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Title: Ambrose Gwinett - or, a sea-side story : a melo-drama, in three acts
Author: Jerrold, Douglas William, 1803-1857
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Ambrose Gwinett - or, a sea-side story : a melo-drama, in three acts" ***

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Transcribed from the [1828] John Cumberland edition by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org  Many thanks to John Hentges for finding this, providing
a copy for the transcription, and doing the background research.

     [Picture: Gwinett.  Wretch! heartless ruffian!—Act II. Scene 3]

                                * * * * *



                             AMBROSE GWINETT;


                              A MELO-DRAMA,

                              In Three Acts,

                            BY D. W. JERROLD,

  _Author of The Mutiny at the Nore_, _John Overy_, _The Devil’s Ducat_,
                              _Golden Calf_,
                        _Bride of Ludgate_, _&c._

                                * * * * *

               PRINTED FROM THE ACTING COPY, WITH REMARKS,
                    BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL, BY D—G.

                           To which are added,

          A DESCRIPTION OF THE COSTUME,—CAST OF THE CHARACTERS,
              ENTRANCES AND EXITS,—RELATIVE POSITIONS OF THE
                PERFORMERS ON THE STAGE,—AND THE WHOLE OF
                           THE STAGE BUSINESS,

                         As now performed at the

                       METROPOLITAN MINOR THEATRES.

                                * * * * *

                    EMBELLISHED WITH A FINE ENGRAVING.

                                * * * * *

                                 LONDON:

                 JOHN CUMBERLAND, 2, CUMBERLAND TERRACE,
                             CAMDEN NEW TOWN.



REMARKS.
Ambrose Gwinett.


HYPERCRITICISM has presumed to find fault with this drama, which a better
taste has denominated “_the serious domestic historical_,” because,
forsooth, it smacks of the Old Bailey!—and, when justification has been
pleaded by citing _George Barnwell_, we have received the retort
courteous, in the story of the witling who affected to wear glasses
because Pope was near-sighted.  But a much better plea may be urged than
the example of a bard so moderately gifted as Lillo!  “The Ravens of
Orleans,” “Dog of Montargis,” “Family of Anglade,” and numerous other
public favourites, speak daggers to such hypercriticism.—Ambrose Gwinett
is a strange tale and a true one; and a tale both strange and true what
playwright can afford to let slip through his fingers?  A murder or so
may be prudently relinquished, for the season will come round again; but
he cannot expect to see a man hanged and resuscitated for his especial
accommodation every day in the week.

Ambrose Gwinett favoured the world with his autobiography at a period
when autobiography was a rarity.  He is unquestionably the only historian
who has written his life after being gibbetted—drawn and quartered we
leave to the autobiographers and dramatists of another generation!
Egotism under such extraordinary circumstances may surely be pardoned;
and if honest Ambrose dwell somewhat complacently on certain events of
deep interest and wonder, he may plead a much better excuse than our
modern autobiographers, who invent much and reveal little but a tedious
catalogue of fictions and vanities; a charge that applies not to the
startling narrative of the poor sweeper of the once insignificant village
of Charing.

The story, which occurred in the reign of Queen Anne, is simple and well
told.  Ambrose had a tale to tell—(what autobiographer would not be half
hanged to be entitled to tell a similar one?)—passing strange and
pitiful; therefore, like a skilful dramatist, who depends solely on his
plot, he affected no pomp of speech: of tropes and figures he knew
nothing; but he knew full well that he had been hanged without a trope,
and his figure brought to life again!

“I was born,” says he, “of respectable parents in the city of Canterbury,
where my father dealt in slops.  He had but two children, a daughter and
myself; and, having given me a school education, at the age of sixteen he
bound me apprentice to Mr. George Roberts, an attorney in the same town,
with whom I stayed four years and three quarters, to his great content
and my own satisfaction.

“My sister, having come to woman’s estate, had now been married something
more than a twelvemonth to one Sawyer, a seafaring man, who, having got
considerable prizes, my father also giving him 200_l._ with my sister,
quitted his profession, and set up a public-house near the place of his
nativity, which was Deal, in the county of Kent.  I had frequent
invitations to pass a short time with them; and, in the autumn of 1709,
having obtained my master’s consent for that purpose, I left the city of
Canterbury on foot, on Wednesday morning, being the 17th day of
September; but, through some unavoidable delays on the road, the evening
was considerably advanced before I reached Deal; and so tired was I,
being unused to that way of travelling, that, had my life depended on it,
I could not have gone so far as my sister’s that night.  At this time
there were many of her majesty, Queen Anne’s ships lying in the harbour,
the English being then at war with the French and Spaniards; besides
which, I found this was the day for holding the yearly fair, so that the
town was filled to that degree, that not a bed was to be gotten for love
nor money.  I went seeking a lodging from house to house to no purpose;
till, being quite spent, I returned to the public-house, where I had
first made inquiry, desiring leave to sit by their kitchen-fire to rest
myself till morning.

“The publican and his wife where I put up happened, unfortunately for me,
to be acquainted with my brother and sister; and finding by the discourse
that I was a relation of theirs, and going to visit them, the landlady
presently said she would endeavour to get me a bed; and, going out of the
kitchen, she quickly called me into a parlour that led from it.  Here I
saw, sitting by the fire, a middle-aged man, in a nightgown and cap, who
was reckoning money at a table.  ‘Uncle,’ said the woman, as soon as I
entered, ‘this is a brother of our friend, Mrs. Sawyer; he cannot get a
bed anywhere, and is tired after his journey.  You are the only one that
lies in this house alone: will you give him a part of your’s?’  To this
the man answered, that she knew he had been out of order,—that he was
blooded that day, and consequently a bedfellow could not be very
agreeable.  ‘However,’ said he, ‘rather than the young man shall sit up,
he is welcome to sleep with me.’  After this, we sat some time together;
when, having put his money in a canvas bag into the pocket of his
nightgown, he took the candle, and I followed him up to bed.”

Having occasion to visit the garden during the night, the landlord lent
him his pen-knife, that he might more easily open the door, the latch
being broken.  From this knife a piece of money falls, which Gwinett
pockets.  Returning to his room, he finds, to his great surprize, that
his companion is absent.  At six o’clock he rises, dresses himself
hastily, and, impatient to see his sister (the reckoning being paid
overnight), lets himself out at the street door.

He has not been above an hour or two with his relations, before three
horsemen arrive, arrest him for robbery and murder, and he is carried
back to Deal, to be dealt with accordingly.

He is taken with the knife in his possession, tried, condemned, and
executed: yet, strange to say, the man yet lived; his groans were heard
from the gibbet, and he was rescued from his frightful situation by his
master’s dairymaid.  He took ship, went abroad, and encountered Collins,
the supposed victim, who, it appeared, had been forced from his home by a
press-gang.  After enduring many perils, he returned to his native land,
crippled and poor, and subsequently became sweeper of the road at Charing
Cross.

Mr. Jerrold has heightened the interest of his drama by superadding the
passions of love and jealousy.  We have no objection to fiction when it
conduces to effect; and three rounds of applause are sufficient to
justify any interpolation.  This piece was well acted, and brought ample
receipts to the treasury of the Coburg.

                                                                      D—G.



Costume.


AMBROSE GWINETT.—_First dress_—Short brown tunic and vest, with full
trunks—hose and half boots.—_Second dress_—Tunic and long cloak—hat and
feathers.

NED GRAYLING.—_First dress_—That of a Blacksmith.—_Second dress_—A short
plain tunic—full trunks—hose, and a small round hat.—_Third dress_—that
of a mere mendicant.

GILBERT.—_First dress_—A short close tunic—shoes and stockings.—_Second
dress_—Suitable to the advanced age of the wearer.

COLLINS.—_First dress_—Short tunic.—_Second dress_—A morning gown.

LABEL.—Barber’s dress—three cornered hat and cane.

WILL ASH and BLACKTHORN.—Short tunics, &c.

GEORGE.—Sailor’s dress.

BOLT.—Dark tunic, &c.

OFFICER.—The usual costume.

REEF.—Blue jacket—white trowsers—straw hat.

LUCY FAIRLOVE.—_First dress_—Plain bodied gown—straw hat.—_Second
dress_—A black open gown with train.

JENNY.—_First dress_—That of a peasant girl.—_Second dress_—Gown—cap—and
apron.

MARY.—Peasant’s dress.

           _Villagers_, _Peasants_, _&c. in the usual costume_.

                                * * * * *



Cast of the Characters


                  _As sustained at the Coburg Theatre_.

Ambrose Gwinett                           Mr. Cobham.
Ned Grayling (_The Prison Smith_.)        Mr. Davidge.
Gilbert (_Waiter at the Blake’s Head_.)   Mr. Sloman.
Collins (_Landlord of the Blake’s         Mr. Mortimer.
Head_.)
Label (_an Itinerant Barber Surgeon_.)    Mr. E. L. Lewis.
George (_a Smuggler condemned to Die_.)   Mr. Gale.
Blackthorn                                Mr. H. George.
Will Ash                                  Mr. Gann.
Bolt (_a Gaoler_.)                        Mr. Porteus.
1_st_ Villager                            Mr. J. George.
2_nd_ Ditto                               Mr. Waters.
Officer                                   Mr. Worrell.
Reef                                      Mr. Elsgood.
1_st_ Sailor                              Mr. Saunders.
Lucy Fairlove                             Miss Watson.
Jenny                                     Mrs. Congreve.
Mary                                      Miss Boden.
Child                                     Master Meyers.

   _A Lapse of Eighteen Years is supposed to have taken Place between_
                       _the Second and Third Acts_.



ACT.  I.


SCENE I.—_View of the Country_.


                   _Enter_ GRAYLING _and_ COLLINS.  R.

_Gray_.  Softly, master Collins, softly,—come, there is life in you yet,
man.

_Col_.  To be thrown from a horse after my experience—

_Gray_.  Oh, the best man may be thrown, and the best horse throw too;
but come, you have no bones broken.  Had any man but myself, Ned
Grayling, shoed your horse, I should have said something had been amiss
with his irons—but that couldn’t be.

_Col_.  No matter, I can now make my way homeward: but, hark’ye, not a
word about this accident, not a syllable, or I shall never be able to sit
in a saddle again, without first hearing a lecture from my wife and Lucy.

_Gray_.  Lucy—aye, master Collins, she has a tender heart I warrant—I
could work at my forge all day in the hottest June, so that Lucy would
but smile, when—

_Col_.  There must be no more of this.  You know I have told you more
than a hundred times that Lucy cannot love you.

_Gray_.  How do you know that?

_Col_.  She has said so, and do you suppose she would speak any thing but
truth?

_Gray_.  Why, perhaps she would, and perhaps she wouldn’t.  I tell you,
master Collins, my heart’s set upon the girl—if she refuse me—why I know
the end on’t.—Ned Grayling, once the sober and industrious smith, will
become an outcast and a vagabond.

_Col_.  This is all folly—a stout able fellow turning whimperer.

_Gray_.  Stout, able,—yes, I was, and might be so again; but thoughts
will sometimes come across me, and I feel—I tell you once more, master
Collins, my heart is set upon the girl.

_Col_.  You’ll get the better of this, think no more of her: nothing so
easy.

_Gray_.  There are some matters very, _very_ easy.  It is easy for you, a
man well in trade, with children flourishing about you, and all the world
looking with a sunny face upon you—it is easy for you to say to a man
like me, “You are poor and friendless—you have placed your affections on
a being, to sweeten the bitterness of your lot, to cheer and bless you on
the road of life, yet she can never be yours—think no more of her,” this
is easy—“nothing so easy.”

