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A Synopsis Of The Play Loyalities By John Galsworthy

Updated on September 4, 2014

The play opens at Meldon court, a country guest house. At the very onset of the drama Charles Winsor, the owner of the guest house is seen to be engaged in a home-like conversation with his wife, Lady Adela. They discuss about Ferdinand De Levis who rolls in money. He is lucky enough to win two races making him as rich as Croseus, king of Lydia. De Levis has already procured membership of three clubs and has applied for his membership in the Jockey Club. It will give him a social distinction. They also talk about Captain Ronald Dancy who is on his bones. He had married Mabel four months ago but presently he is desperate to earn money by doing parlor tricks.

Ferdinand De Levis arrives to report that a lot of money had been stolen. He had been to the common bath after locking the bed room door but on his return he found out that the wad of notes was missing from his pocket-book. It was surprisingly stuffed with some shaving papers. De Levis got the money by selling his Rosemary-filly to a bookmaker named Kentman. He insists Winsor to look into the matter and help him to retrieve his money amounting to nine hundred and seventy pounds.

Lady Adela reenters the Scene to be greeted by the astonishing complaint of De Levis. Winsor is reluctant to suspect anybody dwelling in the guest house. Soon they plan to wake up the Dancys and Margaret Orme residing on either side of De Levis’ room.

Inspector Dede of the county Constabulary is informed. To support them with some valuable advice, General Canynge, a racing oracle is summoned. Winsor is certain that De Levis must have been followed by a ruffian who had stolen the money from his room. Treisure, Winsor’s butler is cross-examined by Winsor. The time of the theft is ascertained as between 11.15 and 11.30.

General Canynge inquires of the presence of any ladder. Winsor stands by Treisure and affirms that he is free from blame. Margaret enters the stage making some witty and laughter – provoking comments on De Levis. Mabel stands as an alibi for Ronald Dancy who pretends to be ignorant of the matter. He asserts that he was writing letters in the hall after having completed billiards with Major Colford. Inspector Dede is ushered in. They decide to go to De Levis’s room to investigate the matter further.

De Levis makes the Inspector aware of every possible details. The circumstances under which the theft occurred is put forward by him. The Inspector jots down everything, uses his spy-glasses and draws his own inferences. Inspector Dede suggests four possibilities one of which might have been easily opted by the thug. Robert, Winsor’s footman is interrogated by the Inspector. Robert was playing cards with his friends at the time of theft.

Inspector Dede tries the keys of the Dancy’s and Margaret’s to unlock De Levis’s door but the keys fail. General Canynge suggests getting the numbers of the notes from Kentman. The Inspector goes out to examine the grounds for footmarks. Soon De Levis starts his allegation against Ronald Dancy. Both the balconies are only seven feet apart and Dancy leaped like a cat to steal the money. The creepers in De Levis’ balcony are crushed. Being a military officer Canynge is unwilling to suspect Dancy. De Levis gives an imaginary description of how the money was stolen by Dancy. De Levis feels that he is cornered because he is a Jew. Canynge refers to old days when this kind of an accusation was settled by a duel.

Winsor is informed that Dancy is suspected. Winsor supports Dancy and insists that he is innocent. Dancy is called but he avouches of his ignorance regarding the Sale of the filly. Inspector Dede returns to confirm that he has found out nothing. All of a sudden Canynge tells Winsor that Dancy’s sleeve was damp. He might have been out in the rain. Winsor takes this suggestion lightly and says that there may be other reasons for it. Canynge forces De Levis to remain mum, otherwise he will be driven out of the society. De Levis feels that he is socially blackmailed and promises to do so until and unless he gathers concrete proof. Winsor is disgusted at all these.

Nearly three weeks have elapsed after the proceedings of the first act. Charles Winsor, Augustus Borring, Lord St. Erth and General Canynge are seen playing Bridge in the card room of a London club. They discuss about De Levis who was black balled. Surprisingly, they are informed that Rosemary had won the Cambrigeshire. Borring stammers in his speech and it gives a ludicrous touch to his statements.

Major Colford brings the nformation that De Levis has started a blasphemous story about Dancy. They press De Levis for an explanation to his comments. De Levis asserts that Dancy knew of the sale as he was intimidated by Goole. He abuses Dancy by calling him ‘a Common Sharper’. Moreover, he is not ready to retract and apologize in front of Dancy. A conformation takes place between De Levis and Dancy. Dancy vouches of his innocence. He calls De Levis ‘damned Jew!’ who in turn calls Dancy ‘Thief’. De Levis is not at all ready for a combat for he resigns his membership and decides to settle it in court.

Colford affirms that he was with Dancy at the time of theft. The club members are not satisfied and want that Dancy should settle the matter in court. Borring goes to take the temperature of the club while Colford calls him an ‘effeminate stammering chap’. Colford promises to support Dancy irrespective of the fact that he might have stolen the money.

