Shows M

picking up. They are also on the trail of Cramping Grange and its Wedgwood Room, a point which doesn't escape Wendl and Sparta. Charlie might be temporarily popular at the market with Wendl and Sparta vying for the favour of his expertise, but back home things are getting decidedly sticky. Sally can only bear the bickering and the apparent indif­ference because of her love for her husband (Love Him). She is not happy when she sees him encounter the redhead and when, after a hurried conversation, he grabs his hat and coat and hurries off with the woman, she has a hard time convincing herself that it's just business. He'd damn well better get back quickly. The redhead has taken Charlie to Cramping Grange. She owns it. Not that that means she has money. She doesn't, that is why she needs Cramping to fetch good prices at the next day's sale. But she'll offer him £20 to cast an expert eye over the Wedgwood. When he tells her it is fake she ups the offer for a phony certificate to £30.00. But Charlie is a connoisseur. Worse, he's a connoisseur with a conscience and he won't compromise. Then the redhead shows him a vase and this time it's the real McCoy. It is beautiful. A thing like that Charlie has wanted to own all his life. She tells him 'Make Me an Offer'. It's a bit of bargaining that won't be done quickly so perhaps he'd better phone home and say he won't be back that night. As she sings, he phones. As the curtain falls, they look at each other. Act 2 At breakfast the next morning the bargaining for the vase still isn't finished and Charlie isn't cheered by the knowledge that Sally will never believe he spent the night on the couch, but eventually he settles that he'll pay the redhead twenty pounds down and eighty more after the sale where he won't let on that the Wedgwood Room is a fake. When Sparta and Wendt arrive, Charlie does his stuff. Then the Americans arrive and battle smoke is in the air. It's going to be some break-up sale. The dealers wander about affecting to admire anything but the things they want as the selling gets under way, but Wendl has an extra card up his sleeve. He offers to make a ring with the Americans, with Charlie acting as a front, and they accept. Finally the sale gets to offering the Wedgwood Room. The bidding creeps up and in the end Sparta and Wendl cry pax and join together rather than risk paying a proper price for the goods: Charlie's bid of 650 guineas is allowed to win the day. Back home Sally is chatting with as much forebearance as is possible to the brainless Gwen, Sparta's daughter. Gwen is a muddle-headed romantic with a gaping need for a man and her unthinking words wound the shaky Sally at every turn. When Charlie gets home the inevitable accusations tumble out. Charlie has his mind on the desperately wanted vase, while Sally is wanting to tell him she is pregnant. When she does, he stops short and leaves slowly. Business comes back in the next scene, at the knock-out between the ring of dealers. Mindel and Sweeting end up buying the Wedgwood for £1500. That means there is a cut of £116 15s 8d for each of those in the ring and one share goes to Charlie. But everyone has come out of the sale all right. For the redhead it means a lucrative job with the American combine, aristocratically fronting their UK operation. For Wendl and Sparta it means the joining of forces in the face of a common prey as they unload the rest of their white elephants on the voracious trans-Atlantic buyers. Even the famous stuffed gorillas go. Then there's the vase. Charlie pays the eighty pounds balance out of his share and the redhead hands it over. 'All my life I've wanted to own something as good as this,' he murmurs. She reminds him that he's a professional dealer and walks out of his life. Back home Charlie looks lovingly at his purchase. Sally, too, can understand its beauty. He should keep it, he loves it so. But Charlie isn't going to keep it; he's going to sell it at a really fine profit and the money will go towards that lock-up in the Portobello Road' where there'll be room for all four of them. He is going to sell it. He is.