_Col_.  Farewell, good fellow, I meant not to insult or offend you.  If
you can obtain my niece’s consent, why, to prove that I love honesty, for
its own sake, I’ll give you whatever help my means afford.  If, however,
the girl refuses, strive to forget her.  Believe me, there is scarcely a
more pitiable object than a man following with spaniel-like humility, the
woman who despises him.

                                                                [_Exit_ L.

_Gray_.  Despises!—did she ever say,—no! no! she couldn’t, yet when I met
her last, though she uttered not a sound, her eyes looked hate—as they
flashed upon me, I felt humbled—a wretch! a very worm.

     _Enter_ GILBERT R.  (_singing_.)  “_A merry little plough Boy_.”

_Gil_.  Well, now master’s gone out, I think I have a little time to see
my Jenny—master and mistress have no compassion for us lovers—always
work, work; they think once a week is quite enough for lovers to see one
another, and unfortunately my fellow servant is in love as well as I am;
and being obliged to keep house, I could only get out once a fortnight,
if it wasn’t for Lucy.

_Gray_.  (_starting_.)  Lucy! who said any thing about Lucy?

_Gil_.  I did!  It’s a good Christian name, isn’t it? and no treason in
it.

_Gray_.  No, no, but you startled me.

_Gil_.  I should like to know what right a man has to be startled when I
say Lucy—why one would think you were married, and it was the name of
your wife.

_Gray_.  Lucy my wife, no, no.

_Gil_.  No, I should think not indeed.

_Gray_.  And why should you think? but I’m wrong to be so
passionate—think no more of it, good Gilbert.

_Gil_.  A cool way of settling matters: you first fly at a man like a
dragon—make his heart jump like a tennis ball—and then say, think nothing
of it, good Gilbert.

_Gray_.  I confess I am very foolish.

_Gil_.  Oh, spare your confession: people will judge for themselves.

_Gray_.  (_aside_.)  I am almost ashamed to do it, yet I will.

_Gil_.  Why, what’s the matter? you are looking at me as if, like a
highwayman, you were considering which pocket I carried my money in.

_Gray_.  Pray, good Gilbert, tell me, do you know whether Miss Lucy has
any admirers?

_Gil_.  Admirers! to be sure she has.

_Gray_.  She has!

_Gil_.  Hundreds—don’t the whole town admire her? don’t all our customers
say pretty things to her? don’t I admire her? and hav’n’t I seen you
looking at her?

_Gray_.  Looking at her!—how?

_Gil_.  How, why like a dog that had once been well kicked, and was
afraid of being known a second time.

_Gray_.  Villain! do you make mirth of my sufferings? am I sport for
fools? answer my question, or I’ll shake your soul out on the wind—tell
me—

_Gil_.  If the fox had never ventured where he had no business, he’d have
kept his tail.

_Gray_.  What mean you?

_Gil_.  If you had minded your own affairs, you’d not have lost your
temper.

_Gray_.  Answer—

_Gil_.  Not a word; if you are inclined to ask questions, a little
farther on there’s a finger post—when you have read one side, you know
you can walk round to the other.

_Gray_.  I shall but make my agitation the more apparent.  Never till
this moment did I feel the fulness of my passion.  Come, rouse man, stand
no longer like a coward, eying the game, but take the dice, and at one
bold throw, decide your fate.

                                                                [_Exit_ L.

_Gil_.  Aye, it’s all no use, master Grayling; Lucy Fairlove is no match
for you.  No, no, if I mistake not there’s another, smoother faced young
man has been asking if any body’s at home at the heart of Lucy—but
mum—I’m sworn to secrecy,—and now for Jenny! dear me, I’ve been loitering
so long, and have so much to say to her—then I’ve so much to do—for the
Judges are coming down to-morrow to make a clear place of the prison—and
then there’s—but stop, whilst I am running to Jenny, I can think of these
matters by the way.

                                                                [_Exit_ L.



SCENE II.—_Wood_.


                _Enter_ AMBROSE GWINETT.  (_running_.) L.

_Gwin_.  I’ve distanced them—but i’faith I’ve had to run for it.—No, no,
fair gentlemen, I hope yet to have many a blithe day ashore—high winds,
roaring seas, and the middle-watch have no relish for Gwinett—make a
sailor of me, what, and leave Lucy Fairlove?—I’ve hurt my wrist in the
struggle with one of the gang—(_takes his handkerchief_, _which is
stained with blood_, _from around his arm_.)  It is but a scratch—if I
bind it up again it may excite the alarm of Lucy—no, Time is the best
surgeon, and to him I trust it.  (_puts the handkerchief in his pocket_.)
Eh! who have we here? by all my hopes, Lucy herself.

                        _Enter_ LUCY FAIRLOVE.  R.

_Lucy_.  Ambrose.

_Gwin_.  Come, this is kind of you—nay, it is more than I deserve.

_Lucy_.  What is kind or more than you deserve?

_Gwin_.  Why coming to meet me through this lone road!

_Lucy_.  Meet you—what vanity—not I indeed, I was merely taking my
morning’s walk, thinking of—of—

_Gwin_.  Come, come, confess it.

_Lucy_.  Well then I do confess, I wished to meet you, to tell you that—

_Gwin_.  You have spoken to your uncle?

_Lucy_.  On the contrary—to desire you to defer—

_Gwin_.  Why, do you fear a refusal?  Why should he refuse—have I not
every prospect—will not my character—

_Lucy_.  Yes, more than satisfy him, but—

_Gwin_.  Or perhaps Lucy there is another whom you would prefer to make
this proposal.

_Lucy_.  This is unkind—you do not believe so.

_Gwin_.  Well, be it as you will: I believe nought but truth, but
innocence in Lucy Fairlove, and by this kiss—

                    GRAYLING _looking from wing_.  R.

_Gray_.  Hem! holloa! there.

_Gwin_.  How now—what want you?

_Gray_.  Want! (_aside_.)  Oh!  Lucy, Lucy! nothing.

_Gwin_.  Then wherefore did you call?

_Gray_.  Because it pleased me: a man may use his own lungs I trow.

_Lucy_.  (_aside_.)  Alas!  I fear some violence.

_Gwin_.  Aye and his own legs, they cannot do him better service than by
removing him from where he is not wanted.

_Gray_.  (_Coming between them_, _folding his arms_, _and looking
doggedly at Gwinett_.)  Now I sha’n’t go.

_Gwin_.  Would you quarrel, fellow?

_Gray_.  Aye—yes—come will you fight with me?

_Lucy_.  (Interposing.) For heaven’s sake! subdue this
rashness—Gwinett—Grayling—good kind Master Grayling—

_Gray_.  Good kind Master Grayling—you speak falsely Lucy Fairlove—

_Gwin_.  Falsely?

_Gray_.  Aye, Falsely! she thinks me neither good nor kind—but I see how
it is—I have thought so a long time, (_after eying Gwinett and Lucy with
extreme malice_.)  I see how it is—ha! ha! ha!  (_Laughing
sarcastically_.)

_Gwin_.  Fellow, look not with such devilish malice but give your venom
utterance.

_Gray_.  Venom—aye—the right word, venom,—and yet who’d have thought we
should have found it where all looked so purely.

_Gwin_.  Wretch! would you say—

_Gray_.  Nothing—nothing—where we have facts what need of words? the
artless timid Lucy, she who moves about the town with closed lips and
downcast eyes—who flutters and blushes at a stranger’s look—can steal
into a wood—oh! shame—shame.

_Gwin_.  Shame! villain! but no, to infamy so black as this, the best
return is the silent loathing of contempt.

_Gray_.  What! would you go with him, Lucy?

_Lucy_.  Grayling, never again, in town or field, under my uncle’s roof,
or beneath the open sky, that you have so lately made a witness to your
infamy, dare to pronounce my name; there is a poison festering in your
lips, and all that passes through is tainting—your words fall like a
blight upon the best and purest—to be named by you, is to be
scandalised—once whilst I turned from, I pitied you—you are now become
the lowest, the most abject of created things—the libeller, the hateful
heartless libeller of an innocent woman.  Farewell, if you can never more
be happy, at least strive to be good.

                                                 [_Exit with Gwinett_.  L.

_Gray_.  Lucy, Lucy, upon my knees—I meant not what I said—’twas
passion—madness—eh, what—now she takes him by the arm—they’re gone—I feel
as I had drank a draught of poison—never sound her name again? yes, and I
deserve it—I am a wretch!—a ruffian,—to breathe a blight over so fair a
flower.  I feel as if all the world,—the sky, the fields, the bright sun
were passing from me, and I stood fettered in a dark and loathsome den—my
heart is numbed, and my brain palsied.

                     _Enter_ REEF _and_ SAILORS.  R.

_Reef_.  A plague take these woods, I see no good in ’em—there’s no
looking out a head the length of a bow sprit; I know he run down here.

1 _Sail_.  That’s what I said at first, and if you had taken my advice we
should have come here without staying beating about the bushes like a
parcel of harriers.

_Reef_.  He was a smart clean fellow, and would have done credit to the
captain’s gig.—Eh! who have we here?—come, one man is as good as another,
and this fellow seems a strong one.

_Gray_.  How now!—what would you?

_Reef_.  What would we?—why, what do you think of topping your
boom—pulling your halyards taut, and turning sailor?

_Gray_.  Sailor!

_Reef_.  Aye—why you look as surprised as if we wanted to make you port
admiral at once.

_Gray_.  Turn sailor?

_Reef_.  Sailor—what’s the use of turning the word over so with your
tongue—I said sailor—it’s a useless gentility with us to ask you—because
if you don’t like us, I can tell you we have taken a very great liking to
you.

_Gray_.  With all my heart—Lucy is gone for ever—this place is hateful to
me—amid the perils of the ocean, I may find my best relief—come.

_Reef_.  That’s right my hearty—come, scud away—eh, what have you brought
yourself up with a round turn for?

_Gray_.  Then I leave my rival to the undisturbed possession of—oh, the
thought is withering—no, no, I cannot.

_Reef_.  Cannot! we’re not to be put off, and by a landsman—so come,
there’s one fellow already has outsailed us, piloting among these
breakers,—one follow this morning—

_Gray_.  This morning—what kind of man?

_Reef_.  Why, to say the truth, messmate, he was a trim taut-rigged
craft, and a devilish deal better looking than you are.

_Gray_.  And he escaped from you?

_Reef_.  Yes, but that’s more than we intend to let you do, so come.

_Gray_.  Oh it will be a sweet revenge—one moment—how stands your pocket?

_Reef_.  Why not a shot in the locker.

_Gray_.  Here.  (_takes out a purse_.)

_Reef_.  Eh! how did you come by all that? you hav’nt run a pistol
against a traveller’s head, eh?

_Gray_.  These are the savings of a life of toil—I had hoarded them up
for a far different purpose—but so that they buy me revenge—

_Reef_.  Aye, that’s a bad commodity; for when people are inclined to
purchase, they’ll do it at any rate; but I say, no foul tricks you know.

_Gray_.  You say one man escaped you this morning, now I’ll lead you to
him; moreover, if you secure him, this purse shall be your reward.

_Reef_.  Shall it! we are the boys; and what’s more, we don’t mind giving
you your discharge into the bargain.

_Gray_.  Come on then; follow me into the town, and when the night comes
on, I’ll find means to throw your victim into your hands; bear him away
with as little noise as possible.

_Reef_.  Oh, never fear—if he attempts to hallo, we’ll put a stopper in
his mouth to spoil his music.