The Scene shifts to the Dancy’s flat where Mabel and Margaret talk about the pandemonium that broke loose in the club. Margaret tries to ascertain Dancy’s nature from her knowledge of him. They talk about St. Offert who was innocent but was treated by the society as though he were guilty. It may be the same with Dancy. Mabel goes to her bedroom to telephone Dancy. Soon Lady Adela enters to have a conversation with Margaret. Lady Adela informs that General Canynge had felt Dancy’s sleeve to be damp that night. Moreover, Goole confirmed the General that he told Dancy of the sale.They talk about Jews who believe in unity. Margaret informs Lady Adela about Dancy’s relationship with a foreign looking girl, earlier in his life. They are joined by Mabel who is anxious of her husband. They pacify Mabel by mentioning the name of old Mr. Jacob Twisden who may get them out of this tangle.

With the arrival of Captain Ronald Dancy, Lady Adela and Margaret depart from the flat. Dancy talks of escaping to Nairobi. Mabel is reluctant to do so because it will prove that Dancy is guilty. De Levis enters that flat and confronts Mabel who tries to justify her husband’s integrity. Mabel requests De Levis to withdraw his wicked charge and to write a letter of apology that was written by him but De Levis refuses to sign it point blank. Dancy calls him a ‘Skulking cur’: however a physical combat is avoided by the intervention of Mabel.After the departure of De Levis, Dancy becomes exasperated even on Mabel. She believes in him wholeheartedly. They decide to meet Mr. Jacob Twisden, an eminent lawyer.

The Scene shifts to Mr. Jacob Twisden’s office in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Gilman, a grocer comes to meet Mr. Twisden. He talks politely with Mr. Graviter, a solicitor. Gilman talks of Mr. Twisden’s refusal of a knighthood. He is kept in waiting and Graviter is joined by Mr. Winsor and Miss Orme. They discuss about the proceedings of the Dancy De Levis case. General Canynge has been subpoenated. Winsor compares Dancy’s case to Dreyfus’ case.

Mr. Jacob Twisden enters his office. Winsor informs him about General Canynge who happened to put his hand on Dancy’s shoulder that night and it was damp. Winsor thinks that Dancy must be told of it. Mr. Twisden affirms that it will not be regarded as evidence. As soon as Winsor and Margaret depart, Gilman comes in.

Gilman has come to Mr. Twisden from a sense of duty He had read in the newspaper, the numbers of the stopped notes for value. He had exchanged one fifty pound note with Mr. Ricardos, an Italian wine merchant. He drove to Mr. Ricardos’ residence in Putney. He was taken aback on seeing Mr. Gilman. They straightway drove to Mr. Twisden in a taxi. Gilman supports Dancy and thinks that it will solve the matter.

Ricardos confesses that he has a daughter. She was in love with Ronald Dancy but he refused to marry her. Ricardos blackmailed Dancy and he was bound to pay thousand pounds to settle the ‘debt of honor’. Mr. Ricardos had spent all the money except a hundred pound note which he submits to Mr. Twisden. After Ricardos goes out, Mr. Twisden starts pondering over the matter. The cat ultimately has come out of the bag. He refuses to carry on with the case anymore. He holds a discussion with Graviter who is also unwilling to proceed any further.

Mabel enters the cene. She is very dejected and worried of her husband who has gone for an outing with Major Colford. Twisden pacifies Mabel by telling her to remain calm and composed. He is desirous of meeting Dancy at the earliest. Twisden and Graviter decide to inform Sir Frederic about their latest discovery. Sir Frederic is the barrister, conducting the case in favor of Dancy. Thus, they remain faithful to their profession.

Dancy comes to meet Mr. Twisden the next day morning. Twisden declies to carry on with the case and forces Dancy to confess everything. Dancy admits of the burglary done by him. Twisden suggests that he should escape to Morocco to evade punishment. Dancy needs time to think of it because he is worried of his wife. General Canynge enters and Dancy is shifted to another office room. Canynge calls Dancy ‘Crazy’ as he risked his life two times. Soon Margaret and Colford enter.

Colford blames Sir Frederic for chucking the case. Margaret is ready to help Dancy by keeping her pearls as a security for loan. General Canynge writes a letter to his friend in the Spanish War Office to give Dancy a job. Dancy refuses to take any help. De Levis enters Mr. Twisden’s office and informs them that a warrant is to be issued. Moreover, he wants the money that was stolen, to be given to charity. Dancy walks out of the room as if in a trance, to settle the matter with his wife.

The last Scene of the play takes place in the Dancys' flat, at Meldon Court. Mabel is carrying a bottle of smelling-salts. Dancy confesses everything before her. He admits of his relationship with the daughter of Ricardos. He had to steal money from De Levis to settle the matter with her. Mabel wants that Dancy should run away. Even if he is put behind the bars, Mabel will wait for his punishment to be over.

The ringing of the bell foils Dancy’s plan. He shifts to the bed room and Mabel faces Inspector Dede. She tries her best to dissuade the Inspector but he is bound by his duty to arrest Dancy.

The lock of Dancy’s bed room is opened by him and immediately after it is a pistol shot is heard. They all rush inside the room to find that Dancy has just committed ‘Hara-kiri’. Before his death, Dancy had written a letter to Colford, in which he requests Colford to take care of Mabel. Thus, the play ends tragically.


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