.

Incorporated into the foldout is a paper sculpture created by the artist.

The folio sits in a multi-coloured cloth wrapped folio whose interior is lined with Fabriano Elle Erre paper which has a silk-screenedred polka dot pattern.]

[Add setting]

MS. SMITH: To begin with, dear one, you might show some sympathy in understanding that both Philip and I had been gallopeding on grey ponies over the downs, during which hours there transpired a tonnage of vapid and melancholy revelations touching upon certain indiscretions and outrages pertinent to your youth at this country house you and your brother Philip shared with other familial parties and some guests who I hope for decency’s sake shall remain nameless, if ours is to be a civilized discussion. Before our gallopeding, which is a word I shall employ to my heart’s content, despite your rude grimaces, since it was a word of which Ms Virginia Woolf was extremely fond, and since I am extremely fond of Ms Woolf, or Ms Someone Else as she was once upon a time. Before our gallopeding, as I was saying, Philip had sent me a large pot of face cream, as a show of neighbourly affection, I suppose, and after our gallopeding we were, in a word, “among our olives,” frugally bypassing any idea as to the consumption of dinner. We were served our gin olives by Philip’s Scots person, that twinkly-faced bitch I believe I have been told hails from the island of Islay, and emits, as you may have yourself mentioned, the scent of peat from under her nails and between her toes. Philip directed this person, when she wasn’t busy fetching our olives, to run and turn down my bed and lay out my jammies in the East Room, and of course that dotty tramp got on her high horse and laid out Philip’s nightgown in the East Room and my jammies on Philip’s bed in the West Room, and when the crank of the evening fell who among us knew which way was east and which west and what tangle of whose cloth one was heaving over one’s shoulders.

(Here Ms Smith takes a deep breath before continuing)

Thence ensued a bleak and black moment during which time went gallopeding to its own beck and call, or hew and hack, and next I knew your dear Philip was shouting down the pipes, the actual in-house organ pipes in the attic, if you please, in the attic of that ridiculous pile, as if we were suddenly domiciled in bloody Christ Church Cathedral. Had I found his love token in the jar of cream, Philip wanted to know, and was he ever doomed to be his brother’s keeper, and other such rot, not a word of which I could tolerate because now he was shouting that to his mind I possessed too little regard for nature to fit securely into his family, which rude remark I took sore exception to, and at some point shortly thereafter, both of us back in the drawing room, I pointed out to the oaf a thing or two about the raddled and putrid nature of this precious family over the past eons, and how the two of you dear despot brothers spend your time these days toiling over the women of this and that cantankerous nation, one as Director of International Relations and the other as nincompoop foot soldier to the cause, both obsessing over these idiotic adulterous Scots women who

cannay gae a day
without eating their tatties,
cooking up
their mince and tatties,
their foul tattie soup
and tattie scones and
tattie skink
which is what the bitch had rattled up for our prospective dinner and why I chose, if you must know, to hang in with the olives. About this hour it was Philip drinking from the shaker, him all skiddle-skaddle and looking a fright in my jammies, and that four-tittied bitch of a Scots girl down to the buff gallopeding on a grey pony around and around the castle walls and jumping stumps and your dear brother at a window shouting proposals of marriage. I am pretty sure I went cold sober at this maudlin sight, and actually went into the kitchen and ate any number of
cold tatties
and drank cold tattie soup
and swallowed tattie scones
till I popped,
thence sending myself off to bed like a lady, only it was on the billiards table under the dog blanket where I slept and where you found me, and why you are making that ugly face at me this minute only God or the devil in a swimsuit can understand and if you do not cease and desist this very second
I will flee our joyful marriage and fleece you for every

(Here Ms. Smith weeps, and weeps, though not so much it will tire her eyes)


Read on: Act I, Scene VI »
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