_Gray_.  ’Tis well—thus I shall be revenged—Lucy, if you are resolved to
hate, at least you shall have ample reason for it.

                                                 [_Exit with Sailors_.  L.



SCENE III.—_A Room in the Blake’s Head_.


                            _Enter_ LABEL.  L.

_Label_.  Well, now let me see, where’s my next point of destination? ah,
Dover.  Thus I go through the country, and by both my trades of barber
and doctor, contrive to look at the bright side of life, and lay by a
little for the snows of old age.  Had bad business here at Deal: all the
people so plaguily healthy—not a tooth to be drawn—not a vein to be
opened; the landlord here, master Collins, has been my only customer—the
only man for whom I have had occasion to draw lancet.  Now it’s very odd
why he should be so secret about it—all to prevent alarming his wife he
says,—good tender man.

                           _Enter_ GILBERT.  R.

_Gil_.  What, master Label, ah! bad work for you—all hearty as oaks—not a
pulse to be felt in all Deal.

_Label_.  Ah, I can’t think how that is.

_Gil_.  Can’t you?  I’ll tell you—we’ve no doctors with us; no body but
you, and you’ll never do any harm, because—

_Label_.  Because—because what?

_Gil_.  Why we all know you, and there’s few will give you the chance;
who do you think would employ a doctor who goes about calling at peoples’
houses to mend their constitutions, as tinkers call for old kettles.

_Label_.  Ah, that’s it, humble merit may trudge its shoes off, and never
finger a fee, whilst swaggering impudence bounces out of a carriage, and
all he touches turns to gold.  Farewell, good Gilbert, farewell—I’m off
for Dover.

_Gil_.  What! to night?

_Label_.  Yes, directly.

_Gil_.  Why you must pass through the church-yard.

_Label_.  What of that?

_Gil_.  Nothing, only if ever you had any patients, I thought you might
have felt some qualms in taking that road.

_Label_.  Ever had any patients, I’ll whisper a secret in your ear; I’ve
had one in this house!  Now what do you think of that?  What follows now?

_Gil_.  What follows now? why the grave-digger, I’m afraid; I say, I
wonder you didn’t add the trade of undertaker to that of doctor.

_Label_.  Why?

_Gil_.  Why! how nicely you could make one business play into the other:
when called in to a patient, as soon as you had prescribed for him, you
know, you might have begun to measure him for his coffin.

_Label_.  Ah, you’re a droll fellow, but we won’t quarrel; I dare say you
think me very dull now, but bless you I’m not, when I’m roused I can be
devilish droll—very witty indeed.

_Gil_.  Aye, your wit is, I suppose, like your medicine—it must be well
shaken before it’s fit to be administered; now how many of your jokes
generally go to a dose?

_Label_.  No, no, it won’t do, I’m not to be drawn out now—I’ve no time
to be comical, I must away for Dover this instant.

_Gil_.  A word with you, the sharks are out to-night.

_Label_.  The sharks?

_Gil_.  Aye, the blue-jackets, the press-gang—now you’d be invaluable to
them; take my word, if they see you, you are a lost man.

_Label_.  Never fear me, the blue-jackets, bless you, if they were to
catch hold of me, I should run off and leave a can of flip in their
hands; now what do you think of that?

_Gil_.  Why I think of the two, the flip would be far the most desirable;
but if you will go, why, a good night to you, and a happy escape.

_Label_.  All the same thanks to you for your intelligence; press me,
bless you they’d sooner take my physic than me; no, no, I’m a privileged
man—good-night, good-night.

                                                                [_Exit_ R.

_Gil_.  That fellow has killed more people than ever I saw; how he looks
his trade, whenever I behold him, he appears to me like a long-necked
pint bottle of rheubarb, to be taken at three draughts; but I must put
all thing, to rights—here’s my master and Miss Lucy will be here in a
minute; the house is full of customers, and it threatens to be a
boisterous night.

           _Enter_ REEF, _disguised in a large great coat_.  L.

_Reef_.  I say young man, (_Gilbert starts_.) why what are you starting
at?

_Gil_.  Nothing—only at first I didn’t know whether it was a man or a
bear.

_Reef_.  Indeed—and which do you think it is now?

_Gil_.  Why, upon my word, it’s a very nice distinction: I can’t judge
very well, so I’ll take you at your own word.

_Reef_.  I’ve a little business here with a gentleman: do you know one
Mr. Gwinett?

_Gil_.  Gwinett! what, Ambrose Gwinett?

_Reef_.  The same.

_Gil_.  Know him!—I believe I do—a very fine, noble spirited,—

_Reef_.  Aye, that’s enough; I want to see him—he’s in he house.

_Gil_.  No, indeed.

_Reef_.  Would you tell me a lie now?

_Gil_.  Yes I would, if I thought it would answer any right purpose; I
tell you he’s not in the house—and pray who are you?

_Reef_.  Who am I? why—I’m—I’m—an honest man.

_Gil_.  Aye, that’s so general a character; couldn’t you descend a little
to particulars?

_Reef_.  I’ve a letter to Mr. Gwinett—it’s of great consequence.

_Gil_.  Who does it come from?

_Reef_.  The writer!

_Gil_.  Now it strikes me that this letter contains some mischief.

_Reef_.  Why?

_Gil_.  Because it’s brought by so black-looking a postman.

_Reef_.  Will you deliver it? if as you say he’s not here when he comes?

_Gil_.  Deliver it? why I don’t mind, but if you’ve any tricks you know.

_Reef_.  Tricks, you lubber, give him the letter, and no more palaver.
(_going_.)

_Gil_.  Here—(_Reef returns_.)  No—no matter—I thought you had left your
civility behind you.

_Reef_.  Umph!

                                                              [_Exit_.  R.

_Gil_.  I warrant me, that’s a fellow that never passes a rope maker’s
shop without feeling a crick in the neck.

                            _Enter_ LUCY.  L.

_Lucy_.  Oh, Gilbert!

_Gil_.  How now, Miss Lucy, you seem a little frightened or so?

_Lucy_.  Oh, no—not frightened, only hurried a little—is my uncle in the
house?

_Gil_.  Oh, yes—and has been asking for you these dozen times,—here
by-the-by is a letter for—but mum—here comes master.

                         _Enter_ MR. COLLINS.  L.

_Col_.  Well, Lucy child, where hast been all day, I havn’t caught a
glance of you since last night—what have you got there, Gilbert?

_Gil_.  Where, sir?

_Col_.  Why, there in your hand—that letter.

_Gil_.  Oh—aye—it is a letter.

_Col_.  For me?

_Gil_.  No, sir—it’s for master Ambrose Gwinett.

_Col_.  Give it to me—I expect him here to-night.

_Lucy_.  Expect master Ambrose here to-night, uncle?

_Col_.  Aye, standing at the door just now, his uncle told me that he
expected him at Deal to-day, but being compelled to be from home until
to-morrow, he had left word that master Ambrose should put up here, and
asked me to make room for him.

_Gil_.  What here, master? why there’s not a corner—not a single corner
to receive the visit of a cat—the house is full to the very chimney pots.

_Col_.  Aye, as it is but for once, we must contrive—let me see—as we
have no other room, master Ambrose can take part of mine—so bustle
Gilbert, bustle, and see to it.

_Gil_.  Yes, sir, yes.—(_Aside_.)  I’m sorry master’s got that letter
though; it was an ugly postman that brought it, and it can’t be good.

                                                              [_Exit_.  L.

_Col_.  Now, Lucy, that we are together, I would wish to have some talk
with you.  You know, girl, I love you, as though you were my own, and
were sorrow or mischance to light upon you, I think ’twould go nigh to
break my heart.  Now answer me with candour—you know Grayling—honest Ned
Grayling? why, what do you turn so pale at?

_Lucy_.  Oh! uncle, I beseech you, name him not.

_Col_.  Tut—tut—this is all idle and girlish—the man loves you, Lucy.

_Lucy_.  Loves me!

_Col_.  Aye; Ned is not so sprightly and trim a lad as many, but he hath
that which makes all in a husband, girl—he has a sound heart and a noble
spirit.

_Lucy_.  Possibly—I do not know.

_Col_.  But you do know, and so does all the town know; come, be just to
him if you cannot love him; but for my part, I see not what should
prevent you becoming his wife.

_Lucy_.  His wife? oh, uncle, if you have the least love—the least regard
for me, speak no more upon this theme—at least for the present.  I will
explain all to-morrow, will prove to you that my aversion is not the
result of idle caprice, but of feelings which you yourself must sanction.
In the mean while be assured I would rather go down into my grave, than
wed with such a man as Grayling.

_Col_.  Eh! why—what’s all this?—Grayling has not—if he has—

_Lucy_.  No, no, it is I who am to blame, for speaking thus
strongly—wait, dearest uncle—wait till to-morrow.

_Col_.  Well, as it is not long, and the time will be slept out, I
will,—but take heed, Lucy, and let not a foolish distaste prejudice you
against a worthy and honourable man.

                _Enter_ AMBROSE GWINETT _and_ GILBERT.  L.

_Gwin_.  Your servant, master Collins—I must I find be your tenant for
the night.

_Col_.  And shall be welcome, sir; come, Lucy, Gilbert, stir, and prepare
supper; there’s a rough night coming on I fear, and you might fare worse,
master Ambrose, than as guest at the Blake’s Head—here, by the way, is a
letter for you.

[_Whilst Gwinett is reading the letter_, _the supper-table is arranged_,
_and Collins sits down and begins counting some money_.

_Gwin_.  This is a most mysterious assignation.  (_Reads_.)  “If you are
a man, you will not fail to give me a meeting at twelve outside the
house, I have to unfold a plot to you which concerns not you
alone.—Your’s, a Friend.”  (_Whilst Gilbert and Lucy are off for
provisions_.)  Master Collins, I may rise to-morrow morning ’ere any of
your good people are stirring, you will therefore not be surprised to
find me gone.

_Col_.  But why so early?

_Gwin_.  A little appointment—I shall return to breakfast.

_Col_.  Then go out by the back gate; but stop, as the latch is broken in
the inside, you had better take this knife (_giving Gwinett a
clasp-knife_.) to lift it; we shall wait breakfast until your return.

[_Collins_, _Gwinett_, _and Lucy_, _seat themselves at table_.—_Grayling
enters_, _takes a chair_, _and placing it between Lucy and Gwinett_,
_sits down_.

_Col_.  How now, master Grayling, you have mistaken the room.

_Gray_.  Mistaken—how so? isn’t this the Blake’s Head?

_Col_.  That may be; but this is my private apartment.

_Gray_.  Private! than what does he here—Gilbert, some ale.

_Gwin_.  (_aside_.)  The very ruffian I encountered in the wood.

_Gray_.  (_to Gwinett_.)  What are you looking at man?  I shall pay my
score—aye, every farthing o’t, though I may not dress so trimly as some
folks.

_Col_.  Grayling, will you quit the room?

_Gray_.  No!

_Col_.  Then expect to lose—

_Gray_.  Lose! and what can I lose? hasn’t he all that I could lose?

_Col_.  What do you mean?

_Gray_.  Ask Lucy—the wood, Lucy, the wood.

_Gwin_.  Wretch! dare you beneath her uncle’s roof—

_Gray_.  Dare I? you have among you awakened the wolf within my heart,
and beware how it snaps.

_Col_.  This is needless; good Grayling leave us.

_Gray_.  Good, and you think I am to be hushed with fair words like a
child, whilst he, that thief, for he has stolen from me all that made
life happy, whilst he bears away Lucy and leaves and broken hearted.

_Col_.  He bear away Lucy—you are deceived.

