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On the way back from choir practice, Mrs. Soames complains to Mrs. Webb and Mrs. Gibbs about Simon Stimson's being drunk during rehearsal. Mrs. Gibbs says that everyone, including Dr. Ferguson, knows about his drinking problem; if the minister can look the other way, they will have to do the same. When Mrs. Gibbs enters her house, her husband scolds her for being late and gossiping with the other women. Mrs. Gibbs tells him that they were discussing how long Dr. Ferguson would choose to ignore Simon's drinking problems. Dr. Gibbs, who claims to know all about Simon's problems, remarks that "some people ain't made for small-town life." Mrs. Gibbs then tells her husband the shocking news that Mrs. Fairchild now locks her front door at night. Her husband rues the fact that the town is growing "citified."
As Mr. Webb approaches home, he sees his daughter peering from the window upstairs. He asks her why she is still awake. Emily replies that she is fascinated by the moonlight. Mr. Webb does not scold her; instead, he warns her not to let her mother catch her up so late. George Gibbs and his sister, Rebecca, are also awake and talking to each other. The Stage Manager abruptly interrupts the conversation to announce the end of the first act. He tells the audience that they can go out and have a smoke during intermission.