_Gray_.  No, you are deceived, old man—you are deceived; but let
to-morrow shew, I’ll not ’cumber your room, master Collins; I leave it to
more gay visitors than Ned Grayling; I leave it till
to-morrow—good-night—good-night, gay master Gwinett,—a pleasant night’s
rest—ha! ha! ha!

                                                                [_Exit_ L.

_Lucy_.  Dear uncle, is not this sufficient excuse for my aversion.

_Col_.  No matter, we’ll talk more of this to-morrow.  Go to your
chamber, girl.  (_Music_.—_Lucy goes off_.  R.) and now, sir, we will to
ours.

                                                     [_Music_.—_Exeunt_ R.



SCENE IV.—_Another Room in the Blake’s Head_.


                    _Enter_ GILBERT, _with lamp_.  R.

_Gil_.  Well, I’ve looked all through the house, fastened the doors, hung
up the keys, and now have nothing to do but to go and sleep until called
up by the cock.  Well I never saw love make so much alteration in any
poor mortal as in master Grayling—he used to be a quiet, plain spoken
civil fellow—but now he comes into a house like a hurricane.  I wonder
what that letter was about, it bothers me strangely—well, no matter—I’ll
now go to bed—I’ll go across the stable yard to my loft, and sleep so
fast that I’ll get ten hours into six.

                                                                [_Exit_ L.

                  _Enter_ COLLINS _from_ C.D. _in flat_.

_Col_.  A plague take that doctor, he has bound my arm up rarely—scarcely
had I got into bed, than the bandage falling off, the blood gushed
freshly from the wound; if I can reach Gilbert, he will assist me to stop
it—or stay, had I not better return to master Gwinett, who as yet knows
nothing of the matter? no, I’ll even make my way to Gilbert, and then to
bed again.

                                                                [_Exit_ L.

                  _Enter_ GWINETT, _from door in flat_.

_Gwin_.  I have armed myself—and am determined to meet the appointment;
if there be any foul play intended, they will find me prepared, if not,
the precaution is still a reasonable one—the latch is broken, said the
landlord, the knife however will stead me.

                                                                [_Exit_ R.

[_Collins cries without_, “_Murder_! _murder_! _within_—_Lucy_!
_Gilbert_! _murder_! _murder_!”—_Lucy screams without_, _and rushes
through door in flat_, _then runs on exclaiming_

_Lucy_.  Oh, heaven! my uncle’s murdered!

                    _Servants and others run on_.  R.

_Omnes_.  What say you, murdered! where?—how?—

_Lucy_.  I know not—hearing his cries, I rushed into his room—he was not
there, but his bed was steeped in blood.

                   _Enter_ GRAYLING _and_ GILBERT.  L.

_Gray_.  What cries are these? master Collins murdered! where is Gwinett?

_Lucy_.  Alas! oh, heaven—he is—

_Gray_.  Ah! let search be made.

                           _Enter_ GWINETT.  R.

_Gray_.  He is the assassin.

_Gwin_.  Villain! (_rushes at Grayling_—_they struggle_; _Grayling
wrenches a knife from Gwinett’s grasp_; _his coat files open_, _and the
handkerchief stained with blood_, _falls out_.)

_Gray_.  Ah! this knife—

_Lucy_.  It is my uncle’s—

_Gray_.  Your uncle’s—behold the murderer!

[_Gwinett stands petrified with horror_, _Lucy shrieks and turns away
from him_; _Gilbert picks up the handkerchief stained with blood_, _and
holds it at one side of Gwinett_, _whilst Grayling on the other_, _points
to the knife with looks of mingled detestation and revenge_.—_Characters
form themselves at back_, _&c._—_End of Act I_.



ACT II.


SCENE I.—_Outside view of the Sessions’ House_.


                     _Enter_ GILBERT _and_ JENNY.  L.

_Gil_.  Come along, Jenny, come along; it will be all over in a few
minutes.

_Jenny_.  Oh what a shocking thing!  Master Gwinett tried for murder—I’d
lay my life he’s innocent.

_Gil_.  Why I don’t know what to think: matters stand very strong against
him—but then he looks as freshly, and speaks as calmly—no he can’t be
guilty—and yet the knife—and my master’s bed filled with blood—and then
where is my poor master—every search has been made for the body, and all
in vain—if Gwinett be guilty—

               _Enter_ GRAYLING _from Sessions’ House_.  L.

_Gray_.  If he be guilty—who can doubt his guilt?

_Gil_.  Those, master Grayling, who do not let their hate stand in the
light of their clear judgment.  This is, I warrant me, a rare day of
triumph for you.

_Gray_.  Aye, and ought to be to every honest man! ’tis for rogues to be
sad, when rogues are caught.

_Gil_.  I dare say now you think this will serve your turn with Miss
Lucy.

_Gray_.  Perhaps I do, and what then?

_Gil_.  What then! why then you overcount your profits: take my simple
word for it, she hates you! hates you as much as she loves—

_Gray_.  Her uncle’s murderer, eh? are not those the words? with all my
heart, I would rather have the deadly hate of Lucy Fairlove, than the
softest pity of Lucy Gwinett.  Oh! I thought there was a world of
mischief under the smooth face of the assassin—had he struck for a deep
revenge I could have pardoned him, for it might have been my own fate—but
to murder a man for gold! for a few pieces of shining dross—’tis a crime
to feel one touch of pity for so base a miscreant.

_Gil_.  Bless me—’tis all like a dream—’twas but yesterday, and we were
all as happy as the best.

_Gray_.  Aye, it was but yesterday when the gay trim master Ambrose
scorned and contemned me! but yesterday, and Lucy hung upon his arm! and
to-day—ha! ha! ha!—I stood against him at the fatal bar; as I passed, his
brow blackened, and his lips worked—his eyes shot the lightnings of hate
upon me—at that moment my heart beat with a wild delight, and I smiled to
see how the criminal shrunk as I told the tale that damn’d him—to see him
recoil as though every word I uttered fell like a withering fire upon his
guilty heart.  (_A scream is heard from the Sessions’ House_.)  Ah! the
trial is ended.  (_A neighbour comes from Sessions’ House_, _Grayling
runs to him_.) say—the prisoner—

_Neigh_.  Guilty.

_Gray_.  And no hopes of mercy?

_Neigh_.  None.

_Gray_.  Ha! ha! ha!

    _Music_.—_Enter Neighbours from the Court with Officers guarding_
                               GWINETT.  L.

_Gwin_.  Good people, there are I see many among you whose tears bespeak
that you think me guiltless—may my soul never reach yon happy sphere, if
by the remotest thought it ever yearned for blood:—circumstances—damning
circumstances have betrayed me:—I condemn not my judges—farewell, for the
few hours I dwell among men, let me have your prayers; and when no more,
let me, I pray, live in your charitable thoughts.  When time (for I feel
it one day will) shall reveal my innocence—should ought remain of this
poor frame, let it I beseech you, lie next my mother’s grave, and in my
epitaph cleanse my memory from the festering stain of
blood-farewell,—Lucy!

_Lucy_.  (_rushing on & falling into his arms_.)  Ambrose—

_Offi_.  (_aside to Grayling_.)  Grayling, you, as smith for the prison,
must measure the culprit for his fetters.

_Gray_.  Measure?

_Offi_.  Aye! it is the sentence of the court that the prisoner be hung
in chains.

_Gray_.  Indeed!

_Offi_.  The office is doubtless an ungrateful one; being a fellow
townsman you needs must feel for him.

_Gray_.  No—no—yes—yes—but duty you know, Sir, (_seeing Lucy still in
Gwinett’s arms_.) but if they stand leave-taking all day, I shall have no
time to finish the work.  (_Officer motions Gwinett_.)

_Gwin_.  I attend you, Sir, farewell Lucy—heaven bless and protect you.
(_Rushes off followed by officers_, _&c._  P. S.)

_Lucy_.  Gone, to prison—death—no they cannot, dare not fulfil the
dreadful sentence—he is innocent! innocent as the speechless babe—the
whole town believes him guiltless—they will petition for him, and if
there be mercy upon earth he must yet be saved—(_seeing
Grayling_.)—Grayling! oh Grayling—your evidence has betrayed him—but for
you he had escaped—whilst you spoke—whilst at every word you uttered my
blood ran cold as ice, I prayed (heaven pardon me) prayed that you might
be stricken dumb; but he, even he who stood pale and withered at the bar
must have felt far above you as man above a worm.

_Gray_.  I spoke the truth, the truth of facts.

_Lucy_.  Yes, but urged with malice, wholly devilish—but oh Grayling—all
shall be forgiven—all forgotten—strive but with me to awaken mercy in the
hearts of his judges—strive but—ah no—I see in that stone-like eye and
sullen lip, that the corse of Ambrose (his corse! my heart will burst)
that to you his death knell would be music, for then you would no longer
fear his marriage chimes.

_Gray_.  I meddle not with the course of law, Lucy Fairlove.

_Lucy_.  Hard-hearted man—but you carry with you your own torment, a
blighted conscience—alas, why do I stand raving to this heartless
being—the time wears on—to-morrow—oh! what a world of agony is in that
word, let me still pronounce it, that I may ceaselessly labour in the
cause of misery—but if relentless law demands its victim, the grave! the
grave! be then my place of rest.

                                                              [_Exit_.  R.

_Gray_.  Oh Lucy!—what a wretch am I, to stand like a heartless monster
unmoved by every touch of pity—it was not once so—once—but my nature’s
changed, all feelings, save one, are withered; love has turned to hate, a
deep and settled hate, I feel it craving for its prey! now to let it feed
and triumph on my rival’s pains!

                                                              [_Exit_.  R.



SCENE II.—_A view of the country_.


                            _Enter_ LABEL.  L.

_Label_.  So far safe; egad Gilbert’s advice was not altogether
unnecessary, for I’ve had to keep up a running account for these five
miles—eh—what a crowd of people are coming here.

                       _Enter_ 1_st._ VILLAGER.  R.

why my friend, you seem in haste.

1_st._ _Vil_.  Haste! yes, I would’n’t lose the sight for the world.

_Label_.  Sight! what sight?

1_st._ _Vil_.  What, don’t you know? (_looks at him contemptuously_,)
then my service to you.

                                                              [_Exit_.  L.

_Label_.  This is highway politeness, and to a man of my
profession—eh!—thank heaven, here comes one of the other sex—it’s hard if
I don’t get an answer now.

                         _Enter_ MARY ROSELY.  R.

Well my pretty maid, are you going to see the sight?

_Mary_.  The sight! oh bless you, Sir,—no, not for the world.

_Label_.  What then you have no curiosity?

_Mary_.  Curiosity, Sir,—do you know what sight it is?

_Label_.  No, will you tell me?

_Mary_.  Why, Sir; it’s—it’s—it’s (_sobbing_.) oh such a good young man.

_Label_.  A good young man, is that such a sight among you?

_Mary_.  Oh no Sir—not that—and yet there was nobody but loved him.

_Label_.  Nobody but loved him—i’faith if they’ve all such pretty faces
as you, he must have had a fine time of it—but what’s the matter with
him—is he going to be married—is he dying—or dead?

_Mary_.  No, Sir, not yet.

_Label_.  Well, then, never take on so—he’ll get over it.

_Mary_.  Oh no, Sir, he’s sure to die—the judges have said so.

_Label_.  The judges—what the doctors! ah my dear, I know, by myself,
that the doctors are frequently no great judges—what’s his complaint?

_Mary_.  Complaint, Sir, why they say he’s murdered a man.

_Label_.  Murdered a man! that’s a fatal disease with a vengeance.

_Mary_.  But it’s false, Sir, a wicked falsehood—he murder—why, Sir, he
was the best, the kindest young man in all these parts—there was nobody
but loved poor Ambrose—

_Label_.  Ambrose! why you don’t mean Ambrose Gwinett?

_Mary_.  Oh yes, Sir, that’s his name.

_Label_.  And who do they say he’s murdered?

_Mary_.  Master Collins.

_Label_.  Collins! (_aside_.) the devil; there may be some of my marks
found upon him—and—and what have they done with the body?

_Mary_.  That can’t be found any where: it’s supposed that Ambrose—no,
no, not Ambrose, but the villains that did the horrid act, threw the body
into the sea.

_Label_.  Ah! very likely—I begin to feel very uncomfortable—well go
home, my good girl, go home.

_Mary_.  Home! no that I won’t; I’ll go and see if I can’t comfort poor
Miss Lucy.

                                                              [_Exit_.  L.

_Label_.  I’m puzzled, the body not to be found; if I go and tell all
that I know—inform the judges that I bled master Collins, perhaps they
may secure me, and by some little trick of the law, make me accompany
master Gwinett—again, allowing I should get clear off, the tale might
occasion some doubt of my skill, and so my trade would be cut up that
way—no no, better as it is, let the guilty suffer, and no more said about
it—it will all blow over in a week or two.  That same Gwinett, for all he
used to laugh and joke so gaily, had I now begin to remember a kind of
hanging look—he had a strange, suspicious—but bless me when a man falls
into trouble, how soon we begin to recollect all his bad qualities.  I
declare the whole country seems in a bustle—in the confusion I may get
off without notice—’tis the wisest course, and when wisdom comes
hand-in-hand with profit, he’s a fool indeed that turns his back upon
her.

                                                              [_Exit_.  R.

                  _Enter_ BLACKTHORN _and_ WILL ASH.  L.

_Black_.  Tut tut—all trifling I tell you—all the fears of a foolish
girl—come, come, Will Ash, be a man.

_Ash_.  That’s what I would be, master Blackthorn, but you will not let
me—I would be a man, and return this same bag of money.

_Black_.  And get a prison for your pains.

_Ash_.  But the truth—

_Black_.  The truth! it is too dangerous a commodity for us to deal in at
present—we know we picked it up a few paces from the Blake’s Head,
doubtless dropped from Collins in his struggle with the murderers—but how
are we to make that appear—our characters, Will Ash, are not altogether
as clear as yonder white cloud, they are blackened a little ever since
that affair with the Revenue Officers—you know we are marked men.

_Ash_.  Yes, but unjustly so; I am conscious of my innocence.

_Black_.  Yes, and a man may be hanged in that consciousness—be hanged as
I say, and leave the consciousness of his innocence, as food and raiment
for his helpless family.

_Ash_.  Oh!—

_Black_.  You are in no situation, Will Ash, to study niceties—when your
children shriek “Bread” within your ears, is it a time for a man to be
splitting hairs, and weighing grains of sand?

_Ash_.  Do not, Blackthorn, do not speak thus; for in such a case it is
not reason, but madness that decides.

_Black_.  Even as you will, I speak for your own good.

_Ash_.  I am assured of it, and could I satisfy myself—

_Black_.  Satisfy! why you may be satisfied—the men who killed Collins,
doubtless did it for his gold—they were disappointed, and instead of the
money going to villains and blood-shedders, it has fallen into the hands
of honest men.

_Ash_.  Honest—aye if we return it.

_Black_.  No, then it would be fools, upon whom fortune had thrown away
her favours—Collins is dead! mountains of gold could not put life—no, not
even into his little finger—what good then can come of returning the bag,
and what harm to the dead or to the world, by our keeping it?

_Ash_.  You speak rightly, a little reasoning—

_Black_.  Aye, a little reasoning as you say, does much in such matters.

_Ash_.  And yet the greatest rogues may commit crimes with as fair a shew
of necessity—’tis not Blackthorn—’tis not in the nature of guilt to want
an excuse.

_Black_.  Away with all this—will you be a man?

_Ash_.  (_after a moment’s struggle_.)  I will—come what will, I’ll
return the gold—farewell—(_Is going off_, _when child runs in_.  R.)

_Child_.  Oh father! father, all is lost

_Ash_.  Lost?

_Child_.  Yes, our cruel landlord has seized on every thing, mother and
my little sisters, Jane and Ann, all driven out, must have slept in the
fields, if farmer—

_Ash_.  Oh, heavens! my wife and children homeless, starving outcasts—and
I no help—

_Black_.  No help! yes the bag—the gold!

_Ash_.  Ah!—yes!—it must, it shall be done! the husband and the parent’s
tugging at my heart—oh! be witness heaven! and pardon, pardon the
frailties of the man in the agony of the father—come, child, your mother
and your sisters, though the trial be a hard one, yet shall smile upon
the oppressor.

                                                            [_Exeunt_.  R.



SCENE III.—_Inside of Prison_.


             _Enter_ GRAYLING: _he has with him an iron rod_.

_Gray_.  So now for my task; this is a day of triumph for me; I could
have dressed myself as for a holyday; this Gwinett once dead who knows
how time may work upon Lucy; perhaps I had rather the gang had seized and
torn the lad away—but they deceived me—they took my money for the
service, and have never since shewn themselves; after all it may be
better as it is—Gwinett might have regained his liberty—have
returned—there’s no marrying with the dead—no, ’tis best—much the best.—

                     _Enter_ BOLT, _the Gaoler_.  L.

A good-day to you, master Bolt.

_Bolt_.  A good-day—you are late, master Grayling—you will have scarcely
sufficient time to perform your task.

_Gray_.  Oh, plenty—I have an old set of chains in hand; an hour’s work
will make them fit for any body—so let me at once measure the prisoner.

_Bolt_.  The prisoner! do you not know that there are two to suffer?

_Gray_.  Two!

_Bolt_.  Aye; we have to day received an order that “mad George,” as he
is called, who was last Sessions convicted for shooting an Exciseman, is
to suffer with poor Ambrose Gwinett.

_Gray_.  Poor Ambrose Gwinett—you are mightily compassionate, master
Bolt.

_Bolt_.  Why, for the matter of that, if a man’s a gaoler, I see no
reason why his heart should be of a piece with the prison wall.

_Gray_.  But is he not an assassin?—a midnight murderer?

_Bolt_.  True; and yet I cannot but doubt—I do not think a man with blood
upon his head, could sleep so soundly and smile so in his slumbers, as
does master Gwinett; the whole country feels for him.

_Gray_.  Aye, it is the fashion now-a-days—let a knave only rob an
orchard, and he’s whipped and cried at for a villain—let him spill blood,
and it’s marvellous the compassion that awaits him.

_Bolt_.  Why, how now, master Grayling? once you would not have talked in
this manner—you had one time a heart as tender as a girl’s—I have seen
you drop a tear upon the hand of a prisoner, as you have fitted the iron
upon it.  Methinks you are strangely changed of late.

_Gray_.  I am—no matter for that—let me to my work, for time speeds on.

_Bolt_.  Well, you can first begin with mad George.

_Gray_.  And why not with Gwinett?—with Gwinett, I say, the murderer?

_Bolt_.  He’s engaged, at present, taking leave of poor Lucy Fairlove;
eh! why what’s the matter with you? why you start and shake as though it
was you that was going to suffer.

_Gray_.  Well, well, delay no longer.

_Bolt_.  (_calls without_.)  Holloa! Tom, bring poor George hither.  Poor
fellow, he had begun to hope for pardon just as the warrant came down.

                    _Enter_ GEORGE _and_ TURNKEY.  R.

_Geo_.  Now, what further, good master Bolt?

_Bolt_.  Why, there is another little ceremony—you know the sentence is—

_Geo_.  Aye, I remember, to be placed as a scarecrow to my brother
smugglers,—well, no matter, they’ll let me, I hope, hang over the beach
with the salt spray sometimes dashing upon me, and the sea-gull screaming
around.

_Gray_.  Give me your hand, friend; so, (_shakes hands_.) this is an ugly
task of mine, but you bear no malice?

_Geo_.  I never knew it when I was a free and happy man, and should never
feel it in my dying hour—and to prove to you that the fear of death has
not wasted my powers,—there, bend that arm before you measure it—stronger
men than you, I take it, have tried in vain.—(_Grayling takes hold of
George’s arm_, _and with a slight effort_, _bends it_.)  Ah! there was
but one man who could do this—he who did it when a boy—surely you are
not—yes, it is—Grayling!

_Gray_.  Eh! George—George Wildrove—my earliest, my best of friends,
(_they embrace_.)  Oh! and to meet you now, and in such a place—and I—the
wretch employed to—

_Geo_.  Nay, Grayling, this is weak—your task is not a free one, ’tis, I
know, imposed upon you—to the work, and whilst you measure the limbs of
mad George, the felon, think not, for I would not think of him—think not
of George Wildrove, the school-boy.

[_Music_.—_Grayling_, _after a struggle_, _advances to George_—_he turns
up one of his sleeves_, _and is about to measure the arm_, _when his eye
falls upon George’s wrist_.  _Grayling_, _starting back with horror_.]

No, no, not if these prison walls were turned to gold, and I by
fulfilling this hateful task, might become the whole possessor, I would
not do it—as I have a soul, I would not.

_Geo_.  What new alarm?  What holds you now?

_Gray_.  Your wrist, George.

_Geo_.  Well—

_Gray_.  Do you not see?

_Geo_.  What?

_Gray_.  That scar—in that scar I read the preservation of my life—alas!
now worthless—can I forget that the knife aimed at my heart, struck
there—there—

_Geo_.  Oh, a schoolboy frolic, go on, good Ned.

_Gray_.  Never!  Oh, George, I am a wretch, a poor forlorn discarded
wretch—the earth has lost its sweetness to me—I am hopeless, aimless—I
had thought my heart was wholly changed to stone—I find there is one—one
pulse left, that beats with gratitude, with more than early friendship.

_Bolt_.  Come, master Grayling, you know there is another prisoner.

_Gray_.  Ah! I had forgotten—gaoler, chains for this man, to be made an
Emperor, I could not forge—if you will, say so to the governor: for the
other prisoner, I’ll work—oh, how I’ll toil—but come a moment, George—let
my heart give a short time to friendship, ’ere again ’tis yielded up to
hate.

                                        [_Exeunt Grayling and George_.  L.

                       _Enter_ AMBROSE GWINETT.  R.

_Gwin_.  I feel as if within these two days, infirm old age had crept
upon me—my blood is chilled, and courses through my veins with lazy
coldness—my brain is stunned—my eyes discern not clearly—my very hair
feels grey and blasted; alas! ’tis no wonder, I have within these few
hours been hurled from a throne of earthly happiness—snatched from the
regions of ideal bliss—and cast, bound, and fettered within a prison’s
walls—and my name—my innocent name, stamped in the book of infamy—oh! was
man to contemplate at one view the evil he’s to suffer, madness would
seize on half his kind—but misery, day by day works on, laying at
intervals such weights upon us, which, if placed at once would crush us
out of life.—Ah! the gaoler!

_Bolt_.  A good-day to you, master Ambrose.

_Gwin_.  “Good-day” friend! let good days pass between those happy men,
who freely may exchange them beneath the eye of heaven.—“Good-day” to a
wretch like me! it has a sound of mockery.

_Bolt_.  And yet believe me, Sir, I meant not so.

_Gwin_.  I am sure you did not.  It was my own waywardness that
misconstrued you—I am sorry—pardon me, good man—and if you would yield a
favour to a hapless creature, now standing on the brink of the grave,
leave me—I fain would strive to look with calmness into that wormy bed
wherein I soon must lie.

_Bolt_.  Poor fellow, he forgets—but good master Gwinett—

_Gwin_.  Well—be quick—for my minutes are counted—I must play the miser
with them.

_Bolt_.  Do you not remember the sentence?

_Gwin_.  Remember?

_Bolt_.  But the whole of it?

_Gwin_.  The—oh, heavens, the thoughts like fire flash into my brain.—I
had forgotten—there is no—no grave for me.

_Bolt_.  Poor fellow, I could almost cry to look at him.

_Gwin_.  Well, what does it matter; it is but in imagination—nothing
more.

_Bolt_.  That’s right—come, look boldly on it.

_Gwin_.  Where is the place, that—my heart swells as it would burst its
prison—the—you understand.

_Bolt_.  Why, at the corner of the meadow, just by One-Tree Farm.

_Gwin_.  (_with great passion_.)  What!—at—oh!—if there be one touch of
mercy in my judges’ hearts, I beseech (_throws himself at Bolt’s feet_.)
I implore you—any other spot—but there—there—

_Bolt_.  And why not there, master Ambrose?

_Gwin_.  Why not!—the cottage wherein I was born looks out on the
place—many a summer’s day, when a child, a little happy child, close by
my mother’s side, my hand in her’s, I have wandered there picking the
wild flowers springing up around us—oh! what a multitude of recollections
crowd upon me—that meadow!—many a summer’s night have I with my little
sisters, sat waiting my father’s coming—and when he turned that hedge, to
see his eyes, how they kindled up, when the happy shout burst from his
children’s lips—ah! his eyes are now fixed closely on me—and that shout
is ringing in my ears!

_Bolt_.  Come, come, be more composed.

_Gwin_.  There I cannot die in peace: in one brief minute I should see
all the actions of my infant life, as in a glass—there, there, I cannot
die—is there no help?

_Bolt_.  I’m afraid, Sir, none: the judges have quitted the town—but
banish these thoughts from your mind—here comes one that needs support
even whilst she strives to comfort others.

                            _Enter_ LUCY.  R.

_Lucy_.  Oh! dearest Ambrose—is there no hope?

_Gwin_.  Hope, Lucy, none—my hour is at hand, and the once happy and
respected Gwinett, will ’ere sunset die the death of a felon! a murderer!
a murderer!—Oh, heavens! to be pointed, gazed at, executed as the
inhuman, heartless assassin—the midnight bloodshedder!

_Lucy_.  Bloodshedder! oh, Gwinett.

_Gwin_.  But tell me, dearest Lucy, what say my fellow townsmen of the
hapless Ambrose; do they all, all believe me guilty?

_Lucy_.  Ob, no—some there are who, when your name is mentioned, sigh and
breathe a prayer for your deliverance,—and some—

_Gwin_.  Aye, there it is, they class me with those desperate wretches,
who—oh, would the hour were come—I shall go mad—become a raving maniac:
what a life had my imagination pictured: blessed with thee Lucy, I had
hoped to travel onward, halting at the grave, an old grey headed happy
man, and now, the scaffold—the executioner—can I think upon them, and not
feel my heart grow palsied, my sinews fall away, and my life’s breath
ebb—but no, I think, and still I live to suffer.

_Lucy_.  There yet remains a hope—your judges are petitioned, they may
relent—then years of happiness may yet be ours.

_Gwin_.  Happiness—alas, no; my very dreams are but a counterpart of my
waking horrors.—Last night, harassed, I threw me down to rest—a leaden
slumber fell upon me, and then I dreamt, Lucy, that thou and I had at the
altar sworn a lasting faith.

_Lucy_.  Did you so?  Ambrose, did you so?—Oh! ’tis a happy presage: the
dream was sent from heaven to bid you not despair.

_Gwin_.  It was, indeed, a warning dream: hear the end.  We were at the
altar’s foot, girt round by happy friends, and thou smilest—oh, my heart
beat quickly with transporting joy, as with one hand clasping thine, I
strove to place the ring upon thy finger—it fell—and ringing on the holy
floor, shivered like glass into a thousand atoms—astonished, I gazed a
moment on the glittering fragments,—but when I raised my head, thou wert
not to be found—the place had changed—the bridal train had vanished, and
in its stead, I saw surrounding thousands, who, with upturned eyes, gazed
like spectres on me—I looked for the priest, and in his place stood
glaring at me with a savage joy, the executioner—I strove to burst
away—my arms were bound—I cast my eyes imploringly to heaven—and there
above me was the beam—the fatal beam—I felt my spirit strangling in my
throat, ’twas but a moment—all was dark.

_Lucy_.  Oh! heavens.

_Gwin_.  Such was the forerunner of the coming horror—so will ten
thousand glut their eyes upon my misery—and then the hangman—

[_Lucy_, _who during the former and present speech of Gwinett_, _has been
growing gradually insensible_; _here shrieks out_, _and rushes to him_.

_Lucy_.  Oh! speak it not—think it not—my heart is broken.  (_falls into
his arms_.)

_Gwin_.  Wretch! fool that I am, thus forgetful in my miseries to torture
this sweet sufferer.

_Lucy_.  (_recovering_.)  There is then no hope—no, think not to deceive
me, the terrible certainty frowns upon me, and every earthly joy fades
beneath the gloom!  I shall not long survive you—a short time to waste
myself in tears upon your grave.

_Gwin_.  (_aside_.)  My grave!—oh madness! even this last solace is
deprived me—she’ll never weep o’er me—never pluck the weeds from off my
tomb—but if she’d seek the corse of Gwinett—there! hung round with
rattling chains, and shaking in the wind, a loathsome spectacle to all
men—there she must, shuddering, say her fitful prayer.—Oh! I’m phrenzied,
mad,—Lucy thus distracted, locked in each others arms, we’ll seek for
death.  (_they embrace_.)

[_Music_.—_Enter_ BOLT _and_ GRAYLING.  R.; _Grayling on seeing Gwinett
and Lucy_, _is about to rush down upon them_, _when he is held back by
Bolt_: _he at length approaches Gwinett_, _who_, _on beholding him_,
_staggers back with horror_—_Grayling folds his arms and looks at Gwinett
with an eye of malice_.

_Gwin_.  Wretch! monster! what do you here? come you to glut your
vengeance on my dying pangs?

_Gray_.  Were there no wretches—no monsters—no bloodsuckers, look you,
there need no prison smiths: chains and fetters are not made for honest
men.

_Lucy_.  Grayling, if e’er you felt one touch of pity, in mercy leave us,
cheat me not of one moment, with—(_Lucy lifts her hands imploringly to
Grayling_—_his eye rests upon the ring on her finger_.)

_Gray_.  (_passionately_.)  Thy husband?

_Lucy_.  Aye, my husband, I swore to be his and none but his—my oath was
taken when the world looked brightly on us both—the world changed, but my
oath remained; and here, but an hour since, within a prison’s walls, with
none but hard-faced pitiless gaolers to behold our wretched nuptials;
here I kept my vow—here I gave my hand to the chained, the despised, the
dying Gwinett; and whilst I gave it, whilst I swore to love and honour
the outcast wretched felon, I felt a stronger pride than if I’d wedded
with an ermined king.  (_embracing Gwinett_; _Grayling_, _who_, _during
this speech_, _is become quite overpowered_—_by an effort rouses
himself_, _exclaiming wildly_—

_Gray_.  Tear them apart, gaoler, tear them apart, I say.

_Bolt_.  For shame! for shame, master Grayling, have you no pity?

_Gray_.  (_incoherently_.)  Pity—havn’t I to do my work—havn’t I to
measure the culprit—havn’t I to—

_Gwin_.  Hold! hold! she knows not—spare her.

_Gray_.  Spare! and why should I spare?  Hasn’t she wirled, despised me?
isn’t she Mrs. Lucy Gwinett, the wife of the murderer, Gwinett? hasn’t
she spoken words that pierced me through and through? and why should I
spare?—Felon, you know your sentence; come, let me measure you for the
irons, that—

_Gwin_.  Wretch! heartless ruffian!

[_As Grayling approaches Gwinett_, _he seizes the rod of iron held by
Grayling_, _and they struggle_—_Gwinett throws Grayling down_, _and is
about to strike him with the iron_, _when the prison bell tolls_,
_Gwinett’s arm falls paralyzed_; _Grayling looks at him with malicious
joy_; _Lucy sinks on her knees_, _raising her hands to heaven_.  _At this
moment_, _a cry is set up without_, “_a reprieve_! _a
reprieve_!”—_Officer_, _and neighbours enter_.  L.  _Grayling springing
on his feet_, _tears the paper from the Officer’s hand_, _Lucy at the
same time exclaims_, “_A reprieve_! _say_—_for Ambrose_!”

_Offi_.  No; for mad George!

_Gray_.  (_eagerly_.)  The murderer’s fate is—

_Offi_.  Death!

[_The prison bell again tolls_, _Lucy falls to the earth_, _Gwinett sinks
into a state of stupifaction_, _Grayling looks at him with an air of
triumph_; _characters at the back lift their hands imploringly to
heaven_, _and the Scene closes_.—_End of Act II_.



ACT III.


SCENE I.—_The Blake’s Head_.


       _Enter_ GILBERT _and_ JENNY, _as landlord and landlady_.  L.

_Gil_.  I tell thee, Jenny, I can’t help it; ever as this day comes
round, I’m melancholy, spite of reasoning.

_Jenny_.  Well, well; but it’s so long ago.

_Gil_.  But not the less to be remembered—it is now eighteen years this
very day, since poor Ambrose Gwinett died the death of a murderer!—I’m
sure he was innocent—I’d lay my life on it.

_Jenny_.  But there’s no occasion to be so violent.

_Gil_.  I tell you I can’t think with calmness and speak on it.  A fine
open hearted youth, and see the end of it.  Not one of his accusers but
is come to shame.  Look at Grayling—Ned Grayling the smith—don’t good
folks shake the head, and the little children point at him as he goes
by—and then those two churls who scoffed at him, as he was on the road to
death—has either of them had a good crop since?—havn’t their cattle
died?—their haystacks took fire—with all kinds of mischief falling on
them?

_Jenny_.  Yes, and poor Lucy.

_Gil_.  And there again; Lucy, Gwinett’s widow, though almost broken
hearted—doesn’t she keep a cheerful face, and look smilingly—whilst her
husband’s accusers are ashamed to shew their heads—I say again, I know he
was innocent.  I know the true murderers will some day be brought to
light.

_Jenny_.  I’m sure I hope they will; but in the mean time, we musn’t
stand talking about it, or no one will come to the Blake’s Head.

_Gil_.  Well, well; I leave it all to you to day, Jenny: I’m not fit to
attend to the customers.  Ah! good fortune has been showered upon
us—little did we think of seeing ourselves owners of this house; but I’m
sure I’d walk out of it with a light heart, if it’s old owner, poor
Robert Collins, could but come back to take possession of it—but that’s
impossible, so we’ll talk no more of it.

_Jenny_.  Well I declare this is all waste of time—we’ve the house full
of customers, and here we’re standing talking as—

_Gil_.  You know we used to do Jenny, some eighteen years ago; then I was
waiter and ostler here, and you were dairy maid at squire—

_Jenny_.  Well that’s all past, where is the use of looking back.

_Gil_.  A great deal: when a man gets to the top of the hill by honest
industry, I say he deserves to be taken by the neck and hurled down
again, if he’s ashamed to turn about and look at the lowly road along
which he once travelled.

_Jenny_.  Well, I didn’t mean that.

_Gil_.  No no, I know you meant no harm, Jenny—but you will talk—well I
shall go and take a round.

_Jenny_.  You’re going to the meadow, at One-Tree-Farm to mope yourself
to death.

_Gil_.  Why perhaps I may take a turn that way—but I shall be back
soon—eh! who’s this?

_Jenny_.  Why it’s the servant of the rich old gentleman, from the
Indies.

_Gil_.  Oh!—what he in the Dolphin?

 _Enter_ LABEL, _dressed as servant_.  L.  _Jenny curtseys and Exit_.  L.

_Label_.  Servant, Sir,—you are the landlord.

_Gil_.  Yes—hope your master slept well—I wasn’t at home last night when
you put up, or I should have paid my respects:—he’s from India I hear.

_Label_.  From India!—and as rich, and as liberal as an emperor.

_Gil_.  You’ve been some time in his service, I suppose?

_Label_.  Some twelve years.

_Gil_.  Has he any friends in these parts?

_Label_.  He had when he left, or rather when he was dragged from this
country, some eighteen years ago.

_Gil_.  Dragged from the country!

_Label_.  Yes pressed—he was taken on board ship at dead of night; the
vessel weighed anchor at daybreak—started for India—and there my master,
what with one and another piece of luck, got his discharge: but I believe
he wishes to see you.

_Gil_.  I’ll attend him directly—and then I’ll go and take my melancholy
round.

                                                              [_Exit_.  R.

_Label_.  Nobody knows me—no one sees the valet in the steward, the late
Label, barber and doctor—and only think that I should meet with Master
Collins—a man who was thought murdered—alive and flourishing in
India—poor Gwinett—poor Ambrose—I have never had the courage to tell my
master that sad story—he little thinks that an innocent man has been
hanged on his account—somehow I wish I had told him—and yet what would
have been the use; he couldn’t have brought the dead man alive again, and
it would only have made him miserable.  But now he can’t long escape
hearing the whole tale, and then what will become of me—no matter; I must
put a bright face upon the business, and trust to chances.

                                                              [_Exit_.  R.



SCENE II.—_View of Deal—the Sea_.


    _Enter_ GWINETT.  L.—GRAYLING _following_, _carrying portmanteau_.

_Gwin_.  Unless my memory deceives me, yonder must be our path.

_Gray_.  That would have been the road once—but ’tis many years since
that was blocked up.

_Gwin_.  I thought I could not be deceived.

_Gray_.  You are no stranger then to the town?

_Gwin_.  No; it is my native place—that is, I lived in it some years
ago.—Have you been long here?

_Gray_.  Ever since I was born.

_Gwin_.  And are doubtless well acquainted with the history of most of
its inhabitants.

_Gray_.  Aye, history, yes, I have seen proud knaves grovelling in the
dust, and poor industry raised to wealth.

_Gwin_.  You, my friend, do not seem to have belonged to the fortunate
class.

_Gray_.  No matter for that; but, Sir, take my word, you had better not
put up at the Blake’s Head.

_Gwin_.  And why not?

_Gray_.  ’Tis full of company.  The judges are now in the town to try the
prisoners.

_Gwin_.  Prisoners! you have, I trust, but few convictions—at least, for
very great offences—for murder now, or—

_Gray_.  Murder!—no—’tis now eighteen years—eighteen years this very day
since—

_Gwin_.  (abstractedly.)  Eighteen years—it is—it is the day.

_Gray_.  Oh you remember it then.

_Gwin_.  No, no; to your story.

_Gray_.  I was about to say it was eighteen years since the last
execution for murder happened in these parts.

_Gwin_.  And the culprit’s name was—

_Gray_.  (_fiercely_.)  Gwinett—Ambrose Gwinett—ha! ha!

_Gwin_.  Were there not, if I remember rightly, some doubts of Gwinett’s
guilt?

_Gray_.  Doubts!—There might have been among those who are touched with a
demure look; but no, he was guilty—guilty of the murder—and I saw him die
the death of an assassin.

_Gwin_.  Pray was not part of his sentence by some means evaded?

_Gray_.  It was.

_Gwin_.  I have heard but a confused account of the transaction.

_Gray_.  (_eagerly_.)  I can tell you the whole—every word of it.  He was
sentenced to be hung in chains—another that was to suffer with him, was
pardoned; so the murderer died alone.  Never shall I forget the
morning.—Though eighteen years ago, it is now as fresh in my memory as
though it was the work of yesterday: I saw the last convulsive struggle
of the murderer—nay, I assisted in rivetting the irons on the corse—’twas
hung at the destined spot; but, when the morning came, the body was not
there.

_Gwin_.  Was no enquiry instituted?

_Gray_.  Yes; it was supposed the relations of the murderer had stolen
the body to give it burial: the murderer’s uncle, and wife were
examined—but after a time, no further stir was made.—Curse upon the
trick, it cost me my bread.

_Gwin_.  How so?

_Gray_.  Why I was the prison-smith—had the irons fitted the corse, it
must have been cut to pieces, ’ere it could have been removed.

_Gwin_.  Gracious heavens! your name is—

_Gray_.  Grayling—Ned Grayling—once a sound hearted happy man, but
now—come, Sir, all the inns will be full.

_Gwin_.  (_snatching the portmanteau from him_.)  Wretch! begone—you
serve me not.

_Gray_.  Wretch! well, granted—it is true: I am a houseless, pennyless,
broken-hearted wretch!  I have seen every earthly happiness snatched from
me—I have sunk little by little, from an honest industrious man, to the
poor crawling, famishing, drunkard—I am become hateful to the
world—loathsome even to myself.  You will not then suffer me to be your
porter?

_Gwin_.  No! begone.

_Gray_.  Well, ’tis all one; yet you might, I think, let a starving
fellow creature earn a trifle.

_Gwin_.  Starving!

_Gray_.  I have scarcely broken bread these two days.

_Gwin_.  Unhappy creature—here—(_gives money_—_Grayling offers to take
portmanteau_.) no, I will not trouble you.  Go, get food, and reform your
way of life.

                                                              [_Exit_.  L.

_Gray_.  Reform! too late—too late.  Had I the will time would not let
me; a few months—nay, weeks, days—and the passenger may pause at the
lifeless corse of Grayling stretched in the highway.  Every eye looks
scorn upon me—every hand shrinks at my touch—every head’s averted from
me, as though a pestilence were in my glance.—Intemperance and fierce
passion have brought upon me premature old age—my limbs are palsied, and
my eyesight fails.—What’s this, alms—alms—won by wretched supplication?
well, ’twill buy me a short forgetfulness—oblivion is now my only
happiness.

                                                              [_Exit_.  L.

                  _Enter_ BLACKTHORN _and_ WILL ASH.  R.

_Black_.  You were wrong to let him pass you: had you but watched my
motions, he could not have escaped.

_Ash_.  But in the day time?

_Black_.  Day time! day is night if no one sees.  He’s gone to the
Blake’s Head.

_Ash_.  Aye, I never pass the door, but my heart beats and my knees
tremble.

_Black_.  What! hav’n’t eighteen years cured you of that trick?

_Ash_.  Cured me—that bag of money—that bag—’twas the first thing that
turned me from the paths of honesty and grievously have I wandered since.

_Black_.  Still whining, still complaining, what good could the money do
to the dead?

_Ash_.  And what good has it done us? but let’s not talk about it.

_Black_.  That’s right, and now listen to me.  We must have a peep into
that portmanteau.

_Ash_.  Impossible!

_Black_.  Not so, we’ll to the Inn: where can Grayling be?

_Ash_.  Not far off I warrant.

_Black_.  Well, no matter, we can even do this job without him; but one
lucky hit and we are made men.

_Ash_.  Aye, this has been your cry year after year—luck!  I think I see
our luck in every tree, and in every rope.

_Black_.  Well, farewell, for the present, but meet me round the lane,
leading to the back part of the house.

_Ash_.  Round by the lane—no, that I can’t do: I must pass my wife and
children’s graves—I have not dared to look upon them this many a day.

_Black_.  You refuse then?

_Ash_.  No; I’ll meet you, but for the path, that I’ll chuse myself.

                                                              [_Exeunt_ R.



SCENE III.—_Interior of the Blake’s Head_.


                     _Enter_ LUCY _and_ GILBERT.  L.

_Gil_.  Nay, but you must see him; I promised you should.

_Lucy_.  You were wrong, good Gilbert, I cannot see him.

_Gil_.  No, ’tis you are wrong, Mrs. Lucy Gwinett, how do you know but he
may bring you good news?

_Lucy_.  Can he make the dead live again?  Good news!

_Gil_.  Well, now for my sake, see the gentleman.

_Lucy_.  I cannot refuse you.  Heaven knows what would have been my fate,
had I not found a friend—a protector in you.

_Gil_.  You’ll see him then?  Ah I knew you’d think better of it.  He’s a
very pleasant kind of gentleman; and asked after you so earnestly, that
I’m sure he cannot mean but kind.

                   _Enter_ GRAYLING, (_abruptly_.)  L.

Well, and what do you want?

_Gray_.  Aye, it’s ever thus.—Do you think I bring the plague into your
house, that you look so fiercely at me?

_Gil_.  I don’t know, but you do!—Is there nobody here that you are
ashamed to gaze upon?

_Gray_.  No; I see nobody but you and Mrs. Lucy—I beg her pardon, Mrs.
Lucy Gwinett.

_Gil_.  Villain!

_Gray_.  Thou liest—stop—there was a time, when at such a word, I’d seen
thee sprawling at my feet; but now, I can’t tell how it is—I cannot
strike thee.

_Gil_.  But I’ll tell you how it is—the title’s a just one—you feel it
sink into your heart—and your arm is palsied; once more, leave my house.

_Gray_.  And why is my money not as good as a finer customer’s? why can’t
you take my money?

[_During this scene_, _Blackthorn and Ash enter behind_ P. S. _and exeunt
                        through door in flat_.  R.

_Gil_.  Why, in truth, Grayling, I’m afraid ’tis gained by too foul a
business.

_Gray_.  Ha! ha! the conscience of an innkeeper.

_Gil_.  Grayling, leave the house; at any time I’d sooner look upon a
field of blighted corn, than see you cross my threshold; but on this day,
beyond all—

_Gray_.  This day,—and why (_sarcastically_, _and looking at Lucy_.) oh,
I had forgotten; yes, it is the very day—

_Lucy_.  Oh! good Gilbert.

_Gil_.  Stay but one moment longer, and as I am a man, I’ll send thee
headforemost into the street.

_Gray_.  Fine words!

_Gil_.  We’ll try then.

(_Gilbert is rushing at Grayling_, _when Lucy comes between them_,
_Gwinett enters hastily at this moment_, _and starts on beholding Lucy_;
_Grayling sees Gwinett_, _exchanges a look of defiance with Gilbert and
Lucy_, _and goes sullenly off_.  P. S.)

_Gwin_.  (_aside_.)  ’Tis she! oh, heavens! all my dangers are repaid.

_Gil_.  An unruly customer, Sir, that’s all—I’ll take care he does not
disturb you.  (_To Lucy_.)  This is the gentleman who would speak to you.

_Lucy_.  Do not leave me.

_Gil_.  Nay, he has something he says to tell thee privately—I’ll be
within call.

                                                                [_Exit_ R.

_Gwin_.  (_aside_.)  Let me be calm, lest too suddenly the secret burst
upon her—she knows me not—time and peril have wrought this change.

_Lucy_.  You would speak to me, Sir?

_Gwin_.  I would, Madam; is there no one within hearing?

_Lucy_.  No one—but why such caution?

_Gwin_.  ’Tis necessary for the memory of one you once loved.

_Lucy_.  Whom mean you?

_Gwin_.  Ambrose!

_Lucy_.  Oh! in mercy speak not that name—I dare not breathe it to
myself; once loved—oh! this agony—you probe into a breaking heart.

_Gwin_.  But not recklessly believe me.

_Lucy_.  Alas, what avails this now—let the dead rest unspoken of—break
not the silence of my Gwinett’s grave.

_Gwin_.  His grave!

_Lucy_.  Oh! you wake a thousand horrors in my soul; he has no grave;
they stole him from me—they robbed the widow of her last bitter
consolation.

_Gwin_.  Perhaps it was the deed of friends.

_Lucy_.  Friends!—But to your errand, Sir, what would you say? speak it
quickly, lest my reason desert me, and you talk to madness:—I was told
you brought me comfort, I smiled at the word; it seems my unbelief was
right.

_Gwin_.  I do bring you comfort—News of your husband.

_Lucy_.  Ah! perhaps, yes, I see it—you can tell me where they laid his
cold remains—can lead me to his grave, where I may find a refuge too.—You
weep, nay then I know your mission is one of kindness—of charily to the
widow of that unhappy guiltless soul, who died a felon’s death on yonder
hill.

_Gwin_.  I would speak of Ambrose—but, start not—he died not at the hour
men think.

_Lucy_.  Died not?

_Gwin_.  As you loved your husband living, and weep him dead, I charge
you conjure up all the firmness springing from woman’s love, nor let one
sound or breath escape you to publish the sad history I’m about to tell.

_Lucy_.  I’m fixed as stone—should my husband rise before me, my heart
might burst, but not a cry should escape me.

_Gwin_.  Many years after, the whole world believed him dead—your husband
lived.  (_Lucy by a violent effort maintains her silence_.)  You know
’twas thought the body had been stolen for interment.—Listen, I knew your
husband—met him abroad: to me, he confided the secret of his escape; to
me, he described the frightful scene—the thronging multitude—the agonies
of death!  The dreadful ordeal past, the ministers of justice executed
the remaining part of the sentence—the body was suspended in chains.
Whether it was from the inexperience of the executioner, or the hurried
manner in which the sad tragedy was performed, I know not,—but your
husband still lived—the fresh airs of night blew upon him, and he
revived—revived and found himself hanging.—Oh! my blood thickens as I
think upon the torture that was his—fortunately, the irons that supported
him, hung loosely about him; by a slight effort he freed his limbs, and
dropping to the earth, hastened with all speed, to another part of the
coast, took ship and quitted England.

_Lucy_.  (_incoherently_.)  And I!—I not to know of this—unkind.

_Gwin_.  Often he strove to inform you—often wrote, but ne’er received an
answer,—twelve years ago he set out, resolved to dare all hazards and
seek you, when he was taken by the Moors and sold for a slave—I knew him
whilst a captive.

_Lucy_.  And did he die in slavery—oh, your looks declare it—unhappy
wretched Gwinett,—but no, happy, thrice happy, he died not on a scaffold.
Did he hope you would ever see his miserable widow?

_Gwin_.  He did, and gave me this locket—it contains your hair.

_Lucy_.  Oh, give it me—oh, well do I remember when I saw it last,
Gwinett was gazing at it with tearful eyes, when the prison bell—oh, that
sound! ’tis here still—I’m sick at heart.  (_Falls on Gwinett’s
shoulder_.)

_Gwin_.  Still she knows me not—how to discover myself!—oh Lucy, what a
ruin has sorrow made of thee.

_Lucy_.  (_reviving_.)  Ah!—what was that?—no no, I wander—yes, it
is—(_recognizing him_.) oh heavens it is my husband! (_falls into his
arms_.)

_Gwin_.  Within there—

                            _Enter_ JENNY.  R.

assist me to remove her—she will recover shortly—come, madam.

                                                            [_Exeunt_.  R.

                    _Enter_ GRAYLING _cautiously_.  R.

_Gray_.  So! no one here—I can see nothing of Blackthorn or Will
Ash—well, all the better, I may be spared some mischief—and then how to
live?—live, can I call this life—a dreadful respite from day to
day—hunger and disgrace dogging my steps—what do I here?—there is a charm
that holds me to this spot, and spite of the taunts, the rebukes that’s
showered upon me, I cannot quit it, nor ever whilst Lucy is—eh! who have
we here?

   _Enter_ BLACKTHORN _and_ WILL ASH _cautiously from door in flat with
                         Gwinett’s portmanteau_.

Blackthorn!—Ash!

_Black_.  (_whispering_.)  Hush—not a word.

_Gray_.  What have you there?

_Black_.  Plunder, and good booty too I take it.

_Gray_.  And what would you do with it?

_Black_.  What!—that question from Grayling?—come let’s away.

_Ash_.  We cannot—the portmanteau will be missed, and we instantly
pursued.

_Black_.  Stay—is there no surer way—I have it—we’ll even shake its
contents a bit, and leave the trunk here—what say you, Grayling?

_Gray_.  As you will—I’m fit for any work.

_Black_.  Come then and assist—(_puts portmanteau on table and opens
it_.) eh—he’s well provided—(_takes out a pair of pistols and puts them
on table_.) ah!—here’s gold—(_takes out purse_.)  Dos’t hear it
chink?—Grayling, come and assist, man.

_Gray_.  (_approaching the table_, _and recognising portmanteau_.)  Hold
for your lives—you must not, shall not, touch this.

_Black_.  Eh!—how does the wind blow now?—and why not I pray?

_Gray_.  Anything but this—the owner this morning relieved my
necessities—hundreds passed and heeded not the outcast, famishing,
Grayling—he who claims this gave me alms, and bade me repent—I am a
wretch, a poor houseless, despised wretch—yet villain as I am, there is
some touch of feeling left—my hand would fall withered did I attempt to
touch it.

_Black_.  Ah, this may be all very well.

_Gray_.  Blackthorn—Ash—dare but to lay a robber’s hand on a single doit,
and I’ll alarm the house.

_Black_.  Tush.

_Gray_.  To the trial then.

(_Grayling advances to table and seizes hold of part of the contents of
the portmanteau from the hand of Blackthorn_—_they struggle_—_Blackthorn
regains the purse and Grayling is about to pursue him_, _when his eye
falls upon a packet of letters that still remains in his hand_—_he stands
petrified_—_Blackthorn and Ash are about to go of at the opposite wings_,
_when Label and Gilbert come in from behind_, _and each taking a pistol
from table_, _come down and prevent the escape of the robbers_—_Grayling
in a state of agitation unmindful of every thing but the papers_, _which
he hastily looks over_.)

_Gil_.  So my brave fellows, here you are—three knaves between a
parenthesis of bullets.

_Black_.  Why what’s the matter? it’s all a mistake.

_Gil_.  A mistake—yes, I suppose you intended to be a very honest fellow,
but by accident are become a convicted scoundrel.

_Black_.  Well,—there’s the money—now we’re clear.

_Gil_.  Clear!—and you, Grayling, are you not ashamed?—do you not fear
the gallows?

_Gray_.  (_madly_.)  Gallows!—no, all was lost—good
name—hopes—happiness—but yet I had revenge—I hugged it to my heart—’tis
gone, and Grayling has nought to live for.

_Gil_.  Give me those papers.

_Gray_.  Did I say revenge was gone?—no, it rages again with redoubled
fury—he shall not foil me—this time his death is sure.

_Gil_.  Unhappy wretch—give me those papers.

_Gray_.  Millions should not buy them, till they had served my
purpose—oh, it all bursts on my maddened brain—relieved—pitied by him!—

_Gil_.  Grayling—yield ere your fate is certain.

_Gray_.  Never!

_Gil_.  Call in assistance.  (_Label goes up stage and beckons on
neighbours_, _&c._  _Gwinett and Lucy come on_.  L.)

There, secure the prisoner.

_Gray_.  Aye—secure the prisoner.

_Offi_.  Which is he?

_Gil_.  There—Grayling the robber.

_Gray_.  No—not Grayling the robber—but, there, Gwinett the convicted
murderer.

_Omnes_.  Gwinett?

_Gil_.  Gwinett!—Ambrose Gwinett!—it can’t be.

_Gwin_.  It is even so, good Gilbert—though wonderful ’tis true.

_Gil_.  He’s innocent—I knew he was innocent—good friends—kind
neighbours—let not this be spoken of—heaven has by a miracle preserved a
guiltless man—you will all be secret—no one here will tell the tale.

_Gray_.  Yes—here is one.

_Gil_.  You will not be that wretch.

_Lucy_.  (_falling at Grayling’s feet_.)  Mercy! mercy!

_Gray_.  Are you there, Lucy Gwinett—think of my agonies—my hopes all
blighted—my affections spurned—think of my sufferings for eighteen
years—look at me—can you kneel before the ruin which your scorn has
made—but now, new I triumph—seize upon the murderer.  (_all indicate
unwillingness_.)  Nay then, I will proclaim the tale throughout the town.
(_Is rushing up stage_, _when Gilbert seizes him by the throat_.)

_Gil_.  You stir not a foot—if a murderer must be hanged, it shall be for
strangling such a serpent.

_Grayling and Gilbert struggle_, _Grayling throws Gilbert from him_, _and
with the rest of the characters following_, _rushes up the stage_.  _As
he is about to exit at back_, _the folding doors fly open_, _and
Collins_, _an old grey-headed man_, _presents himself at the entrance_;
_a general exclamation of_ “_Collins_” _from all the characters who
recoil in amazement_.

_Gray_.  See—his ghost, the ghost of the victim rises from the grave to
claim the murderer—I am revenged—I triumph—ha! ha! ha!

                                                      (_falls exhausted_.)

_Col_.  My friends.  Lucy.

_Lucy_.  My uncle!

_Gwin_.  He lives! he lives! the world beholds me innocent! beholds me
free from the stain of blood!

_Gil_.  Master—oh! day of wonders!—the dead come back.

_Col_.  Wonders, indeed! Gwinett, ’tis but within this past half hour, I
have heard the story of your sufferings.

_Gil_.  But tell me, master, how is this? dead! and not dead, and—

_Col_.  Another time; it is a tedious story, the night you thought me
killed, I had left my chamber to procure assistance to staunch a
wound—scarcely had I crossed the threshold, than I was seized by a
press-gang, and hurried—but see to yon unhappy man.

(_They raise Grayling_, _who is dying_; _his face is pale_, _his eyes
set_, _and his lips and hands stained as though he had burst a
blood-vessel_.)

_Gray_.  (_seeing Collins_.)  There still—not gone yet?

_Col_.  How fares it now, Grayling?

_Gray_.  And speaks—lives—then Gwinett, Gwinett the husband of Lucy—my
Lucy, for I loved her first—is no murderer.

_Lucy_.  Grayling.

_Gray_.  Oh!  Lucy, that voice, my heart leaps to it—leaps to it as it
did—but all’s past; Lucy, you will not curse me when I’m dead—there are
those who will—but let them—you will not: the earth is sliding from
beneath my feet—my eyes are dark—what are these?—tears—Lucy’s tears!—I am
happy.

                                                        [_Sinks backward_.



DISPOSITION OF THE CHARACTERS AT THE FALL OF THE CURTAIN.

      Neighbours.                 Collins.           Label.
Blackthorn.     Lucy.     Grayling.     Gilbert.     Gwinett.     Ash.
R.]                                                                   [L.





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